Chapter 8: 358 Days

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Written by: Kanemaki Tomoco
Original Plan: Nomura Tetsuya and Nojima Kazushige
Illustration: Amano Shiro
Translations: Goldpanner
Copyrighted by Disney, Square Enix and Touchstone Pictures. No profits are gained from these unofficial fan translations. 

xxx

She sat on the other side of the white table, the hood of her black coat pulled right up.

Naminé gazed steadily at her. I knew we’d end up meeting someday. That’s because she’s a part of Sora, and I know what choice Sora himself would make in this situation. Like the time he thrust the Keyblade into his own chest, it’s the type of choice Sora would definitely make.

Naminé put on the best smile she could, and spoke. “I wanted to meet you, Xion.”

Xion took her hood off. And there—was the face of the doll known as Xion.

“Naminé, can you see my face?”

Naminé nodded. She could definitely see the face of ‘Xion’.

“What should I do?”

“What do you want to do, Xion?” Naminé returned.

Oh yeah… Our names are similar, aren’t they? Shio-no-on, the sound of the tide, and Nami-no-ne, the sound of the waves… Both are connected to that blue ocean, Kairi.

Naminé waited for Xion’s answer.

I know her gaze is captured by the picture on the wall. The picture of the three in the black coats.

Xion stared at them in silence for a while, then spoke. “In the beginning, I thought I wanted to be with Axel and Roxas forever. But now, my memories… no, they aren’t my memories, are they?” Xion said, her gaze wandering.

“You aren’t Sora or Roxas. You’re Kairi from Sora’s memories,” Naminé answered.

Xion’s gaze fell as she thought a little.

I think the meaning of my words reached her… Certainly, Xion’s memories belong to Sora, but Xion herself reflects Kairi. And because there were memories of the girl Sora treasures, Kairi, inside Roxas, Xion became… the girl treasured by Roxas.

Xion began to speak. “As I remembered things, I realised I have to go back to where I came from.” For a moment Xion looked down, as if searching for words. Then, she leaned forwards over the table and asked, “What should I do to go back?”

“…Return to Sora, right?”

Xion nodded. “If the memories are returned to Sora, you’ll disappear. You didn’t have any memories of your own to begin with, and so, those memories are what now connect you to everyone in their place. Which means, once you’ve disappeared, no one will be able to remember you,” said Naminé, choosing her words slowly.

Incorporeal Xion can’t exist without those memories. If those memories are gone, she’ll return to being a doll without even a face. And, the doll won’t remain in anyone’s memories. That’s where the Replica of Riku was different. Riku Replica was a doll that copied memories completely, and Xion is a doll that absorbs memories. That’s the difference. Once the memories Xion absorbed go back to where they came from, everyone’s memories related to her will be like they never happened.

“Even with my power, the fragments of memory that are called ‘you’ cannot stay connected.”

Xion was looking straight at Naminé. Her gaze is just like Sora’s, thought Naminé. The straight, unwavering eyes of a hero.

“I’m ready. But, I don’t know what I need to do. That’s why I came to see you.” Xion blew out a little sigh. “Really, Roxas has to return with me, doesn’t he?” Xion looked down, as if that was her only worry. “But… I think would still be too hard for Roxas, right now. Because he still can’t feel Sora—and so, Naminé, once I’ve disappeared, please… look after Roxas.”

So, she thinks that if Roxas were only able to feel Sora, then he’d make the same choice as her? But, that wouldn’t be like Sora, thought Naminé. Sora walks the path he believes is right, even if he has to fight against fate. That’s Sora’s strength. Sora will say when bad things are bad.

It’s just like Xion reflects only Sora’s good parts. And, perhaps Roxas holds the childish parts deep inside Sora’s chest, thought Naminé, of the boy she still hadn’t met.

“I’ve asked others to take care of Roxas, too,” Xion said. “I can’t… protect him.”

“I understand,” Naminé replied, and she nodded sharply.

“Thank you…”

Just like the time I promised Riku I’d protect Sora, I really want to protect Roxas too, ‘from my heart’. “Well then, let’s go—to Sora,” Naminé said, with a smile.

Just then. The air in the room wavered. A dark corridor had opened. DiZ appeared.

“Naminé, you can’t! The Organisation has found us! They’re coming here!” he shouted, glaring at Xion. “The doll led them here! This is what you get for trusting a marionette on strings…!”

“I’ll do something!” Xion answered, without even getting timid at DiZ’ words. She stood up, and flew out of the room.

“Wait! Xion!”

Naminé’s voice didn’t reach her.

Xxx

I thought I knew everything about Twilight Town, but I’ve never set foot here. The Haunted Mansion—a place shut behind hard gates.

Axel emerged slowly from the forest, heading for it.

“How… did you know I was here?” Xion asked, standing in front of the gates. Her shape was properly Xion, and Axel was slightly relieved.

“In return, why are you here, Xion?”

“Because… Riku told me that if I returned to Twilight Town, I’d find out where I should go,” Xion answered, looking down.

Twilight Town is a special town. Close to the In-between of the realms, it’s a true town of twilight. And, generally people don’t exist there.

The reason the three of us were always in Twilight Town was because it felt comfortable. Home is where the heart is, and all that. Close to the darkness and far from the light. That kind of place.

I wonder why I never thought the inside of the Haunted Mansion was mysterious until now. Now that I think about it, if anything, that place is more interesting. The worlds are moving, wriggling. I’ll bet there are people other than us who ‘felt’ that they had better come to this place. And, I don’t know why we ‘felt’ it. Maybe I’m turning into one of those people affected by the Hero too, thought Axel, with a faint smile. And then, shaking his head, he said, “I’m always the one with the icky jobs…”

“Axel…,” Xion called, just like always, even though her voice was small.

“Xion, what do you think you’re going to do?”

“I’m just going to return to where I ought to,” Xion replied, clearly.

“In the beginning, I thought that was best too. But it’s depressing, you know. I can’t swallow it, there has to be something.”

“But this is for everyone’s sake.”

Everyone…? Who do you mean by everyone? Us? Or others?

“Don’t say selfish crap like that. Every last one of…”

“This is for the best,” Xion said.

I hate that sort of thing. There’s no such this as ‘this is for the best’. There’s, I want to, and I don’t want to, that’s all. I learned that in my human time.

“You’ll be destroyed, you know that, right?” To be accurate—she’ll disappear.

But, Xion readied the Keyblade. “…No holding back now, Axel.”

“Don’t mess around!” Axel yelled. Me, hold back, she says? This late in the game? “You…! Don’t treat me like a joke!” Axel wrapped his hand in flames and made his chakrams appear. “I’ve decided! No matter how many times you guys run away I’ll bring you back, no matter how many times it takes!” he wished—he shouted, he wailed, he vowed.

I’ll bring them back no matter how many times it takes. No matter how many times. For my own sake, for your sakes. No matter how strong Xion tries to make her power, I don’t think I’ll lose. Because, I’m strong.

Axel kicked off the ground, wrapping his body in flames. He threw a chakram which Xion deflected. The chakram back in his hand, Axel shortened the distance between him and Xion in one move. Then he brought it down. Xion caught and blocked it.

“Axel—please.”

“No ‘please’.”

“But… I…” For a second, Axel thought he saw Xion’s face become Sora’s again. He shook his head slowly. “You get it, don’t you, Axel? I can’t live like this.”

“There should be a way for you to keep living as yourself.”

Xion pushed Axel back with the Keyblade, jumped back, and readied her stance.

“That’s a lie. On top of this, I don’t want to be used by the Organisation for such a thing. I hate that Roxas is being used by the Organisation.”

“So do I.”

Axel closed the distance between them again, and encircled the area with flames. Xion clasped her hands to her chest, as if trying to protect herself from the fire. Then, shaking it off, she plunged at Axel’s chest.

“Understand me!”

The Keyblade swung down at Axel’s shoulder. He cried out. I really don’t want to do this.

“…I’m telling you, I don’t! Enough is enough!”

Still with the Keyblade pressing into him, Axel cut at Xion with a chakram. Just like that, Xion was sent flying to the side.

“Axel…!”

“Every last one of you stubborn assholes are pissing me off!”

“Please… Axel, understand.” Xion stood up again.

Maybe we could be called equal. And both of us have reasons we can’t lose here.

“I… I wanted the three of us to be together!” Axel yelled, and Xion hit the ground.

I thought too hard about what to do and confused myself. I didn’t have the courage to chase after Roxas. Was it because I was afraid to turn against the Organisation? No. The truth is, it’s because more than anyone else—more than Roxas, more than Xion, I wanted the three of us to be together.

To suit the Organisation, to suit Xion, to suit Roxas—to suit the world. I don’t give a crap about any of that any more. I use the Organisation for myself. That hasn’t changed from the start. All that’s changed is for whose sake I do it for. Maybe he’d call it being a traitor. But, the world changes.

I wanted the three of us to be together. I wanted the three of us to laugh together in the Organisation. Pretending to be adults, they decided it can’t be like that. But I’ll put an end to it—I’ll have them stop.

“…Axel…”

But, Xion stood for the third time.

The winner was…

xxx

“…You’re so irresponsible…,” Axel muttered, walking on unsteady legs with her—the doll—over his shoulder.

Axel is probably rather wounded. And she seems to have completely lost consciousness. I really didn’t think that Xion would lose to Axel the way she is now, but maybe that’s the strength of those touched by the Hero, thought Xemnas. In other words, the depth of one’s connection to the Hero will emerge in battle just like that.

If there is a way for those without hearts—Nobodies—to gain hearts, perhaps their connection to Sora—the Keyblade Hero—is some kind of start. The special Nobody, and the doll. And then, the Nobody who went and had deep contact with them. There’s no reason changes wouldn’t emerge. And, it wasn’t the doll that gained the most power.

Reaching the castle, Axel collapsed with Xion still in his arms. Xemnas, who had watched over it, picked Xion up.

If that means her power won’t cut it, then we’ll make her stronger. Right now, we need either of them in my hands. I’ll make Roxas and Xion merge together, it doesn’t matter which is left. And then, in the end, I should even get Kingdom Hearts.

Xemnas disappeared from that place.

xxx

Where am I?

Ah, I’m in the same pod I was put in before. This isn’t a Sora dream, is it? Hey, why am I sleeping in a place like this?

That’s right—I lost to Axel. Why wouldn’t he let me escape? I wanted the three of us to be together, but wasn’t Axel the one who said it was impossible? Why would he say something like that?

Oh, yeah… Because Axel is a Nobody. Maybe that’s why he said it. He doesn’t have a heart, so maybe that’s why he wasn’t able to say he wanted the three of us to be together.

Who’s looking at me from outside the pod? Xemnas? What does Xemnas want with me?

“With this, you’ll be complete,” Xemnas said.

Complete… What does that mean? I feel like I’m going to be sick. Something’s flowing sharply through me. I can’t breathe properly. These are Sora’s memories. The memories are giving me power. But, I don’t want this power. But, I don’t want Xemnas to have his way.

I’m sorry, Axel. But I—definitely don’t want to dance on Xemnas’ strings. I’ll surely have a moment’s chance. Xemnas has to be off guard sometime. And then, I’ll go see Roxas again. And then, I’ll tell him how things truly are. But—it really would have been nice if the three of us could always be together. I’m sorry, Roxas. Axel. Nobodies are not allowed to exist. And, just like them, I am not allowed to exist either. I have to return to the place I ought to be. Because I am Sora. Because there’s no way I want to dance on Xemnas’ strings.

xxx

He was at the usual spot—on top of the clock tower. The beautiful sunset looked just as usual.

I didn’t know where to go. I didn’t know what to do, either. “Haha…,” Roxas laughed, dryly, and then hung his head.

I pulled out of the Organisation because I wanted to know the meaning of my existence. Now that I’ve left the Organisation, what should I do—why was I born, where am I going? I pulled out because there was no reason to stay, but now somehow I don’t really understand the reason I thought it would be better to leave.

And, I didn’t know where to go, so I came here.

Sensing a sudden waver, Roxas looked up. Standing there was—a girl, with her black hood pulled right up, Xion.

“Xion?!”

Xion sat down beside him, and silently offered Roxas an ice cream.

“Thank you,” he said, taking it and bringing it to his mouth. It was sweet and salty and cold. I wonder how many ice creams I’ve eaten here since I joined the Organisation?

Glancing over at Xion, who was also eating an ice cream, Roxas brought his ice cream to his mouth again. I don’t know what to say. I wonder if Xion already knows that I left the Organisation. And, I wonder why Xion is keeping her hood up? Xion left the Organisation too, didn’t she. Maybe she came here with no place to go, just like me—No, I really don’t think so.

Think while you eat ice cream, and you stop tasting the flavour. His ice cream disappeared, bit by bit. The stick he could see inside, just like always, had nothing written on it. I have so many heartfelt regrets about the Organisation—about Axel, but now, more than anything, I think back to that “winner” stick. Why didn’t I give it to him that whole time? I wish I’d given it to him sooner.

Then, his ice cream was gone. He looked to the side, and saw that Xion had also finished her ice cream.

By and by, Xion placed the stick quietly beside herself.

“Right about now, I have to settle this.”

Xion stood—and put her hood down. The person who appeared from under the hood was not Xion. Roxas couldn’t speak. His breath caught.

The figure that appeared was that of a brown-haired, blue-eyed boy—He looks a little, a little like me, thought Roxas.

Then, Xion slowly began to speak. “My power will soon be made complete. Like water overflowing from a vessel, my memories are brimming with what I received from you, Roxas.”

I don’t really understand what Xion is saying. It’s making me remember Axel’s words. Xion’s memories—are from me? I don’t know what to say. And, I don’t know what’s happening to Xion.

“How do I look to you now, Roxas? If you see another boy’s face, it means I’m about to reach completion as a doll.”

Xion is—No. This isn’t Xion. But it’s Xion. This is—what the hell? Back turned to Roxas, Xion stepped off the clock tower and walked over the nothingness. Roxas couldn’t follow. And then Xion turned.

“Roxas—This is Sora.”

Sora. This is Sora.

“Now, I have to swallow you in too, Roxas. That’s the reason I was born…!”

Xion’s coat was thrown aside. And there, revealed, was—a doll.

This is Xion’s true form— No, it’s a lie. That’s—that’s.

The doll held out a hand and opened a corridor of darkness there, and it swallowed everything around, including Roxas.

xxx

We reached Wonderland. And, I’m not me anymore.

Xion stood in front of a device in the middle of the room.

This is—a device the Organisation installed to collect fragments of Sora’s memory. By gaining the fragments of memory, my power is amplified. And, I have faith. That Roxas will defeat me. Because there’s no longer any other path to take.

“Xion!” Roxas yelled.

“Why—Why!”

Roxas needs more time. But, there’s no more time left for that. I’m sure Roxas wouldn’t fight me. So, I have to go seriously. Maybe on the way, I’ll stop being me. But, even so, I have faith. Because I have faith if anyone can defeat me—the fake me—it’s Roxas.

xxx

No. I don’t want to fight. But Xion is attacking me seriously.

In a room in Wonderland, the doll that was Xion sent Roxas flying.

I did it because I had to—Axel said that, didn’t he? But, even so, I don’t want to fight. I’ll run. But Xion chases me. What should I—how should I.

Xion said she’d swallow me in. Really? Why? What would happen to me if I was swallowed? Maybe I’d rather be swallowed.

Roxas blocked an attack with his Keyblade. As the Keyblade rebounded, it hit Xion’s body.

Please, Roxas…

I thought I heard Xion’s voice just now. And then, she opened a corridor of darkness again. This time it led to—This place. The place where I fought Xion when I was tricked by the Organisation’s order.

There was a device in the middle of this area, too. In front of the device, Xion’s shape changed. What the hell are those things?

I know that for every second I hesitate, Xion gets stronger and stronger. Xion’s attacks slash the strength of my whole body. If things go on like this—I’m done for. Is fighting the only option?

I’m lost. But, there’s no way I’m letting myself be destroyed. Because, I want to know about myself. And, that means finding out about Xion, too. Roxas steadied his breathing. The only way left is to do it—

That moment, Xion opened a corridor of darkness again, and it wrapped around Roxas too. This time they were in Agrabah. In the middle of the room was another strange device. In front of it, Xion’s power increased even more, and her form changed.

I’ve—made up my mind. Because, there’s definitely the future. Because maybe I can make Xion stop.

Roxas readied his Keyblade, and ran at Xion. He swung the Keyblade down. He felt the impact. And then, Xion opened another corridor of darkness. This time, Roxas thought he saw Xion’s figure on the other side of the darkness of the In-between. But—on the other side of the darkness, standing with its’ back to the setting sun, was a giant doll.

In front of their usual spot, the giant doll swung its’ arms down, and Roxas was sent flying.

I don’t want to think that’s Xion. I could even think that this thing stole Xion, maybe. Xion—I. I just want to eat ice cream together again.

Roxas stood up, and hit out at the doll—at Xion.

I hate this. But, because maybe we can eat ice cream together again. Because I have no intention of delivering a final blow. Xion. Let’s eat ice cream together again. Axel. You better treat me with the winner stick.

Something is hurting. And—along the way, he got confused. I don’t know. I don’t know why I don’t know.

His head hurt. Everything was fuzzy. He wobbled. Who am I fighting? What am I doing? Who am I, again? I’m Roxas. Organisation’s Number XIII. This is Twilight Town, at the plaza in front of the station. In front of the usual clock tower. And you, here in front of me—that girl on her knees, looking like she’ll faint any moment.

“Who… are you?” A black-haired girl, wearing the same coat as me. “It feels like this should be really important, but I can’t remember.”

The girl opened her closed eyes, and spoke. “You’re better off like that, Roxas.”

Roxas caught her body as she crumpled. Why has she fallen? She looks pained. He raised her.

“…Did I hurt you?”

Everything is horribly fuzzy. I don’t really understand. Light began to drift up from the girl’s body. This light…

“No… I’m making myself disappear. Because I definitely didn’t want Xemnas to get his way.” She laid her hand over Roxas’. “I’m just returning to Sora—to where I should.” She closed her eyes for a moment, then spoke. Her voice was breaking up, and hard to hear. “But… I have one… wish… Free the hearts I captured… Kingdom Hearts…”

“Free… Kingdom Hearts?” Roxas repeated. Kingdom Hearts… Why? My job is to collect the hearts from Heartless.

Cold light began to shoot from the girl’s body, starting at her feet, changing into something. “Because… I can’t do it any more… Kingdom Hearts… Don’t let Xemnas have his way…”

The girl looks like she’ll fade away at any moment now, thought Roxas. Why… why is this painful, somehow? I hate it.

“Goodbye, Roxas. Let’s meet again.” A small smile rose on the girl’s face.

I’m—definitely forgetting something terribly important here.

The girl reached out a hand, and stroked his cheek. “I’m glad I met you… No, you and Axel. You two are my best friends. Please don’t forget just that part.”

Us two are her best friends—best friends? Something terribly important—Twilight Town, the clock tower—the usual spot. Here there was Axel, and—who?

The hand stroking his face dropped. “No… Xion.” I remember. I remember Xion. I wouldn’t forget. The sunset, the ice cream, there’s no way I’d forget. “Let’s eat ice cream again, the three of us.”

Xion shook her head quietly, and—closed her eyes.

“Xion…!” Roxas yelled. But, in Roxas’ arms, Xion’s figure became light and disappeared. In the end, a thalassa shell was all that remained.

My face is wet. I… I.

The setting sun sank. Roxas gripped the shell that had been left behind.

xxx

She sat on the other side of the white table, the hood of her black coat pulled right up.

Naminé gazed steadily at her. I knew we’d end up meeting someday. That’s because she’s a part of Sora, and I know what choice Sora himself would make in this situation. Like the time he thrust the Keyblade into his own chest, it’s the type of choice Sora would definitely make.

xxx

He woke just like always, on the same bed as always.

My body hurts all over for some reason. Wait, why does my body hurt all over like this? My head is fuzzy. And heavy.

Axel turned his head from side to side, and slowly sat up in bed.

“Why do I…”

Why do I get the feeling that I’m forgetting something terribly important? It feels like there’s a gaping hole broken into me. Yeah—I’m lonely, he thought, and at that moment, he noticed a white envelope left beside his bed.

Written on it in messy handwriting was his name, and the name of his important best friend.

Right—that’s right, Roxas left the Organisation. Maybe I had forgotten.

Axel picked up the envelope. He didn’t say he’d left this.

He opened the envelope, and inside was just one stick. An ice cream stick. And, written on it, was “winner”.

“…Roxas—” Axel muttered, the name of his best friend.

xxx

Xion.

Xion.

Xion.

Xion—Xion… Xion, Xion, XionXionXionXionXionXionXion.

He muttered the name over and over, feeling like he’d forget her if he didn’t.

Xion.

My best friend. The girl I treasure. Xion.

Roxas ran.

Xion told me to free Kingdom Hearts. That was Xion’s wish. Then I want to grant Xion’s wish. Because maybe, if I do, I might be able to see Xion again. My treasured best friend that I destroyed with this hand of mine.

To free Kingdom Hearts, I have to go to Xemnas. I have to return to the Organisation’s castle.

Roxas slipped out of a dark corridor.

Rain was falling.

This is the first time… it’s rained in this world.

Even through the rain, the light of Kingdom Hearts radiated in the sky.

I’ll free the hearts from that Kingdom Hearts. And then Xion—I’ll take Xion back. We’ll eat ice cream together again.

He ran though the neon-lined streets he’d passed through only a little while before. Dusks—Nobodies—attacked him.

“You’re in my way!” Roxas yelled, making Keyblades appear in his hands. Two blades. One of these is Xion’s. The Keyblades glowed, and changed form. But, Roxas didn’t care anymore. He swung the Keyblades. I don’t have time to fight you.

He repeated that name once more.

Xion.

Now, Heartless appeared. They surrounded him. Roxas routed them, panting hard.

He repeated that name again.

Xion.

Just then, Roxas noticed the shadow of someone waiting for him. On top of a sky scraper—a black coat. He’s clearly got his eye on me. But he’s not a member of the Organisation.

Roxas ran up the skyscraper. They passed each other. Just then, Xion’s Keyblade flew out of his hand. He didn’t understand what had happened in that moment. It had felt like the Keyblade had jumped out of his hand on its’ own.

The man took the Keyblade.

That guy—

He landed on the ground again. And then, he faced the man. He had silver hair, and a blindfold was wrapped around him

“Who are you?!” Roxas yelled.

“It doesn’t matter who I am—I have use for you,” the man said.

“Why are you getting in my way!” I’m pissed off. I don’t have time to fight you. I have to grant that girl’s wish—Xion, that’s right. And then everything will go back to normal. There’s no time. While I do this, I feel like I’m going to forget.

Xion… Xion—Xion.  He repeated it. I don’t want to forget, but I think I’m going to.

“You see, you’re someone who affects Sora’s memories.”

“Sora?! Again with Sora!” Roxas answered. He’s saying the same thing as Xemnas. I get the feeling that girl—Xion said so too.

“What are you going to do now?” the man asked in a calm tone. His calmness sickened Roxas.

“I’m going to free Kingdom Hearts! And then everything will go back to normal! Then… I’ll get to be with that person again!”

Yeah—the three of us will eat ice cream again. We’ll watch the sunset from the top of the clock tower. Then, we can even go to the beach. It will definitely be fine. The three of us can spend that same time again. Definitely. Hey, Xion, that’s right, isn’t it?

“Xion…? Soon enough we won’t be able to remember that name, but—now, I can’t let you do anything reckless.”

The man still has Xion’s Keyblade. But something is wrong about that.

And then—Roxas readied his Keyblade again.

“I’ll free Kingdom Hearts, and go to Sora! If I do, then Xion will, everything will go back to normal!” he reminded himself once more, and ran at the man.

“What you’re thinking isn’t going to happen if you go making contact with Kingdom Hearts without a plan. You’ll just be destroyed by the Organisation!”

“Shut up!” Then tell me what else I should do!

Roxas swung the Keyblade down, beating at the Keyblade Riku held as he blocked.

I don’t think I’ll lose. I can’t lose to this guy.

They exchanged blows over and over. They ran around the skyscraper.

Xion.

It’s okay. I still remember. Because I remember the days we laughed and ate ice cream, the three of us.

He batted the man aside, and he crashed into a wall.

I won. I knew I wouldn’t lose.

“Why! Why do you have the Keyblade?!” the man yelled, on his knees.

“Who the hell knows!”

I don’t know what he means. I’m the one who wants to know why I was able to get the Keyblade, and also, why Xion could use the Keyblade same as me. And why you can use Xion’s Keyblade. Why did Xion’s Keyblade fly out of my hand?

The man stood up, took Xion’s Keyblade in his hand, and heaved it upwards.

Why couldn’t I dodge thatIt full on hit me. I think I passed out for a moment. Just then, the scene from on top of the clock tower flitted through his mind. He hit the ground, flat on his back. But, I won’t forget. I don’t want to forget.

Xion. Axel. Sea salt ice cream. The usual spot. The clock tower. The sunset. My treasured friends. The promise we made for our next day off.

I can’t forget. I absolutely—do not want to forget. I’ll free Kingdom Hearts, and everything will go back to normal.

I don’t want to forget—

xxx

Riku walked slowly over to Roxas, who had finally fallen, stabbed the Keyblade in his hand into the ground, and furtively studied the other boy.

How did Roxas get two Keyblades? And why did he let go of one of them in the middle of the fight? There are so many things I don’t understand. The Keyblade he let go of seemed to jump into my hand like it was being sucked there. And, in that instant, I remembered her. I hadn’t even remembered her name up until then—

I’m still not convinced that he’s really Sora’s Nobody. It feels like—I get the feeling that his face is somehow like Sora’s, but I don’t really know.

Suddenly, Roxas sat up, grabbed the Keyblade that was stabbed into the ground, and slashed at Riku. Having been on his guard, Riku jumped back quickly.

“Give it up!” Roxas yelled.

In that instant—a memory floated up inside Riku. It’s a gamble.

“What’s wrong, Sora? Over already? How weak.”

The words echoed inside Roxas. “What—but you’re the one who’s losing…” The words that came from his mouth were the same ones Sora had said, once.

I can’t believe it, but—I have no choice but to believe it.

“You really are his Nobody after all—I guess I have no choice but to trust DiZ.”

“What do you mean by ‘his’! I am me! Me!” Roxas yelled in grief, and slashed at Riku. He was so close, there was no time to dodge. Riku caught the blow full on.

Just then—a voice echoed inside his head.

Riku, please! Stop Roxas!

It was the voice of a girl who was already fading from his memory.

Roxas looked down at Riku, Keyblade in hand. “No matter how many times you come at me you’ll lose!”

Everything—is for Sora.

“Maybe you’re right—Looks like I have to do it.”

“What?!”

Riku stood slowly, and removed his blindfold.

“The power dwelling in my heart—the power I’m suppressing with the strength of my heart. Even if I stop being me…”

The next moment, his body got lighter. Giving my body over to the power of darkness means even my shape will change.

Behind Riku rose a shadow that may as well have been called darkness itself. And then, Riku himself became that of Ansem’s form.

I feel the power flooding through me. This is the power of darkness—but, I’m controlling it. It’s under my own will. I won’t be imprisoned by the darkness, because there is light in darkness, and its’ brilliance increases too.

Riku closed the distance between them in one move, and grabbed Roxas. The Keyblades fell from Roxas’ hands.

“This is the power of darkness,” Riku said, looking down at him.

And then, there—Roxas crumpled.

Riku pulled his hood right up, and gazed down at the fallen Roxas.

“…Roxas, is it.” Oh yeah—what was that girl’s name again?

The rain fell harder.

Riku sensed something waver, and DiZ appeared there.

“He felt Sora,” said Riku.

“He even said he hated Sora, didn’t he? What a joke. Emotions and the like don’t exist for Nobodies.”

“If he’d met Sora—maybe it would have been different,” Riku responded, looking at Roxas’ back.

On his back—the rain poured.

xxx

Roxas, don’t be sad.

I was born from you and Sora.

I am you, I am Sora.

The memories of me haven’t disappeared

They have become one with yours,

And returned to Sora.

xxx

In a town wrapped in sunset, in a little house, in a little room, a boy woke up.

“Another dream about him—”

I’ve been dreaming a lot lately. I don’t remember precise details about the contents of the dreams.

The boy sat up in bed, opened the window, and watched a train run through the town.

I always see this view— The boy stared for a while, idly. For some reason, I feel weird today. Maybe it’s because the holidays are going to end soon? Even just thinking about how to spend the remainder of the summer holiday is pretty fun.

The boy got out of bed, changed, and ran to the town.

He thought as he climbed the hill, heading for the usual spot. The boy’s name was Roxas. And the name of this town was Twilight Town. Everyone was going to meet up at the usual spot.

Oh yeah…

“We still haven’t all gone to the beach together, have we?” Roxas murmured, running up the hill.

Today—That’s right, today let’s promise to go to the beach together.

xxx

My summer holiday will end in seven days…

xxx

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days: Vol 3. Xion—Seven Days is complete, so is the Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days series! Continue to the Afterword by author Kanemaki Tomoco

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