Written by: Kanemaki Tomoco
Original Plan: Nomura Tetsuya and Nojima Kazushige
Illustration: Amano Shiro
Copyrighted by Disney, Square Enix and Touchstone Pictures. No profits are gained from these unofficial fan translations.
After Xemnas’ speech, it was back to the usual routine for the day. The one difference was that now, Kingdom Hearts could be seen through the large windows in the lobby; a heart-shaped moon, floating in the pitch-black sky.
Xion moved closer to the window unconsciously, gazing up at Kingdom Hearts.
Such a weird feeling… like a fluttering in my chest. So, the hearts that Roxas and I collect end up like that, do they…
“You have been placed in a mission with Roxas again, today. It’s Agrabah. Ask Roxas for the details.” Saïx was standing there.
“…Thank you,” she said, after a moment of hesitation. But Saïx only glanced back at her before returning to his usual place.
I don’t know what Saïx is thinking. But, it’s better to be ignored if it means he’ll let me work alongside Roxas. That’s all I need. I still can’t use the Keyblade. Maybe I’ll never be able to use it again. Then…
What should I… what should I do?
Lifting her face to the pitch-black sky, she gazed up at Kingdom Hearts once again. Again, someone called out.
“Morning, Xion.” It was Roxas.
“Morning… Roxas. Let’s do our best today, okay?”
“Yeah,” Roxas replied, and for some reason, the fluttering in her chest subsided just a little.
“Have you heard the mission details?”
“Heartless extermination in Agrabah. Let’s hurry up and get it over with.”
Xion and Roxas stepped into a dark corridor.
Finishing the mission, Xion and Roxas headed for the usual spot; the Twilight Town clock tower. Axel, who had finished his mission before them, was already eating ice cream there.
“You’re early, Axel.”
Axel turned and grinned. “You guys are just late.” Roxas and Xion sat down beside him. “So, today went well, I gather?”
“Of course. Where did you go, Axel?”
“Beast’s Castle. I went to check something out in that gloomy castle. How about you guys?”
“We went to Agrabah, for heart collection. Just like every mission.”
To the side of Roxas and Axel’s exchange, Xion sat staring at the ice cream in her hand.
Why… do I suddenly feel more worried?
“What’s wrong, Xion?” It was Axel who had noticed, peering into Xion’s face.
“Soon… the other members are going to find out that I can’t use the Keyblade, aren’t they…” said Xion, head down.
“We told you, it will be okay,” said Roxas, peering into her face too this time.
But Axel turned his gaze away, and said, “Well… those guys are tough customers.”
I know. I know it’s not that easy. “It’d be nice if everything was okay…” whispered Xion, taking a bite of her ice cream.
After a moment of silence, Roxas spoke. “I dunno about Saïx and Xigbar… but Demyx for example wouldn’t figure it out, would he?”
At his serious tone, Xion huffed unconsciously. That doesn’t solve anything… but it’s probably true in any case. She fought laughter.
“Hey, don’t you say nasty things like that,” said Axel from beside Xion, scratching his head.
“But it’s true, right? All he does is play his sitar all the time,” said Roxas.
It seemed as if Roxas was staying completely serious. How hilarious!
“I don’t think that means anything… he has his own job that he… huh? What does he do, anyway,” wondered Axel, tilting his head.
When I think about it… Xion opened her mouth. “I’ve seen him playing his sitar out on some world before.”
“Doing what?” Roxas tilted his head.
“Exterminating Heartless, investigating worlds, no different to us, I’d expect,” said Axel, and Roxas looked deep in thought.
“He said he’s no good at fighting…. Us members of the Organisations are all Nobodies, but we all have different strengths, don’t we,” said Roxas, in a quiet voice.
Now that I think about it, that’s right. We’re all Nobodies, but just like humans, from the shapes of our bodies to the types of our personalities, we’re different.
“Yep. It’s called individuality.”
“Even though we Nobodies don’t have hearts?” Xion asked Axel.
“Just because none of us have hearts doesn’t mean we’re all the same. We have our memories from when we were human too, yanno.”
Axel had said a word she hadn’t heard before. “Memories?” Xion asked.
“You mean you have those?” Roxas added.
Memories from when we were human? What does that mean?
The question seemed to surprise Axel. “See, Nobodies like those that become Organisation members are special, cause for us… we carry most of the memories from when we were human.”
“I don’t,” Roxas replied.
“Me neither.” Xion and Roxas hung their heads.
That’s the first I’ve heard of that.
Scratching his head, Axel took a small breath and said, “That’s because of the special Nobodies, you two are even more special.”
I don’t really get it. What does it mean, to be a special Nobody? Xion didn’t lift her head.
From beside her, Roxas asked, “What kind of human were you, Axel?” At that question, Xion looked up too, and stared at Axel.
He shrugged, looking awkward. “Me… Me? Uhh… I don’t think I was really all that different.”
“I’m jealous. I wish I could remember that kind of stuff,” said Roxas, and Xion nodded.
I don’t have that kind of thing… I’m jealous of Axel.
“Really? It’s only baggage.”
But, Axel speaks of having memories as if it is a bad thing. I wonder… is it really?
“I don’t even have memories from when I was first born as a Nobody…” Roxas cast his eyes down.
I’m the same. I don’t remember much at all.
“That’s just cause you’re always zoning out,” said Axel, starting to joke around.
“You’re terrible!” replied Roxas. For a moment, the dark atmosphere was blown away.
“I don’t really remember much either,” Xion said.
“You two have a lot in common,” said Axel.
“I wonder what kind of guy I was…” Roxas seemed lost in thought.
I wonder what on earth we were like as humans? And why do we have no memories?
The setting sun shone down on the three on the clock tower.
At the same time… on the outskirts of Twilight Town, two figures stood before the building known as the haunted mansion.
One’s face was covered by black bandages—DiZ.
The other was a golden-haired girl in a white one-piece dress—Naminé.
The two of them gazed at the haunted mansion.
The wind whistled past. The chilliness of it made Riku stir. It had only been days he and Mickey had parted ways.
“Sorry, your Majesty,” Riku said in a low voice, looking down from the top of a cliff. He didn’t know why Mickey had left, and he still didn’t have his answers.
This place was a wasteland on the outskirts of a town called Hollow Bastion.
I still can’t control the darkness inside of me—control Ansem. What do I have to do to become free? Or, is it already too late to ever become free?
If you could stare straight ahead without being afraid of the dark, the things you fear would vanish.
How could I not be afraid?
It’s hard to know where the light is, if it’s always shining. But if the world was covered in darkness, you’d be able to pinpoint the light. If everything was covered in darkness…
Riku covered his own eyes with the black cloth he held in his hand.
If I can just hold the darkness back, I’m sure I could become better person.
Riku jumped off the cliff, swinging his blade.
I dreamt. I dream every night. But the dreams are vague, and I don’t really remember them.
Xion shook her heavy head, and got out of bed. After getting ready, she headed for the lobby, as always. Today, Roxas was there before her.
“Morning.” Roxas yawned widely.
“Hey, Roxas, do you dream?”
“Huh?” said Roxas, and at that moment, Saïx appeared.
“You, today you will be going on separate missions.”
It felt as though someone was squeezing the muscle in Xion’s chest.
It’s impossible… I can’t do it without him.
“We have received information that Heartless have appeared in two separate worlds. Roxas has Beast’s Castle, and Xion has Agrabah.”
“But…” Xion looked over at Roxas, unconsciously. He was silent. What do I do…
At that moment, Axel poked his head in. “Oh, is Roxas going to Beast’s Castle?” Xion gazed up at Axel, as if clinging to his presence. Axel glanced her way, and nodded to her slightly. “I checked that place out yesterday, and that Heartless looked pretty darn tough. I reckon it might be impossible for him to get that thing on his own, hmm ~”
“Are you trying to tell me to let them go together?” asked Saïx in a disagreeable tone.
“I’ll go to Agrabah. Then there’s no problem, right?” Axel’s voice was a little deeper.
“Can you really defeat the Heartless in Agrabah?”
“It’ll be fine. I’m tough, you know.”
“But, you can’t collect its—”
“I’ll just keep the thing in check for now,” Axel interrupted.
“So there’s no problem, is there, Saïx?” Roxas added, helpfully.
For a moment Saïx glowered, the scar on his forehead twisting. “Today is the last day. From tomorrow, you will be doing your missions solo.”
“Understood.” Roxas gave a slightly relieved nod, and looked at Xion. She nodded too, in reply. “Let’s go, Xion.”
Following after Roxas, who had already walked a little way ahead, Xion also stepped into a dark corridor.
After seeing off Roxas and Xion’s retreating backs, Axel stretched thoroughly. He looked at Saïx, expecting to see his face contorted, but it had already returned to its usual expressionless state.
So he was just pretending to be unpleased. That, imitating the emotions in our memories, is an act particular to heart-lacking Nobodies. It’s the evidence that we don’t have hearts, and the outcome of craving one. I myself do it unconsciously, but I guess Saïx… no, all the other Nobodies must be trying.
I wonder why there is that sense of wrongness in our behaviour. Maybe because we Nobodies actually know we’re trying hard to be like humans.
But even that is pretty empty.
“Your performance was quite forced,” Saïx muttered, noticing Axel’s gazing at him.
“What is this about?” asked Axel, cracking his neck.
“I’m not all that impressed.”
Sensing an incoming lecture, Axel started walking away. “Well, I’m off to Agrabah. I’ll be back.” His figure vanished into a corridor.
Beast’s Castle was dim and dusky, with no sign of humans.
The only signs are of Heartless. And, I have bad memories of this world. Thinking to herself, Xion emerged from the corridor and into a hall in the castle, and looked around her, vacantly. On this world, I stopped being able to use the Keyblade. On top of that…
Xion dropped her head, staring at her hands.
Roxas stopped walking. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m wondering what we’re going to do from tomorrow.” Xion tried to wish the Keyblade into her hand, but… there was only a bit of light, no shape appeared. “…It looks impossible, Roxas.”
“You’d probably be okay with my Keyblade.” Roxas called his Keyblade into his hand, and placed it in Xion’s.
This also being true for the weapons belonging to the other members of the Organisation, when someone other than the original wielder tries to hold the Keyblade, it naturally returns to the hands of the wielder, but… the Keyblade Xion gripped in her hands didn’t disappear.
“It looks… like it’s okay.”
The feel of gripping the Keyblade again after so long was strange. The faint heat it’s giving off is Roxas’ warmth, I guess.
“Use my Keyblade for today.”
Xion stared at the Keyblade. “But…”
“It might make you remember something,” Roxas countered.
“What will you do, Roxas?”
Roxas smiled slightly. Then, he picked up a stick that was lying by his foot. “I’ll make do with this.”
“But… with that…” You won’t be able to defeat Heartless.
“You were fighting without a Keyblade, right? I’ll try it, too. So, today you’re using my Keyblade.”
A smile surfaced on Xion’s face. “…Okay. Thank you… I’ll do my best to make up your share, too.”
Just then, a roaring howl echoed around them. Roxas looked around uneasily. “What was that?”
“Let’s go look.”
Xion and Roxas set off towards the source of the sound.
Running out, Roxas stopped when he saw a passageway in front of him. He could sense something.
“…It looks like someone’s here…?” Xion whispered. Holding her back, Roxas peeped out into the passageway from the shadow of a pillar.
“Hmpf… our master could have deigned to at least leave his room…”
Standing there, was…
Roxas hid himself behind the pillar in a flurry.
“What is it?” Xion asked, in a low voice.
“There’s a walking talking candle over there…” Roxas answered. I’m not seeing things, he thought. That candle is actually walking. The candle part above the candlestick had a face on it, and it was talking to itself.
Xion also peered out from the shadow of the pillar. “It really is… why a candle?” Xion tilted her head, hiding herself again.
“I don’t know… but, he said something about a master…” Roxas was lost in thought.
“Well, maybe that candle is an inhabitant of this castle, like the servant or something?” Xion said.
“Maybe you’re right… but… what kind of being is it?”
“Maybe, ahead of here is the room of whoever they called the master.” Xion peered over at the stairs again.
“Will we go check it out…?”
“Huh?” Xion turned to Roxas.
“Let’s go check out this master’s room. We’ll make sure that the candle doesn’t catch sight of us.”
“Will it be okay, I wonder…”
“He won’t see us if we’re careful.” Roxas leaned out from behind the shadow of the pillar, and, aiming for the instant that the candle’s back was turned, he dashed out.
“W… Roxas! You’re not being careful at all!” she cried softly, chasing after him.
“Hm…?” The candle, facing the opposite direction to them, tilted its head. Xion and Roxas rushed past him in a great hurry. “Oh… I thought I felt someone there… must have been my imagination,” said the candle, turning, just as Roxas and Xion slipped into a corner beyond the passageway.
“…I thought my heart was going to stop…” said Xion, breathing heavily. Beside her, Roxas’ face looked as if nothing had happened.
Beyond where they had passed without getting noticed by the candle was an even wider passageway. At the end, Roxas could see some stairs.
Just then, the roar echoed around once again.
“Looks like it’s just beyond those stairs.” Roxas began walking, and just before the stairs, a few little black Heartless—Shadows—appeared.
“…The Heartless are here.”
“These aren’t… the Heartless we’re meant to be eliminating, are they.”
Xion swung the Keyblade at them, and beside her Roxas supported her with magic.
The opposite of yesterday. Roxas’ Keyblade felt familiar in her hands, like the one she’d been using for so long. Roxas was sent flying by a Heartless. Xion smashed the Keyblade down on it. It was the last one.
“Are you okay, Roxas?” she ran to him, still sitting on his bum.
“I’m fine,” he said, standing and brushing the dust from himself.
“I’m sorry Roxas… it must be so hard for you, having me use your Keyblade.”
“Just like it has been for you up until now. Don’t focus on it. Do you think you can remember what it felt like when you used the Keyblade before?”
Xion shook her head. “Sorry… not yet…”
Roxas’ Keyblade felt so familiar in her hands, but she couldn’t remember how it felt to bring out her own.
“Okay… but… it’s definitely coming back soon, so everything is going to be okay,” Roxas said, smiling, and Xion smiled in return.
“Yeah… thank you, Roxas.”
Just as she said this, a shadow appeared on the ground behind her, and it quivered.
Roxas pulled Xion by the arm, hiding them in a blind spot behind the stairs. The shadow that had been behind her spread like a black stain, and more Shadows appeared out of it.
At the same time, that roar resounded.
With a sound like the ground rumbling, a huge beast-like creature appeared. Charging down the stairs, it mowed down the Heartless, destroying them.
“I will not have Heartless doing as they like in my castle!” it roared, destroying the last one with a swing of its claws. Then, the creature headed back up the stairs—back to what must be its room.
“Wow…” whispered Xion unconsciously, and beside her Roxas folded his arms.
“That guy called it ‘his’ castle. So he must be the master…”
“A beast with a candle for a servant… what a weird castle, right?” Xion said in return, but Roxas was deep in thought.
“What is it?”
“…They’re different to us, aren’t they,” Roxas said.
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“That beast is the head of the castle, right?”
“And the head of our Organisation is Xemnas, right?”
“Yeah.” She didn’t really understand what he was trying to say.
“If Heartless attacked our castle, we’d be the ones to go fight them, right? Xemnas definitely wouldn’t fight.”
“That’s because it’s our job,” said Xion, squeezing the Keyblade. It’s our duty to do our missions, and we’ll be annihilated if we don’t fulfil our duty.
“That’s why I had that idea of what a leader is. So why was that beast fighting so hard? He has underlings like what we are…” Roxas looked up at the door through which the beast had disappeared.
“But, I don’t think we’re exactly Xemnas’ underlings… and I think that beast must have had a good reason to fight,” Xion said, looking at the Keyblade. The reason I fight is…
“A reason… to fight?”
“Like… wanting to protect something important, for example.”
Roxas had a strange expression on his face, which seemed odd. Maybe he hadn’t thought of that…
Just then, another writhing shadow appeared. It wasn’t a Shadow; it was much, much bigger.
“Roxas! Over there!” Xion screamed.
The Heartless oozed out of the ground—a Mad Bull. It’s today’s elimination target… a huge Heartless in the shape of a dog.
“It’s that Heartless! Let’s go, Xion—Fire!”
Xion went to nod, and in the next instant, Roxas was shooting his magic. The Mad Bull took the attack, and turned towards them.
Xion ran at the Mad Bull with the Keyblade in hand, and jumping, swung at it. It’s been a while since I felt this. A big impact that defeating small Heartless never makes you feel. Kicking the Mad Bull, correcting her posture mid-air, landing on the ground—Xion ran at the Mad Bull again, without even pausing for breath. With a Keyblade, I can fight like this.
The magic Roxas was firing made the Mad Bull stop moving. Now…! Xion thrust.
It was a perfect hit. The Mad Bull roared, and it began to fade away. Roxas cried out in joy at their victory, and after the Mad Bull had turned into light, a large heart floated up, rising for the sky.
Xion looked up at the heart, and turned to Roxas, who ran to her.
“Thank you, Roxas. I’ll… give this back.” She handed the Keyblade back to Roxas.
“Did you remember anything?”
“I don’t know… but, I’ll try again.” Xion held out her empty hand.
Please, Keyblade. Come back to my hand…
A second of light… it’s no good…?
“Yes!” Roxas yelled.
Xion stared at the Keyblade in her hand, dumbstruck. The Keyblade… it came back… Roxas grabbed her hands. “…It’s all thanks to you,” she said, gratefully, and Roxas swung her hands around.
“Let’s hurry and tell Axel! He’ll be so surprised!”
The two of them nodded, grinning.
On top of the clock tower, Axel was gazing vacantly out at the sunset.
“Aa-ahhh…” he sighed.
It was no big deal heading to Agrabah alone, but getting slammed into the ground was pretty nasty. Taking care of other people, and not being able to take care of myself… this isn’t like me.
Behind Axel, a gaping hole of darkness opened up.
“Argh! What’s with you, popping out all of a sudden…”
Roxas jumped out of the corridor of darkness. Xion was there behind him, too. “How was your mission?” he asked. Axel frowned unconsciously.
“Why the hell do Heartless have to move around so annoyingly, you know? Got my ass kicked. Literally,” he added, rubbing the sore spot in a slightly exaggerated manner.
“Didn’t you say you were tough?” said Roxas, laughing.
Axel shrugged, winking. “This and that are two different things. Hey, how did your mission go?”
Roxas turned to Xion. “Ta-dah!” he announced, and Xion made the Keyblade appear in her hand.
“It’s all thanks to you and Roxas.” The Keyblade disappeared as Xion smiled.
“I didn’t do anything,” said Axel, a wry smile pasting itself on his face.
“You made it so we could go on a mission together this morning, didn’t you?” said Xion, and Axel looked away.
When I’m smiled at with such a happy look… I feel uncomfortable.
“Maybe Xion wouldn’t have been able to make her Keyblade come back, if it weren’t for you, Axel,” Roxas added.
“Thank you, Axel,” they said, in unison.
This is why… this feeling is so hazy. Scratching his head unconsciously, Axel looked away from the two of them.
“Then how about a sea salt ice cream?” Axel asked, his back still turned.
“Huh?” Roxas asked.
This was Axel compromising, grudgingly. Don’t think I can take any more of those thank-yous.
“Then we call it even,” replied Axel. Roxas and Xion looked at each other.
“I’ll go buy it!” Xion dashed away.
The setting sun was sinking. Axel gazed vacantly out at it.
If you stare at the sunset, the image sticks on the back of your eyelids, and it feels like you can see the sunset, even with your eyes shut.
An illusion sunset.
The reason the sunset is red… who was it told me that?
“It was tasty, wasn’t it,” sighed Xion, finishing her ice cream.
“I guess. Hurry up and finish yours, Roxas,” Axel urged Roxas, who was the only one still eating.
“I’m enjoying the taste properly. It’s Xion’s treat, after all,” said Roxas, gazing at the very last bite of ice cream remaining.
“Though Xion could have only treated me,” Axel said, jokingly.
“No… it’s thanks to both of you,” Xion replied. The train’s whistle could be heard from far away.
“It’d be nice if we could always be together like this,” said Roxas.
“Yeah…” Xion nodded.
Axel scratched his head. “Where did that come from?”
“I was just thinking, it’d be nice if the three of us could watch the sunset together and eat ice cream after missions every day,” Roxas said casually.
Once more, Axel looked at Roxas’ profile. Roxas and Xion’s faces were dyed red by the setting sun. Axel tore his gaze away from their profiles, and said in a low voice, “Well, that’s not gonna happen—we’re Nobodies, yanno.”
At his words, Xion and Roxas looked plainly crestfallen. You guys… just like always, you laugh, and get upset, just like humans. Axel let out a small sigh.
Then, he said, “The important thing isn’t whether or not we meet every day.”
“Huh?” Roxas looked at him.
“Even if we don’t see each other, it’s more important that we think about each other all the time, anyway, right? …Got it memorised?”
Roxas grinned. “It doesn’t suit you, saying things like that.”
Those words were meant to make them feel better, but… if I went into that, I’d look weak. “Shaddap,” said Axel, looking away.
Xion laughed. Roxas found it funny too, and he started to laugh.
“Is it that funny?!” Axel asked almost unconsciously. Roxas and Xion stopped laughing for a moment, but when they looked at each other, they burst out laughing again.
“Hey, you guys…”
“It’s just… you’re not being very Axel-y,” Xion said, trying to get the words out, but she couldn’t stop laughing.
It would be nice if we could always be together… but that’s an unattainable dream. That’s why it will have to do to just think of each other.
But… if maybe even that becomes unattainable, what will we do?
Continue to Chapter 2: Vacation