Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days: Vol. 1 The 14th

Written by: Kanemaki Tomoco
Original Plan: Nomura Tetsuya and Nojima Kazushige
Illustration: Amano Shiro
Copyrighted by Disney, Square Enix and Touchstone Pictures
Translations: gold_panner

Notes: No profit is gained from these translations. Every effort is made to make them as accurate as possible, however, due to factors including the differences between the two languages, they are not word-for-word. Please do not repost translations without crediting HEARTSTATION.ORG.

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days Vol. 1: The 14th

 

Contents

Chapter 1 Beginning of the End

Chapter 2 Seasalt Icecream

Chapter 3 Xion and Roxas

Chapter 4 Castle Oblivion

Chapter 5 Chain of Memories

Chapter 6 Reunion

Chapter 7 Friends

xxx

 

Because even if you can’t remember, it doesn’t mean that the memories have disappeared.

 

xxx

I remember.

I remember that, I haven’t forgotten.

I won’t forget.

 

xxx

Characters

Xion

A girl who appeared as the 14th member, six days after Roxas joined the Organisation. In the beginning, she kept her hood up, and never showed her true face. By and by, she becomes important to Roxas.

Roxas

The protagonist of this story. Number XIII of the Organisation. He has no memories of the time before he became an Organisation member, and so as he performs missions every day, he has doubts and questions about everything around him. He is able to wield the keyblade.

Axel

A wielder of fire-imbued chakrams. Number VIII of the Organisation. While fulfilling the role of mentor to Roxas, the main character, he melts little by little. He acts for a common goal shared with certain members of the Organisation.

Riku=Replica

A ‘doll’ of Riku, created by number IV of the Organisation, Vexen, for the sake of certain research. After meeting this experimental body in Castle Oblivion, huge doubts begin to grow inside Axel.

Saïx

Number VII, who serves as the Organisation’s aide-de-camp. Because Roxas and the other members of the Organisation are always receiving missions via Saïx, there are many meetings in which they make contact with him, however, his detached objections give a cold and stern impression.

Xemnas

The leader of the Organisation, and Xehanort’s nobody. He is a figure of absolute power within the Organisation. It seems he knows something about Roxas’ past…

Xigbar

Number II of the Organisation, who wields gun arrows. With a carefree sort of personality, he calls Roxas ‘kiddo’ and Xion ‘Pou’, teasing them every day. However, he is very well informed about various things, and it is hard to guess what he’s really like inside.

Beast

A prince who was turned into a beast by a witch’s curse. Roxas and the others spot him while investigating Beast’s Castle.

Pete

A detestable fellow who does nothing but evil. This time, too, Roxas and the others see him toddling about behind the scenes, with the goal of increasing the number of heartless.

Genie

The genie of Agrabah’s lamp. He left to travel with a flying carpet, but he became worried about his best friend, Aladdin, and while he returns to check on him, he meets Roxas and the others.

xxx

Chapter 1: Beginning of the End
 

That place is always lit up by the same scarlet sunset.

I wonder where that place was. It must have been Twilight Town.

“Roxas…”

I wonder who it was that spoke to me.

I don’t remember the name of the person that stood in front of me, wearing a black coat.

But I must have been given a name there.

And then I met him.

Him—that guy with the red hair, and of course wearing a black coat.

And then, we ate ice cream.

I remember.

I remember that, I haven’t forgotten.

I won’t forget.

 

xxx

 

The preparations for his awakening are complete.

As a heartless, he has already vanished, the nobody remaining—and, it is he, returned to normal.

 

xxx

 

The sound of waves could be heard.

The tide was moving in and out, washing sand away from the beach.

The boy’s body sank slowly into the water.

Or, perhaps he was trying to be caught by the waves.

And then, the boy opened his eyes.

A stark white room. A stark white bed. Through the wide window, a pitch black sky and the neon of skyscrapers were visible.

Where is this place, again?

This is my room.

This is a place called ‘The World That Never Was’.

And, my name is Roxas.

That’s my name.

I’m number 13 of the Organisation.

I feel like I’ve been dreaming the whole time.

No, I also feel like I was awake the whole time.

Yesterday—yesterday, I was by a dark ocean. I met him there.

Our boss.

After that—I don’t really remember so well.

Maybe the stuff that happened yesterday didn’t really happen at all.

Maybe I’m still dreaming.

The boy—Roxas got out of bed, and left the room.

He continued along a corridor, white just like his room, and made of something inorganic. It was a little like stone, and a little like something artificial; Roxas didn’t know what it was. Only that there was a space that continued along there. Many doors, like the one to his own room, lined the corridor. The design of the rooms on the other side of the doors were also probably the same. And so, inside were probably people just like him.

Shortly, the space opened out, and he started descending a sloping hallway. At the end of it was The Garden of Weaving Light and Dark—the lobby, it was called. He had been told to come here upon waking.

By who?
He didn’t really remember.

The lobby was chilly, enclosed in transparent glass, outside of which there was nothing but pitch black darkness and white buildings.

‘Huh? You finally up?’

Roxas turned. A blonde woman, wearing the same black coat as Roxas, was looking down at him. Roxas couldn’t answer at all, and she—Larxene gossiped one-sidedly, resting her hip on the side of the sofa. Roxas had no idea what on earth the change in her expression meant. But, when he saw that look, he got just a little uneasy.

There were three people other than Larxene wearing that same black coat, spending the extra time they didn’t know what to do with inside the lobby.

Roxas approached someone who was looking at the pitch dark outside the window; a person with red hair.

Perhaps there was a reason he was chosen to pair up with Roxas, perhaps there wasn’t. Roxas didn’t know that, either.

But, when Roxas drew nearer to that person, he turned around, a smile showing on his face.

“Hey, Roxas.”

“…………”

Roxas cast his gaze downwards. He didn’t really know what he should say in reply.

“What’s up? You need something?”

I don’t really need anything, but I was thinking maybe it would be nice to talk to someone, that’s all.

The red-haired person—Axel looked at Roxas, who was still looking down.

That reminds me—that’s right, that day, it must have been the first day, the one who was with me was—

“Oh yeah, they said we have to meet at the round table today… what a pain in the ass…’

“Round table…” Roxas murmured.

I remember the place they call the round table.

That was also on the first day—no, wasn’t it after that?

Roxas looked up at Axel.

“Apparently there’s something we have to hear. Let’s hurry up and go.”

Axel held up one hand, and darkness opened up before it.

Oh, I know. We people of the Organisation can manipulate that darkness at will.

That darkness must be a—

“You wanna hurry and use a dark corridor?”

“Dark corridor…”

That’s right, a dark corridor.

On the other side of the darkness, other worlds open up. Instead of using doors, so to speak.

“I hate it, always get a sore ass from sitting on those hard seats,” said Axel, laughing as he spoke.

He was interrupted by a person standing in the centre of the lobby.

“You two, hurry up.”

Axel and Roxas were the only ones left in the lobby, apart from a man with long blue hair and a large scar on his forehead—Saïx. Larxene had already left. The others had probably left to be present at the round table long since.

“Yeah yeah—let’s go, Roxas. Open a dark corridor for yourself, too,” said Axel, entering the darkness he had opened.

“…………”

Before Roxas’ eyes, the darkness closed up.

“Hurry up,” announced Saïx, and he also disappeared into a dark opening.

Roxas was the only one left in the lobby.

Roxas stared at his own hand.

How do I open the dark like that?

Roxas lifted a hand, like Axel had, and closed his eyes for a second.

He recalled that darkness.

I have to get to that place—the round table.

Beside Roxas, the darkness opened its gaping mouth.

Is the round table really at the end of that?

Roxas stepped inside.

 

xxx

 

The hall that they called the round table was enclosed by a circular wall. The walls were made of the same white material as the other rooms. In the middle of the room was a large circular table—a stage-like round table, and thirteen seats surrounded it. The chairs were tall, and each had a different height.

And, twelve other black-coated people had also taken their seats.

Roxas couldn’t remember all their names very clearly, and he stared vaguely at the round table placed in the middle of the room. Painted there was a mark that was very similar to a cross; it was also painted on Roxas’ bed. Roxas knew what it meant.

That’s the seal of the Organisation—of the nobodies.

But, I don’t know who told me that.

“Today is a day that deserves commemoration.”

The air quivered with the resounding voice.

Oh, I know. That voice belongs to—that guy, our boss, Xemnas.

And then, a lone person appeared on the round table.

“A new comrade has joined our ranks.”

I can’t tell what that person’s face looks like, what with it hidden so deep in their hood.

“The 14th…”

Thing were suddenly flitting across Roxas’ mind. It was only a few days ago—probably six days ago.

Axel dressed him in a black coat, and then brought him to this room.

 

The one chosen by the Keyblade—

 

Xemnas must have said that to me, that day.

The Keyblade?

I don’t even know what that is.

Roxas looked at the person standing in the middle of the round table.

The person lifted their face for just a moment, and Roxas stirred, getting the feeling that they were looking at him.

It looked like that person’s mouth, which should have been concealed and unseeable under the hood, was smiling.

I feel like I’ve seen that smile somewhere before.

But I can’t remember where.

Until now, these seven days past, I haven’t once been scared of the things I can’t remember.

But now, I’m somehow—scared.

Scared?

What does it mean, to be scared?

Roxas sensed something flicker, and he looked up.

Xemnas had disappeared, wrapped in darkness. And then, one after the other, the members of the Organisation disappeared.

The 14th was still looking at him.

And then, Roxas passed out.

 

xxx

 

What’ll happen to me—?

I’m—fad——ing—into the dark…

 

xxx

 

Xemnas watched Roxas, who had been put down to sleep on his bed.

“—Hurry up and awaken.”

There was no answer.

Xemnas’ figure vanished from Roxas’ room.

 

xxx

 

The air at the round table quivered.

As if the darkness was burning, many dark corridors opened into the seats, and the figures of the black-coated members appeared.

There were seven of them. The seven people between No. I and No. VII—in other words, Xemnas, Xigbar, Xaldin, Vexen, Lexeaus, Zexion, and Saïx.

“To allow the newcomer to attend.”

The biggest newcomer amongst the members in attendance—Saïx stared straight at the centre of the round table, without showing any particular reaction to Vexen’s words.    

“Have we been able to extract the ‘key’?” Xigbar asked.

“Key? You must be talking about the fragments.  If it’s only the fragments, we can take them out without the aid of the witch’s power,” Vexen answered.

“Are more fragments necessary?” asked Zexion.

“That depends on the movement of the hero,” Vexen said, without hesitation.

Lexeaus opened his mouth. “More importantly, are the movements of the heroes being properly monitored?”

“Marluxia has been ordered to act without any slipups,” answered Saïx, this time.

“The hero’s nobody appearing was pretty irregular in itself, anyway,” said Xaldin, and all gazes concentrated on him. “Doesn’t the existence of the hero’s nobody make continuing the plan meaningless?”

“Well, some kinda insurance is needed,” said Xigbar.

“The plan has been set in motion,” Xemnas interrupted, and all six faces lifted. “In order to assure our new power, we will put our first plan into action,” he stated, in conclusion at last, and the other six each nodded.

 

xxx

 

He opened his eyes, and found himself on top of his bed.

What happened yesterday?

I can’t really remember, like always.

Roxas got out of bed, and went to look out the window.

The sky is as pitch dark as always, so I don’t really know, but it seems like the date has changed.

I have to go to the lobby once I’ve woken up. At the moment, that’s all I understand.

Roxas left his room and walked the hallways just like had had the day before, heading for the lobby.

“Roxas,” came the call, the instant he stepped into his place of destination. It was Saïx. Roxas stared vaguely up at him.

Mission.

Somehow I get that it’s not okay for me to just be here.

I don’t really understand what I’m here for, though, like always.

“It’s closer to training than a mission. There are various things we’d like you to remember before going out on missions. Today you will be moving with Axel. How nice, Axel.”

Roxas shifted his gaze to the side of Saïx, and Axel was standing there. And, behind him, Roxas saw one more member was standing there.

That was the 14th.

“What is this… am I supposed to be his mentor or something?” Axel answered, scratching his head.

“Yes. Teach Roxas mission basics.”

“Yeah yeah. Understood.”

Removed from Axel and Saïx’s conversation, Roxas watched the 14th.

Like always, their face was hidden deep in a hood, and he couldn’t tell anything.

“We’re going, Roxas,” said Axel, peering into Roxas’ face. Following his gaze, he turned to the 14th.  

“What’s up? You interested in that one? That must be… come to think of it, I dunno either,” said Axel, scratching his head again.

Saïx opened his mouth. “It’s Number 14, Xion.”

“Xion, then…” Axel muttered.

“Xion…” Roxas voiced, quietly.

“Got it memorised? Roxas.”

He shrugged, and Axel looked deep into his face again. “Yeah…” Roxas replied, voice lacking strength. Xion was still at the end of his gaze. But, it was also possible that Roxas wasn’t looking at Xion.

Roxas’ blue eyes reflect the view of his surroundings, but for some reason, it feels like he isn’t looking at anything.

Is this vagueness just what you expect of a newly-woken nobody?

I want to try and hear him answer me, thought Axel.

“So, what’s my name?”

“Axel…”

It seemed that Roxas hadn’t been able to forget it, somehow.

I wanna ask one more thing.

“What’s our boss’ name?”

“Xemnas…”

“And they’re not things to forget, are they. Okay, let’s go, will we?” asked Axel, a smile playing on his lips, as he opened a dark corridor beside him.

 

xxx

 

At the end of the dark corridor was Twilight Town’s underground passageway.

“So… well, first I’ll explain the mission, and we’ll go from there, will we…”

Axel turned to face Roxas, who was following behind him.

“Okay? Today’s mission is—ahh…”

Axel went to explain, scratched his head, and sighed.

Roxas’ eyes were as indifferent as always, like he wasn’t seeing a thing.

“Rather than explaining stuff, it’d be faster to just do it. Okay, first, come with me.”

Axel started running. He hadn’t seen Roxas ever move fast before, but to his surprise, Roxas followed him pretty quickly.

Climbing up a level, Axel stopped halfway, and turned to Roxas.

“During a mission, you shouldn’t run straight for the target. You gotta pay attention to your surroundings.”

“—Pay… attention?”

Those words that came from Roxas just now are the most ‘with it’ I’ve seen him so far.

Maybe it’s cause he’s moving his body.

Even though it’s not perfect, Roxas, who hasn’t been saying anything but the names of things and people until now, is joining words together.

“It means you gotta look hard at the things around you. You’ll overlook surprising things, otherwise. Got it memorised?”

“Yeah—got it.” Roxas nodded obediently.

“Okay, let’s go practise, will we,” said Axel, brightly, able to think that those eyes were finally taking him in. “There’s a treasure chest somewhere in this area. Today’s mission is to find that.”

“So we should look for the… treasure chest, right?”

“Yeah, that’s right. Look carefully, now,” said Axel, and Roxas looked around him.

From the beginning, Roxas was like a pure white canvas that had to be painted on. Some of his reactions are slow, but it feels like there’s some bigger reason why.

From the first day we met, he’s been different from the others somehow.

 

xxx

 

Axel watched a vanishing dark corridor, scratching his head. On the other side of that corridor, he had faintly been able to see the Organisation’s boss—Xemnas.

“They told me all of a sudden to take him back, but…”

Axel gazed at the boy standing in front of him, remaining in the trails of vanishing darkness.

The boy in the white shirt was at least ten years younger than himself, Axel guessed. Though age wasn’t something that existed, for nobodies.

I don’t even know the boy’s name.

He must be a nobody that was just born today, in this town.

I know that this town, the one they call Twilight Town, is a special place.

It’s a town of twilight, standing in the rift between darkness and light.

The darkness of dusk blurs the figure, in the same way light does.

Here, those that belong to neither darkness nor light—even nobodies are allowed to exist.

And so, Axel hung about in this town when he had free time.

Walking around idly like always, Xemnas had suddenly appeared in front of him.

He hadn’t been wagging missions or anything, but there’s nothing like bumping into one’s boss all of a sudden for awkward.

But, Xemnas had merely given Axel one order, without reproaching him.

“It’s a new member. Take him back to the castle, prepare him suitably, and bring him to me.”

“Huh?” Axel had asked, and a dark corridor opened up behind Xemnas. And then, he disappeared as if being swallowed.

Well then take him back yourself, I thought, but I’m not in the position to be able to say things like that.

And, the boy didn’t move at all.

A tiny sigh escaped Axel. “Follow me.”

He opened a dark corridor, but the boy didn’t react.

“….Oi.”

“………..”

Axel closed the portal, nothing for it, and stepped closer.

The boy finally moved, looking up as Axel.

“What’s your name?”

The boy blinked.  

Dunno if that blink was actually a reaction.

“I’ll ask you again. What’s your name?”

“…Ro, xas…” he said, in a husky voice.

I know that Xemnas gave him that name just before.

I got my name in the same way.

“I see, Roxas. My name is Axel. Got it memorised?”

The boy—Roxas did nothing but gaze straight up at Axel.

“Anyway, let’s go home.”

Well, I doubt whether that gloomy castle is any place for Roxas, who has just begun his existence, to go home to, but even so, there’s nothing else to do.

Just then, Roxas’ gaze shifted.

That’s the first time he’s showed a direct reaction-y kind of reaction.

“Hm? What’s up?”

At the end of Roxas’ gaze were some of the town’s children.

I’ve seen them countless times.

A noisy group of three kids from around the town. They look like they’d be about Roxas’ age.

And, in their hands was sea-salt ice cream.

A special flavour—a sweetly salty blue ice lolly.

Axel didn’t exactly hate it—actually, he liked it. Well, he remembered liking that ice cream.

“…We’ll go home after we eat some ice cream, will we?”

Axel started walking towards the shop in the middle of the town plaza.

“Follow me, Roxas! I’ll even show you around my special place!”

Roxas didn’t move.

“Geez, guess I got no choice.”

Axel went back, put his arm around Roxas’ shoulder, and slapped it.

Roxas trembled, surprised, and looked up at Axel.

“Let’s go,” said Axel, and when he started walking, Roxas came along. Slightly relieved, he headed for the cheap sweets shop in the middle of the plaza.

 

xxx

 

“Is this… a treasure chest?” Roxas’ worry made Axel turn around.

There was a treasure chest at Roxas’ feet.

“Good on you, you found it.”

Roxas stared at the treasure chest, unmoving.

“…What’s up?”

“Today’s mission was to find the treasure chest…”

Like I thought, Roxas seems a little… off, somehow.

“You know, Roxas. Even if you’ve found it, it doesn’t really mean much if you don’t take what’s in it, right?”

“Is it okay to take it?”

“Yeah, you can do what you like with whatever you find inside boxes during missions.”

And, a shining key appeared in Roxas’ hand.

Each member of the Organisation has their own weapon, but, could that be—a keyblade?

Roxas touched the treasure chest with the key, and it opened with a burst of light.

It’s a keyblade, no mistake.

That’s right, on that day, when I took Roxas back to the castle, to stand under Xemnas, he said so.

 

The one chosen by the Keyblade—

 

If so, is Roxas the nobody of the keyblade hero?

But of course—I haven’t heard anything about the hero becoming a heartless.

From inside the treasure chest, Roxas collected a—potion, and the key disappeared from his hand.

“Okay, good work. How was it? Do you kind of get how a mission works?” said Axel, making an effort to be composed.

“—Yeah.”

“You really okay?”

Roxas lifted his face. “This kind of thing is—”

“Hm?”

“It’s nothing,” said Roxas, with a shy smile.

That reaction was completely different from anything else until now.

Axel also let a smile spread across his face, with a strange sensation he’d never felt before.

“You’re getting there, aren’t you. Okay, since you worked really hard today, you get a reward,” said Axel, and he started walking.

“We’re not going to—RTC?”

“Come with me. You remember the special place, don’t you?”

Axel knew Roxas was following behind, even without turning around.

 

xxx

 

The special place—the big clock tower on top of Twilight Town station.

You could look out over Twilight Town from there.

Axel sat down at the front of the tower, and looked up at Roxas, who was still standing.

“You sit down too,” he said, and Roxas sat down next to him.

“Here, a reward.”

And so, Axel gave Roxas a sea-salt ice cream.

Roxas stared at the ice cream.

“Do you remember what this ice cream is called?”

“Umm…”

Roxas tilted his head to one side, looking like he was thinking back.

“Sea-salt ice cream—I told you before, right? Memorise it properly,” said Axel, gnawing on his ice cream. Roxas gnawed on his own ice cream, copying Axel.

“Salty—but sweet,” murmured Roxas.

“Roxas, you said the same thing recently, you know.”

“Did I—I don’t really remember all that well…”

Roxas turned his gaze vaguely at the sunset.

His hair was moving in the wind.

“Come to think of it, it’s been about a week since you joined the Organisation, hasn’t it?”

“Maybe…” said Roxas, eyes still on the sunset.

“Maybe…? Don’t you remember that, either?”

Roxas’ gaze dropped.

“Well, it means you finally get to go on missions like a real Organisation member.”

“Organisation member…”

Roxas was making a weird face for some reason.

“That makes today the beginning, or something, maybe.”

“The beginning—”

Roxas was looking at his ice cream again.

“If you don’t hurry up and eat it, it’ll melt on you.”

“—Okay.” Roxas bit his ice cream.

The clock tower’s bell rang out, telling the time, and a train was running in the distance.

This is Twilight Town—the town of twilight.

And this clock tower—was still a special place only to Axel.

 xxx

Chapter 2: Seasalt Icecream

xxx 

Missions were given one at a time from Saïx, every day.

On the 9th day, Roxas’ mission was with Marluxia. It was at Twilight Town, same as the day before. There wasn’t much sign of people. Just the setting sun, shining over the town.

It seemed like missions—or rather, training—was to continue in that town for a while.

“You’re Roxas, aren’t you. Let’s re-introduce ourselves. My name is Marluxia. I’m Number XI,” said Marluxia, in a gentle tone, looking at Roxas.

It was the first time he’d brushed with a keyblade wielder, even in his memories. He’d heard of them, though.

He couldn’t see anything special about the boy standing in front of him, as a nobody.

“What should I do today?” said Roxas, his gaze shifting slightly from Marluxia.

“Today, your mission is to collect hearts. Can you bring out your keyblade?”

“—yeah,” Roxas nodded, and made the keyblade appear in his hand.

The blade, shaped like a giant key, shone in Roxas’ hand.

It was the first time Marluxia had seen a keyblade.

“So you’re Number XIII, the one chosen by the keyblade,” muttered Marluxia, without realising, but Roxas didn’t show any special reaction.

Just then, as if called by the keyblade, a heartless appeared.

The black-bodied thing was a Shadow, a low level heartless.

“So the small fry have come out—Roxas, it’s sudden, but please show me the power of the keyblade. Defeat that heartless.”

Whether he’d been listening or not, Roxas ran at the heartless, keyblade in hand. There was no hesitation in his movements. Roxas swung the keyblade down at the Shadow, which faded away with a few blows. Marluxia had been hoping for strength that would bring a Shadow down in one blow, but as a yet newly-awakened nobody, it was to be expected.

“The thing you just defeated was a heartless called a Shadow.”

“…Heartless,” muttered Roxas, still gripping the keyblade.

“The heartless are beings of darkness that roam about, searching for hearts. There are two kinds of heartless. One is the pureblood type, such as the one you just defeated. Hearts do not emerge from pureblood heartless, even once defeated.”

“So how are hearts gathered?”

“Defeat emblem heartless. Those guys.”

Little heartless had appeared in the air in front of them.

“Got it.”

Once more, Roxas ran into the throng of heartless.

His agility wasn’t good, as expected. And then, from a defeated heartless, a heart floated up and vanished into the air.

It was the first time Marluxia had seen a ‘heart’ being collected before his very eyes.

If those hearts could be collected… but before that, there’s something that must be done.

Even so—the keyblade has marvellous power.

If that power was in my hands…

Roxas defeated all of the heartless. He turned back, breathing hard.

 “Is that okay?”

The keyblade disappeared from his hand.

“Yes—the things you defeated this time were emblem heartless. Unlike with those Shadows from before, after defeating them, somebody’s heart emerged, didn’t it. Today’s mission is to collect those hearts.

“How are those hearts collected?”

Marluxia was a little surprised at Roxas’ question.

How can a keyblade wielder not know such a thing?

“If you defeat heartless with your keyblade, they get collected.”

“…What happens to the collected hearts?”

The continuous questions showed that Roxas didn’t know a thing.

Marluxia took a breath, and told him.

“They gather in the great Kingdom Hearts.”

“Kingdom Hearts?” Roxas tilted his head.

I haven’t seen the real thing, either. But, as the ‘outcome of research’, the name was let known to me.

“The goal of our Organisation is to complete Kingdom Hearts. In order to do so, we must gather hearts.”

“Gather hearts—so, everyone else in the Organisation is gathering hearts too, I guess.”

“Only the keyblade can free hearts completely.”

“Huh?” Roxas’ voice rose, as if he was surprised.

“We—in other words, except for you, when those of the Organisation defeat heartless, the hearts aren’t collected. The released heart will, in due course, become a heartless again. Heart collection is something special that cannot be performed with anything but the keyblade you wield.”

“Something special…”

Roxas’ gaze dropped to the ground, as if he were thinking.

It appears that they really haven’t let Roxas know anything. Is he not being told? And, are these things that Roxas should be learning from now on? When Saïx put me in charge of this mission, I did not receive any special instructions. All he said was to teach him how to gather hearts.

“For the sake of our Organisation, defeat heartless, and complete the great Kingdom Hearts—we’re counting on you, Roxas,” he said, and Roxas nodded.

 

xxx

 

He had just finished reporting to Saïx, in the lobby.

“It looks like you’re progressing fairly well.”

“…Yeah.”

“Are you resting properly?”

“Resting?” Roxas asked.

“Whether you’re sleeping properly or not. Keeping yourself clean also comes under resting. It’s a mission to make sure you can perform on missions.”

“Probably…”

Saïx wasn’t very satisfied with Roxas’ answer.

“Arranging equipment and understanding your own skills is the same thing. And so, from today, you are to keep a journal.”

“Journal?”

“Yes, in order to understand yourself.”

Saïx handed Roxas a notebook.

“You don’t actually have to hand it in or anything. That is all. Go back to your room and rest,” was all Saïx said, and he went ahead and left the lobby.

In the lobby, members who had finished their missions were talking and relaxing. Roxas watched the members, sensing a strange sort of feeling in the air.

In the lobby was—Larxene, Demyx, and Luxord.

“What are you looking at,” Larxene sniped. Roxas looked away, flustered, and met Demyx’s eyes this time.

“You can’t play some kinda instrument, can you?” Demyx said.

“Instrument? What’s an instrument?”

“Like one of these.”

A strangely shaped weapon appeared in Demyx’s hands.

“What’s that?”

“It’s my sitar. Will you? Listen to this.”

Demyx touched the weapon, and a strange sound rang out.

“Shut up with that noisy thing!” yelled Larxene, disagreeably, and Demyx shrugged his shoulders.

“Which one’s noisier, anyway…?” Demyx mumbled, looking away.

“Huuuh? Did you say something, cranky-pants?” Larxene stood up from the sofa.

“…In life, such pleasures are necessary, too.”

Luxord had slid in to stand in front of Larxene.

“Eh, whatever. I’ll be saying goodbye to that racket soon enough.”

“What do you mean?” asked Demyx, forgetting he had been yelled at.

“It’s got nothing to do with peons like you. Later.”

Larxene left the lobby.

Behind her, Demyx played his sitar once more.

“That woman is such a pain in the ass!”

“One of the finer points of the fairer sex, is it not?” said Luxord, stroking his beard.

“Don’t really get you there, man. Right, Roxas?”

“I… don’t really understand,” replied Roxas.

Women are a pain, I guess? I don’t really understand what a woman is, anyway.

“Ah, you’ll understand someday,” grinned Luxord.

 

xxx

 

The next day, Roxas was in Twilight Town again, with Zexion.

Zexion, who had been the youngest member of the Organisation until Roxas came, was watching Roxas’ movements, unwaveringly.

If the keyblade did not exist, our plan would not succeed.

It’s contradictory, saying that we are searching to seek what we lost ourselves, Zexion thought, recalling their former research. I don’t think our choice to research the heartless, and their creation process, was a mistake. But, as a consequence, we lost our own hearts.

“Was that okay?” asked Roxas, who had finished his mission.

“Very good job. I hope that you will want to complete your next mission in such a positive manner, too. Is there anything you’d like to ask?” Zexion asked, and Roxas stopped moving.

Zexion had meant for Roxas to persistently ask questions about the mission, but the words that came from Roxas’ mouth were unexpected.

“What is Kingdom Hearts?”

Zexion hesitated for a moment on how he should answer.

But, Roxas continued, not noticing Zexion’s manner.

“Defeating heartless and gathering hearts makes Kingdom Hearts, right? Are we going to do something, once we’ve made Kingdom Hearts?” Roxas asked, in rapid succession, and Zexion was lost in thought for a while.

How should I answer…

Roxas’ gaze was fixed right on Zexion.

“…The goal of our Organisation is to fuse with the people’s hearts of kingdom hearts, and become complete. All the members of the Organisation are nobodies, missing hearts—that is to say, since the time we were born into this world, we’ve lacked hearts.

Of course, I wonder if he can understand that explanation.

And then, is it necessary to make Roxas understand?

“So, does that mean I don’t have a heart, either?” Roxas asked, looking strange.

Perhaps he still doesn’t understand what a ‘heart’ is yet.

Before, that me, who researched, and had a ‘heart’, thought he understood a little of what a ‘heart’ was.

The uplifting feelings from the time I had a ‘heart’, engraved in my memories, cannot be felt any more. Now I can only remember, and work hard to try and taste it once again.

“Yes, that’s right. We members of the Organisation do not have hearts. That is why we seek them. Complete Kingdom Hearts, an aggregation of people’s hearts, and merge—in order for that to happen, heartless must be defeated with the keyblade you wield, and hearts gathered. In order to achieve the Organisation’s goals, each member of the Organisation is given their own role. Your role is to defeat heartless with the keyblade, and collect hearts.”

But—I’ve heard that Roxas has no memories.

If so, it means he doesn’t have memories from the time he had a heart either, like we do. Perhaps even feeling that he has no ‘heart’ is difficult.

Roxas listened to Zexion’s explanation, looking as if he was thinking about something to himself.

“Is there anything else you would like to ask?”

“…Ah, no.” Roxas shook his head.

I wonder if Roxas understood about the ‘heart’—, Zexion thought suddenly, stepping into a corridor with Roxas.

 

xxx

 

Having finished his mission, Marluxia called out to Axel.

“I heard that you’re coming to Castle Oblivion, too—”

“News travels fast.” Axel stopped walking, and looked back at Marluxia.

“Well, you and I have different missions. You’re going on matters of the ‘keyblade hero’, I see.”

“You’re well informed, aren’t you?”

“The members being made to go over there know that sort of thing,” he answered. Axel shrugged. “Aren’t you interested? In the keyblade hero.”

“Not especially.”

That’s the truth. I’ve got no reason to have special interest.

“Were you not showing interest in Roxas?”

“Can’t help it, I’m sort of in charge of him,” Axel answered, and turning his back on Marluxia, started walking.

But, the next words made him stop.

“So you wouldn’t be interested, even if you heard that Roxas is the nobody of that keyblade hero—?”

Turning around without realising, Axel looked at Marluxia, eyes narrowed. It didn’t look like he was lying.

Seeing Axel’s state, Marluxia laughed. “How honest. Just like a human.”

“Is that a compliment?”

“Perhaps it is a compliment, for what it means to have reactions as if one had a heart,” Marluxia said, a bewitching smile still pasted on his mouth.

“So? Is that all the business you have with me?” Axel asked. Marluxia gazed fixedly at Axel.

 

xxx

 

A few days later, Roxas was in Twilight Town with Axel.

“This is the second mission I’ve been on with you, isn’t it.”

“Yeah—” Roxas nodded, and gripped the keyblade.

Today’s mission was to gather hearts, too. It boiled down to heartless extermination.

“Will we go?”

Roxas broke into a run at the sound of Axel’s voice.

I thought he’d have done heaps of missions by now, but I heard from Saïx that this is the first real one.

Roxas was moving with far more agility than the first day he’d gone on a mission, and behind him, Axel was supporting him, throwing his chakrams at heartless.

 We Organisation members, other than Roxas, can’t get hearts even if we defeat heartless.

In other words, when I go out on a ‘heart gathering’ mission with Roxas, supporting him becomes my role.

But Roxas was running, swinging the keyblade, without even looking back at Axel. His movements were pretty admirable. When he had gathered enough hearts, Roxas finally turned back to Axel.

“That’s it, isn’t it.”

“…Yeah.”

The keyblade vanished from Roxas’ hand.

Beads of sweat stood out on Roxas’ forehead, as he steadied his heavy breathing.

“So what do we do now?” asked Axel, in a light tone.

“What do we do…? I planned on reporting to Saïx and then sleeping in my room, like always.”

Close, but no cigar.

Axel peered into Roxas’ face, scratching his head.

“You know, Roxas…”

Just then, the town’s children—the three from before—ran past Axel and Roxas.

“Hurry up, Pence!”

“Wait~!”

“Loser treats the winner to ice cream, you know!”

Seems like Roxas and those kids are destined to run into each other or something.

“Just now…?

Roxas was watching the children’s backs strangely.

He didn’t seem to remember that he had seen them the first time he had been with Axel.

“That was the town’s children, just now.”

“Hmm…”

Roxas narrowed his eyes. Axel was surprised by his reaction.

“Do they all do that?”

“That…?”

Axel didn’t really understand what Roxas meant.

“Running around in a pack like that, and, making noise—” Roxas asked, and Axel thought that his expression was a little different than it had been up until then.

Perhaps he’s remembering something from his past, when he spent time like that.

“That’s… something people with hearts do, I guess?”

“A heart, is it…”

Roxas hung his head, and looked at the ground. Axel scratched his head, sensing some kind of pain-in-the-ass atmosphere in the silence.

And then he said, “Will we have some ice cream, too?”

“Why?”

“Why…? Cause…”

I don’t know what I should say.

I just want to eat ice cream and talk with Roxas in that place like we did the day we met, that’s all, but I’m getting the feeling that I’ve gotta dress it up in different words or something.

Roxas probably—wouldn’t understand, if I didn’t.

After taking a breath, Axel said, “Because we’re friends, see.”

Saying it is really freaking embarrassing. But, saying it out loud gives it significance.

And I couldn’t think of any other excuses.

“Friends…”

“Friends eat ice cream together, talk about stupid things and laugh, that sort of stuff. Like those guys from before, for example.”

Roxas looked up at Axel, a strange look on his face.

“Alright, let’s go.”

Axel started walking towards the cheap sweets shop, as if he were fleeing from Roxas’ gaze.

 

xxx

 

Children were talking to each other in the open space in front of the clock tower.

Does that condition have deep meaning?

Roxas watched them as he ate his ice cream.

I can feel a greater sense of self from Roxas than he had the day we first met, or the day of his first mission.

But, it’s still hollow and cold, somehow. That’s something all nobodies have in common.

“Hey, Roxas.”

Roxas lifted his face.

What was I going to say, again?

“When we’ve finished a mission, let’s eat ice cream here again. It’s boring to just go back and forth between the castle and missions, right?”

Even I’m surprised at those lines.

Just like the things I said before, even I wasn’t expecting it. But, it just popped out of my mouth automatically.

Roxas looked at the children in the open space again, with a strange look on his face.

“Yeah—friends, right…”

It was probably just my imagination, but I thought I saw Roxas smile just a little.

“Well, I won’t be able to eat ice cream here for a little while, though.”

“Huh…?”

Roxas’ eyes went wide.

“It’s been decided that I’m going to Castle Oblivion for a while, starting tomorrow.”

“Castle Oblivion…”

“You still don’t know anything but Twilight Town, do you? But there are heaps of worlds out there, and the Organisation has a castle in another in-between world. That’s Castle Oblivion. Got it memorised?”

“…So there are places like that…” Roxas looked down. “When do you come home?”

“Hm—I wonder when. When I’m back, let’s eat ice cream here again.”

“…Okay.”

Roxas’ gaze followed a train, running in the distance.

“Well, I’ve gotta head back soon. Heaps of stupid things to get ready.”

“Oh, then I’ll also—”

“You relax and eat your ice cream. See ya.”

Axel stood up, opening darkness on the side of the clock tower, and his figure vanished.

Roxas was left alone.

“…It’s salty…” Roxas muttered, gnawing on his ice cream.

Just then, Roxas saw that something was written on the ice cream stick, and put the rest in his mouth in one go.

“What is this…”

‘Winner’ was written on the finished ice cream stick.

xxx

More coming soon!

2 responses to “Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days: Vol. 1 The 14th

  1. Thanks! Can’t wait 4 more! ^_^

  2. Good story!!! (=

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