Written by: Kanemaki Tomoco
Original Plan: Nomura Tetsuya and Nojima Kazushige
Illustration: Amano Shiro
Copyrighted by Disney, Square Enix and Touchstone Pictures
Chapter 4: Wrong Switch
“Fwaa~ahh…,” Axel yawned, stretching out on the sofa. The unchangingly cold and uncomfortable sofa.
There was still no one in the lobby yet.
Maybe I’m a bit early… Well that’s to be expected, seeing as I pulled an all-nighter to write the report for the mission at Castle Oblivion I was on until yesterday. And just cause I spent all night doing the report doesn’t mean I was slacking off on the mission.
From his place on the sofa, Axel turned to look out the window up at Kingdom Hearts, floating there.
“You’re early, aren’t you?”
Axel tore his gaze away from Kingdom Hearts at the sound of the voice. Saïx was standing there.
“So are you.”
“It’s just that you’re always late,” said Saïx, and went to stand in his usual place.
Is it that time already.
Axel yawned widely again, stretching, and one more person appeared. It was Xion.
“…Morning,” Xion replied, averting her gaze, and walked towards Saïx without even giving Axel a chance to continue. Her turned back seemed to reject Axel.
“Saïx. What’s my mission today?”
“Heartless extermination in Twilight Town.”
Without one strictly unnecessary word leaving her lips, Xion disappeared into the darkness she’d opened up in the corner of the lobby.
Now that I think about it, I didn’t see Xion at the clock tower yesterday, or the day before that.
“……..” Axel stared at the spot where Xion had disappeared.
As if noticing Axel’s gaze, Saïx spoke. “…You’ve heard the story, right?”
“Story? No, I haven’t spoken to Xion since I got back here.”
Maybe Saïx is thinking he’s said too much.
“It has become clear that that thing is a failure, that’s all.”
“And what do you mean by that?
At almost the exact same time Axel asked that, Roxas appeared in the lobby. Axel held his tongue.
“You’re early, Axel.”
“Yeah…” Axel nodded noncommittally, returning his gaze to Saïx, but Saïx was expressionless.
“Roxas, today you are to collect hearts in Twilight Town.”
“Hurry and leave.”
Roxas nodded, and turned to Axel. “Kay, Axel. See you later.”
Roxas hurried into a dark corridor, just as Xion had.
Xion and Roxas have been sent to the same world on their missions… And the fact that it is Twilight Town is pretty interesting too, but I have no reason in particular to ask.
But instead, Saïx was the one to open his mouth. “…You have questions, don’t you?”
He had made that remark after making sure that Roxas had completely vanished. Axel stared at Saïx, took a short breath, and asked, “Are Xion and Roxas on the same mission?”
“Each has their own mission, one to defeat a Heartless and one to collect hearts, but I’ve given them the opportunity to meet up over there.”
“On purpose? You did? What for?” Axel threw the questions one after the other.
“It’s still necessary to keep them friendly to a certain degree.”
“What do you mean?”
“…Don’t get too involved with them.”
“What do you mean by that. Only saying that much?”
“You’ll see soon enough. Well then, next is your mission for today. The man wearing the coat—no, maybe for you it would be better if I called him Riku.”
“…Have you already read my report?"
“I can guess without having to read it.”
One of the things I had to investigate at Castle Oblivion was the coats. But, the coats hadn’t disappeared. This means that someone had gotten their hands on one through some other means. There are a limited number of people who could do such a thing.
Axel had written the name of Riku, whose whereabouts were unknown, in his report, prefaced with ‘it’s only a guess, but.’
Doesn’t mean I have anything to base it on, but it looks like Saïx is thinking the same thing anyway.
“Pursue his whereabouts. But, don’t challenge him to a fight. Xion lost.”
“Xion lost…?” So that’s why she looked so depressed.
“Though it just means that thing is a failure.”
“I think calling Xion a failure is going too far if her opponent was Riku, you know.”
The Riku I met before didn’t seem all that strong. But, Riku has that THING lurking in his body. That thing, the power of darkness… no, the power of Xehanort. Riku wasn’t able to control that power, in Castle Oblivion. But, time has passed since then. I don’t know what he’s like, now.
“…I wonder about that.”
“I don’t care which world you go to,” Saïx said, cutting him off. “Even just that presence is fine. Find out about him. If you do, it should give us clues as to where the Hero is.”
So, he’s not going to answer me any further. Why do you dislike Xion so much…?
“Got it,” Axel nodded, narrowing his eyes at Saïx.
“Don’t get too involved with Xion,” Saïx repeated, and Axel stared back at Saïx, testing him.
“Is that an order… or a warning?”
Saïx didn’t answer.
Today’s mission too seemed easy. Xion trudged wearily in the direction of the target Heartless. The mission was in a familiar town—Twilight Town.
Yesterday, and the day before, I didn’t go to the clock tower. I haven’t talked to Roxas and Axel. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I don’t know what I should say. And of course, I don’t know what I should do.
On top of that, I can’t sleep. I dream. It’s scary
I don’t remember what the dreams are about, but they’re very scary.
Xion stopped walking. She could hear the bell of the clock tower in the distance.
What should I do?
Xion gasped at the sudden call, and turned around. That voice belonged to—Roxas. He was smiling and running towards her.
Roxas is in front of me, out of breath. This can’t be… a coincidence, no. Did he follow me?
“What about your mission?”
“I have my mission here, today. What about you?”
“Really… I have mine here, too.”
Usually we don’t have separate missions on the same world, so it feels weird… Maybe there really are coincidences like this. Or did Roxas make it happen? I don’t know why Saïx would go to the trouble of doing it, though.
I don’t know what to say to Roxas. Xion looked up at the sunset. But, I have to tell him properly.
Xion looked at Roxas. “Hey, Roxas...,” she said, taking a deep breath, and then she said “I’m sorry for running away yesterday.”
“It’s fine, don’t worry about it,” Roxas said, and Xion was a little relieved.
I wonder why I ran away, that time… I think I was scared of something.
Xion looked at her fingers, and kept speaking. “See, I… failed a mission.” My fingers feel cold, for some reason. “Roxas, you heard about the fake Organisation member, right? I lost to him. And then Saïx called me a defective failure.”
Roxas frowned unhappily.
Hey, Roxas. You and I shouldn’t have hearts, so why is it so painful for us, do you think?
“It’s okay. I don’t care what that guy says,” Xion said, and Roxas stopped what he was going to say.
Yeah, cause I don’t care. It’s okay. But my chest hurts.
Xion looked up at the sunset. Then, Roxas spoke.
“Xion… How about we do our missions together today?”
“It’ll mean we both have to do two missions, but we’ll definitely finish faster if we do it together.” Roxas was smiling.
Maybe you’re right… maybe.
“…Yeah. We can hurry up and have some ice cream, so maybe it’s a good idea,” Xion replied, thinking. Just like that time… like when I couldn’t use my Keyblade. Roxas is always doing nothing but helping me.
“Let’s go, Xion.”
After defeating two giant Heartless and buying ice cream, they then headed up to the clock tower—to the usual place.
“Axel’s late,” said Roxas, eating ice cream. “Or, maybe we finished too early.”
Roxas is smiling faintly… but I can’t smile. Xion stared vaguely at her half-eaten ice cream. Hey, I bet Roxas could have beaten that guy, couldn’t he? Today, it felt like Roxas did most of my share of the mission for me.
That fake Organisation member… I don’t know his name. I don’t know, but. But I wonder why it feels like I’ve seen his face before.
I wonder if my Keyblade… really is fake, like he said. Fake, sham, lie, failure… defective failure.
“…Xion… Xion!” Xion gave a start and looked up, at Roxas’ voice. “What’s wrong?”
“Sorry… I was just thinking…”
There are so many things I have to think about. Many, many things. Roxas doesn’t think, does he? About us, about Nobodies, about Kingdom Hearts… about the heart. Why is it this painful?
“Why are we doing this kind of thing?”
“Huh?” The smile disappeared from Roxas’ face. Roxas seemed to think a little, and then he spoke. “Why…? So we can get hearts, of course.”
His answer was like a textbook response.
“Are hearts really that important?” Xion asked.
“I dunno.” Roxas tilted his head. “But, once we have hearts… We won’t wonder why we did those things, anymore.”
Yeah, Roxas’ answer sounds like something he’s been told, of course. With that answer, he doesn’t have to wonder about anything. Stop thinking—that’s that.
When we have hearts, everything will be resolved… really?
“…I don’t get it,” Xion muttered. Roxas looked at her with anxious eyes. “I wonder why I’m in the Organisation….?” She continued, looking down.
Why am I in this place? Why do I have to collect hearts with the Keyblade? A fake… Why do I care so much about what that guy said?
“I’ve been having nothing but weird dreams lately.”
“I don’t remember what kind of dream. Only that… it was scary.”
Yeah… I’ve definitely had dreams about him, too. I feel like I’ve met him in my dreams. That guy… who is he? But, I don’t remember a thing. I can’t remember my dreams. It’s painful. It feels like these gloomy things are always nesting in my chest… in my heart.
”Xigbar said that you and I are special Nobodies,” said Roxas in a bright voice, and Xion looked up.
“Special…? That’s……. got something to do with me being a defective failure, hasn’t it…”
“That’s not what it means,” Roxas denied hurriedly.
Hey, what was with that denial? Roxas thinks I’m a defective failure too, doesn’t he? What on earth is meant to be special about me. That I can use a Keyblade? Even that…
“Even if you and I are both special, Roxas, we sure are different.” Xion stood up and stared at the sky.
“Xion.” Roxas took her hand. For an instant—she saw something.
Red… the sunset. Sky—
I remember. The never-ending road. Crossroads… and, the moon. The moon, floating in the. Sky—
“Let me go—” She shook her hand free from Roxas’.
And then Xion left the usual spot without turning back.
In the end, Axel hadn’t been able to find any clues regarding the man who wore the Organisation’s coat—Riku.
“One ice cream please, missus."
“Coming right up.”
Popping into the milkbar and buying an ice cream, Axel dragged himself towards the clock tower.
I wasn’t expecting to find Riku easily in the first place. I bet Saïx thought the same. But Saïx will probably pull that magnificently horrible face and have a nasty word or two to say if I state that ‘I couldn’t find him’, but then that’s Saïx’s ‘personality’. In short, Saïx pretending to be a human just involves just a whole lot of that kind of thing. It doesn’t mean that he himself is really feeling some kind of displeasure. That too is natural, seeing as he has no heart.
“This is so salty,” Axel muttered just like every time, biting his ice cream as he climbed the slope that led to the station.
In any case… for Xion to have lost to Riku, that means that Riku and Xion made contact. I wonder if Riku saw Xion’s face? If he did, maybe he felt something, seeing that face that looks so much like Naminé’s.
Upon reaching the top of the clock tower, Axel could only see one person’s back sitting there—Roxas.
Wasn’t he working with Xion?
Roxas turned, and his expression was somehow gloomy. “…Axel…”
“So Xion didn’t come today, either?” Axel asked, pretending he knew nothing.
Roxas looked down. “She was here until just before, but…”
Looks like something happened.
Axel agonised for a second as to whether he should say something, but he decided not to ask. Whether he was obeying Saïx’s words or not, Axel himself didn’t know. But—it still feels like I should say something now, that’s all.
Axel gnawed his ice cream beside the silent Roxas.
“…I’m going back now, too.” Roxas stood up.
“What, you’re leaving? After I went to the trouble of coming out here?”
“Haha… ha, um… I guess you’re right, sorry.” Roxas sat down again. Axel looked at him, chewing on his ice cream stick.
When his face is like that… I can’t NOT get involved.
“Did something happen?”
He’s a bad liar. I can pick it straight away. But, I guess that isn’t concrete proof that something did happen. Something must have happened that Roxas didn’t understand the reason for either, thought Axel. An emotion somewhere in my memories.
“Girls are complicated, aren’t they,” muttered Axel, and Roxas looked up at him, surprised.
“How did you know I was thinking about Xion?”
There’s something hilarious about him asking that with such a serious face. With just the evidence we have here lined up, no one would think that Roxas was thinking about anyone other than Xion.
“Cause you’re simple, Roxas… Well, all us Nobodies are simple, though.”
Without even snickering at what Axel half-meant as a joke, Roxas threw another question at him, seriously.
“Are humans complicated?”
Axel took a breath, and, smiling slightly, said, “They’re more complicated than Nobodies… but girls are even more complicated.”
“What about a girl Nobody like Xion?”
“I guess, simpler than a human but more complicated than a Nobody.”
Roxas tilted his head. “I don’t really get it.”
Well of course, seeing as I’m saying it this way so you won’t understand very well. “First of all, when it comes to girls, if you press the wrong button, you’re out. Got it memorised?” Axel said, smiling. He didn’t think this was a very serious matter—and he said it in a way so that Roxas wouldn’t, either.
“Maybe I… pressed the wrong button,” said Roxas, heaving a great sigh.
“…In that case, there’s nothing you can do but give her some time.”
“Why?” Roxas’ reply was slightly discontent.
“Most cases, you’ll make mistakes if you hurry this part. You’re wasting your time chasing after her,” Axel answered, and Roxas sighed again.
“…Okay, I’ll do that then.” Roxas hung his head in defeat.
He’s just like a human. Axel found this funny, and he laughed out loud. And then without thinking, he said, “You’re a good kid, Roxas.”
Roxas was ruffled, and he glared at Axel, pursing his lips. “Don’t treat me like a kid!”
The sight of this was even funnier, and Axel couldn’t stop laughing.
Axel held back his laughter somehow. “It will be fine, Xion can take care of herself,” he said, his mouth still twisted into a grin.
“I hope so, anyway,” Roxas said, and he stared out at the sunset.
It will be fine—Xion can take care of herself.
Hey, who are you? Hey, do you know who I am?
Xion tossed and turned in bed.
Have I just woken from a dream? Or am I still dreaming? I don’t know. I have to get up… But, my body feels heavy. I’ll definitely be fine in a bit.
That reminds me, what was ‘that’ I saw yesterday? When I left Roxas… ‘that’. A pitch black sky. But, I can’t remember very well any more. Scenes from dreams… I don’t really know if it’s similar.
Okay, this time I have to get up. Okay… yeah, I’m in my bed, like always.
Today… I’m not allowed to lose.
Today I am investigating a world called Halloween Town. Roxas should have been here too, a few days ago.
This was actually the first time Axel had been to this world. It felt to him like this dusky world was well suited to members of the Organisation.
Axel glanced around as he destroyed Heartless.
It looked like there was a hidden passage over by a tombstone, but suddenly a ghost-shaped Heartless popped up, throwing Axel back onto the ground.
Axel threw a chakram after it.
What a pain in the ass. There’s no sign of Riku on this world, either. Where the hell has he gotten to, anyway?
Roxas sat vaguely down on the clock tower, and ate an ice cream.
Axel hasn’t come today, either. And I can’t meet Xion.
“The wrong button, hm…,” Roxas muttered, eating the ice cream.
“You’re by yourself again today?”
“Yeah…,” Roxas answered, without turning around. I don’t have to turn around to know who that voice belongs to.
Axel sat down beside him, and began to eat an ice cream like Roxas.
This is… boring. Tedious. Is it because Xion isn’t here?
Roxas sighed. Axel saw, and gave a small smile. “I’ve been busy, and it looks like they’re keeping Xion busy too.”
“…I know that, come on.”
I wonder what my face looks like, Axel having said that.
I’m making this face cause I want to, aren’t I.
Roxas looked down.
The sunset in Twilight Town never changes. It never changes, but Xion isn’t here.
Roxas stared vaguely out at the sinking sun.
Seeing a figure heading to the lobby, Axel paused for a second, then called out. “Xion!”
The figure stopped, then stiffened, unmoving. It didn’t even turn around.
“Hey, it’s been a while."
“Has it, now…,” said Xion in a tiny voice, without looking Axel in the eye.
“It has, hasn’t it? We haven’t had ice cream together since I got back.”
“—Oh, really… yeah, you’re right.”
“I’ve seen you from time to time in the lobby, though.”
“Yeah… I’m sorry, I’m in a hurry.”
Axel grabbed her arm as she went to leave. “Wait.”
“Let me go—”
As Xion tried to escape, her body shook, left only barely standing, thanks to Axel’s grip on her arm.
Axel peered at her face, and it was sheet-white.
“Are you feeling unwell?”
Xion shook her head. “It’s nothing… I’m sorry.”
She hurried away.
Xion can take care of herself.
Realising the dangerousness of the words he’d said to Roxas, Axel chased after Xion.
“I said wait.”
He grabbed her arm again.
“I’m so sorry, let me go.”
“The fake Organisation member—”
Xion looked up. “You know about him?” Her eyes were wide.
“Everyone knows about him, if that’s all you mean.”
“…I guess you’re right…” She looked away, and hung her head.
Maybe she’s absorbed that everyone knows how she lost. Axel let go of Xion’s arm, and looked at her.
“Been going around investigating where he his.”
Xion’s gaze shot straight to him. “You have?”
“That’s right.” Axel let a beat pass before he spoke again. “His name is Riku.”
“…Riku…,” Xion murmured, lip trembling.
So she didn’t know that name.
“Do you know what he is?”
Axel nodded. “…Yeah.”
“Do you know where he is?”
“No… not yet.”
“…I see.” Xion averted her gaze again.
“Xion, did something happen?”
“It’s nothing! I just lost, that’s all… to Riku.”
“That’s not all, is it?”
She’s probably lying. It’s different to Roxas’ bad lying, it’s a more serious lie.
“Whatever, Xion. He’s special. It’s not weird that you lost.”
“Why do you know something like that?”
“Hurry up and leave for your missions, you two.”
Someone was there to interrupt just as they had gotten to the heart of the matter. No guesses as to who always interrupts at times like this—Saïx.
“Hurry up and leave.”
Xion run away exactly like she was escaping, and Axel reached his arm out after her, hands clasping on air. He breathed in, and Saïx spoke.
“I told you twice not to get too involved.”
“…That didn’t mean I was getting all that involved.”
“What on earth are you doing, giving your information to that thing. It’s meaningless.”
“Meaningless, you say—So then, why did you put Roxas and Xion together after she’d lost to Riku?”
Xion has gone strange because of the battle with Riku. After that battle, Saïx made Xion and Roxas have contact on purpose. And Xion and Roxas had trouble after that mission… Was that Saïx’s goal?
Saïx shook his head slightly. “I can’t answer at present.”
Axel snorted at his behaviour. “Again, you’ve changed—could I say?”
“No—Oh, that’s right. The way things are now, I think I need those two to make contact again. But, you telling Xion and Roxas about Riku is another thing entirely.”
“…I don’t get what you mean.”
“I mean to speak clearly. In any case, don’t get too involved. That’s all.”
Axel breathed in, and watched him go.
His name is Riku. Riku is his name. I have to defeat him…
Xion brought the Keyblade down on a Heartless. It vanished, a little heart floating up from its body.
I don’t want to defeat these weak Heartless, I want to defeat him, who is much stronger.
Riku… there’s no way I can lose to Riku.
I have to get stronger than Riku, and then… and then?
Today too, I couldn’t even feel a sign of Riku. I think that if I could find him, I could improve the situation a little.
On top of the clock tower as always, Axel noticed a presence behind his back, and biting his ice cream, called in the brightest voice he could muster, “Hey! Good job, you must be tired.”
But Roxas sat down next to Axel in silence.
“She still hasn’t come.”
“I see.” Roxas looked down.
“We have a problem, don’t we.”
Roxas shook his head.
“Xion can come or not, it’s her choice.
“Well, yeah, but…” That doesn’t sound like something Roxas would normally say.
The two of them began to eat, side by side. The sunset was pretty and red, as always.
“There’s something I want to ask,” Roxas said, about half-way through his ice cream.
“What’s wrong? Have you got some kind of trouble?”
“It’s about the world I went to today.”
Roxas tiled his head as if searching for words, and the he spoke.
“What is love?”
“How is the power of love born?”
Roxas was dead serious.
“Love is a special power that only humans have.”
I don’t trust myself to explain this right. But I want to answer Roxas and Xion’s questions about ‘the human heart’ to my best extent.
“So Nobodies don’t have it?”
“You need a heart for it, see.”
“A heart…” Roxas was lost in thought.
Axel kept speaking. “There’s something only born between special people who are even more than friends… that’s love.”
“More than friends… So, best friends?”
“It’s a bit different than best friends…” Axel searched for words that Roxas could understand easily.
“You mean there’s a connection even higher than best friends?”
“It’s not about being higher or lower,” explained Axel, looking at Roxas. Yep, looks like there’s no way I can explain this well. “Oh well, we don’t have hearts. So it’s got nothing to do with us.”
“If we had hearts, would we be able to know it?” Roxas asked, doggedly.
“If we complete Kingdom Hearts, even you will be able to know it.”
Looks like those are the magic words. We’ll be able to know it if Kingdom Hearts is completed… really? No one has ever seen Kingdom Hearts complete before. But there’s nothing else for us but to believe.
The pitiful Heartless gather hearts….
“Kingdom Hearts…,” Roxas murmured, gazing at the sunset.
Axel looked at the profile of his face, and took a quiet breath.
TBC in Chapter 5: Sleeping Xion
+Defective failure Saïx uses two words to describe her, to Axel he used one that means she is a failure and cannot do anything, and the other implies she is made wrong like a failed machine or a failed drawing. Hence defective failure. Lol idk
+Sky Sora is sky in Japanese, idk if this is meant to be symbolic.
Criticism, suggestions, questions and comments always welcome ♥