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A Tale of Renewal and Rebirth

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Chapter One

A long, long time ago, they were just people: children and scientists searching out answers to the world. The one world. The only world they knew of. There was the occasional suspicious thought or sensation of things not being quite right. They could not know of the master plans occurring behind their backs or of sacrifices made for them.

They could not know that their lives were ending.

XxX

What was made once can be made again.

XxX

It was cold when he awoke. Axel frowned as he struggled into the waking world, wondering why Hell was so cold and how he, a nobody without heart or soul, managed to get into Hell in the first place. He always thought he'd simply stop when he finally faded away. And he clearly remembered fading after engaging in a kamikaze attack meant to protect Sora and maybe see Roxas one last time. The thought of Roxas made Axel's heart hurt.

Axel bolted into a sitting position, hand clutching the spot where his heart should be, surprised at the sharp sense of pain. He could feel the thumping of the organ that he had long lost beneath his hand. The red head looked around in wild-eyed wonder and found Xaldin, Vexen, Lexaeus and Zexion all looking at him. Xaldin and Lexaeus were just looking at him curiously, Zexion seemed like he was trying to figure something out and Vexen was a cross between murderous and desperate to study Axel. In the end, the scientist won out over the revenge seeker.

"How does it feel to have your heart back?" Vexen asked. "Is there any pain or discomfort? Unusual symptoms?"

"I am, er, was dead. Having a heartbeat, let alone a heart, seems like a pretty unusual symptom to me." Axel said. "Where are we?"

"We're not dead." Vexen said. "We're in Radiant Garden. Now I know that woman left the blood pressure cuff here somewhere."

"I'm home?" Axel said.

"We're all home. In case you forgot, the rest of us all worked at the castle with Ansem the Wise." Xaldin said. "Everyone that was living in Radiant Garden at the time is here except for Xemnas. We seem to have misplaced him."

Axel paused to let that sink in. While he was distracted, Vexen had finished rummaging around some cabinets and started checking Axel's blood pressure. The red head finally noticed the blond scientist and was about to swat him away when he took notice of two unconscious bodies in separate hospital beds. Xigbar and Saix. Looking down, Axel found that he was also in a hospital bed. Except for Vexen, who was muttering under his breath while pumping up the cuff, the others were all sat on beds as well. Everyone was wearing hospital gowns.

"I need an update." Axel said.

"From what I understand, we all appeared in the places we lost our hearts. Someone then brought us back to Ansem the Wise's castle and we've been here, in the medical ward, for quite some time. Working out a basic timeline, we're all waking up in the orders of our deaths. Which means that Vexen has been awake the longest and has had plenty of time to study us all." Zexion said. "I suspect that the others are all waking up in their home worlds."

"So why do you need to experiment on me, huh?" Axel asked the scientist.

"You killed me. The least you could do is let me examine you. Besides, an unconscious body only answers so many questions. There's information that I can only get from you when you're capable of talking to me. Also, there seems to be some differences based on how we died. I have burn marks and Zexion has very little energy. Lexaeus and Xaldin have few if any injuries and I suspect that that's because they were killed by with a keyblade wielder. In fact, I think being killed by the keyblade wielders has actually healed them a little." Vexen said. "I wish I had access to a lab. We finally have fresh blood in our veins that I can test!"

"He's enjoying this." Lexaeus said.

"Axel, when you were... Lea?" Vexen asked. When Axel nodded, Vexen said, "Did Lea have blue eyes instead of green?"

The Flurry of the Dancing Flames blinked at the question. He looked at the others, all of whom were now trying to peer into his eyes. "Yeah, I think they were."

"It's interesting. Even and I am identical so I haven't changed at all. Xaldin and Saix have both lost their pointed ears and have ears in a more typical shape for a human. You are also missing your tattoos. It seems that having hearts also means having the physical traits of our somebodies."

"Then perhaps we are our somebodies." Zexion said. "Maybe we should stop talking like Ienzo and Even and the others are the ones who are dead and accept that Zexion and Vexen are the dead ones."

"I'm not quite sure I'd know how to go back to being Lea." Axel said. "I'm pretty sure he'd hate Axel."

"For now it doesn't matter. We don't know how we got our hearts back. This may only be a temporary state of existence." Vexen replied.

"After all that effort put into Kingdom Hearts and our 'mission,' I do not want to go back to being a nobody." Lexaeus said.

A silence settled down on the room. What did it mean to have a heart again?

XxX

Xigbar woke up in the middle of the night. Saix was awake an hour after that.

XxX

Does this count as a second or a third chance to live your life anew?