It had been a fire that had taken his heart and like a phoenix he had risen from his own ashes. Reborn. Remade. Given a new name and a new purpose.
And oh how the flames had consumed him yet left him unharmed. How they had allowed him to return and granted him power.
They had torn through him but now he was their master and they were the key to his future.
With no heart, with nothing connecting him to the light any longer, what choice did he have?
The darkness was so close, so tempting, and so, so inviting.
He’d been abandoned, hadn’t he?
The fires told him yes.
What more was there to see, to understand? He could be strong alone. The warmth of an inviting fire could become a burning weapon, leaving a trail of tears and heartache in its wake. But he had no heart left to feel, right? Then what were these things within him, these emotions that fuelled him forward?
Your strength, the flames whispered, he has moved on and so too shall you. We are your power.
The ties of friendship still clung to him; stubborn, and… jealous? It seemed the light would not so easily give in to the darkness he had already accepted. There was a bitterness that tinged his every step, his every action, although he kept the appearance of a carefree and lighthearted human. And the two children, XIII and XIV, they were the cause of this light, weren’t they? They were the ones keeping him from falling to the darkness entirely. It had been his friend once. But that string had been severed when his friend had abandoned him to go off on his happy, magical keyblade adventure. But these two children… They were his new friends.
Exactly , the fire laughed, don’t you remember you were just like them before?
He had been a child too, just a child, when his heart had been taken. So much had been ripped away. But the one he had trusted above all others had turned their back, hadn’t they? And the pain of that hurt more than any blade, more than any fire that could seek to end him. He had trusted them, had loved them.
Yes , the darkness whispered, yes you had. And what now?
He saw the joy on his old friend’s face as he trained to be a keyblade master . It was as clear as the chakrams that he summoned at will, as clear as the pain that hit him again and again with each memory. His friend was happy now without him, wasn’t he? He had new friends and new powers and he was living a much better life now.
What other explanation could there be?
And what will you command us to do? Once you find him. The fire asked, think of all the pain he has caused you.
He could feel the heat at his fingertips even as he fought back tears. He needed to hold it back, to keep the dancing flames at bay within him, but how he longed to unleash them. To watch as his old friend was swallowed by them as he had been too as a child. He longed to watch them lick at the walls, fabric, metal, everything . They would burn and consume and burn again, an eternal cycle of heat and devastation.
How good that would feel. How satisfying .
To watch him go down in the same way, but by his hand.
The time will come, the fire promised, we will make him b u r n .
He’d been thrown out. The pain of broken promises cut through him day after day. But every scar would only make the flames burn hotter. He’d been tossed to the wolves and now the fire was his pack. The organisation? A means to an end. He had his own agenda and he knew some of the others did too.
His jaw ached from how tightly he had kept it clenched. His teeth hurt from how he gritted them. None of that made him feel anything close to how Isa had made him feel.
The name was a curse now. Something to be spat out, to be written down and then burnt. But his own name, Axel , oh that was power . This was his story and he was going to tell it exactly how he wanted to, even if he had to scream every detail to make sure Isa would have it all memorised. He’d spent countless hours crying and sobbing until his throat was numb and his face was streaked with tears.
When he had first been reborn, he had replayed his memories over and over and over. Surely there was an explanation, a reason why his best friend had left him behind to die . There had to be, right?
What a naive child he had still been.
He’d driven his chakrams into every photo of the two of them that had remained over and over and over. But now, now that he could see, the hole where his heart had been was filled with anger. But that anger had morphed over the last decade, and now he was more at peace with his existence.
Now… Now he had no tears left to cry. In a funny way, he was grateful and he had forgiven his traitor of a friend. Because without him… well, now he had a reason to fight because of him, didn’t he?
So he had been left behind. Abandoned.
Two could play at that game.
And they’d see what the flames of truth decided next - whose body his chakrams would tear into and whose heart would burn this time.
Axel would leave him choking on his words, spoken and unspoken, and choking on every breath of air.
It would be delicious.
And yet, he knew it wouldn’t be enough.
It would never be enough.
After all, no pain he could inflict would hurt as much as the permanent burning ache in his hollow chest.