I snorted in surprise. “A mafia? Hollow Bastion has a mafia?” I was slightly dumbstruck. I knew the city had countless gangs, but I never would have guessed that we had something as serious as a mafia.
Axel just looked at me. “You’re taking this rather well, considering your situation.”
I raised an eyebrow. “I’m either gonna have to join you or die, right? You can’t exactly let me go now that I know about you guys; I’ve read enough books to know that. Relax. The freak-out will come later.”
There was a second of complete silence before Axel burst out laughing, to which I just looked at him, overwhelmed. Within a minute, he had calmed down, and he spoke. “Kid, if I hadn’t wanted you to join, you’d already be dead. In an alley. I wouldn’t have saved your sorry butt in the first place if I hadn’t noticed your potential.”
I gulped. So I was right. Join or die. Those were my options. “What do you mean, potential.”
He grinned at me. “I saw your key-things –“
“– Keyblades in action. You have an innate ability, despite getting your butt kicked earlier. Speaking of which…” He reached down under the bed, and pulled out my Keyblades. “I grabbed them for you. Figured you’d want them.”
Pushing myself into a sitting position, I grabbed the Keyblades, placing them on my lap. “Thanks. I worked hard on these, and I’d hate to see them get lost so soon.”
Axel gawked at me, then at the Keyblades. “Wait, you made those?!” I nodded, earning an appreciative whistle from the man.
“Cool. The detail’s amazing. How long’d it take you?”
“A little less than a week.”
“I can se why. Wow, you put your soul into these, didn’t you? Never would have thought they’d be considered weapons, though.” He grinned, and I mirrored the gesture.
“I designed them to look deceiving. They might not look that strong, but they’re pretty tough.”
“You know what, kid –”
“Would you stop calling me ‘kid’? It’s starting to get on my nerves.” I glowered at him. And now that I had my Keyblades back, I felt a little safer, even though I probably wouldn’t stand a minute against Axel in a fight, if he was in a mafia.
The man grinned. “I would, if you’d just tell me your name.” Oops. Going back on our conversation, I realized I hadn’t actually introduced myself yet. “Um… sorry. I’m Roxas.”
Axel’s grin didn’t waver in the slightest. “So, as I was saying, you know what, kid –” I glared, but he merely laughed and continued on, undeterred. “You might actually fit in here.”
I was taken aback. Me? A scholarship student, with only his brother and one friend, in a mafia? And fitting in, too?
I blinked as Axel tossed something fabric at me, covering my face, and I pulled it off, to notice it was my shirt.
“Come on. I want you to meet someone.” Axel stood up and walked towards the door with no signs of waiting for me, so I hopped of the bed and followed him down the hall, pulling my shirt on as I did so.
“You told him about us without clearing it with me first? And you took him in? You’re lucky you’re still useful to me, VIII or I’d have blown your head off by now, and given the boy to IV.” Axel flinched before the man speaking, giving me the impression that the threat was not an idle one.
The man, Xemnas, as Axel had told him, was tall and powerfully built, with browned skinn and white-blonde hair. In addition to his intimidating presence, he simply oozed power, causing chills to ripple down my spine.
Turning to me, Xemnas spoke again, his deep voice making me tremble slightly. “What do you know, boy?”
I gulped before speaking. “That you’re called Organization XIII, and…” I glanced at Axel, who was looking at me fearfully. I wasn’t sure how much I was allowed to know, and I hoped that hiding the fact that I knew their leader’s name would help me some. “And his name. Axel,” I said, nodding towards the redhead. “I don’t even know where I am, except for the fact that it’s your headquarters.”
Xemnas turned back to Axel, and I found I could breathe easy now that the man’s attention was no longer on me. Why Axel had wanted me to see Xemnas, I had no idea, unless he wanted to scare me into joining – if the “Superior”, as they called him, let me live, that is.
“It seems as if you're not completely stupid. However, he won’t be allowed to leave. He already knows too much.”
Axel nodded. “Uh… Superior, if I may make a suggestion?”
Xemnas only grunted in response, heading over to the mahogany desk situated in the center of the cavernous room.
“Um... What if… what if the boy was to join? He has the potential, I saw him fight.”
This caught Xemnas’ attention, attention which swiftly switched to me. “Let me be the judge of that, Number VIII.” Without moving his golden eyes from mine, he reached down to press the button on a comm. “Number XII, get to the training room. Now. You have an opponent.”
Axel’s eyes went wide, and he stepped forward. “Sir! Roxas – he’s still injured, he can’t fight right now!”
“You’ll do your best to lower your voice when speaking to me, VIII.” The coldness in his tone gave me chills, and I was glad it wasn’t me he was pissed at. He pressed the comm again, this time on a different line. “IV, I need a painkiller. We’ve got a new body, and he needs testing, but he’s injured.”
“Sir. What are his injuries?”
Xemnas looked at me, but Axel answered before I could get my mouth open. “Deep stab wound to the left shoulder, and a gash across his chest.” I glared at him, trying to silently tell him I could speak for myself, but he ignored me.
Xemnas relayed the information into the comm, and within five minutes, a thin man with ashy-blonde long hair and muted green eyes walked in, carrying two small blue pills and a bottle of water.
The man stopped when he saw me standing next to Axel, his lip curling in disgust. “Superior, this is the new body? He’s dead weight, puny! How can he even be worth the consideration?”
“Silence.” Xemnas didn’t even look up from the papers on his desk. “Just give him the medication, then escort him and Number VIII to the training room.”
The newcomer blanched, his face turning a pasty white colour that looked horrible next to his white lab coat. He then stepped towards me. “Hand out, brat.” I glared at the name, but obeyed nonetheless and he dropped the pills into my hand, and gave me the bottle of water, of which I unscrewed the cap and used to down the pills. Within seconds, the pain began to subside, amazing me. What were those pills? I would have to find out – I’d never heard of such a fast-acting medication.
But that would have to wait. Without a word, the man in the lab coat, Number IV, turned and began walking down the hall, and Axel and I had to jog to catch up.
We walked for a minute before Axel grabbed my arm, slowing me slightly, before bending over to speak in my ear. “Roxas, there’s something else you should know about us.”
I looked at him inquisitively, and he continued. “You wanted to know how I seared your wounds closed? I used magic.” Before I could pull away or laugh, he held up his free hand and snapped his fingers, and I noticed a spark, then a small flame slowly creeping across his fingers.
He looked me in the eye. “My magic is fire. And Larxene? The one you’ll be fighting? Hers is lightning.”
The colour drained out of my face. Oh God, what had I gotten myself into?