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Unforged Chain

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Eventually, once Roxas began adjusting to being a half of someone else rather than a hollow whole of himself, he started wandering.

There's a part of Sora that isn't dark, exactly. He's seen those parts: the heartless remnants, the tendrils of darkness that've been receding since he returned unless Sora really abuses his drive forms. It's not dark; but it's dim. The light wavers, moves around rather than through the place.

It's where the memories of Sora's time at Castle Oblivion lay.

The links are scattered across the fog of the floor; they clink and rattle among Roxas's feet when he walks there. The links are dull, unreflecting in the non-light; it's like the dimness is the equivalent of dust here, growing as Sora not only forgets the time he lost but slowly forgets forgetting, as he loses the knowledge that time folded in on itself for him. In a few years, the stray links may as well be invisible, turned the color of fog.

Most of them. Some are brighter than the rest; Roxas has handled them too much, until they stand out from the others, a short, unconnected chain like a faint beacon.

Those are Sora's memories of Axel.

Roxas thinks less of himself for going over them so much. It's not the Axel he knows, except for a few brief flashes; it's more like the mask Axel pulled on around the other Organization members in the common room. It's a step away from being a stranger.

He's not totally certain they're in the right order--the conversations probably are, but the fights are harder to judge, and it's not like the castle had anything to make the different floors distinct. Roxas made guesses and assumptions from what he knew of Axel's fighting style, and strung them together into as close to a real chain as he could.

He doesn't want to ask Sora for help straightening it out, but it's not just that. He can't. Sora's found him here before, but he doesn't notice the links; his eyes slide over the ones in the distance, and he doesn't look down at those by his feet. The memories are lost to him, even when he stands in the middle of them.

Because of that, Naminé scares Roxas in a way he can't quite form into words. He's growing to like her the more he sees of her, partly because Sora cares so much for Kairi it's bleeding through and partly because she's the last Nobody like him. But the fear remains, and itches under his skin whenever he sees Kairi with crayon wax on her fingers.

Because sometimes Roxas wonders if enough of Sora has bled into him that Naminé's powers could work on him, too. Almost all the people with memories of him are dead now or were never real, but he has so little that's his that the thought of any of it, of others' memories of him, being taken away....

His fights with Sora are always worse the days after he thinks of that, as Roxas repels anything that strikes him as letting Sora in too far, of allowing them to become too similar. Sora's heart is so powerful that it already slips past his defenses no matter how forcefully he builds them; if he dropped them, if he made a place for it somewhere in himself, Roxas is pretty sure it would obliterate him.

Not on purpose. It comes from being a keyblade wielder; Sora has to have a solid idea of himself, a burning core that doesn't change to sustain him through so many changing worlds. He wouldn't do it intentionally; but it would happen.

Roxas is sure of it, because he understands the feeling. He's felt it himself, holding Oathkeeper and Oblivion. Sora burns in a different way, but it's all the same at the end.

Of course.

The light changes, and Roxas jerks. Sora is coming here--the fog on the floor grows thicker, obscuring the links more: Naminé's work still in progress. He turns automatically to prevent Sora from having his back.

There's no rattle or clink when Sora steps into the area; it's like he instinctively avoids the links to remain unaware that they're there.

"Your mom worries when you space out," Roxas says, because they're going to stand around facing each other awkwardly for a while if he doesn't start them talking.

"I'm at school," Sora replies absently, rubbing his hair. Roxas shrugs.

He's put forth the first effort; it's Sora's turn now. He's willing to try to be civil, at least; he doesn't like not getting along with Sora. It's exhausting, and he's not...that bad a guy, overall. If he has to be the other half of anyone, there are worse people than Sora. But Roxas doesn't want to disappear, either, and if he has to choose between that and exhaustion, well, it's a pretty easy decision.

It helps that Sora killed people he liked.

"What are those?" Sora asks, and it takes Roxas a second to connect the fact that he's staring past Roxas's feet with the semi-chain of memories behind him. He's so used to Sora not seeing the ground here.

Sora takes a step forward, starting to reach for one of the links--the second, a fight with Axel--and the light in the room shifts again.

Roxas thinks of the boy in the glass pod, the armfuls of sorrow from the Riku replica scattered everywhere in here, the equal armfuls of happiness from old friends, the last words of several of the Nobodies who shared the same cloak as himself, and the smiles of Naminé at the end of it all--the fake one when she talked about being a Nobody and the real one when Sora promised to thank her when he woke up. Then he thinks of Sora sleeping everything away behind the glass again.

He'd be locked inside it too this time. Even if he escaped--even if there were a way to escape, and he's pretty sure there's not--Riku would hunt him down again.

"What did you want?" he asks, and Sora's eyes snap up to his own. Roxas doesn't like looking Sora in the eyes--it's too much like a mirror that's warped--but he holds the gaze and the light changes again as Sora forgets once more.

"We've been working with Kairi on attacks," Sora explains, straightening up. "But I can't use light and Riku's blast range is really noticeable, so...."

Roxas raises an eyebrow.

He eventually agrees to work together, trying to use his attacks via Sora's body. Neither are sure it'll work, pushing ill-fitting magic through a wrong conduit; but it's for Kairi, so Sora will try until it blows up in his face, and Roxas has no reason to say no. Destiny Islands is peaceful, but it's nothing like the place he adopted as home after six days, and he'd rather help Sora get ready to leave.

When Sora's gone, he scoops the silvered links up in his hands. They're heavy on his palms, and feel more fragile now, which is strange; he would have thought they'd be stronger for almost returning.

Roxas wonders if Bond of Flame feels like this in Sora's hand.

Then he throws the links far out onto the edges of the floor, away from where Sora usually enters. They still gleam brighter than anything else in the dimness; but Sora won't see them again.

He goes back later that day, and hunts through the fog until he's found them all again. Roxas arranges them once more, lingering over the memories in the last link of the disconnected chain.

Nobodies are inherently selfish.