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I wasn't going to update a for a while, but I decided "What the hell" And went ahead. This is the final part of Side Stepped Side story#III
Between you and me, my dear readers, this isn't one that I'm fond of by much. The only purpose it serves is to close out this Side story and return the focus back to Roxas. And just to poke a little more fun at Xaldin. But it must be done, and if you will bear with me, I promise you a much better one next time. So let's get this overwith.
Chapter 17: Side Stepped Side Story #III Pt 4: Upon the Altar.
At the Altar of Naught, the highest point of The Castle That Never Was, Xemnas stands by himself, starring at a large, heart shaped ball of energy, about the size of a beach ball. It pulsates, like the beating of a heart. Each beat releases a wave of energy from it’s being, caressing the Superior with soothing warmth as he basked in its radiance. He gazed into its glow as it illuminated the area surrounding the altar with a pale red light, losing himself in its hypnotic beauty. Suddenly, another, smaller heart flew over his shoulder and into the larger one, making it release a slightly stronger pulse of energy as they merged, pushing slightly against Xemnas’s being.
“That was a nice one…” Xemnas commended as he looked over his shoulder to notice Xaldin standing behind him. “Where did you get it?”
“From someone knocking on the front door, offering a charitable donation.” Xaldin remarked with a smirk as he approached the Superior, stopping a few feet behind him. Xemnas chuckled at this slightly.
“It’s a pity that everyone can only donate once.” He jeered. “It is truly unfortunate. How did your mission go?”
“It was a crap shoot.” Xaldin snarled, unhappy with earlier events. “Just as I expected it would be. It was a total waste of time.”
“That’s a shame…” Xemnas said solemnly. Xaldin crept a little closer to the superior, intent on forcing him into discussing certain matters that have plagued him over the last couple of hours.
“There is something that I did find rather enlightening...” Xaldin mentioned, taking an unusual slightly indirect approach to the subject matter, contrary to his usual straight forward nature. “I had an interesting little ‘chat’ in Traverse Town.”
“Ah! That reminds me…” Xemnas gasped in realization. “You still have it don’t you, the memory card with Xigbar’s findings on it? Hand it over.”
“WHA-WHA-WHAT??” Xaldin stammered, double taking to Xemnas’s question, which shattered his entire argument. ”HOW DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THAT???”
“Simple.” Xemnas stated. “I sent him there to do it. With his space warping abilities, he can scan beings and collect data on levels that we can’t even imagine.”
“You sent him there?” An exasperated Xaldin asked, feeling like he had been the center of a bad joke. “But that means you told him about the thirteenth member!!”
“Yes…” Xaldin drawled with a sigh and a roll of his eyes, already seeing where this might be going. “Yes it does. What about it?”
“Don’t act casual about this!!” Xaldin barked, angered by the fact that Xigbar was in the know and he wasn’t. “Why keep such a matter a secret? Why would you tell him and not me or the others?”
“Simple.” Xemnas stated with crossed arms. “You didn’t ask, but he did.”
“He asked me if we were getting a new member. I answered ‘yes,’ and then sent him to Traverse Town to get information on the Keyblade wielder. He then sent me a messenger saying that he sent the memory card with you. Now, do you have it or not?”
It was true that Xaldin still had the memory card in his handheld, since he had forgotten to hand it back to Xigbar. He retrieved his handheld from his pocket, undamaged from his earlier encounter, and removed it from the slot, handing it to Xemnas, who in turn pulled out his own handheld, and inserted it in, taking a quick glance at the information to check if everything was in order before replacing it in his pocket.
“I swear, I’m gonna KILL that bastard!!” an anger Xaldin snarled, clenching his fist. “Damn that Xigbar, playing me for the fool!”
“Xigbar only does it to get under your skin.” Xemnas told the Whirlwind Lancer. “Plus, you’ve always been just a bit gullible.”
“WHAT!?!” Xaldin raged.
Xemnas chuckled slightly. He enjoyed pushing Xaldin’s buttons almost as much as Xigbar.
“Don’t worry about a thing.” Xemnas assured him. “Xigbar nor the thirteenth member are of any concern to you at the moment. I do, however, have an assignment for you.”
“What is it?” Xaldin sighed, not really in the mood to be working.
“I need you to summarize the research notes of Vexen and Zexion. Saix already got it started for you.”
“Ugh, this is gonna be unpleasant.” Xaldin muttered with a scow. “But it’d be safer for me to do it than for Saix to pop a blood vessel and level half the castle again.”
“Good man.” Xemnas said with a chuckle. “Get started right away.”
“Alright…” Xaldin sighed as he turned on his heel. “But I expect to be told everything from now on! Do you understand me?”
“Clear as crystal, my friend.” Xemnas replied, humoring the Nobody. Xaldin descended the stairs and back into the castle without even a goodbye. With a smile, Xemnas turned back towards the heart shaped object. His smile quickly faded as he gazed upon the pulsating heart with intent and desire.
“Axel…” he said coldly, anger burning in his eyes. “You had better not fail me.”
______ ”AH-CHOO!” Axel sneezed as he sat at a café table in Mall Street, eating his lunch. He had been watching the Struggle match from a far, and now looked on as the two younger people parted ways with their elder friend. He was still wearing his aviators and the bandanna.
“That came out of nowhere.” He said, rather surprised by his unexpected sneeze As he rubbed his nose. “Some cute chick must be talking about me!”
As he finished lunch, he watched the rookie get pulled by his friend into a nearby ice-cream parlor, which he watched until they left.
Chapter 17: Side Stepped Side Story #III Pt 4: Upon the Altar: End.
It was fifteen minutes after parting ways With Ms. Rinoa Heartily, and true to his word, Buddy bought Olette a cone of Sea Salt Ice Cream, as well as one for himself, at the urging of Olette. The total was about 610 munny, 300 per cone, and 10 munny for the orange sprinkles Olette got for her cone. The two of them sat on the couch in front of the window, Olette licking away happily on hers, and Buddy eying his suspiciously, unsure of what to make of the odd ice cream cone.
“Aren’t you going to eat yours?” Olette asked in between licks. “It’s going to melt.”
“It looks funny.” The youth observed, continuing to cast suspicion upon the cone. “Is it supposed to be this shade of blue?”
“Oh you’re just paranoid.” Olette dismissed. She leaned over and took a long lick of her cone. “See? I’m eating the same type of ice cream from the same container, and I’m doing fine!”
“I don’t know…”
“Oh, come on!” Olette urged him on, giving him a slight playful nudge with her shoulder. “The first taste of Sea Salt Ice Cream never hurts anybody!”
Still unsure, Buddy closed his eyes and took a lick of the ice cream cone. His eye flew open in amazement to the cone’s amazing taste. It was an indescribable concoction of sweet and salty flavors mixed together, creating the ultimate balance between the two opposing tastes.
“Well?” Olette asked inquisitively, an assured smile on her face. “How does it taste?”
“It’s like I’m slurping on an angel!!” Buddy replied excitedly, Causing Olette to give a snort of stifled laughter at the rather unusual remark.
“Well, nobody has put it quite like THAT before!” She replied as she clutched her side, still trying not to laugh at the boy. “And like I said, the first taste never hurts anybody, but the second one, people usually regret, so just be careful not to bite into--"
But her warning was too late, as Buddy had taken a big chomp out of the ice cream ball in his exuberance, wanting more of that amazing taste.
”B-B-B-B-BRAIN FREEZE!!!” The Youth hollered, clutching his head as his mind started to feel like a thousand ice sickles were prodding the inside of his cranium.
“I tried to warn you…” Olette lilted in an ‘I told you so’ kind of tone. “That’s the problem with Sea Salt Ice Cream. The first taste of it is so good, most people tend to overdo the second one and end up regretting it for a while…”
All Buddy could do was wait until the pain subsided as he listened to Olette lecture him. Once it was gone, he noticed that the entire parlor was looking at him suspiciously.
“Why is everybody staring at me?” He asked, rather nervous being the center of attention again.
“Oh…” Olette stood up and spoke loudly so that the entire parlor could hear her. “IT’S HIS FIRST SEA SALT ICE CREAM CONE!”
The moment they heard that, laughter rang out into the parlor, followed by everyone saying “OF COURSE!” in unison and everyone returned to their own business. Buddy looked at Olette, quite puzzled as to what happened.
“Sea Salt Ice Cream. It’s that good!” She chuckled with a wink as she rested her hand on her fist and resumed eating her ice cream. Buddy, now red with embarrassment, returned to eating his own cone in silence.
Five minutes later, the two had finished their ice cream and hurried out of the store, this time at Buddy’s urging. Once out, Olette resumed leadership and pulled Buddy into a store that sold designer jackets. Twenty minutes after entering the store, Buddy had found himself trying on six different jackets, all picked out by Olette, modeling each one in a full length mirror.
“I don’t know…” Buddy muttered as he stood in front of his reflection wearing a black short sleeved jacket. “What do you think Olette?”
But No reply was given.
“Olette?” Buddy called out again, removing the jacket while he looked about the store, unable to spot his companion. He spotted the attendant that was assisting them earlier and approached her. “Did you happen to see where the girl I was with go off to?”
“I believe she went into the back.” The woman replied, pointing to a door in the back left hand corner of the store.
“Okay, thank you.” Buddy said, and quickly turned on his heel towards the back of the store.
“But that’s the—“ The attendant tried to say in warning, but to no avail, as he hurried off in search of his compatriot. Entering the back of the store, he saw that the room here was divided up into many small cubicles. He approached the first one, and pushed it open.
“Hey Olette!! Why did you ditch me?” He said absentmindedly as he opened the door. But before he could get a look at the surroundings, he heard a familiar scream, followed by a sharp, blinding pain on his face caused by some sort of blunt object, and then everything went dark as he fell unconscious. When he came to, Olette was standing over him, rubbing her forehead in embarrassment. With her were the attendant and a girl with a cold, piercing gaze directed at Buddy. She looked to be about Olette’s age. “What just happened?”
“You entered the dressing room area in your rush to find your friend.” The attendant answered. She gestured to the othergirl who was with them. She had short silver-blue hair with bangs draped over her left eye. She was wearing a light blue backless zip-up vest with a collar, form fitting, low cut jeans, a pair of blue high heeled sandals, similar to Olette’s, as well as having her own blue hand bag, but with longer straps, as it was draped over her left shoulder and rested on her right hip. Buddy recognized her from earlier that day, right before he entered the strange antique store, only her attire had changed completely from then. “You walked in on this young woman while she was changing, which is when she punched you right in the kisser. After that, you folded like a cheap lawn chair.”
“Oh, thank you…” Buddy murmured under his breath, not so much angry with what the attendant’s statement may have indicated, but embarrassed that it happened exactly as she said. He eyed the other girl slightly, wondering if she remembers their brief encounter with each other. After that, he turned his attention to Olette, who still had her hand rubbing her forehead out of embarrassment; eyes closed as she grinded her teeth slightly.
“I don’t even want to know.” Olette said coldly. It was obvious that she wasn’t happy.
“Hey, all I was doing was looking for you.” Buddy said, defending himself from Olette’s accusations, not too pleased himself with the current misunderstanding, as well as Olette’s disappearance. “You up and disappeared on me! Would it kill you to let people know where you are going once in a while?”
“Don’t change the subject!” Olette barked! “What makes you think that you can just barge in on somebody in a changing room?!? That very easily could have been me in there, or mayber Ms. Heartily!!”
“If this doesn’t convince that tight-wad of a manager to fix those locks, nothing will…” The attendant said rather loudly, with the intention of being over heard as she left, saving the blond haired youth from Olette’s wrath with the simplest of explanation.
“Broken locks…” Olette drawled with a sigh as she rubbed her forehead again, still rather annoyed. She didn’t accept it, seeing as it had no indication of what Buddy’s motive might be, but it did calm her down slightly, making her a bit more reasonable She gave Buddy her coldest, sternest glare she could muster, and spoke with as much authority a fourteen year old girl wearing a sun dress could. “Did you actually come in to find me and not sneak any peaks? Be honest now!”
“That’s the simple truth.” Buddy answered calmly with a sigh, his arms crossed.
“Fine…” Olette said, giving a sigh of her own. “Then I apologize for not telling you where I went.”
“No problem. Just be sure to let people know where you run off to, okay?” Buddy said, glad that this confrontation came to a rather quick end.
“Alright…” Olette chuckled slightly. She then continued on with a note of authority in her voice. “But you have to promise to knock from now on whenever you are about to open a dressing room, deal?”
“Deal.” He said with a chuckle and crossed arms. He then once again noticed the girl, still staring at him with a menacing gaze. Buddy stared back, uncomfortable of the girl’s cold look. He fidgeted slightly as he tried to read her thoughts from her blank face. Was she angry? Was she upset? Was she offended? Her face gave him no information, just a blank, menacing stare. Just then, her eyes went wide, as if she answered a question that she had been asking herself in silence. She thrust her finger and spoke to him in an astonished voice.
“WHIPPED!!” She said in recognition. Realizing that she had met the boy before earlier that day.
“Do you two know each other?” Olette asked, rather puzzled by their interaction.
“We’ve only had a brief encounter…” Buddy drawled, his right eye twitching slightly out of frustration to being called ‘whipped’ again. “Who is she?”
“This is a friend of a friend. Her name is Fuu.” Olette answered, introducing her to the lad. She then turned towards Fuu to introduce him to her using the same back story she had used on Rinoa. “Fuu, this is a friend of Hayner’s from out of town. His name is Buddy. We were just about to find him a new jacket.”
When Fuu, heard this, she immediately ran off, leaving the two of them puzzled. Moments later, she returned, carrying in her arms a piece of clothing.
“HERE.” Fuu said rather sternly, shoving the jacket into Buddy’s arms.
“What does she want me to do with this?”
“Try it on!” Olette replied. And with the two young women looking on, Buddy put on the jacket. It was white with short sleeves, a checkered pattern across the chest and around each of the shoulders, and it had a hood. The inside of the jacked was lined with a red cotton fabric. Buddy stood in front of the mirror and scrutinized his reflection.
“I like this one.” He said, satisfied with this latest selection. “Thanks Fuu!”
“It suits him perfectly!!” Olette chirped excitedly, praising Fuu for her sense of fashion as Buddy went to pay for his new jacket. “We should shop together sometime!”
“EXACTLY.” Fuu stated as she hoisted up two large shopping bags and handed them to Buddy immediately as he returned.
“Uh, what’s going on?” Buddy asked.
“I think Fuu will be joining us.” Olette said rather innocently.
“That’s not what I meant.” Buddy stated. “I meant why am I holding her stuff?”
“MOVE, PACK MULE.” Fuu demanded rather sharply.
“HUH?” Buddy grunted in exasperation.
“Think of it this way…” Olette said, handing Buddy her own recently acquired purchase. “This will be your way of apologizing for walking in on her and sneaking a peak.”
But I didn’t see anything!! She decked me as soon as I walked in! He complained to himself, knowing better to keep his thoughts inside his head. “And why am I carrying your stuff? You aren’t the one I walked in on!”
“You honestly don’t expect a frail, little girl like me to carry all of that, do you?” She said with a smile. “Let’s go!”
She then hurried out the store. Buddy noticed that Fuu was, once again, staring at him. Only this time, her gaze wasn’t as sharp as it was earlier.
“Heh Heh Heh…” She chuckled coldly as she walked out the store, joining Olette in the streets, waiting for their new prisoner.
She had this planned from the very beginning! He thought to himself, just now seeing that she had a double motive. Realizing that things could have been worse, he followed the two out the store.
Chapter 18: The Return of the Blue Wind: End.
Author's notes: And so Fuu returns, But just as the Mall Street arc is close to ending. Poor Buddy, being controlled by two fourteen year old girls. He won't be suffering for much longer.
My favorite part of this arc is gonna be in another few chapters! Yes!
for those who have been paying attention to the subtle and not so subtle clues I've been dropping over the last 10 chapters or so, I have something really big planning, which will become painfully obvious in another 4/5 chapters. If anybody wants to try, they can try piecing together the clues.
Next time in BoD! The Fateful Encounter! The Union of Fire and Light!