[KH] How to Leave Organization XIII



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Audo

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an old story, written for goldpanner.

Consider your birth like winding up a clockwork heart. There’s something artificial about the entire thing, like the gears inside your body once turned without help, without a key, but they rusted over and each turn now feels forced—each breath needing thought to come forth. Stumble about the world without registering a thing. Your mind struggles to catch up with your body and you nearly collapse. And then you do. Feel a haze clearing as your skin collects the new, yet somehow familiar, sensations. The tickle of grass. The smell of pine. The warmth of light. The sound of darkness cracking the world open as footsteps approach. Get back on your feet and watch the man in the coat come closer. Tell yourself to run but rust in place instead.

You seek answers, he says.

From the first day that’s what you want, all you want.

I can give you purpose, he says.

He raises the hand and translucent letters appear in front of you. Barely register the name “Sora” as it suspends in the air. The letters swirl around you, blurring, until they stop with a sudden snap. They spell something different, yet you recognize the familiar letters within it. Roxas. A new name, born from the old, just like you.

The world opens up again and a man with red hair steps out of the darkness. He smirks as he looks you up and down at first, but it fades rather quickly. Watch as he talks with the man from before in a volume that tells you they don’t care whether you hear or not. Think of yourself as inconveniently placed furniture in their life as they discuss what to do with you. Ownership changes hands as the red-haired man steps closer to you and says his name is Axel. The man from before disappears into the darkness whence he came.

Axel puts an arm around your shoulder and points out at the old mansion situated behind an iron gate. He tells you a story about a castle from his other life. About trying to break into the gate to get to the answers on the other side. About not liking what he found once he did. Try and figure out what he means but groan from the weight the words press on your mind. He takes his arm off of you.

You’re so young, you hear him say.

Too young to be in this mess, he says.

The way he scratches the back of his neck as he says all of this clues you into the fact that he is mostly thinking out loud. When he notices you noticing him he lets out a strange sound and smacks you on the back. He calls you his little zombie. Something in your hollowed chest tells you to hit him back. An urge to prove yourself rubs against the gears and your fist clenches like muscle memory. Run past him into the forest ahead of you. Think of it like a race along a beach that no one agreed to as you rush through the trees to the exit on the other side.

Grasp your knees and tell yourself to breath. Recollect what little sense of self you have and take in your surroundings. A town. A tram. Roads and paths and houses. Follow the nearest brick road toward the centre of town. Pass by kids around your age. Hear the same strange sounds Axel made come from them. Watch the way they smile and play and eat ice cream. Feel a pang in your heart—a sick desire to be like them, to have what they have—even though you don’t know why. Axel puts his hand on your shoulder and says you’re pretty fast for a zombie. Hear the smile in his voice as you watch the friends play. Look away and find Axel staring at you with concern. He walks to the store near you and buys two ice creams, just the same as the kids. When he comes back, he puts his hand on your shoulder again and in a swirl of darkness you disappear from the tram commons and reappear atop a clocktower.

Sit.

He says it like he doesn’t care if you do or don’t but you see him watching you to make sure you don’t fall. Axel passes you one of the ice-creams and tells you to hold onto it. Try and figure out whether he means the ice-cream or the moment. Decide it’s both and take a bite. Feel your consciousness root itself as the salty sweet flavour coats your tongue.

Tell him it’s really salty, yet sweet and notice the relief on his face to hear you talk for the first time. Find yourself smiling even though you don’t know why someone smiles. Recognize laughter for what it is, even though you shouldn’t know. Feel the envy leave the heart you do not have and turn to stare out at the sunset.

It won’t last, you hear him say. The moment, I mean.

Finish your ice-cream anyway. Read the writing that is scrawled along the stick. Watch the eternal sunset before you, and contemplate what it means.

WINNER.


Join Organization XIII officially that night. Struggle against the constriction of the coat as you step into the Round Room with Axel and look up at your fellow members. The man that found you sits atop the highest throne and he looks down on you with his fist pressed against his cheek, propping up his face. A mixture of contempt and intrigue fills his features as he studies you. Memorize the feeling of Axel’s hand on your back as you shrink against it.

Let us all welcome one of the Keyblade’s chosen, the man says.

Realize you have no idea what a Keyblade is, but say nothing.

Later that night, sleep on your new hard bed. Dream about a storm. Thick black clouds cover the sky. Lightning cracks as you race over a bridge to a tiny island. A boy with silver hair is there, and he turns to you and tells you the door is open. Reach out for him when the darkness overtakes him. Struggle to grab his hand as the darkness winds along his chest and arms like vines. Shut your eyes when the darkness covers you both.

Wake up in your tiny bed in your dark city. Find the Keyblade clutched in your hand. Wish that you could’ve reached him instead.


Days pass and you become comfortable with the routine. Fall into the pattern of going out, slaying Heartless, and returning to the hollow castle. Don’t question why. Let the unremarkable days pass with only the bare minimum of recognition. Know the number of days, but struggle to remember their contents. When Saïx tells you and Axel to visit a new world, act like you couldn’t care less.

Arrive at the new world and immediately get taken aback by the desolate wasteland that greets you. In the distance dust storms loom and the horizon is speckled with towers that jut out of the lifeless desert. Everywhere you look are piles and piles of garbage—some loose and some compacted into cubes. As you and Axel move farther into the world, realize that the towers are made of thousands of garbage cubes. Take note of the various billboards and advertisements for a company no longer around. Piece together that this world crumbled due to an organization. Fail to make the connection to your own life.

Explore the empty streets with Axel. Point out the odd discoveries you find in the bricks of garbage. Axel follows behind you, murmuring in agreement that the doll head is creepy or that the discarded Twister game looked like it could’ve been fun. He doesn’t answer you when you suggest salvaging it back for the members in the castle. Push him for an answer.

Everyone’s gone, he says.

The owners of the garbage cross your mind for the first time. Connect the garbage blocks to the Proof of Existence back at the castle. Consider what you will leave behind is a lowly tombstone. Wonder if that is better or worse than a city made of the remnants of thousands of lives. Admit you don’t know the answer, but only to yourself.

Axel grabs you by the collar and you both vanish in a Corridor of Darkness. Emerge from the darkness atop one of the many towers. Come face to face with the vast emptiness of the world. Note that there would be no sunset here, as the entire horizon is hidden beneath dust storms. Sit on the edge of the tower. Dangle your feet. Promise to see the sunset at least once more. Wonder why Axel never took you back since the day you were born. Remember how much you longed for the light while sitting alone in your room in the dark city.

Begin to ask him, but stop when he points at something. Far below something moved through the streets. A trail of dust kicked up in its wake, it leaves the city and heads for a structure just beyond the city outskirts.

Looks like some kind of bunker, Axel says before taking you to it through a corridor.

Hide behind one of the medium piles of garbage, careful to keep your footing, and watch as a small box shaped robot approaches the bunker. Become aware of Axel’s breath on your neck as you both huddle close to avoid being spotted. The robot moves up to the bunker, glancing around as if to take in its surroundings. While looking elsewhere, it accidentally rolls over a cockroach on the path and shows both surprise and panicked remorse. It touches the bug lightly for signs of life and appears relieved when it springs up alive. Face Axel and whisper. Have your suspicions confirmed when he tells you it has a heart. Feel an odd sensation inside of you like being lifted against all odds. A desperate hope for the same. Grab Axel by the wrist and pull him closer to the bunker.

Be careful not to be discovered as you manoeuvrer through the garbage piles and close in on the bunker. The robot has left the door open, perhaps by mistake and when you and Axel peer inside you see it watching a movie on an old screen. Two people are singing and holding hands on the screen and you find yourself just as drawn in to it as the robot is. Realize you had never considered what it meant to hold someone’s hand. That, up until now, you only thought it was a way to make them follow you. Consider your own empty hand now. Wonder what it must feel like—to be with someone, walking side-by-side, hand-in-hand, as equals. Mirror the robot when it holds its own hand. Stumble when Axel grabs your shoulder and pulls you away.

Roxas, you can’t tell anyone about this. Especially Saïx, he says.

Just don’t, he says. Trust me.

Clench your fists at being left in the dark. Know you should be asking more questions. That you should be questioning what the Organization would do with the robot if they knew it had a heart. Kick at the dirt instead. Resolve to trust Axel. Trust that he would only blind you for the right reasons. Conjure up a corridor of darkness and watch it swirl in front of you, inviting. Unclench your fists. Don’t look back.

Freeze when you feel Axel’s hand slip into yours. Resist the temptation to look at your intertwined fingers with wonderment and awe. Resist expressing the beauty you find in something as simple as crossed bones. Resist letting on that you care. Instead, tell him you want to see the sunset again. Then, step into the darkness.


Let the days blur into one. Let your dreams of lives you never lived in worlds you never saw become the only marker of what seems real to you. Commit to memory the desperate hope when you found the silver-haired boy again. Remember how he called you Sora. How he said he would look out for you, now that you had found each other. How you lost him all over again. Accept these dreams as your memories even though you don’t remember them in your waking life. Begin to question which of your lives is the most real. Consider that nothing when you’re awake amounts to anything. Wander through the alleys of the Dark City, searching for natural light. Settle for endless neon. Wonder when Axel will keep his promise. Question whether you should’ve trusted him after all.

Allow the seed of doubt to plant in your clockwork heart. Roots snake around the gears with each passing day. It becomes harder and harder to continue on in the face of the unknown. Every world you go to now causes the gears to grind when the Organization’s intentions weed inside you. Realize you know nothing. Feel the roots choke your heart. Try to deny it all.

Bring up your dreams to Axel. Don’t take the dismissive tone as a good enough answer. Don’t listen to the ridiculous stories he passes off as his own dreams. Don’t believe in his tales of dreams within dreams or how he could’ve sworn his legs really did turn to jello. Instead, mention the name Sora and watch the way he scratches his neck. The way he avoids meeting your gaze. Know you shouldn’t give up on pursuing the truth when he says he’ll take you to see the sunset. But, smile anyway.


Swing your legs over the edge of the clocktower and lean into the familiar feeling of a near-forgotten memory. Try to piece together what you remember from the last time Axel brought you there, back when you first took breath. Feel a warmth run through you and blame it on the sun. Smile when Axel plops down on the ledge beside you and offers you a Sea-Salt Ice-Cream. Remember the WINNER stick you kept back in your room. Think about asking Axel about it, but say nothing.

Tell him today is the two hundred and fifty-fifth day you’ve been in the Organization. Tell him you had to hold onto something, the number, even though all those days meant very little in retrospect. Tell him the ice-cream is salty, yet sweet and playful smack him when he makes a comment about how much of a zombie you used to be—still are. Don’t admit you’re happy. Whatever that means.

Hey Roxas, he says. Betcha don’t know why the sun sets red. You see, light is made up of lots of colours. And out of all those colours, red is the one that travels the farthest.

Laugh with him when you nudge him again and call him a know-it all. Imagine your laughter and warmth mixing with the red light of the setting sun, the light that travels the farthest. Vow that, no matter what happens, you’ll never forget this moment, this calm, even when the days blur into one.


A hundred days pass and, aside from the last sunset, all you really remember are your dreams. Try as hard as you are able to push out the doubts of the Organization’s intentions within you, the lies they are telling you, the truth they are keeping from you. Fail every day, but fail this day the hardest. Dream of the silver-haired boy kidnapping a puppet with a heart of his own. Wake up with tears along your cheek and realize that the Organization isn’t where you should be. Confront Axel in the Grey Area about Sora once again. Struggle to rescue the truth from him, but only be met with more avoidance.

You’re my best friend, he says.

Demand to know what he has been keeping from you. Demand to know who Sora is and how he relates to you. Demand to know why the Keyblade has chosen you, of all people. Demand to know what the Organization really wants.

I can’t tell you, he says.

Tell him this isn’t what best friends do. Tell him that they don’t keep shit from each other. Tell him that you need the truth. When he finally answers, recognize the hurt expression in his face as the same one he gave you the day that you were born. Recognize the look of one of resignation of the inevitability of your life. Of the tragedy that awaits you.

I didn’t want you to leave, he says.

And though you hear an impossible pain in his voice, tell yourself that he is only pretending to care. Yell at him. Scream at him that it’s too late for that. That you’re going to run away and find the answers you seek. That he already lost you.

Return to your room knowing this will be the last night.

Dream about losing the Keyblade to the silver-haired boy.


Before you leave the Organization, find yourself in Axel’s room. Put the WINNER stick in an envelope and leave it behind for him on the window sill. Outside, Kingdom Hearts hangs in the sky and its glow catches in your eyes. Contemplate what it really is and realize you have no idea—never had one. Think about how much you invested in blind faith. Question when you lost the ability to see for yourself—if you even had it to begin with. Pinch the skin around your wrist to keep from getting angry. Try to convince yourself that there had to be a reason—one good enough to keep you in the dark, to keep you blind, even though all you wanted since you were born was to see. Pinch harder. Leave Axel’s room for the final time.

As you walk through the empty neon-blasted streets, promise yourself to start a new life somewhere the light touches. Brisk past Axel as he waits for you on the outskirts of the city, stop when you hear him speak.

Your mind’s made up?

Remind him how you need to leave. Tell him you need to find the truth about Sora and yourself and the Keyblade. Realize you’re not even sure that’s what you actually want—if those answers would honestly help you at all—but know that you can’t stay here even if you have nowhere else to go.

You can’t turn on the Organization! Get on their bad side and they’ll destroy you.

Tell him no one would miss you.

Pretend you didn’t hear him say he would.


Doubt your decision to leave. Recognize your own hopelessness as you wander through the corridors of darkness with nowhere to belong. Deny the realization forming inside you that you belong with Sora, that he’s your other. Spend the endless hours in the dark wondering about the best friend you left behind. Break through the darkness and step onto the wasteland of a warm memory.

Thread your fingers together as you walk through the city made of garbage. Try to remember which tower you saw the world from with Axel and fail to find it. Head to the bunker on the outskirts.

Don’t bother concealing yourself as you leave a trail of footprints in the dust. Reach the bunker and feel your clockwork heart fall apart. Gears rattle in your chest as you approach a lifeless heap of metal in the middle of the path. Notice the familiar bootprints of the Organization all around the robot. Cradle it in your hands. Let your eyes burn as tears tumble from your face. Hold the heartless creature to your equally hollow chest.

Bring it into the bunker, its home. Put the movie on and watch the people on the screen hold hands and sing. Turn off all the lights except for those emitting from the screen. Collapse onto the ground beside the robot, and hold its hand until the movie ends and you’re cloaked in darkness. Something awakens inside you, gears turning in their proper place. Summon two Keyblades instead of one, and make the robot a promise to get its heart back. Head to the Dark City.

Upon setting foot in the World that Never Was, defend yourself against the swarm of Neoshadows that greet you. Head to the castle as you vanquish anything that attempts to deter you from your path. Reach Memory’s Skyscraper and become overwhelmed by the swarm. Recognize the silver-haired boy perched atop the building and scale the skyscraper to reach him. Toss him the Oblivion and return to the ground. Work together to eliminate the Heartless, then turn to eliminate each other.

Deflect his blows and force him down.

Why, why do you have the Keyblade? He says to you and you wish you could answer him, answer yourself. Instead, tell him to shut up and move to finish him, only for him to knock you back. Collide with the ground. Feel your Keyblade slam beside you. Get up. Fight. Strike him down. Resist what he tells you, that he knows you’re Sora’s Nobody, that you have no existence of your own. Feel yourself tear apart in anger, in desperation.

When your Keyblade lands against his chest he cries out. Realize that you are truly scared for the first time in your short life when he removes his blindfold. Find something hauntingly familiar in the gold eyes that look back at you. Shudder against the scream he releases as darkness spurns forth from him and he overtakes you.

Begin to lose consciousness. The neon-lights paint the back of your eyelids red. Remember Axel and sunsets and that red travels the farthest. Hope wherever you end up—in this life or the next—that the red light of the setting sun will reach you, always.
 
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Wow, that piece was hauntingly beautiful. I love love love good introspective fanfic, it really helps me understand what it's like to be a character. His thoughts and hopes and everything feels really spot on.

I'm a little embarrassed at how long it took me to realize that the world they visted was Wall-E. It was really interesting --a question of whether robots, too, have hearts. Although I guess since computer programs do, it's without a doubt that robots can as well.

I always figured that Roxas wouldn't be motivated to leave everything he's ever known with Xion, but I guess that's one hypothetical way it could go down.
 

BlackOsprey

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Oww... somehow, you managed to fit in the gut-punches of two stories into one. Even though the tone pretty quiet and detached, that still made me feel something. So, great job on that.

This probably could be used in place of the canon Days narrative, and besides a few things that would need to be altered in other games, this could fit in seamlessly.

Okay, that's it. I'm fine with the canon version of Days, but I'm making this my official headcanon for an alternate universe.
 
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KingdomKey

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I'm impressed with this story and seeing through the eyes of Roxas. The way you describe everything he goes through, his thoughts and feelings, makes him incredibly human. I almost feel sad for him because, he holds onto what's left of his friendship with Axel; despite being lied to at the end there. And my favorite part most of all was when, Roxas stuck around with Wall-E to watch the little television screen and vow to keep his promise. C: Bravo, Audo!
 

Audo

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Thank you for the kind words, guys :3
I don't normally like much of what I write, but there was always something about this one that I did. Sometimes I think about writing more in this style, but, idk. Might be better as a one-off.

I once was planning on doing an entire rewrite of 358/2 Days and a lot of the ideas for that ended up in this. Sometimes I still considering going back to that project, but it would have been exhausting as I was actually planning on writing 358 chapters haha. Ah well, some things are better left in the mind I 'spose
 

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And though you hear an impossible pain in his voice, tell yourself that he is only pretending to care.
Begin to lose consciousness. The neon-lights paint the back of your eyelids red. Remember Axel and sunsets and that red travels the farthest. Hope wherever you end up—in this life or the next—that the red light of the setting sun will reach you, always.
this STILL gets me, man ahhhhhhhh

thank you for writing this for me, alt-days-stories are my absolute fave and this one is so beautiful...
 
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