[The Place We Call Home]

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Wow. I’m finally dusting this old place out. It’s almost exciting.

Happy 2020~

This year is starting off… pretty wild. But I thought that I could take things back to my roots of creativity. Did you guys know I’m a massive fan of the video game series Kingdom Hearts? I mean, of course you did, I literally wrote a whole review post on KH3, something I waited thirteen years for (I DON’T CARE ABOUT THE COMMENTS ON THIS STATEMENT, I PLAYED KH2 IN 2006, I KNEW KH3 WOULD HAPPEN, I. WAITED. 13. YEARS.)

Anyways, point here… late last year, I had the opportunity to use my writer chops for my roots again, and was offered a place in my first KH fanzine! And it was relating to one of my favorite characters, Xion. Xion is a dear. I adore her. And I adore her relationship with Roxas and Lea. Because they deserved happiness.

I thought that now that the zine is out, published, and I’ve gotten my contributor’s copy, I could share the story I wrote for you all!

Hope you enjoy! [Beware the KH3 spoilers over a year after release, you latesos.]

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“I can’t go back.”

Roxas was unsure if he’d heard her correctly. He almost laughed—almost. But he couldn’t even bring himself to muster up the smallest chuckle in confusion. He could almost feel his head spiraling. He traced her eyes, but she refused to meet his for herself.

There had to be an explanation.

“What do you mean, Xion?” he asked, straining against his budding anguish. “Why can’t you come back with us? It took us so long to find each other again, and you… you just don’t want to be together?”

Xion folded her hands in front of her, her dark bangs sinking over her eyes. She bit her bottom lip, her eyes glistening with tears. The pieces in her mind were falling, splintering against the soles of her feet like broken glass. She knew that he would have questioned her. And she knew that she had to be prepared for whatever questions he had to offer. But the moment that he spoke, his tone fractured, his being nearly crushed, she lost all sense of fighting back.

She couldn’t hide from her best friend.

“I do. More than anything,” she tried to reason. “But there’s so much that I’ve done to you, and to Axel. I can’t… just look past everything that’s happened. I remember everything that I’ve done to hurt you, and I can’t escape that, ever.”

“We’ve talked about this!” Roxas suddenly exclaimed. “Axel and I, we’ve already forgiven you! We want to move forward, to have a life together, all of us! Bygones are bygones, Xion!” He felt himself beginning to simmer, and Xion merely watched his anger shift into agony. Sky-blue eyes, tainted with broken promises, sprinkled with lost hope. A gaze she knew well. “We… we deserve the chance to be happy again after everything we’ve been through.”

“I know that!” Xion shouted back at him, her hands clenched into fists, her resounding foot against the ground shoving against him like a hammer. “I know that you both forgave me. But I can’t even forgive myself. Going to Twilight Town to live with you, to live with that guilt and pretend that everything is okay, I can’t do that! I can’t push my feelings on both of you!”

Roxas was frowning now, his own counter of a knife to flesh. Xion always hated seeing his raw sorrows come to life. Especially when she was usually the one causing them. This was why. This was why it hurt to be close to them again.

Finally, in the most unnervingly calm fashion she’d ever seen from him, he stated, “If you change your mind, you’ll find me out in Twilight Town. I’m telling Riku to take me back.” Roxas left without another word, hands in his pockets.

Xion reached out for him. But the further away that he got, the more that the shadows encasing his heart smothered him. Roxas’s heart was no longer shrouded in dark pits now that he’d set himself free from his deepest turmoil, but there would forever rest a part of him that could snap like a twig. They both needed their time to cool off, whether Xion was willing to accept it or not. Maybe it was good that Roxas was leaving.

With the tension finally easing off her shoulders, Xion found herself sitting on the crooked roots of the paopu tree. The ever-familiar sunset teemed over the ocean, and for a moment, Xion wondered if the world could stop moving, just for her, just for a moment. The thought of cleansing her mind of every terrible memory was a temptation she knew she would never be able to accept—though it tore into her, those dark days gave life to a girl once deemed a Replica. Incomplete. Broken.

Times were supposed to be better now that the Keyblade war was over, and peace was returning, a bit at a time. But there was still turmoil from other sides. Kairi, missing. Sora, chasing after her. Riku, off to make amends and keep things from becoming too chaotic among other worlds. And everyone else, returning to their lives anew. Everyone except her, clinging to the past with all of her being. She wasn’t worthy of happiness. Not when so many problems involving her closest friends circulated around her existence.

Riku’s gummi ship roared through the skies in the distance, and with him went Roxas. Briefly, she saw Roxas glance down upon the island—at her. He laid his hand over the tiny window and watched her until the ship had entered hyperspace. She tried to smile, happy that he was still so caring and considerate of her, but she could only bring herself closer to tears.

To withhold them, she drew in one breath, closed her eyes, and allowed her mind to wander back to the days where the three of them could eat ice cream and laugh like idiots.

Where had it all gone wrong?

When she opened her eyes again and set herself free, she saw that the sun had disappeared, replaced by a fragile moonlight.

“Reclaiming lost memories?”

Xion jumped at the new voice and promptly looked to her left to find the biggest enigma that she could ever hope to unite with. Her former commander, now known to the world as Isa. She stilled her heart and lowered her guard. He wasn’t an enemy to her, not anymore. She could tell by the calm look in his eyes.

“I didn’t think you’d be back from the brink,” Xion admitted. “I-I thought… I really thought that you were-”

“There’s no real need for explanation,” Isa stated, folding his arms.

“You should be with Axel right now,” Xion tried to reason. “He’s… he’s really missed you. He talked so much about you after the war ended. He told us so many stories about when you were children.”

“Believe me, I plan to meet with him again. But there is some air to clear before I find my way back.” Isa stole a glance at Xion. “I hear that you and Roxas have come to blows. I may not be your first choice… but would you like to discuss it?”

He was right; he certainly wasn’t Xion’s first choice in looking to vent, but now that she really considered it, they weren’t much different. Isa was a fire that lit in her heart, one that spread beyond the greatest capacities. She could even go so far to say that she hated him during her days in the Organization. But her feelings for him couldn’t hold a candle to Axel’s. They were so close, drifted apart, and finally came to a fitting conclusion, but their story hadn’t yet ended.

Fate had given them another chance.

“Well…” Xion cleared her throat and leaned against the tree trunk, gazing upon the star-shaped fruits hovering above. Fate… nothing was left to it. Everything could be defied. Kairi and Sora were living proof of that, and they passed on their ideals to her and Roxas, no questions asked.

“Well?”

“I’ve had the hardest time coming to terms with my existence,” Xion began. “I didn’t think that I would be starting a life where I didn’t have to worry about… well, anything. I want to spend this time with my friends, meeting new people, living… but I always find myself clinging to everything that’s happened.” She held up her hand, reaching for one of the paopu fruits. Could hearts really be connected through destiny? Through experience?

“And these thoughts were what you dragged to Roxas, I assume?”

Wow. He never did hide his bluntness.

“Yeah. You were doing some pretty terrible things back when we were in the Organization. And somehow, you changed. You accepted that you had to, and you found your way back home. How do you learn when to let go of what you did?”

“I didn’t,” Isa said simply, looking beyond the shoreline. “I carry that anguish with me. I don’t allow myself to forget who I once was, as a Nobody. But these days, I’ve decided not to let it consume my every waking moment. Because there are people that have begun to depend on me in another fashion. And that is something that one day, you will come to learn as well, so long as you wish it. You are no longer a Replica, nor a Nobody, Xion. Roxas and Lea have already come to see that for themselves. And they will wait for you to join them.”

Xion felt herself smile. Somehow, she knew it. She knew his words were truth, and she herself didn’t even realize it at first. Her friends would always be there.

“Do you want to return to them?”

“More than anything. With them… I think I could figure out what home really is. It’s something that none of us have really known without having each other there.” Xion rose from the paopu tree and hovered above Isa before jumping down next to him. “And you’re going to know it too.” Isa looked a bit confused at first, her statement unnerving. But Xion took him by the arm, her smile growing. “You’re going to come home with us. You deserve that happiness too.”

Isa chuckled, and his stalwartness barely melted in retaliation. “I suppose you have a point.”

******

At first, Xion could tell that Riku wasn’t thrilled about making multiple trips, but after some firm consideration from Isa and Xion’s pleading expression, he relented with his usual sincere grin, and they were in Twilight Town within the hour. Xion was quick to rush for the clock tower, and upon looking up, she spotted Axel and Roxas high above, eating sea-salt ice cream.

Xion broke into a sprint, racing into the station, diving for the stairs that would carry her up to the clock, closer to her friends.

“Try not to fall,” Isa tried to warn, but she was already too far ahead for his words to reach her.

Two at a time, not a breath out of place, she skidded to a stop before she tossed herself directly off of the high mark. It wouldn’t have been the first time she nearly catapulted off, after all. She was out of air when Roxas and Axel turned their heads in confusion to her, and Roxas was the first to rise, his eyes wide in shock.

“Xion?” Roxas made his way to her, and Xion gave a small giggle. “Y-You’re here!”

“Just in time!” Axel joked, holding up his bar. “Your ice cream was starting to melt!” And right as he was about to bite down into his own, he nearly dropped it, his gaze suddenly locking behind Xion.

Isa was never far behind, laying a hand on Xion’s shoulder as she straightened herself again, her eyes meeting Roxas’s.

“I take it you didn’t bring me any,” Isa responded, his joke almost callous. Axel’s bar slipped from his hand and fell several meters down, shattering his heart for a few seconds. The thought leaving his mind, he too jumped to his feet, lost for words, his hands moving from his face to his hips before he merely glared at Isa.

“You’re a master of surprise, and that kind of breaks my heart more.”

“Your well-wishing was well-placed,” Isa implied.

“A little warning would have been fantastic!”

“Well, the look on your face was worth waiting for.” Axel sighed, resting a hand on Isa’s shoulder, a sly grin overtaking his lips. Roxas was grinning himself at this point before looking to Xion, who folded her hands behind her back and returned the smile.

“Here to visit or to stay?” Roxas asked, holding out his own hand. Xion took Roxas’s hand, and the warmth of his presence resonated within her. This was what she’d been waiting for since the day that they parted, all that time ago.

“Home,” she told him. “I’m home.”

Roxas chuckled. “Good. I was hoping you’d say that.” He pulled her forward, returning to their friends, and for the first time, Xion knew that she belonged.

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