He was dreaming. He, Roxas, knew that he was dreaming because he always had the same dream. In his dream, seagulls cried out faintly and waves gently crashed against the sand. He saw a boy standing on a shore, barefooted. The boy had his sleeves rolled up, and there was an ice-cream stick in his mouth. Hiis blue eyes were fixed on the horizon. He always smiled. That upset Roxas. How could someone always smile?
Around the boy was a beautiful, almost glimmering island. There were trees with long, extending leaves all around. One tree, in particular, had star-like fruits on it. This part of the island was new to Roxas. For the first time, he took his attention away from the barefooted boy and focused more on the tree of stars. There, once inching closer, he saw something, or rather, someone, very new to him. Sitting on the curved tree was the lonely silhouette of a girl.
"Roxas," said a voice so suddenly it pulled the thirteenth Nobody out of his sleep.
Roxas' eyes opened slowly, hesitantly. Like all mornings, he had been sleeping on his back, so the first thing he laid eyes on was the blank, white ceiling,
He lay there for a moment or two reflecting on his dream. He snapped out of his thoughts once realizing who the voice had belonged to.
He sat up quickly and faced the man standing in his doorway. Saix.
It surprised Roxas greatly to see someone like Saix visit him in his room. He rarely came and only did so out of urgency.
Roxas stared blankly at Saix, waiting for him to state his business.
"You overslept," Saix began, rather causally. It was almost too casual.
Roxas raised an eyebrow in suspicion.
"You missed the meeting, thirteen," Saix went on saying, this time with his usual stern voice. He crossed his arms. "Master Xemnas wants everyone out of the castle today."
When Roxas did not as much as blink in response, Saix went out with it:
"So get out,"he said bluntly.
"What's my mission today?" asked Roxas simply as he yawned a bit.
Saix let out a sigh. "Unfortunately, because the early meeting took up all of my time, I was not able to plan out everyone's missions. And because I woke up feeling somewhat lenient, I've decided to just give everyone the day off. Provided of course that everyone do double the work tomorrow."
"Oh," Roxas said, not entirely absorbing all of the information thrown at him all at once. He looked sleepily to the floor.
Saix turned away and faced the door. "If I'm not mistaken," he said, looking over his shoulder. "I believe Axel said something about going to the beach with you and the other one." Then, without another word, he left, his footsteps growing fainter and fainter as he walked further down the hallway.
When there was silence, Roxas jumped out of bed. "The beach!" he exclaimed as if to wake himself up. He dashed over to his closet.
He scanned his wardrobe. It was all the same - black shirts, black pants, black shoes, and his black organization cloak.
"I wonder what I should wear today," he mumbled sarcastically to himself.
"But what am I supposed to wear to the beach?" he asked, worried for a second, as he had never gone to the beach.
He shrugged the thought away and decided that he'd figure it out for himself when he was already there. He grabbed the same outfit as he usually did and swiftly changed out of his sleeping clothes into the new ones.
Then Roxas extended a hand and opened a dark corridor leading to Twilight Town, as he knew that his friends would already be there waiting for him.
When Roxas arrived to the usual place, the clock tower, he was surprised to see Axel and Xion already there in noticeably different clothes.
Axel wore fairly long, dark grey shorts that reached just above his knees. He wore a light grey tank top with the Nobody insignia on his chest. He wore large, red sunglasses and grey flip flops. He had a colorful beach ball around one arm.
Xion wore a black bathing suit with a faint heart pattern. She had a large, grey beach bag on one arm and wore dark sandals.
And Roxas? Roxas wore what he wore everyday.
Axel brought a hand to his forehead immediately when seeing Roxas in his usual getup.
Xion, who sat beside him, laughed lightly into her hand.
Roxas brought two hands to his face in shame. He knew it. He knew he should have worn something else.
Then Axel bursted out laughing in a roar of wild laughter, no longer able to suppress it any longer. As he did so, Roxas glared with crossed arms. Xion, coming to Roxas’ rescue, stood beside Roxas. She addressed him with a motherly tone. “I thought this would happen,” she said, reaching into her big beach bag. She pulled out black shorts and a plain white tshirt with a big smile. “So I bought you these!”
“Wow,” said Roxas as he took the articles of clothing from his friend. While relieved, he raised an eyebrow curiously. “You were really ready for this day, weren’t you, Xion?”
Axel, by then, stopped laughing and looked to Xion with an intrigued look as she eagerly spoke.
“I was,” she admitted. “I just...I couldn’t wait for this vacation.” She lowered her gaze and smiled. “I thought we’d never be able to have it.”
Roxas nodded in agreement and mirrored her smile.
“Enough of this sappy talk,” Axel said with a loud clap. “We’ve wasted enough time waiting for Sleeping Beauty over there to wake up and come here.”
“Hey!” Roxas exclaimed. “No fair! You could have woken me up!”
“Nope,” said Axel, standing up. “Saix kicked us all out right after the meeting,” he further explained, hand gestures and all.
“Why do they need the castle clear anyway?” Roxas asked once realizing that nobody told him yet.
“Didn’t Saix tell you?” Xion cut in. “Xemnas wants time alone with Kingdom Hearts.”
“What for?” Roxas asked.
“They’re not going to tell us, Roxas,” Axel said with a sarcastic chuckle. “If you haven’t already noticed, no one really tells us anything. If you want to know about something, you have to figure it out for yourself. But enough about that. Let’s just go already!”
Roxas and Xion quickly agreed.
With the wave of his outstretched hand, the fiery red-head opened a dark portal. The trio of friends entered and soon vanished.
When they exited the portal, they were greeted by a brilliant view of the ocean.
Xion’s face lit up. “We’re actually here!” she exclaimed in delight. She dropped her beach bag against the ground and ran straight into the water, laughing all the way.
Axel crossed his arms and smiled. “She’s excited,” he commented. When Roxas did not respond, Axel turned his head to Roxas’ direction. Hey,” he said, smile disappearing. “What’s wrong?”
Roxas stood and stared at the world around him looking as if he were shocked and confused at the same time. His eyes searched endlessly for something different from the world he saw in his dreams, but he could find nothing. The world he was in, as it turned out, was identical to the one he dreamt of every night.
The trees were all in the same place. The sand was just as warm. The seagulls were just as faint. Roxas shook his head and snapped out of his thoughts.
“It’s nothing,” he told Axel, daring to step away and further explore. “I’m going to find a place to change into these,” he said, referring to the clothes he held.
Axel, though being able to sense that something was wrong, did not further interrogate him and merely shrugged. “Well hurry up,” he said, as he stretched out on the ground to relax.
“Right,” Roxas said, distant mindedly walking forward.
His eyes searched desperately for the tree of yellow stars or for the boy with the ice-cream stick in his mouth. One or the other had to be in the island, somewhere.
After searching for some time and not encountering either the tree or the boy, Roxas decided that he would just give up and spend the day having fun with his friends. He quickly changed into his new clothes and headed back.
There, he was both surprised and amused to find Axel fast asleep as Xion was in the process of burying his body with sand.
“Roxas,” Xion whispered, resisting the urge to laugh. “Help me out.”
Roxas, eager to get his mind off his dreams, agreed with a nod and followed her example.
The two Nobodies went on piling sand onto Axel’s body, snickering every so often.
They went on adding more sand and even began forming a sand castle on him.
When they were almost done, Axel’s eyes suddenly shot open underneath his sunglasses. He sat up instinctively, and all the work they had done went to waste as the sand fell down.
“What the-?” he asked, and the laughter Roxas and Xion had been containing came out in a burst. And their laughter, being rather contagious, caused Axel to laugh a bit too.
“Nobody buries me in sand and gets away with it,” he said, jumping up and giving them each a mildly threatening look.
Roxas gave Xion a quick glance, and in an instant, they both leapt up and ran off into the water.
And Axel, in return, chased after them with a big grin.
The three friends spent a rather long time in the water after that, swimming around, laughing, and tossing the beach ball around.
Eventually they got out of the water and just sat by the shore absorbing the sun’s warm rays.
“I wish it could always be like this,” Xion said softly when everything grew quiet.
“Yeah,” Roxas agreed.
Axel frowned a bit. Why wish for something impossible? They were all just a bunch of Nobodies.
“Was today everything you wanted it to be, Xion?” Roxas asked with a smile.
She nodded enthusiastically. “The only thing that’s missing is some ice-cream.”
Roxas gasped a bit. While searching for the boy and the tree of stars, he had noticed a small, worn out shack that looked something like an ice-cream shop. He stood up. “I think I saw an ice-cream shop somewhere over there earlier,” he said, pointing behind him.
“Oh yeah?” Axel asked, perking up. “Why don’t you go check it out?”
“Okay,” Roxas said as he walked away. “I’ll be right back!”
But as he continued walking forward, he took a wrong turn and ended up somewhere he hadn’t been before. He looked around curiously, wondering just how lost he was, until in the distance he saw it. The tree of stars.
And when he looked closer, he saw the girl, no longer a silhouette, sitting on it.
He was immediately drawn to the girl like a moth attracted to light.
He walked towards her without a second thought.
And as Roxas came closer, he saw the girl more clearly.
She wasn’t, to his surprise, who he expected to see. She did not have the red hair he imagined her to have, but she was instead blonde.
She was wearing a knee length white dress with blue sandals. Her concentration was fixed on the notebook sitting on her lap where she drew.
Roxas, deciding that he was close enough, stood beside her, watching her.
It did not take the girl long before she realized Roxas was there.
“Roxas,” she said, not even looking up from her notebook. “It’s you...”
Roxas, cautious, invited himself to a seat beside the girl he felt so attracted to. It was as if he knew her and hadn’t seen her in years. He fought the temptation to wrap his arms around her and hold her close to him. She was a stranger, he tried convincing himself. She had to be. But if she were just a stranger, how had she known his name?
She looked to him for the first time. Their eyes locked. “I didn’t think I would get the chance to meet you,” she admitted, smiling sadly. “Thank you.”
“What are you talking about?” Roxas asked, yearning for answers. “Who...are you?”
“My name is Naminé,” the girl said, gesturing towards herself.
“What are you doing here, Naminé?” Roxas asked.
“I’m just drawing,” she said. “I come here to draw when no one is around to see me leave,” she said, sounding a bit proud of herself.
“It’s weird,” Roxas said, still terribly confused. “I feel like I’ve met you before. Have I?”
She hesitated. “Yes,” she said, offering no further explanation.
Roxas couldn’t wrap his mind around it. “But...how? I remember you. I know I do. I can tell. But...I just don’t remember you at the same time,” he said while shaking his head. He stopped when no more words would form.
“You must be talking about Kairi,” Naminé said. “You remember Kairi, don’t you, Roxas?”
He tested the name. “Kairi,” he said. He looked to Naminé, seeing Kairi in her place for a brief second. His eyes widened. “That’s the girl he likes,” he said. “Sora.”
Naminé nodded. “Yes, Roxas,” she said, lowering her gaze. “Sora.”
Roxas, no longer able to resist, placed a trembling hand on Naminé’s cheek and lifted her face. The two, once again, locked eyes.
They did speak with their words after that, but only with their eyes.
That was until, in the distance, faint cries from Axel and Xion were heard.
“Roxas!” they called out.
Naminé was the first to look away. “You’re still a part of the organization,” she said as though reminding herself. “No...we’ve met too early,” she said, not daring to look at Roxas again. “We shouldn’t have met today.”
“Why not?” Roxas asked, reaching for her hand. “Ever since becoming a Nobody, I never really felt like I belonged anywhere. How could I? But...just being here next to you…” he trailed away, growing lost in her eyes once more.
“You weren’t supposed to remember who Sora was this early,” she insisted. “Roxas, do you trust me?”
“Roxas!” called the cries of Axel and Xion, seemingly growing closer and closer.
“What?” Roxas asked, struck suddenly by the question. “Do I...trust you?”
Naminé nodded. “Do you?” she asked.
“I do,” Roxas said, surprising even himself with his immediate response.
“Then let me erase this memory,” Naminé said with a frown. “None of this was supposed to happen today. You can’t know who Sora is. Not yet.”
“Erase this memory?” Roxas asked, puzzled.
“I don’t know why, but I have the ability to alter memories. I can make it so that we never met today,” she explained. “You won’t remember meeting me, and I won’t remember meeting you.”
“But, why?” Roxas asked, devastated. “I just found you!”
“I’m sorry, Roxas,” Naminé apologized. “But you just have to trust me.” She smiled as she began to mentally unravel the memory.
Roxas studied her face for some time, and without thinking about it, leaned in closer to her. He softly kissed her cheek and looked away quickly after.
Naminé gasped a bit and touched where he had kissed her. She looked to him questioningly, and he simply said, “I couldn’t help myself.”
He smiled a bit as teardrops began to form in his eyes. “You have to promise me something, Naminé.”
“What?” she asked quietly in return, hand still on her cheek.
“You have to promise that we’ll meet for the first time again. When you think we’re supposed to,” Roxas said, looking at her for a final time.
Before Naminé could agree to such a promise, it was too late. The memory was erased from both of their minds.
Naminé, upon realizing where she was and who she sat next to, stood up swiftly and disappeared through a dark corridor before Roxas could realize what was happening.
But as she disappeared from sight, her hand would not leave her cheek, and the words, “I promise” painstakingly tried to escape her voice, but they would not be formed.
She vanished in the blink of an eye, and in Roxas’ memory he only saw what he saw from his dream. A shadow of a person he swore he once knew, but a distant shadow nonetheless.
When his friends finally found him, he sat alone, shoulder hunched over, nose red and stuffy, and eyes watering.
“Roxas!” Xion exclaimed, shocked to see him in such a state.
“What happened?” Axel asked, placing a hand on his shoulder and looking him straight in the eye.
Roxas frantically searched for an answer. “I don’t know,” he said, honestly, as that was all he could say.
“I’m sorry, Naminé. You know DiZ’s rules. We aren’t supposed to interfere right now.”
“I need to meet him.”
“I don’t know. I just need to. I know I do.”
“Naminé you know you can’t...”
“...Fine. Make it quick before DiZ gets back.”
The world froze.
Roxas, confused, looked around. What was going on?
From out of nowhere, a girl appeared and walked right to him. She faced him and said something that triggered sudden longing within him.
Had he recognized this girl?
Hadn’t they met once before?
No. Of course not. He would have remembered meeting someone like her.
She reminded him of someone, actually.
But he couldn't quite realize who.
He had seen this girl, somewhere.
In a dream.
A hazy, forgotten dream.
Or maybe somewhere else. Somewhere where the waves gently crashed against the shore and seagulls cried faintly. Somewhere on a tree of stars.
“I wanted to meet you, at least once,” she had said before abruptly leaving as suddenly as she had appeared.
And Roxas was left, alone, only to wonder what that could have possibly meant.