It’s all about instinct; Roxas is good at that. If an opponent shifts just so, the attack will come from the left. If his gaze flickers he’ll come from above. If her knees lock she means to stand her ground. He doesn’t have to think because it comes to him: instinct older than himself, and maybe older than the Other whose face he only half-remembers till they finally meet.
Sora’s brilliant and intensely real; Roxas flings himself against that until he’s blinded and then he thinks I see, I see why. There was a pressure like resentment in his chest, but it breaks apart under the rain of blows, until all that’s left is himself. It’s not so ugly after all.
“I thought it’d be like dying,” Roxas says, studying the pictures on the walls of the White Room. He’s not sure when or where, but it’s him and Naminé and she’s bent over her sketchbook as he wanders around. “Everyone else thought so, too.”
“Was it?” she asks. She looks up at him, her red crayon against her lips.
He stops in front of one of Axel and himself. To the left of it is a picture of Sora, asleep in his capsule.
“No,” he says. “More like falling into a dream.”
He’s never unaware, is the thing. Maybe he spent too much time as an independant entity. It’s not an urgent thing, or even a very strange thing: it just is. He’s aware of Sora’s daily routine, of the letters that come in bottles and the constant parade of people in trouble and Heartless that continue to bubble up unending. His left arm aches and he knows Sora has broken it, hounded off a cliff and tucking into the fall an instant too late; his ears burn and he knows Kairi is yelling and Riku is upset and Sora’s just embarrassed about the whole thing.
Just as quickly, the impressions slide away; he spends most of his time just existing. He thinks that perhaps these are the moments when he’s most and truly integrated into Sora (like he should be), and they’re the single person they should have always been.
It never lasts, though. He keeps waking up.
“I should be happy with this, right?” Roxas asks. “We’re — us. We’re together. You too, you’re in Kairi now, so why …”
“We are what we are,” Naminé says quietly. “Isn’t that enough?”
There is a world where Sora meets a man with a shock of red hair and bright green eyes. There’s nothing else that’s the same — there is no confidence, no arrogance, nothing but an ordinary man terrified by the Heartless that have taken over his workshop — but Roxas finds himself holding on fiercely to the sight-memory. He pushes, too, for the first time that he can remember, throwing himself forward against the invisible walls holding him in place and reaches out. It’s not the same and it’s nowhere near enough, but he strains out anyway. He’s been part of Sora for some time now: he can remember things like regret.
You were wrong, he wants to tell this man who’s not his best friend. There was no next life, even for me; there’s just the continuation of the old. You missed me, right? I’m sorry.
Sora stops by the man’s house before he leaves the world, just to say good-bye.
There are new pictures on the walls of the White Room, vivid as any photograph. Disney Castle with Sora and Kairi and Riku all dressed up, the wedding of Aladdin and Jasmine, a blitzball tournament that Sora was roped into playing. Roxas follows the line of them to the end, his hands in his pockets.
“Will we wake up?” he asks. “Someday?” He turns to look at Naminé, whose sketchbook is closed for once. Her small white hands and folded together atop the table. There is a flower in her hair that is white as her dress. It matches the one that Queen Minnie’s maids braided into Kairi’s.
“I don’t know,” she says. Her gaze drops for a moment before she smiles and looks at him again. “Do you mind waiting with me?”
Roxas turns away from the wall. He walks until he’s at the table and hooks a chair to drag it next to hers. Reaching over, he puts his hand on her sketchbook and looks at her. “You mind?”
She shakes her head, and smiles when he takes it.