your birth is a strange thing. you're just here suddenly, born into the darkness, alone. so very, very alone and lonely. you feel incomplete, like you're only one half of a whole, and all you know is what is happening now. you're not even sure how you got to be here, how you were not here one second and then you were opening your eyes for the first time. the length of time you're left by yourself in the darkness feels infinite, like time is being slowly stretched out to the limit, the seconds more like hours, hours like eternities, all spent by yourself. the first thing you feel is loneliness, and the second thing you feel is sadness over just how alone you are.
when the organization finds you, takes you out from the darkness and into their world, you think - for a moment - that maybe now you won't be lonely anymore, but that is soon dashed away. they're very quick to fill in the gaps of who you are. a nobody, an entity that isn't complete and can't feel, not like somebodies can, not like the somebody you originally were. it's the only bit of guidance you've gotten since you were born, so believing their words is all you can do. all you know is loneliness; there isn't a lot of room for other feelings even if you did have them. at first, the thought of being around others like you gives you a small sense of hope, that maybe here is where you belong. you may not know much, but you can already tell there's something that sets you apart from the other nobodies. you can already tell that there's a divide between you and the rest, a gap you're not sure you can or want to cross.
there are powers you were born with that are of interest to the organization, and that's why they're keeping you around. with nowhere else to go and no connections to anyone, you have no choice but to stay, because otherwise you'll go back to being alone. you don't want that, even if it means staying in a place you don't want to be. at least here there are others like you around; it's more than you ever had in the darkness. and even though you do feel that, you can't help but feel even more lonely than before.
you're taken to another castle before too long. castle oblivion seems to sit on the edge of twilight in a world of its own with little else around. the insides are white to the point of being almost blinding, the sky outside dark and full of faraway stars. the castle is huge on the inside, but you are kept in one single room, unable to leave on your own, your captivity moved yet not feeling very different at all from where you once were. the hole within yourself where your loneliness sits as heavy as stone only grows larger the longer you sit in this room. marluxia has already given you orders which he expects to be carried out. and if you don't comply, you'll never leave this castle. you feel more like a hostage than someone who is on the same level as the other nobodies who make up the organization. holding your sketchbook in your hands, you dread what you're about to put to paper, what lies you're about to turn into truths. you wait, your loneliness around you like a fragile shell, and you prepare yourself for sora's arrival, calling out to his heart with everything you have.
when he finally does come, you're set to work almost immediately, the memories marluxia wants to you fabricate very specific. you start from the beginning, and you slowly sever the chains, taking apart sora's memories one by one, piece by piece, picture by picture, first hiding away the pieces you've taken apart, and then placing yourself into the heart of his memories. drawing yourself in place of kairi feels wrong, the worst lie you could ever put in your sketchbook, because you could never be a person so loved in anyone's heart, much less sora's. he doesn't even truly know you, you've never met for even a second and he shouldn't be able to recognize you at all, but your drawings tell a different story. a story about a boy who promised to protect a very dear friend who happens to be you. you feel like you're drawing a fantasy in more than one sense because you could never have something like this. why would sora ever want to be friends with you? you could never have a place in his heart, especially not now, with the chain of his memories taken apart in your hands. you're sure he'd hate you if he ever found out.
you do the same with the copy of riku created by vexen, but the method is different. you're not taking memories and pulling them away or reshaping them into something else; you're making them anew, giving him memories as if he's had them all along. the strings you've made around these two, the chains you've fashioned from your pencils and paper, pull tighter and tighter with each drawing you complete. they pull so tightly that sora and the riku replica spend more time arguing over you than anything else. it torments you to know what you're putting them through.
you don't know who is being more cruel: marluxia for making you twist the fabric of sora's memories into something fake for his own purposes, or you for actually doing it, for not saying no to his demands. he wants control of the organization and you know he's only using you to fulfill that goal, but you can't bring yourself to say no. you have no heart to draw courage from. you're not sure what you would do even if you did have one. if your circumstances were different, you feel like you wouldn't even be here.
each line you draw in your sketchbook, each place you color in feels like a newer, fresher pang of guilt in your chest. having this kind of power over someone seems wrong, like you shouldn't be allowed to have it. your whole situation is wrong, but what can you do? you have no choice. you're so unbearably lonely that even this, the lie you're fabricating, almost feels like a real connection. having someone care about you and be your friend feels like a dream. a dream that makes you feel even more guilty with each new layer of memories you create. it hurts to play along with your lies, acting as if they're true when you know in your head that sora and you have never met face to face. turning your act into a reality is what marluxia wants, because having sora on your side is the same as being on his side. you're so small compared to him and his plans, so tiny that you're not even sure why you're even here.
the drawings increase, as do the holes in sora's memories. they're so bad now that almost nothing remains, and the little that's still connected is fractured. he's slowly been climbing up the castle floors, getting closer and closer to you, and you're not sure what you're going to do when you finally meet. you're not sure how much longer you can continue acting as if what you've done is real. with your fingers clenched around your sketchbook, you can only think that you've done something wrong, something unforgivable. you didn't want to meet sora like this, but you know marluxia will force you to comply whether you want to or not.
what you don't expect is to be set free by axel, who seemed to be in on marluxia's plan the whole time as far as you knew. you don't think on it much in the moment, choosing instead to get up and leave while you still have the chance. you're not sure if what he's doing for you is kindness or not, but you don't have the time to wonder very much about it.
being face to face with sora feels like seeing an old friend and meeting someone new at the same time. you've poured through all of his memories from start to finish, and you can definitely say you know a lot more about him than he does about you. it hurts to hear how happy he is to finally see you after spending so long searching for you. it hurts to see just how much of what you've done has twisted him. it hurts even more to break that illusion in him, just a little, just enough for him to start really seeing the truth, because even to you it sounds like a lot to take in. admitting that you're not a special person to someone feels awful, reminds you of just how lonely you are. but you're tired of lying to him, tired of being the cause of so much fighting. you don't want to be part of marluxia's schemes anymore.
that desire in mind, you tell the riku replica to stop fighting for you, breaking his heart in two. you hate that you've done this to them, ended up pulling them along like the puppets marluxia wanted them to be all this time. if you had more time, maybe it wouldn't have had to be this way. with larxene gone and more of your secrets spilled out, you tell sora everything in your own words, that everything he knows and remembers is a lie and that you were the one who fabricated them all. you don't feel good finally admitting it to the person your powers affected the most. if anything, you feel worse, even more guilty, even more unforgivable. you didn't tell him so you would have peace of mind; you told him so he'd know what you'd done to him, so he wouldn't have to live in a lie. and for him to smile and say it's okay, that he forgives you, you don't understand it at all.
you never once thought sora would be unable to defeat marluxia once you had finally met him. you believed in sora, believed in him from the moment he smiled and said it was okay. you lead him to a place where he can sleep while you fix the damage your magic has done. it will take a long time to chain his memories back to their original state, but he wants to be put back together the way he was, and you can't argue with that, even you do feel a bittersweet kind of pain knowing your existence will be hidden away inside his memories. the two of you make a promise to meet again once he wakes up, and you say goodnight to him. you almost can't believe that he would still want to be friends with you, but you're happy.
tears rolling down your cheeks and a smile on your face, you can finally say that you don't feel so alone anymore.
you draw for a long time, putting back the pieces of what was once sora's memories, linking them together like chains while he sleeps. you put the scenes from his life, his real life, in your sketchbook one by one. this would've saddened you in the past, when you felt so lonely that there seemed to be no other options. sora may not remember you when he wakes up, but you'll never forget him, and you both have a promise to keep once he wakes up. with both DiZ and the real riku watching over him, you do your part and you link back the chains you had broken piece by piece.
you can't say it wasn't hard to do. between the drawings you could do and the fragmented pieces of sora's complete self missing, taking the form of other people, it took a lot longer than you thought it might. it was easier at least, as far as you knew, to place back the piece who was xion into sora. you didn't get to speak to her much beyond telling her the truth about her identity, and it was left out of your hands after that. roxas, however, is an entirely different matter. you feel for him as a fellow nobody and as someone who is pulled along by others more than actually given real freedom. you can't say that being with DiZ is much different from being with the organization, but you know you're doing something good this time. for a while, the guilt you had built up in yourself, saddled like another rock along with your loneliness, had slowly started to fade away with time. you're still fixing everything for sora so he can live on normally, without remembering all the terrible things that happened in castle oblivion. maybe you can finally return to where you belong when he wakes up. you know that you're meant to be joined with kairi, just as roxas is meant to be joined with sora. you don't feel sad knowing that one day you won't be your own person anymore. it took you a long time for you to feel much of anything. you think you'd be happy to be whole again like you're supposed to be.
knowing that roxas is trapped in a world of data doesn't sit well with you. it reminds you too much of your own past, when you didn't know about much and you were pulled along by others. you want roxas to know what he is, what's going to happen to him once you're done putting sora's memories back as they were. he needs roxas if he's ever going to wake up and be whole again. trying to convey that to roxas in the data world feels just as hard as telling sora about his false memories, but you can't sit by any longer and continue to keep secrets from him. you can tell just by looking at him that you've raised more questions than answers the first time you spoke to him, your time cut off before you could say all that you needed to. your second attempt doesn't go so well either. DiZ tries to keep you from speaking more than you already have, but you force his hand away from your mouth, struggling to have your voice be heard. you promise to meet roxas again, just like you promised to meet with sora once he woke up. if everything goes as it should, you can do both at the same time.
you're taken back into the darkness, and you can't say it isn't familiar.