My Brother's Keeper

Chapter 4

Sora walks into the grand foyer of the castle to see a light rippling from behind the double ebony doors of the dining room. Handing his cloak off to a servant, Sora wipes his feet and heads towards the doors.

Peering through the crevice of the doors, he sees King Ansem and his father shake hands in greeting and brush kisses with his mother. It wasn't uncommon whenever Ansem came to visit, but usually he sends a note in advance. These sudden visits usually imply something bad.

Taking a deep breath, Sora pushes the door inward and steps inside. The hinges squeak and the head speak up to meet him.

"Oh Sora." His mother speaks. "Good you're here. Please join us. You remember Ansem."

Sora nods and bows. "Your highness."

"Your Majesty." He replies. "My look at you. I hardly recognized you." He circles his hand and Sora rotates in a circle. "You're turning into quite the young man."

"Thank you sir." Sora replies. "So, if I may ask, what brings on your sudden visit to the Twilight Kingdom?"

"Well, I was responding to your father's letter he sent me." He turns to Sora's father. "Which brings me to my next point. If it's true that the thief is living in your kingdom, I want to clarify that this isn't an act of war."

"I would never-!"

"Gentlemen," Sora's mother Sara, interrupts. She steps between the two men. "Let's not overthink this whole thing. Let's have a seat and discuss this."

They takes their seats around the dining table, which instead of food has a trio stick candle holder and a vase of lilies at its center. After offering glasses of wine, Sora's mother starts the conversation.

"So, Ansem, what brings this sudden thought of war?" His mother asks.

"Well, it was merely a point I wanted to make. And while I know you would never, I did find it rather interesting how the thief only steals from our kingdoms and not yours."

"But, this thief steals valuables we already have, so it would be useless." Sora was quick to say.

"Sora," his mother says, her voice full of warning.

"While I understand your concern, Sir Ansem, I can assure you that this thief has nothing to do with me or my kingdom." His father says.

"Oh I believe you sir, but I also came to address the situation that this thief may move on to other kingdoms. Ad they might not be so understanding." He warns.

"You mean, you think he'll steal from other kingdoms, knowing they'll have the same suspicions?" Sora asks.

"Well I wouldn't a mere commoner that much credit."

"You should never underestimate others." Sora snaps.

"Sora." His mother's voice warns again.

"I'm just saying." Sora looks around the table. "Leon always taught me, "What you know about your enemy is dangerous to them, but what you think you know can be dangerous to you.""

There's a moment of silence and then Ansem laughs. "He's taught you well son, but still a mere commoner able to do what I've seen this man do. It seems irrational."

"What exactly is he capable of?" Sora's father asks.

"He managed to take out several of my guards and even land an arrow at me, as I'm sure you're already aware of from my letter." Ansem says. "The way this young man fights, it is clear he's had years of training."

"What if he's just stealing the stuff to sell for his family, or something? Maybe he's just desperate and poor." Sora suggests.

"Be that as it may, he struck down member of the royal guard and struck at me. Such an act doesn't usually go unpunished." Ansem retorts.

Sora looks down at his lap, fidgeting with his fingers.

"Besides, the royal court and I have recently come to the conclusion he might be a member of Xemnas' assignation army."

Sora's mouth goes dry, and when he swallows, it feels like knives slicing down his throat. The room instantly fills with a tension so suffocating, Sora ends up coughing slightly.

"Xemnas, here?" his mother breathes in fear.

"You didn't know?" Ansem asks.

"Xemnas and I lost contact long ago. I assumed he left after he-" Sora's father immediately stops as the memory chokes his voice out. He swallows thickly and lowers his gaze.

Sora looked around and saw the eyes of his mother on him. She dropped her gaze the second Sora caught her.

"Have there been any other reports?" His mother asks.

"Not that I'm aware. Surely they'd come to you." Ansem says. "And since this thief has done more than enough to prove where his allegiance lies, I have come to the conclusion that it'd be best, if he'd be brought in dead."

Sora's head jerks up to Ansem. His one arm on the rest of the chair, the other his fingers spread around the flat of the glass of his finished wine. Sora's father sighs as he rubs his temple, something he always did when faced with a situation that didn't have many options, Sora's mother was silent.

"You mean, you're going to execute him?" Sora asks.

"If he is in allegiance with Xemnas, than he will surely be of no use to us."

"What about the information he might have?" Sora counters. "Couldn't that be useful to bringing Xemnas down?"

"Xemnas has trained his men to be stubborn, loyal, and merciless. And I can assure you he won't have a problem replacing him even if we did kill him."

"How do you know he's young?" Sara asks.

"He's about your son's height, though a more, muscular built." Ansem describes. "As for anything physical, I'm afraid we're not that successful."

"Maybe he was forced." Sora presses. "What if he was forced into the business and he regrets everything he's doing?"

"Sora," Ansem says. "your compassion for others will make you a beloved king. But you mustn't let that blur your vision of what is more important. This young man, he's killed my guards, he attempted to kill me. And I doubt, if you faced him, he won't hesitate to do the same."

"But it's still killing a human. If you do, you're no different." Sora protests.

"Except that it's for justice." Ansem counters. "What if he kills your villagers? Imagine if you spared his life. All the possible families you will disappoint."

"I believe it is not your place to tell my son how to behave." Sora's father interrupts. "If we managed to capture this thief, I won't deny that he could be of use, but he'll be a tough nut to crack."

"He won't, I can promise that. Best we execute him."

"What about my brother?!" Sora wails.

The room falls silent, and Ansem, the red liquid of his wine just about to reach his lips when Sora yelled. Sora glares at him with fierce determination.

"What if he know about my brother?! Xemnas is the head of the organization, if we capture one his minions, we can use him to help find my brother."

"Sora, your brother was kidnapped by the man when you were a mere newborn. Who's to say that as the years passed that he's-"

"He not dead!" Sora shouts suddenly, his voice piping in panic. He slammed his palms on the table, rising from his seat. "Don't say that."

"Sora!" his mother shouts. Sora looks to her, pleading with her to defend him. She regains her composure and sits straighter. "You are excused."

Sora shoots her a look of absolute loathing. It hurts her, he can see it. Not breaking his gaze, Sora kicks back his chair and storms out of the dining hall. Shoving the door open, he stomps out and bounds up the steps to his bed chamber. Behind, Sora can hear his mother apologizing for his 'outburst'. Once at the top of the stairs, his anger blazing, he made a point by sending one of his two bedroom doors slamming shut with a resounding bang.

Inside his room, Sora pressed his back to the double doors. He's taking quick breaths as he slides down to the floor. Resting his elbows on his knees, he ruffles his fingers through his hair. For what felt like the first time in his life, Sora was battling not to hate his parents. Both for not defending his side, when they knew he was right. His eyes water at the mere mention of his brother. Pushing to his feet, he flung himself onto his bed, choking back a sob.

Quick footsteps on the stairs were followed by a gentle knock at his door. It couldn't be his mom, the knock too gentle to be his father. It had to have been one of the housemaids. Sora knew even before he heard the soft voice asking if he would please come down to dinner. He offered no reply. After a moment, he heard a sigh, then the retreat of defeated footsteps.

He lay still for a long time after that, curled up on his side, and tried to ignore the dull ache forming in his head. He reached beneath the lining of his tunic and pulled out the thin chain of a silver necklace. It glimmered in the light. A tiny charm in the shape of a crown rested on the chain, Sora remembers this. It was given to him and his brother when they were born. It has never left his neck for anything. He clasps it into his palm as he buries himself in covers.

Sora heard footsteps on the stairs. The hinges of one door squeaked as he heard his door open ajar.

"Sora," his father says, his voice soft, coaxing. "I want you to know that your mother and I are going to have a talk."

Sora felt on side of his bed sink down as his father sat, and then the weight of one warm hand against his arm. "In the meantime, I want you to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity, okay?"

Sora shifted to sit up. A feeling of gratefulness to have an ally after all. More often than not, his parents struck maddeningly together on most issues. His grasp still on the necklace. His father smiled.

"I remember that." He points to the necklace.

"What happened to Roxas'?" Sora asks, dropping his hand.

His father sighs. "I'm afraid Xemnas stole it along with your brother, the only reason I can think why is to sell it for money. It was worth enough."

Sora looks down and murmurs. "I don't understand. I don't get what her problem is."

His father let his words out in a sigh. "I think she's just afraid."

Sora scowled and twisted around in his covers, huddling to one side. "Still, she should at least stand up for her son."

That made his father laugh. Sora loved the sound of his father's laugh. It was light and airy, like something you might expect to hear from a charming nobleman. "I think part of it is that your mother is the diplomat. The lady of great virtue. And on top of that, she has to worry about a reckless son, who still needs to pick a suitable bride."

Sora snorted into his pillow. "That's all she cares about. She just wants me married and out of the castle."

"Oh, Sora." His father sighed. "Don't be like that. She just wants you to be happy. So cut her a little slack."

"Cut her a little slack?" Sora somehow doubted that his father could be right about his mother getting over his rude outburst, though he hoped she would. He hated fighting with either one of his parents, but for some reason, things always seemed especially bad when he fought with his mother. Maybe it was because she was scarier when she gets mad, because she rarely does. Or maybe likely, maybe it was because they hardly ever argued to begin with, let alone right screamed at each other.


"Mmm?" Sora murmured, thinking.

"Do you want to talk about what happened with your brother?"

Sora grimaced. He twisted again, trying to straighten the covers so they weren't wadded around him in a tight cocoon. "No," he says. "there's nothing to talk about anyway. It'll only make both of us feel worse."

"Okay," his father says, and patted his side again. It reminded Sora of someone trying to put out a small fire. "Just asking. I'm going to go read now, if that's okay?"

Sora nodded against his pillow. He wanted to be alone.

"But just so you know, there's some peaceful quiet in the attic if you're interested." His father said, then bent down and placed a kiss on Sora's temple. Magically, his headache seemed to subside a little.

After his father left, Sora lay staring at the gleaming glass of his window. His father's word spread through his mind until it was completely occupied. There was something in his words. A hidden message, the kind he and his father always did whenever they were doing something behind his mother's back.

The attic? What could be in the attic that could be of interest?

Come to think of it, Sora never went up into the attic. The place scaring him as a kid, and his newfound duties of his teen years keeping from even thinking of exploring it. But apparently there was something there that his father thought seemed worth exploring.

Sora waited a few more minutes until he heard Ansem and his parents settle in for the night. Creeping out of his room, wearing his chamber slippers, he pads his way towards the corridor leading to the attic. He found the door against the back wall.

Tall and narrow, it looked like the lid of a coffin. No wonder Sora never wanted to go inside. At first glance, it looks like a broom closet. Sora glanced over his shoulder toward the front room. Nothing.

Sora grasped the tarnished bras knob and turned. The door squeaked open, revealing a long, narrow staircase that stretched steeply upward. Square shafts of white moonlight shone down from a window at the top, a million dust motes dancing in and out of the beams. He mounted the steps, shutting the door behind him.

There was no banister leading up, so he held his arms out at either side and braced his hands along the dark wood-paneled walls. The stairs groaned and creaked underfoot, as though murmuring secrets about him.

He took on step after another, and as he drew near the top, an odd feeling began to creep over him. He felt it in his stomach first, a queasy sensation coupled with the slightest hint of vertigo. It made his skin prickle and the tiny hairs on his arms stand at attention.

Reaching the top, he scanned around to find half of the attic's inventory covered with white tarps. Inside, the musty air held an antique thickness and the scent of dust and again books combined to make breathing a chore.

The front room stretched before him long and narrow, lined with rows of tall, sturdy bookshelves that reached almost to the ceiling. Overhead, the tired light of the chandelier burned a dull gold, adding little relief to the accumulated shadows. Sora inched in. He couldn't see much of anything. Carefully he stepped around a mound of ancient-looking tomes gathered near the door. He moved between two shelves and thought about calling out but for some reason, couldn't bring himself to break the dead silence.

Sora's gaze passed up and over the marked spines of countless books, every item categorized by its own number and date, and it made him feel almost as though he were walking through catacombs. When he reached the end, he peered around the shelf to see a counter. Well, really, he saw a lot of books piled on top of something that at one time must have been a counter.

His feet made hollow thumping sounds against the dried-out floorboards as he made his way around. Nothing seemed to be interesting until Sora's eyes settled on a gathering of canvas huddled in one corner, as if they were hiding, not wanting to be seen. Sora wandered over, making sure not to stumble over anything.

Up close, the tarps were thicker than Sora thought, they were near a window that was smaller and round, the only other one other than the one above the stairs. They were fairly coated with dust, organized from tallest to shortest.

Carefully poking his fingers between the canvases, Sora found they were different portraits of the family. One of his father standing proud, with a rapier poking into the ground at his feet, his hand placed over the hilt. Another was a beautiful oil-painting of his mother in a sparkling blue ball gown encrusted with diamonds. The fabric was billowed, as if she were in mid-turn, revealing one of her feet in an elegant slipper and her hair hallowing her head.

The one at the very back was of Sora. He was riding Tula, and he was gazing off into the distance, his cape and hair caught in a gale, wielding a long sword and wearing a necklace with the kingdom's emblem engraved in the gold.

As he leaned them back, he accidentally looked up and found a single canvas, leaning against a support beam, the moonlight seeping through the window seeming to gloss over the thick tarp.

With careful steps, Sora approached it. Curiosity made him rummage through his mind to think of what could be behind the sheet. More importantly why it was casted out from the rest of the portraits.

Sora reached out a hand and in one quick yank, ripped off he sheet. His heat jarred in his chest. The sheet falling to the ground with a hushed whisper.

It was a family portrait, with him and his brother.

In his mother's arms, a beautiful baby boy with blonde hair and sparkling sky blue eyes looked back at him. The boy smiled at him, as if pleased to know he will forever be immortalized in paint. He had a simple white gown given he was merely a few months old. His hair swooped in one direction with multiple spikes just like Sora's. In his grasp, looking too big for his feeble hands, was the matching necklace Sora knew him and Roxas both shared. It was in the shape of a four-pointed star and even if it was a painting, it glimmered in the moonlight like a real star.

Sora shifted to his knees, carefully brushing his fingers over the painting with a featherlike touch. They traced along the baby's chubby and perfectly pink cheeks, along the wispy spikes of hair and outlining the star in his hands.

"Roxas," Sora whispered. Fresh tears filled his eyes, causing the room to swim. Sora blinked and the tears fell, searing the skin of his cheeks.

Roxas tossed aside his sweat-stained tunic and kicked off his pants. As he was stepping into a new pair of trousers, a knock came at his door.

"Just a second." He calls. The knock came again twice as he buttoned his trousers. "One minute."

The knock came in a triple thump. He knew who it was.

"Will you calm down you maniac?! I'm changing!" Roxas shouts.

"Some people can do it and open the door at the same time!" Axel called back.

Roxas groaned as he shrugged on his leather jacket with not shirt underneath and yanks open the door. There stood Axel, picking at some nonexistent dirt under his fingernails.

"What?" Roxas demands.

Axel looks to Roxas like he just noticed he was there. "Oh, is it still Friday? Because I've been out here since, Friday!" he says walking into Roxas' room.

"Please, come in." Roxas sarcastically says. He shuts his door with a bang. "Your voice got here ten minutes ago and has been looking for you."

Axel as usual makes himself comfortable on Roxas' bed while Roxas shrugs off his jacket to put on a shirt. "So how is training his royal pain in the ass?" Axel asks.

"Eh, not too bad. The guy's got some skill." Roxas answers.

"What's this?" Axel hooked a hand around one ear in a "didn't quite hear you" gesture. "Are you actually complimenting the son of the King you so deeply despise?"

"Shut up." Roxas says in a breathy laugh. He chucks an old shirt at Axel to make a point. "I'm just saying he's not bad. And anyway, is there a reason why you're here?"

Axel bundles up the shirt and shoots it into the hamper. "Well I was going to ask if you wanted to go do a little midnight hunting, but clearly you're not in the mood."

"I would, but it's just, I've got a lot on my plate." Roxas says.

"Well if you're not that hungry just give some food to Demyx. I'm sure he'd be more than happy to take some." Axel jokes.

"You know what I mean." Roxas counters, not amused. "I mean when Xemnas brought me into this family, I thought I'd finally get a chance to see what's it's like to be in a loving family. But now, the only time I ever get his praise is when I make a kill. It feels like I have no one. None!"

Roxas plops himself on the bed next to Axel, sighing in irritation.

Axel's quiet but raises his hands in a gesture that says, 'What about me?' "Look Jesse, I know you were and am still really hurt at your parents' abandonment, but try and look at the bright side." Axel rubs a hand on Roxas' arm. "You're the most strong and independent person I know for a boy your age. Everything he does makes you the man you are today."

"Oh I am on hundred percent sure of that." Roxas snaps back.

He flops backwards so his spin crashes into the soft sheets. He raises his arms above his head and blocks out the light of the chandelier.

"Why can't he ever show me true love?" Roxas mumbles as he peeks though the criss-crossing of his fingers. "All my life I know for a fact that I've done more than please him, and yet, this was the closest thing he's ever given me to praise."

"So, what are like desperate to get his approval?" Axel asks as he leans back to level with Roxas.

"I knew I wasn't going to get it the moment I turned ten and took down my first target with a bow and arrow." Roxas huffs. "All he did was grin and say, 'Good job, son.'"

"Well that sounds like praise to me." Axel says.

"No," Roxas says looking up at the vaulted ceiling, past his chandelier. "the kind that I want, it's different." Axel props on one elbow, a curious look on his face. "I want to see it in his eyes, the pride shining, his hands clapping, applauding me. It's like whenever I go to look for it, he's always, somewhere else. Focused on something more important. More important than his own son. And yeah I get we're all step-related, but still." He fidgets with a stray string on his quilt. "It's just, I wish I knew I was right when I say I've made him proud."

"Hey, you have." Axel brushes a few strands of hair out of Roxas' face. "He just doesn't want to show it because he's the head of this 'merciless' organization, and if he shows love, it'll show weakness. That, and there are nearly thirteen of us here."

"But he's the leader. He shouldn't have to worry about who get mad and his image. It's not a popularity contest." Roxas asserts. Then he gently laughs. "I guess I should thank you, and Demyx."

"What for?"

"Well, I guess if it weren't for you guys, I'd be, different." Roxas smiles and looks to Axel. "I don't think I'd have a sense of humor, I probably would never smile." The two chuckle as Roxas rests his hands behind his head. "Thanks."

"No prob." Axel ruffles the blonde's hair.

Suddenly a distant wailing catches their attention. Roxas sits up and Axel moans.

"Xion?" Roxas asks.

Another wailing.


Roxas shoots out of bed and barrels down the steps all the way to the first floor, and towards the back room where the blood-curdling scream emanates. "Xion!" Roxas calls.

He barges through the door and finds the girls thrashing in her sheets, trapped like a caterpillar in a cocoon, screaming her head off. Her howl, primal and fierce, pierced the nighttime silence. She strained against her bed, her hair whipping her face. Roxas rushes to her beside.

"Xion, Xion!" he shouts over the piercing wails.

She fights him at first, yanking her hands free she scrambles back, slamming into her headboard; banging her skull on the wooden frame. Roxas peels away the choking blankets.


Her blue eyes snapped open. The room swirled into focus.

She blinked rapidly at the candlelight that radiated from the tall floorlamps, her heart thundering in her chest, manic as a captured bird.

"Xion, wake up. Wake up, Xion." Roxas breathed to the young child.

She gasped, heaving, and swallowed the air in gulps.

Roxas patted her cheek. She seized the rough, warm hand between both of hers, her attention narrowing on the leather archery shooting glove that enveloped one hand and the slim blonde hairs that poked out from beneath the stiff cuff of a familiar leather jacket.

Xion looked into the face of Roxas. He stared at her hard, eyes searching, his blonde brow knitted together. Roxas brushed his hand against her cheek, and she flinched.

"Xion, look at me. You were dreaming. Dreaming."

Xion whimpered as she scooted to sit up. Her empty stomach churned, and she swallowed in an effort to repress a wave of nausea.

Roxas gently grasped her by the shoulders, and Xion collapsed into his arms. She pressed her face into his neck and released one long, choking sob.

"Shhh," he hushed. "Just a bad dream. That's all."

Over his shoulder, Demyx and Axel hovering close by, Demyx's face anxious, etched with delicate lines of worry. Axel drew near and sank onto the bed next to them, placing a cool palm to Xion's brow. That's when she saw Larxene standing in the open doorway. A few members behind her whispering to one another.

Disheveled and groggy, she snarled. "Jeez, I mean are you trying to break the sound barrier?"

Demyx shoved her aside, mumbling, "Not now."

Xion quaked in Roxas' arms while the adrenaline made its final rounds through her system. Fingers twitching, she curled them into the collar of his jacket.

"It's okay." Roxas says as he rocks her, his voice firm, commanding, as though his saying so held the power to make it true. He stroked her back. Xion shut her eyes and tried to slow her breathing, to bring her heart to normal speed and return her mind to reality.

While Roxas rubber her back, Axel smoothed her hair, nimble fingertips tucking flyaway stands behind her ears.

All the attention made Xion feel so small, so helpless. Then again, she was only five years old.

"Shhh, I've got you." Roxas coos. He wipes away a tear with his thumb. "Do you want to talk about it?"

He feels Xion shake her head in his shirt. Roxas continued to rock her and whisper sweet and calming words. He ignored the looks of the other members who were looking for blood spillage, as if they were studying how he was handling this situation.

Roxas feels Xion lean away and wipe her face. Axel grabbed a tissue and wiped her nose.

"Alright, you need to try and go back to sleep." Roxas whispers as he rubs her arms.

Xion tilts her head up and leans towards Roxas' ear. Roxas leans down and turns his head.

"Okay." Roxas whispered.

Roxas hasn't sung a lullaby in so long. At least not out loud. There wasn't that much music in their household, but Roxas knew a few songs. Songs Demyx taught him, but he didn't sing or play them unless it was for a certain occasion, or if it involved Xion. His voice seemed to bring an unknown sense of harmony within the house. He didn't know why. Demyx said it was because something so pure and sweet wasn't seen that often in a home like theirs.

He began to sing softly, a lilting tune.

"Hush child,

the darkness will rise from the deep.

And, carry you down into sleep.


The darkness will rise from the deep.

And, carry you down into sleep.

Guileless son, I'll shape your belief,

And you'll always know that your father's a thief.

And you won't understand

the cause of you grief.

But you'll always follow the voices beneath."

Roxas sang with a wispy and ethereal voice, one infused with control, less like an angel's and more like that of a ghost, heartrending and full of mystery.

"Guileless son, your spirit will hate her,

The flower who married my brother the traitor.

And you will expose, His puppeteer behavior

For you are the proof, Of how he betrayed their Loyalty."

Xion's eyes have fluttered shut and Roxas carefully leans her backward until her head rests on her pillow. Roxas tucks her bangs behind her ear.

"Hush child,

the darkness will rise from the deep.

And, carry you down into sleep.


The darkness will rise from the deep.

And, carry you down into sleep.

Guileless son, each day you grow older,

Each moment I'm watching my vengeance unfold -"

He was about to finish the lullaby, but suddenly, a rough hand grabs his arm, jerking him off the bed. Roxas looks back and sees Xemnas' eyes, a fire forged in anger burning through them.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?!" he screams.


Xion was wailing again.

"Xemnas!" Axel hissed as he tried to calm the girl.

Xemnas drags Roxas out of the room. Crossing the threshold, he shoves Roxas against the wall of the stairs. A vase of lilies nearly tumbling over.

"Xemnas!" Axel yells.

Xion's crying continued as Roxas sees Axel walk out of the room. Nearly everyone was out of their beds, wondering what was going on. But the attention for Xion's nightmare was over. Now all the attention was on Roxas.

Before Roxas could steady himself, Xemnas' hand struck. He slapped Roxas so hard he sees stars, the crack of Xemnas' palm against his jaw split the house.

Everything went silent. Roxas was stunned for a moment before looking to Xemnas. A look of confusion on his face. He can't remember Xemnas being this angry with anything or at anyone ever before in his own life.

"What is the matter with you?!" he hissed the words between his teeth.

Roxas stares him down, anger fixed in his eyes, causing them to burn an unnaturally bright, like two supernovas ready to explode.

Xemnas swallows, as if strangling the impulse to strike Roxas again. "I'm asking you a question."

Roxas sneers. "Xion had a nightmare," his voice was hurt but cold. "I was trying to calm her down."

"You don't sing that song in my house! Do you understand?!" Xemnas screams.

"Xemnas," Demyx interrupts. "It was just a song."

"Don't try to defend him!"

"I'm just stating the facts!" Demyx counters.

"It's just a song, Xemnas." Axel sternly says.

When Xemnas looks to him, Axel stars at him long and hard.

"Jesse," Roxas looked to find Saix off to his left. "go to your room.

Roxas brushed past the staring members. He smoothed a hand through his hair as he mounted the steps.

"Jesse, you stop right there, I'm not done yet!" Xemnas yelled.

"Too bad," Roxas shouted, stopping midway up the banister, "because I am!"

"I said get back down here, Jesse! We're going to talk about this!"

"I was singing to a child whom no one else seems to care about! What is there to talk about, besides you being a horrible excuse of a father?!"


"Xemnas stop yelling at him!" Axel yelled.

"This was all about some song?" Roxas heard Xigbar say.

"Jesse!" Xemnas shouted again.

Roxas stopped at the landing and leaned over the railing. "It's just a fucking song Dad! What the hell are you so pissed about?!" he turned and stomped the rest of the way to his room, stopping again outside his door, his anger blazing. "Calm the fuck down!" he roared, and sent his bedroom door slamming shut with a resound bang.

Xemnas huffed and Xion's crying started again. "Will someone please calm that child?!"

Demyx looks to him and scowls. "You really are a horrible father." He then turns and walks into Xion's room, shutting the door softly behind him.

Xemnas growls and turns heading to the kitchen. Saix follows, leaving Axel to tame the crowd. "Alright everyone, show's over. Get to bed, now."

Everyone obeyed, even Larxene – who surprisingly wasn't even smiling by the unfolding of the event – followed Lexaeus through the foyer to the downstairs bedroom. Axel turned back to Xion's bedroom door, the muffled sound of Demyx singing her a different lullaby. Axel could still hear the sobbing of Xion. Looking over into the kitchen, he saw Saix reasoning with Xemnas, who shielded his eyes with his hand. Axel then sighed and headed up the steps.

"It's just a song, sir. Don't make it into a monster." Saix says.

"Saix, who in the world taught him that? I mean, if he manages to decipher its true meaning, then I've lost my weapon to take down the King."

"He hasn't figured it out, and he probably wouldn't have had any suspicion if you hadn't pounced on him." Saix argues.

Xemnas looks to him and shakes his head in aggravation.

"You need to smooth things over with him, dismiss all suspicion." Saix instructs. "If not, he won't be afraid to toss your plan right out the window."

"No, no he won't." Xemnas darkly speaks. "I'll make sure of it."

"But if you do, whatever it is you're thinking, he'll simply rebel and leave you." Saix says. "You just need to apologize. Say you overreacted."

"What do I say?"

"I don't know! He's a teenager, he'll believe anything as long as you seem sincere. Right now, all he wants to know is why you freaked out over some stupid lullaby. Convince him. Do that, and he'll let it go."

"It might take more than that." Xemnas replies.

"What makes you think he'll figure it out?" Saix interrogates.

"I'm not so sure, but if he chooses to, he will. I would, know, after all, I raised him."

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