The air was a little cold on his face, and Lea groaned. How long was he asleep? Why were these lights so bright, even with his eyes shut? He lifted an arm that felt like lead and dropped it over his eyes… And a leather bell sleeve flopped over his face.
Just like that, he was awake. The room was insanely white, and all the other beds lined against the wall were empty. It was just him in here, but why? Where was here anyway? It looked a little like Ansem’s place in Radiant Garden, but it wasn’t. Not a chance.
Lea threw the sheets back, stumbling out of the bed on shaky legs to the door. He twisted the handle and pulled, but it was locked. “Damn it!” Lea kicked the door, a dull ache running up his leg.
He rested his forehead against the door, thinking. Which wasn’t really his usual go-to. Lea figured he’d feel something first or at least at the same time. Angry or scared to be trapped and worse, he was alone. Where was Isa? That should’ve worried him. He knew that, and he felt nothing.
He turned around, tugging at the black cloak that he definitely didn’t remember putting on.
“Creeps!” Who knew if anyone even heard him. He looked around the room again, trying to pick out something, anything. Not a window in sight, and the machines by the beds in here were way out of his league. …Looked pretty important too.
Lea sighed theatrically, shoving his hands in his pockets as he sauntered over to the nearest machine. “Not gonna let me out? Fine. See where that gets ya.”
He shoved the device over, the wheeled stand rolling a bit before tipping and crashing to the ground. Lea’s laughed blended with the noise and pieces of it spun off across the tiled floor. Normally his heart would pick up the pace a bit just from the risk of doing that, but once again… Nothing.
“Oops,” he deadpanned. Then the door swung open by one of the Radiant Garden guards dressed in that weird cloak too. “Aeleus?! What the hell? ‘S this because we kept breaking in before? Not funny, man, not funny at all.”
He crossed his arms, shaking his head at Aeleus and just got a steady gaze back. Figures. Never was one to talk much.
The bear of a man looked over his shoulder, maybe checking for backup. That would get messy fast, so Lea was glad when he looked back to him. “I’m Lexaeus. You’re Axel.”
“What? I’m Lea, L-e-a.” He never got tired of this gesture, tapping his temple and leaning forward. “Got it memorized?”
“You’re not anymore.” Didn’t even miss a beat. If this was a joke, he was really committed to it. Betcha Braig put him up to it.
“I already said it wasn’t funny,” Lea mumbled, glaring at Aeleus now. Lexaeus, apparently. He worked with Even watching over that kid, Ienzo, so he had to have a spot spot for kids and all the guilt-inducing tactics that came with. “Where are my clothes?”
Lex entered the room and stood up close, so he pretty much had to stare Lea down. No way he was going to back down from that, though.
“Gone. Everything is gone.” His deep voice almost echoed in this tiny room, and the way he said it, Lea— almost kind of believed him. “We are in Organization XIII. And I’m Lexaeus, Number V. You’re Axel, Number VIII.”
“You already know something is off. You have no pulse. None of us do.” He put one of his massive hands on Lea’s shoulder, but his expression was just the same. “Lea and Aeleus are dead. Radiant Garden is gone. We are all that remains and we should not exist.”
“Who would believe that?!” He smacked Lex’s hand away, stepping back and waiting for the panic to kick in. To feel his blood rushing in his veins and the anger to rise up. But when he snapped again, he didn’t feel anything. He talked with his hands, he scowled at the brute, and he hit all the right notes. Not a bit of it was real. “I’m right here! Now gimme my stuff back, take me to Isa, and get outta my way!”
He went to push his way out, and Lex held him in place. If Lea’d really been mad, he might have missed him slipping something into the cloak’s pocket.
“It’s the truth, Axel.” He nodded once, curt and stern. They weren’t close or anything, but it felt like a hint to cool it. “Once you accept it, you can join Saïx, Number VII.”
Lea put his hands in his pockets angrily, huffing for dramatic effect. His hand brushed against the tatters of his old scarf. So that was it. Aeleus was Lexaeus now and clearly wasn’t supposed to hang onto this at all. Something Organization XIII told him he couldn’t do, probably. Past was the past, names and world and all. And if he was Axel now, then Isa was— “Fine. Whatever. Take me to Saïx.”
Lexaeus nodded again, turning without a word and leading the way out. Axel followed, shoving the scarf deeper into his pocket.