Word count: 679 (2 to 6 minutes) | Rating: T | Note: Spoilers, nightmares, scarring, and canon character death | Characters: Ienzo, Axel, and Riku Replica
“He’s as good a place to start as any.”
He didn’t need a heart to feel the fear cut into him. “You can’t do this,” Zexion insisted, barely able to stand upright, never mind fight back. And yet he tried as the Riku replica slammed him into the wall as easily as if he were a paper doll. The magic channeled between them was searing and numbing all at once as the hand closed around his throat.
An exact recreation of the person he just fought and nearly lost to stared at him, smirking as darkness ate the edge of Zexion’s vision—and his form. His hands grabbed at the replica’s arm holding him above the floor and tightening on his neck as the magic continued eroding his body. Zexion could calculate the very rate of the energy transfer from his heartless body to that of the Riku replica, and he did not have long now. Yet his greatest fear was in not knowing what was to come after.
Would he be with Lexaeus and Vexen? Would this distant, aching pain endure into that next life? Smoke billowed around his hands, and his grip failed. Zexion could only barely make out Axel watching him die on his deceptive suggestion, eyelids fluttering shut while the last of him transferred to the replica.
Deplorable. What of the ties that held us together, Axel?
Ienzo jolted from sleep with a gasp, keenly aware of the cold Radiant Garden castle air. Perhaps because the faded navy blanket was on the floor and his grey sheets were tangled around his legs. Certainly, the sweat soaking his long-sleeved turtleneck sleep shirt didn’t help the matter.
“Just a dream,” he breathed, reassuring himself against the tingling, burning sensation around the scar on his neck and trying to slow the thundering heartbeat in his chest. How interesting that the sleeping world could follow him into the real one so intensely.
The first order of business was to free his legs, getting up from the bed to change his shirt. Whatever he chose to do next, he wouldn’t be comfortable in that. He paused for only a moment to calm himself further and took a moment to appreciate the silver-blue glow of moonlight washing over his familiar bedroom.
This room had been his before the Organization and fall of Radiant Garden, though all but the furniture was new. Well, aside from the bed. He didn’t grow to be tall, but he had indeed grown since he was a little boy.
Peeling his shirt off and into the hamper, Ienzo took a towel from his armoire drawers to dry off the residual sweat. He tossed that in the hamper as well and paused again, this time by the mirror. Even in the late evening light—or was it early morning?—the scars were too visible. Ienzo traced the path from his neck scar to the Lichtenberg-like scarring splintering out and down his torso and arms.
He had some muscle definition now, at least. Perhaps because he was slight as it was, but he preferred to credit the short exercise routine that Aeleus and Dilan devised for him at his request. Still, he did not look well. Pale with tired eyes, Ienzo felt only a glance would betray how truly fragile he felt in this life. And he resented that fact completely.
Everyone was recovering. He didn’t need to match their pace, but he refused to slow them down. Ienzo picked up his latest book from the nightstand along with his gummi phone, leaving his bedroom to warm up water for tea. Returning to sleep was not an option, not after a nightmare like that one. He had tried in the past with little success. More often, he was greeted with another nightmare if sleep came at all.
He would overcome this too, in time. He had to. There was too much on the line and more still to make up for. Ienzo may be haunted by the past, but he would find the path to this future in those mistakes.