[Kingdom Hearts] I’m the same, but I’m trying to change
Summary: In which Xion and Sabrina (OC) partake in a trust exercise given to them by Aqua. Xion nearly gets squashed by a People Mover while trying to write in her journal. Sabrina is not pleased (and very, very terrified at the near carnage that would have ensued).
Word Count: 3,644 words
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“How can Ven put up with Sabrina? She blows him off every chance she gets.”
Xion, who had not been paying attention, looked up from her notebook with a small, inquisitive noise.
“What you mean?” she asked. A small smirk crossed her lips as she then said, “Are you just mad that your look-a-like has more tolerance for hard-headed people than you?”
Roxas gave her an agitated grunt as an answer. It was enough to let Xion give a small snort of bemusement in return.
The duo, along with Kairi, Ventus, Lea, and Aqua, were on a Gummi Ship heading straight for Wasteland. Sabrina, the world’s princess and protector of its heart, was the topic of discussion because she was arguably the reason why they were heading to the world. Sabrina was also a Keyblade wielder, but due to her unique connection to Wasteland, she couldn’t always leave for long periods of time. This meant that sometimes Aqua took her training abroad. The others didn’t always come with her. But the master had a plan in mind for this trip, so it was as many trainees as she could get her hands on.
Xion and Roxas had taken a spot near the back of the ship. It was just quiet enough that Xion could write in her notebook almost unbothered. Roxas just didn’t want to sit next to Ventus.
“I think there’s more to Sabrina than we think.” Xion then told her friend, almost in a sing-song voice. “And Ven believes in her enough to be the only one brave enough to find out.”
Another agitated grunt. Roxas looked over at Xion’s writings and tried to figure out what she was writing.
“Are you writing about Ebba again?” he wondered.
“Yep.” Xion grinned. “She’s been summoned to the kingdom of an estranged king. Very important business and all.”
“I don’t want my character to be friends with hers.”
Xion paused writing for a moment just to look at Roxas. She tried to contain a catlike grin before telling him, “I make no promises.”
The Gummi Ship landed in Wasteland not long after this. Judging by Ven’s relieved sigh, Sabrina was already outside and waiting for them. Roxas looked over at Lea to make a face of disgust. His tall friend only laughed, clapping a hand on Roxas’s back as the two left the Gummi Ship. Xion held her notebook tight in her hand as she left the ship as well. Some formal introductions were made again before Aqua led them to their training area for the day.
In a pathway that went past Mean Street’s train station, there was a nice open area with a small circular flowerbed. Aqua’s students lined up in waiting for their teacher’s instructions.
“Before we get too far,” she told them, “I want you all to know that we’re going to do training in pairs today. Roxas with Kairi, Lea with Ven, and Xion with Sabrina. Do you six understand so far?”
Her students nodded in agreement. Aqua gave herself a small grin.
“Good.” she said. “I have assigned each of you a certain section of Wasteland to explore. Today, I want you and your partner to do a trust exercise.”
“You're joking.” Sabrina snorted. When she got a good look at Aqua's expression, her face immediately fell. In a near horrified tone, she then said, “Oh no. You're not.”
“Can we trade partners?” Lea piped up. “I feel bad for Xion now.”
“Agreed.” Ven nodded.
But Aqua shook her head. They all knew that her mind had been made up long before this. Xion was actually pretty excited. She took a look over at Sabrina and felt her heart sink a little in noticing that the princess was visibly tensing up. Xion’s fingertips glided over her notebook, already knowing the words she’d write in it next.
. . .
Maybe in another life, they could have been sisters. Ebba had a faint feeling that Regina did not want a sister. Or any kind of companion, come to think of it. The princess of the disgraced kingdom looked back at the spy with a look of annoyed superiority. It almost reminded Ebba of her own superior.
“I need you to do a task for me.” Regina informed Ebba- her voice still and commanding. “It has come to my attention that someone is trying to harm me. As I am not allowed to defend for myself, I need a champion.”
“My lady, with all due respect,” Ebba said, giving a small bow, “But why not call upon the aid of master knights Meikai or Roch? Perhaps even the squire Benjamin? It is from my understanding that you two are quite close.”
“Our familiarity is exactly why I can not use them.” the princess replied. “I need a spy. I need someone invisible. I need someone who can slip out of other's memories before they even knew they were in the room. I need you, Ebba. You are the only one I trust for this.”
Hearing this sent a shock down Ebba's spine. Regina's trust was hard to earn- let alone her being so vocal about it. If she was going to be this forthcoming about her intentions, something was a lot more dangerous than what Ebba had been originally expecting. The only question was; would she take it?
“It would be an honor to protect you, my lady.” Ebba finally decided- even getting down to her knees to give a bow of reverence.
Regina only stood taller.
. . .
The girls had been assigned to Tomorrow City. Xion did her best to be respectful- sitting across from Sabrina instead of next to her. Unfortunately, it was still a very good position for Sabrina to glare at Xion. She didn’t even pretend to look anywhere else. Xion herself wasn’t quite aware of it- once she got into a good writing groove, time just… slipped away.
“What do you write in that thing anyway?” Sabrina questioned, pointing as Xion's notebook. She hadn't really asked in a tone that actually wanted to know, but there must have been some interest. Right?
“Oh, you know,” Xion hummed, not thinking to look up, “A little bit of this, a little bit of that. Sometimes it's about my day, and sometimes it's not even close.”
Sabrina’s glare darkened. “You're writing about us then.”
Xion flinched. “Sort of…” she admitted. “It’s still a diary, more or less.”
“And that pen?”
That was when Xion gave a blink of confusion. She paused to look at her pen. It was a pretty kitschy thing; a bright pink novelty pen with a feather puff at the end. But there was just something about it Xion adored.
“This?” she wondered, twirling the pen lightly in her fingertips. “I dunno. I just found it at the store and I asked Lea to buy it for me.” She looked at Sabrina with a curious tilt of her head. “Do you want one? I think they came in a pack of three.”
“No thanks.” Sabrina grumbled, immediately turning her head away. “I have plenty of fountain pens that will suffice when the need rises.”
“Right.” Xion agreed with a nod. With the conversation over, she awkwardly returned to writing.
Xion found herself awestruck by Tomorrow City before the train even came to a complete stop. The city was a neon lit marvel, aided with a shielded sky painted to look like a starry night. The stars even twinkled a bit from their own light source. It was so beautiful that Xion nearly wanted to write it down for Ebba to explore later.
“Aqua wants us to use the square for training.” Sabrina said, not even bothering to notice Xion’s awe. “It should be an easy trip over.”
Xion nodded in absent agreement. Sabrina looked her over, grimaced, but said nothing more before leading the two further into Tomorrow City. They were able to reach the square in a few minute’s time. Barrier magic prevented them from heading back out once they were there.
“Greetings ladies!” a gremlin with lemon yellow skin and a purple jumpsuit greeted them. “My name is Gremlin Apollo, and boy howdy did Master Aqua plan quite the obstacle course set for you!”
“Just tell us what it is.” Sabrina impatiently told him.
The gremlin nodded. “You two while be navigating a short obstacle course. There are three checkpoint that you must pass through. At each location there is a dual button system that you must disable at the same time. The buttons are placed just so that you must both be there.”
“Are the People Movers active?” Sabrina questioned.
“Of course.” Sabrina murmured under her breath. Xion gave Sabrina a curious glance, while the gremlin gave them a warm grin.
“Good luck!” he said, giving a salute before disappearing into thin air.
The girls immediately set to work. The first checkpoint was not far from them; they were able to find its corresponding buttons and activate them in record time. Xion was the first to see that the second checkpoint was close to the People Mover tracks. It took a lot of careful climbing to get to the right buttons. Once the second barrier was down, Sabrina noticed how far away the last barrier was. She studied the People Mover track for a long time. At least one tram whizzed by at breakneck speed. It was more than enough for her to make a decision.
“Stay here.” Sabrina told Xion. “I want to scout ahead a little. I’ll contact you on our Gummiphones when it’s safe to go ahead. Don’t stand on the People Mover tracks if you value your life.”
“Gotcha.” Xion agreed with a nod. Sabrina gave a stiff nod back before heading forward. Xion let out a small sigh before curiously looking around the area. Wasteland was a hidden gem, covered by its own darkness and unease. It reminded her a lot of the World That Never Was- especially the castle. That world was so cold and unforgiving, yet there was just an inexplicable charm to it if you knew where to look.
Xion carefully made her way down from the platform and on to the People Mover track. There was so much from this environment that she couldn’t wait to describe. She pulled out her notebook in habit, flipping through the pages just to make sure she can justify Ebba visiting a world like this.
“Xion!” Sabrina barked. Xion quickly looked up, then noticed something to her right. Her eyes expanded in fear as a People Mover tram was rushing toward her at top speed. Xion was all but prepared for the impending, and devastating, smack. But it didn’t happen. Sabrina had quickly cast Gravity on the People Mover, a dark purple-blue aura surrounding the tram.
“Move, Xion!” Sabrina demanded through gritted teeth.
“R-right!” the other girl agreed, quickly scrambling to her feet. The moment she jumped off the track, Sabrina let go of the spell- the tram once more racing down the track as if it had never been stopped. Xion watched as it disappeared into a back area. She looked back at Sabrina with a relieved grin.
“Thanks Sabrina! That was-”
Xion’s heart stopped. It was then that she realized how furious Sabrina was.
“I told you not to stay on the People Mover tracks.” Sabrina seethed. “I told you to stay at the button.”
“Shut up!” Sabrina screamed. “Just shut! Up! I can do this without you!” With that, she immediately spun on her heel to the next checkpoint.
“But-!” Xion tried to say, but Sabrina was already a good distance away. Xion deflated, her throat tightening in grief. “You can’t...”
. . .
Rage was not an unfamiliar sight on Regina’s face, but this time it was different. It was a rage born from Ebba herself.
“Regina, you have to trust me.” Ebba tried to say as she tried to keep up with the princess.
“I did trust you!” Regina thundered, spinning around to face Ebba. You could see the faint beginnings of frustrated tears at the corner of her eyes. She was too furious to wipe them away at the moment. Seeing them made Ebba’s heart leap into her throat.
For Regina to show real emotion, it meant Ebba had really messed everything up.
“My kingdom is going to fall, Ebba!” Regina continued to shout. “And it's all because of you! Because of me! Because… because of… of us...”
Ebba moved close to the princess, intending to place a gentle hand on her shoulder. “Regina...”
“Don't touch me.” the disgraced princess hissed, slapping Ebba’s hand away. “I hope your superior turns you into a husk of your former self after this. Because if he doesn't? I will.”
Ebba took a step back. The princess’s words cutting through her heart like a hot knife to butter. Sure, she was well aware that Regina was mad at her, but mad enough to threaten a fate worse than death? Ebba started to shake her head with disbelief.
“You can’t mean that.” she said, trying to be reasonable. But the slight crack in her voice made known her growing fear.
The only answer she got was a dark glare, and then there was silence.
. . .
When Xion finally found her, Sabrina was insistently whacking her Keyblade against a barrier meant to be deactivated by two. It wasn’t too much of a surprise that Sabrina was muttering unkind words under her breath the entire time.
“Sabrina?” Xion carefully tried to say.
“Go away.” the princess spat back, not once letting up on her useless hits. “Don’t you have a tram car to get trampled by?”
Xion flinched. “You don’t mean that.”
After a few more hits, Sabrina finally dispelled her Keyblade to look at Xion. Her face was red from both exhaustion and frustration. When she spoke to Xion again, her voice was anything but understanding.
“What is so important about that stupid journal of yours that you’d rather risk life and limb to write in it? This is a trust exercise, not a ‘let’s see how fast we can become roadkill’ exercise.”
“I know, I just…”
“Just what? Why would you rather write than get this stupid thing done and over with?!”
“I… I actually don't know if I'm able to empathize or not.” Xion admitted. “Not like you can.”
Sabrina immediately recoiled. This was definitely not the excuse she expected to hear. She might have been annoyed, but she could still hear the vulnerability in the other wielder’s voice. Xion took Sabrina’s silence as a chance to continue.
“I think writing helps me with that. I can 'see' someone else's mind and learn about who they are. I can reflect on how other people react to things, and maybe try to draw connections on how to help them in the future. You know?”
“In other words; treat others how you want to be treated.”
Now it was Xion’s turn to recoil a little. “Maybe...” she quietly agreed.
Sabrina didn’t look toward Xion for a long time.
“Look,” Sabrina begrudgingly started to say, “Wasteland sucks. It can and will eat the weak whole. But things like walking onto an active racetrack are so easy to avoid. Not when a Beetleworx can take you out a lot more painfully. I know my world, Xion. This is supposed to be a trust exercise. You need to listen to me when I warn you about my world. That’s the only way you’re going to earn my trust today. The only way we can finish this thing the way Aqua wants.”
“I know,” came the quick reply. “I shouldn’t have stopped on the tracks to begin with. I didn’t… I should have placed our training in front of my writing. I’m sorry.”
“That’s not what-” Sabrina started to argue, but she stopped herself. She gave a frustrated shake of her head before instead saying, “We have one more obstacle to go through, and then we’re done here. Let’s just… get it done.”
“Right.” Xion slowly nodded.
The girls still took a moment just to look at each other. The air around them stiff and stifling. It was Sabrina who made the first step forward. They didn’t talk much as they deactivated the final barrier, Gremlin Apollo congratulating them before giving access back to the train station. The poor gremlin didn’t even notice the friction between them.
Xion was almost afraid to pull up her notebook on the ride back. Her mind was reeling with ideas. After so long of just writing whatever came to mind, having to hold back nearly hurt. She could feel her fingers twitch with anticipation. Xion gave Sabrina a curious tilt of her head. The princess was reclined against the bench, her expression unreadable as she kept her eyes closed. Her body swayed with the train motion, giving the impression that she might have been resting. Xion traced her fingertips over the notebook’s spine.
Maybe she wouldn’t write just yet. There was something else she wanted to do before then.
. . .
Ebba carefully approached the princess’s throne. Said princess was crumbled on the throne like a child having a tantrum. It was undignified. It was bitter. It was vulnerable. Ebba took a shaking breath in before standing a bit taller.
“I know that you can never fully trust me,” she started off, slowly and carefully, “And I know that, for the most part, it isn’t personal. I knew that your trust is hard to earn, and I’ve ruined any chances of making it better. I could apologize to you for a thousand years but you’ll always remember the betrayal instead. It’s within reason for you to do so. You’ve seen a lot. A lot more than I likely ever will. Because, for the most part, I’m still very sheltered on the evils of this world. I’m working on unlearning what I know, if that makes sense. I want to be a new person. I want to be me.”
“Lucky are you to have such an ability.” the princess grumbled. She still didn’t move from her spot.
“Indeed.” Ebba nodded. “I hope that one day, you will request my assistance again. I wouldn’t expect you to trust me. I wouldn’t expect you to even like me. But know that I will still serve by you in constant amends. Good day, my princess.”
Ebba did not wait for a response before turning to leave. The sound of her footfalls echoed throughout the chamber.
“Wait.” Regina finally said. Ebba stopped in her spot, but did not turn around. It did not stop what Regina had planned next. She ran from her throne, straight to Ebba, and gave the spy a tight hug around the middle. Ebba knew better than to say anything during this time. Instead, she moved one of her hands to gently pat Regina’s arm in understanding. They remained there for a long time- no other words needed to be said between them.
They were still sisters at heart.
. . .
Xion and Sabrina went back to the open space behind the train station on Mean Street. Aqua gave the girls a nod of approval. Apparently they had finished first. Xion immediately knew that she could use this small reprieve as an opportunity.
“Here.” she said to Sabrina, presenting her writing notebook without a hint of remorse.
Sabrina, who had taken to being by herself, overlooking the area, turned to face Xion. Her gaze slowly fell to the notebook before immediately snapping up to glare at the other girl.
“What are you doing?” she questioned, and not in a particularly caring tone.
“I may not know Wasteland, but I want you to know me.” Xion said. “So I give you full permission to read all the stories I’ve written so far.”
“Do you want to read them?”
Sabrina eyeballed the offending journal with mild distrust.
“You write about all of us?” she asked.
“Do you change names around?”
“All the time.” Xion replied. “Sometimes I gotta pull out a baby naming dictionary. The library has a pretty good selection. For some reason.”
“For some reason…” Sabrina mumbled back. She slowly looked back up at Xion. When she held out her hands to accept the notebook, she looked away again, almost like it was something to be ashamed of. If anything, Xion was ecstatic. She gladly handed over her notebook with absolute trust in her heart. Sabrina looked down at the notebook, grimaced slightly, then put it away in a safe place.
“How’d it go, kiddos?” Lea’s loud, cheery voice spoke up, snapping both of the girls out of their moment. Sabrina in particular immediately tensed despite holding herself higher.
“Xion nearly got ran over by a tram.” the princess bluntly replied. “I got mad. We had a heart to heart. Everything’s fine now.”
“Really?” Lea questioned with a bemused raise of his eyebrow, looking over at Xion with an even greater curiosity.
“I’ll tell you more later.” Xion mumbled to him, low enough so Sabrina couldn’t hear. Her friend let out a noise of affirmation and a quick thumb’s up.
“Are you sure you’re alright?” Ventus spoke up. “You look tense.”
“You worry way too much.” Sabrina spat back, folding her arms and giving him a quirk of her eyebrow. To this, Ven couldn’t deny. Xion let out a small chortle at them. Lea joined in, followed by Ven’s own sheepish laugh. Sabrina didn’t laugh, but there was a small grin teased into the corner of her lips.
When Sabrina gave Xion her notebook back a few hours later, there had been a new entry not previously written by the latter. It soon became one of Xion’s favorite passages.