Disclaimer: I only own Master Limahl.
Summary: How did No Name come into Xehanort's hands? Simple, he broke the rules for it.
A/N: So after watching Back Cover, Lita Snow and I were discussing how Xehanort came to possess No Name. I mentioned that his master must have thought him worthy enough that he passed it down to him, to which Lita responded by saying that she could easily see Xehanort sneaking out in the middle of the night to take a closer look, followed by it bonding with him when he touched it. We joked about it for a bit, passing random dialogue back and forth, and then I said "Okay, we have to write this." So here it is, with Eraqus and Master Limahl written by me, and Xehanort written by Lita.
A/N 2: When headcanons combine, fun stuff happens. Xehanort being descended from gods comes from mine (See my fic "Mythology" for more) and him being a neglected orphan comes from Lita's. Master Limahl came from the Burning Heart Saga.
"I'm still not convinced that this is a good idea." Eraqus whispered as he followed Xehanort down the long castle corridors towards the library. "Master Limahl told us not to touch it."
"Master never lets us do anything fun. And I'm tired of practicing stances and sparring over and over with a wooden sword and nothing to show for it. I just want to hold it, see what it feels like in my hand. Maybe we'll be able to summon ours if we at least see what it's meant to feel like first," Xehanort argued in a soft voice, slipping along the halls with all the silence a boy of fourteen could muster. He held back a sigh; he'd already be there if Eraqus hadn't caught him trying to sneak out of his room. What was the other boy even doing awake himself?
"Master said we'll get our keyblades when we're ready. I don't think messing with Master Luxu's keyblade will speed that along any." Why did Xehanort chose the middle of the night to go on his little quest? During the day, once their chores and lessons were done, Eraqus and Xehanort were free to explore the castle at will, with only Master Limahl's private rooms, as well as the rooms belonging to the maid and cook off limits to them. At night however, once lights out had been called, they were only allowed to leave their rooms for bathroom breaks and emergencies. Master Limahl would be angry if they were caught out past their bedtime.
Sure, Xehanort thought, but Master would be angry if he caught him doing this during the day too. At least at night he had a chance to do this unseen. Master Limahl was supposed to be sleeping right now too. Xehanort set his jaw stubbornly. "I never said you had to come. If it bothers you so much, go back to your room. I can do this alone."
"No, you can't." Eraqus huffed as they turned the corner just down from the library doors. "If I leave you to do this alone, you'll do something careless and get caught. The least I can do is act as a lookout for you. I still don't think this is a good idea though. Maybe you should just ask Master if you can take it down to look at it."
"Master hasn't even let us hold his since the Bequeathing Ceremony," Xehanort replied disdainfully. "He's not about to let me touch an antique, and if I ask he'll be onto me and keep an eye out for me. So I can't just ask." What a ridiculous notion. He then smirked. "Besides, just admit it. You want to try it too." That was the real reason Eraqus decided to tag along.
Eraqus felt his face heat up at Xehanort's calling out. "Well, yes, but I don't want to get in trouble either." He paused as Xehanort slowly eased open the library doors just enough for them to slip inside. The large room with its tall windows and myriad bookshelves was only faintly lit by a few dimmed lamps and the soft green glow of the plumb bob shaped ward stone as it spun gently inside of its enclosure. "Master Limahl will ground both of us if we're caught."
"Like I said, you don't have to stay." But Xehanort's attention was quickly caught and held by the black and silver Keyblade hung on a backdrop of golden, fused keyblades and other symbols that made up a sort of crest above the hearth's mantle. This particular keyblade had arrested Xehanort's mind from day one, and he frequently found his eyes drawn to it whenever he spent time in the library. It fascinated him. It really was little surprise that he had finally cracked and decided to take it down to look at it up close, just for a few minutes.
"You're insane." Eraqus muttered more to himself than Xehanort as he stood by the ward stone. He could easily see through the doors and down the hallway in case someone came down that way. It wasn't much warning, but it was better than nothing. Hopefully, since Master, the maid, and the cook were asleep, they could get in and out with no one being the wiser.
Not that Eraqus believed for a second that they would be that lucky. Master Limahl always seemed to know when they were up to something they shouldn't be.
He shook his head. Too late to back out now. "How are you going to get up to it?"
Xehanort shook his head slightly to clear it, refocusing on his goal. He glanced around the room. The mantle over the hearth was wide enough to stand on and close enough to the mounted blade to reach, but it was also taller than he was. He wouldn't be able to get enough leverage from the ground to hoist himself up. But with a little extra height... He grabbed one of the chairs that they used when they played chess together and dragged it over to the hearth. With the addition of about 18 inches, it made him tall enough to jump up and clamber onto the ledge.
"I reiterate." Eraqus said, loud enough this time for Xehanort to hear him. "You're insane."
"Yeah, well at least I do what I say I'm going to," Xehanort shot back, rising to his feet. Drat. The Keyblade was higher on the wall than it looked from below. He could reach the handle, but only just. Let's hope it'll come off easy. He took hold of it with one hand, rising onto his toes and leaning into the wall with the other hand, and tried to pull it away from the wall. No such luck. He glared at it, and tugged with more force. Still it didn't budge. A small voice within him whispered, This is going to be a bad idea, but he ignored it as he grabbed hold of the Keyblade with both hands and wrenched backward.
With sudden, unexpected ease the blade detached from the wall, and now Xehanort was unbalanced. He felt his body waver, trying to keep his stance, but it was to no avail. As he slipped from the ledge, he managed to twist around so that he could face the ground, and he almost reflexively curled his body up into a roll, protecting himself from taking much damage from the fall. Yet this area of the library wasn't particularly large, and though he was able to avoid hurting himself in the fall, the bookcase his feet rammed into at the end of his somersault was not quite so lucky, and several books rained down on him.
Eraqus felt his heart jump when he saw Xehanort lose his balance, and he ran towards him as he landed hard on the polished stone floor. Books fell down all around him, each hitting the floor with a bang! that echoed through the silent castle.
"Xehanort! Are you all right? See, I told you this was a bad idea!"
"Yeah, I-I'm fine." He was a little bruised, but nothing felt broken. Instead, he looked to the Keyblade still in his hand. It's so much bigger than it looked up there. Jagged shape, wickedly sharp edges, such detail on the ram's head above the hilt, and that draconic eye... It captivated him. It was so beautiful, and deadly. Something like this Keyblade shouldn't be left to gather dust on a plaque. It should be used, appreciated in motion, cared for properly by a respectful wielder. The eye seemed to shine for a split second, but it was gone so fast Xehanort wasn't sure he'd really seen anything. But the Keyblade felt right in his hand, even if it was still a little too big for him right now. He knew he'd be able to grow into it. "Just look at it," Xehanort whispered, frankly a little awestruck, and a smile began to creep across his face without his notice. "Oh Eraqus, this is exactly what I hoped it would feel like."
Eraqus blinked as the eye set into the top of the weapon's blade seemed to gleam for a split second. "Wow," he whispered as he leaned down to better look at it, "it's huge! How... how does it feel?"
"It feels so right, you know? Like this is how it's meant to be. It belongs in my hand. I can't believe Master never lets us have this feeling."
Eraquas leaned even closer, worry about being caught forgotten as he looked at the magnificent keyblade in Xehanort's hand. "This is amazing!" he said in a reverent whisper. "Can I hold it? I want to see what it feels like too."
Xehanort felt a twinge of protectiveness (Or was that jealousy? Selfishness?) for the blade and wanted to tell Eraqus no, to keep it for himself. But Eraqus was his friend, and he really did think they both deserved to know what this felt like, so he handed it off to the other boy.
Eraqus smiled eagerly as Xehanort held the keyblade out to him, and he wrapped his fingers around the hand grip above Xehanort's hand to hold it as Xehanort let go. The first thing to occur to him was the weight; they keyblade was far heavier than he expected. Xehanort had held it easily, so why did it seem so heavy all of a sudden?
And why did he feel nothing?
Holding the ancient keyblade that had been passed down from master to apprentice for several centuries stirred no feelings within his heart. There was no awe, no sense of rightness like Xehanort had described, nothing. It certainly was an amazing weapon, but it felt no different than holding his wooden practice keyblade.
Eraqus' expression from Xehanort's point of view was oddly discouraging. Why did he look disappointed? And then, suddenly, the keyblade vanished from Eraqus' grip, and reformed itself in Xehanort's, though he had done nothing to take it back from him.
He didn't have time to consider the implications of that, however, as they heard the creak of the library door. Master Limahl! Shit, shit, shit! Xehanort thoughts tumbled. He had to get that Keyblade out of sight immediately. He shoved it quickly under the nearest armchair, thankfully only a step away from him, and prayed it was hidden enough to avoid the Master's notice. Stay put stay put stay put stayput, he chanted mentally, only partially realizing why it felt necessary to do so and having no time to really consider it at this precise moment.
Eraqus leapt to his feet when the library doors creaked, and he was vaguely aware of Xehanort stuffing the keyblade under an armchair as he looked at the books scattered across the floor/ They had to pick them up and put them away! And the chair Xehanort had used needed to be put back, and - !
Master Limahl's measured stride sounded against the floor behind him, and Eraqus saw Xehanort's eyes widen in panic as the footsteps stopped. Without thinking about it, Eraqus snapped to attention and saw Xehanort doing the same. Cold sweat trickled down Eraqus' neck and down into the collar of his night shirt. They were going to be in so much trouble.
Xehanort's mind raced with invented explanations for everything. As long as they could distract Master Limahl from looking up at the crest where the Keyblade was supposed to be, they could possibly escape with just a broken curfew punishment.
"Would you two care to explain why you are in the library at this hour instead of in your beds asleep, like you are supposed to be?" Master Limahl asked, and Eraqus repressed a shiver. Master Limahl was the only father he could remember, and he hated disappointing him. Lying would only make things worse, but being truthful here would get them into a great deal of trouble too.
Limahl eyed his two apprentices. Both were standing at attention as was proper, Eraqus with his back to him while Xehanort was facing him. The books lying about on the floor and the chair in front of the fireplace drew his gaze upward to the shield on the wall where Master Luxu's keyblade was.
Where it should have been.
The shield was empty, and Limahl realized quickly what had happened just as a flash of dark light lit the room and said keyblade appeared in Xehanort's hand.
"I see." he said in a low tone, and both boys shivered. "I am still waiting for an explanation."
Agh! No! That was not supposed to happen! Xehanort just barely managed to stop himself from flailing at the unexpected appearance of the Keyblade in his hand once again. So that hadn't been a fluke, before. "It's not what you think," he blurted out, and winced shortly thereafter, because it was exactly what the Master thought, undoubtedly. What a foolish thing to say.
Eraqus hunched his shoulders, looked a Xehanort for a brief second, took a breath, and then turned to face their master.
"I'm sorry, Master." he said in a whisper. "We just wanted to look at it."
Limahl frowned. Eraqus rarely pushed his boundaries, while Xehanort was forever looking for loopholes to get around the rules he laid down. "Since you are standing here in front of me, then I think it safe to assume that you were in on this too, Eraqus?"
Master Limahl appeared to be targeting Eraqus now, and Xehanort couldn't let that stand. "No, it was my fault, Master. Eraqus tried to convince me not to, but I didn't listen." He hesitated, then added, because it was true, "It...it called to me, Master. I had to."
Limahl looked back and forth between his apprentices. It was a tactic that Master Alexia had employed with him, and he found it to be very effective. The books on the floor told him that there was more to the story, and being stared at had the added benefit of being a punishment in of itself. He hadn't liked his master staring at him in such a way either. It had made him a nervous wreck as he waited for the ax to fall.
It was Eraqus that cracked. "The books were knocked down when Xehanort fell -"
Limahl didn't let him finish the sentence. "You fell, Xehanort?" He stepped past Eraqus to stand in front of Xehanort so he could begin to look him over. "Are you hurt?"
"N-No, Master, I'm fine. Just a little bruised," Xehanort admitted, taken aback by the man's rapid shift in priorities. It was still hard to adjust to this; as an orphan back on the Islands, no one cared about whether he was hurt, all that mattered was addressing what he'd done wrong. He could have had injuries from being ganged up on by bullies, and still it had been about what he had done wrong. Master Limahl's honest concern over his state of wellbeing still caught him by surprise on occasion.
Limahl relaxed and laid his hand lightly on Xehanort's shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze. "Good." He then cast a Cure spell over him to heal the bruises, before he looked down at the keyblade the child was still holding in his hand. "You say it called to you?"
"Yes. I...didn't know that's what it was, before. But, you know I looked at it all the time, that I always asked so many questions about it and Master Luxu when you'd tell us about the Keyblade War." His eyes fell to the blade as he spoke of it. "The more time passed, the more I just...I felt that I needed to touch it. To see it up close for myself. And when I did, I just...it felt so right, Master. I don't know how to explain it." He wanted to turn to Eraqus for help describing it, but he could tell from their interactions earlier that Eraqus didn't feel the same way about it.
Eraqus felt the need to speak up then, now that Master Limahl didn't seem angry at them anymore. "The eye gleamed when he held it, Master Limahl. I saw it."
Limahl looked down at No Name, held securely in Xehanort's hand, and when he lightly touched the blade with his own hand, he could feel the its contentment. A check of Xehanort's heart then showed that the keyblade had chosen its wielder and would not be separated from him.
He sighed and stepped back so he could look at both of his apprentices. "I am disappointed in you both. You disobeyed my rules, left your rooms in the middle of the night, and got into things I told you to leave well enough alone." He leveled his gaze at Xehanort. "You could have been seriously injured in that fall, Xehanort. If you have told me about the blade's pull, I would have allowed you to handle it without the need for acrobatics. Instead your risked your neck and nearly hurt yourself."
He couldn't hold eye contact with Master Limahl in such a situation, and he glanced down, ashamed and angry. How could he have known that? He'd been denied things all his life, things he needed. He had only been with this man for a year; it wasn't fair to insist that Xehanort trust him with something that anyone else would have denied him.
Limahl frowned at Xehanort's sullen expression. He could guess the child's thoughts, but now was not the time to address them. He instead turned to Eraqus. "And you, young man. You especially should know that the rules in this castle are there for a reason. You've lived here since you were small, and I expect better out of you."
Eraqus hung his head. "Yes, Master." he said softly. The master's disappointment stung, and his heart twisted with regret at not trying harder to stop Xehanort from going through with his scheme.
Listening to his master putting pressure on Eraqus, making him responsible for Xehanort's actions, made it even more difficult for Xehanort to take this. "Master, please. Don't be so hard on Eraqus. You know he can't stop me if I'm determined enough."
Limahl turned back to Xehanort. "Then he should have come and woken me." He held his hand up when Xehanort went to object. "I'm not advocating him becoming a tattletale, but you could have been badly hurt trying to get that keyblade down. If either one of you ever attempts something dangerous, then I would like to know before there are injures." He reached out and ruffled Xehanort's hair, before doing the same to Eraqus. "Now, it is late, and you two have lessons in the morning, especially you, Xehanort. Now that you have a real keyblade, your training is about to begin in earnest."
The boy's eyes widened, and he stared up at Master Limahl beneath mussed hair. "You...really? You mean it? So...I can keep it?"
"Of course," Limahl said with a smile that hid the surge of anger that rose up within him at the reminder of how Xehanort had been treated back on his home world, "No Name has chosen you. I could not take it from you, even if I were to try to. Once bonded, a keyblade and its wielder are together until death. Now," He began to usher them out of the library, "back to bed with both of you."
As they were corralled down the halls, Xehanort felt a bit stunned at Master Limahl's suddenly easy acceptance, and also the true realization that he now had something that no one could ever take away from him. This Keyblade would be his, and no one else could ever use it without his permission. It belonged to him alone.
Limahl took them to Eraqus' room first, whereupon he sent to boy to bed with another ruffle of his hair and a "Goodnight." From there they went just down the hall to Xehanort's room. He opened the door and gestured the child inside, and he caught the surprise on his face when he followed him in. Xehanort went over to his bed, and Limahl pulled up the desk chair beside it and sat down. They needed to have a talk, one that was long overdue.
"Is this the part where you tell me how disappointed you are and assign my punishment?" he asked in a deadpan, blasé tone to cover the sudden spike of anxiety pooling in his gut.
Limahl sighed and ran his fingers through his long, graying auburn hair and wished for a moment that Master Alexia was still around. She'd had a similar talk with him once and had made it look so easy.
"Xehanort..." he said, speaking in a tone considerably gentler than the one he had used back in the library, "I know that you didn't have the best life back in your home world. I heard people talking about you, and I was flat out warned by a few others not to waste my time with you once I started showing interest in taking you on as an apprentice."
Instantly, Xehanort did not like this conversation. His face dropped further into wariness. "Where are you going with this?" he questioned cautiously.
Limahl saw the change in Xehanort's expression, and his heart ached. No child should be that way. "I know how you were bounced around between homes after the deaths of your parents. Let me promise you now, that those days are over. This is your home, and Eraqus and I are your family. If you want to know something, all you need to do is ask. I will never get angry at you for asking questions. That is how you learn and grow. Do you understand?"
"Yes...?" For a moment, Xehanort didn't quite follow. What did this have to do with anything? Oh. He was probably talking about how he had decided that the only way to see the Keyblade on the wall was to swipe it after curfew instead of just asking Master to show it to him. Back on the islands, if he had expressed any interest in something, it would have been denied him out of spite or indifference. So he never asked for anything. If he needed something, he just had to take it. They never gave him much choice. And he hadn't been here in the Land of Departure long enough for that ingrained habit to fade.
Had he been this wary as a boy? Limahl couldn't really remember, now that he thought about it. Then again, his home situation had been marginally better than Xehanort's, so the adjustment period after Master Alexia had taken him in had been a little easier.
He abruptly moved from the chair to sit on the bed beside Xehanort, and he felt another surge of anger when the boy stiffened, his entire bearing seemingly braced for an attack. He was still holding No Name in a white knuckled grip, and both of his hands were shaking as he turned his head.
"Look at me, Xehanort." Limahl commanded, still using that gentler tone, but it was an order nonetheless.
His anxiety over the situation made it difficult to create eye contact, but Master gave an order, so it must be met. He raised his eyes to Master Limahl's blue, from sun to sea.
Limahl looked into Xehanort's eyes, golden like the sun that the rumors on his home world had him descended from. "I will never, ever, under any circumstances, throw you out, Xehanort. What those fools did back on the Destiny Islands, treating you that way, will not happen here. You are a child, and like all children you deserve so much more than being tossed around by people too idiotic to realize the treasure that they were throwing away. I know you don't quite believe me, and that you don't fully trust me. I understand; I didn't trust Master Alexia at first for the same reasons. You never need to fear going without anything here. If you need something, it is yours. If you want something, just ask. I may say no, but then I will explain my reasons for doing so."
"So can I ask for the moon, then?" he responded, just because it was the first thing in his mind, and a bit of levity never hurt. But really, it was easier to throw out something silly than to take the time at this moment to fully comprehend the depth of what Master Limahl was saying. Things of this magnitude simply couldn't be accepted so easily.
Limahl couldn't help but smile. "No, you can't ask for the moon, simply because I have no idea how to get it down here to you. And I imagine that that one ancestor of yours might not approve."
The boy cracked his own smile in return. "No, Mother Moon should stay where she is. Besides, the moon controls the tides. I wouldn't want to destroy life in the ocean to keep the moon for myself."
Limahl reached out and enfolded Xehanort in his arms, ignoring how he stiffened again at the gesture. "It will get easier with time, Xehanort. I promise."
He was not accustomed to such casual touch. Hugs were rare currency back home. Islanders were free with affection and intimacy with those they liked, but Xehanort hadn't been part of such a category in years. This situation was beyond strange to him. The best he could do was awkwardly reach up and pat Master Limahl's back in return.
Limahl chuckled as he let go, which allowed the boy to edge away from him slightly. "It is late. Into bed with you now." He stood up as Xehanort climbed under the covers, and he chuckled a second time when he saw No Name still being clutched in one hand. "Would you like me to tell you how to dismiss it?"
"Uhm...probably a good idea," Xehanort answered sheepishly.
"It is part of your heart now. All you need to do is will it away. And when he need it again, just use your heart to call to it."
"But...how do I know it'll come back?" he replied with poorly hidden trepidation.
Sometimes he wished he had taken the time to tell those fools on the Destiny Islands just what he thought of their treatment of Xehanort, but he had been more concerned with getting the obviously neglected child home at the time."Because No Name is part of you now. It will stay with you until you die, or until you hand it down to your own apprentice." Limahl gave Xehanort a reassuring smile. "Now, dismiss it so you can get some sleep. You and Eraqus will have much to do after breakfast tomorrow."
"Yes, Master." He stared at the blade once more, then regretfully dismissed it, watching mournfully as it shimmered away.
Limahl stepped forward and tucked the quilt around Xehanort's shoulders. "Goodnight, Xehanort."
Okay, being tucked in was a little much for Xehanort, and he wriggled, undoing the action. He was fourteen years old already, come on. "Good night, Master," he answered without ire anyway.
Limahl chuckled to himself again and he left the room, closing the door behind him. He would tell them about their grounding in the morning. He then went off to return to his own bed. "Well," he said to himself as he went, "Master Alexia told me that I would end up with an apprentice just like me."
Back in his room, Xehanort waited ten minutes after the sound of his master's footsteps had faded, then freed his dominant arm and held it above him, summoning his Keyblade back. He examined it in the pale light of the moon through his window, unable to keep from grinning. His own Keyblade. And not just that, one of legend. How amazing is that?
After a little longer, his body finally caught up with the late night and he yawned widely. All right, he should probably get some sleep, yes. Besides, the sooner he fell asleep, the sooner tomorrow would come and he'd get to learn how to work with a real Keyblade at last. He couldn't quite bear to put the blade away, though, so he just arranged himself carefully on his side with the blade in hand next to him. He drifted off to sleep at last, and quietly No Name disappeared as its newest wielder slipped into restful unconsciousness.
-- Part 2: Where We Belong
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