*Please read this fic on Archive of Our Own (AO3); my username there is Raberba_girl, and this vignette is posted within "Bound by Destiny."

Fire & Moonlight, a Kingdom Hearts fanwork: 101 Theme Challenge by Wishing-Fire, written by Raberba girl

Take it All (theme 51) [rough draft]

Summary: Saïx begins to wonder if he's on the wrong side in this war.

o.o.o

At first, Saïx hated the Dancing Flame. It seemed like everywhere he turned, he was hearing another story about the Flame's exploits; every mission he led was either ruined by the Flame or very hard won. Even when Saïx performed at his best, he could never reach perfection because the Flame was always there, the only thing standing in the way of Saïx and victory.

Things changed over time. Saïx saw too many widows, too many desperate orphans, too much destruction of civilization ([*censored because FFN is stupid*] wasn't just some backwards land of barbarians, it had agriculture! An organized education system! Libraries!), so that he could no longer deny the truth. The [*censored because FFN is stupid*] Empire that he had pledged himself to, the empire he fought and lived and would die for, was in the wrong. What they were doing was not liberation or enlightenment. The Flame had been right, all those times he'd mocked or shouted at Saïx: the [*censored because FFN is stupid*] were nothing more than greedy invaders. They had no honor.

Still, Saïx felt himself bound by his oaths. He grew more and more sick at heart, yet still he pressed on, fighting for his masters, until the day they conquered the last major holdout, the natives' base of operations and rumored to be the Flame's hometown. It had put up a valiant fight and withstood a long siege, but at last, it had fallen.

Saïx walked through the corpse-littered streets. His clothes were stiff with blood, his eyes ached in the aftermath of the Berserker rage, his sword felt far too heavy in his hand. 'No more,' he realized. His heart felt dead. 'I can never do this again.' It would likely mean demotion and disgrace. Once, he would have been sick at the very thought, but now he couldn't bring himself to care.

He found the Flame in a small cottage that stank of death. The Dancing Flame Saïx was accustomed to would have leaped instantly into a fight, eyes bright and tongue sharp with insults and fierce humor.

The man kneeling in the cottage looked like a shell of his former self. He was gaunt and hollow-eyed; filthy, without a weapon to be seen. He didn't respond at all when Saïx entered. He did nothing but continue to sit on the floor, each of his living hands holding a rotting one that protruded from underneath the blankets on either side of him.

Saïx found it difficult to speak for a moment. The unmoving, human-shaped lumps lying under the blankets and buzzing flies were too small to be adults.

There was a long silence. Then Saïx cleared his throat and managed to say, "Surrender to the [*censored because FFN is stupid*] Empire."

"I gave them all my food," the Flame said dully. "They still died. Got sick. Left me behind, alone. It's over now."

Saïx wanted to cry. "I'm...taking you captive now." He expected the Flame to resist at some point, perhaps when Saïx laid hands on him. Yet the Flame allowed himself to be dragged to his feet and pulled away, weeping when he could no longer see his lost little ones.

o.o.o.o.o

The war was over. The Empire had taken [*censored because FFN is stupid*] as its own; only a few hopeless pockets of resistance continued on the fringes.

Saïx had been demoted to a guard. He didn't mind very much.

And it meant he was the one who came to the Dancing Flame's cell to escort him to his execution. "It's time."

"You monsters weren't satisfied with just breaking [*censored because FFN is stupid*], were you," the Flame said bitterly. "You had to take Roxas and Xion as well. You had to take my home and my joy and my purpose for living." His voice was rising higher with each word. "And now you want to take my life, huh? Well, that's fine! Take it! Take it all! My life is worth nothing anymore, anyway!"

"Be quiet," Saïx hissed. "I'm not going to help you escape if you keep talking like that."

The Flame stared at him. "Escape...?"

"There are still rebels out there. At the moment, their cause is hopeless, but with a legend like you to rally them and a former [*censored because FFN is stupid*] to provide them with inside information, and if we are very careful and have enough luck...we might still have a chance to free [*censored because FFN is stupid*]."

The Flame kept staring at him.

Saïx unchained the man from the wall, then held out the key. "Either lock your wrists onto the prisoner escort bar, or undo the shackles and come with me. It's your choice."

Slowly, the Flame took the key. He stood there holding it for a long time.

Then, abruptly, he looked into Saïx's face, his eyes ablaze in a way they had not been since Saïx had discovered him grieving for his children all those months ago.

The shackles fell to the floor.

o.o.o

A/N: Wrote this a few years ago. Took me ages and ages to get around to typing it, then even longer to stop procrastinating and post it. X''D My Kingdom Hearts muse is still dead, but I'm still hoping to someday be able to finish my posted WIPs, and also Fire and Moonlight since it's the theme challenge I've made the most progress on. Won't be soon, though, since I'm currently working on The Birds Who Smile for Batman and hope to return to Carried Off after that, both of them novel-length stories.