[A/N: I don't own Kingdom Hearts...blah blah blah.... This takes place three years after the game. There's a few spoilers, so if you haven't won the game, or if you're not in the mood to have the game's ending given away (sorta), then read no further. Otherwise, enjoy my humble offerings of ficcy goodness.]
Riku watched the flames flicker across the sleeping form of King Mickey. Ever since Sora had closed the door, Riku had watched over the king, waiting for the time when he and Mickey would be reunited with Sora and those other two. He sighed softly, thinking of Sora. He missed his friend, missed the life they'd had before darkness had come to their island. Getting up, he pitched another stick into the fire. He looked down at Mickey then walked to the edge of the fire's light and walked the perimeter of their camp. The Heartless were drawn to them, it seemed, and they had been attacked sveral times in the past three years. How long would it be before he found Sora?
A noise brought his attention back from his thoughts and he looked around for the source. Riku smirked seeing a small Shadow standing there at the edge of the camp. Well, that was certainly no challenge and it looked like it was alone. The young man walked over, picked up a stone and hurled it at the little creature, bouncing it off it's head. The Shadow just continued to stand there and look at him, its antennea twitching. Riku frowned and threw another stone at the creature. Still it refused to move. Finally the young man walked over and kicked at it. The Shadow dodged, causing Riku to fall, then sat on the boy's chest.
"Fine, take my heart, I've got nothing else to give you," Riku grumbled. The Shadow moved it's antennae over the boy's face, then hopped off and looked at him. Riku sat up and looked at it, then poked it. "Weird little thing, aren't you? If you're not going to attack me, why don't you just get lost?"
Riku kicked at the creature again, not surprised at its dodge, and got up. He walked back toward the fire and sat next to Mickey. Looking down at the king, he checked him over, then sighed and settled down. He looked over at the Shadow that was still hanging around and threw another rock at it. What was with the creature? They usually either attacked or ran away, but this one just sat there staring at him. He couldn't really sense any danger from it, which was weird because he usually could feel the Heartless when they were close by, having once been one himself, but he got nearly nothing from the Shadow. He sat up as the creature wondered closer.
"Oh, now what?" Riku asked, watching the Shadow as it hopped over to him. He tried shooing the creature away. "You're not getting the king, so beat it, little one."
I came to serve, Riku heard in his mind. The young man blinked. The Heartless could talk? When did that happen?
"You can talk?" the boy asked, poking the Shadow again.
Only to our own, the creature answered. And you were one of us. Part of you still is.
"Um, sure," Riku replied, raising an eyebrow. "But what's this about serving?"
There is something coming. Something bigger than Ansem. You need help. The Heartless are scared, the Shadow answered.
"Right. This is some kind of trick, isn't it. You're distracting me so others can take the king," Riku said, looking over at Mickey. The mouse was still asleep.
It's no trick. Haven't you noticed a decrease in attacks? the creature asked.
"Yeah, I guess so. I thought it was 'cause we were getting farther from Kingdom Hearts," the young man answered.
Only partially. You are getting closer to your destiny, but you'll need help, the small Heartless explained. I know I'm small and not very strong, but I can help you find the Heartless in other worlds.
"I don't need your help in that," Riku answered.
You think they won't be hiding now? You can barely sense me. There are bigger and meaner things out there than the Heartless and you won't see them coming, but I can. The Heartless are all connected, something you gave up when you reclaimed your heart. I can teach you to tap into the connection again, the Shadow said.
"But at what price? My heart? The king? Forget it, I don't think I need your help," the boy answered, getting up. With a quick flick of his wrist, his keyblade appeared in his hand. The Heartless backed away from him. Riku smirked. "You remember what keyblades are? Good. I didn't think I was much of a keyblade master, but turns out I can still summon this one."
That keyblade isn't strong enough to protect you anymore, the Shadow answered.
"Maybe not, but it'll take care of you," the young man answered.
Hear me out first. I haven't attacked you and I brought you a warning, you owe me that much, the Heartless replied.
"Fair enough, but make it quick," Riku said, motioning for the creature to speak.
Very well. You are going to reach a crossroads soon and you are going to have to make a choice, but it will not be easily made. Your journey with the king is nearly over, but your search for Sora is just begining, the Shadow said. It held out it's hand, showing Riku a keychain that looked somewhat familiar. I brought this to you to help you in your search.
"Why would you bother to help me?" Riku answered, picking up the keychain and looking it over. "You're the enemy."
That would be the case in most circumstances, but, as I said, something bigger is out there and it's after your friend, the Shadow explained.
"What?" Riku asked, his voice raising.
The darkness is after Sora and it is stronger than you ever imagined. It goes beyond the Heartless. Your friend is in danger, the Shadow answered.
"I get that, yeah, but where is Sora?" the young man asked, sitting down again. He knew he should be on his guard, but he didn't fear this creature. Well, he had never feared Shadows, but this one didn't bear any ill will toward him or the king. It had brought a warning and offered its services. Maybe it could help him find Sora and Destiny Island.
I'm sorry, Riku, I don't know where Sora is, the creature answered. Or your Destiny Island. Riku blinked, confused. Had the Heartless... read your mind? Yes, I can. Part of you is still Heartless and, just as you can see into my mind, I can see into yours. I'm sorry to have startled you.
"Um, yeah, just don't go reading my mind anymore. If you can't take me to Sora or back home, what good are you?" the boy asked bitterly.
Because I brought them to you, the Shadow answered as shouting in the distance was heard. Riku stood up, readying his keyblade.
"What have you done, Heartless?" he asked the creature angrily. No sooner had the words left his mouth, Donald and Goofy burst through the trees into camp. Riku stared at them. "Donald? Goofy?"
"Riku?" Donald asked, walking closer. He looked down at the Shadow by Riku. "Look out, a Heartless. Hold on, we'll help."
"No, it's okay. It didn't come to hurt us. It actually brought you to us," Riku answered," and brought a warning to me."
"That so. Where's the king?" the duck asked. Riku motioned over to Mickey, who was sitting up now. Both Donald and Goofy went over to him. Riku was about to walk over as well, till the Shadow called to him.
Ask your question and then say your good-byes. It's time to go, it said softly in Riku's mind. The boy looked down at it, then at the others, noticing now that Sora wasn't with them.
"Where's Sora?" he asked, looking around a bit for his friend.
"Gawrsh, Riku, sorry to tell you this, but Sora got seperated from us in that there last world we were in," Goofy answered, rubbing the back of his head apologetically.
"You lost him?" Riku yelled. "How could you just leave him there alone?"
"We didn't leave him alone, he left us," Donald answered. "He ran off. We looked for him, but he was just gone."
"Sorry, Riku, we don't know where he went. We got in the gummi ship to see if we could find him on another world and picked up King Mickey's signal here," Goofy said. Riku shook his head.
"Your Highness, we can take you back to Magic Kingdom now," Donald said, helping Mickey up.
"One of you should stay and help Riku," Mickey answered.
"I don't need their help. They couldn't help Sora, I doubt they'd be of any use to me. Let them take you back to your kingdom, I've got to find Sora," the young man answered.
"You'll need help," Goofy answered. Riku smirked.
"I've got help. That little Shadow there will lead me to Sora better than any of you could. Go back to your kingdom, Mouse, and take those two with you. When I find Sora, I'll send word," the boy answered. Mickey just gave a short nod.
"Sora's quest isn't over, Riku. You'll help him when you find him?" the king asked.
"Yeah, I'll do what I can," Riku answered. Mickey walked over to him and Riku knealt down. "Have a safe journey back, Sire."
"Thank you," the mouse said, patting the boy on the shoulder. He lowered his voice to where only Riku could hear him. "I know your heart still holds darkness in it, be sure that it doesn't consume you. You're not far from being a Heartless again, and because of that, I'm certain you're the only one that can help Sora. Thank you for staying with me and protecting me all these years."
"It was an honor," Riku said, though a little strained. Mickey ruffled the boy's silvery hair and walked back to the others. The young man stood up as Goofy approached him. "I already said I don't need the help."
"I know, but I wanted to give you some supplies," the soldier answered, handing over a bag. Riku shouldered it easily and nodded. Goofy took Riku's hand, putting something in it. "Sora dropped this before running off. He promised to return it to Kairi, but I think first you should return it to him."
"Thank you," Riku answered, looking down at the star-shaped keychain. He looked back at them, tucking the trinket in his pocket of his hooded jacket. "Anything else before I go?"
"One other thing," Mickey said. "I don't need this anymore, since I'm going back to the kingdom. Perhaps you'll have more use for it." The king walked over and held out his keyblade.
"I can't accept that," the young man replied. "It's not mine."
"Riku, you are the rightful Keyblade Master. You were meant to weild any keyblade.You decended to darkness and rose from it. That makes you all the stronger. The love you have for your friends makes you strong of heart and that's all the keyblades care about. If you can't weild them, they won't stay with you. You already hold one of the strongest keyblades, I'm sure you can take this one as well," the mouse replied, holding the weapon up. Riku shrugged and picked it up, feeling a strange sensation. He gasped softly and stared at the keyblade.
"It feels strange, but not uncomfortable," the boy said. Mickey nodded.
"You'll grow accustomed to it. It not like your other one. This unlocks doors, not hearts. Remember? That's how we left Kingdom Hearts," the king said softly.
"I remember. Can this lock doors, too, like Sora's?" Riku asked, putting both keyblades away.
"No, only Sora can lock the doors. That's why he needs you. You have to open the doors to other worlds so he can complete his quest," Mickey explained. "Take care, Riku. We'll be waiting for word on your travels."
"Thanks," the young man muttered, watching Mickey and the others leave. He sat down and looked at the Shadow. "Still here?"
You thought I would leave? I did offer my services, afterall, the creature replied. Riku shrugged.
"I don't want to be responsible for you stealing hearts, though," he said. The Heartless chuckled, or rather it seemed like a chuckle since it was just a feeling in his mind.
Heartless only take hearts to survive. We feed on the energy they provide to us, the creature answered.
"Oh. Well, isn't there some other way? I know I need your help, but I'm not going to let you just wander around hurting people," Riku said, poking the little creature.
There is, but I doubt you'll like it, the Shadow said.
"What is it?" the boy asked.
I could take a little of your energy, just enough to get by, but not enough to hurt you. As a Keyblade Master, you have plenty in excess. It's why Ansem was drawn to you and the other Heartless are still drawn to you, the creature replied.
"My energy?" Riku asked, looking at the Shadow suspiciously. "Like I'm going to fall for that. You'll just steal my heart if I let you get close enough to."
If I wanted to do that, I would not have let you know I was here since you have trouble sensing Heartless now, the little creature answered.
"Okay, but what will happen to me when you take my energy? I'm not just going to slowly fade away, am I?" the boy asked.
No, you're strong enough to give a little energy and it won't harm you. You'll regenerate it easily, the Heartless explained.
"What do I need to do?" Riku asked. The Shadow hopped closer.
Open your jacket and shirt. Touching your bare skin will make it easier for the transfer, the creature replied.
"You're going to do it now?" the young man asked, startled at the situation coming up so soon.
It took a lot for me to find you and I'm hungry and weak, the Shadow said. I'll be no use to you if I don't keep my strength up.
"Alright," Riku sighed, giving in. He was still having his doubts, but the Heartless seemed to be his only lead since Donald and Goofy had totally botched their job as protectors up. He unzipped his jacket and unbuttoned his shirt, flinching as the night wind breezed past his bare chest. The Shadow came up to him and hugged him, slipping is slender arms around him under his shirt. Riku gasped at the slight pain of their connection, then sighed as his energy passed to the Heartless. It didn't hurt at all, in fact, it felt rather pleasant. Through the connection, the young man was able to see clearer into the Shadow's mind, getting a grasp on what had it and the other Heartless so worried. He felt another small sting as the creature pulled away. Riku began buttoning his shirt back up. "Better?"
Much, thank you, the Shadow answered. So, you saw what the Heartless know.
"Yeah," Riku replied, zipping his jacket up and pulling the hood up as well. "When we first left Kingdom Hearts, I thought I sensed something big out there, but I thought I was just still feeling traces of Ansem."
No, you were feeling Nobody, the Shadow answered.
"Nobody?" the young man asked. The creature nodded.
They are nonexistant, it answered. If you've rested enough, we should leave. Sora is still out there and still needs you.
Riku nodded getting up. He looked at the Shadow. "Will you be able to keep up?"
I'm not as fast as you, but I should be okay, the Heartless replied. The young man chuckled and pointed to the bag Goofy had given him.
"Hop in, I'll carry you," Riku said. "That way I don't lose you and you can hide if we're in towns."
Thank you, the Shadow said, climbing into the bag. Riku picked it up, grunting a bit at the extra weight, and strapped it to his back.
"I suppose I should call you something," he said, looking back over his shoulder.
If it'll make you happy, the Heartless answered.
"Hmm, how about I call you Breakfast?" Riku asked. He heard, rather felt, the strange chuckling in his head. "Alright, I call you, um, Hakujou. It fits you."
As you wish, the Shadow said, settling down in the bag. We should go, the others are coming.
"What others?" Riku asked, putting the fire out, then walking the opposite direction that Mickey's group had gone.
Nobody, was all the Heartless replied. Riku shivered involuntarily, now able to sense what Hakujou could. He knew he had to find Sora and soon, before whatever the other force was could. He walked into the darkness of the forest, but no longer feared it as he once had. He suspected his bond with Hakujou had changed him a little, but he was determined not to give in to the Heartless again. Sora depended on him too much for him to give up.
[A/N: Okie dokie, that ends chapter one. I hope to have the next chapter up soon. I hope you all liked this. Oh, yeah....hakujou means "heartless" in Japanese. I wanted to name it Breakfast, but as we all know, Riku always gets his way.]