Legal Disclaimer: Disney and SquareSoft own Kingdom Hearts and all the charecters from it. I'm just manipulating a possible future for the game.
Author's Note: I haven't actually finished the game. The muse drove me to write this, with the beginnings of an idea popping up when I first got it, then when I got the Bradygames Strategy Guide. *purrs* Riku in black..... *purrs, then shakes self* Anyways, anything in /*...*/ means that it's in another language that Riku can understand. You'll understand this when you read the fic.
Romance: Sora/Riku is all that really matters in this fic.
Keyblade Master
Chapter One: Finding the Key
by:
KrazieKat

On a tiny island, the only land on its world, a young man with light blue hair stood facing the sunset, and let the wind play with his hair. But his mind wasn't on the sun, or the sea, or the building going on behind him. His sea-green eyes were faraway, as far away as his mind was, on a familiar pair of warm, blue eyes and wild brown hair. "Sora," he sighed. "I hope you're all right." A twinge of pain brought the young man back to reality, and to the fact that the sun was nearly gone from the sky.

"Riku? It's time to come in!" a familiar voice called.

"I'll be there in a minute, Kairi," Riku called back. Ever since he embraced the Heartless' darkness ten years ago, and been cured by the Keyblade Master, the older boy had a sensitivity to darkness, and avoided it whenever possible. Sometimes, that sensitivity translated into pain. Especially whenever Sora was away from him, and the sun was setting. Riku rubbed his chest, looking down at his heart, then turned and headed inside.

"How did the building go today, Kairi?" he asked as he entered their shared quarters. Although they shared quarters, their relationship was one of siblings, instead of lovers. One of the greatest ironies of his life was that after all those years of competing against Sora for the young woman's attention, now that Riku had Kairi all to himself, all he wanted was Sora. Sora of the Keyblade, the King's Keyblade Master, guardian of the world barriers, wandering do-gooder, eternal innocent, and forgiving friend.

"Argh! I've got to stop thinking about him!" Riku growled, interrupting Kairi from the barely-begun recitation of what had been done that day.

"Thinking about Sora again?" Kairi asked.

"Yeah. It's been two months since our last letter from him. I'm concerned," Riku answered.

"Sora has the Keyblade, Riku, along with Donald and Goofy. If he could destroy the core of the Heartless when he was 11, he'll be fine while Heartless hunting now." Kairi laid a hand on Riku's arm. "I'm sure that King Mickey is just keeping him busy."

"Yeah, you're probably right.... we all know how he hates to write," Riku replied. The two laughed, until Riku's laughter cut off as his head snapped up, the part of him that was still a part of the Heartless buzzing. "What's that?" He whirled around as a bright light centered over Riku's bed filled the room.

***

When Kairi and Riku could see again, they looked around, expecting to see rogue Heartless surrounding them, and they started to relax at first when they realized no one else was there. "I wonder what that was-" Riku cut off ,starting at his bed. "Kairi, look!" he said, pointing with a shakey hand.

"The Keyblade," Kairi breathed. "But where's Sora?"

"He must be in serious trouble. That's the only reason he'd send the Keyblade away," Riku replied. "We have to go rescue him!"

"How, Riku? The worlds are locked off. We both know that Sora took special care to lock of Destiny Island from the rest of the worlds. Only Sora, with the Keyblade, with Donald and Goofy's Gummi ship, can travel to different worlds."

"Then we wait for Donald and Goofy to show up. They'll come after the Keyblade, hoping that Sora's with it." Riku knew that just as the Heartless could hunt Sora through the Keyblade, Donald's tracking spells worked better with tracking the Keyblade than Sora. Riku's own tracking abilities was that of the Heartless, as much as he was loath to admit it.

Kairi nodded, then moved over to pick the Keyblade up off of Riku's bed, blinking when it disappeared into a burst of tiny white lights. Her surprise and confusion grew when the lights swept behind her, and around Riku's hand, becoming the Keyblade again. "What in the worlds?" they exclaimed in unison.

Riku eyed the Keyblade, turning it to study it, then noticed an oddity. "Have you seen Sora use this Keychain before, Kairi?" he asked, holding up what looked like a keychain in the shape of two hearts, laying side-by-side, one purple, the other red.

"No," Kairi answered. "And the Keyblade looks.... normal. Whenever he normally changes Keychains, the blade changes as well."

"Odd." Riku gave the Keyblade a few, tenative swipes, then probed the powerful weapon with all of his Heartless senses. The young man could feel SOMETHING stirring, then that something grabbed his mind in a powerful grip. He felt his body stiffen as his mind was examined intently, then released, a feeling of... not quite satisfaction, but something similar to it. As if he been examined, and found to be barely adequite. Riku was not happy with the idea that something had settled for him as second best.

"Riku?" Kairi asked nervously.

"I'm here, Kairi... I think the Keyblade was examining me."

"Why?"

"I'm not sure... but I think it chose me to be it's master... at least until we get Sora back. I am NOT keeping this thing," Riku said sourly.

Kairi's lip twitched as Riku glared at the Keyblade. "Feeling jealous of Sora's sword?"

Riku switched the glare to Kairi. "No, you hentai! I just don't like this thing. Too many bad associations. Everyone would be comparing me to Sora, and I don't want that!"

"I'm the hentai?" Kairi demanded. "I'm the pervert? I'm not the one who's too afraid to admit that I love someone!"

"No, you just don't love in that way," Riku retorted. "You love everyone too much to have a one special love."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, I've heard it all before, from a little boy who were SURE I was just leading him and his best friend on." Riku blushed as he recalled the argument he and Kairi had, almost immediately after Sora's defeat of the Heartless. The fourteen year old had been emotionally unstable ever since he'd been freed from the Heartless, and seeing Kairi, Riku had ripped into her verbally. If there had been a sword in hand, he might have attacked her physically. Thankfully Leon and Yuffie had had the sense to restrain the unstable young man.

Kairi sqeezed Riku's shoulder. "It wasn't your fault. You'd been under powerful controls, and then Sora just snapped those controls, leaving you with no guidance, and no balance. You're better now."

"Not completely," Riku said. "I still can't stand the dark. And Sora just feels sorry for me."

Kairi smiled sympathetically. "Things will get better. We'll find Sora and rescue him. Now come on. I'll bet you that Donald and Goofy will be here tomorrow morning, looking for Sora." Riku sighed, nodded, and tucked the Keyblade under his matress. Some inner sense, some part of him that was still part Heartless told him that the troubles with the Heartless were starting up again, and he needed to be prepared. For Sora's sake.

***

"Riku, they're here."

The light-haired young man turned to look at Kairi, and nodded. "I'll be there in just a minute." He had known the moment that the Gummi ship has pierced the barrier as a flash of coldness during his usual morning practice, the only change in his routine was getting familiar with the weight and balance of the Keyblade. He was standing in the middle of the small island just off the main one, probing the Keyblade with his magical senses again, when Kairi made her announcement. He headed to the bridge, and headed to the main island. The whole time, he could feel Donald and Goofy's eyes on the Keyblade. "Hi, guys. Guess you know Sora's not here."

"Uh... how'd you guess that? Hyuk!"

Riku's lips twitched. "Call it an educated guess. We all know Sora won't let the Keyblade fall into Evil hands if he can help it, and he told me that if he ever got into serious trouble, he'd send the Keyblade here, because of all the extra protections he had Donald work into the barrier for Destiny Island." Riku also knew that the only person who came close to matching Sora in swordmanship was himself. Knowing that Sora trusted him with the Keyblade if worse came to worse warmed a part of Riku's heart. The rest of him was chilled at the heavy responsibility that came with the Keyblade: a responsibility he wanted to hand back over to Sora as fast as possible. "Do you guys have any clue as to what happened to Sora?" Riku asked.

Donald shook his head. "The last we saw of Sora, there had been a mysterious note left for him in our rooms, and then he went charging off into the night, Keyblade in hand."

Riku shook his head. "Hardheaded idiot. Ow!" Riku rubbed the back of his head, and glared at the petite woman who had just smacked him there. "Kairi, we both know he's stubborn as all get out!"

Kairi glared at Riku. "That doesn't mean you have to say it out loud. And quit acting like a wuss, I didn't hit you that hard."

Riku grinned at his adopted sister, then looked at Donald and Goofy. "I think Sora sent the Keyblade to me specifically."

Donald and Goofy blinked, then exchanged looks. "Why do you say that?" Donald asked.

"Well.... Here." Riku handed the Keyblade to Donald, only to have the Keyblade reappear in his hand again, like the night before. "It always comes back to me. No matter what."

Donald and Goofy exchanged looks. "I told you so," Goofy told the feathered magician.

"Whatever."

"You told him what?" Kairi asked.

"That Sora and Riku- omph!" Goofy grunted.

Donald removed his elbow from Goofy's stomach, and waved Kairi's question off. "That's not important now. What's important is getting Sora out of whatever trouble he's gotten himself into."

"I agree," Riku said, then mentally added, I'll ask later about whatever it was Goofy told Donald. "Where do we start?" he asked the pair.

"We? You're staying here with the Keyblade," Donald replied.

"No way. I'm not staying here, not when Sora's in trouble!"

"He sent it here for a reason, to keep it safe!"

"It will be safe, when we rescue him and give him the Keyblade back!"

Kairi glanced at Goofy, and smiled at him, bemused at the image before her. She'd heard of people going nose to nose before, but never quite so literally.... especailly when Donald was a good four feet shorter than Riku. She sighed as things broke down into insults and were about to break down into physical combat. She put two fingers in her mouth, and whistled, sharp and piercingly. WHen she saw that she had Donald and Riku's attention, she calmly said, "This isn't helping Sora. And you'll need the Keyblade, especially since Riku can apparently use all of it's functions, Donald. We're going. And if not, we'll go on our own. We've seen Sora use the Keyblade to teleport enough times to know how he does it."

"Well," Donald said, pouting, crossing his arms. "I guess you can come with us then."

Riku rolled his eyes, then looked at Kairi. "I'll get our bags. See if they need any new supplies."

Kairi nodded, and Riku hiked off to the treehouses. Kairi watched him stalk off, then turned to Donald and Goofy. "What was it that Goofy told you, Donald? What's so interesting about Riku being able to access the Keyblade's power?"

"We really shouldn't say," Donald demurred. "It's not our place."

"You're not telling Riku, you're telling me. So fess up."

"Well," Donald paused, as if gathering his thoughts. "You know that Keychain that's attached to the Keychain?"

Kairi nodded. "We thought it was interesting that the Keyblade hadn't changed it's basic shape because of the Keychain, like it usually does.

Donald nodded. "This one doesn't boost the Keyblade's power, but shares it. But the power can only be shared by one who is loved and loves the Keyblade Master. In other words, to be able to access the Keyblade's powers, Riku has to love Sora and Sora has to love Riku." Kairi blinked.

"Oh." She thought a bit, then a tiny giggle escaped. "I can't wait to see Riku's reaction when he finds that out."

***

Riku approached the ship, and asked Donald, "Is my chamber ready?"

"Ready and waiting," Donald agreed. "You won't wake up until we're ready to disembark."

"Wake up?" Kairi asked.

"I'd...rather not talk about it, Kairi," Riku said, looking away. "Let's just say that it's neccessary when we're not on locked worlds." His voice was harsh and clearly said that he didn't feel like discussing the matter any further.

"Okay," Kairi said, blinking. "Let's get going." She moved past Riku without commenting on his tone.

Riku stared after Kairi, and his expression lightened. Trust Kairi to know when to push something, and when not to, he commented to himself. I just wish I could explain that without the stasis chamber, the Heartless would call me to them. Riku recalled how he had nearly taken over the Gummi ship on his first trip on it, when the Heartless had started calling to him after breaking free from Traverse Town. If Sora hadn't knocked him out, Riku would have handed over the Keyblade Master over to the Heartless. As it was, after wiping out that nest of Heartless, Sora, Donald, and Goofy had Cid install a stasis chamber for Riku. And ever since then, Riku spent his trips asleep.

Riku headed into the Gummi ship, and headed for the stasis chamber. He started to climb in, then paused, looking at the Keyblade in his hand. Dare I... Riku shook his head. It isn't worth the risk. The Heartless might get the Keyblade if I stay awake. He climbed into the Statis Chamber and smiled up at Goofy. "See you when I wake up."

"Hyuk, sleep well," the captain of the royal guards said, easing the lid shut. "We'll see you when we dock."

Riku closed his eyes, and felt the chamber pressurize. He felt a familiar wave of sleepiness fill him as the sleeping agents kicked in, and felt his mind drift back to Sora. Hold on, Sora, wherever you are.

***

At first he thought he couldn't see, but then his eyes started picking out nuances in the darkness. He tried to move, and nearly paniced when he couldn't even feel a finger moving. He tried to look, but his head felt firmly wedged into place. He struggled, and a whispering started.

"Yes, yes, I hear you," a voiced called, not too far away, and then there was a break in the darkness. "Good morning, Keyblade Master. Sorry about the paralysis, but my servants said that you tried to kill yourself before letting them capture you. Can't have that happening to my newest servant, now, can I?"

His eyes slowly adjusted to the light, seemingly bright against all of the darkness, and at first all he could make out was a dark outline interpositing itself between him and the light. "Welcome to the new Heartless Core, Keyblade Master. Welcome to your new home.

"I'll NEVER! join you," Sora growled.

Riku realized that he was dreaming, and was startled. Never before had he dreamed in stasis sleep. And never had he dreamed of being in Sora, able to sense everything about and around the Keyblade Master.

"That's what you think, Keyblade Master. You're already ours. It's just a matter of time until you surrender. Especially since we already have something you want."

"You have nothing I want," Sora growled, struggling against the darkness holding him.

"Ah, but we do," the stranger purred, his voice changing, his outline melting. "It's something you've been wanting since you were eleven, and didn't understand what you were feeling."

Riku could feel Sora's growing panic and wondered why his best friend was so terrified, until the stranger moved into the light. Then it all made sickening sense.

"We can give you your heart." Riku watched in horror as his own voice purred those words, his own face was made plain, and his own lips claimed Sora's. The last thing Riku could hear was Sora's mental wail.

No! RIKU!

***

Riku's eyes snapped open and he clawwed at the lid of his stasis chamber, eyes wide and sightless, his mind still clutching at the nightmare. He could feel the thick, oily slickness that was Heartless substance pouring down his/Sora's throat, and swallowed several times, trying to forget his own turning. The lid of the stasis chamber lifted up, and Riku sat up, rolling out of it, curling up into a ball, his stomach heaving. "Riku?" Kairi asked.

"They have Sora," Riku whispered, staring down sightlessly, his senses not regestering the mess his stomach made on the floor. "They're trying to turn Sora into one of them."

"Who? Who has Sora, Riku?" Kairi demanded. She glanced anxiously over at Goofy and Donald when Riku didn't immediately answer.

"It's the Heartless.... they have Sora. They have a new Core."

"A new Core?" Kairi looked at Goofy and Donald for an explination of why this was so important, but they were looking at each other.

"Hyuck, King Mickey needs to know," Goofy said.

"How can we be sure that Riku's information is right?" replied Donald.

"Can we really afford to take the chance that it's not?" Riku retorted, coming back to reality. "I don't know why all of a sudden I'm dreaming in Stasis sleep, but if what I saw really DID happen, the king needs to be warned."

"Why would Riku be dreaming NOW, all of a sudden?" Kairi asked. "The only thing that different about this trip is that I'm here, instead of Sora."

"And the keyblade- oomph!" Goofy grunted as Donald rammed his elbow into Goofy's guts. "What was that for?"

"It's okay, Donald. I've already figured out what the keychain is about," Riku said, getting to his feet. To Kairi, he replied, "It's the keyblade's chain. It's forged a connection between me and Sora, first through our mutual feelings for each other, and now that we've both been tainted by the Heartless. I think, for now, it's only sending while one of us is asleep."

"Sora thought that would happen, if you felt the same way as him," Donald informed Riku. "But he was never sure of your feelings," he added suspiciously.

"Because I wasn't sure," Riku answered Donald's question. "Not until after Sora's letters stopped. I thought I was going nuts, being so worried over a Keyblade Master. Then one day, Kairi beaned me with the fact that I'm in love with Sora." Riku rubbed the back of his head, and added, "Literally beaned me with a coconut."

Kairi blushed. "You were being a blockhead." Riku smirked.

"Of course I was. I am a blockhead. You have to be a blockehead to love that stubborn ass."

Donald blinked. "That describes the Sora we know," he commented to Goofy. "Stubborn, and an ass when it comes to anything personal."

Riku shook his head. "Where are we?"

"Traverse Town, the last place we saw Sora," Donald replied. "Maybe the Keyblade will pick up something that we missed."

"Good idea. I'm glad you thought of it," Riku commented. "Let's go. Are Leon and Yuffie still here?"

Donald nodded. "We were scheduled to extract their world from the Heartless, before the King called us away from the job."

"I hope they're not too angry over that," Riku murmured.

***

Cool eyes watched as the false Riku circled around him, and Sora felt his lip curl in disdain. This faker thought that he could mimic Riku just because the young man had formerly had been heartless, and while physically the Heartless being was a perfect mimic, there was something that was missing from the mimic's act, something that showed in the mimic's walk. Spine, his mind supplied. This coward has never actually fought, depending on his tricks to make his enemies fight each other. Sora snorted, then shoved the mimic away when the mimic trailed it's fingers along his black armor. "Keep your hands off of me," he snarled. "No one touches me but my Riku."

"I am Riku," the mimic purred.

Sora's hand wrapped around the mimic's throat, and purrs, "No, you're not. You're too spineless to be my Riku." His fingers squeezed, his cold eyes locked with the mimic's, watching as the anger in the mimic's eyes turned to shock, and then panic. Sora ignore the feeble battering the mimic gave his body, watching coldly as the mimic disappeared into a burst of red and black light.

"That was a waste," a deep voice said from behind the Keyblade Master. "We could have used his skills on Riku."

"NO one touches Riku but me," Sora growled, turning to the voice behind him, brandish the blade the Heartless had given him. "I'll destroy anyone who does."

"As you wish, Keyblade Master. He is, after all, your mate."

"Just so long as no one forgets that, Master Heartless. He is the only reason I serve you. And I'm all you'll need to bring Riku back into the fold."

***

When they first stepped off the Gummi ship, at first Riku thought that Kairi had knocked him over the head with another coconut. He seemed to be seeing spots all over the place. But then the spots resolved into Dalmation puppies, and he remembered meeting the huge canine family. Pongo and Perdita were especially fond of the Keyblade Master, and had been among the first to befriend the fourteen-year-old former Heartless. It was from them that he learned to accept his Hearless powers, just as they had accepted all of the stolen puppies, and not just their own.

He knelt down to greet the parents. "Hello, Pongo, Perdita. It's been a long time." Perdita licked his cheek as Pongo nuzzled into Riku's hand, demanding a petting. Riku chuckled and complied. "How have the puppies been.

/*Fine,*/ Perdita replied. It was while staying with the Dalmations that Riku learned that his Heartless powers allowed him to understand any language or creature trying to talk to him. /*They've been missing their favorite playmate, but they're nearly ready to find their own lifemates. Have you found yours?*/ Riku blushed at her rather blunt question.

"Uhm, that's why we're here," he replied. His tone got the Dalmations' attentions. "Sora's my mate," he pulled out the Keyblade, showing it to the Dalmations. "And he's missing. We're here to try and find out who took him."

/*We'll help!*/ Pongo stated.

"I can't take you away from your family, Pongo, as much as I appreciate the offer," Riku said.

/*Riku's right, dear,*/ Perdita told her husband, then turned to Riku, /*But we'll help you with the Traverse Town part of your search. It's the least we can do for our friend, and the Keyblade Master who rescued our pups.*/

"Thank you, Perdita, Pongo," Riku said, then stood up, looking over at his shipmates. "They've offered to help us while we're in Traverse Town. Knowing them, they have a better chain of gossip than we have, and they might be able to find someone who saw something."

"You can understand them?" Kairi asked.

"I told you I could."

"Yeah, I know, Riku, but I never quite believed you until now."

"Come on. The Dalmations are hungry, and I could use something to eat."

"Shouldn't we start the search?" Donald asked.

"With the Dalamations working with us, we don't have to start right away. They'll probably be gathering gossip while we're eating anyways." With that, Riku headed over to the table. As he settled at a table, he sent his eyes glancing around. He could feel someone watching him, but there was no specific location to the gaze. A waitress came over to hand out menus, and Riku glanced at his menu. He noticed that it was the type kept in a clear plastic sheath, and as he settled back, a distorted reflection in the plastic made him whirl around.

"What is it?" Kairi asked, as Riku searched where he thought he saw something.

"It's.... just my imagination," Riku said, slowly settling down. "I'm just getting jumpy." Kairi nodded and went back to deciding what to eat.

Riku never mentioned the reflection that could have been Sora, or his Heartless senses were picking up on the Heartless watching them. Watching him.

To Be Continued......