*Arcadia races around the set, director's hat perched on her head and megaphone held to her mouth.  The characters, flustered and haggard looking for a long night of shooting, leap to make their cues.  Arcadia consults with Kiran-san, the assistant director, and they both nod.  Set Manager 'Gumi-Bear calls for silence on the set and the lights dim.*

Arcadia: *looking over her shoulder at you* Oh, so you finally made it. *grins* Take a seat and grab a doughnut, we're ready to begin shooting.

Riku: *Off set, being stuffed into his "Posession Suit"* Hey, why can't the cast have any doughnuts!

Arcadia: Because you gotta live up to the Asian stereotype of a thin, muscular bishonen.  Krispy Kreme isn't exactly conducive to a good six-pack.

Riku: And Sora doesn't…how?

Arcadia: *glares at the caterer's table, where Sora is fleeing with a doughnut in his mouth and one in each hand* ..Sora!

Sora: Iff ahs enry! (I was hungry!)

Arcadia: So I guess you get to miss Kairi hop out of her bed with that short nightgown on…?

Sora: *brake!*…Short, huh? *throws away the doughnuts and grabs a stick of celery off the table, sitting on a stool beside the Director's chair.*  Happy, now?

Arcadia: Very. All right, quiet on the set! Lights, camera at fourth [1] and…ACTION!

*Credit Roll*

Kingdom Hearts is copyright of Sqauresoft (now Square-Enix) Inc and Disney Interactive Intl. These properties are used under the Fair Use Act. No profit or credit is taken. Characters designed by Tetsuya Nomura.    

            The salt air of the sea whipped my lavender curtains wildly, the fabric cracking like a whip.  Grunting in displeasure, I shifted deeper under my matching blanket, muttering a small curse at my father for having the brilliant idea of taking my windows out earlier this morning to clean them.  He always had the worst timing.

            Thunder roared overhead, white lightening cleaving the encroaching black clouds like a scythe. I sat up, fully intending to move downstairs and sleep on the couch rather than get soaked by the rain that was sure to start pouring any second now.  I looked out in the distance, Destiny Island and our little raft shrouded in shadow and storm cloud.

            The raft!

            I bolted from my bed, ignoring the gale that whipped my hair around my head and the goose bumps that peppered my arms and legs.  I touched my door handle and stopped.  Sora and Riku were more than likely heading out to the island right now to secure the raft; it'd be stupid of me to show up in my white nightdress and bare feet.  I found my clothes from that day littering the floor and tossed them on, slipping my shoes on as I hopped down the hall, forgetting my raincoat in a rush to get to my little canoe.  The winds would get worse; I had to beat the incoming storm so I could get to the island before the waves became too high to navigate.

            My boat was moored against a little pier that jutted out into the ocean at the end of the street.  I sprinted as hard as I could, not bothering to waste time worrying about being seen, I had to keep the raft from being washed away! I grabbed an oar from the standing rack under the little lean-to at the head of the pier as I ran past. I impressed with myself as I managed to jump down into my craft and untie the knot that kept the little boat from floating away at the same time. Kicking, I cast off and put my back into rowing to the ramshackle pier across the straight.

            Gah!  The waves were worse than I thought. The sea churned and frothed white around me, the water reaching up to jab the sky before falling back with an all mighty splash.  I fully expected to be capsized in this choppy water, but instead of turning me over, the waves were carrying me towards the island!  I rowed like a maniac, trying to get from under another five-footer.  The wave collapsed into the water, carrying my boat closer to the island. Sea spray leaped up, drenching my hair and clothes, pooling in the bottom of the boat. I cursed my stupidity for forgetting a coat!  

            The inlet of the island provided harbor, the shoals cutting the power of the waves. I tossed the rope over a leg of the dock and pulled myself up.  I spared a glance towards home, to my surprise I could barely make out the shape of the island itself, the houses and trees too thickly blanketed by the roiling clouds to be seen.  Riku and Sora's boats weren't here yet, to my shock.

            Both of them will probably sleep through the storm! I thought bemusedly.  Sora could wake up one morning, find a tree through his room and wonder what happened, he slept like the dead.  Riku, he wasn't as deep a sleeper as Sora, but he could snore loud enough to drown out a firecracker going off next to him.

            "Watch me have to save the raft on my own." I moaned. I couldn't move that thing by myself! It had taken all three of us grunting and pushing just to get it down to the shore this morning, and that was downhill! I looked around; at the very least, I could save the sail and our supplies, possibly the ropes that bound the sail to the mast.  That thick rope had been hard to come by.  I jumped off the dock and ran down the beach; passing under the bridge that connected the island proper to the tiny little spec of land that held the poupu tree. Something sparkled on the edge of my vision and I stopped.

            Instead of the yawning dark hole that lead to the Secret Place, a tall, narrow white door hid behind the overgrown brush that normally guarded the entrance.  I failed to notice the wind dying down, leaving the island in total silence. The sea became still and the tide barely made a noise under the still occluded sky.  I knew I had to go save the raft, I knew that I was wasting time by standing there and staring at something that couldn't possibly be there.  Yet, I couldn't ignore the little niggling feeling in the back of my mind, the twitch of recognition.  The door was familiar, a part of a far-off memory…maybe a dream? It was difficult, my mind refused to cooperate as my feet carried me towards the ivory doors.

            The ivory surface was cool under my touch. A soft light hummed under my hands, reaching up to wrap around my wrists and up my arms in gentle, blue-tinged flows.  I breathed it in, feeling the deep arcane magic fill my lungs and dominate my vision.  Shapes flashed through my mind, elusive colors blurring and voices wavering, visions that were not mine.  A melody flowed in and out of the images, a soft voice singing a song that I couldn't understand.  The voice was lonely and sad but resolute: it would not stop singing; it wouldn't stop defying the darkness that threatened to smother it.  

            It hit me that moment,  I realized what I was seeing and feeling from the white doors that had opened for me, allowing me to wander into the cave. It was memories, but not the deep-hidden ones that haunted my dreams on some nights, the past that I ran from in my mind; these were too old, too ancient feeling to be mine.  I ventured further into the cave, not recognizing the wooden door inside the cave, nor the fact that the voice was coming from that door.  

            So the door had memories. Did that mean the voice I heard, that beautiful song was from the door?  The wooden door in the back of the Secret Place was no different than any other time, yet something deep inside me, a basic instinct, a natural urge too powerful to put a name to, pulled me towards it.  Beyond this simple door was all the answers I ever wanted. My past, my purpose, why images of a woman with blood-red hair and pale green eyes smiling at me with love and sadness in her eyes made me wake up in the middle of the night crying for my mother, my true mother.


            My limbs felt heavy as I turned, my mind working through a mire of sinking sand.  Someone was standing there, chocolate brown hair spiked like a prickle bush, eyes the color of the sea at noon laced with concern, a magnificent weapon in his hand, made of simple silver blade and gold hand guard.  Tongs near the tip of the blade resembled the outline of a crown, making the weapon resemble a key.

            The Keyblade the door whispered triumphantly.  It had been worried, scared even.  The true Keyblade Master had fallen to the shadows willingly and for a precocious moment, the fate of all worlds had balanced on the edge of a knife. Yet, the line of succession had held, and the newly crowned Keyblade Master stood on the edge of a terrible destiny. 

            "Sora…?" I asked,  my voice coming out more like a croak. Why was I feeling so light-headed?  A tremor passed through me, the song broken as the voice of the door screamed out from strain.  It couldn't hold back anymore!  It strained and held for only a moment more, then burst wide.  It flung open with a bang, a wind more terrible than the gale conjured by the storm swept through the cave, tendrils of shadow floating along it.  The temperature dropped in milliseconds and I felt it reach not for the glowing star that I could suddenly see pulsing in Sora's chest, but for me.

            I tried to scream, the very heart of winter reaching into my body and clutch at my chest, searching.  The wind picked me up as I struggled against the icy claws that clamored for something inside me.  I looked up, Sora's arms opening to catch me, that throbbing, brilliant white light exuding warmth.  I wanted to be near that warmth, away from the fierce cold and darkness that still tried to wretch something from me.  I was terrified, reaching out to embrace that glowing star that loomed larger in my vision, growing fast until the Secret Place drowned away in that purity.  It was warm, I smiled, as I raced towards that light, falling into it a smile ghosting my lips.

            How can I describe the time I spent in Sora's heart?  It's safe to say that I really had no sense of time; instead, I measured the passage of hours and days in a surprisingly different way.

            Within his heart, I laid close to the very core of the light that I had seen.  Granted, the physical realm of the senses didn't exist in this place, yet I could justifiably call it 'light'.  It wasn't "light" in the way we conceive, it was more like a resonance of light that I could feel pour from his heart.  I cradled it, holding it close as it nourished me.  Outside my own body, my heart was slowly faltering, starving if you would.  The constant flow of light and emotion from his heart kept my heart alive and healthy, forming a lifeline between us.  I cradled it and it cradled me, as if Sora's heart realized I was there even if he himself didn't, and wanted to draw my heart in further.

            It was tempting, to loose myself in that brilliance. I wanted to drown in that bliss forever and let my heart meld into his forever. Never to be alone and apart, lost in the cold of the world, it sounded so wonderful to me. Yet, I knew somewhere that doing so would be far too dangerous. If I did, Sora would be hurt somehow, I just knew it. So I settled for merely laying close to his light, bathing in it.  Being so close to the epicenter of his being, there were times I was able to dabble my fingers into his mind, relaying messages or words of comfort to him.  Most of this happened when he slept, (I could tell he was asleep by the way his heart pulsed in a deep, slow rhythm.) but there were a few moments when I could touch his mind while he was awake. It always left his heart throbbing like a startled bird in a cage. In fact, it hurt me when his heart began fluttering after my manipulations, so I stopped.  

            So, how did I measure time? It's sort of simple and stupid at once, but it was all I had to go by.  Floating beside his heart, I became aware of strings branching out from us.  These golden strings reached out into the abyss around us, connecting to tiny spots of gold light twinkling an unfathomable distance away.  Every so often, another string would appear, attaching to another flickering star in the depths; sometimes a string grew thicker or stronger or branched to another. It gave me somewhat of a smug satisfaction to know that even as the strings multiplied, the one that connected the both of us was the brightest and thickest of all.

            There was one exception though. One string was just as thick in the beginning, a bright and shimmering cable connected to a star that hovered close. As more and more of the strings appeared that one star faltered, flickering like a candle flame in a breeze.  It seemed to react to a pair of inner-branched stars. Both stars' threads pulsed brightly in the darkness, which meant they were deeply connected to Sora.  It concerned me, that string that was fading away from his heart felt familiar somehow.

            It was when that star went out all together, that things changed.

            The same cold from the door rolled over me, tugging at me with savage claws, trying to pull me away from Sora.  No! I don't want to leave! Please, please, let me stay here, I don't want to go outside again. It's cold and cruel; people are so separated from each other. Why can't I stay here next to Sora forever?  I thrashed in pain and fear, terrified of the chilling shadow that was plucking me from Sora.  Then it stopped just as suddenly as it came.  I snapped back towards Sora, colliding into his heart. 

            I gasped, I could actually see! It was blurred and swaying, but I could see through Sora's eyes! The sensory emersion was dizzying, but I was able to see two boots, black and ribbed with blue, right in front of us.

            I shall release you now, Princess. Complete the Keyhole with your power. Open the door, lead me into everlasting darkness!

            Riku?  A shadow moved across the floor, I could feel a weapon being draw back to make a strike. Sora wasn't moving! With all my will, I screamed out into the abyss surrounding our hearts and into the cold, stone room where we laid.


            It felt like a dam bursting. A super nova of power from the Keyblade, his heart, and mine cut through the shadows as the feeling of unwavering determination welled up from him. The Keyblade swung up, blocking the downswing of another Keyblade, this one dark and twisted, malice clinging to it so strongly that it made my heart tremble. Sora's eyes came up to the attacker, my heart sinking at the sight of those impossible blue-green eyes blazing with hatred.  It was Riku, dressed from the neck down in a bodysuit with a huge crest stamped on the front and the dark Keyblade bearing down on Sora's upheld weapon.

            "Forget it. There's no way you're taking Kairi's heart!" his voice like the light from his heart blazed with emotion. He shoved, pushing Riku back a step and slipping into a stance and wielding the Keyblade with a grace and ease that spoke of long experience. How long had I been wrapped in his heart?

            "Come, then." Riku responded, his voice distorted and cold.

            The clash of light and dark Keyblades made the room shudder. Sora and Riku, my best friends, were trying to kill each other. Blood all ready gushed from a vertical strike on the ribs that Sora couldn't deflect in time.  Riku bled from a cut on his cheek, which was the only unarmored part of him.  They danced back and forth, both masters of their craft: warfare. One would thrust then the other would parry and strike again. I screamed inside my mind. This was wrong!

            Stop, please, both of you, stop! Riku, Sora stop fighting! Oh God, oh God, oh God!  I cried, sobbing in a way that didn't have tears, knowing that nothing could stop them, that they had been set on this path and they would both see it through no matter what the cost to themselves, to each other…

            …or to me.

            Blackness rimmed with blue-white blazed around Riku.  He lifted from the floor, his face twisted with dark delight as he held his Keyblade horizontal to the floor.  Sora swore loudly, which made me jolt with surprise.  I had never heard Sora use words like that before!  Shock became panic as the room flipped upside down suddenly.  Riku's shape blurred past us, the air whistling as he cut the air with the dark Keyblade.  He pivoted and lunged again and the room flipped again.  I was nearly sick to my stomach (if I had had one at the time) when Sora stood up from Dodge Rolling to land a five-strike combo on Riku's back.

            "That's for stealing my Sonic Blade attack, looser!" 

            Riku recovered quickly, throwing his shoulder back and launching his weapon at us like a boomerang.  Sora swore an even fouler curse this time and did the exact same with his Keyblade.  The two keys met in mid air and ricocheted back to their wielders.

            "You stole my Strike Raid!" he complained. "What's the matter, can't come up with anything original?"

            "What makes you think those moves are your creation?" Riku smirked.  That uncanny way he spoke, two voices speaking out from one body, made me cold.  Sora decided to ignore the comment and twisted around, the weight of the Keyblade vaulting him forward in a wide swing.  Riku, too taken up with provoking Sora, never got the chance to block as Sora closed the distance in the blink of an eye, the blade catching him full on the side.  A long cut gouged the side of his armor, wrapping from his back all the way around to his abdomen.  Blood began to flood over the textured surface of his armor, flowing down to stain the off-white train that extended from his belt.

            I was both horrified and relieved when he gasped, crimson runnels trickling from the corner of his lips.  He stumbled back as he clutched his wound, dropping to his knees and fading away in a cloud of white, black, and blue.  The dark Keyblade clattered to the floor and the chamber was silent.

            I didn't even bother to withdraw from Sora's heart, I merely drew myself tight and cried for both of them.

            "…What can we do?"

            Nothing, that's what!  Riku's dead and you killed him, Sora!  What happened, oh God, what's happened to us?!

            "I think you're right. If we can free her heart…but…but how?"

            What if I don't want to be free?  I don't know what's happened, but I don't want to go out there!  Too much has changed, too much…

            "A Keyblade that unlocks people's hearts…I wonder." 

            I felt prickle of foreboding.  Sora was about to do something supremely stupid.  I grew up with him and learned to listen closely to these premonitions.  Curiously, I delved into his heart again, my senses opening up through his.  Sora was looking back at two creatures: a dog and a duck, both of them reaching out as if to snatch away the black shaft of the dark Keyblade that Sora held in one hand. 

            Sora, don't…!

            Too late.

            Coldness, a soul-deep and bitter wind, raged through the void.  I didn't even get the chance to struggle, to preserve the lifeline that bound my heart to Sora's.  The line snapped, leaving me bereft of comfort and light as shadow began to slide over his heart. The light that had preserved me, kept me safe and warm, cradled me comforted me like a baby, was swallowed in darkness.  Every particle of me: heart, mind, and soul, shrieked with agony as I lost all sense of myself.  As I engulfed in nothingness, I heard his voice echo across the chasm.

            "What's…what's happening to me? Falling…falling…into darkness."


'Gumi-Bear: …and cut! That's a wrap!

Kairi: *panting* I've never had so much…dialogue in one…fic!

Riku: *scrubbing off the ketchup (aka "blood") from his arm* Does this mean I can have the doughnuts now? I hate ketchup…

Arcadia: No, you cannot.  There's…*cough*…the "project" coming up, ne?

Riku: *scowling* Oh.

[1] – "at fourth" refers the speed that the film is rolling at.