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Author's Note

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Yeah. I totally just deleted fifteen chapters of Riku-Bishie-Ness and appear to have eighty five reviews for one chapter. Not the case. Those are eighty something reviews for this story (Flaming Shadows) as a total, as it were posted approximately five years ago before the release of KH:COM in the United States (oh, but we had a screen shot of Axel then, did we not? So yes, all was well.) People are probably wondering what I'm doing with this. Well, at the prodding of CrimsonEyedAngel99 I have been propelled to rip this story down and start anew. Let's face it: anything you write five years ago isn't going to pull its own weight in steaming turd in your current eyes. So I'm going back and revamping this thing once and for all. The plot will remain the same, but it will be elaborated upon greatly, as will the chapters. I plan on combining most of them so I can add totally new content to the others. Mhmm. I can't promise this will be a speedy endeavor, but this is the only hope I have at ever finishing this thing, since currently I can't even look at my previous work without wanting to inadvertently gag on a part of myself. I'm sure you all feel the same. So enough with the exposition you all probably skipped anyway. Onto the story.

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A Note For New Comers:

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This should be read as an alternate KHII/KH:COM. I devised this story, like I said, before the GBA mini sequel came out, knowing nothing of the future plot held in the confines of the continuous games. So of course the continuities are going to be screwed. But, hey, who doesn't like reading an AU that isn't set against a high school backdrop of angst and sex for a change? My point exactly.

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Chapter One

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Because, ya know, getting stuck with a prepubescent rat was always on my list of top ten things to do before I die.

Especially one as gender confused and sadomasochistic as this one. I swear to all that is holy, even Sora's voice didn't crack this much when he went through the inevitable stages of puberty. And his vocal altercations were drastic enough to constitute as their own marching brass band.

But the tone that was resonating through out the dank caverns I currently found myself situated in was nothing short of feminine, let alone authoritative and monarchistic. Nothing with a scrotum should be able to hit notes as high as he was. I momentarily wondered if he sat when he took a leak.

"Well, it looks like we've got our work cut out for us, now doesn't it?"

I believe I offered up something deftly intelligent like: "Huh?"

Yes. Angst at its best. That would be me.

I had just gotten done basically committing suicide—never mind how many flashy lights and pyrotechnics ensued, when stripped of all the hoopla and shazam I was still just doing away with myself, albeit it was to save all of mankind as we know it—and conversing with prozac induced, vertically challenged rodents was not on the front runner of my mind.

It was like I had just put a gun in my mouth and blasted my brains out, only to wake up on a stretcher in the ER saying to myself, 'Well, damn, that didn't work.'

As far as I was concerned, I was supposed to be dead.

That's what I signed up for.

Not this ring-a-de-doo let's go save the word and be self sacrificial heroes bit.

And now, all of the sudden, I was tossed into the throes of epic battle number one hundred seventy five, fighting for my life against the onslaught of Heartless that were ruthlessly making their way towards us in the encroaching darkness.

I could barely make out their forms, but I was able to see their distinguished, trade mark neon eyes glistening in the far off caves surrounding us. A silhouette of a rodent with ears five times too large for his head and a nose that looked like a giant peninsula stood before me, wielding a golden, luminescent keyblade while donning the most revolting expression of encouragement I had ever witnessed.

I had just killed myself, okay? I was not in the mood for happy.

"Those are bad guys," the figure indicated with a jab. "They are trying to kill us."

"...I'm aware of that," I dead panned.

It was like I was the dinky motor boat whose engine had just failed and the rodent was trying helplessly to start me up again.

It would take a professionally trained therapist and about three shots of vodka before any of that happened. My companion wasn't qualified for either.

The rodent—rat?—seeing that I was capable of conversing, and therefore by all logic should also be capable of movement and sparring, sprang into the air, one arm outstretched towards the heavens, wildly exclaiming, "Then let's go kick some Heartless butt!"

"Yes, let's."

Oh. Gods. Leave it to me to screw up dying.

So as I stood there, in a hypnotic like stupor, I slowly began to realize the gravity of what I had just done. Adrenaline can make you do the damnest things. Since when did I ever get off on stealing the show and saving the day? Not to say, if given the opportunity, I wouldn't do the exact same thing again—though knowing I would survive the entire ordeal would shed a whole new light on things I'm not too sure I'd want shedding. And now here I was, stuck in only gods know what along side of only gods know who, and I may very well never see the light of day again; let alone Kairi. And isn't she the reason you got caught up in this mess to begin with? Sell your soul for the girl and then sell the girl to the boy. Someone explain the logic in that, please. Someone explain my screwed up, eternally demented logic. Because I'm not seeing it.

And—gods—I'm still alive.

So. Here is what happens when someone realizes that they may very well have just resigned to a fate worst than death; hell on earth and eternity with a hormonally deficient rodent of super deformed proportions. First, you take hold of the closest blunt object you can find. Second, you start to swing at anything and everything that has a face and therefore reminds you of Sora. Third, you let out a very masculine battle cry from the depths of your soul, loud enough to be compared to a sonic boom and tormented enough to rival an Edgar Allan Poe death scene. Follow up with mindlessly hacking at all who oppose you, even in large numbers, and continue to do so until you can no longer get air in your lungs to sustain life as you currently know it (which, given the current situation, may consequently lead to death and therefore reprieve. But let's not forget who screwed up dying the first time. For all I know, had I intentionally suffocated myself, I may have very well ended up in the Underworld with Hades looming over me going, 'Well kiddo, guess what? You fucked it up again.')

My counterpart had gone silent as I massacred everything within a three mile proximity. It was like he was going into a state of traumatic shock, as if my violence was too much for him to bare. Something beyond comprehension. You know what's beyond comprehension? Surviving your own suicide. That is what's beyond comprehension.

"How...how could you do that?" came the inquisition from the darkness.

I stood panting heavily and retching something terrible.

"Easy," I spat out. "I've got balls. Try using yours sometime."

The rat seemed taken aback by my crude vernacular, but really, pleasantries were the last thing on my mind. You try kissing goodbye to life as you know it and then being cordial. With mammals, no less.

After I had finished up my blood bath, which really isn't accurate seeing as though Heartless don't exactly bleed, they just pool out torrents of inky blackness in the stead of bodily fluids, which makes me wonder what the hell comes out when they go to the bathroom, and then evaporate into the surrounding air. But, for all purposes notwithstanding, and simply because I want to sound like a man, let's use the term blood bath and pretend we're none the wiser. So. After I finished up with the blood bath my attention was brought to one lone Heartless that was left cowarding in the far corner, knees bent up to its indefinable face as it sat curled in the fetal position whimpering like a recently kicked puppy.

The Squeaky One went over with his keyblade dangling lifelessly at his side.

"Don't worry little guy, this will be over in a minute."

"Wait," I proffered, swaggering over to where the midget was residing. "Don't kill that one just yet."

My newfound companion looked at me.

"We need light," I reminded him flatly, utilizing my callused index to point at the Heartless in question. "And those give off light." I was, of course, referring to his eyes, but I didn't feel the need to specify such. In retrospect, it wouldn't have done much good anyhow.

There was a moment of respective silence as the rodent stood there and absorbed this apparently very deep and thoughtful declaration.

"Oh. Okay!" he threw out in cheery amusement. He turned his colossal head back to the last remaining creature. "Would you like to join our party?"

I think I literally heard my brain break. No, really. It was audible.

"He's the enemy," I reminded tartly.

More pausing.

"So, then what do you propose we do?"

I expelled a tired, mangled sigh.

"Gimme the kitchen utensil," I ordered, waving my hand impatiently.

"Huh?"

"The key," I quipped. "The god damn key."

The prepubescent animal wrinkled his face up in response. "You can't wield the Keyblade!"

"Like hell I can't."

I then lunched for the metallic hilt of his sword with all the zest and vigor of a bully stealing the lunch money from the local school house nerd. It then inexplicably dissipated into the dankness surrounding us, vanishing within the blink of an eye.

"I just can not win today!" I snarled, animalistic and unbecoming, I'm sure.

"Told you so," the deformed monarch muttered, sticking his pale tongue out for emphasis.

He so did not do that.

No, he did. He really did. And what are we, four?

"So you didn't use anything else to kill the Heartless?" I queried, lusting for a weapon of some kind. Brute strength can only get you so far. Unless you're Wakka. Because he just face plows everything with his head.

(Ugh. Wakka. I never got to say good bye to that little red haired booger, now did I? Which is annoying, because that loser owed me money.)

"Kill?!" came a scream of horror. "I didn't kill anybody!"

I arched an eyebrow in skeptical response.

"Well then enlighten me, your Highness."

"I simply knocked them out!"

Oh hell. I'm stuck with a bleeding heart liberal. Stupid pacifistic furball.

"And how did you go about 'knocking them out'?"

The last part of that sentence was performed with the utmost mockery but the pipsqueak was either too dense or too oblivious to realize it.

"I hit them."

I remained silent.

"Hard."

"So you beat them up?" I prompted, teeth clenched in my patent snarl that, if nothing else, showed off my incisors quite nicely. At least those braces my mom had to pick up a second job for weren't a total waste. Even if I did try to continuously rip them off with a spoon on more than one occasion. Hell. No wonder she drank.

It was at this moment the aforementioned Heartless finally decided that perhaps it could sneak away. It was, of course, terribly wrong, for I didn't even so much as flinch as I deftly swung out my left arm and snagged the little demon minion by its black, lanky neck. I heard strange gurgling noises originating from its mouth—I mean, oral orifice—upon contact but thought nothing of it.

"I knocked them out," my temporary partner insisted.

"It's the same thing."

"No, it's not. Beat them up sounds much more violent."

And yes, we actually argued over this.

It was a sign of things to come. I don't think we could settle upon where to squat down and take a crap back in the day. Everything was the cause of a heated debate. Even defecating.

"Alright. We either end this dispute my way or we stand here and argue over it until kingdom come and your knocked out little friends will come back a lot more pissed off then before."

There was no response, so I took that as a silent agreement. Words are overrated anyway.

I then decided to follow up on my original idea of dislocation and promptly grabbed the nondescript Heartless by the back of the head and gave its skull a good whack against my outstretched hand. I smirked, privately enjoying my sadistic mirth, and watched victoriously as two yellow, glowing eyeballs rolled out of their corresponding sockets and into my anxiously awaiting palm.

And cue a strange hellish hybrid of a squeak and a squeal originating from the lips of my now emotionally damaged crony as he witnessed my display of problem solving tactics. The color drained from his face as he stood there slack jawed, eyed rimmed with saline. I breezed past him with the suggestion of mercy killing but he didn't partake.

The rat seemed to go into a state of traumatic shock upon seeing the feat first hand and was unable to move or communicate for the next six hours. I was torn whether to abandon him and let him fend for himself in the long days to come or grab him by the collar and pull him along for the ride. My conscious got the best of me and I blindly groped for his massively over grown hand and led him, silently, further into the cavern labyrinth from hell.

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I don't do conversations with resident mutes.

Which was all my companion was right now.

So instead of talking, I resorted to my second favorite past time, besides killings things, that is. Fuming. And lemme tell you, there's always plenty to fume about when you very nearly just destroyed the world, lost your potential girlfriend to your so called best friend, attempted (and failed) at committing suicide, and now have to decide what the hell you're gonna do with the rest of your life if you're forced to spend it with this annoying pest problem.

And me, without my Rancid.

Regardless, I commenced with trying to rerun the last day's events through my chaos ridden mind. There wasn't much to tell, really. Kairi got into trouble. Deadly trouble. I basically sell my soul and any other vital organs to that she-beast Maleficent in hopes of saving the one person who matters most. Somehow I lose track of the boundaries and cross over to the dark side, all the while bated with the promise of Kairi's salvation, mind you. Anyone with half a brain cell would do the same (which is ironic, because Sora does have half a brain cell and he didn't do the same.) Then Sora McGoodieTwoShoes decides to swoop in with an overgrown house key and two anthropomorphic animal buddies preaching sugar and saccharine and Sunday School for all who care to hear. May I point out that he was the one who, while he apparently has a heart of frickin fourteen karate gold, wasn't willing to give his soul to save the damsel in distress? What, was she not worth it or something? Regardless, he does some fancy dance thing with the keyblade (which is just the cyanide in the icing that is on the cake because that stupid thing was supposed to be mine) and somehow the day ends with me locking myself in some dungeon hell to save the world and Sora leaving with the fair maiden. Oh, and delusional Ansem was defeated somewhere in there, too. Pity I didn't partake in that. A villain who thrives off adolescent boys who are on the verge of a romance with a childhood sweetheart and uses that innocence to their advantage and consequently makes the whole galaxy presume said adolescent boy is the bad guy in the picture is about two balls short of a scrotum. Of course I was going to do whatever they told me. They dangled Kairi's lifeless, limp corpse in my face every time I faltered. And what did Sora get to look at, I wonder? A dog and a duck. What the hell.

So maybe, maybe there was a very small portion of me that initially wandered into the darkness because I was slightly, slightly bored on my idyllic backdrop of an island with only the yammering chat of the resident idiots to keep me occupied—save Kairi, of course, but she actually tried to excel at school, something I had given up on long ago, say back when I was in kindergarten (I could never build a damn sand castle) so our scheduled free times were always varied and altered and I was usually left at the mercy of Tidus or Selphie or some other social retard with more teeth than brain cells—but other than that, I did do it mostly for her.

I'm hormones with legs. So sue me.

Regardless, I downplay the whole episode now, but I'm sure all these feelings will come back to bite me in the ass later. Say, when I put my head down to sleep for the night. And isn't that when everything seems ten times worse?

There's a reason I perpetually suffer from insomnia.

"Alright. We're done." I announced, dropping the lifeless skin bag of organs and bones at my feet. Insomnia or not, I still got tired of marching around all day in deep, dark, dank, melodramatic caverns where eerie shadows are cast on the walls and strange things go bump in the night.

The previous plummet seemed to smack my baggage into this plane of reality, for he actually sat there and blinked a couple of times, registering my presence.

"Nice to see you're still alive," I drawled out, the words falling upon him like acid rain.

I then let myself drop into a heap opposite of my companion, allowing the recently obtained eyeballs to roll around aimlessly in my palm, which was bloodied and bruised and callused from all the fighting I had just done, both inside and outside the cavern.

"They were right, you are like ice."

I looked up from the balls in my hand (ha ha ha I'm the funniest thing this side of the afterlife) and arched an eyebrow in response. "Excuse me?"

"They said you would be like this."

The rodent was still sort of dazed, but progressively regaining more and more of his senses, which was a shame, because I could almost tolerate him when he was silent.

"And who's they?" I questioned. "Your royal board of mammals?"

"My friends," he spat. "I assume you know the meaning of the word."

I smirked, which was the closest I had come to a smile since...well...since I don't really remember when.

"Cute," I dripped sardonically. "The rat has an attitude."

My partner's eyes momentarily increased in size, making them even more out of proportion with his already out of proportion head.

"I am not a rat!"

I winced at the sudden decibel increase. I had to fight the urge to plug my fingers in my ears. Since when does anything with testicles talk this high?

"Alright, so you're not a rat," I muttered, scrunching up my ski slope nose and furrowing my brow. "So then what, exactly, are you?"

My newfound acquaintance eventually managed to pull himself up against the opposite wall, grimacing in the light of the ownerless eyeballs. I jiggled them around just for emphasis. I have no soul.

"I'm a mouse."

A mouse. Great. I'm stuck here with a frickin mouse.

"So I'm thinking you would have been better off as road kill, what about you?"

I feigned the question as my bitterness began to fester, just like I had predicted it would earlier that evening. It had finally dawned on me, with startling clarity, that I would probably die of starvation and that would just flat out suck.

The mouse chose to ignore my previous vitriolic comment, which now that I think about it, speaks volumes about his character and how his really was far superior to my own at the time. Of course, I would sooner let my balls get gangrene and chop them off than admit anything of the like at that current moment, so I wrote off his obliviousness as unintentional, which it was anything but, and continued to sit on the opposite side of the granite hallway and seethe.

"My name's Mickey," he offered.

I made eye contact momentarily and then quickly averted my line of vision to my shoelaces. They were really fun to fiddle with. Funny how I didn't realize that until right about now.

"Riku," I coughed out, only slightly embarrassed, which is an emotion I don't usually execute with grace. "I'm the one who nearly destroyed the universe." Good. We got that out of the way. I then plastered on a fake grin. "So what's your history, Mickey?"

"I'm a king."

"Yeah," I buffed. "I thought I caught that right before I slammed the door shut."

Mickey seemed to look at me skeptically for a moment.

"Ya know, most heroes are humble and grateful. You don't seem to strike me as the martyr type."

"Pifft. Are you high?" I expelled with subtle amusement. "I'm no hero."

"Yes, well, that much is obvious."

Oh, ouch. Pain.

It's funny watching something that would look more at home on an arcade prize rack than a blood strewn battlefield snip out conceits on par with your own. It may have been the voice or it may have been the face or it may have been his persona, but I didn't pin my new companion as someone actually capable of putting up a fight. I mean, the little snot face does have the keyblade, I suppose. So he must be doing something right. Only gods know what, because Jehovah already determined I wasn't deemed worthy, even before I went about on my merry wake of nonselective destruction. It made me wonder what nit wits like Sora and this rat did in their spare time that made them so...pious.

It's not like the kid was off building animal shelters and feeding the homeless. He was standing right next to me doing shots of whiskey that time we broke into my mom's liquor cabinet when she was off at work. Of course, I only convinced him to do such after swaying him to believe it was really Magic Juice that made you Happy, and that was only because I was dying to see what Sora acted like intoxicated. He makes for a real sloppy drunk, lemme tell ya. But that's besides the point, and probably not the best memory to try and prove my worth for the keyblade.

"Yeah, well, I always pictured kings as the determined and firm type. You pretty much come off as a wuss."

Yes. That is the height of my repertoire after failing at suicide. Stop laughing. It's better than you could do.

So we sat there in respective silence for the next couple minutes, me hashing and rehashing my former relationship with Kairi and the rat fiddling absent mindedly with his god damn tail. It didn't look right. Things that hold the ability to communicate should not have tails. They just shouldn't.

"We're going to get out of here," Mickey stated all at once, oh so very, very sure of himself. It was enough to make me involuntarily gag. I envied his confidence with every fiber in my albino body.

"You keep right on thinking that," I replied, figuring I might as well go along for the ride. But while we were at it, playing this colossal game of make believe, I should have tried for an alternate ending, say, a happily ever after and someone willing to mother my children.

"You should be happy you're not dead!" Mickey interjected forcefully, his giant ears wobbling from side to side as he did so. It was very reminiscent of the bobble heads Tidus kept on the dashboard of his father's truck.

"Oh but I will be."

Insert sardonic laughter here.

Mickey shot me a disapproving stare (tsk tsk) and abruptly declared, for all who cared to hear, and even for those who didn't, "Well, I'm going to bed!" He then turned his tiny midget body around and faced the wall in a flourish of black appendages and overgrown shoes.

"You do that."

So it was then and there that I decided I officially had become numb. A person can only take so much trauma—real trauma, we're not talking about blinding the demon minions trying to suck out our souls—before they just give up and call it a day. Which was what I was currently doing.

Forget that you will never see Kairi again. Forget that you will never be given that god awful yet somewhat miraculous opportunity to utter the words 'I'm sorry.' Forget that your saw her visage for the last time less than twenty four hours ago. Forget that you will never get to tell her what she meant to you; what she symbolized; hope, redemption, and a future mother figure who wasn't involved in an intense romantic relationship with the bottle. Forget that you will never get to go down on one knee. Forget that you will never have children.

Forget it because it doesn't matter and you are now officially numb.

As if Mickey here wasn't a constant reminder of all that was screwed up in the universe. Talk about verification. The scum of the galaxy was going to starve to death with the most beloved and highly sought after king of the century. How's that for poetic justice?

"Ya know what?" Michael, or Mickey, called out over his shoulder.

I grunted something incoherent in response.

"I'm glad you never got the kayblade."

I picked savagely at my shoelaces.

And I thought I had gone numb.

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Author's Note

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Hope you enjoyed it, Lisa. :)