This is a collection of side stories for my story Kingdom of the Elemental Hearts. There really isn't a good time to show a lot of Riku/Kouichi scenes during the story, so every now and then I'll stick in a little side chapter here. I don't think I'll even bother SyaoranLover with beta'ing them. They really don't have any time in the story, though they all run together eventually. Think of it like Reverse/Rebirth in contrast to Chain of Memories.

Warnings: These chapters contain extremely mild Riku/Kouichi shonen-ai hints, but nothing obvious. The limits are holding hands, getting close to each other, and meaningful glances, and that's it.

Disclaimer: I don't own Kouichi, Riku, Mickey or anything else having to do with Kingdom Hearts or Digimon Frontier. I do, however, have a deep longing to own plushies of said pair (Kouichi and Riku), if I could ever find them…T.T

Elemental Hearts - Inside/Outside

Chapter 1: Night In The Darkness

Riku sighed, tossing silver locks out of his crystal blue eyes. No matter what he tried, he couldn't get to sleep…It was probably a blessing in disguise. Around here, they could always use a lookout, even when hiding in a ditch surrounded by trees so that every motion around them was practically over a loud speaker. But in the realm of Darkness, no one could be too careful, even if they were, as he was, gifted with the powers of Darkness itself.

The silver-haired figure flexed his black-gloved hand contemplatively. It had been several painfully long months since he had accepted and tempered the darkness inside of him for his own use and protection, and yet its presence still bothered him somewhat. It wasn't that he was afraid of the darkness, of course, it was just rather uncomfortable being the only one with that kind of 'ability'.

No…Not the only one.

Riku glanced out from his place beside a large rock, into the barely-lit area surrounding their tiny campfire. There were two figures, each on a different side of the barely-smoldering fire, curled under the light, black cloths that easily doubled as cloaks. His eyes focused on the closest figure, facing away from the fire so Riku could see his face.

His name was Kouichi Kimura, and truth be told he was the most normal person Riku had met during his travels through other worlds. At least, he was a bit more normal by Riku's standards, as the worlds they came from were apparently very similar. He was also like Riku…similar in a way he found very hard to explain.

Of course, Mickey had made easy work of that part. Sensing Riku's hesitation toward the other boy prompted the king to tell him. "He's dark, isn't he? Dark and honorable…Just like you, Riku."

Just like him…

The dark-haired boy suddenly stirred, navy blue eyes fluttering open as though sensing the other boy's watchful eyes. Riku stiffened just a little eyes their eyes met, before Kouichi sat up with a very small yawn.

"Riku…kun?" He sat up, rubbing one eye semi-sleepily. "Is there something wrong?"

Riku relaxed with a sigh. "Nothing. Go back to sleep."

Kouichi blinked at him a moment, turning his head in an owlishly-adorable fashion. Instead of doing as Riku had asked, he suddenly picked himself off the ground, taking the blanket-cloak and his own tall staff-weapon with him, and came to sit beside the silver haired boy.

"There's something bothering you." He said simply, turning his head up to the much taller Riku. "What is it?"

Riku raised an eyebrow. "What makes you so sure?"

"I don't know." Kouichi smiled. "I guess it's just a feeling."

"A feeling, huh?" Riku smirked good-naturedly. "So, do you get feelings like this often?"

Kouichi rolled his eyes softly. "It's only with certain people."

"Like me?"

"Like you." A slightly sad grin flashed across the dark-haired boy's face. "And my brother. Especially my brother."

His words slipped away into the wind. Dark blue eyes dropped down, their gaze radiating feelings of loneliness and depression. Riku's face softened with a sympathetic gaze. "…You miss him, don't you?"

At Kouichi's confused look, he elaborated. "Your brother. You do miss him, right?"

"…Yeah, some." Kouichi's eyes closed contemplatively, a hand coming to rest over his own heart. "But…I'm not worried. We've been separated before…I know we'll find each other again. And the others, too."

Riku grinned slightly, shaking his head. Part of him was surprised his companion could be so optimistic. Kouichi had been almost deathly ill when they found him, he had only completely recovered a few nights before, and he still had no earthly idea how he wound up in the Darkness; yet, he persisted to keep a bright outlook on their whole situation.

"Riku-kun? Are you cold?"

The silver-haired boy snapped out of his thoughts, looking down at the other boy in surprise. Kouichi motioned with the black cloth he'd been covering himself with. "We can share, you know. You did give me your blanket."

"…I'm fine." Riku shrugged, brushing his bangs back with one hand.

"Are you sure? You look like you're shivering." Riku looked down at himself and found that, yes, his arms were shaking ever so slightly. He flushed just a little…showing weakness was a bit of an embarrassment.

Kouichi, on the other hand, just smiled and spread the blanket over them both. Of course, it really wasn't meant for more than one person, so they had to get much closer to one another. The shoulder-to-shoulder contact actually increased the warmth, so it was…nice, in a way.

Riku sighed softly, turning his head up to look at the dark stars above them. They didn't shine the way the ones at home did. Actually, they were so dark you would miss them with normal eyes of the light. But Riku's eyes weren't normal anymore…

"They're interesting, aren't they?"

Riku jumped slightly. Kouichi's comment had been soft, almost a whisper, his eyes turned up to the stars as well. The dark-haired boy took a deep breath, his exhale showing in the cold air.

"It was almost Tanabata back home…The night I…showed up" He smiled at his companion warmly. "It's a star festival. Ties in with an old legend."

"Is that so?" Riku smirked good-naturedly, turning his pale blue eyes up to the stars. "So…You can see them too, huh?"

"Yeah." Kouichi nodded slowly.

Riku muffled an only slightly half-hearted laugh. "It's funny…I thought I was the only one." He sighed, shaking his head. "The King…Mickey…can't see them. They're too dark for him."

"Really?" Kouichi blinked, looking surprised. "Hm…That's interesting. I kinda got the impression that he could see everything."

"You'd think that, huh?" Riku laughed softly, shaking his head. "The way he talks…But he can't see them the way we do."

Kouichi nodded slowly, closing his eyes. For a long moment there was silence as the two looked up at the black stars. Then, almost suddenly, Kouichi's head bobbed for just a moment until it dropped onto Riku's shoulder.

The silver-haired boy jumped half a foot, then realized that his friend was asleep.

Riku had to smile, watching the boy sleep. Moving would wake him up, and that would just be a shame. He sighed, shaking his head ever the slightest, then settled back in for the night. They needed all the rest they could get, after all.

Elemental Hearts - Inside/Outside 1: Night In the Darkness…End