And here it is, the conclusion of 'Behind Closed Doors.' Finally, after all of this time, it's come to an end. It's been a fun bit of writing for me (though at times a bit trying to get the inspiration or the motivation to get moving on this thing again), and I certainly hope you all enjoyed the story as much as I did.

Any encouragement is appreciated. Your reviews have motivated me to keep writing, and (believe it or not) to cull this thing down to something that's manageable. Yes, there were movies lopped out of it for length. There were side plots that never originated. And yet it still ended up 75 chapters long. Geez.

Hopefully you'll find the end of this story satisfying, and will enjoy the upcoming projects I've got lined up. Though my writing might suffer in frequency (I'm still working my rear off to support my family and am still in the military, after all) I intend to keep it going. Maybe, someday, I'll even get back to the original novel I was working on decades ago.

By the way, there's a poll up on my author profile for the next fic – please let your voice be heard, and help me craft that bugger!

So in closing, thanks for following, and enjoy the end of 'Behind Closed Doors'! Any reviews you provide will be highly treasured and used to motivate the commencement of my next story. :)

Disclaimer: I in no way own Kingdom Hearts. Don't sue – I'm just an E6 in the USN, and therefore I have no money. Ha.

A/N: Each chapter is written from a different POV. The identity of the 'speaker' is located with the chapter's name. Just trying to avoid confusion here. For review replies, please see the bottom of the chapter. And that, as they say, is that.


Chapter 75
The Wanderer – Open

The road was long. My feet were tired. My heart was heavy.


He'd outrun me.

With a groan I had laid down, my eyes drifting shut, my hope seeping from me.

I had the conviction to protect him. To support him, even if it was from the interior of darkness itself. But how could I protect him if I couldn't even keep up with him?

In darkness, I'd felt more than Heartless. And the thought of a greater threat to the worlds, to Sora, terrified me.

Heartless, soulless beings, the remnants of emptiness that remained after a heart was stripped away. Normally overcome by the purity of darkness, they are molded into Heartless, absorbed by the absolution of the Kingdom and left as naught but mindless automatons ready to do the Kingdom's bidding. Ready to draw the hearts of the worlds and all of the worlds' inhabitants into the black Kingdom, to reunite everything in darkness.

These beasts, their will to exist overriding and overpowering the simplistic longings of Kingdom Hearts itself, exist beyond its powers.

I heard things as I traveled, trying to follow Sora as he ran along whatever road he was following. Whispers, plots, partial thoughts caught in the tendrils of darkness spoken from the lips of those who use darkness' power to travel through the rifts that segregate existences.

They were going to draw the Kingdom's door to the physical world. They were going to bring Kingdom Hearts under their control, harnessing the black entity it had become to fill their own lacking voids, to complete their own frames.

They were searching for their hearts, as much as I had been searching for mine. But they desired not to wrench theirs free of the Kingdom.

They desired to connect with it in the Kingdom, then through that connection control the very power of darkness that the Kingdom offered.

They sought to become gods.

They were as dangerous, if not more, than the Heartless. The Heartless were driven by simple urges, by natural instincts. Destroy, envelop hearts and bring them to the Kingdom. Complete the Kingdom. Bring all together to be complete. They had no urge to control the universe, to harness power. They were simply driven by a need to fill the voids in Kingdom Hearts.

These beings were driven by the hate and greed in their minds and souls, that which drove them to keep themselves segregated from the Kingdom that would have embraced them.

And they were using the Keyblade Master.

Every stroke of the Keyblade, every freed heart, was being harnessed by them to craft the entryway into Kingdom Hearts. It was creating a Kingdom they could control and harness, drawing those captured, blackened and ensnared vessels the Kingdom used to complete itself into their grip. Through his Keyblade, Sora was giving them the power they needed to bring ultimate darkness under their control.

But there was no way we could stop them.

Sora had to continue his war against the Heartless. He had to continue, or the worlds would come to an end.

I had slowed to listen, to learn, to think and ponder and store all that was floating in darkness-escorted conversation that I inadvertently intercepted to memory.

And in my slowing, I had lost Sora. He had dashed ahead when I'd not been paying attention, leaving me alone in darkness once more.

My energy and my hope decaying, I had come to a stop.

And once I'd laid down for a rest, my hope fled me completely. My eyes drifting shut, I felt darkness wash over me, embracing me. My heart remained firm and stable, keeping that power from overtaking me, but my mind….

The encroaching black left me numb and empty, my heart my only companion.

Slowly, softly, the shadows that engulfed me started to lighten. My eyes, sensitive to its presence even behind my closed eyelids, alerted me to my changing environment even as my heart began to beat with hope. The last time I'd felt the touch of light within darkness was when I'd met once more with Sora. The time before was when I'd met with the mouse King.

I knew Sora was not here. So….

The King?

I cracked open an eye, staring blithely at the empty land that surrounded me.

"Urgh… Where…" I began, my voice tired and course from such long periods of disuse. "Where am I…"

A voice slithered through the emptiness around me. "Sleep."

Startled, I jumped to my feet and stared hard into my surroundings, my eyes burning as they glowered into the unending gray. "Who's there?"

"Sleep," the voice quietly commanded again. "here, between light and dark."

"Between…" my brain whirled as it began to piece together the implications behind the mysterious, unmanned voice's words. Between light and dark…? Had I inadvertently wandered through a door even I couldn't see? Had I somehow begun to cross the threshold between the dark Kingdom and Sora's world of light with my wandering after him?

Or had someone else assisted without my knowledge….

Someone else with power over Kingdom Hearts, or provided by Kingdom Hearts, channeled through a Keyblade?

"The King!" I exclaimed, my brain finally piecing everything together. "Where's the King? Together we closed the door to darkness, and after that…."

I paused.

My mind was a blank after that.

For some reason, while I knew a great amount of time had passed since the door clicked solidly and the mouse King had patted my shoulder as I stared at that eternally locked barrier and my eyes staring across the span of Kingdom Hearts even as I felt Sora run gleefully in the land of Light that dwelled beyond my existence's walls, my mind was blank.

"Grr, why can't I remember?" I hissed.

"Your King is far away," the voice cooed, mocking and soft. "Sleep, and leave the war with darkness in his hands. The thorny light of awakening will bring only anguish to one in your state."

One in my state…? My hand clasped over my heart.

It beat softly under my hand even as I grimaced, realizing just how little light was actually there, just how heavy darkness still rested upon me.

Out of nowhere, that voice's smooth baritone softly murmured, "Turn from the light. Shut your eyes."

A scowl graced my lips as I glared at an empty place in the eternal gray of my surroundings. "You talk like I'm some kind of demon of the dark."

I knew the truth.

I was no creature of the dark….

"Can you face the truth?" that voice responded.

And doubt washed over me.

A glowing ball of dark energy appeared before me, cold and chilling in the emptiness. That voice resonated around me, a lullaby in my ears as it cooed, "Here, blanketed by the darkness, sleep is safety. Sleep is eternal."

I frowned as I stared at that dark ball that absorbed what little light was around it. "Is this… a card?" I muttered, finally noticing the shape it had taken.

"It is a door to the truth," the voice replied with my instant answer. "Take it, and your sleep ends. Take it, and the first step toward the truth. But know this: The truth will bring you pain."

Something in my makeup quaked at that, buried memories that failed to make it to my mind's eye whispering that pain was something I was adept at experiencing, that pain was all my world was constituted of outside of this gray haze of restful nonexistence.

"Will you still go?" that whisper eased around me. "There can be no returning to the sweet security of sleep."

With a snort, my heart burning with pain and anger, I took the card from that black aura that hovered before me. "Yeah, well… Seems like a boring place to take a nap anyway," I snarled, my voice colored by agitation and worry.

"Well said, Riku," the voice chuckled.

The gray vanished, replaced by white.

I stood in a white hallway, white walls with featureless surfaces stretching along either side of me up to a grand arching white ceiling. White pedestals held white vases carrying white ceramic flowers. All was still, plain, lifeless, mocking all that the white purity of light offered.

Before me, pristinely primed on top of white stairs, a white door loomed. Behind me a white wall blocked any hope of retreat.

There was only one way forward.

A frown took my lips as my options were stripped from me. Looking at the card within my fingers, I sighed. "A door to the truth, huh…"

The card in my hand was warm, its dark construct almost comforting with its differentiation from the cold, sterile lifelessness of the hallway I was in.

Through that card, I felt that connection that had faded during my hesitations on the road amplify.

That presence I had been seeking, the one I was trying so desperately to keep up with and someday overtake, was through that door.

Sora was already there.

Shaking my head, my lips curling with a grin, I sighed. Couldn't that kid ever remain in one place? At least, couldn't he stay somewhere long enough for me to catch up?

Once again, I was behind a closed door, that flimsy barrier all that kept me away from him.

Laying my right hand on it, the card warm in my left, I pushed it open.

The End

First off, let me thank everyone who's ever left a review on this story. Also, let me very, very heartily thank everyone who's favorited this story and had it on alert for so very long! I certainly hope you feel it was worth the journey as I do, and once more every fav, every review and every alert was inspiring and motivational for me. I couldn't have completed this story without all of you!

Any reviews that are received for this chapter and/or the story in its totality will be responded to individually via that nifty fanfiction . net reply feature I have never used. :P We'll see how that goes.

Review replies:

LoneCipher91: Why, thank you so much for finally submitting! XD And thank you very much for the complimentary review. I'm so happy that you've found this fic a fun read over the years, and am very happy to have at least one satisfied reader at the conclusion of this work. Thank you so much for the support, and for the continued following, and I certainly hope you're satisfied with the end of this story. :D

(the Ansem plushie, having outlived his usefulness, is packed diligently in a box with the rest of the plushies the authoress has been gifted over the course of the story and is shoved into the closet where he belongs)

If you're curious, movies that were removed were as follows: for Sora: 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' and for Leon, Cloud and the FF angst gang, 'Disney's Robin Hood'. Where Leon was going to be a lank and wild lion, Cloud a wolf, Cid the guy who laughs his arse off and stays in the gummi where he's human and safe, Vincent a giant bat, and Cait Sith/Reeve a real cat who can go have alcohol for the first time in YEARS, huzzah!

This entire fic was designed to link Kingdom Hearts 1 and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. Anything that occurs after BCD is already covered by KH:CoM, which you can purchase for your Playstation 2 or for your Gameboy Advance SP (playable also on the Gameboy DS). I recommend it – it's got a funky battle system with the cards and all and doesn't do much but rehash a lot of KH1, but the additions it makes to the storyline (and RIKU'S STORY OMG*fangirl squeal*) are well worth it.

Thanks again for following! Hope to see you again following my other fics. :D