(The Heart of Sanctuary)
Gasping as his vision finally cleared, Sora rubbed his eyes and straightened, looking around to find himself back in the field.
Riku was standing beside him, staring straight ahead, a slight smile on his face and curious, Sora followed his line of sight to find Kaiyou standing in front of them.
She had her back towards them – a soft breeze blew her hair, hip length, like Umi's had been, but brunet. She was again, wearing the outfit the Fairies had given her, but in her hand, she held a blade that looked to be made of ice crystals formed into a shape that was something like the Kingdom Key. Hanging from the pommel were two keychains; one black, one white.
Slowly, she turned, to face them.
"Sorry... I had a plan," she said.
Breaking into a grin, he dashed towards her, wrapping his arms around her in a tight embrace, which she returned, but her hands fell away a moment later, Keyblade dropping to the ground and disappearing.
"Kaiyou," Sora sniffled into her hair as he stroked it. "I'm so – so glad you're alright!"
"Oh, quit blubbering," Riku sighed and tapped the side of Sora's head. "She's passed out."
Blinking and drawing back, Sora gasped, "Kaiyou? Kaiyou! Wake up!" Uselessly, he shook her, simply making her head flop.
"She probably used a lot of energy. You know how she always got whenever she was amplifying," Riku pointed out.
"Oh..." Looking down at her, Sora grinned, "Let's get her home!"
Sweeping Kaiyou up into his arms, he tucked her face against his shoulder and turned, blinking as he found his path blocked by two young girls.
Erin stepped forward, leaning in, "Wow! You look just like her! Are you related?"
Sora grinned broadly, "Yeah, she's my twin! I've been looking for her for a really long time."
Riku shook his head slightly.
Alisa clasped her hands together, "That's really amazing," she sniffled. "I'm so happy for her!"
"I hope I have a cool brother like you somewhere," Erin added.
"You know," Riku sighed, "It's not just about blood relations," he started off and after a second, Sora followed, Kaiyou's hair tickling his knee as he walked.
Turning towards Erin, Alisa asked, "Was that boy wearing Kaiyou's necklace?"
"The one that if we even looked at it too long, she'd get pissed?" Erin paused, "You know, I think he was. She certainly didn't come back with it on..."
They both broke into giggles.
Meeting Lisha on the other side of the fence, the woman brushed Kaiyou's hair back from her face then breathed a sigh of relief. "We need to get out of here," she said and opened the back door of her car. She had brought it around while Riku and Sora had been in the battle of their lives.
Climbing into the back, Sora and Riku braced Kaiyou between them and they took off, heading back to Lisha's apartment.
That was when Sora turned to Riku and said, "Hey. We're not hurt."
Riku stared at Sora, "Took you that long to notice. I think she healed us."
The ride back to Lisha's place wasn't half as long as the ride around town looking for Kaiyou had been, and shortly, they had her up the stairs and lying in Lisha's bed. After that, Lisha turned on the television and Sora was completely engrossed in whatever was on. Riku ... had a few things to think about, and Lisha was on the phone with her husband.
He could have tried opening a portal to take them home, but didn't feel like it quite yet – despite having been healed completely by Kaiyou's final amplification. Instead, he sank down on the couch and leaned his head back, closing his eyes.
It was with great reluctance that Kaiyou opened her eyes.
Expecting to see the ceiling of the room she shared with Alisa and Erin, she was slightly surprised to find herself in a completely different setting – yet one of the pictures on the nightstand next to her immediately told her in whose bed she was lying.
Sitting up slowly, she slid her feet onto the floor and picked up the small framed portrait.
Dan, Lisha, Rick, and herself – all standing close together – like a real family, smiling. Even she had something of a real smile on her lips, instead of her usual pasted on expression.
'Was it all a dream?'
'No. The nightmare is over.'
Nearly dropping the picture, Kaiyou straightened, "Umi!" she breathed. 'You didn't abandon me!'
'I was always here, Kitten. You just couldn't hear me in the darkness.'
'That was you crying? I didn't know you could cry.'
Umi was silent for a long moment, then a shadow of her Nobody stepped out and knelt before her, hands on Kaiyou's knees.
"Of all the lives we've lived," Umi said softly, looking up at Kaiyou, "I like this one the best."
Unsure of what Umi meant by that Kaiyou stared down at her Soul, then watched as Umi stood again and hugged her, disappearing once more. Looking down at the picture in her lap, she touched Rick's face. She still thought he was a handsome young man. 'Funny how he kinda looks like Riku... with a palette shift. And curly hair.' She shook her head as she closed her eyes, remembering Rick as clearly as if she had just seen him. 'Acted nothing like Riku though.'
Setting the picture back into its place, Kaiyou stood and found her shoes beside the bed.
Out the window, it was dark and she could hear voices. In her Heart, she could hear Sora, and Riku and knew they were nearby. A smile slipped onto her lips as she caught a reflection of Sora's amusement. He was watching some show. Riku was brooding, though.
'Probably because I distracted him at the wrong moment. He'll likely be a bit angry at me for that, but... He'll get over it.'
Brushing her hair back over her shoulders, she paused and turned, catching a glimpse of herself in the vanity mirror. "My hair..." she turned her back and looked over her shoulder at the long fall of hair, "How'd that happen?"
'Kosuiko's hair was never cut. She was your body,' Umi supplied.
"So you mean that even when Gary stole me to this world, I wasn't fully... synchronized with myself?"
Opening the bedroom door, Kaiyou headed out into the living room of a small apartment in New York. It wasn't one she'd been in before, but she recognized a lot of the furniture. Dan and Sora were sitting on the couch, watching some show and didn't notice the door open. The familiar scent of one of Lisha's special dishes hit Kaiyou's nose and she turned to the right, spotting Riku helping the short redheaded woman in the kitchen.
Lisha was talking to Riku about something, but Kaiyou couldn't hear over the sitcom.
Kaiyou, unable to decide which she wanted to do first, stood there silently, absorbing the generally positive feelings in the area. 'It's nice to be myself again...'
Opening her eyes, she turned to find that Lisha had noticed her – and only a second later, was being clutched by the slightly shorter woman. Lifting her arms, Kaiyou returned the hug immediately. A second later, Dan was there, hugging her from the other side and Kaiyou had to close her eyes to keep from crying.
"Oh Kaiyou," Lisha was sniffling, "I missed you so much! I was so worried – especially when these boys showed up and said you were in trouble!"
Dan didn't bother saying anything at all, just hugged her at Lisha like Laguna and Ellone had hugged her. It wasn't until Riku stated that dinner was done that the two reluctantly disengaged from Kaiyou and Lisha wiped her eyes and went off to fine some tissues. Dan dragged her to the table – an old battered piece of wood that she fondly remembered the first time she'd sat at.
Unlike many of the other homes she'd been put in, this one had been the best. Sora stole the seat next to her and Riku was forced to sit on the other side of Sora while Dan got an extra chair and together they ate. "You two never did say anything about how the battle went," Dan started.
Sora, mid-chew, quickly swallowed and started talking at a hundred miles per minute about how Gary had done this and Riku had been totally awesome and how Sora had Summoned Ifrit twice and how Riku had blasted away with fire.
"How did you do that? Did Merlin teach you magic?" Sora rounded on Riku.
"I have a Materia. Aerith gave it to me," Riku replied lifting his left wrist and somehow... pulled an orb from it, handing it over to Sora to let the brunet look at it.
In Sora's distraction, Riku glanced over at Kaiyou, meeting her eyes.
She winced slightly and turned back to her food.
"What do you plan on doing now?" Lisha asked.
"We have to go home," Sora said immediately. "Mom and Dad will be worried."
"Roxas is going to be very angry," Kaiyou put in, "That you left him."
She paused and looked at Sora fully, brows knitting. "How did that happen? Roxas isn't here but you're whole."
"That other book had plans for a weapon in in," Riku stated, "They built it, but instead of a gun that stole life-force as the original plans stated, they modified it to steal Hearts. Sora broke it. It exploded."
"So Roxas is half and you're whole?"
Sora shook his head, "No, he was there too. Xaldin and Saix were fighting us along with Xemnas, so we needed three."
A smile quirked Kaiyou's lips at that and she turned back to eating. Gail wasn't a very good cook. Or more, Kaiyou disliked everything about Gail and so had chosen to dislike her cooking as well. Getting one last meal with Lisha was about as fond a farewell to this world as Kaiyou could have ever wished for. "Your home, tell us about it?" Lisha requested, "Kaiyou?"
Sora closed his mouth as he realized who the question had been directed at and decided to eat as Kaiyou pondered for a minute before answering. "Our parents," she glanced at Sora, "Are the, well, they're called 'President' but it's more like elected ruler for life or something. If not life, at least a fairly long time. So Ellone and Laguna have to be in Esthar a lot... but they own a house on a chain of islands called Destiny Islands... there's an island that was too small and mountainous to build anything on and it's the play island where all the kids go to hang out." She paused, "I didn't know the sky could be so blue or the water so clear. It's like everything is sharper – like you're not looking at the world through a dirty window or something."
Lisha smiled, "It sounds beautiful."
Blushing slightly, Kaiyou nodded and looked down at her plate and pushed what was left on it around with her fork. "I'll keep in touch," she said, "I should be able to keep that promise now."
Sora nodded, "It shouldn't be hard," he looked towards Kaiyou, "Dad's made a special uh... what was it called?"
"Inter-planetary Contact Department," Riku supplied, "of which you're probably a member too," he looked at Kaiyou. She nodded, then looked back down at her plate.
"Are you alright?" Dan asked, reaching across the table to touch her arm.
Looking up at him, she smiled slightly, "Yes and no, I guess..." blushing slightly, she looked towards Sora and Riku, "Did they tell you... what I am?"
"Well, I'm no longer poisoned by Darkness..." she paused to see if they understood that, then continued, "But that means that I'm back to what I was. I have a heart, but it's really my mind that guides my actions rather than emotions. I understand that now," she sighed, "It's just – I like being with you. I miss Rick. But I know I have to move on."
"He would want it that way," Lisha said gently. "He would have wanted you to live every day to the fullest."
Kaiyou nodded slowly.
"Yes," she said finally, "Yes, he would."
She smiled, then turned the topic towards telling Lisha everything that had happened, nearly forgetting to eat.
Returning to Destiny Islands hadn't been as hard as getting to the Shadow of their world – what with Kaiyou actively amplifying Riku's powers. The portal opened into the ocean, some distance from the main island, and sopping wet, Kaiyou stepped onto the shore of the world of her birth.
'Home at last,' she told Umi who silently agreed with her.
Infected by Sora's joy, she smiled and broke into a jog, forcing Riku and Sora to follow her back to the house Sora had been raised in by Edea and Cid – as well as his parents, though those memories were still a little muddled by Ellone's workings. It wasn't that big a deal, though.
Reaching the front door, Kaiyou lifted a finger to her lips and tested the knob to make sure the door was open before slamming it and shouting, "I'm HOME!"
Sora burst into a cackle as someone automatically shouted, "Don't slam the door!"
In the living room, Kairi and Olette had been working on the scrap book, Roxas was sitting playing one of Sora's video games on the TV with Pence and Hayner.
As one, the group looked towards the door, mouths falling open as Kaiyou walked in, still sopping wet, Riku and Sora behind her.
She was immediately mobbed by the girls, and she returned their joyful hugs, at peace with the knowledge that it was their feelings for her she was returning. It hardly mattered. 'At least I'll always know who my friends are.'
Once Kairi and Olette pried themselves away, Kaiyou threw herself at Roxas and hugged him wetly – since he was still glaring at Riku and Sora. "Oh, give it up," she told him. "It wasn't like they were going to have a second change to open that portal. It was random chance that I amplified Riku at that exact moment anyway." She kissed his cheek and smiled at him. "It's over now. Gary is gone." She smirked, "I fried his ass."
Stepping back, she saw Hayner's hand lifted – he was grinning. She high-fived him.
Turning, Kaiyou gave Pence a hug and peck on the cheek as well.
At last, the group noticed Edea standing at the back of the crowd, and she stepped forward to hug Kaiyou and Sora tightly. "Cid's calling your parents right now," she told them.
Kaiyou nodded and returned Edea's hug as well, even if she didn't know the woman that well, she did at least know that Edea was there for her, too.
It only took a few hours for Laguna to arrive with Ellone, and by then, Kairi and Olette had finished showing Kaiyou the album they had made. Kaiyou made sure to thank them, tears in her eyes.
'This is the nicest gift anyone's ever given me,' she told Umi.
'Definitely thoughtful,' Umi agreed.
Then it was dinner time, and since the dining room wouldn't hold everyone, they had opted to have dinner in the living room, everyone finding seats where they would.
After the recap of Gary's death, the topic turned slightly as Kaiyou asked, "What now?"
"Well," Laguna said, gesturing with his fork, "You'll be enrolled in school with Roxas. And then you'll both be given Super Top Secret Clearance ratings and be inducted into my new Department of Interplanetary Agents!"
Kaiyou rolled her eyes, "And what would that department be doing? Are we the only members?"
"Riku and Sora are members too," Laguna supplied, "And you'll be investigating other worlds for possibility of trade and alliances as well as threats."
"We'll need a support staff to keep track of information," Kaiyou pointed out, "And other agents to take care of keeping relations open once established."
Laguna thought on that briefly, then nodded, "Right, very true. I'll get onto that!"
"The SeeDs aren't doing much," Cid put in.
"Ah," Laguna mused, "True also!"
"I'd like to join as well," Hayner stated, looking up from his plate, all eyes turned towards him, but he glanced at Kaiyou. "It's like you said... My world died, but that doesn't mean I can't make a new home, or help rebuild it somehow."
Kaiyou nodded to that, remembering that she had indeed told him that, "Moving forward, moving on," she said, "after loss... at least I've learned that much. Can't disappoint those who loved me that I lost."
Hayner nodded at that and Olette sniffled briefly and dabbed the edge of her eye before putting on a smile. "I'd like to help too."
"And me," Pence added, "We've still got each other, and if we don't do it together..."
"Then Twilight Town is truly gone," Hayner finished, then looked back towards Laguna.
He nodded, "I'll have you enrolled in school with the others and make sure you're given every chance to catch up. You'll be given clearances as well and special classes at the SeeD academy after you graduate high school in the types of tasks we'll need you to do." He looked towards Sora, Roxas, Riku, and Kaiyou, "Same goes for you."
Looking towards Kairi, Laguna grinned, "You too, of course!"
"What about everyone else involved in all of this?" Kaiyou asked.
"Well, Zack has signed on as one of my guards, but I think he'd be better suited elsewhere," Laguna said, "I'll be reassigning Vincent to the Department of Interplanetary Agents, along with Rude and Reno, since, as you said, I'll need investigations done and they're good at that kind of thing. Squall's head of the department," he looked at Sora, "Sorry, but people would look at me odd if I made you head of it..."
"Being that he's sixteen?" Kaiyou put in, amused, "Yeah. That would really fly."
"Huh?" Sora blinked. "But... oh... alright."
"That about settles it for the DIA, for now anyway," Laguna sighed, settling back on the couch, smiling happily as he looked down on his odd collection of children, his wife at his side and best friends, Edea and Cid on the other.
He turned the topic to other things then – less serious things, such as living arrangements with such a sudden influx of people.
After dinner, somehow Kaiyou managed to get out into the backyard without anyone following her. She simply needed a breath of fresh air and a moment of quiet.
Only to find a hand touching her shoulder before she'd even realized anyone was there.
Turning, she looked up to find Riku standing beside her.
"Did you have to go and... say that in the middle of a battle?" he asked, "You know, getting gutted kind of hurt."
Looking down at her hands, Kaiyou twisted her fingers together.
"I'm sorry... but I'm not sorry. I had to tell you – while I had a heart and feelings of my own. I ...had to tell you when I knew that it was my feelings, rather than a reflection of yours."
Riku moved to stand in front of her, and Kaiyou lifted her eyes to look into his.
"So tell me then – if you still remember... what makes you... love me?"
Closing her eyes, Kaiyou reached back into her memory, and aided by Umi, found that moment. Opening her eyes again, she met Riku's gaze.
"You don't want to use me, but you need me. And at the time... I selfishly wanted you to rely on me. I wanted to be the one you told all your sins to – the one to keep them. I...wanted to be your everything – because I could be."
Riku silently stared down at her, "But what're you getting out of the deal?"
Kaiyou paused before answering, "Someone who will always have my back. Someone who will think of me as the, or nearly the most important thing in his life... Someone who could take my secrets and bury them just as I took his... A partner in crime – a best friend... and more than that."
Lifting his hands from her shoulders, Riku cupped her face gently and leaned down to place his lips upon hers.
Lowering her barriers, Kaiyou was nearly overcome with tears and returned his kiss as she lifted her hands past his arms and around his neck. His hands slid down her neck, to her shoulders and past to rest gently on her hips as he drew back to look down at her.
"Then let's be partners in crime... and more," he offered.
Kaiyou stared at the first two words in her new book.
It's been a week since returning home. Today was my first day at school.
Sora had given her this book that evening after dinner, along with her old one. "Make sure to write down good things too?" he had requested and she had hugged him.
Today was a little scary... but good still.
I was introduced to the class as Aros Loiri. Roxas was there too. He looked uncomfortable, and I could tell everyone in the class was really curious about us – and Hayner, Pence, and Olette. We were sort of scattered in the class, put next to people the teacher thought would be able to help us.
I like the girl's uniform, but I'll stick to the boy's for a while, since we do have a choice. All the girls kept watching me and Roxas, waiting to see if we're as stupid as Sora. It was kind of funny... Or maybe I was picking that up from Riku.
We had lunch together in the school's courtyard, and talked about things we hadn't gotten to talk about before.
Like the Princes of Darkness and the Organization.
It turns out that Xemnas is the only one we can confirm as dead and not coming back. Zack said he had a fight with a guy who used cards and killed him. Sora named that Organization member as Luxord, and likely not permanently dead. The same goes for Xaldin and Siax. We don't know about most of the others except for Demyx and Axel. Demyx has decided to stick around and joined the DIA. He's not that great at missions, but he has powers that others don't and information. So he got in fairly easily. Axel – Reno, has promised to keep Demyx in check. They've started something of a band, actually. Demyx asked me to join. I think I will. It'll be something to do after school.
Speaking of which, Riku's urging me to join the track team too. He says its co-ed. Not that that really matters to me. I might join that too, though.
Kaiyou paused her pen and looked down at her writing, then settled back in her bed. The house Sora had grown up in was too small for six kids of mixed gender, and so, Laguna had bought a new house and because he was the president, it was a done deal fairly shortly. This new house had given Kaiyou and Olette a room to share, which Kaiyou didn't mind. Sora and Roxas shared a room, and Hayner and Pence had another. Kaiyou was good at sharing a room. Sora was having trouble, though, as was Hayner. 'They'll get over it,' Kaiyou told Umi.
In any case, Maleficent is probably permanently destroyed – considering that Gary apparently ate her. Of the Princes... Rufus, Shuyin, and Kefka are gone. Gary's really gone. ...I hope... I still have this little niggling doubt that he'll be haunting me for some time yet. If not in the flesh than at least in memory. Seymour isn't confirmed, and Sora, Roxas, Riku and I went looking for Kuja. We couldn't find him. Sephiroth and Cloud are apparently still missing, and in our visit to Radiant Garden, we acquired two more to add to the flock of weirdos in the DIA – Loz and Yazoo, who are apparently completely incapable of self-direction. They want their dear big brother Kadaj, even in his present form as Riku. Riku's settling his past on his own... well, with occasional help from me. I'm not even sure I should write down in here the things he's told me – even if I trust everyone in this house to keep out of my stuff.
Less a trust issue of the present... but of the future.
I guess maybe later on, I'll burn these books, just to make sure nothing ever gets out. Or archive them as classified in the DIA...
Kaiyou sighed at that thought, but it was likely inevitable that her diaries would contain classified information and as a result, it was likely she would have to turn them in, or someone later on would confiscate them. 'I'd rather turn them in than have to have them taken from me. But for now, these books are mine and who would think to look in them for classified government secrets anyway? I've got ways of locking them. Heh.'
Back to the topic at hand; Mickey is doing well, his kingdom is being rebuilt and he's assisting Toon Town now that he knows they need help.
Yuna and her posse are alright. They're back to treasure hunting. Lulu and Wakka have... gotten knocked up. Apparently that's not much of a surprise to anyone in that group but it bothers me just a bit. Yuna said that before the disaster, they were married and had a baby. I dunno. Relative age vs real age. They've grown up twice now, so maybe they're better suited to being parents than most sixteen year olds I know. God save us all if Sora EVER breeds...
Yuffie is still...
Squall had her body moved here and it is preserved in the DIA's new building. He's a bit weird, being obsessed over her.
Seifer's moving in on making a relationship with Olette. Hayner's still got his nose out of joint about it, but he doesn't say anything to either of them at least. Riku and I are... getting closer, I think. After that kiss in the back yard... well, we try to keep things low key, but I think people have a way of knowing when two people are more interested in paying attention to each other than... well, much of anything else.
I finally visited Alexandria again and ah... admitted to Dagger that I was a girl – to her, alone, so that no one else would know about the whole Kiss-thing. She was so embarrassed, I felt really bad about it, but she needed to be told.
Her boyfriend still hasn't reappeared, though. I hope he's alright. For her sake. Vivi's doing well, as is his clan of Black Mages. I'm glad Sora got him home when I couldn't... but I feel bad for letting him down. He said he was just glad to know that I was alive and safe now and hugged me.
Tifa's taken over fixing Radiant Garden in Squall's absence. She said there was a group called the WRO or something like that helping fix things, but their leader had disappeared. She's stepped in for now. Cid – Highwind – is fixing Tron, slowly. Don't think that computer system will ever be the same, honestly. Umi said that my old diary might have bits of backup in it, but not enough to do any good; I'm afraid to let that thing out of my hands again, though.
That's about it for everyone.
Kaiyou turned, putting her pen into the cup on her nightstand, then opened the first drawer to set the book into. It was green like the first book. Settling back in her bed again, she looked out the window and across the lawn of the backyard, past the tree planted there, past the roofs of the town and towards the play island. The setting sun painted everything bright gold, and in the Twilight, she could feel Riku's heart more clearly.
She knew he was up to something, but not quite what.
He'd tell her when he was finished, she knew.
In the meantime... Kaiyou had a few things to work on herself.
Sora and Roxas's birthday was coming up – and hers by extension.
'Funny to think that I'm the older twin; born only a few hours before Sora, but still on a different day.'
Reaching into the top drawer again, she brought out the twigs, string, feathers, and beads she'd been working with, carefully crafting her gifts for her brothers. One was a dream catcher, the other a sun catcher, and while they looked similar, their purpose was different. The sun catcher would go to Roxas – to brighten his days. The dream catcher would go to Sora.
She worked as she hummed softly to herself:
"I put a spell on you..."
First: I do not own much of anything that appeared in this fic. Maybe I own the plot, but it's not really a plot I could use in anything original, so it's not something worth griping over, but here's the breakdown...
Content found in the Kingdom Hearts series belongs to Disney and Square Enix.
Content of the Final Fantasy universes belongs to Square (which includes FF6, FF7, FF8, FF9, and FF10/10-2).
All characters are owned by Disney or Square Enix, or both, or someone else, except Gary and Kaiyou (which include all her various incarnations), which are mine but since their backgrounds are so tied in with all the stuff I don't own, it hardly matters that I own them.
I made absolutely no money off this fic, the production of this fic, or any of the artwork, side stories, or youtube vids I have produced during the creation of this fic. Also, I do not have any money, so it's really not worth a lawsuit. Seriously. I'm just out of college. Not going to have any money for a while.
Second: I state for the record that drinking, smoking, swearing, teen pregnancy, rape, and violence are Bad. (but they make for a cool story...)
This point is for all the Disney nuts out there that didn't notice that my Fic was rated 'Teen' and got upset at the content. I tried not to have any swearing. Some of the cursing was in the movie scripts and I couldn't justify changing the word for some reason or another – such as "Smartass" in ToonTown. And nearer the end, I just got lazy and stuff. There were some things that happened to Kosuiko and another character from Kaiyou's past, too, that were of adult nature. For that, I am sorry, but these parts were edited to be slightly more... Teen rated. My original intention had been for Kaiyou to have been the one raped in her memory. As for when Gary found Koko – I leave it up to you readers to decide what really happened in that exchange. I've got my own version in my head, but I didn't think it had a place in this story.
I really held myself back in some places – as I do tend towards more "M" ratings in my writing, even if the characters involved are young.
I probably shouldn't do that.
Maybe in the edit I'll change the curse words. But anyway, if anything in this fic offended you, I'm sorry! Not really. If you didn't like it and read all the way to this chapter... well that's just a silly thing to do. Why'd you go and do that?
Third: uh, did I have a third point? Oh yes. This fic was NOT a Self Insert! Kaiyou is really nothing like me at all. Maybe a little like what I'd like to be, but not really. I don't think I'd be able to stand myself if I was THAT Angsty! I did take some elements of my own background to construct hers, but I assure you, my life was nowhere near as tragic as hers. Mostly it was the moving to a new place every year and what that'll do to a kid that I took and magnified, since my experience was just from being an Air Force brat.
Ah-hem! Anyway. Now that I'm done with the full disclaimer, here's my real Author's Note:
I hope you liked my fic, actually. I put a lot of work into it - getting the Disney characters right and finding good movies to include that hadn't been used in the games and some way to incorporate Sora and Co. into those moves. Then there was the trouble of making the plot interesting. The plot was the hardest. I hope it wasn't as transparent as I thought it was (but I'm the writer, so I already knew what was going to happen)!
My purpose for writing this, initially was because I'd had a funny idea of some cosplayer from our world getting transported to Destiny Islands and getting mistaken for Sora. That morphed into Kaiyou, though and the rest is about 390,000 words. Additionally, I was kinda irritated at the KH universe for making use of the Final Fantasy characters without taking into account their backgrounds. Because why would Cloud be all pissy and in his Advent Children outfit if Aerith is still alive? It didn't make sense. So, I was trying to make some sense of it all. In the process, I screwed up some of the KH things – like Hearts, Heartless, and Nobodies. I'm aware of this, but to be honest, I really didn't play through KH1. Nor did I much like it. I picked that game up for the sole fact that Sephiroth was in it – and I never got to fight him in the game I played because my game glitches on the Coliseum and I can't get in to fight anything let alone Sephiroth. I did use someone else's save-game data and got in, though. He kicked my ass.
Alternate bosses are so damn hard to beat. ;.; (well, he wasn't in KH2...)
Anyway. To go back and fix the mess I made of the KH canon, I'd have to rewrite huge sections of stuff. Not happening. It took me 2 years to finish this story in the first place. You'll be lucky if I get around to editing the typos anytime soon.
I haven't mentioned the site lately, but it's still there, you guys should go check it out! – Seriously. If you haven't taken a look at it, the link is in my author's bio. You might be surprised by what you find *nudge nudge wink wink*
I'd also like to thank you all for reading. And to those of you who commented, thank you muchly as well. Especially Doomboy, Ri2, Frequency Queen, Sayana Blade, Herald Aros, AngelFlare, and IcedCandy; your frequent reviews kept me interested in the story and from putting it aside in order to die like a lot of my other fics have. A few of you have told me how much this fic has influenced your life, and I thank you for informing me of that too, because it lets me know I did a good job as a writer. I entertained you, I moved you to tears or made you laugh, and that's what I'd been striving for. So thank you for letting me know I did a good job.
To those of you who haven't left a review yet, please at least leave a review on this one and tell me what you thought of the story as a whole and what you think I could do different in the next story I write to improve my style! It would be much appreciated.
**Surprise! End of credits bonus material!**
Kaiyou stared up at the sky, perched on the bent Paupu tree next to Kairi, Sora beside the redhead, holding her hand, with Riku leaning in his usual place, and Roxas sitting at Kairi's feet.
It was a beautiful summer night. The air was clear and warm, Kaiyou had opted to simply wear her sports bra-like bathing suit top and a pair of shorts today, since only those who knew she was – well, a girl – were around to see. The others were in similar states of dress – bathing suits and the like.
Her, Sora, and Roxas's birthday had just passed. A year after the whole mess with Gary...
'I'm eighteen now. Somehow, Umi, it doesn't feel any different.'
'You say that every year.'
A smile touched Kaiyou's lips at that. 'I do. And then things go and change, but subtly.'
'Last year was different.'
She closed her eyes briefly as a gust of wind played in her hair, tickling her back. At Riku's request, she had left it long, but normally kept it braided. The guys at school called her gay; called Riku gay. It annoyed Riku, but Kaiyou found it amusing and didn't bother to correct anyone. She still felt... insecure with her femininity. She had managed to keep her real name safe from most everyone, and her true gender. Sora sighed and said she'd promised to stop lying – but she just wasn't ready yet.
One day, she would be, and they would all just have to wait till then.
Opening her eyes again, she looked up at the sky and tipped her head slightly as she watched a sparkle in the sky grow larger.
"Look, a falling star!" Kairi said. "We should make a wish."
Kaiyou frowned slightly, "Given what we know about stars, not sure wishing on a falling one would be wise."
"Oh, you and your logic," Kairi pushed Kaiyou's shoulder slightly and Kaiyou smirked at her.
"Last time I wished on a falling star," Sora said, "That star turned out to be you, Kairi." He grinned at her, unaware of how romantic he'd sounded just then.
Looking down, the redhead blushed and snuggled closer against Sora's side. Roxas looked up briefly at them, then went back to looking at the sky.
"Looks like that one's going to make it to the ground," Riku pointed out. "Maybe it is another Princess?"
"There are only seven and we know where they are," Roxas pointed out.
"There just might be more in this universe we don't know or understand yet," Kaiyou put in, doing her best to sound sagely. She even lifted her finger and straightened her casual slouch and put on her best imitation of Yen Sid's expression.
Those who looked laughed.
Meanwhile, somewhere off in the distance, the falling star landed.
"Wonder when the next crisis will be?" Kaiyou said, staring towards the general direction the star had landed.
Sora shook his head, "Xemnas is ...gone, so is Maleficent, the worlds are safe."
"The worlds we visited," Kaiyou put in, "What about all the other ones." She pointed up at the sky, "If all these stars represent a world – there are countless worlds. How do we know if one of them hasn't produced some new threat? How do we know that the Princes of Darkness that we didn't take care of aren't out there, plotting something nasty?"
Lowering her hands to her lap, Kaiyou stared up at the sky. "I just have a feeling... our lives will forever be interesting."
She could feel Riku's gaze on her, but it was Roxas who said, "Well, if that's our fate, we'll go through it together, right?"
"Right." Kairi agreed immediately.
'Silly DiD,' Kaiyou couldn't help but think fondly. 'No, that's uncharitable. She's getting better. One day, she might surprise us all.'
In the meantime, Kairi and Namine were going to be an artist and a vet.
They all looked out towards the sky again as silence fell except for the usual night sounds.
Kaiyou still couldn't quite shake the feeling that the falling star hadn't been just a happenstance. It was the beginning of something new.
'Change... it's always coming, slowly but surely.'
'The fight between Light and Dark – Life and Death – is never over,' Umi murmured, 'There is a circle, a recursion. If not today, if not tomorrow... but it is coming.'