Hello there everyone. I'm back with another one-shot that's been bothering me since I heard Fort Minors new song Where'd You Go? After many days of deliberation, random humming and wallpapers of Roxas glaring at me to do something (darn him and his hotness) I decided to sit down and try my hand at it. Here's the end result, and I'm surprised to say I like it a lot. I hope you will too. Without further ado, here's my latest one-shot...enjoy.

Oh and, thanks to those who reviewed Return to Innocence, I was incredibly touched. You don't know what it means to me. Thanks again!

Dedicated to Nephthy-san (again because honestly, who else is there?) and because now she owes me two one-shots...yay for forced enslavement. Muahahahahah!

Disclaimer: I don't own Kingdom Hearts or the song Where'd You Go? by Fort Minor. Yes, let there be a collective sigh of relief at my expense...(shrugs). I'm used to it.


"Where'd You Go?"

One step forward, two steps back and he's right back to where he started, which, disdainfully, was nowhere to begin with. His frustration was palpable, taking on sharp edges and biting words he never means but can't ever seem to stop. He's become extremely adept at saying stupid things, being a mindless slave to his emotions, and thinks that his friends should have already understood this fatal flaw in his design when they signed the proverbial friend's forever contract. Apparently the fine print had eluded them.

His spine prickles at the glares he's receiving and with tactless indifference he gazes over his shoulder, his own glare volatile enough to match theirs. Olette seems content enough to prolong their glaring contest, being the most level headed and ready to find fault in anything he did, said or thought. Pence, however, has grown weary of the entire situation and simply wants to find a solution that doesn't involve finger pointing, incoherent screaming or the emergency room.

"I can't believe you said yes." Olette murmured irritably, turning toward Pence for verbal support. Pence shrugged his shoulders, knowing from past experience that doing anything mildly incriminating would place him on sides, something he was desperately trying to avoid.

"Would you let it go already! Even my conscience isn't this annoying." Hayner snapped, stopping abruptly and turning toward his other two friends with defiance. He'd be damned if they were going to make him feel bad about this.

"That's because your brain has a shelf life and unfortunately, yours just expired." Olette shot back, knowing the quip was figuratively flying over Hayners circular and simplistic mind, much to her amusement.

"Haha, real funny. You know, you're a lot cuter when your mouths shut. Just thought I'd let you know."

Pence wondered how mature he'd seem if he simply left in the middle of the argument. Not very but it was becoming a very genuine and extremely appealing possibility. He sighed, knowing that if he ever wanted to get home he'd have to try and be the voice of reason, not the easiest job even for a technological wiz kid.

"Okay, both of you just stop. You need to talk to each other…"

"We are talking to each other!" Olette and Hayner screamed at the same time, earning a disgruntled look from the other and an exasperated roll of the eyes from Pence.

"…Without yelling."

A prolonged silence stretched between them, the first real step toward civility he'd heard since this whole thing began. It's a positive step, albeit probably in the wrong direction toward thousands of sharp needles and upside down staircases but it was something and he isn't going to jinx it just yet.

"Now look. Olette, you need to give Hayner a break. You know he tends to be oblivious, insensitive, thoughtless, inconsiderate…"

"I can hear you."

"I never said you couldn't. But that's not the point…the point is, Hayner just doesn't do the tact thing. He thinks with his heart and his pride and we have to respect that because that's just the way he is and Seifer knows it. That's why Seifer draws him out…because he knows Hayner won't think about the repercussions if his prides been wounded. It's not entirely his mistake, that's just his default setting."

Olette's expression shifted from indignant to thoughtful, considering Pence's words and knowing he was right. If Hayner weren't that simple minded, egotistical and impulsive she would honestly believe he was trying to irritate her by being reckless but she won't give him that much credit. Hayner is blunt to an irritating point; the type of person you know will be a long term friend but hope his habitual 'do now, ask questions later' attitude is a short term disease caused by lack of human contact. It's only later you learn he's just the link between man and ape and human contact-or evolution- was never on his to do list.

Pence appreciates the conscientious quiet, knowing Olette is making the effort to restore normalcy. He turned toward Hayner, his work cut out for him and prays to whatever deity isn't currently overseeing Sora, the destruction/reparation/destruction again of the worlds, Fuujin trying to teach Raijin math beyond the concept of fingers and toes that Hayner would listen to reason.

"Hayner, you have to try to understand Olette too. She worries about you, we both do and we can't help but become a little aggravated when you do things without thinking. We want to be included, to have you consider our feelings before jumping headfirst into these situations."

Hayner at least had the decency to look contrite, biting his tongue before murmuring anything conflict inducing –which was 99 of the time- and making eye contact with Olette, the first real sign of surrender.

"Look…I'm sorry okay? It's just, whenever Seifer talks I just want to…urgh!...I don't know…hit something. He always knows how to press my buttons and unfortunately I only have one big red 'Do not touch' button and Seifer's apparently color blind and thinks red is blue but tastes like purple."

Pence and Olette blink, an involuntary action lest they miss whatever unused gear had spurred that tangent, and smile because it's so incredibly Hayner that their anger dissipates. The three of them share a laugh and it feels good to have the universe in karmic balance, well, until the next time anyway.

"So, your not going to go through with it right?" Olette asks after their laughter dies down and Pence reluctantly winces. It seems next time isn't as far in the future as he would have hoped.

Hayner shook his head, his smile slowly disappearing to be replaced by an uncomfortable shift of eyes. "I have to Olette. He called me out in front of everybody…I can't just ignore that."

Pence is gazing at the wall, wondering if he hits his head hard enough will he be able to knock himself out. The motions seem easy enough but he'll admit that he's afraid of pain and knowing the day he's had, he'll probably make it out with only a headache he won't be sure wasn't there before. It's the easy way out and unfortunately, his nature has always prevented him from taking shortcuts…however time saving they may be.

"I can't believe you! Didn't anything we say get through that thick head of yours! Why can't you just ignore him?"

Hayner has learned that elaboration is just a pretty but useless word for saying he's universally wrong in any given situation. He doubts that equation is any less prevalent in this argument and curses Pence for not being brave enough to lunge himself at the wall he's been staring at for the last 5 mintues. God knows he would if he were only strategically positioned.

"You just don't understand…it's a matter of pride. It's a warrior's nature, to take the metaphorical 10 steps, turn and shoot."

"Really? Tell me "warrior" which one of you banged your sword against a rock and created fire because I'm starting to think Neanderthal was an expression modeled after the two of you."

Well, that certainly did it. If there was ever a 'This is your final chance to turn back from the proverbial pit of hell' they'd just run over it, hit reverse, run over it again and made a grave for its remains. Pence was pretty sure his nose would break if he smacked his head directly into the wall and wasn't looking forward to the taste of blood, regardless of how it would probably knock him unconscious.

Hayner's eyes narrowed, a sure sign that his mental gears had shifted and the one labeled insensitive was currently on full overload. Screw everything-and by association everyone- else. Understanding Hayner wasn't a jigsaw puzzle, nor was it as complicated as curing cancer or trying to teach a monkey to use a fork to eat instead of maul. Hayner had his dignity and as far as he was concerned that was all he really needed. Everything else stems from that one emotion. It was the first way Seifer hurt him, by attacking his pride. Attack that and you attack everything Hayner was...and he'd be damned if he'd let anyone get away with that.

"Fine then, if you're so stubborn about this then don't show up. You don't have to be there…I don't need you…both of you."

He'd like to say he was perversely happy at the wounded look in Olette's eyes or the sudden sadness in Pence's observant orbs. He'd like to say he was rudimentary enough to draw pleasure from the act of single handedly obliterating a friendship made of layers of trust and understanding. He'd like to say it and mean it but he can't. His foot is in his mouth and it tastes like previously chewed gum and spit. But he can't take it back and is too stubborn to do so.

For a second his mind thinks that this wasn't always like this. It wasn't always Olette and Hayner at odds with Pence trying to be the peace maker and failing miserably. It wasn't always a triangular sect of conflicting personalities trying to make a circle a square except it was a rhombus and the universe imploded. It wasn't always so…stale and tense. There was something else there, something he can't remember…someone he can't recall. Sometimes he thinks he can hear a voice tell him to chill, laugh a little at his expense and then go about fixing the entire situation with easy smiles and miraculous solutions. There are pieces that make up a sum but defy the equation by leaps and bounds. This memory, this nostalgia…this feeling is the sum of the problem but there's nothing making up its parts. For all he knows, it's his imagination trying to find a plausible excuse not to feel so alone.

In the end all he can do is turn and walk away, feeling like there are three pairs of eyes following him instead of two. It hurt to realize the one gaze that isn't there is the one he knows would follow him into the arena regardless of whether he was a stubborn idiot or not. It stings, but compared to the emptiness in his heart it's insignificant.

Where'd you go?
I miss you so,
Seems like it's been forever,
That you've been gone.

You can call Seifer whatever you want –Hayner takes that liberty quite often- but unskilled is never a term that comes to mind. He knows his hooks from his jabs, the pressure points that will lay someone unconscious or even kill–though he says he has too much at stake to be stupid enough to use them- and when his opponent is amateur enough to simply merit a rock to the forehead before getting the point. Hayner recognizes this, accepts it as one of the widespread truths and has learned that challenging it leads to an angry universe and several disastrous thunder strikes and karmic disruptions, none of which are mildly attractive.

Hayner quickly dodges to the left, avoiding an aerial attack from the self-dubbed "Disciplinarian" and goes on the offensive because giving Seifer a chance to regain his footing is like thumb taking a post-it to your forehead saying "kill me please" in big, bright, hemorrhage producing letters and a smiley face dotting the i's. What he doesn't realize is that he favors his left leg more than his right, a fact Seifer has always known and is quick to make use of. Before he can even formulate the thought Seifer has already turned, parried his punch and knocked out his leg from under him, sending him to the floor with inelegant fumbles.

Hayner could swear he heard someone shout his name and feels his heart skip at how familiar and reassuring the sound is. Quickly he rolls away from a body slam, stands and looks around, seeing only Fuujins impassive eyes, Raijins animated shouts and movements and Vivi trying to unsuccessfully avoid 170 pounds of dead weight, all of which were nowhere near Raijins head. Whatever presence he felt was gone and for a second he's frantic because he can swear it was real, encouraging and close, so very close.

Unfortunately, Hayner had just disregarded Rule #18 in the 100 Rules to understanding the universe, which was, never, ever turn your back on Seifer unless you want to taste the ground head first. He realized his mistake too late, turned and was met by a right hook square in the nose. He could feel/hear/taste the shattering of the bone, taste the coppery liquid drift down into his throat and swears someone is trying to catch him but he can't tell who's real anymore. His back hits the ground with surprising weightlessness and he suspects it's because a shard of his nose has probably pierced his brain and he's having some near death experience. It's the only plausible explanation he can come up with, why he can see an obscured shadow kneeling beside him, shaking him roughly and telling him that he's an idiot, that he can't give up, that Hayner needs to learn to multitask because apparently fighting and thinking aren't polar parallels in his small little world. Hayner laughs but he can sense tears in his eyes because he feels like he's found a long lost friend and wants to see his face, wants to touch him and hug him and punch him for not being there.

His eyes open and he realizes he's been passed out for the last 5 minutes, or so Vivi tells him before running after Seifer who has branded Hayner a waste of his time. His eyes gaze toward the only direction they can look toward without a painful moving of his body and he wonders if the sky has always been such a beautiful scarlet until he realizes he has a small cut above his eye, bleeding into his irises and dying the whole world crimson. For some red means happiness, for others purity but for Hayner it's just a color that makes the sky so much more existent than it was before. He wonders if the faceless boy can see the red sky too before he passes out.

She said "Some days I feel like shit,
Some days I wanna quit, and just be normal for a bit,"
I don't understand why you have to always be gone,
I get along but the trips always feel so long,
And, I find myself trying to stay by the phone,
'Cause your voice always helps me to not feel so alone,
But I feel like an idiot, workin' my day around the call,
But when I pick up I don't have much to say,
So, I want you to know it's a little fucked up,
That I'm stuck here waitin', at times debatin',
Tellin' you that I've had it with you and your career,
Me and the rest of the family here singing "Where'd you go?"

His door is unlocked, no real surprise because his mother is like a train without tracks and the only reason she remembers he's even there is because he's forced to cook for her at least twice a week and nearly burns the house four more times after that. His keys hit the table with a resounding echo, the only thing he could perceive with his five senses…wait, the swollen eye brought it down to four, the broken nose left three, the blood in his mouth killed two, the swollen hand left one more than was psychologically necessary for survival so all electronic appliances were to be avoided at all costs.

With much more strength than he would ever admit to using he went to his room, avoiding textbooks –he couldn't believe what great paperweights they made-, empty CD cases and the occasional discarded shirt he swore hissed at him a few times before he threw it into the hamper. He stomped into his bathroom, withdrawing a first aid kit and set to work on making himself look human, or as close to it as possible. Not that his mom would notice anyway but he wasn't looking forward to another random attack by the neighbors son because this time, he wouldn't have the right to hit back.

After twenty minutes of pus, blood, sand and bone he only looks mildly grotesque and is sure he's stretched the definition past its boundaries and into uncharted territory. So long as it's not dead or oh my fucking god, your face… it burns he accepts whatever definition is given to him, regardless of the degradation to his pride.

He wandered downstairs, opened the freezer and found a sea-salt ice cream bar, the last one in the entire house. He doesn't remember having bought it and his mother sure as hell wasn't one for giving her son favors and the endless possibilities keep rolling through his mind until he takes it out, rips off the plastic cover and puts it in his mouth, hoping to dissolve the acrid taste of blood and numb his broken lip. He goes back upstairs, opens the window and sits on the sill, watching the sunset with only faint interest. Slowly he withdraws the Popsicle from his mouth and lets it hang limply in his hand, watching the blue sugar droplets fall from the tip, a toast to some forgotten specter from his mind he was sure sat on the sill with him, eating ice cream and making the house seem smaller than it truly was.

"Thanks for the ice cream kid…but next time, give it to me in person so I know I'm not out of my mind."


I miss you so,
Seems like it's been forever,
That you've been gone.
Where'd you go?
I miss you so,
Seems like it's been forever,
That you've been gone,
Please come back home...

Hayner chewed on his pen top, wondered if ink was lethal and was sure that if the experiment hadn't been conducted, he would be the worlds first guinea pig. He gagged a few times, trying not to choke on the bitter taste in his mouth and questioned between gasps whether teachers were paid to help students who seemed in need of medical attention because if they were, his teacher was obviously not on the payroll.

His gaze wandered toward the sea of empty chairs surrounding his, read the time on the clock and stared in the hope that sheer force of will would miraculously make it go faster.

3:01

He groaned. Obviously his force of will was nonexistent.

3:00

Wait…what the…?

2:59

I'll stop okay! Geez…

3:00

…School…is twisted.

With a groan he leaned back, propping his feet on the chair in front of him and counted the cracks in the ceiling. When he was done he wondered if the ceiling could handle one more fallen textbook…or if it was legal to have that many fissures on a solid pane of plaster without the threat of a possible implosion by the schools foundation. He sat up, murmuring something about the Board of Education trying to finish them off once and for all and reached for his book bag, withdrawing a leather bound book, the thing responsible for his lateness to school and subsequently the hour of after school hell known as detention.

Slowly and with unusual care he opened the photo album, gazing at the faces he's inscribed into his memory since childhood. Most of the pictures were of himself, Olette and Pence in various degrees of adorable positions, the opening pages bearing an assortment of pictures from their first days together. His heart constricted tightly, remembering their encounter today and how incredibly strained it was, so much so that it seemed it would snap and take his head with it. Olette's gaze, full of wounded emotion and accusation made itself present when she slammed her locker, walking past him without a word, leaving an undecided Pence to take sides. In the end all Pence could do was lower his head, gather his books and rush past Hayner, probably to comfort Olette or himself or both. He'd been angry; he could admit that but mostly at himself for not being able to admit he was wrong at admitting he was right. The whole thing had given him a headache and he'd closed his locker, wandering toward detention hall and feeling like the whole thing was a huge joke at his expense, except there was no one to laugh.

He flipped through the next pages with unabashed exigency, knowing the images by heart and wandering into their most recent photographs, the ones of their previous summer vacation. He gazed at them with an attentiveness to detail that would have made any teacher wonder who he was, what he had done with Hayner and if it they could help move the body. Most of the images were structured, given to prepared poses and particulars no one would question, the main reason why some of the random pictures seemed so out of place. A distant picture of Seifer lying on the ground, Fuujin and Raijin at his side in support and comfort, one of the weapons shop keeper at an odd angle, one of the abandoned mansion with its convoluted locks…one of the three of them taken from a frontal view, a huge gap on the far left near Hayner. He knows someone is there, someone he's meant to remember but can't grasp. He'd like to say that someone cropped the photos, gave them all drugs to make them forget and a thousand other conspiracy theories two steps away from landing him in the loony bin but he's sensible enough to remember that Raijin took most of the photos and, not being given to aesthetics, angle, form, pose, or any other prettily painted word that stopped Hayner from saying the boy was a fucking idiot, probably messed up the photo and was indirectly giving Hayner migraines.

With a frustrated sigh he closed the book, the smell of old leather and memories drifting up from the forgotten pages and making him long for something…too many something's he can't name, a recent affliction that hasn't stopped. His gaze passes over the adjacent seat and he squinted his eyes, knowing that someone once sat next to him in this familiar space, filling the room with snide remarks, practical jokes and the comfort of presence, even if he hadn't been responsible for the act which had landed them there to begin with. Hayner shook his head, placed the album back in his book bag and gazed at the clock.

3:03

The reverberating echo of a head against a wooden table earned him another day's detention and the further loss of his sanity.

You know the place where you used to live,
Used to barbecue up burgers and ribs,
Used to have a little party every Halloween with candy by the pile,
But now, you only stop by every once and a while,
Shit, I find myself just fillin' my time,
With anything to keep the thought of you from my mind,
I'm doin' fine, I plan to keep it that way,
You can call me if you find that you have something to say,
And I'll tell you, I want you to know it's a little fucked up,
That I'm stuck here waitin', at times debatin',
Tellin' you that I've had it with you and your career,
Me and the rest of the family here singing "Where'd you go?"

He should have gone home but decided that no one there was worth returning to. His feet moved of their own volition, taking him from place to place without direction or motive. Sometimes he could just make out a memory at the forefront of his mind but it would vanish, carried off by a random wind or a recognizable face waving to him in acknowledgment.

He wasn't sure at what point his mind decided autopilot was too hard of a setting for Hayner to handle and snapped him back to reality, leaving him in the shadow of the train station. With deliberate steps he ascended the narrow staircases that reeked of vomit, urine and a cadaver or two everyone claimed was rodents but Hayner wasn't too sure rodents were supposed to smell like alcohol. He drifted outside, unsurprised by the sight of his friends sitting on the protruding edge, eating ice cream in silence. They're gazes met, locked and moved away and Hayner interpreted it to mean it was okay for him to sit, albeit he didn't go too close to the edge. He wouldn't put it past Olette to try and kill him in the most unsuspecting way possible.

"You know, I think all the sense in the world drained away the day Sora left and now it's about ready to implode and become a tap dancing moogle before it fixes itself again." Hayner murmured apathetically, gazing at the rooftops below with detached interest. He could hear Pence snort and Olette giggle and smiled when a sea-salt ice cream bar was placed in front of his face, their way of saying they agreed.

"Nothing ever makes sense to you. I don't think it's universally allowed. But if it did you probably wouldn't be you…whatever that is." Pence said, smiling at the look of offence on Hayner's face.

"Oh, I have a couple of words…" Olette began, only to have a hand placed over her mouth.

"Remember, this is an E rated environment with a PG rated cast. We're already punching the boundaries of reality in the throat as it is. Don't push it." Hayner murmured, earning a laugh from the others.

It wasn't an apology but no one expected one of those. Perhaps their friendship had evolved to a point in which 'sorry' was redundant, or maybe it was that Pence and Olette had found his unmerciful beating by Seifer punishment enough…or maybe it was that the universe was actually in the process of implosion and somehow, somewhere a moogle had just learned the samba. Regardless of the mechanics he's thankful for the outcome. Hayner took another lick of his ice cream, his gaze wandering toward the others and nearly chokes when he notices an unopened ice cream bar lying between Pence and Olette.

Both teens smile at his bemused expression, sharing a look that he was sure he'd seen in the mirror often enough.

"We think nothing makes sense too…but so long as the universe keeps responding, we're willing to wait."



I miss you so,
Seems like it's been forever,
That you've been gone.
Where'd you go?
I miss you so,
Seems like it's been forever,
That you've been gone,
Please come back home...

The waves lapped around his ankles, trying unsuccessfully to draw him into the hypnotic blue dyes and green shards of the endless ocean. He feels like he's stuck in a cliché, raises a middle finger and hopes he's just given karma the last kick it needs to send the entire plane of existence on a crash course with reality, because even he's getting tired of all the unexplained weirdness.

Digging in his pocket he withdraws the only tangible proof of his insanity, a red colored sphere he's sure isn't his. After all, hadn't Seifer won the struggle tournament and earned the one of a kind trophy, marked with four rare crystals? Unless he'd been absent the day common sense was taught 1+1 did not equal the cancellation of all reason as we know it. Well, sometimes, when they added letters because they'd run out of numbers and pretended it still made sense except they'd spelled the word ASS which was actually -14 and by then Hayner had given up on going to college in general.

With a smile he held up the sphere into the sunlight, watching as patches of scarlet, burgundy and ruby played with the natural physics of the water, his hair, skin and clothes. He remembers his brief time with Kairi, in which she'd spoken to them about the boy named Sora, the one she'd forgotten until she'd met his memory in a dream. She'd written him a letter, wasn't sure for who it was for or if it would ever reach beyond the tangle of rocks and algae before breaking and sinking. But it had been the action, the thought and the decision that mattered. You could sit and wait or you could do something about it. A white flag in one hand, middle finger in the other and you've established yourself as the principle character in the story of your destiny.

"Well Kairi…looks like I've just raised the proverbial white flag." Hayner murmured with amusement, winding his hand back and throwing the crystal as far as he could, watching with satisfaction as it winked one last time in the dying sun before fading out of existence in the ripples of water.

He's been taught that people forget memories with time and enough denial. Faces fade, colors fade, voices fade, textures and smells…it all goes down the drain. But they will always remember how you made them feel, the emotion attached to that dismembered package labeled memory. Whoever it is that left his outline on the rim of his heart, the boy/girl veiled in darkness and red intentions will always be remembered, not as a plausible image but as an emotion no one can take away from him. If there was ever a way to be eternal it was through feeling.

"Remember kid, I'm waiting for you. You better come back…this is your home. Got that?"

I want you to know it's a little fucked up,
That I'm stuck here waitin', no longer debatin',
Tired of sittin' and hatin' and makin' these excuses,
For why you're not around, and feeling so useless,
It seems one thing has been true all along,
You don't really know what you've got 'til it's gone,
I guess I've had it with you and your career,
When you come back I won't be here and you can sing it...

They were late again and honestly, Kairi shouldn't be surprised but she'd think that after all their moaning about coming back to the island, the least they could do was wake up on time for school. With an exasperated sigh she turned around, motioning for Riku to hurry up and stamping her foot in impatience when the silver haired boy smiled, taking his sweet time to reach her.

"Urgh! Do you guys want to go to school?...At all?" Kairi growled, earning an amused laugh from Riku who simply walked past her, heading toward the beach where their third member was sure to be.

"Is that a rhetorical question?"

Kairi rolled her eyes, muttering a never mind and moved to catch up, wondering why Riku was so blasé about the entire situation. Didn't he go to a prestigious private school with full scholarship that warranted his early attendance?

"Yeah but, after spending two years visiting worlds, your memories and the darkness, school pales in comparison. The fact that it's a private school repels me even more."

"Why?"

"You guys aren't there. What's the point if we're not together?"

Kairi's annoyance evaporated -she really should have known better than to try and be angry with those two- and surprised Riku by leaning up to kiss his cheek, sharing a smile with the silver haired teen and continuing toward the crest of the hill where the suns rays were just beginning to ascend. Her gaze swept across the rolling waves tinged ginger and came to a rest at the messy mop of chocolate hair; blue eyes wandering across the same horizon. She smiled because, through it all, Sora really hadn't changed and she wants, now more than ever, to protect that innocence a bit longer.

"Sora you lazy bum! Hurry up or we'll be late!" Kairi shouted into the natural stillness of the morning, effectively startling the keyblade wielder. Sora turned quickly, nearly fumbling on his own two feet and Riku chuckled when Kairi threw her hands up in defeat. Giving a sheepish grin Sora waded out of the water, putting on his shoes with careless haste, grabbing his book bag from atop a sanded down rock and racing up the hill to catch up with his friends.

During the gathering of his possessions Selphie had appeared, waving at Kairi and Riku in recognition. Both returned the gesture -Kairi with an enthusiastic wave and Riku with a brief nod- and Kairi excused herself for a moment to go and talk with her longtime friend about the previous night's homework.

"Where's she going?" Sora asked, having arrived just in time to see Kairi's retreating back. His breath came in short gasps, sweat trickling down his brow and, onan unconscious impulse, he leaned against Riku, body braced against the others in much needed support as he tried to learn how to breath through both his nose and mouth independently. Riku made a quip about getting chubby since their last adventure, poking Sora in the stomach when the other glared and earning an adorable giggle in return.

"To talk to Selphie. Better question is, what were you doing out here?" Riku murmured, wrapping an arm around his best friend's shoulders as they made their way down the hill. Sora seemed mildly uncomfortable with the question, staring at the ground for a prolonged amount of time before Riku squeezed his shoulders, surprising him with the show of understanding. Sora smiled, reached into his pants pocket and withdrew a damp ruby colored sphere cradled tenderly in his palm, presenting it to the other in unspoken justification.

"I woke up early and couldn't go back to sleep so I decided to waste the rest of the morning here. I found this shining in the water. It was almost as if…I don't know, like it was calling to me. Sounds stupid huh?"

Riku gazed at the orb in Sora's hand, his recognition instant. Gently he captured Sora's hand, closing small fingers around the crystal sphere and silencing its reflective colors. Sora raised an eyebrow at the action, earning a roll of the eyes and the ruffling of his unruly hair.

"Someone's calling you home."

Sora knew Riku liked to speak in tongues, was used to it and could usually just hit the other upside the head until one thing he said made sense…or wait it out until Riku felt like elaborating. But this time Sora could safely say he was completely, utterly and totally lost.

"But I…I'm already home…aren't I?"

Riku tried not to laugh at the endearing confusion on Sora's face, turning only when Kairi called their names, motioning for them to catch up or be left behind. He poked at the soft patch of skin between Sora's eyes, moving to comply with Kairi's request. He called to the other over his shoulder.

"You have many homes, many worlds that keep you in their memories. One person or maybe one hundred are calling you back to them…a reminder that you are tied to each other, now and forever. Remember that Sora…you are in the heart of everyone you meet and bind all those you know. All those both of you know." With a wink and a laugh Riku left Sora to gaze at his newly acquired treasure, a slow smile forming on his lips as he soundlessly repeated Riku's words.

"Leave it to you to be impulsive. But I can hear you, even across the distance of the waves…such a noisy idiot." Sora whispered, closing his eyes as his mind envisioned a group of shadowed faces, hands outstretched, awaiting his return. A sudden yell broke his concentration, abruptly returning him toward reality. Grasping the jewel tightly he replaced it in his pocket for safe keeping before rushing to catch up with his friends, hugging Kairi in both greeting and apology and tackling Riku for his earlier teasing.

Only the scarlet sky saw the flash of his blue eyes, the trees felt the sudden flare of flaxen hair amid chocolate colored strands and the air saw the smile that was made up of two halves instead of a whole. And Sora could hear it, as well as Hayner could sense it, as much as either Kairi or Riku could perceive it or Pence and Olette could smile at it. They're hearts shifted into place, one heart, one sky, one destiny. Because in the end, every heart…will go back home.

Where'd you go?
I miss you so,
Seems like it's been forever,
That you've been gone.
Where'd you go?
I miss you so,
Seems like it's been forever,
That you've been gone,
Please come back home...


That's it for this one. Thank you all for reading and I would appreciate a review. It feeds the attention seeking monster in me. (grin) Take care and happy writing to you all!