Long time no see, guys! Erm…I suppose an apology is in order, as per usual? Sorry again! -bows- A lot's been going on, which, also as per usual, will be located in my profile, so I won't waste your time with it here. This one has been 90 percent finished for like…a long time. BUT, I had this paper where I had been taking notes while I replayed the game and um…I kind of…lost it. Haha…yeah. Sorry about that. I looked everywhere, damn it. I could have sworn that it was in a notebook-…wait a second…strawberry notebook! -opens drawer, opens said notebook- …wow. No shit. Curse my goldfish memory span! If I had just remembered that it was in a notebook, not on a scrap of paper…ugh. I weary myself, guys. I really do.

Anyway, on to more important things! I don't know what the hell's wrong with the format on FFN today. It's not working...it's putting "th Day" of the chapter title on the next line, the scroll buttons aren't working properly and keep going back to the top of the document and stuff...whatever. Last chapter was only day 7...and now we've jumped to 19?! Well, sort of. It starts off as the next day, and talks about the passing days, but most of the chapter is about the 19th day. Also, note that I added in just the chorus from the song Simple and Clean. Well, wouldn't it be weird if I didn't? As corny as it may seem. I put the chorus from the English version, which is what most of you probably know, but also the translation of the Japanese version's(Hikari's) chorus, just in case some of you like it better. As for me, this is one series I like best in English.

Well, hope this chapter helps you guys to forgive me. It's almost ten pages. Now I have to go reply to your reviews, which you guys probably forgot that you even wrote. Sorry again. -bows- (Oh hey! As a side note, I noticed that a lot of people seem to get away with putting smut in their fics…am I like, the only one who follows the rules anymore? How do these people get away with it? Shit, I got a fic deleted once because of LYRICS…all my shit would probably disappear if I dared to include the smut instead of giving it by request…wtf.)

And just real quick, a shout-out to Chubby-King-Chocobo who left a lovely review, but no way for me to reply! This chapter is for you. Thanks so much!

Chapter Eight: The 19

th Day

The next morning, Riku was promptly kicked out of bed, hitting the floor with a thump. He was about to climb to his feet and beat the shit out of the person attached to the offending foot, when a female voice reached his ears.

"Oh, Sora! You're already awake!" Kairi blushed, seeing her crush in only his boxers for the first time.

"Uh-yeah." The blanket had followed Riku down, so the brunet had sat up as she entered, as if he was in the process of crawling out of bed. He didn't think it would be the end of the world if the silver haired teen was found there, but figured it best to avoid anything suspicious for now.

She smiled widely, looking him over. "You're so handsome, Sora."

Not used to receiving such compliments, he felt his face heat up, disliking the extremely awkward situation he now found himself in. "Um…thanks…I guess…"

Riku rolled his eyes from his place on the floor, briefly imagining what her reaction would be if he had suddenly popped up and said 'Hey, Sora, where did you throw my boxers last night? I know it was in the heat of the moment, but you found yours. Help me find mi-oh, hello, Kairi.' It would be glorious, he was sure of that, but his best friend would probably never forgive him for it. But then Sora would insist that it was all a joke…and Kairi would easily believe it. I guess…maybe our relationship hasn't made any progress after all. No…I don't want to believe that. Because Sora doesn't lie, and last night he told me…

"I…I don't love her…"

Still, that doesn't mean that he loves…

The redhead giggled. "Breakfast is almost ready, Sora."

"I'll be there in a minute." The brunet answered hastily. Another smile and she was gone, causing him to sigh in relief. "Crisis aver-" Before he knew what was happening, a hand had grabbed his wrist and given it a good yank, pulling him right off the bed. "…ted?" Sora finished with a blink, staring into aqua eyes that were alive with mischief.

He tried so hard not to laugh at that cute, innocent face. Without warning, he kissed the unsuspecting brunet fully, his tongue easily gaining access to Sora's hot mouth. There was no resistance whatsoever, and it pleased Riku greatly. He had been pissed when he heard Kairi trying her hardest to suck up to the shorter boy, and he needed confirmation that Sora was still, technically, his; that he was still wanted. Loved? He wasn't sure about that, but would worry about it at a later time. He had promised himself that he would let his best friend take all the time he needed to figure it out. Sora will tell me when he decides. He reminded himself. But if he has to think about it for so long, isn't the answer obvious? A little nagging voice in the back of his head whispered. He just doesn't want to hurt you. He'll be 'thinking about it' forever. He forced the thoughts away. But…he's kissing me right now. He ran hesitant fingers though soft, chocolate brown spikes before regretfully pulling away, taking Sora's hand in his own. You're not just 'handsome'…you're gorgeous. That's what I want to tell you, but… "…Sora, I-"

He gasped suddenly. "Riku, you have to get out of here! She could come back looking for me any second now!" Then he scrambled to his feet before holding out his hand to his best friend.

Suppressing a sigh, Riku took the offered hand and got to his feet before making his way to the window. "I'll wait for you on the play island." Only half way out the window, his arm was held onto tightly. Glancing back up, the brunet looked like he might burst into tears at any moment. "…Sora?"

"…" I…

He tried to smile. "What's with that face? Hurry and eat, then we can go work on the-"

"Riku…what are we gonna do now?"

"…what do you mean?"

Troubled blue eyes stared at the floor. "You can't stay here anymore, but…you can't go home, either. I'm just…worried…I mean, I don't know what we can even do-"

Riku pulled him down into a short, needy kiss before mustering up a more convincing smile. "Heh, what did I say about you and thinking too much?" At the brunet's blush, he grinned slightly. "I don't know what's gonna happen now, but…we'll think of something. Don't worry. It'll be alright, Sora. I promise."

Letting a relieved smile creep onto his face, the brunet finally let him go. "…okay. I guess we'll talk about it later."

The silver haired teen nodded before climbing the rest of the way out the window. We have…to make it. The only thing I'm worried about is Kairi. I have a bad feeling that she's going to do her best to ruin this.

Sora waved at his best friend's retreating back until he was out of sight and then proceeded to dress. I…believe you, Riku .

After almost being caught in Sora's room that morning, Riku had set up camp on his paopu island. The brunet had worried about him like hell at first, even sneaking out in the middle of the night to check on him, but had warmed up to the idea after the first few days. He kept clothing and blankets in a small abandoned tree house on the less used half the of the island. There were few breakfasts to speak of, but it was easy to go back to the main island with Sora for lunch, since the brunet's mother was always at work in the afternoons. Sora would sneak back to the play island late every night to bring his best friend some of the dinners his mother made. Sleeping under the stars, breathing the fresh, salty air, and a large fire to keep him warm till morning came…Riku concluded that it really wasn't all that bad; except that he got little to no physical contact out of the object of his affections. As much as he would have liked to try out a few sleepovers, the boy was adamant about being careful and making sure no one found out that he was gone.

Everyday, the silver haired teen worked hard to make them a really strong raft that would carry them safely to new worlds. Sora tried hard to ignore Kairi's little advances, relentless as she was. Often times, he'd get pulled away in the middle of helping Riku make the raft, and today was one such occasion: the day before the festival. The day before they were to set sail

"Sooora! Come with me to the docks, pleeeease?"

He gave his best friend a pleading look, but Riku carried on as if it wasn't even happening-he always did. Why don't you say something? I know you hate this, so why not stop her? Are you…mad at me? "Um…okay…" They made their way there in relative silence.

Kairi sat down at the end of the dock and patted the spot next to her.

The brunet sighed quietly and took the seat, dangling his feet off the edge. "So…what is it, Kairi?"

"You're really going with him, aren't you? The end of summer festival is tomorrow night…but you won't be taking me, will you?" It definitely sounded like an accusation.

"We had offered that you could come, Kairi…" He tried, somewhat defensively.

"And I don't want to! You aren't…really going to leave me just to go nowhere with him, are you?"


"Riku's changed, Sora. He isn't your best friend anymore. So if you're really set on going…then we'll go, just the two of us!"

Sora blinked. "What? I can't just leave Riku-"

"I was only kidding." She insisted. "Still…you know you can't go, right? You'll get in so much trouble. And without you…I…" Kairi paused a moment before continuing. "You know, I was a little afraid at first, when I saw your drawing on the cave wall that said that you accepted my feelings. But now…I'm ready."

Ready…? For what? They sat in silence a while longer before Sora stood. Better yet, what drawing? I didn't do any drawing…what is she talking about? This is too weird. "I…I should go back. Riku needs my help."

And then, seemingly out of no where, she exploded. "It's always Riku, Riku, Riku! What about me, Sora?! I thought…that you…" She bit her bottom lip as if trying to prevent herself from crying. "Tell me the truth: do you…do you love me, or not?"

He gulped, but decided to answer honestly. "…no."

"So it was all just a joke, is that it? Laugh at the new girl with your best friend?!" She spat, seething. "You're so cruel, Sora! I can't believe…I can't believe I really thought that you wanted to share a paopu fruit with me tomorrow at the festival! I can't believe that I fell for it!" Tears were streaming down her face as she got to her feet and ran off, most likely to Selphie. That raft won't take you anywhere…I'll make sure of it. Everyone will know…what Riku has done to you. I hate to do this, but you won't get away with tricking me!

"Uh-Kairi-wait!" But it was too late, she was gone. The brunet scratched the back of his head, confused. "Share a paopu fruit? Drawing…on the cave wall? What?" Making a quick decision, he jogged down the pier and made a right, heading for their childhood hideout. It took him a moment to spot the drawing that she had spoken of, and he stared at it for quite some time. He recalled that, many days ago, she had drawn him, and so, in turn, he had drawn her beside him. It was the day of their big sword fight, where he accidentally injured the silver haired teen…it was the day that some really big problems began. But…maybe our problems started before that. Maybe they started the very day that we found Kairi here.

"Hey, Riku…what's it like, being with someone?"

"What, like dating someone?"


"You're thinking about that new girl that was washed up on the shore today."

Riku was offended right away…which makes sense if he…likes me… Sora shook his head furiously. If. If he does. Still, that would account for his attitude. I wonder…if I hadn't asked that question, would we ever have started being…um…more than friends? Would we have just stayed the way we were forever? Come to think of it, Riku was mad the next night, when I accused him of liking her…I figured he got angry because he didn't like being called out on it, but…have I been wrong, all this time? Have you been trying to tell me something these past few weeks, Riku…? Maybe I really am oblivious… He sat down and examined Kairi's drawn hand, which was holding the paopu fruit. He couldn't be sure, but it seemed like her kind of drawing. Someone else, however, had added his hand to the star shaped fruit. It seemed like the person tried to mimic the way she had done the first hand, but pretty much failed. Sora didn't draw hands with only three fingers, either. He wasn't an artist, but even his stick figure pictures as a small boy had five digits present. No, someone else had clearly done this, and on purpose. Someone wanted Kairi to find it and jump to conclusions. Who the hell would do this…? Tidus? Maybe…I can't believe all this trouble with her was caused by a misunderstanding! I have to tell Kairi!

Just then, a low, smooth voice chuckled, causing Sora to nearly jump out of his skin.

"W-Who's there?!" He whipped around, seeing no one. The cave was kind of dark, but his eyes should have grown accustomed to it by now. He blinked a few times, wondering if maybe he had been hearing things. Suddenly, there was an intense chill in the air as a small light seemed to come alive next to him. The bare wall began to glow before a wooden door with golden trim appeared beside him. "What the…"

The mysterious voice spoke then, proving that it certainly was not just some crazy part of his imagination. "I suppose I have come…to see the door to this world."

"…" Looking left and right, the brunet still saw no one. "…what door? This…door?" It wasn't here a second ago! It's never been here before! Who the hell is this guy? Did he…make this door thing?

"It seems that you do not yet know what lies beyond the door." He offered, instead of answering the question.

Sora narrowed his eyes, not quite sure why he was still talking to this stranger. Was it an adult? Someone's parent or older sibling playing a prank? Tidus' creep of a father, perhaps? "Well, how could I? It just got here…and look, it doesn't even have a handle. I probably can't even open it."

"This world has been connected. Tied…to the darkness." There was a low, hollow laugh. "There is so very much to learn. After all, you understand so little."

He frowned, knitting his brows together in confusion. What the hell is this guy talking about? Connected? Tied to darkness? What? "Look, I don't know what you're trying to say, but…I know there's a lot I still have to learn. So, I'll go out and experience all of it. Then I can understand-"

At length, a robed figure seemed to step out of the shadows, his face hidden. "A meaningless effort."

He backed up quickly, towards the exit, still watching the man's every move.

"Because one who knows nothing can understand nothing."

"So…once I know, then I can understand…right?" Without waiting for the answer, the brunet turned and sprinted out of the cave, not stopping until he reached paopu island, crumpling into a heap at his best friend's feet. "R-Riku…"

The silver haired teen just continued tying on their second-to-last log. He was still ticked that Sora continued to go to 'talks' with Kairi, not to mention that he'd been gone a whole twenty minutes this time. Although his calm face didn't show it, he had imagined every horrible scenario that could have come of it in that time-including being told that he would have to leave on his own.

"Riku!" Sora tried again, latching onto the yellow and blue shorts. "I-I was in the cave and there's this weird guy and this creepy door and-"

He frowned. "What are you talking about?"

"Just-c'mon!" The brunet struggled to his feet, still trying to catch his breath. He wordlessly grabbed the other's pocket knife out of the sand and jogged back in the direction he had come from, knowing Riku would follow. They entered cautiously, but it was only a few moments before he realized that there was nothing there. No door, no suspicious character. I couldn't have…imagined all of that?

"Well?" He insisted, crossing his arms.

"I…I don't know where they went." Sora reluctantly admitted.


"The door and that guy."

Riku rubbed his temple as if he was getting a headache. "So there was a guy…carrying around a door?"

"Yes! Well, no! He wasn't carrying it. It was…um…part of the…wall…" He trailed off at his best friend's incredulous look.

Sora doesn't lie. He reminded himself. Normally, he would believe anything his short counterpart said. This, however, was just a little too strange. "…maybe you've been out in the sun too long today. These walls are solid rock." He demonstrated by tapping it a few times with his fist. "You couldn't put a door in if your life depended on it, much less remove it that easily and leave nothing behind…"

"I know what I saw, okay?!"

He sighed. "Okay, I'll humor you. What did this guy look like?"

"I…" Sora hung his head, defeated. "He wore some kind of hood. I couldn't see his face." He snapped his head up and pointed at the bare stone. "But a door without a handle appeared right there, and then this guy came out of the shadows, saying all kinds of weird shit-"

"Why were you here in the first place?" Riku tried, hoping for an answer that made sense.

"Oh, well, that's because-" Sora's eyes nearly popped out of his head as he remembered why he had been there at all. "Riku! Someone set me up!"

He stared for a moment, exasperated. "…is this still about that guy and his handleless door…?"

"No, not that! Look-" He grabbed his best friend's hand and tugged him a few more feet before letting go and pointing an accusing finger at the picture. "Someone else drew that hand!" He announced.

"…just the hand?" Riku inquired suspiciously, quirking a silver brow. I don't like where this is going…

Sora smacked his bare shoulder. "Shut up, that's not the point! Kairi asked me…if I love her…" He continued quickly when he saw the slightly shocked expression on the other's face, remembering that it had been asked of him once before by his best friend. "And I said no, because…well, I don't. But…then she said something about us tricking her and about a drawing on the wall. So…I came to check it out."

Riku looked down at the picture again, a deep frown set into his face. I really don't like where this is going…

"She thought I wanted to share a paopu fruit with her tomorrow, Riku. I have to tell her that I didn't do this."

He shook his head. "Don't bother." I have a feeling she won't believe you. "I'd bet you anything that she's planning revenge, just like how she told my parents that I was stealing from them."

"…" Even I had kind of suspected, but you still sound completely convinced. You don't think…that she'd tell my mom…?

"At any rate, it doesn't matter. We have to put the finishing touches on the raft and…acquire some provisions. You should probably just sleep out here tonight, to be safe. Then we can set sail first thing in the morning-"

"You know I can't do that, Riku…this'll be the my last time seeing mom for, well, who knows how long? Besides…I really think we should try and clear things up with Kairi…you know, before we go…"

He crossed his arms again, making his way to the cave's exit. "…do what you want. Either way, go get us some lunch. We can't afford to stop working today."

Sora sulked, slowly following him out. "…okay." But on his way to the boats, he instead went up the small path, hoping that Kairi would be with the others up there. However, he was quickly intercepted by Selphie. "Hey, is Kai-"

"What do you want?" She narrowed her eyes. "Come to make things worse? Come to laugh?"

"No, I-Selph, this is all a misundersta-"

"Sure it is. So where's your gay partner in crime?" She continued to glare, clearly not about to move.

"…gay?" Then it dawned on him and he looked down sadly. "…oh. I see…" He couldn't figure out how Kairi had known anything about that, deciding that they must have been careless at some point. However, the fact that she would tell everyone at the drop of a hat before asking him about it first…it just made him sad. I guess…this is one of those times where Riku would say 'I told you so!'…no, he'd be pissed if he knew about this. I guess you were right all along. Then she is the one who told your parents. And she's probably planning to tell my mom now. I'm sorry that I doubted you, Riku…

The usually bouncy girl's expression softened. "Look, Sora…I…I want to believe you. Really. You guys have never been anything but nice to me all of these years and, well…I don't care if you're gay. It doesn't bother me." She paused before mumbling. "It's actually kind of…um…cute." She coughed once, as if to cover it up.

He blinked, not really sure what the hell was going on. "Then you need to let me tell her that this-"

Selphie shook her head, cutting him off. "I can't do that. I promised I wouldn't let either of you through, no matter what. You're lucky it's my turn to watch; Tidus and Wakka seemed like they were really to attack you guys. Kairi begged them not to. How could you make her cry like that?" She put her hands on her hips. "You should be ashamed of yourself."

"I'm telling you, you have it all wrong!" He wailed. "There's an explanation for all of this…"

She seemed to think it over before shaking her head again. "Just…leave it alone for now. Try again later. A girl's heart is a delicate thing, and now Kairi's is broken. I'm sure she'll want to hear what you have to say, just…not right now. Sorry, Sora."

He let his shoulders slump, dejected. "…okay. Thanks, Selph…"

"I'm sorry…" She whispered as he walked away at a slow pace. He continued to turn it over in his mind all the way to his house.

When the brunet returned, however, his best friend was no where to be found. "That's weird…I thought he stayed behind so he could work. Maybe he went to get something?" He muttered to himself, heading for the makeshift door that lead to the less used half of the island. We should eat over there anyway, maybe in his tree house. Cause, except for the paopu tree, we cut down all the shade. He laughed a little at the thought, stepping out onto pure white sand. He looked around, but with Riku still no where to be seen, he started across the wooden planks that they used for their best races.

Taking a few steps back, preparing to jump across one of the large gaps they had made, a strange sound tickled sensitive ears and he stilled immediately. Sora looked around again, still seeing no one, but he could now hear it clearly: humming. Someone was humming a familiar pop tune that he couldn't remember the name of…and that someone was unmistakably Riku. Crouching down, he looked over the edge of the bridge and his breath caught in his throat.

The silver haired teen was standing beside the flow of clean spring water that came from the top of the island to a small pool by their cave and finally out into the ocean there. He was completely naked, humming quietly while he soaped up his wet hair. Truthfully, he had been really hungry, and after five minutes of waiting for Sora to return, he could no longer stand it. The events of the day bothering him greatly, he decided to shower while he waited and attempt to clear his head. So he had picked the last song he'd been lucky enough to hear, having no radio or television since he'd left Sora's house, deciding to distract himself with it. Unfortunately, he could only remember a couple of the words, mostly the chorus, so he lamely hummed it. It wasn't exactly his kind of music, but he enjoyed the possible, very open-to-interpretation, meaning behind the chorus.

When you walk away,

You don't hear me say

"Please…oh, baby, don't go."

Simple and clean is the way

That you're making me feel tonight…

It's hard to let it go.

Sora could only gape down at him, utterly entranced. The way his silver hair sparkled when wet, his soft, smooth voice carried on the wind as he carefully rinsed the soap from his hair, the way his muscles moved under his pale skin…standing there, looking so unconsciously beautiful. The brunet continued to look him up and down as suddenly everything seemed calm in the world…even Riku, himself, who was never really happy, seemed to be at peace with life. It was more than simply serene; Sora found it absolutely fascinating. The only thing that wasn't calm, he realized, was him. His heart was pounding in his chest and his boxers began to feel slightly confining as he attempted to swallow the lump that had formed in his throat. He had felt like this when Riku had kissed him, touched him, been on top of him…but simply by looking at him? Since when? Well…he is, uh…naked… His mind reasoned as a hefty blush crept onto his cheeks. They had never really seen each other naked before, and aside from the two times that they stripped down to their underwear, they had never come close.

Gulping again, the brunet slowly backed up, tearing his eyes away at last. It's only normal that he should have to shower…I'm being such a pervert! He shook his head, taking another step. Creak. He froze.

Riku's ears caught it instantly since he no longer had water rushing over his head. Without hesitation, he called out. "Is that you, Sora?"

Fake it till you make it, fake it till you make it…fuck! "Oh, Riku! Is that you?! I didn't know if you were here or not! I have lunch! Let's eat in your tree house, okay?! We cut down all the trees, after all! Ha ha!" His voice had come out slightly higher pitched and strained. He wanted to kick himself, but instead sprinted all the way to said tree house, not stopping even once, sure that his face was beet red.

About five minutes later, Riku joined him there, in only a towel. He grinned a little when Sora hastily looked away, as if he found the wall extremely interesting. Well, well. What's going on here? Not being one to let good opportunities slip away, he dug out his fresh clothes before speaking. "Sora."

"Yes?!" He looked toward his best friend, out of habit. After all, wasn't it rude not to look at people when they were talking to you?

Before answering, he dropped his towel without warning. "What's for lunch today?"

Blue eyes as big as saucers, the brunet turned away again, sputtering. "I-uh-well-it's-uh…n-nothing special! Just…um…you know…those…uh…things…with the uh…bread…and…stuff…like that…"

He dressed quickly, a little confused. "You mean…sandwiches?" There was no answer. Sitting down close to Sora, he noted how the boy inched away. Hm. It was curious indeed. He happily threw his left arm around his best friend's shoulders casually, as if oblivious to the tension in the air, unpacking the food with his other hand. "You seem pretty…jittery."

The brunet almost felt dizzy, the nail having been hit on the head by the blunt hammer of doom. "What-me? No way. Just hungry!"

Riku arched a fine sliver brow, obviously not buying it. He briefly wondered about any possible repercussions he might receive for guessing before pushing those thoughts aside. Pulling Sora closer, he spoke in a low voice. "Were you enjoying the show?"

The brunet practically choked on his sandwich. "Wha-I-you-that was-"

"Don't watch me next time." He stated coldly.

Sora looked down, his nervous heart sinking like a ball of lead. I…But suddenly, soft fingers ghosted over his neck.

"…you should join me, instead." He purred suggestively.

The younger's eyes widened instantly, completely shocked.

Riku covered his mouth for a moment, trying to stifle his laugh, before pressing his lips to Sora's cheek in an affectionate kiss. I haven't touched you in so long…

He jumped as if he'd been burned. "D-Don't do that!"

"You know…if you don't finish that sandwich soon, it's likely to disappear, right out of your hands."

"And into your stomach?" He snickered, getting a handle on himself.

"You got it." The older couldn't help the sly grin that came over his face. Soon, it will be just the two of us, together like this…there won't be any Kairi or parents…just us. Sora and I. Even if he…never decides… The grin fell, replaced by a straight line. Still, his eyes shown a certain kind of sadness. As long as he still accepts me…I don't need to hear those three little words. He told himself. Who needs…something like that? As long as I can hold you, as long as I can touch you…I don't need it. I…don't…

Sora laid in bed, waiting for maybe another half hour to pass. By then, everyone was sure to be sleeping, so he could bring food to Riku like he always did. Kairi had gotten back to the house before him, but everything seemed normal and pleasant at dinner. Maybe Selphie told her what I said. Maybe…she isn't mad anymore? But he hadn't been able to build up enough courage to ask her. He supposed it didn't matter, as Riku had said several times that day. Soon they would be long gone and what then? Her feelings wouldn't be a factor anymore, but he still felt guilty.

A sudden flash of lightning quickly followed by a loud clap of thunder made him jump into a sitting position. Looking out his window, extremely dark clouds loomed over the island. "A storm…?" They had had a slight drought the last month with hardly a sprinkle of rain. "Oh no! Riku! The raft! Shit!" He hurriedly tugged his shoes on, forgetting all about food. He paused on his way out of his room, suddenly having the urge to open his drawer and take out his most prized possession. He wrapped it in a thin red bandana, to protect it from water, and stuffed it into his pocket.

By the time he got to his boat, the rain was pouring down, soaking him completely. The thought that Riku had decided to sleep in any number of dry places never occurred to him, since his friend had slept out in the open on paopu island every night. I hope he's okay…and I hope the wind hasn't carried the raft away! We never tied it to anything, and we already attached the sail…

When he arrived, he hastily tied up his boat, about to climb onto the dock when he realized something. Wait a minute…Riku's boat, of course, but…whose boat is this one? Inspecting it, he found the name carved into it. "…Kairi?" What's she doing here…?

Riku had made it into the cave just as the rain hit. He shook his head a little, letting the water droplets fall from his silver hair. It occurred to him that even if this storm didn't last long, it was likely more than enough to put his fire out. He groaned quietly, thinking how he'd have to build another one; even with the long barbeque lighter he had snitched from Sora's house, it was still a pain, especially with all the wood being soaked. He never chose to sleep in the tree house or their cave-it was simply too cold in there at night. Riku shivered a little, rubbing his arms, feeling the chill already. I guess Sora probably won't come till the rain stops… His stomach made a loud noise in obvious protest. But I'm so hungry

"…do you fear it?"

The silver haired teen jumped a little, startled, before whipping around. He found himself face to face with the mysterious man that his best friend had told him about earlier. Sora was right! I…I never should have doubted…who the hell is this creep? "…fear what?"

"The darkness." He answered, pointing out into the night.

Wary of turning his back on a potential enemy, he merely turned his head, glancing out towards his paopu island, where the stranger indicated. He saw nothing out of the ordinary at first, until dark clouds seemed to blow away with the wind, revealing a small, black orb in the sky. "W-What the hell…? What is that?!" It seemed to grow larger with every passing moment.

"The door has opened. Are you…afraid?" The taunt was evident in his otherwise emotionless voice.

Unable to help himself, Riku bought into it immediately. "I'm not afraid of anything!"

He chuckled darkly. "It can take you where you seek to go. It can fulfill your every desire and make your dreams come true."

"My…dreams?" This…doesn't make any sense! What do you know about me?!

"Do not fear the darkness. Become the darkness…and it will obey your every command. Go to it now. The strength you desire awaits you there."

Riku felt dizzy as his feet moved forward as if on their own. His vision blurred slightly as he wondered. What…am I doing? I…I can't…no! Sora! Help…help me… But the closer he came to the darkness, the quieter his protests became.

A malicious smirk spread across a smug, hidden face. "Yes, go. Offer up your soul, and in exchange, you will gain an awesome power. A small price to pay for such a gift. Giving up something so useless is hardly a sacrifice." He paused a moment, as if in deep thought. "…yes, I think you'll do quite nicely. Riku…you will be the one to open the door for me. The door…to Kingdom Hearts!"

Sora was running down the pier when a black shadow passed over the ground. Stopping on a dime, he watched as it bubbled up from the sand, taking a strange shape with two glowing yellow eyes. "W-What the hell…?" It sunk back into the ground before coming closer. Not willing to take any chances, he turned to the right and dove off the dock, hitting the sand roughly. Knowing he had no time to spare, Sora climbed to his feet, briefly shaking some of the sand loose. "Ow!" On his leg were three odd scratch marks that clearly couldn't have come from anything other than the strange creature. What the hell is going on here? Before he could think about it further, several more black shadows bubbled up on the sand in front of him. "More of you?!" He took off running, knowing he could never defeat so many with his bare hands, if they even could be defeated. "I don't have time for this! Riku! Where are you?!" Through the rain, he could make out the figure of his best friend, standing out in the middle of paopu island. What is he…? Oh, the raft! But as he got closer, he noted that the raft was clearly not there. "Riku!" He called as he approached. "Where's the raft? What's going on? These black monsters attacked me on-"

"The door…has opened."

But it was said too softly, and the brunet couldn't hear it. "What?"

"The door has opened, Sora! Now we can go to other worlds!"

"W-What are you talking about…?" Door…? That sounds just like…that weird guy!

"Once we step through, there's no turning back." He continued, staring up at the blob of dark matter in the sky. "You might never see your mom or your friends again…but this might be our only chance! We can't let something like fear stop us…I'm not afraid of the darkness!" He finally turned to look at his best friend, a strange hardness to his eyes. Silently, he held out his hand to Sora.

"…Riku…" I'm…definitely afraid! What's going on?! He took a few hesitant steps forward. But I…I don't want to be…without you! Suddenly, he couldn't move anymore. The darkness, which he had thought to be metaphorical, was latched onto his feet. "What is this stuff?! Riku-"

"…take my hand, Sora. Come with me."

He looked up at the silver haired teen with scared blue eyes. "But…I…"

"Don't be afraid…"

The darkness was climbing up both of them now. Further, further… How can you be so calm?! Still, he reached out, trying desperately to get a hold of Riku's hand. Whatever happens, I'll be okay, as long as… And then, just as their finger tips brushed, everything went black.

When Sora awoke, he was still on paopu island, but Riku was gone. "…Riku? Hey! Where'd you go?! Riku!" Was it…just a dream? But the strange black orb in the sky revealed the truth: this was reality. Suddenly, more of the black creatures began to crawl under the ground around him, circling. There were at least ten of them, moving like hungry sharks around their only meal of the day. "Damn, it! More?! Get lost!" Riku…where are you? "If only I had a sword…maybe I could…" With a shimmer of light, he found a strange blade in his hand. It was shaped like a key, which never would have been his first choice for a weapon. Could it do anything but blunt attacks? There's only one way to find out! As if on cue, three inky black monsters leapt from the ground. With a 180 degree turn to the left, he found that this mysterious weapon sliced through all three, one after another, with ease. Deciding that it was a million times better than being unarmed and helpless, he tightened his grip on the hilt and finished off the small group without much effort.

When he could spare a moment to think again, he looked left, then right. Riku…where could you be? Are you safe…? That black stuff…the 'darkness'…it swallowed me up, too. But I'm still here. Does that mean you are, too?

"…take my hand, Sora. Come with me."

Where…? Did you…? A deep, painful feeling of loneliness overtook him. "Damn it…damn you, Riku! We promised we'd go together!" But no answer returned to him. And where's Kairi, anyway? Her boat is here, so she must be, too! I doubt this has anything to do with her, but…why would she come? Revenge against Riku…? But with the storm, it doesn't seem likely… A deep, determined frown was set on Sora's face. I have to find them both and come up with some kind of plan. Like Riku always says, we'll think of something! Angry eyes passed over the opening to the cave, or what should have been the opening to the cave. A large, pale door stood in its place. Fighting off a few more monsters, he approached it. Another door…and my weapon is a key? Tell me that this…is all a dream. I fell asleep waiting to be able to bring Riku dinner. I'd better wake up before he gets mad at me. We're supposed…to set sail tomorrow! To see new worlds… Hesitantly, he reached up, pushing the door open. It revealed the very same tunnel he knew.

Entering the cave at last, it only took him a few moments to spot Kairi, who was kneeling in front of the very same drawing they had been fighting over. He sighed lightly, clearing his throat a little before speaking up. "…I thought you might be here, Kairi. But…why are you here? We have a lot to talk…about…"He trailed off as she shakily stood, as if possibly injured. The door was there again, he noted, directly behind her. "…Kairi? Are you okay?"

She turned towards him at length, her eyes seeming hollow and empty. "So…ra…" Before he could answer, the door behind her burst open, sending out a fierce wind. It blew him right out of the cave, throwing him roughly into the sand.

"Argh…ow…" But Kairi had not followed behind him. Was she still inside? Had she been sucked in instead of spit out, somehow? It didn't make any sense. Getting up on his hands and knees, he gasped at the scene before him. Little by little, his world was falling away into oblivion. The ocean, sand, wood, all of it was disappearing. "W-Wha…?" The ground was shaking beneath his feet as he stood. Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw a giant black creature descend from the strange orb in the sky, landing on paopu island. It seemed to be looking for something…or someone. "Are you doing this?!" But no answer came, as it didn't even look his way. With a swipe of its hand, the paopu tree was broken free of the island, turning into dust on the harsh wind. "No…" He charged it senselessly. Whether it was responsible for all of this or not, there was no way he was going to just let everything be taken away from him without a fight! "Stop!"

It noticed him at last as he struck its hand. Said hand was retracted before it began to glow with a strange power. The creature had a massive hole in its chest…in the shape of a heart? Sora shook his head, figuring that that couldn't be right. "Get off of my island!" It responded by smashing its hand into the ground, spreading out another kind of darkness that the little black creatures poured out of. He sliced through one after another as he got to the hand again. Striking it several times, there seemed to be no effect. Making a quick decision, he jumped up onto its large wrist, running up its arm. It clearly didn't like that, releasing a kind of energy from its other hand. Strange, colored orbs came at him and the brunet was only able to dodge a few before slipping off the shadow's shoulder. Out of desperation, he stabbed the key-shaped blade into its back and the creature howled in pain. It tried to reach for him, but couldn't seem to. It decided that the only one way to stop the parasite that was crawling all over it was to drop flat onto its back.

"Woah!" Sora panicked as the beast went down. With few options, he tugged hard on his blade to free it and used his feet to push off of the monster. He hit the ground hard, forcing himself to roll to the side as the ground shook violently when the black creature hit. He had escaped being crushed by merely two or three feet. With its head exposed, Sora charged him, slicing at his face and neck repeatedly.

Thick, black, tar-like blood oozed out all around him as he slashed at the beast, beyond enraged with everything that was happening. Why did this happen? Why now? Riku and I…were supposed to leave in the morning! To see new worlds! Why couldn't this have waited one lousy day?! I don't…understand. I don't understand anything! He could recall the hidden man's words.

"This world has been connected. Tied…to the darkness. There is so very much to learn. After all, you understand so little…because one who knows nothing can understand nothing."

That bastard definitely has something to do with this! Maybe, if I go back in the cave, to that door- He then realized, too late, that the darkness that had spilled from the monster's wounds was crawling up his legs as if alive. Sora's skin felt like it was on fire as it slowly consumed him. He seemed to be sinking into the ground. Down, down…into oblivion. His struggles slowed as he began to lose consciousness. Riku…where are you?

No matter how well we're doing,

I don't believe in us completely.

But at those sort of times,

Because you're by my side,

Your light will find me…

In the middle of the night.