Disclaimer: I do not own Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, Disney, or any of the characters in this fic. It's purely for fun!
A/N: Well, I'll try to keep this short! First of all, I'm new to the Kingdom Hearts Fanfiction section, and I'm only just now getting caught up on the Chain of Memories story and all the little details not in the two Kingdom Hearts games, so if I happen to say something that doesn't make sense, please forgive me, I"m trying to catch up! Anyways, I have a few theories about Kingdom Heart III, but the two main ones I have are what I call my Squall/Laguna time theory and my Kingdom Hearts III: In the Present theory. (And no, I haven't forgotten about the three new characters in the trailer.) This story is based off of the latter theory. Now, I won't explain them because this author note would be a novel in itself if I did, but this is based off the ending of Kingdom Hearts II. More than likely Nomura and crew will make the story completely different from this one-shot, but it's still something to think about none the less. I've tried my best to keep everyone in character, so we'll see how this first fic goes, for better or for worse... (Oh, and I apologize for not putting an accent on Namine's name. My computer won't do them.)
In the Midst of Twilight
What could it mean? I wish the King would be a bit more straightforward when it comes to his messages. If only Donald and Goofy were here. They might know a little bit more about what's going on than I do, but they're back at Disney Castle, and I...
"Sora! What are you trying to do, scare us half to death? Why did you run off like that all of a sudden?"
"See, Riku? I told you he'd be here. It just so happens I have a sixth sense when it comes to the Keyblade Master. He can't hide from me for long!"
Sora slowly opened his eyes and found himself gazing up at a fiery red sky, which was rapidly turning a deep shade of blue. Millions of tiny stars were just beginning to poke their way through the darkness, and the slight breeze ruffling his spiky, brown hair had turned cool, almost chilly even, with the onset of twilight. The Wielder of the Keyblade lay silently on his back, his bright blue eyes gazing up at the sky, and there was a thoughtful look on his youthful face. His Keyblade, Oblivion, lay beside him in the sand, but he did not attempt to grab onto it, despite the sudden voices behind him. He had known Riku and Kairi would find him eventually, but he hadn't expected them to catch up to him quite so soon.
Then again, for some reason I get the feeling Kairi always knows exactly what I'm thinking, and Riku isn't too shabby when it comes to reading my mind either. I wonder if they're having the same thoughts I'm having. It's like the calm before the storm, but when exactly that storms going to hit, I have no idea...
Sora shook his head at his own confusing thoughts and propped himself up on one elbow for a better look at the ocean. Destiny Islands. The place had such a fitting name, and yet, despite everything that had happened to him since he had first left his island home, there was still so much about himself, the now dead Organization, and even the Keyblade itself, that he did not understand. The fact that he had slept for an entire year still made him shake his head in wonder, but none of that compared to what it felt like to be home again.
At least, that was the case until the King sent his message.
"Sora, are you going to answer us or are you just going to lie there all night with your head in the clouds? We need to talk about this! The King contacted us for a reason. Obviously he wants our help for...well...I'm not exactly sure what, but it's definitely important. You're usually the one who's all gung-ho to hop onto the nearest Gummi Ship and fly straight for the closest world filled with Heartless! And at this point, who knows what kind of other creatures might be lurking out there? Remember the Nobodies?"
Sora watched the shadows of Kairi and Riku slide across his chest and move down towards his stomach, but he did not turn around to face them. Kairi was the one who had spoken, and her words made him jump in surprise. "Kairi, Roxas and Namine weren't...they weren't like the others..."
"I know, Sora. I wasn't talking about them. I was talking about the other Nobodies. You know, the ones who were controlled by Organization XIII."
"Sora, you didn't answer my question. Why did you leave us back there by the fallen tree and go running off like a madman?" Riku smirked from somewhere behind him.
Sora felt his face heat up, and with a wave of his hand, Oblivion disappeared into thin air. He hesitated a moment before scrambling into a sitting position, and taking a deep breath, he turned to face his friends. As usual, Riku was making the whole situation out to be more dramatic than it really was, but he wasn't going to let that get on his nerves tonight. At the moment, he had more important things to worry about. "First of all, I wasn't running, and second of all, I didn't leave you guys that far behind. All I did was move a little further down the coastline."
"Yes, but why?" Kairi asked, kneeling next to him and placing a hand on his arm.
"You're usually not in the habit of running away from us. In fact, now that I think about it, most of the time you're trying to find us," Riku added, smiling slightly.
"I wasn't running!"
Riku slowly sat down next to him, and Sora felt the older boy's hand come to rest gently against his shoulder. "Does this have something to do with King Mickey's letter?"
Sora gazed into Riku's bright green eyes for a moment and let out a deep sigh. "I just...needed some time to think."
"About what?" Kairi asked curiously.
"I...I'm not really sure. At first I was excited about the King's letter, but when I was with you guys earlier, I started to think about what the words might really mean, and I...I guess I'm scared. I have a feeling fighting Heartless and Nobodies is going to be nothing compared to what might happen in the near future. If the King's letter is anything to go by, then something big is about to happen, and if his words mean what I think they mean, then I'm going to be right at the centre of it. And that's not what scares me the most. What really scares me is the fact that you guys are more than likely going to be right there beside me. I...I don't want to lose either one of you again..."
He felt Riku's hand tighten on his shoulder, but for some reason he found himself unable to meet his best friend's intense gaze. He had never been good at hiding his emotions the way Riku was and because of that he could not help feeling a little bit embarrassed concerning his sudden confession. Then again, maybe Riku wasn't so good at hiding his feelings after all. Sora knew the older boy had perfected the art of keeping his face expressionless when he wanted to hide his emotions, but his eyes could never lie, and that was something both of them had ended up learning the hard way.
"Listen, Sora. I'm scared too, but King Mickey sent us this letter for a reason," Riku said quietly, his voice carrying softly on the cool breeze. "Obviously he needs our help. Like Kairi, I'm not exactly sure what he wants us to do, but we can't sit here doing nothing either! The three of us will watch each other's backs. We always do, and no one has ever been able to change that. Not Xehanort, not Xemnas, not the Organization, and definitely not the Heartless. Don't tell me you're giving up on yourself after everything we've been through."
"Of course not. I just..."
Wait a minute, did Riku just admit he's scared, too?
Sora gaped at his best friend in surprise and shook his head in disbelief. "Riku..."
Riku must have guessed what he was thinking because the older boy's cheeks suddenly turned bright pink, and Sora had to fight back a smile in order to avoid laughing at his friend's expense. Unfortunately his efforts only seemed to annoy Riku even more because the older boy suddenly turned away from him and muttered something he wasn't quite able to catch. It sounded suspiciously like a playful insult, but he chose to let it slide and turned his attention to Kairi instead. "What do you think?"
Kairi gently slipped her arms around his waist and rested her cheek against his shoulder. He could feel the warmth of her body seeping into his skin, and the pleasant sensation caused a shiver to race down his spine. He wasn't exactly quite sure what to do with his hands, but after a brief hesitation he slipped his arms around her shoulders and buried his face in her bright red hair. "We're all scared, Sora, but I know everything will work out as long as the three of us stick together. And don't tell me you've forgotten about your other friends already. Donald and Goofy will help us out. Then there's Leon and the gang in Radiant Garden, and what about the friends you've met in all the other worlds you've visited? I've never had a chance to meet Aladdin or Mulan, and I bet Riku would get along great with Leon! You have so many friends who care about you, Sora. I want to meet all of them, and so does Riku. Who knows? Maybe that will happen if we answer King Mickey's request for help. Aladdin and the others will also help you when you need them, and you know that just as well as I do. King Mickey will also help you."
And so will I.
Sora jumped at the sound of a young, male voice speaking suddenly in Kairi's place and let out a gasp when he realized it was coming from inside his head.
Roxas? Is...is that really you?
Who did you think it was? Xemnas?
But...if you can talk to me inside my mind then why didn't you say something a long time ago?
I wanted to surprise you? Actually, I didn't realize I could talk to you until that moment when Namine and I separated ourselves from you and Kairi. I spoke to you then, and that was when I realized I didn't have to give up my existence entirely. I'm still aware of everything that goes on, and I have to say, you live a pretty interesting life, my friend. More than likely I could have spoken to you right from the very moment we merged together, but I...It was hard, you know. I gave up so much, and at that point I wasn't quite ready to come to terms with who and what I was. I did it because I knew I didn't have a choice. What other option did I have? And yet, at the same time, a part of me felt as if that was what I had wanted right from the beginning...
Sora squeezed his eyes shut and clung tightly to Kairi's smaller body for support. He could feel thick tears forming beneath his eyelids, but despite his efforts to hold them off, a few managed to slip out before quickly disappearing somewhere within Kairi's silky, red hair. Roxas, I...I'm so sorry...
Why? What for? You don't have to apologize to me, Sora. In fact, you should be happy for me. In the end, I found what I was looking for all along.
And what exactly would that be?
Sora slowly lifted his head and wiped the tears from his eyes with the back of his hand. Unable to hide his emotions, he slammed his fist into the sand and glared at the sky above him, which had somehow left twilight behind without him realizing it. How can you say that? You had to give up your life because of me! It's my fault! I'm the reason you exist. I'm the reason you had to go through so much pain and sadness...
You're right, Sora. You're the reason I exist, so I have you to thank for giving me a chance to help you fight. You know what they say, don't you? Nobodies are nothing but shells of who they once were, but I'm real because of you. I think I understand now. Namine wasn't quite right in saying I was never supposed to exist, and I think she understands that now, too. I was meant to be here to help you, and that's what I've been doing all along. I might be a Nobody, Sora, but I'm your Nobody, and that makes all the difference in the world. You're not like Xehanort and all the other Heartless out there. You came back with a little help from Kairi. How many other people can say that? Do you honestly realize just how strong your heart really is?
Roxas fell silent for a moment, as if uncertain of what to say next, but all of a sudden his next words exploded inside Sora's mind, and the Keyblade Master nearly fell over at the strength of Roxas' emotions swirling through his head. I'm pretty lucky for a Nobody, Sora. How many other Nobodies can say their other half is a chosen wielder of the Keyblade? If you want to know the truth, if I have to be a Nobody, and I don't really have a choice, then I...I wouldn't want to be anyone else's Nobody but yours, and if you tell anyone I said that, I will do everything in my power to make your life miserable!
Despite the seriousness of the situation, Sora couldn't help but laugh at his Nobody's obvious embarrassment. Now that Roxas had decided to speak up, he had a feeling his head was going to turn into a war zone. Careful, Roxas, or I just might boot you out and find another Nobody to occupy my head. Preferably one who isn't so...er...annoying shall we say?
Hey! Did I mention I'm a jealous Nobody? No one's allowed inside your head except me!
Sora rolled his eyes and smiled softly to himself. Hey, Roxas?
No problem. Call me if you need me. And, Sora? Now that I'm stuck in your head, you can't get rid of me. We'll get through this together.
Does that mean you're going to do something about King Mickey's letter?
Well then, don't you remember what I said to you earlier? Look sharp! We can't have the Keyblade Master acting like a total wimp when we might have a huge battle on our hands, can we?
Funny, I don't remember asking for your opinion.
That's never stopped me from giving it before. Stay strong, Sora. You can do this. I know you can.
Maybe, now that you're here with me.
"Sora, what's going on?" Riku asked, gazing uneasily into his eyes. "Why do you have such a funny look on your face?"
"Is something wrong?" Kairi asked, reaching out and gently placing her hand against his cheek.
Say yes! I like where this is going...
Sora ignored Roxas and gave both of his friends a reassuring smile. "No, not really. Just a voice in my head. Nothing to worry about."
Riku gave him an odd look, but Kairi merely smiled at him and snuggled against his side for warmth. It was almost as if she knew exactly what he was thinking, and he had a feeling it had something to do with Namine.
Can Kairi hear Namine the same way I can hear Roxas?
Of course she can. You're not the only one with a Nobody around here!
You'll never be a Nobody to me, Roxas. You are my friend, even if you do live inside my head.
Stop! Oh man, you're making me all teary-eyed here. Thanks a lot!
I guess Riku was right after all.
Although he could hear Roxas' voice in his mind, the other boy's presence wasn't so much in his head, it was in his heart, just like Riku said it would be.
Riku kind of reminds me of Hayner sometimes. How weird is that?
Well, you are my other half. I guess that means we have the same taste in friends.
Yeah, the rude type. I still feel bad though for...for Axel...
I know what you mean. Now that I think about it, he was kind of rude too! The name's Axel. A-x-e--l. Got it memorized?
I'm sorry, Roxas.
How many times do I have to tell you not to apologize? By the way, smooth move with Kairi. If you just wrap your arm around her a little more-
"Well, have you decided?" Riku asked, watching him closely.
It's like Kairi said in her message. One sky-
I have to do this.
For our friends.
Sora took a deep breath and slowly lifted his chin. He gazed into Riku's emerald eyes for a moment and managed a surprisingly firm nod. "We'll do this together."
"All three if us?" Kairi asked hopefully.
"All three of us," Riku confirmed.
Sora nodded in agreement and frowned thoughtfully at the ocean. "There's only one problem. What exactly are we supposed to do? The King's message didn't really tell us anything."
"Why don't we try to get in touch with him? The King, I mean," Kairi suggested.
Riku crossed his arms and made a face. "Somehow I don't think the King wants to be found as this point in time. Why don't we try Goofy and Donald? They might know more about what's going on than we do. They are the King's men, after all."
"I don't know, Riku. Donald and Goofy went back to Disney Castle, remember? We'd need a Gummi Ship in order to reach them."
Sora smiled at the disappointed look on Kairi's face and reached out to take her hand. "Don't worry, Kairi. We'll find a way. We always do."
Riku suddenly leaned close to him and lightly punched his arm. "Does that mean you agree with me?"
"For once. Donald and Goofy are the best chance we have of figuring out what's going on. Hopefully they'll be able to help us out, and if everything goes well, we can move on from there."
"You still have the King's message, right?"
Sora pulled the letter out of his shirt, where he had hastily stashed it earlier, and smoothed it out on the sand. The three of them knelt around it in a circle under a dark sky, but no matter how long they stared at it, the truth hiding somewhere within the King's riddle eluded them.
"What could it mean?" Riku murmured.
"I just don't understand," Kairi whispered.
I think maybe the King was hanging around in the World of Darkness for too long. I've never been so clueless in my life.
Sora lightly ran his fingers over the words King Mickey had written and felt a chill creep around his heart. The letter had the King's seal on it, and although he didn't know exactly what the words meant, there was one thing he could not deny. The message was clearly a warning, and it spoke of things he did not want to think about. He read the lines one more time and felt his heart skip a beat.
It all begins with birth by sleep. Prepare yourselves. The War of the Keyblade is upon us...