So. I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year, and this is it.
There are a ton of stories where a character/self insert fall into their game and have wacky adventures. There are even a bunch that try to go the realistic route, which generally involves an emphasis on how much it'd suck to actually be there. I felt like doing something different than either, so here we are.
All reviews welcome, including ones that simply tell me how much I've failed at something. Sometimes those are the most useful of all, right? I've done my best to be faithful to the games, including playing through them at the same time as I write, but this isn't an area I have a lot of practice with, so if there's anything wrong, just tell me.
They'd finally finished preparations for the raft, and Sora wasn't thinking about his dream any longer, not with the excitement of leaving and the twisting confusion over Kairi's words - let's take the raft and go – just the two of us!
Riku was waiting further up beyond the pier. Sora broke into a jog to catch up with him. The sun was setting and they started heading home.
It was Riku who noticed – it was always Riku who saw something first. "Hey," he said, pointing up into the sky. "Look."
Sora tried to follow the gesture back up to the clouds. After a second of searching his eyes caught on something small and dark with the setting sun behind it, high up and falling.
Beside him Kairi whispered, "What is that? It doesn't look like a bird."
Blueish comets streaked across the darkening sky. The falling shape was closer now. It resolved itself suddenly into a person, and Sora could only gape upwards, his dream from yesterday vivid in his mind. He'd been falling and then he'd seen himself falling toward himself and then he was falling again -
"Hey, come on!" someone shouted. Sora was jerked out of his trance by Riku grabbing his arm and pulling him across the beach back toward the cove, where the figure seemed to be headed.
Sora half-shook his head to clear it and ran along with his friends. Riku reached the door first and pulled it open, so Sora, right behind, ended up first through it.
The figure had fallen in the water just beyond the beach and was laying there. Sora ran up to the edge and then froze as the tide pulled back. For a second he expected the dark reddish water to keep going until it drew itself up in a massive wave, and by the time he registered that it was heading in again, just the normal lapping motion, Riku had already stepped into the water and was offering his hand to the boy, who was sitting up and looking confused.
When he saw Riku, his eyes widened and his expression became almost worshipful. "Riku!" he squealed in an oddly high voice, ignoring the offered hand and instead jumping up to hug the boy. The two of them toppled over again as Riku failed to keep his balance under the sudden weight, something that didn't seem to upset the boy, who simply shouted, "Oh my god, Riku!"
The boy, Sora noted with a sense of confusion, seemed to be wearing an outfit identical to his own. And knew Riku.
"Um," he said, stepping forward as Riku managed to stand up again, half-dragging the boy upright too in the process. Before he could ask anything the boy turned to him, expression lighting up further, if that were possible.
"Sora!" he shouted, as if they were long-lost friends. "I can't believe this! I'm really here!"
"You know him?" Kairi asked, sounding as confused as Sora felt.
The boy's eyes narrowed into a glare, looking almost hateful. Sora recoiled as the boy said, "Oh, it's you," in a disgusted tone.
"No, I've never seen him before," said Riku, now sounding put-off. He disentangled himself from the boy.
"Of course you haven't, but I know – wait, him?" said the boy. "I'm a girl."
Riku gave him an appraising look. "Are you sure?"
The boy stared at them in bafflement, then looked down. His expression changed to horror. "What? This can't-" He started tugging his shirt off, fingers fumbling as if the garment was unfamiliar to him. After a second he pulled it half over his head.
Riku flushed and looked away. A second late, Sora realized what he was seeing and did the same, feeling embarrassed.
"Oh, thank god," said the very much a girl, in the tones of someone who just escaped some horrible fate. "As cool as ya-"
"Um, your shirt," Kairi said.
The girl went silent, then made a horrified squeak, tugging her clothing back on. Sora risked a glance at her again when the rustling stopped, hoping she was dressed. He had just enough time to register that she was again properly covered, if a bit in disarray, when she slapped him in the face hard enough to almost knock him off his feet.
"How dare you see me like that you pervert!" she screamed.
"But I-" Sora protested.
Riku took a step forward, radiating anger. "What the hell is your problem?" he demanded.
The girl's anger seemed to evaporate and she stared at Riku looking hurt and upset, as if she didn't understand why he would be mad at her.
There was a tense moment of silence before Sora, rubbing his stinging cheek, asked, "How did you get here?"
She brightened again. "I was playing the video game. I'd just started a new game and then poof! I was sucked into the TV and falling!"
She seemed really happy about that, Sora thought. Maybe it was normal where she was.
"You mean, you're from another world?" Kairi asked, her voice painfully hopeful. "And you remember it?"
The girl didn't seem to hear. She was turning around and saw the raft behind her. "Oh my god!" she squealed again. "That's the Soriku!"
So Riku? Sora wondered in bafflement.
"No, that's the Highwind." Riku sounded just as confused.
"Aw, Sora, you didn't win?" she said. Sora had no idea what that had to do with naming the ship after Riku.
Riku opened his mouth as if to say something similar, but then shut it again and shook his head slightly. "Let's focus. Um, girl-"
"I'm Layla – I mean I'm Kimimela."
Riku ignored that and said, "How did you get here?"
"I told you, I was playing Kingdom Hearts and I got sucked in!"
"You remember, Kairi?" Riku asked, turning toward her.
Kairi was biting her lip in concentration. After a few seconds, she shook her head. "Nothing."
"Well, duh. It's not the same thing at all."
"You know what happened to Kairi?"
The girl scowled. "Kairi Kairi Kairi. Who cares about that bitch? She's useless!"
Riku's face darkened. He started to step toward her, but Kairi grabbed his arm. "Don't. It's okay. I think she's confused."
"I'm not confused you-" The girl caught Riku's expression finally and shut up. Then she threw her arms around Riku's chest again and hugged him tightly, burying her face in his shirt.
Over her head, Riku sent Sora and Kairi a baffled look.
"We'll need to tell Dad," Kairi said after a moment of thought. "He'll know what to do."
"Yeah, the mayor." Riku nodded in agreement a second before the girl pulled back.
"Nonono I've got to stay with you guys I don't want to get separated, I mean, who knows what'd happen when the heartless show up? I could end up in Halloween Town or something. Halloween Town!"
"It's okay," comforted Kairi. "He's very nice and you don't have to worry about him sending you away or anything like that."
The girl scowled blackly at Kairi in response to this, then turned back to Riku. "When are you guys leaving?" she demanded.
"What are you talking about?" replied Sora.
"In the raft," she said. "Obviously. Are you planning on leaving tomorrow?"
Riku, as always, took charge. "No," he said immediately. Sora understood. They could put off something like the raft for a while, now that something huge like this had happened.
"Well..." the girl said hesitantly, "I guess that'd be okay."
"We can't bring her to the mayor tonight, though," Sora said. Better to bother people with this in the morning, and the girl seemed to out of it, anyway. "She can come home with me. I'll explain to Mom."
"Can't I go with Riku?" the girl whined.
"No," Riku said instantly, looking faintly desperate. "No. Sorry."
The girl brightened again. Sora barely had time to register it before she'd tackled him in a hug, nearly sending him to the ground. She was sopping wet from the water and damp strands of her black hair tickled against his throat. "I like Sora too," she said, pulling her face back a bit. "This is cool.
Sora hoped she'd let go of him soon. It was weird, the way she was so familiar, like suddenly gaining a twin sister, but he felt awkward about pushing her away too. After what felt like forever, her grip loosened, and Sora took the chance to pry her off. "We should get going, right guys?"
"Yeah. Come on. It'll be hard enough getting back with an extra person," Riku said. He started back along the beach.
The girl was quiet until they reached the pier. "Oh," she said, as if a great mystery had been resolved, when she saw the little wooden boats they used to travel from the small island to back home. They were, barely, big enough for two people, but really made to carry one. Sora settled down as carefully as he could into his boat, the girl holding from behind.
"I never saw this before," she whispered as they left.
"What do you mean?" Sora asked. "The ocean?"
"No," the girl said, as if it was a stupid suggestion. Then she said, "The ways between places," as if that was somehow a more reasonable guess.
She didn't say anything more for the short trip back to the town. Even with an extra passenger making things awkward, it only took around ten minutes to get back. The boats weren't even strictly necessary – Sora and the other kids had swum the distance plenty of times – but they made things a lot easier, and ever since they'd made them two years ago, they'd used them almost every time.
When they landed, Riku and Kairi had already tied up their boats, and Sora hurried to do the same.
The girl was standing staring at the sky. "Huh," she said. "You can see way more stars. I guess there's light pollution or something at Traverse."
"Or something," Riku repeated, humoring her.
"Our homes are this way," Sora told the girl, and they started off.
She was quiet for the first half of the walk up. She looked around at everything, stumbling a number of times because she wasn't watching the actual path. She touched things as they passed and jumped at apparently random intervals.
Not long after they split up with Kairi and Riku, the girl said, "Hey, I was wondering. Which did you pick?"
"Huh?" Sora wondered if this was another nonsense thing, like with the raft.
"You know, the sword, shield and staff? I was assuming it'd be like in my game, but since things are different..."
"The dream?" He hadn't been able to forget it. It was still so vivid. The events had been dreamlike and disconnected, but it had seemed utterly real at the same time.
The girl just said, "Yeah," casually.
"I..." Sora remembered standing on the bottom of the air, in water that turned to air, on ground that changed to white doves and left behind a giant stained glass portrait of someone he didn't recognize, like the window of a church. The three choices hovering suspended in the air and a voice whispering softly from nowhere. "The shield. I picked the shield, and – I gave up the sword." He'd gone to the sword first, reaching out without thinking, like it had been the same as his wooden toy, and as his hand almost touched it words had written themselves in his mind.
"You picked the shield and gave up the sword?" the girl shrieked. "I can't believe you. Who doesthat? I know some people pick the staff since you get an extra empea, and stuff, but everybody knows to ditch the shield. Ialways pick the sword and get rid of the shield. What's wrong with you?"
The power of the warrior, had whispered into his mind. Invincible courage. And then, A sword of terrible destruction.
He'd recoiled, yanking his hand back as if burned. He remembered he'd stepped away and then just stood there for several moments, staring at what he'd so automatically reached for first. Then, more tentatively, he'd held his hand out toward the next one, a staff. The power of the mystic. Inner strength. A staff of wonder and ruin.
That hadn't been - as bad, but the ominous note echoed in his mind. Better that than the sword, but there was something faintly horrible about either choice.
He'd turned and reached for the shield. The power of the guardian. Kindness to aid friends. A shield to repel all.
The second choice hadn't been hard at all. He'd touched the sword and whispered "yes" with the cold metal under his fingertips, all hesitation gone.
"I wanted to protect my friends," he said. "Not destroy everything. Not anything."
He could just make out her rolling her eyes in the dim light. "Isn't fighting off monsters about being strong and able to kill them before they can hurt anybody? Besides, don't you want to beat Riku?"
Riku, who was the best, the strongest and fastest, the one who always had some new idea, a new project for everyone, who decided everything. Who he'd never, ever win against. "N-no," Sora stammered, shocked and almost disgusted. "He's my best friend."
"Guess it should really be called Rikora then," the girl said, sounding faintly disapproving.
"The raft," she said, as if this were some kind of explanation.