A/N: So I know I said I was going to be taking a sort of hiatus from this site this week so I could force myself to get school work done, but that was before I got this nasty cold...So, now I'm home sick feeling like doing nothing but laying in bed all day and watching old Disney movies. Right now I'm finishing up Fantasia. Fantasia 2000 is next. Yah. So. I'm also finsihing up this uber angsty ficlet. I know, since when does Sunny do such angst? I blame the cold medicine. As well as the angst fics I've been reading as I lay here in my sickly stupor.

Since I find myself totally unable to write complete angst, this one has two alternate endings: an uber angsty one (Paradox one), and a happy ending(Paradox two). Read them both, tell me which you like better.

Disclaimer: nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooootimesthree.

Damage and Repair

It was supposed to be a routine mission.

They were just going to explore the abandoned remains of the castle at Radiant Garden. Just exploring; killing the occasional heartless that got in the way; nothing really dangerous. It wasn't supposed to be a big deal. It wasn't supposed to be dangerous. It wasn't supposed to happen like this.

It wasn't supposed to happen like this.

Kairi was thrilled that Sora and Riku had let her tag along with them to Radiant Garden. They were slowly learning that she didn't intend to be left behind again. Of course, that didn't stop them from insisting that she stay at Merlin's house while they went to explore. However, Merlin was to teach Kairi some magic while she was there, so she hadn't cared much. Sora had told her that he, Riku, Leon, Yuffie, Tifa, Cloud, and Aerith were going to find out how many heartless were in the castle before they brought a Princess of Heart with them. Kairi had finally grudgingly agreed, accepted Sora's apologetic kiss, and settled back into the couch to await their return.

A few hours after they had left, Kairi heard a deafening boom, and the ground started to shake. She, Merlin, and Cid all fell to the ground as the world vibrated. The shaking was over quickly, and for the most part, all seemed to be well. "What was that?" Kairi asked, pulling herself off the floor, and assisting the old magician to stand up.

"Earthquake, maybe?" Merlin suggested, dusting off his blue robe. "Strange. We don't normally get them." But after that all was still and the worry passed from their minds.

Finally, several hours later, the heavy wooden door opened and Yuffie came in. Kairi should have known something was wrong when the normally hyperactive ninja shuffled across the threshold. Following her, walking slowly, were Leon, Riku, Tifa, Aerith, and Cloud.

Kairi came bounding over. "Where's Sora?" she asked casually, looking behind them to see if he was simply lagging behind. The looks exchanged between the others did not escape her notice. Kairi frowned. "Guys, yoo-hoo. Where's Sora?"

They all looked at Riku, who slowly approached Kairi and took her hands. Her frown increased. "Riku, what's going on?"

Riku sighed. "Kairi…there were more heartless in the castle than we thought."

"And Sora's down there fighting so he make it safe enough to bring me next time, is that it?"

They all exchanged glances again. Riku hesitantly continued. "We fought them, but then…because of the battle I guess…the building started to collapse."

"Was that what we thought was the earthquake earlier?" Kairi asked. Riku nodded. "So Sora's helping clean up the damage or helping people who were hurt or something right?"

Riku sighed. "Kairi, when the castle collapsed, we were all separated. We spent hours trying to find each other-"

"Including Sora."

"-and we found everyone-"

"Including Sora."

"-except Sora." Riku finished slowly.

Kairi's breath caught in her throat. "Then what are you doing here? You should be looking for him!" Riku exchanged glances with the others again.

"Kairi," Yuffie began, frowning, "We searched for hours through the rubble. By the time we'd finished, we'd searched every part of the building where someone who'd survived would be."

Kairi shook her head and pulled away from Riku. "No…you didn't look hard enough…"

Leon stepped forward. "Kairi, we looked everywhere…but…all we found," he reached into his pocket, "was this."

He held up Sora's silver crown pendant. It was splattered with blood.

Kairi felt her heart sink magnificently. She stared in horror at the blood-stained necklace. She took a few steps forward and took it from Leon's hand. She looked down at her reflection in the cool metal. She could see the disbelief painted on her face.

It wasn't supposed to happen this way.

Kairi shook her head. "…No…"

Riku reached out to her. "Kairi…"

"No!" Kairi gasped, stepping away, still shaking her head as tears formed in her eyes. "No…he can't…" She had to see it for herself. It simply couldn't be true. Kairi took off, tearing past her friends and sprinting toward the castle's remains.

"Kairi!" She could hear everyone following her, but Kairi's desperation gave her speed as she flew through the town. "Kairi! Stop!" It couldn't be true. Sora couldn't be…couldn't be…She gripped the necklace tightly in her hands; so tightly that she could feel the pointed edge of the metal biting into her hands, so that her blood flowed down to mix with Sora's. He was still okay. They just hadn't looked hard enough. He was still okay. He was still okay! He had to be!

Kairi rounded the corner and froze. Where once the great castle had stood now there was only a monumental pile of rubble. A little voice in the back of her mind finally acknowledged, he couldn't have survived that. Kairi stared in horror at the destruction, finally being forced to accept the fact she so desperately needed to be false. Finally the others caught up with her, but Kairi felt one last desperate tug at her heart. He had to be okay! She took off, intending to search through the rubble once more to find him, but she was stopped by Riku, who grabbed her around the waist and held her back, shouting that it was too dangerous.

"No! No! Let me go! Let me go! Let me go!" Kairi screamed and kicked and fought Riku as he tried to hold her back; her nails scraping at his arms in an attempt to claw her way out of reality. The tears were flowing freely now. She threw all her strength into trying to fight her way out of Riku's arms, and thereby the acceptance of the fact that Sora might really be gone.

"Kairi! It's too dangerous! You've got to calm down!" Riku held her even tighter as she fought and kicked and shouted and shrieked.

"No! No! No! No…no…no…" Kairi's strength deserted her as the horrid truth sank in to the depths of her heart, killing it as it went. She wilted, her legs giving out and her arms going limp as her tiny form began to shake with sobs. Riku wrapped his arms around her in a gentler manner as she collapsed, heart broken and soul devastated. The others gathered around her, unsure of what to do. Their own grief paled to indifference in light of Kairi's agony, and none knew quite how to console her.

Riku finally managed to carry Kairi back to Merlin's house. She had sobbed for what felt like hours, before going silent. She'd said not a word as they returned and entered the house. Riku placed her on the couch, where she'd curled up to stare into space. Then Cid mentioned something about Sora's backpack, which was still sitting by the door. Before anyone knew it, Kairi was sobbing again. Everyone tried to comfort her, but it was to no avail. The slightest mention of anything that had to do with Sora would only make her cry harder. Finally, she cried herself to sleep on the couch.

Everyone was torn apart by the tragedy, but Kairi…Kairi was utterly devastated. The next morning when she finally awoke she did not cry. But neither did she speak. She simply sat, her chin resting on her knees, and stared into space; occasionally fingering Sora's necklace, which now hung around her own neck.

Around lunchtime Yuffie brought Kairi some soup. "Hey, you need to eat something. You didn't have breakfast after all." Kairi merely turned her deadened eyes up to stare emptily at Yuffie and shook her head. Yuffie frowned and sat down beside the redhead. "Hey…I know you're upset and everything…but you have to eat something. You can't just starve yourself." Kairi once again shook her head. Yuffie sighed. "He wouldn't want you to starve yourself, you know." She said quietly. Kairi looked up at her again, the dead eyes communicating that bringing up Sora was not the way to go about getting her to do anything. She then turned away to go back to staring at nothing.

Yuffie rose and returned to the kitchen through the open doorway where everyone else was watching. Aerith turned to Riku. "Do you think she'll be okay?" Riku sighed.

"I don't know…I mean…He was my best friend, and I miss him too…but Kairi…" Riku shook his head. "I don't know if she'll be okay."

Aerith smiled sadly. "They were really close, weren't they?"

Riku nodded. "They were in love. Sora was saving up to get her a promise ring. He was going to give it to her at Prom next month…Sora kept joking about how Kairi should take pride in being the only woman who could ever get him to wear a tux."

Aerith looked back sadly at Kairi. "How horrible…She's practically a widow at sixteen."

-

The next day was mostly the same. Kairi woke up, said nothing ate anything, did nothing, and couldn't be coaxed otherwise.

The day after that she didn't wake up at all. She was clearly alive, but clearly unconscious. She slept the whole day, and the whole next night, and when the day after that came she was still asleep, a frown on her face the whole time. They called in a doctor after that.

"Well?" Riku asked anxiously as the doctor finished examining Kairi.

He sighed. "Well, physically, nothing's wrong. She should be fine." Everyone merely stared at him with a look that said, "then why isn't she?". The doctor sighed again. "It would seem that her problem is mental. Has she experienced something emotionally devastating recently?" The sad looks on the faces of all in the room was enough of an answer. "I can't find anything physically wrong with her at all. It would seem that she has simply given up the will to live."

"Well what can you do for that?" Yuffie asked anxiously.

The doctor frowned. "I can prescribe some anti-depressants, if you can get her to take them. But if she's already in this sort of state…I honestly don't know how much it will help. Keep trying to wake her up, and when she wakes up do all you can to convince her that life is still worth living."

As the doctor prepared to leave, Riku spoke up. "Is it really possible that she could die, being perfectly healthy, just because she doesn't want to live? Is that really enough to kill a person?"

The doctor frowned apologetically. "I'm afraid it is. It doesn't matter how healthy she is, if her heart's dying, her body will be soon to follow."

-

Kairi had long since been moved from the couch to the most comfortable bed in the house, where everyone took turns watching over her. Twice daily, they induced her to swallow one of the anti-depressant caplets the doctor had prescribed. Hoping she could hear them, they would all talk to her, telling her all the reasons why she needed to live. She wasn't in a coma, exactly, but more of simply a very deep sleep. However, despite their best efforts, it was clear they were losing her.

"…Riku…?" Riku looked down to see that Kairi was actually awake, and his heart leapt into his throat.

"Kairi, you're awake…thank goodness. Look, you can't die on us, okay? You just can't!" Kairi blinked up at him.

"I'm sorry…I wish I wanted to live…but…I don't…" she said softly, the strength gone from her voice and the sparkle gone from her eyes. The light had gone from her life.

Riku began to panic. "Kairi, there's still reason to live…You can't die…"

Kairi smiled ruefully. "I already feel dead."

-PARADOX ONE-

Riku was once again the one whose turn it was to watch over Kairi. Following their brief conversation she'd gone back to sleep and hadn't woken back up. The others were still digging through the rubble of the castle, trying to find Sora's body, at least, to send home for his poor mother to bury. Riku just fervently prayed that Sora's would be the only funeral he'd have to attend.

Kairi took a deep breath in her sleep, and gasped, "…Sora…" Riku looked down at the smile playing on her lips and smiled sadly. He looked out the window; it was starting to rain. Suddenly, he realized something was amiss. He looked back down at Kairi, and with horror, he realized that the steady rise and fall of her chest which would indicate her breathing, had stopped. He grasped her hand and felt her cold wrist for a pulse. He couldn't find one. He laid his head on her chest and listened for a heartbeat or the sound of air in her lungs. He heard nothing.

Slowly, hesitantly, Riku reached for her eyelids, not wanting to know the truth. He moved back the flap of porcelain skin and saw what he had dreaded-Kairi's once sparkling indigo eyes were hidden behind the clouded glass of death.

It wasn't supposed to happen this way.

-PARADOX TWO-

If you're gone, why can I still feel you? If your voice has been silenced, why can I hear you in my heart? Are you really gone?

I don't think you're dead.

But you're dying…

And I with you…

Kairi had long since closed out the world. At least in her dreams she could still see his face; hear his voice; feel his warm breath against her face. She could still feel him, as strong as ever, as if he was still right by her side. It just wasn't enough.

She could hear them sometimes when they told her not to give up; that Sora would have wanted her to go on living. She had tried, but it wasn't the same without him there to share it with. It ached, to feel him so tangibly close, and yet to know that she'd never feel his warm embrace again.

She awoke late one night, after everyone was asleep. Even Riku, who'd been diligently watching over her, had dozed off.

She could feel it.

Dust…pain…so much pain…and the dust…can't breath…door…near…I think…Kairi…dust everywhere…help…door…I see it……Kairi…

Kairi jolted up in the large bed, head still spinning and heart still reeling. She could feel him. He was dying…She was dying…They were both dying. She jumped out of bed and ran towards the door, not caring if she woke anyone else, nor that she was still wearing her white nightgown. She ran through the dark town towards the castle, hanging tightly to the last remnants of Sora's heart.

Sora…I'm coming…

Kairi sprinted through the remnants of the once-great city toward the place where, unbeknownst to Kairi, her story had begun (and where it all came back). She slowed as she approached the massive deposit of rubble that once was the great castle of Radiant Garden. Sora…Sora…can you hear me…?

……Kairi?

Sora…

you promised…

"There's no new threat, Kairi, don't worry." Sora smiled at her as he looked up from the letter held in his gloved hands (the ones that so often held hers so tightly). "Leon and the gang just want to check out the old castle. Who knows? We may even find out more about your childhood, Kairi."

"So…there's no chance of anyone getting hurt…right?" Sora smiled at her, putting the letter down and taking her hands.

"We may run into some heartless while we're there, but nothing too bad. Most heartless disappeared after we beat Xemnas. Don't worry," He leaned in, claiming her lips, "Nothing will happen this time. I promise…" And she had let him kiss her again and again, secure in his promise.

It wasn't supposed to happen this way.

The pile of stone and metal looked just as forlorn and still and empty as it had previously. Kairi began to doubt her sanity. Could she have imagined Sora's voice in her loneliness? Please, God, let this be real…I need this to be real.

All was still and silent for a few minutes. Kairi listened to the still night around her, waiting for any sign of movement. Her heart strained to hear Sora's voice, and it broke her heart to realize she couldn't grasp his heart any longer. Oh, Sora, please don't be gone…

Please…

Her only reply was the continual silence of the night. She continued to stand, firm in her resolve. She could perhaps accept it, that he was dead, if only she had some proof. She needed closure, if nothing else.

She began to feel her strength fail her as the sound of night birds was her only response. She collapsed in a sobbing heap on the cold cobblestone, sobbing into her hands. BOOM!! Kairi looked up in something between exited anxiety and terror. Through a section of the castle rubble had shot a single beam of light, and that beam had shaken a large hunk of metal from its place. Kairi wasn't sure what to make of it. She simply stayed still, crouching on the cold ground. Her heart leapt into her throat as she spotted-could it be?-a hand-this can't be real-protruding from the rubble.

She stood shakily, and walked gingerly towards the place where she could see a form-Oh, God, please let this be real-a human form-please, oh, please-climbing out of the rubble. The figure's head emerged and Kairi felt her strength return. She would recognize that silhouette anywhere.

"Sora!!" The figure's head turned her way as Kairi sprinted forward, clambering up the pile of rubble towards him, not caring about the danger. She threw her arms around him and pulled his broken and bleeding body out of the wreckage, sobbing all the while. She was in a haze as they made their way back to solid ground, out of the precariously-balanced pile of stone.

In the pale lights of the city and the moon and the stars (the worlds he would live to protect) she could see his bruised face. He was cut and torn and his shoulder didn't look like it fit into the socket the way it was supposed to. "…Sora?" she asked breathlessly, still unable to believe her indigo eyes. "Is it-"

"…Kairi?" came the hoarse reply. Kairi felt the tears come to her eyes as she threw her arms around him and held tightly. He gave a moan that seemed to indicate she was hurting him in some way, but for the moment she didn't care. He was alive, and that was all that mattered. Sora…Sora…Sora……Her mind could process nothing else. He was alive…He was alive…

Kairi pressed her lips eagerly to Sora's, ignoring the fact that he was dusty and bloody and dirty, and that all she was currently wearing was her sheer white nightgown.

None of it mattered, because life again was worth living.

-end-

AN: So, yeah, whaddya think? Reviews rock. They may make me feel better...Yes, I'm absuing the sympathy card, I know. But seriously, reviews are always appreciated. I'd swallow flamers whole did my throat not hurt right now-you've been warned! But please, review. I'm repeating myself, aren't I. I blame the medicine. rEvIeW!