A/N: Just a foreword here, this story contains shonen-ai (meaning boy-love) in later chapters. If that's not your thing, turn back now or give this story a shot. You might just like it. :) With that said, I hope you enjoy this story and provide feedback when you can. Thanks!
Chapter 1: Eleven Out of Ten
Fate is a matter of opinion and a subject of great debate. There are those who swear by it. Every decision, every action, every event is predetermined and there is no changing that. But to some, there is no such thing as fate. There is no invisible force telling people what to do. Some things don't work themselves out. Nothing is set in stone.
For one man, he could only pray that the latter is true.
The waves of the ocean gently lapped against the old wooden boat carrying three passengers across the ocean to a tiny island off the coast of the mainland. The conversation was quiet and comfortable, only the kind that three lifetime friends could have. The eastern horizon was a pale blue, heralding the start of a new day, while the rest of the sky was still sleepy with darkness and stars. This day was a special day. Exactly one year ago, the two young men on the boat had returned home from their adventure. As a way to celebrate this anniversary, they were returning to the little island where it all began.
"We're here," said a melodically sweet voice belonging to the petite redheaded Kairi.
"Sora, help me tie the boat to the dock," requested the silver-haired young man in their group.
"Sure, Riku," replied Sora, leaping out of the boat onto the dock and assisting Riku with tying a proper knot. Once secured, Riku and Kairi joined Sora on the dock. Sora playfully linked arms with his two best friends and excitedly dragged them along. "C'mon! Hurry, before the sun rises!" Kairi politely covered her mouth as she giggled while Riku grinned, both allowing themselves to be pulled along.
It was not long before they reached the old wooden bridge leading to the smaller island with their favourite bent paopu tree on it. At the beginning of summer, all the guys got together to reinforce the bridge because it was starting to show its age. There were visible patches where Tidus had fallen through while hammering a board to the side. As the trio walked across, Sora eyed a spot where he remembered stubbing his toe on an uneven board, hence the decision to fix it up.
Once on the other side of the bridge, the trio proceeded to take up their regular spots - Kairi on the tree closest to the paopu fruit on the tree, Sora sitting on the tree next to her, and Riku leaning on the tree next to Sora. They sighed contently as they watched the eastern sky growing brighter and brighter as the sun slowly made its appearance on the horizon, its first rays glinting across the ocean's surface. Clouds dotted the sky above and as the sun peeked higher, the clouds turned different hues of red, pink, and orange. It was almost as if a higher being knew the trio would be there that morning to watch the sunrise and was delivering the most beautiful sunrise that any of them had ever seen.
Riku gave a slight start when he felt a warm hand slip into his, fingers wrapping. He glanced over at Sora only to see that Sora was holding Kairi's hand in his other hand. A smile spread across his face. Four years ago, he would have never believed that he could have such a strong bond with the two people sitting next to him. But their adventure across all those different worlds, the things they did, the stuff they saw, and the amount of forgiveness Sora had for Riku had drawn them all closer together as friends.
Suddenly, he felt Sora wrench his hand out of Riku's and point towards the sky.
"What's that?" he asked. Riku and Kairi focused their eyes on what Sora was pointing at.
"I don't see anything…" Riku said slowly. Kairi blinked a few times. It was difficult for them to see when the sun was rising in their sleepy eyes, but after focusing, Kairi could see what Sora was looking at. There was something falling towards the earth leaving a blue trail behind it.
"Looks like a shooting star, maybe," Kairi suggested. Riku quickly found the falling object with his eyes.
"No, more like a meteorite," he said.
"A shooting star is a meteorite," Kairi teased.
"No, a shooting star skims the atmosphere and burns up. A meteorite survives the impact to Earth."
"Silly, a shooting star doesn't always burn up."
"Well then why do we never see them land?"
"You guys, it's neither!" Sora said urgently. "It's a person!"
"What?!" As the blue trail got closer, they were clearly able to make out a humanoid appearance. Kairi was suddenly reminded of the manner in which Riku and Sora had arrived back home, falling from the sky with a blue trail behind them.
"He doesn't look too awake, guys," Sora observed.
"How can you tell that from here?" Riku mused. Without saying another word, Sora leapt into the ocean and swam in the direction where the person was going to land. "Sora, wait!" Riku dove in after.
About fifty metres away from the island, the anonymous person impacted on the surface of the water. Kairi watched on anxiously as Sora and Riku quickly swam out to rescue the mysterious man who had not surfaced up yet. Taking a big gulp of air, Sora ducked under the water and grabbed hold of the man's arm while Riku grabbed his other arm. Together, they pulled the man above water, leaning most of the weight on Riku's shoulders. Once he managed to blink the water out of his eyes, Riku took his first real glance at the unconscious person in his arms and gasped. Sora wiped the seawater out of his eyes and joined Riku in gaping at the unknown man. Riku and Sora exchanged looks but neither said a word as they proceeded to swim back to the shore. Kairi was waiting for them when they arrived and once she got a look at the face of the person they rescued, she covered her mouth in disbelief.
"H-he looks like-" Kairi was interrupted.
"He's not breathing!" Riku said quickly, being the first one to snap out of his stupor. He laid the man on the beach and began performing CPR. Within a few seconds, the man shuddered and rolled to his side, coughing up water and muttering obscenities. Riku raised an eyebrow while Sora's eyes widened.
"Where am I?" asked the man tiredly as he cracked open his sky blue eyes. The trio glanced at each other, unsure of who should field the questions. Eventually, Sora knelt next to the man.
"You're on Destiny Island." The man slowly sat up, burying his fingers into his dark brown hair and scratching the back of head, still coughing a little.
"What year is it?" he asked quickly. Sora was confused by such a strange question.
"The year! What year is it?" the man demanded more forcefully. The energy it took to get that much speech out left him coughing.
"2006!" Sora replied nervously. "It's 2006!"
"Shit…" The man let himself fall backwards back onto the sand. "It's supposed to be 2005…" Again, the trio exchanged odd glances with each other, but before any of them could put another word in, the man was unconscious again. They stood speechless.
"What should we do with him?" Sora asked meekly.
"We can't just leave him here," Kairi said. "Let's take him to your house Sora."
"Have fun explaining that to my parents!" He rubbed his eyes. "What about your place, Riku? Your parents should have left for work by now." Riku considered that suggestion for a moment.
"Yeah, it should be fine." He knelt down beside the man and attempted to lift him under the shoulders. "Lend me a hand, will ya?" Sora snapped out of his daze and lifted the man around his legs. Within a few minutes, they had the man securely on the boat and were heading back to the mainland.
As the boat slowly bobbed in the ocean closer and closer to the coast, Kairi said, "Who do you guys think he is? Really?" The other two young men studied the man's face but didn't say a word. They didn't know what to think at the moment.
After much struggling and a few choice curse words on Riku's part, they had managed to get the man onto the couch in Riku's living room. Sora sat next to him wondering to himself just what in the world was happening. He was in the middle of building strange stories in his head to explain the man's appearance when suddenly, the man woke with a start, a strangled scream leaving his lips and two Keyblades appearing his hands, the Oblivion and, surprisingly enough, the Way to Dawn. His eyes were flashing dangerously. He leapt at the nearest person, assuming them to be a foe. Sora cried out in surprise when the man lunged at him with Keyblades drawn. Riku and Kairi burst into the room from the kitchen to see what the commotion was all about. The man was breathing heavily, a Keyblade edge pressed against Sora's neck, but when he regained some sense and realised whom he had just attacked, he backed away as if burned. Climbing back onto the couch, he murmured an apology and covered his eyes with his hands. Sora remained on the floor, still getting over the shock of being assaulted.
"Be still, my stupid heart," he grumbled, willing his heart to stop racing. Riku rushed over to Sora to help him up but his eyes and mistrust never left the man sitting on the couch.
"What the hell was that?" he demanded. Judging by the posture of the man, he felt slightly bad about attacking Sora but more embarrassment for waking in such a manner.
"Nightmare…" he whispered. "Sorry…" There was a ringing silence as Riku sized the man up, deciding whether it would be wise to pick a fight. The man certainly looked older and stronger than Riku, but that had never stopped the silver-haired young man before. Finally, Kairi broke the silence by speaking up.
"Sorry, but… Who are you… exactly?" she asked quietly. The man looked at her as if he just realised who was standing next to him. Then his expression went to sour and annoyed.
"Who do you think I am?" he replied with sarcasm in his voice. "Jack Sparrow?" The others were surprised at his sudden shift in character. "I'm Sora!" There was a long period of silence as the trio thoroughly eyed the man. He bared an uncanny resemblance to Sora but there were very subtle differences, such as the loss of that carefree child-like twinkle in his eyes that Sora had. And his outfit was far more mature, less primary colours and more subdued colours, and an almost military-like style. This man looked tired and battle-worn as if years of tragedy had taken their toll on his face.
"Nope!" Riku said, breaking the silence. "Sorry, we've already got one, see? And this one's the proper age." It was true. The man claiming to be Sora was at least a good five years older than the real Sora.
The man seemed to notice Riku for the first real time and his entire demeanour shifted again. For the briefest of seconds, there seemed to be a spark of something in his eyes but it was gone before anyone could really notice it.
"I know this is going to sound crazy…" he started slowly, hoping that his words weren't falling on deaf ears. "But I'm not from this time period." He paused, allowing them to absorb what he just said. "I'm from seven years in the future." Again, there was quiet as each person mulled over what was said. Finally, Sora burst into a fit of giggles.
"Yeah right!" he said, barely able to breathe through his laughter. "And I suppose King Mickey is the king of the underworld!"
"Sora, shut the hell up or I'll tell everyone what kind of underwear you wear!" The man shouted. Sora froze, suddenly silent.
"You wouldn't…" he growled, his voice low. "If you're me, then you'd be telling them what kind of underwear you used to wear."
"That's a sacrifice I'm willing to make if it'll make you believe me. Anyway, you of all people should know by now that time travel isn't impossible! You used the Cornerstone of Light to travel back and visit King Mickey's ancestor. So don't give me that shit!"
"See, now I know you're not me because I would never use that kind of language."
"It's called growing up in case you haven't noticed." Sora went silent again.
"So suppose you really are Sora from the future," said Riku. "Why are you here?" Future Sora's overall appearance seemed to get darker if that were even possible and he became dead serious.
"I'm here to warn you all of something terrible that's going to happen." All attention was on the man before them and for the moment, they were listening without doubt or skepticism. "In about a year from this present date, there will be a simultaneous attack on every world at once. It will cripple the forces of light and begin a bloody war between light and dark. And let me tell you, we are not even close to winning this war."
"Who's behind the attack?" asked Riku. Future Sora's eyes darkened as they focused on the other Sora.
"Maleficent." Sora's heart seemed to stop and he got a sick hollow feeling in the pit of his stomach. It was like the kind of feeling he got when he was at school or the beach and he remembered he didn't lock his front door or forgot to turn the oven off, only this feeling was ten times worse and made him want to hyperventilate. How could he have forgotten about Maleficent? He always knew in the back of his mind that she was still alive, but he never would have guessed in a million years that she'd try conquering the realm of light again. Then again, she had made her intentions perfectly clear when they had last met in the Castle That Never Was. It wasn't like she was trying to hide her agenda. So why did Sora feel so sick and ashamed? Because he could have stopped her a year ago when he had the chance. Now he was being told of a future where she's overwhelming the forces of light and it was all his fault.
"I know what you're thinking, Sora," Future Sora interjected. "And it's not your fault. Believe me, it took me years to come to grips with that. Maleficent is…" He seemed to be reaching in his mind for a suitable word for the dark fairy. "… an inerasable evil. No matter how many times we tried to kill her, she would keep coming back. So even if you had defeated her one year ago, she still would have returned in another form." That didn't bring much comfort to Sora.
"Then how do we stop her?" Riku asked. "Should we just pay her a visit and defeat her army before she has a chance to attack?" Future Sora shook his head.
"No, unfortunately, it's too late for that. See, this is where I fucked up. I was supposed to be sent back to 2005 just after you two came back. That was when the walls separating all the worlds were weakest and Maleficent had just started building her army. Now her army is too large for the three of you to take on by yourselves."
"So then just go back to a year ago!" Sora suggested as if it were the easiest thing in the world to figure out.
"I only had one shot to do this. This isn't like the movies where I have a time machine sitting in a hiding spot somewhere. This was a one-way trip." That took the trio aback.
"So how will you get home?" Kairi asked sadly. Future Sora shrugged.
"I'm hoping that by changing the past, my time will never have happened and I'll just kinda…"
"Fade away?" Sora said. Future Sora nodded. "That's kinda… depressing."
"Not to mention confusing. Haven't you heard of paradoxes?" Kairi added. "If your time never happens and you fade away, technically you never came back in time in the first place to warn us of the danger and we'd be back to square one."
"Kairi, my brain just exploded. Pick up the pieces."
"If you didn't use a machine, how did you get here?" Riku asked curiously, ignoring his friends' playful banter.
"It's complicated," Future Sora tried to explain. "A lot of research went into how the Corridors of Darkness were created and how they worked. King Mickey discovered a time dilation field within the corridors that created the illusion of instant transportation from one world to another. You could spend hours in the corridors but on the outside, it was only a few minutes. Then Yen Sid discovered the Corridors of Light."
"Corridors of Light?" Sora repeated in disbelief.
"Only a Princess of Heart and those connected to her can activate them. That's how Beast was able to follow Belle to Hollow Bastion. We were using them up until last year to coordinate attacks and transport supplies between the worlds. They're far safer than the Corridors of Darkness." Riku nodded in understanding. He remembered walking through the Corridors of Darkness and feeling like his life energy was being drained from him. "Basically, using what they knew about the Corridors of Darkness and Light, King Mickey, Yen Sid, Merlin, and Cid were able to rig the Cornerstone of Light to send me back here. Please don't ask me to explain the specifics. I'm a warrior, not a thinker."
"Geez, that's for sure," Riku joked while nudging Sora.
"Hey!" Sora grumbled.
"Problem is," Future Sora continued. "It was only in the beginning stages of development and all still very experimental. When Maleficent got word of what we were doing, she sent her armies to destroy Disney Castle." Future Sora became more solemn. "Mickey and Merlin were killed in the attack. We had run out of time and this was our only shot. So Cid set the computer and Yen Sid performed the magic." He paused again, rubbing his throat as if he were trying to will away the lump forming inside. "They kinda just tossed me through. I wanted to stay and fight, but…" He shut his eyes tightly and exhaled. "Last thing I saw before being knocked out were Heartless soldiers bursting through the door and firing. Next thing I knew, I woke up on the beach looking at you guys." It was quiet as the trio contemplated everything that was told to them.
"I'm… I'm so sorry to hear-" Sora said.
"I don't need pity right now," Future Sora shot back, his former tough exterior quickly returning. "What I need you guys to do right now is to hard-the-fuck-up and help me stop Maleficent before she gets her army fully together."
"Are you sure you're me, 'cuz I just couldn't picture myself swearing-"
"Paopu fruit print."
"Sora wears paopu fruit print underwear." Riku and Kairi burst into fits of laughter while Sora turned crimson red.
"You jerk!" he shrieked. Future Sora grinned.
"Now you know not to take my 'idle threats' lightly. Cross me again and I'll tell them about Mr. Snuggles."
"Mr. Snuggles?" Kairi laughed excitedly. "Who's that?"
"No one!" Sora shouted, waving his arms around. "Nothing! Ignore him… er… me!" Riku and Kairi continued to laugh. Future Sora merely smirked and folded his arms across his chest. Deep down, he was truly glad to be among his friends again. It had been far too long…
"So I'm assuming you have some kind of plan?" Riku asked once he had sobered up. Future Sora nodded.
"As a matter of fact, I do. First, I'm going to show Kairi how to access the Corridors of Light." Kairi blushed at the sudden attention. She had never gotten used to the idea of being a Princess. She always thought of herself as just plain ol' Kairi. "We're going to contact King Mickey, warn him and all the other worlds of what's to come, then we're going to build an army, train, and strike at Maleficent before she gets the chances to rally her army to its fullest."
"A pre-emptive attack," Sora said with an impressed whistle. "I like it. No more sitting around waiting for the danger to come to us."
"Exactly. So let's get started as soon as possible." The trio exchanged glances. "What?" They seemed hesitant to speak.
"It's just that…" Sora started slowly. "We kinda had plans today."
"Sora," Riku hissed.
"Wait," Future Sora interrupted. "What day is today exactly?"
"August 4th," Sora answered. Future Sora nodded in understanding.
"The Return Anniversary…" he sighed.
"Yeah, so if we're going off to war, wouldn't it be nice if we had one last day to just relax and have fun?"
"Warning the others is more important than that," said Riku.
"No, it's not," replied Future Sora. The trio couldn't help but gape at him.
"Really?" Kairi asked. Future Sora had his arms folded and a stern look in his eyes, one very foreign to Sora's face.
"Friendship is the most important thing in the world." There was a tone of finality in his voice. "Go ahead and spend the day the way you planned. I want you guys to enjoy yourselves, just pretend you didn't meet me. But tomorrow, meet me at Paopu Island at sunrise. I'll show Kairi how to access the Light and we'll head straight to King Mickey's castle. Alright?"
"Alright, thank you Futu-" Sora paused, feeling ridiculous saying his own name with the word 'future' attached. "Could we call you something besides 'Future Sora'? Seems a little silly… Not to mention confusing." Future Sora blinked a few times, and then put on his thinking face.
"How about Sky?" he suggested.
"Works for me," Sora replied, smiling. Riku and Kairi nodded in agreement. "So where will you be in the mean time?"
"Around. Don't worry about me, I can take of myself." Sky looked away with a slightly darker appearance on his face. The next part he more whispered to himself than the others. "I've been doing it for 6 years now." Without another word, he got up and headed for the front door with the others trailing behind him.
"Hey wait!" Sora called to his future self as they walked out the door. He fumbled with the back of his neck as he decided whether or not to ask his question. "On a scale of one to ten, how bad is the future?" Sky stopped walking and slowly looked over his shoulder. His facial expression couldn't be more different from the present Sora than it was at that moment.
A/N: So far, so good? How's the opening act? I'm really not a good judge of my own work sometimes. Is it too melodramatic or not serious enough? Predictable? Unoriginal? Or is it actually read-worthy? Please leave a review and let me know what you think.