"there's nothing quite like a long, relaxing vacation and the sudden realization that you're not supposed to take one." -Krivoklatsko, as transcribed by Jiminy Cricket
Recap of last chapter: Miyu, Young Xehanort, Sora, Kair, Riku, Maleficent, and Selhpie had a battle at the restaurant. Sora turned into a heartless and ate Xehanort's heart out of his chest. Maleficent escaped with Selphie when Mickey, Donald, and Goofy arrived. Miyu surrendered to Sora, Kairi, Riku, mickey, donald, and Goofy.
Yen Sid, whose eyes have seen what is reserved for the immortals, whose voice has commanded the stars, and whose desk has taken the spills of elixirs that dethrone gods, was currently looking at a large rat and explaining some mid-level arcane arts in a deep monotone. King Mickey set his drink on the epic table and flattened out an average piece of paper. He drew an oval on it and added some petal-like decorations to it.
"Is this the pod we're talking about, Master Sid?"
Yen Sid eyed the crude scrawling somewhat favorably. "Ansem used a similar device to restore Sora's memories. Yes, I suppose that the pods of which I speak may have the same appearance."
Mickey drew an X on one side of the pod and continued his questioning. "So… before we defeated Master Xehanort, he constructed one of these pods."
Yen Sid, who had once raised a mountain from the ground by nodding his head, nodded confirmation instead. He had already explained this to the king, and was easily bored when repeating himself.
Mickey continued by drawing an arrow from the X to the pod and then another arrow from the pod to a blank piece of the paper. He scribbled another X at the end of the arrow. "And whenever he dies, this pod recreates him?"
Yen Sid nodded. No mountains were created in the process, but it seemed that Mickey was catching on.
Yen Sid explained it further. "When Xehanort dies, he does not actually die. He returns to this device, which reconstructs him as he was when he created it."
The mouse-king frowned unhappily, or perhaps in thought judging by the way he rubbed his chin.
"Why didn't we learn about this sooner?" He asked.
Yen Sid never shrugged (and didn't now), presumably saving the effort for one of his constant arcane tasks. "He had never used it before," he answered.
The king's ears popped up at that, alarmed. "Used it?"
Ansem nodded. "He is alive again, as is someone else."
Mickey was so incredulous as to be indignant. His arms swung wide and he cried, almost yelled, "How can you know that?"
Yen Sid did not nod this time. He only said, in a low, monotone assertion, "I know. I could feel when the process began. I could see as the magic was taken from our world into the next. Two resurrections took place, and a mysterious figure was seen at the castle in Radiant Gardens only moments later."
Mickey was annoyed now, mostly with himself at the thought that he had taken so much time responding to Master Sid's summons. He shook his head.
"But we killed Master Xehanort at the Keyblade Graveyard. Why wouldn't he have resurrected then? Why wait until now?"
Yen Sid shook his head in return, remembering a time when the same motion birthed a star. "You did not kill him. His body was destroyed, but he still lived on in Terra."
Mickey thought in silence. "But… when Terra died, when he became a heartless…"
Again, Yen Sid shook his head. He saw a new light appear in the sky, out the window behind Mickey, and smiled to himself before continuing. "Master Xehanort did not truly die until his Heartless, Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, and his Nobody, Xemnas, were both destroyed. That is when both of the resurrections began."
Mickey nodded, finally able to accept it. "He's back then."
Yen Sid nodded, and found himself immensely satisfied at the resulting supernova in the distance. "Master Xehanort has returned," he intoned.
King Mickey nodded again, and again he shook his head. "But… No. Who's the other person that was ressurected?"
A Day of Travel-By-Gummi-Ship Later
Donald tapped his foot impatiently, awaiting Miyu's response. Goofy was at his side, blocking the restaurant door with his shield. Miyu wouldn't be getting anywhere on their watch. Meanwhile, Riku, Kairi, and King Mickey had all gathered around a broken, weeping Sora. Their huddled forms were hidden from the outside world by the overturned chairs and tables around them, evidence of the battle they'd had with Xehanort and Maleficent. Anyone investigating the scene would probably be more interested in the mauled carcass next to them.
Sora gagged on some blood and spit out a chunk of things he didn't want to think about, still sobbing through tears and trying to catch his breath. Yes, he had eaten Xehanort's heart. He would come to terms with that later, after many years of counseling. At the moment, Sora was busier worrying about self control: Controlling his lungs, learning to breathe in first and then out second; controlling his panic, stopping the shaking throughout his body; and hopefully, once he got his motor functions back, controlling his own soul. Every reflection of himself was an abyss he could not look into. Not alone.
Fortunately, Sora was surrounded by his closest friends at that exact moment. And Kairi. Kairi was there, kneeling in front of him, trying to get his chin up so she could smile and tell him everything would be okay. The chin was coming up slowly, so Riku set a hand on his shoulder- tentatively, of course. "You okay, buddy?" he said with an attempt at lightheartedness.
Sora sobbed his throat clear and lied miserably. No one could respond for a long while, making enough time for Sora to finally wipe his eyes clear and rock back onto his heels so he could stand. From up on his feet, he finally nodded to his friends and turned to King Mickey. Mickey turned to Miyu.
"I didn't do anything!" She shrieked.
Mickey didn't dignify her with a response.
"Maleficent was lying! She always lies! She's the bad guy, not me!"
Mickey didn't respond, leaving Miyu scrambling for words. "She set me up for this! I just wanted to be strong, and she used me! I didn't do anything! I'm innocent! Riku, tell them!"
She gestured to him for help. Riku stuffed his pockets and pressed his lips tight. She turned her eyes to Sora. He spit out some blood disinterestedly. Kairi wouldn't even make eye contact. Finally, in desperation, Miyu turned to Mickey for support.
"Well?" he asked.
"Well what? I'm innocent!"
Mickey drew a pocket knife from his pocket and threw it into the floor at her feet. Her initials were carved into its handle. As she reached to retrieve it, he drew and threw another. Again, her initials were in the handle. She waited to see if there was a third before retrieving them both. Mickey explained.
"The first knife came from the corpse of a young man who met his end in the restroom behind us," he squeaked. "The second came out of Selphie Timlett, and was left in a pool of her blood on a sidewalk this morning."
Miyu's eyes betrayed her before she finished lying, "I don't know anything about that!"
Mickey pivoted on his heel and walked past Sora, Riku, and Kairi on his way to the restrooms. The implication that everyone should follow him was self-evident, so they followed him into the women's restroom. Once they had all crowded around inside the small space, with Donald and goofy blocking the door and Miyu up front with Mickey, the King produced a handwritten note from his pocket. He read aloud,
"The writer of the note left on the victim was undoubtably female. The wielder of the weapon was passionately motivated to harm the victim. The men's room was empty with the exception of the victim. The women's restroom, however, was occupied by the owner of the murder weapon. The restrooms are adjacent, and travel between them is fully possible for any one determined to do so."
Mickey pushed a stall door open, and the party leaned in to stare at toilet supported by a very solid wall.
"Mr. Sherlock Holmes wrote me this note," the king added. He glanced in Riku's direction and ordered, "Climb onto the toilet."
Riku wasn't very quick to comply, instead opting to shift his weight uncertainly. Mickey glared at him and nodded at the toilet. "Get up there." Riku pushed to the front of the group and stepped up onto the pot. He looked to the king expectantly. Mickey pointed at the roof and stated, "The ceiling is made of segmented cardboard tiles, similar to what you'd see in a school."
Riku caught on suddenly. He was the tallest person in the group; hence, he was the one standing on the toilet. He reached up and pushed the ceiling tile above him out of the way, and then lifted himself into the space above. After rummaging around for a moment he called down, "it goes all the way across to the guys' room."
Mickey turned to Miyu. "Well?"
She didn't answer, so Mickey spoke for her.
"You let your fears get the best of you. Maleficent used that against you to start turning you into someone you're not." A killer, he seemed to add.
As his gaze turned to Sora, the group began to understand that his scolding was for them all.
"Even you weren't entirely safe, Sora." His gaze fell to Kairi. He didn't know her sins, but he knew they were there. She diverted her gaze to the ground, thinking of all the girls like Lulu she'd made enemies of. When Riku looked down from the roof and into Mickey's eyes, it was only briefly. Mickey was not fond of anything that made him remember Terra.
"You all need to consider the result of your actions," Mickey continued. "Your friend Selphie is being made into a mindless drone as we speak because of the ways you have all behaved. A teenage boy is dead because he couldn't control his temper, and because you" he gestured at Miyu "couldn't control your fears."
The king stopped himself there and fumbled with his fingers idly before finally admitting, "I'm partly to blame as well." Everyone's heads rose at that. They realized that the weight of consideration had brought most of their gazes to the ground until then. King Mickey was trying to stop himself from going on, or trying to stop himself from trying to stop himself. It was a visible struggle, either way. Eventually the talking side won.
"I know it means less every time I say it." His words dug into the walls around them, making the party's confines feel all the more personal. "But… It's time I told you everything."
And he did. It took surprisingly little time, but the king told them everything he remembered about their predecessors, about Ansem the Wise, about Master Xehanort, about their resurrection via unknown means, and most importantly, about the keyblade. He told them everything he knew about the ultimate weapon in one sentence: "I don't know. I wish I could tell you, but there are things I don't know."
Riku had hopped down from the ceiling and was leaning against the wall. Sora had taken a seat on the ground with Kairi leaning against him. Donald and goofy were still guarding the door. Miyu was silently slumped in a corner.
"So…" Riku gazed through his fingers as if they extended into time. His face had sunk into the spell of the confused, like a drunkard vexed by something he ought to understand. "I was destined to fall into darkness."
Sora nodded. "And Roxas isn't my Nobody. He's… I'm the one who's an extra person."
"We're just mirrors for people who came before us," Kairi finished.
Their thoughts delved into philosophy and free will, swarming them with doubt for an insufferable time. The uncertainty of his identity was heavier on Sora than the uncertainty of his control. The turmoil in Kairi of not knowing who she was reminded her even more of the uncertainty about her origin. Again, she was the confused girl who had washed up on a foreign shore without any parents. Riku was the possessed, overly cavalier fumbler who could have- should have been Sora.
Miyu sobbed, breaking the trance. Jerky tears followed soon, without much sympathy from anyone else. Mickey finally decided to do the right thing, and walked to her side. He only stood there though, and waited for her to speak.
"I'm the only one without an excuse," she finally said. "And I didn't even know I'd done anything."
Kairi's head tilted oddly. Sora noticed. "What is it?"
"She didn't do it," Kairi said. Everyone turned to her then, incredulous. Kairi pointed at the stall. "Selphie and I were standing right outside of her stall talking to her. She never left. We heard her crying the whole time. So if she never left the stall, it can't be her. someone else could have been hiding in the roof, or in another stall."
Everyone turned to look back at the stall. Mickey retrieved Mr. Holmes' note from his pocket and read it to himself again before mouthing, "Oh."
Miyu wiped her eyes clear and sniffled, "you mean I'm innocent?"
Kairi nodded. "Yeah."
Miyu chanced a smile. "Can we still be friends then?"
Kairi nodded. "Of course!"
"Wait, wait, wait." Riku stood off of his wall and addressed Kairi while tossign his thumb at Miyu. "Didn't she just try to stab you, like, ten minutes ago?"
Kairi fumbled for an answer before gesturing at the gashes in Miyu's side. "Sora nearly killed her only a few minutes ago. If she's willing to forgive, we should be too."
Sora picked a sliver of something out from under his fingernails and dropped it into a sink.
Riku didn't have an answer, and was left trying to ignore Miyu's pleading eyes.
"Alright," he finally mumbled.
"Good," Mickey said. "Well I'm glad we have that sorted out. But now we need to get to work. Maleficent has kidnapped Selphie, and there's still a killer on the loose." He pointed at Sora. "You three should go after Maleficent. I'll track down the killer." He turned to leave, but was stopped when Miyu called, "wait!"
Mickey turned back to her.
"I want to help!"
"It only takes one person to deliver a message." He waived the note in the air and turned away again. Donald and Goofy followed him out the door with a wave to Sora. Miyu ran to Sora desperately, and tried for Riku and Kairi's attention when he proved too buy picking at his teeth.
"Please," she cried. "Let me do something. I want to make this right!"
Riku shrugged and answered, "you can come along." But we're not together was implicit in the statement.
Kairi nodded. "Friends forever."
Sora shrugged and smiled. "Okay. Promise not to kill us?"
"Promise not to kill anyone," Riku corrected.
Sora glared at him. "What do you think we're going to do with Maleficent and Xehanort?"
Riku shifted his feet, unable to answer. Kairi tried for him. "We don't have to kill them, Sora. Killing is... you know. It's wrong."
Sora picked another piece of Xehanort's heart out of his teeth. "You heard the king. We let the darkness get the best of us."
Everyone's eyebrows joined into a confusion dance.
"So the way I see it," he finished, "If you're going to Hell, you might as well grease the slide."
He looked to Miyu, who was watching him with worried uncertainty.
"How about it?" Sora asked. "Promise not to kill us?"
Miyu weighed the thought of being left behind. She wanted to be a hero like them more than anything. She wanted to help. She wanted to make things right.
She nodded. "I promise."
Master Yen Sid, who once concerned himself with the saving of a galactic cluster from certain destruction, was now concerned about a single resurrection. To be more accurate, he was concerned about its absence. The crystal ball he had been using to observe the Rowdy Rumble in the café was now laying on a silk pillow on a shelf. Master Yen Sid was at his window, waiting for something he increasingly believed would not come. The young man Sora had killed had most definitely been Xehanort, just as he was when Terra was his vessel. But no machine was functioning. No new life was being created. No resurrection was occurring.
When he finally admitted the logical conclusion, he summoned an owl into existence and retrieved a pen and parchment along with it. He scribbled a quick note on it in handwriting that had determined new axioms of artificial universes and then handed the parchment to the owl.
"To the King of Disney Castle," he instructed it.
King Mickey stepped out of the restaurant with Donald and Goofy in tow. The sun was fully up now, and several people were roaming the streets. Two children were peering into the glass front of the restaurant, discussing their theories on what had destroyed the tables inside.
"Donald." The duck snapped to attention at the king's voice. "I need you to find Mr. Holmes for me. I think he said he was visiting the local school."
Donald nodded. "I'm on it, your majesty!" And with that, he power-waddled away, much to the amusement of several shoppers.
"Goofy." The same result.
"I heard the local hospital was destroyed. Go see if you can't help them rebuild. If there's no one there yet, find some volunteers and make it happen."
Goofy nodded loyally and set off in the other direction. Mickey, suddenly alone, frowned and pulled the note from his cloak again. He was sure Sherlock was right. But if Miyu didn't do it, who did? The atrocity of the killing could only be the product of a hateful heart or a despicable mind. No Heartless or Nobody would take such pains to cause such pains. A person murdered a person. Neither could be identified. Mickey stuffed the note back into his pocket unhappily, only to have another delivered into his hand almost immediately after.
An owl landed on his shoulder and handed it to him. When he took it, the owl vanished. He was beginning to expect such feats from Yen Sid. The letters, however, he could never predict. This one included. It was only two words, and he wished for the entire world that he had seen them a moment sooner. King Mickey dropped the note into his cloak and ran around the building to the side entrance that he knew Sora and company would use, just in time to see their heels disappeared around another corner.
The one nagging thought of the letter drove him to chase them as fast as his size could carry. He dreaded the thought of being too slow, of thinking as slowly as he had before, of looking into their eyes and saying it again "I'm partly to blame," of looking into their eyes and not being able to say it to them.
The note had only two words: Xehanort lives.