A/N: Thanks for reading! Just a story that came up to me...a while ago. And has taken forever to come out. Hope you enjoy, and please review if you can!


The clock on Sora's wall was ridiculously loud. Sora grimaced, before turning over in his bed and frowning into his pillow. If he was forced to stay in this place, couldn't he at least get some peace and quiet?

Why don't you make them give you peace and quiet? a soft voice muttered, and he glanced up to see Roxas seated on a chair across from his bed. I mean, aren't you the keyblade master?

"Shut up, Roxas," Sora growled back. "This is your fault. I don't have to talk to you."
Roxas shrugged, and glanced to the bars that restrained them both. You don't, but you still do.

"I said, shut up!" Sora screamed, throwing his pillow at the chair. A nurse paused by his cell, witnessing the entire event, before she backed away from the cell slowly. Sora didn't care -- he was still too pissed at Roxas to even try to play this one off.

Giving a snort, Roxas only shrugged and looked back to him. You're the one who wants to escape from this asylum so badly, Sora, he remarks, standing up and gently pulling at the bars. Why don't you stop?

Sora didn't give him an answer.

When visiting hours ended, Riku once again didn't show up. Seeing as the missed meeting made it a total of Riku missing Sora for three months in a row, Sora only curled up into a ball and closed his eyes. Roxas sat on the edge of his bed and offered him no words of comfort.

--

Sora was the keyblade master. With a keyblade bestowed onto him by King Mickey, he searched the worlds, and saved his best friends, Riku and Kairi. He has visited Disney Castle, he has defeated the evil Maleficent, and he has earned respected in the worlds over.

In his second adventure, he discovered that he had a Nobody. Fair enough -- Kairi did as well, and when their second adventure ended, they had merged with their Nobodies, and that was the end of that.

Or so they all thought.

--

[One year ago]

When Kairi offhandedly mentioned that Riku had a girlfriend, Sora couldn't be blamed for bursting into giggles. Manly ones, of course, but they were giggles none the less.

In return, Sora could not be blamed for the glare he received in return.

"I hope you know I was being completely serious," Kairi muttered, sitting onto the bench in the school yard next to Sora. "I mean, if you could see the two of them, you'd see that they are perfect for each other."

Sora snickered again, shaking his head. "Kairi… are we thinking about the same Riku? Riku, who helped me defeat Xemnas and save the worlds? Riku who enjoys – for whatever reason – wearing clothing that shows off his abs? That Riku?"

She playfully rolled her eyes, gently whacking Sora's shoulder. "Hey, because I'm one of Riku's best friends, I think the midriff thing is hysterical. But if I weren't?" She exhaled loudly and mockingly fanned herself. "Riku isn't bad looking."

The blank look Sora gave her only made her sigh. "Look Sora … no matter what either of us thinks of Riku's outfit, he's not single anymore. He's taken; his port is no longer open; he met the yin to his yang…" She frowned, tapping her chin. "Or was it yang to his yin…?"

Sora only shook his head, as though pitying Kairi. "Come on, Kairi. We're all best friends. Best friends normally tell each other these things. And Riku has absolutely no romantic interests in anyone at all!"

Kairi raised her eyebrow and pointed across the yard. "And the girl he's with is just a fluke, right?"

"Right," Sora said. Kairi continued pointing, so Sora turned around to get an eyeful of Riku sitting with some girl across the quad. He was about to turn back to Kairi and to give her a 'I told you so!' grin, but Riku then leaned down and gently kissed the girl on the forehead. The girl giggled, and swatted Riku's lips away, pointing down to the textbook she had in her hands. Riku only gave a cocky smile (which Sora hadn't seen since, oh, they set off on their across worlds trip. Not truly, at least), before whispering into her ear, causing the girl to burst out laughing.

Kairi stepped next to him, and gently raised his jaw, which had somehow dropped in the last two seconds. Huh, he wondered how that could have happened. "So like I said…" Kairi began, but Sora really didn't want to hear it, no matter how right she is. He grabbed her arm, and the two of them approached Riku and his new companion.

Because Riku has always been Sora's best friend, and best friends shouldn't keep these kind of things from each other. Nope. Not at all – best friends should important things like that. Especially since their return to the islands a little while ago.

Wait, now that Sora thought about it, it was almost two years ago…how had time flown by so fast?

Riku glanced up to see Sora and Kairi approaching, and leaned away from his new female companion with a easy smile. "Hey guys," he said, wrapping an arm around the girl's shoulder. Sora twitched slightly. "What's up?"

"So…you two…" Sora nodded to Riku and that girl, and Riku gave him a confused look.

"Me and Kelly? I told you guys about us months ago, right?" Riku glanced up to Kairi, who gives an embarrassed grin. "Wait, I didn't?"

"No, you told us…" Kairi admitted, glancing over to where Wakka and Tidus were doing their homework. Her expression clearly said that she wanted to be anywhere but here.

This "Kelly" person glanced up to Sora again, before untangling herself from Riku's grasp and patting his shoulder. "Since it seems like you two have some catching up to do, I'll just go talk to Coach about the next game." She tried to give Sora a polite smile, but he was still staring at her in that confused 'who the heck are you?' glance, so she looked away.

Nodding, Riku stood up with her. "Talk to you later," he said, and the two girls disappeared into the courtyard. Riku shook his head and gave Sora a small smile. "I could've sworn you were the first person I told…"

Sora racked his brain for this memory, and when something eventually surfaced, his eyes grew wide. "Um… I thought you were joking."

Riku chuckled, ruffling Sora's head. "I should've realized. Anyway, Kelly and I both applied to the mainland's university for college and we click together pretty well…" He trailed off when Sora's blank expression didn't go away. "Sora? You do realize I'm graduating this year, right?"

"Well…" Sora swallowed, because the thought never crossed his mind. Well, it had, but more along the lines of Riku was getting older. Not that Riku was leaving him. "You're going to the mainland for…college?"

How much time had passed? Was he in some sort of trance while everyone else grew older?

Riku shrugged, and dug his hands deep into his pockets. "I've been thinking about looking at some other schools, but that school is pretty far enough away, but close enough if I want to visit, and has everything that I want." He gave another smile. "I'll still visit you, you dork."

Sora tried to smile, but it only shook nervously. "But… we're best friends, right? And best friends… well, we've…" He was trying to piece together what his mind was spitting at him, but he was only coming up blank.

Riku raised his eyebrow. "You alright?"

"It's just…" Sora ran a hand through his hand, and donned a large smile. "Awesome! I just remembered I have something incredibly important to do right now, and I gotta go, bye!"

As Sora sprinted away to the docks, he didn't turn back to see Riku's reaction to his crazy actions.

--

"So, anyone else think is all sorts of awkward?"

Sora raised his head to see Tidus staring at him. A quick glance around to the rest of his friends at the table told him that they were all staring at him; he sat up straight and sighed. "Awkward how, Tidus?"

Tidus shrugged, and Selphie chimed in. "You're acting like you just realized that Riku had a girlfriend."

Sora pouted. Kairi rolled her eyes and rummaged through her lunch bag for her sandwich. "He did."

Sora promptly ignored the chorus of "What?" and stared at his half eaten lunch. He wasn't hungry anyway.

Raising his eyebrows, Wakka gestured over to the happy couple who were half way across the cafeteria. "You should be lucky Riku found a girl like her, ya?"

"Yeah, I mean, she can deal with Riku's brooding nature like it was nothing," Tidus said, poking Sora's arm. "That, and she can fend for herself against his crowd of fangirls."

"And they're dreamy together…" Selphie cooed, before sighing and resting her arm on Wakka's shoulder. Poor Wakka twitched and leaned away from her.

Glancing over to the happy couple, Sora only frowned more. They were quite adorable – Riku has been smiling more than Sora had seen him smile in a while. It was even wider than the 'Hey! We just got home after being away for a year or so!' grin that Riku had when they had first returned. Sora shrugged and moved to get up, but Tidus fixed him with a look and leaned in.

"You're not jealous, are you?" Tidus asked softly. Selphie was too busy arguing with Wakka about how cute of a couple they made, so only Sora and Kairi heard the question. Kairi turned to Sora, and waited for his reaction.

With a frown, Sora shrugged again, and glanced up to see Riku and the girlfriend approach. "Hey guys." Riku plopped into a seat next to Sora, and gave him a look as well. "You okay?"

"I'm awesome!" Sora said sarcastically, but since he normally is never sarcastic, it didn't register. "I was just conveniently leaving, so you guys can sit down." He hopped out of his seat, flashed his friends another quick smile, and quickly headed off to the library to mope.

No, not mope. Sora would never mope. He was totally going to work on his history of Destiny Island's paper for history class.

Which is exactly why Kairi found him in the school's library face down on a table. Kairi sighed and shook Sora's shoulder. 'You're not really good at this avoiding everything shtick, you know."

"Then go awaaay," Sora moaned, turning away from her. "I just want to think."

Kairi sat down next to him. "You never answered Tidus's question." Sora didn't respond. "So…are you?"

"I kinda wish that we were in Riku's grade, or that he would stick around, or he would go to college closer to home," Sora admitted softly. "I wish I could be with him at college, instead of the girlfriend."

"Her name is Kelly," Kairi offered softly. "And he going to that school so he could be as close to us without being forced to visit home too much. You know how irritable Riku gets when he's stuck in one place for too long. Well…" she paused. "Maybe he's not as bad as he was, but he still gets that far off look sometimes." Sora grunted but still didn't even attempt move. "Sora, he really likes her, and you've had him for ever and ever. We're all getting older, and we will eventually go off and get married someday…" She trailed off, blushing pink. "I don't particularly mean us, but still…"

Sora raised his head, and wondered if what Riku said about Kairi liking him about a year or so back was true. He smiled to her, glad to have her as his friend. But when what she said sunk in, he leaned back into his chair with a frown. "I know Riku will go off and be happy some day, but I'll miss him."

"Then make sure to stay in touch." Kairi stood and gave him a quick hug. "I know you two – well, all of us, but certainly you two – will be in each others hearts forever."

With that, Kairi walked away from him, leaving Sora to muse over his thoughts until the bell rang.

--

So, maybe Sora had come across as a half crazed person. That was perfectly alright with him – he'll blame it on being a teenager, almost heading to college… Heck, he would blame it on fighting Xemnas and Organization XIII, but a quick glance to his calendar showed him that the fight happened a while ago, and if he was still dwelling on that, then he should probably go talk to somebody about it.

A week later found him on the play island full of unanswered questions. How long had Riku and what's her face been dating? Why did Kairi forget to mention it, or why did Sora somehow block it out?

However, the biggest question was: why was he so upset with Riku's girlfriend? He frowned and sat on Riku's once dubbed tree. She hadn't been monopolizing his time at all (if anything, he had always been a worse offender to that); she was always incredibly kind when she saw him; she understood that he and Riku were a lot closer than normal best friends could be, and she was always willing to give Riku up to Sora when Sora needed to speak with him. Sora should be happy that Riku had found a girl who could deal with his moods, and his crazy best friends, and still love him for that. And could still be with him to go to college…

Sora's frown deepened, and he closed his eyes.

Sora has been standing beside Riku since they were born, practically. Sure, Kairi had joined up with their group, but after being with them for so long, she was a part of the trio. Now this girl just appeared and was going to end up at college with Riku? While Sora was still stuck on Destiny Islands?

It just doesn't seem fair, now does it?

Sora's head jerked up, and he glanced around for the source. He had heard that voice before….but where?

Sora, you're going to be left all alone, like I was. But at least I'll keep you company.

"You alive over there?"

Sora jumped again, looking over to the other noise. The girlfriend approached him with a smile on her face, but all Sora could feel was a cold draft. Thatother voice. He knew it from somewhere.

"You okay, Sora?" She asked again, walking to the tree.

Sora gave a nod, and shook the other voice out of his head. He had a bit more present problems to deal with.

"Riku said you guys don't come to this island much, but I hope I'm not interrupting…"

Well, she of course she was, wasn't it obvious? "Course not!" Sora grinned, and Sat up straight, patting the Paopu Tree trunk next to him. "The more the merrier!"

She tentatively sat next to him, and sighed. "I'm glad we can talk, Sora…"

"Why wouldn't we?" Sora asked, all smiles.

She shrugged. "It's just…before, you wouldn't really talk to me, and I consider Riku to be a special person. He's gone through so much, and I wouldn't want to be a burden…"

Sora blinked. "Gone through so much?" He could test her; nothing wrong with a little test!

Riku's girlfriend blinked back. "The battle with the Heartless?" When Sora's eyes widened, she only smiled. "Yeah, Riku told me all that a few months back. I think I went off somewhere by myself, and he flipped, and then I flipped, saying how he should just leave me if he wanted to protect someone so badly and…" She trailed off, lowering her head. "Then he explained everything. I felt – still feel – so bad for even putting him in that position…"

"So, about Ansem…" Sora tested gingerly; if Riku hadn't mentioned everything, the conversation would just end. Sora felt almost uncomfortable with this outsider knowing what they went through, even if a small part of him wanted a pat on the back for saving the worlds.

She nodded. "Yeah, I know about him, and…Xehanort's Heartless?" She said experimentally. When Sora frowned, she continued. "Yeah, him. Riku's told me all about him. But what I want to know about is you."

"Me?" Sora still didn't feel like her, no matter how much Riku had told her. He frowned again; she was his girlfriend -- couldn't she just pull more information from Riku to find out about him?

"Yeah… I want us to be friends. I know how close you two are. And I know I'll never be able to match that – but I still want to be friends with the person who did so much for my Riku."

Course she wants to be friends. The second you tell her everything, she'll use it against you. The strange voice gave off the impression that the speaker was smirking. And then, you'll no longer be wanted. It's not a nice feeling, Sora. That I can assure you.

Sora jumped off the tree as a response to the voice and her words. She cocked her head in surprise, but Sora only backed away from her, shaking his head in disbelief. "He's not…he's not yours," he whispered, shaking his head. "I don't care how well you think you know him, you don't know anything!"

"But…but that's what I'm trying to do—" The girlfriend attempted to say, but Sora cut her off again, unable to contain the exploding feeling in his chest.

"No! You don't know what it was like, you ...you thing, shutting my best friend behind a door to darkness. You don't know what it was like, seeing him after a year as the guy who screwed up both of our lives!" Sora shouted, pointing an angry finger at her.

And here I thought Riku was the violent one, the voice murmured, sounding pleased. Sora, you know she doesn't deserve him. You've stood by his side forever. You know him.

"You don't know Riku at all!" How could she? She had only heard stories, Sora reasoned with himself. But even that would make it seem like Kairi really didn't know anything about Riku, either.

Well, to a point, she didn't, considering she could only hear everything second hand about their first adventure. Sora knew everything about Riku. Who was the one who grabbed his hand when Riku was opening the door to darkness onto their world and who helped stand was when the battle was all over so many years ago? He did! He had been with Riku from beginning and there was no way that she deserved to be with him in the end. She didn't deserve to just…just…regurgitate second hand information about how Riku almost sacrificed his life for Sora!

"And you do?" The girlfriend asked softly. "You think you know everything about him? What does he want to major in then, Sora? What is his favorite color?"

Sora shook his head. "There's more to friendship than meaningless questions like that."

"So you think his future is meaningless?" He'd give her points for being confused, but they would disappear because she just implied that he doesn't care about Riku's future, and in that, he doesn't care about Riku. Of course he did, couldn't she see?

"Sora? Kelly?"

The girlfriend turned to Riku's voice, but Sora froze on the spot. Riku crossed the plank onto the island, and gave Sora a strange look. "Are you alright?"

When Sora didn't answer, he turned to her. "What happened, Kelly?"

She hopped off of the tree. "I think you two need to talk, okay?" When she passed by him, she gave him a quick hug. "Tell me how it all works out, okay?" She said under her breath, before crossing the bridge, heading down the stairs and hopping into her rowboat.

Riku waited until she was out of eyesight before turning to Sora, rubbing his eyes. "Something wrong?" He asked, and when Sora still didn't respond, he grabbed Sora's shoulders and shook him. "Sora? What is wrong? Why did you explode like that?"

When Sora still didn't respond, Riku started…just rambling to himself. Riku had it wrong, but Sora didn't want to stop him, because if he did, he'd have to tell what was wrong. And for some reason, he really didn't want to do that. "I mean, I told you about us months ago – you must have conveniently forgot. I've made sure that she was alright with all of my friends, and don't you remember when I introduced you two? Sora, you were one person that had to like her in order for us to even go out. Why don't you like her?" Riku paused before shaking his head. "Wow, never thought I'd be saying that in my life."

Sora licked his lips, and Riku leaned in, as though suddenly expecting him to talk. Sora frowned, thinking he did technically owe Riku that much... "She knows you better than I do," he muttered, half surprised that he even spoke, much less that he said the truth. That strange voice that had been helping him out was silent, as though watching this confrontation.

Riku gave a hollow laugh. "Are you okay? Have you been hit on the head?" He patted Sora's head, but stopped when Sora didn't react. "We've known each other forever, of course she doesn't know me better than you –"

"Okay then, what do you want to do when you grow up? Obviously sailing the worlds isn't it, so now what?"

Shaking his head, Riku gave a laugh. "Is that what it's all about?" When Sora didn't answer, he said "I'm thinking about becoming a social worker on the main land." Riku shoved his hands into his pockets and gave a sheepish smile. "I mean, I'd rather have people talk to me about their problems instead of destroying worlds again..."

"What's your favorite color?"

"Blue—Sora, are you really jealous about this?"

Sora frown deepened. "I thought we were best friends."

Riku groaned. "We are. I'd do anything for you – I'd die for you, and you know that. Is it so wrong to want to have someone else to talk to, kind of like how you have Kairi? Is it so bad to be romantically involved? We're not the same kids that saved the worlds, Sora. We're older. I just…I want to go out and experience life for myself. Is that so bad?"

He knew that the right answer, the sane one, is "Oh no Riku. I was so wrong. My apologies." But when he realized that he really wanted to say yes, he kept his mouth all but wired shut.

Frowning, Riku ran a hand through his hair. "Sora…you can't think that we could live our entire lives waiting for an adventure. I mean, think about how we last got off this island." He narrowed his eyes. "Remember? Our island, along with a lot of other places, was destroyed. Sora… are you willing to let people die just so you can play at the hero again? Are you?"

The cool sea wind blew past the boys as Riku waited for his answer. Sora exhaled softly, turning to look at the ocean. "Riku…someday, I wouldn't really mind."

Riku backed away from Sora slowly, shaking his head. "Look, just come talk to me when you finally make some sense." With a growl, Riku headed back over the bridge, and walked to the docks. Sora was alone again.

Finally.

When Sora turned his head, he saw Roxas sitting on the paopu tree, staring out to the ocean. Roxas glanced over to Sora and gave him a small smile. It's been a while.

--

A week after Riku had confronted Sora on the island, Riku plopped at the lunch table next to Kairi with a groan. "Man…" he moaned, laying his head down on the table. "Applications forms, essays… I'm so sick of all of this."

Kelly sat next to him, and poked his side. "We're all going through it. Relax."

Kairi gave her a smile. "Except for us juniors, but we'll be doing it next year. And then you can laugh at us."

Riku snorted in agreement, lifting his head from the table. "Sorry I've been skipping lunch so often…" Riku muttered, glancing around. "Where's Sora?"

Tidus, Wakka, and Selphie exchanged glances. "That's our cue!" Tidus exclaimed, leaping from the table and almost rushing out of the cafeteria, Wakka and Selphie close behind. Riku blinked.

"Okay…" He glanced over to Kairi, who had suddenly become very interested with the table peelings near her. "Where is Sora?"

She frowned at the table. "Well… Um, he doesn't talk to me much. At least not right now."

Riku, thinking back to his last real conversation with Sora, sighed. "Is he still mad at me for going to college, Kairi?" Riku said, shaking his head. "I'll talk to him again. I've never seen him act like this."

"That's the thing, though," Kairi interjected. Riku looked at her, and she lowered her head. "He looks almost happy, sitting off in a corner by himself. But when I tried to approach him, his mood dropped and he looked …emotionless."

"Sora?" Riku asked. "Sora ...emotionless? You sure you don't have the wrong kid?"

Kairi sighed. "I wouldn't joke about Sora like this."

Riku stood up from the table. "Where is he?"

"Library," Kairi offered. "Usually hidden in the back by the exit sign."

Riku rushed off, leaving behind a confused Kelly in his wake.

--

"So, you think with a bit of practice I could regain the Keyblade?" Sora asked, his eyes sparkling.

Well, yeah, Roxas said, seated in a chair across from him. If you are the true Keyblade master, then you should be able to. And since Heartless are born from the darkness of people's hearts, they'll always be around.

Sora hummed, and leaned back against his own chair. "Alright. Maybe if I could somehow contact Cid, and then maybe stop by Merlin's to brush up on my magic…"

"Who are you talking to?"

Sora and Roxas glanced up to see Riku approaching, eyes wary. Roxas rolled his eyes and Sora frowned over to Roxas. "Stop, you know he's not that bad."

Whatever you say, Sora,, Roxas said, closing his eyes.

"Oh, shut up," Sora shot back, narrowing his eyes.

Riku knelt in front of Sora's chair. "Who are you talking to?" He repeated.

Sora risked a glance over to Roxas, who held a finger up to his lips, before looking back at Riku. "Um, no one."

"Right," Riku said, standing up and preparing to sit on the chair that Roxas was on. Sora jumped up and shoved him out of the way. "Sora, what the heck?"

"It's just, um, sorry." Sora rummaged in his brain for an excuse. "I saw a spider, and I thought, you know, that you'd hate spiders, and…" He shrugged, sitting in front of the chair that Roxas was in, half feeling some ghostly hand pat his shoulder.

Thanks.

Sora inwardly grinned, and Riku only looked more suspicious. "Um…" Riku tentatively sat in the chair that Sora had just occupied. "Are you sure you're alright? Kairi said that you've been missing lunch and seem…" He paused, as if trying to think of the right word.

Standoffish? Roxas offered, but Sora rolled his eyes. "I'm not being standoffish. I'm just…uh, practicing when you disappear in the fall." He tried to put on his biggest smile, but Riku only looked more worried.

"Sora…" Riku started, but Roxas from behind Sora only piped up, blocking out Riku's impending speech.

How dare he, Roxas hissed, his hand tightening on Sora's arm. You saved him from the darkness, and he protected you from Xemnas, but he's still going to leave, even after all of that? The angrier Roxas got, the more tired Sora felt, so Sora only groaned softly.

"He needs to have a life," Sora muttered softly. Riku looked as though he heard him, but with Roxas ranting inside his head and draining his energy, Sora wanted them both to shut up.

A life? Didn't you both share that stupid star fruit or something? Aren't you supposed to be in each other's lives, and, you know, try and protect each other? Best friends? Roxas hissed intently.

"Then why did you leave Axel?" Sora shot back, turning around to face him, and ignoring Riku completely. "If you wanted to stay with Axel, your best friend, why did you leave him?"

Because I wanted to find my purpose in life! Roxas shouted back, shoving Sora away. Sora stumbled a bit, but Riku caught him. Sora shrugged out of his grasp and continued glaring at Roxas. I wanted to find out who I was! Riku already had his damn adventure, and now wants to disappear to 'find himself' with some girl, leaving you! How dare he?!

"You …" Sora faltered, glancing at a nervous looking Riku. "You don't get it. He said he needs to live his life!"

If he can life his life, why can't you live yours, even if you do want an adventure? Roxas asked, voice growing edgy. He should understand better than anyone else, considering that he did the same thing a few years ago!

"Shut up, Roxas!" Sora screamed, suddenly loud enough for the entire library to hear. Riku could only stand and watch as Sora fell to the ground, grabbing at his spikes and whispered, "Why do you always ruin everything? I hate you!"

Riku dropped to his knees and tried to shake Sora's shoulders. "Hey, come on, Sora…" He pleaded, shaking him harder. The librarian shot them both a look, before reaching for the phone, probably to call the school nurse. "Sora, Roxas isn't here, I promise…"

Of course I'm not here, Roxas muttered in Riku's direction. You're just going to leave him all alone, off having little adventures with that Kelly girl, and leave him all alone. But it'll be okay, right Sora? I mean, look how you're feeling now?

"Shut UP!" Sora screamed again, and this time, when Riku tried the shake Sora, someone pulled him away. Riku struggled against the person's grip before realizing it was the school assistant principal holding him back, and a few teachers were trying to coerce Sora into going with them to the nurse's office.

Riku glanced up to the assistant principal and the man shrugged. "Back to class, kid," he said gruffly, as the others half carried half dragged Sora down the hall.

--

Sora was deemed alright a few hours later, and was allowed to leave. Seeing as he was held in the nurse's office until after school, he walked out with his mom, who had been called in, and almost ran into Riku.

Sora's mom gave Riku a warm smile, and Riku nodded. "Sora, how are you doing?" Riku asked, giving Sora a one armed hug.

Much to both of their surprise, Sora shoved Riku off and glanced up to his mom. "Can we go now?"

His mom only blinked in surprise. "Sora? Are you feeling alright?"

Sora stared blankly at her. "Can we go now?" He repeated, and stalked off to the car. Riku and Sora's mom exchanged glances, but Sora's mom only rushed after Sora.

--

Things got worse after that.

Sora stopped smiling, completely. He only had these half smirks that looked eerily similar to Riku's smirks from the days before they knew what a Keyblade was, and he never spent any time with anyone anymore. Heck, even speaking aloud in class was a feat.

Kairi tried approaching Sora in the library after school, and ran off in tears when he barely reacted to her presence. Riku tried to bring back the old Sora, but all Sora said to him was, "Nothing's wrong with me. Why would you think something was wrong with me?" Riku wanted to punch Sora in the face, and give his oldest and closest friend a hug as a response.

Sora did talk though. He talked and smirked and sometimes even chuckled. But only when no one else was around.

Eventually, applications were sent off, and acceptance letters came back. When both Riku and Kelly got accepted to the same school, Sora's eerily quiet nature disappeared, and his screaming fits began again.

--

"Shut up, Roxas!"

Sora jumped up in the middle of his History teacher giving him a lecture about the natives on Destiny Island and threw his textbook across the room. Considering Sora's strength, it dented the wall on the opposite side, but did nothing for the person he was targeting for.

The rest of his class stared at him horror struck; Kairi's eyes widened, and she whispered, "Not this again," before racing out of the classroom.

Sora attempted to summon his Keyblade, but when nothing happened, he fell to his knees. "You just don't get it, Roxas," he mumbled to himself, grabbing at his hair. "I'm not -- just because someone wanted you doesn't make you any better! I know he feels like that, but he's leaving and he doesn't care! I know no one cares enough, so shut up!"

The teacher moved slowly to grab the phone, but a second before he did, Riku shoved the teacher's hand away. "Let me help first," he pleaded, before racing over to Sora. "Come on Sora... it's okay..."

"Maybe for you," Sora said, inching away from Riku. "You finally have the life you want. Everything is perfect for you and I…." Sora threw a hateful look across the room. "I got stuck with Roxas."

"Come on, Sora," Riku said more forcefully this time, and, with Kairi's help, dragged him out of the classroom and into the nurse's office. Attempting to move Sora didn't help at all, however, however, because Sora started to scream. "Sora, there's no one there! Stop, please!"

"Don't you get it?" Sora spat at Riku. "Of course you can't see him! You're finally happy with your life!" Sora shoved Riku and Kairi away, stepping forward a few feet and throwing his most hateful glare at no one Riku could see. "I hate you, I hate you!"

Riku all but tackled Sora onto the ground. "There is no one here! Roxas isn't here, Sora, it's me!" Riku ground out, as he struggled to hold a thrashing Sora down. "Kairi, can you go...?"

Kairi nodded, and was half way down the hall before Riku had finished his sentence. Riku focused his full attention on Sora just as he shoved Riku off. "Why don't you go away, Riku?" Sora asked, bewildered. "Don't you get that you're finally happy?" Sora grabbed Riku's face, pulling him close to him. "You finally have everything you want – someone who you can trust, someone you can love, a family that accepts you… I have nothing. Leave me alone." He stepped away from Riku, shivering slightly. "The only acceptable company I have is Roxas. I hate him, but it's either him or no one."

Riku sighed in agitation. Sora had been fine up until a few weeks ago. Sure, he had been a bit more alone then he ever had, but he had never fallen to these depths. "Your Nobody," Riku said slowly, shaking his head in defeat. "Is a part of you. He is not real. In a sense, he never was."

Sora shrugged. "I don't care. Even though I hate him, he hasn't left my side. For anyone." He narrowed his eyes, and Riku threw his hands up in defeat.

"Sue me for not spending every hour of every day with you, Sora!" Riku exclaimed. "I'm going to college and I have a girlfriend; I'm sorry that –"

Sora held his hands over his ears. "I'm not listening to him, Roxas!" Sora suddenly shouted. "I know he's lying, because if he actually cared…"

"Roxas is not real!" Riku screamed, and a teacher suddenly opened a door to her classroom.

"Boys, we're trying to have a lesson," the teacher said, narrowing her eyes, but neither of them heard her.

Riku exhaled loudly, glaring at Sora. "Sora, our days of adventuring are long over – if you refuse to return to reality, you…" He trailed off, clenching his fists.

Sora blinked up to him. "So you think I'm crazy?" He whispered. Riku tried to defend himself, but Sora only nodded, backing away from both the confused teacher and Riku. "No, Roxas, I know you're not crazy…" Sora chuckled to himself. "But everyone thinks that I am. So …" He glanced up to Riku, who looked like he was trying his hardest not to look horrified. "I'm done. I'm so done. Let's go, Roxas."

Shoving past both Kairi and Kelly, along with a group of teachers that followed the girls, Sora ran out of the high school, and sprinted in the direction of the docks.

--

Later, Riku found Sora on the play island resting on his tree. Riku attempted to sneak across the bridge to get to the island, but when a misplaced board crashed and fell into the ocean below, he grimaced.

"What do you want, Riku?"

Riku quickly crossed the bridge and sat down next to Sora. Sora didn't even react. "Well... how are you feeling?"

"Why do you care," Sora intoned emotionlessly. "I'm sick of you pretending to care about me, when you really, really don't." He gave Riku that blank stare that caused goosebumps to appear all over Riku's skin.

"Sora, you know I care, but I do have a life. I can't stay on this island forever." Riku mumbled, but Sora only shrugged.

"Because this island is a prison, surrounded by water." Riku's head jerked up at the wording, and Sora chuckled softly to himself. "And so this boy, sought out to escape from this prison. He sought a way to cross over into other words…and he opened his heart to darkness." Riku shivered at the detached way Sora said that phrase, squeezing his eyes shut.

"I still don't get why you feel that way," Riku muttered. "We already had our adventure for a lifetime."

Sora chewed his bottom lip and glanced off to his side. A beat later, he said, "I wasn't talking to you."

"Oh." Riku covered his face with his hands, and Sora shrugged beside him. "Sora... can you make him go away so I can just talk to you?"

Sora blinked slightly. "Why would I want him to go away?"

Riku raised his eyebrow. "Weren't you screaming at him to shut up before? At school?"

Chuckling, Sora shook his head. "Yeeah, I was, but I don't want him to go away forever." Sora smiled a real smile this time. "I mean, whoever would I talk to without him?"

Riku had enough. "Sora..." He hopped off the Paopu tree and narrowed his eyes at the brunet. "What are Tidus, Wakka, Selphie, Kairi, heck, what am I to you? Why have you thrown all of us aside for him!?" Sora attempted to speak but Riku held up his hand. "Wait, let me finish. No, we haven't been offered praise for saving the worlds; no, none of the teachers care that we were saving the worlds enough to give us slack on work! But there were three of us out there, and two of the three are doing fine now! Is it that ...bad that you have to be a normal student again? And I know it sucks that I'm leaving, but I'll visit, you know I will!"

"I was somebody." Sora stared out into the setting sun, closing his eyes slightly. Riku clenched his hand into a fist, but Sora continued. "I had a purpose. I wasn't just some kid from Destiny Island who, like every other kid, wanted adventure -- I had adventure. I was the Keybearer. And to go back to this...monotone way of life?" He opened his eyes and fixes Riku a glance. "No, it wasn't so bad, but now that you are be leaving me...and who knows. Maybe Kairi will leave too, and I'll be all alone."

"Alone?!" Riku exclaimed, reaching up and shaking Sora. "You have friends on every world! You make friends with your enemies! Have you forgotten what it was like, fighting alongside Axel? You are like...physically incapable of being alone! People are drawn to your light, and if you let that light go out, then ...you'll just waste away!"

Sora laughed. "Like what's happening now?"

"Yes!" Riku shouts again. "Sora, I'm your best friend -- don't let this continue!"

"Will you stay?"

Riku blinked in confusion. "Stay?"

Sora smiled slightly, the first real smile Riku had seen from him in months. "Yeah, stay. I mean, can't you wait a year and then go off to college? It'll be like old days again, the two of us challenging each other through classes and stuff."

"But..." the fight in Riku disappeared. "But Kelly and I have plans at DI University..."

Sora continued smiling, but the light in his eyes was gone. "I knew it."

"You're not being fair, Sora," Riku hissed. "This is my future -- I can't just give it all up on a whim!" Sora ignored him and turned to his side again, speaking under his breath and smirking. Riku exhaled loudly. "I know you're happy to just retreat into your head and talk to Roxas, Sora...but I can't let that."

Sora snorted. "What are you going to do about it?"

If Riku didn't know any better, he would've said that Roxas said that -- granted, since Sora has been treating Roxas like a separate entity, it's just that Sora has been picking up Roxas's habits. And the thought of Sora turning into Roxas only fueled his desire. "Kairi, our parents, and I have been talking... and we think you should go ... to..."

"Lemme guess," Sora said softly. "Destiny Island's Land of Peace?" Sora pulled out a flyer from his pant pocket and flung it into the ocean. "It was in your backpack, Riku." Sora leaned back on the tree. "I'm not going. Besides, Roxas isn't going away, not when he's the only one telling me the truth." He pursed his lips. "Even if I don't wanna hear the truth..."

"You're going." Riku shook his head. "It's close enough to my college that I...I can stop by and help you out if you need me, and Sora, I just want you to be happy!"

Sora opened his mouth to respond, but he snapped it shut when he turned around and saw a group of people standing on the edge of the island. They were all wearing suits, and didn't look particularly happy at the fact that they were on an island. They also looked big, scary, and were wearing pins that read "Destiny Islands: LoP." Sora sighed, and lowered his head, stealing a glance to Riku. "I just wish you could've talked to me about this. Not warned me minutes before they took me away."

"Sora..." Riku tried, but Sora snapped his mouth shut, and Riku guessed that not even Roxas would be able to get Sora to say anything.

--

[present day]

"So Sora..." a nurse smiled at him from across the table. Sora only picked at his fingernails; she frowned and marked notes down on her clipboard. "Do you mind answering a few questions?"

"No, I do kind of mind," he said. She blinked, and he turned away.

She licked her lips and glanced at her notes again. "Um, Sora? When did you start hearing this voice--"

"His name is Roxas." Sora glanced back her way. "And he's not a voice; he's my Nobody."

"And what is a Nobody?" She asked, marking the strange name down on the clip board. "Is it like a species?"

Sora's blank expression stayed. "There's no point in explaining it to you."

--

Sora hadn't eaten in three days, and was on constant watch in his little prison. Oh, they would call it his abode, but it was really just a cell. He sighed and tugged on the sheets -- didn't they realize that, by locking him up like a prisoner, he had no reason to eat?

You really should, you know. Sora sighed, and pressed his hands over his eyes, but with doing that, he could still hear Roxas's lecturing tone. Really -- you want to get out of here, right? Aren't you going to go on adventures again? Don't you want to be strong when you do?

"I did," Sora admitted aloud, eyes still covered. "But why won't Riku come?"
Roxas was quiet, and Sora didn't press the question. They both knew it was because Riku thought Sora was beyond help.

A few minutes later, Sora spoke again. "Why did you come back, anyway?" He uncovered his eyes and glanced at Roxas.

Roxas shrugged. You needed me. Sora started to giggle, and Roxas narrowed his eyes.

No, really. Riku was about to head off to college, and you were falling apart. You needed someone to relate to.

Sora's giggles died down. "Are you saying I don't trust my friends?" He growled softly.

Kinda, Roxas admitted, But, you needed someone to relate to. You're not the only one who has been abandoned, you know.

Sora goes quiet. "Hayner, Pence, and Olette?" He asked, and he heard a sigh in return. "But...you weren't real to them. I mean, yeah, you were their friend, but not really...oh."

Yeah, that's kinda the point, Roxas said, his voice was almost too soft to hear. And Axel was my friend, but you can't have friends as a Nobody, now can you?

"Then why do you care about me?" Sora asked.

Well, Roxas admitted, leaning back in the chair he was currently not occupying. Being a part of you gave me a heart. So now I care.

--

They were checking Sora's heartbeat in a routinely physical, when a nurse gave a scream and dropped the stethoscope. A doctor rushed in, and she explained the problem, and Sora was rushed back to his room.

His parents and Riku were brought in.

Because Riku lived so close to Sora, he was one of the first contacts that they called. The second he heard there was a problem, he all but dropped his textbooks, and ran out of his World History class, running all the way to the center Sora was being kept in. Because Sora's parents were so far away, and Riku was so close, they wanted explained it to him first, much to his disbelief. Riku made them wait for Sora's parents, so when a half a day passed and they pulled into the main land, they found Riku sitting in the waiting room, looking more exhausted them they thought possible.

"Riku," Sora's mom sobbed, and held him close. "They said something was wrong with him and we rushed over on the first fairy."

Riku gave her a right squeeze, before moving back. "Yeah…let's go hear what they have to say."

Sora was sitting in a room with a table, staring blankly at a piece of paper in front of him, hands bound together with some type of padded handcuffs. He couldn't see his parents and Riku staring at him from the other side of the one way mirror, but that suited the doctors just right as they sat them down and the frantic nurse began to explain.

"I…I went to check his heartbeat," she stammered, hands shaking. "And…there was none."
Sora's parents only raised their eyebrows in disbelief – because who could live without a heart? – but Riku felt his whole world crashing down.

No hearts… Oh god. "Why didn't I listen to him?" He groaned to himself, dropping his face in his palm. Sora's parents were still confused, but Riku had to talk to Sora right now, even if to make sure his worst nightmare didn't come true.

They lead Riku into the room, and Sora didn't even glance up to him. "Riku," he said, and Riku closed his eyes.

"Sora…I'm so sorry," he whispered, but Sora only glanced up to him.

"Sora doesn't really care anymore," Sora said, tilting his head. "We both waited around for you, and as I got stronger, his heart disappeared more and more."

Riku froze, recognizing that voice. "Ro-Roxas?" He asked, shaking his head. "No…that's…"

"He's been talking to me for months, Riku." Sora – well, now Roxas – shrugged. "He trusted me, he confined in me. Where have you been, ever since you dropped him in this place?"

"Is Sora really gone?" Riku asked, shaking his head. He didn't want to admit that the stress of college, had taxed on his visiting Sora. And not just that – Kelly had become so …irritated with hearing him complain about not being able to visit Sora that she eventually left him for the guy across his hall. But if he went through all that, and Sora was still gone…

Roxas shrugged. "He's here, just really weak." Roxas stared at the handcuffs. "Neither of us have a heart, anymore. He turned to me so much, he depended on me so much, that he basically became me physically. So… sorry." He shrugged, not even looking like he cared. Or if he could.

"Let me talk to him?" Riku pleaded, his eyes almost filling with tears. "Please… I know I don't deserve to, but he is my best friend and I've missed him so much…"

Roxas lowered his head, and Riku sighed in defeat. Moving to get up, he faintly heard Sora speak. "Then why…did you never visit?"

"Sora?" Riku exclaimed, rushing to the other side of the table and grabbing at Sora's face. When Sora slowly raised his head, Riku smiled widely and pulled him into a hug. "I'm so sorry…"

"You left me," Sora accused, his eyes slightly going sharp. "You left me here, and forgot about me."

"I swear, Sora, I didn't…" Riku shook Sora again, shaking his own head fiercely. "Sora, you're my best friend, and I love you! I swear!"

Sora went quiet for a moment, before shaking his eyes, his eyes losing the sharpness and just going…blank. "Roxas says you're lying."

Riku stepped back in disbelief, and Sora collapsed onto the table, sliding onto the floor. Riku was shoved aside as a medical team approached, but Riku only continued staring at Sora, shaking his head slowly.

--

Riku loves you, you know.

Sora shook his head, and grabs the paper clip that he had snatched off of the table when they talked to earlier. "Shut up, Roxas."

You're the one who pushed finally pushed him away….

"I said," Sora said, jamming the paper clip into the lock. "Shut. Up."

The door swung open, and Sora slipped out of the cell and raced down the hall.

Where are you going? Roxas asked, falling into causal step beside him. Sora shrugged, and peeked around a corner, before continuing to run. If you're going to Riku, that would only prove me right...

"That's why I'm not going to Riku," Sora said quietly, pulling the paper clip out again and jamming it into another lock. "I'm -- man, this was so much easier with the Keyblade – I'm getting out of here. If Riku can only come to see me when I am near death's door…" He pushed the door open gently, quickly glanced around, and slipped out. "Then as much as I love him, I can't stay near him..."

To see King Mickey? Roxas asked, in an almost snarky tone. To save the worlds again? Sora, aren't you just living in the past?

"You're living -- well, almost -- proof of my past," Sora mumbled, cursing softly when he realized that he tripped the alarm a while back and starts to sprint. "I am really alone, and maybe I can help others this way."

Whatever, Roxas mumbled, pulling Sora out of the way of a passing guard. I'll be by your side, even if no one else will. Sora gave him a wide eyed, almost teary eyed stare, and Roxas rolled his eyes. If we don't hurry up, you'll be caught, and we'll never be free.

"Yeah," Sora whispered. "Let's get out of here." He hopped the fence, and disappeared into the Destiny Island night.