Epilogue: Converging Paths
"Sora!" Kairi felt his presence so strongly, she felt certain she would see him as soon as she emerged from the Dark path. She called out his name as she saw the light, stumbling slightly as her feet hit solid ground again. She was in a dead end alley, covered by a tarp and blocked off by a chain link fence. The side-street had been decorated with a collection of cast off items, an old, scarred dart board, a slightly ragged couch, a crate, and a barrel, among other items. But instead of her long sought friend, she saw three other teens.
"You okay?" the taller boy asked. He had winged blonde hair, light brown eyes. He was wearing camouflage pants, a black t-shirt decorated with a skull, and a grey vest.
"What..." the Princess of Heart was unsettled by her trip through the Darkness, and the lack of her beau at her destination.
"You came flying out of a hole in the wall. You nearly gave us all heart attacks!" the other young man told her. He had dark brown her, stuck into a column by a blue and white headband. There was a gentle openness in his hazel eyes. He was somewhat overweight, and wore a white t-shirt with an extra long red tank top over the top, and blue jeans.
"You should sit down," the girl led Kairi over to the couch. She had a pretty face and bright blue eyes. Her soft brown hair ran just past her shoulders with a strand pulled forward on either side around her neck. She wore a sleeveless orange shirt with a white flower pattern. She had loose yellow pants, and matching orange socks and two tone white and yellow sneakers.
"I'm Olette," the girl introduced herself, then indicated the rotund boy, "He is Pence, and the grumpy looking one is Hayner."
"I'm Kairi," the princess offered.
"Did I hear you say 'Sora'?" Hayner prompted her, scowling both in thought and from Olette's description of him. Kairi nodded.
"Do you know Sora?" Olette asked.
"Yes," Kairi nodded again, "I've been looking her him for a while..."
"What a romantic story," Olette sighed when Kairi finished outlining her story.
"If you stick around," Pence said happily, "Sora's bound to show up."
"Yeah, he said he's coming back," Hayner added.
"Okay," Kairi agreed brightly.
"What took you so long, Kairi?"
A portal opened, and a slightly familiar voice emerged from it a moment before its owner. Axel stepped through into the cramped alley fort. Kairi hopped to her feet, assuming a defensive stance before her younger hosts. She instinctively called to her Keyblade, but the weapon did not appear.
"Somehow I just knew you'd be here," the flame-haired Nobody announced, "I tell ya, Kairi, you've got a lot of guts, jumping right into the Darkness like that."
Hayner jumped up, and moved to charge Axel, but Kairi waved him back.
"Have you been watching me?" the princess shot back.
"On and off," Axel shrugged, "My boss knew about Nelera, and was curious to see where her experiments went. But she was no big loss."
He smiled more darkly, and told her, "I think it's time you came with me. You can't fight me without your Keyblade."
"I don't need my Keyblade," she countered. She raised her hands, extending the pointer and middle fingers of each. Ice danced around her right digits, and electricity her left.
"If you were watching me fight Nelera, you know that."
"Two problems there," he informed her, "You see, your Keyblade is your wand. It both focuses and increases your spells' power. Without it, you'll be lucky to hit me, more or less hurt me. Unless you break out the really big magic, but that brings up my second point."
Axel lifted his left arm, fire dancing around the limb from the elbow down. Her pointed it not at Kairi, but at Olette.
"I'm guessing you don't want to see these three get hurt, or any of the other random bystanders in this town," he stated darkly, "Which means you have to be careful. I have no such hang up. In fact, why don't I just do that?"
"Do what?" Kairi asked warily.
"Come with me now, or I burn your new little friends here into ash," he answered frankly. Pence and Olette cringed backwards, and Hayner tensed to attack again.
"What guarantee do I have that you will leave them alone, if I come with you?" the princess queried bitterly.
"I need someone to tell Sora where you are," Axel told her, "and these three are perfect for that little job... If it's a job needs to be done."
Kairi lowered her arms, her shoulders slumping in defeat. Axel summoned up the dark path.
"Kairi..." Olette started to protest, but the Keyblade user shook her head. The three younger teens watched in silence as Axel led her into the void.
"Well?" Selphie asked nervously. She, Buzz, Booster, and XR were trapped on the far side of the quarantine force field, while Gadget and five LGMs worked on the container of the Heart of Emerald.
"Almost there," three of the green aliens chanted in unison.
"We have to be careful," the mouse advised tersely, "We only get one shot at this. If we reconfigure the reversal process incorrectly, Mira's Heart will be lost."
The nunchaku user backed away from the barrier, erected not for any risk, but to keep the anxious observers at bay.
"Selphie," Buzz Lightyear was the most composed of the gallery, so he decided to distract the teen, "Didn't you say something about contacting the other two Hearts, to let them know that that Nelera person was no longer a threat?"
"Yeah," the girl turned towards him, frowning, "So?"
"We could help you with that, while we're waiting," he told her, "We can link up your ship with one of the view screens in the back so you can make the calls."
"Thanks," she settled slightly, "That would be great."
"XR, get Miss Tilmitt a secure channel to her ship," the senior Ranger instructed.
"Sure thing, boss," the small robot responded. He rolled over to one of the consoles on the far side of the lab. After a few moments the screen showed the communications system for the Gummi Ship. Though she only had a passing familiarity with the system, with XR's help, she was able to hail Balamb Garden. Almost as soon as she initiated the connection, the monitor flashed, and Rinoa Heartilly's pleasant face filled the screen.
"Hello, Selphie," the bearer of the Sapphire Heart said openly, "How are you doing?"
"Pretty good, all things considered," the younger woman answered, "You see..."
".. so to make a long story short, you should be safe now," the nunchaku user concluded. Rinoa nodded gratefully.
"Thank you, for everything," the 'princess' of Balamb Garden answered, "And tell Kairi thank you for me too."
"Selphie, we're ready," Gadget called.
"I guess I better go," Selphie said, "Keep your fingers crossed for Mira and the others."
"I will," Rinoa agreed, and then ended the connection. Selphie and XR hurried back to the edge of the forcefield. The LGMs had all moved back, leaving the mouse girl alone with the machine.
"Ready?" she asked, slightly nervously. Selphie nodded, as did Buzz. Gadget hit the switch, and the Heart Extractor began to hum loudly. The rodent engineer backed off, moving from the bed to a nearby console. Inside the cylinder, the Heart of Emerald pulsed with light, and began to fade from view. Once the Heart had completely vanished, Mira took a deep, harsh breath, and sat up, looking around wildly. The LGMs disabled the forcefield, and the Ranger's teammates rushed in to check on her.
"Mira!" Booster cried out, sweeping into a crushing hug.
"What's going on?" Mira asked nervously.
"We'll debrief you later, Ranger," Buzz said brusquely, hiding his relief.
"So, what about the other three?" Selphie asked Gadget, not wanting to intrude.
"Yeah, now that I know how to rewire them, it will be a piece of cake," the mouse answered confidently.
"Then we should get going," the Human noted. She extended her hand and the smaller girl climbed on.
"You can just hang out here, until we need you," Axel told Kairi, pushing her gently into the cell. He hit the lock, and the crystalline bars slid into place.
"And feel free to try your magic," he informed her smugly, "The cell is designed with permanent Reflect, so..."
He trailed off, turning to leave.
"Wait," she called after him, and the Nobody stopped.
"Where's Sora?" she asked.
"Actually, I'm going to get him now," he told her, "So just hang tight, OK?"
Then he left. Kairi looked at the wall thoughtfully, the beginnings of Fire curling around her palm. She decided against it. Faint footfalls echoed in the hallway, and she moved over to the bars. An unfamiliar man had entered the prison block, though he was wearing the same coat as Axel. He was marked by a large, 'X' shaped scar between his eyes. He stared at her thoughtfully, but did not speak.
"What are you going to do with me?" she demanded.
"You're the fire that feeds Sora's anger," he answered emotionlessly. Then he resumed walking, leaving out the other end of the corridor. She continued to glare until he was out of sight, then allowed herself to slump against the bars.
"No..." she whispered, "Sora's in danger because of me..."
She felt another presence, but behind her in the cell. She turned, and a dark portal had been opened in the back wall of the jail. Inside stood a blonde haired girl in a simple white sheath dress.
"This way!" the young woman gestured urgently.
"Who..." Kairi felt the other teen looked familiar, but also knew she had never met her rescuer before.
"Believe in yourself," the blonde urged, "C'mon, hurry."
The Princess of Heart nodded. She dashed across the room, and grabbed the other young woman's hand. There was a brief pulse of Light, and Kairi let the other teen guide her into the Darkness.
"I know where I know you from," Kairi suddenly exclaimed softly. The two girls had been sneaking through the castle in silence, when the princess's memory finally clicked. The other girl turned to face her, curious and slightly nervous.
"When I had that vision," Kairi continued, as much for herself as for the other teen, "and gained my Keyblade..."
The girl cringed at the mention of the weapon, but the brunette did not notice.
"You were the image on the last station. Or at least on the first side of the platform," Kairi paused thoughtfully, then asked, "Do you you know who the other girl was?"
"The other girl?" the blonde echoed, confused.
"That last platform, I fought a Heartless and a Nobody," Kairi said, "And they kept flipping the floor. You were on one side, and on the other was a girl who looked like me, but she had black hair, a coat like Axel, and had Sora's Keyblade. Do you know who she is?"
"Xion..." the girl in white sounded surprised, "You shouldn't be able to remember her... But you never met her, so this isn't memory. Maybe some sort of resonance?"
"I shouldn't be able to remember her?" Kairi parroted the odd phrasing suspiciously, "Like how I wasn't able to remember Sora for some reason."
"They are related," the girl admitted, "It is a long story, but the short version is that Xion was a special Nobody, and when she died, everyone else forget that she ever existed."
"Everyone else? Not you?"
"No," the blonde shook her head, "Memory is my power, so I still remember Xion."
Kairi opened her mouth to ask more about Xion, but closed her mouth when a number of large Nobodies appeared before them.
"Naminé," Saix stepped past the other Nobodies, "There you are..."
"Naminé?" Kairi repeated the other girl's name, suddenly realizing she had never asked for it.
"Kairi. I'm afraid leaving is not an option," Saix told her, extending his hand, "I'll take you to see Sora."
"Stay behind me," Kairi advised her rescuer, gathering energy into her hand.
"You don't want to see him?" the Organization member prompted.
"I do," the princess admitted, "More than anything. But not with you around."
"If I had a Heart," Saix noted flatly ,"this would be where I die of laughter."
He took a step closer, but the sound of ringing metal behind him made the Nobody pause. As he turned back, the Nobodies behind him collapsed. On the other side of them was a tall, male figure, wearing an Organization duster, with the hood drawn. He held a Keyblade comprised of four wings, the haft a large red and purple demon wing, and the tines a white, angelic wing. The hand guard was two smaller wings, one angelic, the other demonic. The Keychain was the emblem of the Heartless.
"You..." Saix sounded mildly annoyed, "Didn't Roxas take care of you?"
"You can take it from here, Riku," Naminé stated, backing slowly away.
"Riku?" Kairi was shocked to hear the too tall, black cloaked figure addressed as her friend. Riku lifted his other hand, and shot a gout of purple flames as Saix. The Nobody caught the spell with his arms, and the hopped backwards and sideways. Riku follow after him, slamming Saix into the wall. The Nobody summoned a pool of Darkness, and let Riku's force push him into it. The hooded figure paused for a moment in surprise, and then started to follow the Organization member.
"Wait," Kairi requested, a hint of pleading in her voice. Riku paused as Kairi rushed over, and the portal closed.
"Riku..." she smiled happily, her eyes slightly moist, "You're really here..."
She reached up and pushed back the hood. Then she gasped at what she saw. Instead of the soft, pale face of her friend, she was confronted by a deeply tanned, angular visage. The face of the man who had called himself Ansem.
"Is anyone home?" Selphie was surprised that no one greeted her when she entered Gummi Glenn, carrying the Heart Extractor. Gadget had already reconfigured the device, and instructed the Human how to use it.
"Selphie, honey, is that you?" Grammi Gummi's voice emerged from the room on the far side of the main chamber.
"Yup," the traveler confirmed, "And I come bearing gifts. Well, one gift."
The Gummis swarmed out of the side rooms, greeting her with relief. Zummi and Gruffi quickly ushered her to the bedroom adjacent to the library, where Cavin's Body was waiting.
"What are you going to do?" Cubbi asked nervously, staring at the machine.
"I'm going to give Cavin back his Heart of Iron, and then smash this thing," she recalled Star Command as she said it; Buzz had melted the Emerald Extractor with his laser, to the dismay of the LGMs. He told them it was to danger to let them study, and Selphie agreed.
She placed the device on the comatose squire's chest, carefully guiding it until the crosshairs on the top lined up. Then she flipped the switch, and stepped back. The machine grumbled to life, and the Heart of Iron flashed in response. Then it began to fade. Cavin's eyes stopped fluttering, and he started breathing deeper. Once his Heart was fully restored, his eyes suddenly opened, and he rolled off the bed. The Extractor went flying, but Selphie caught it.
"Where?" he groaned, and blinked at his surroundings, "The Glenn? What happened?"
"He'll be hungry," Selphie gave the Gummis the warning the doctors at Star Command had extended to Mira's friends, "and surprisingly, tired. But with a few good meals and some normal sleep, he should be fine in a day or two."
"I better get cooking," Grammi said happily, "Come on, Sunni, dear."
"Thank you, Selphie," Zummi said sincerely.
"May I?" she gestured to the machine.
"I wouldn't have it any other way," Gruffi said sharply. She set the Extractor on the floor, and broke the glass tube with her nunchaku. Then she shattered the electronics in the top and base with a number of harsh blows.
"I'm guessing you need to get going," Zummi remembered their previous visit, "We're not your last stop, right?"
"No, I've got two more people to help."
"We won't keep you then," the spellcaster told her, "Tummi, Gusto, can you lead Selphie out."
As they left, he regarded the remains of the Heart Extractor.
"Flum-ame Bum-urn," he incanted, incinerating the rest of the device.
"We gotta fight," a familiar voice squawked. Kairi froze briefly, and the ran towards the ledge. She had been following Riku closely, to make sure he didn't try to escape. She looked over the balcony. Two levels below she saw three familiar figures, surrounded by Heartless.
"Sora!" she cried out, joyful and worried all at once. She leaned over the railing, shouting, "Sora! It's really you!"
"Kairi?" Sora took his eyes off the Shadows, looking up at his friend in amazement. Riku took a step back, so the other young man could not see him in his altered form. The Heartless swarmed over the Keyblade wielder, and he grunted as he struggled to drive them back.
"You leave Sora alone," she yelled at the Heartless, then added, "Blizzard!" before jumping down to the intervening level. Her spell bought Sora some room, but also attracted the attention of the Heartless. As she landed, they already had gathered around her. The Shadows jumped towards her, but Riku crashed down on top of them, Way to the Dawn blowing them away.
"Thanks, Riku," she smiled at him. The corner's of Ansem's mouth turned up ever so slightly.
"You might do better with this," he told her, reaching into his coat, and drawing out a familiar weapon. The Keyblade had flowery tines and a wave crest guard. He extended her weapon, and she reached for it. Then she shook her head, and concentrated, summoning the blade back to her hand. It disappeared with a ringing of metal, and returned to her grip.
"My Key," she exclaimed happily, "How? Where did you get it?"
"Naminé told me where to find it," he answered, "I went to retrieve it while she rescued you, in case Axel was still there."
"How did that girl know where it was?" she asked, attaching the Keychain for Radiant Weapon.
"She is the one who took it from you," he answered evenly.
"How? How did she take my Keyblade? And how did they keep it from me?" Kairi demanded, as she smashed a Neo Shadow out of existence.
"They used one of Vexen's devices to seal your Keyblade," he said carefully, crisping a trio of Heartless with his Dark Firaga, "And as to how she took it..."
"Riku, what is it?" she asked, made anxious by his hesitation.
"Kairi, Naminé is your Nobody," he said gently.
"My Nobody?" she froze, "I have a Nobody?"
"When your Heart and Sora's were released from his body, somehow Nobodies were born for both of you," he explained, "Naminé for you, and Roxas for Sora. But because of that, they were different from normal Nobodies."
She digested that, until a shout of "Magnet" below them roused her from her reverie.
"We have to get down there," she exclaimed, "You know Sora's completely hopeless without us! C'mon, Riku!"
She slashed through another Shadow, charging towards the door. He grinned slightly and followed her.
"Three Keyblade wielders in such close proximity..." Xemnas smiled slightly, observing them through the globe hovering in front of his throne, "I cannot let an opportunity like this pass. Heartless, throw yourselves at them."
"There's no end to them," Kairi panted slightly, "Riku, stay close."
He moved back to back with her, a curious expression lighting Ansem's golden eyes.
"HOLY!" she shouted raising Radiant Weapon high. Column of falling light tore through the ranks of the Heartless.
"We have to get down there," Kairi insisted, but when she glanced over the ledge, Sora, Donald, and Goofy were gone.
"Are we too late?" she asked frightfully. Before her transformed friend could answer, the door on the west side of the balcony burst inwards. At the same time, the Heartless took advantage of their distraction to regroup, and a trio of Neo Shadows threw themselves at her.
"Kairi!" Sora shouted from the doorway, but she could not spare him a glance. She caught the first attacker's claw on her Keyblade, and then side stepped the second one. As she moved, she pulled back her Keyblade, and whirled it around into the head of the third Heartless. She continued her rotation, stepping closer to the dying monster to stab out at the one she had dodge. Radiant Weapon caught the Neo Shadow in the chest, and it too began to disintegrate. She hopped forward, quickly striking the last of the creatures twice, ending it as well.
"Kairi, you were great," Donald Duck quacked, as the trio hurried forward.
"Oh?" she blushed slightly as she turned to meet them, flipped back her hair were it had clung to her cheek. She smiled shyly when she saw Sora rushing towards her. He stopped short, observing her.
"You seem different, Kairi," he said sheepishly, running his hand through his hair, "but I'm just glad you're here."
"You and Riku never came home," she told him, "so I came looking for you."
"I'm sorry," he mumbled, looking away. Kairi sent Radiant Weapon away, and closed the gap, wrapping her arms around him tightly.
"This is real..." she whispered, tears wetting her face, "I found you."
"What's the sitch, Wade?" Kim Possible's weary face appeared on the Gummi Ship's screen.
"It's not Wade," Selphie grinned at the older teen.
"Selphie," the redhead's face brightened, "You're back. Where's Kairi?"
"She had another mission," the nunchaku user answered evasively, "But I brought back Ron's Heart. That's why I called, where is he?"
"He's at his house," Kim answered hopefully, "If you meet me at my place I can take you there."
"Are you sure this will work?" Ron's dad asked nervously, hovering over the two teenage girls.
"Unfortunately, this is the third time we've had to do this," Selphie said, her voice tinted with the self-recrimination she had hidden from the more depressed Kairi. She shook her head, banishing the negative thoughts.
"But the first two times went perfect, so you don't need to worry," she informed them confidently. She activated the reversed Extractor, and it began to restore the Heart of Oak to its proper place.
Xemnas collapsed to his knees, panting. He stared desperately up at the sky, at the broken form of Kingdom Hearts.
"I need...more rage.." the leader of the Organization hissed, "I need more... Hearts..."
"Xemnas," Sora said sadly, "There's more to a Heart than just anger or hate. It's full of all kinds of feelings. Don't you remember?"
"Unfortunately..." the Nobody frowned, "I don't."
He broke apart, the questioning look still on his face. Donald and Goofy whooped, and the shield bearing canine embraced his rodent liege.
"Gosh," Mickey exclaimed, "you all did great!"
"You're coming back with us, right?" Sora prompted Riku.
"Everyone is waiting for you," Kairi added.
"I had given in to the darkness," the taller teen shook his head, "How'm I gonna face everyone?"
"Like this?" Sora made a funny face. Riku laughed in spite of himself, and they all chuckled, until the platform they stood on began to shake.
"We gotta hurry," the King prompted them.
"I'll open a path," Riku raised his hand, but nothing happened.
"You don't belong in the dark realm anymore, Riku," Mickey told him happily.
"How do we get out of here, Your Majesty?" Donald was less impressed and more worried about dying. Naminé appeared behind them, mostly transparent. Kairi perked up, and Sora looked at the Nobody in confusion. Naminé moved her hand sideways, and portal opened behind her.
"Who did this?" Donald asked, running towards the gateway nevertheless.
"Well, I'm not sure," Mickey moved to join him, "But we'd better hurry and get through."
"Wait for me," Goofy ran forward, entering the path the instant before Mickey.
"C'mon," the Duck wizard looked back from within the Darkness. As the three residents of Disney Castle vanished, Kairi's other seemed to solidify slightly.
"Thank you, Naminé," the Princess of Radiant Garden offered.
"I owed you," Naminé said guiltily, and then looked over at Sora, "See? We meet again, like we promised."
"Huh?" the young man grunted dully.
"You said we'd meet again," a different voice echoed out from him, "but when we did, we might not recognize each other."
Roxas stepped out of Sora, as translucent as Naminé.
"I did, didn't I," the blonde girl agreed.
"But I knew you," he agreed.
"Mmm..." Naminé smiled confidently, "it's strange."
"I think I understand," Roxas decided, "I see myself the way you remember me. And you see yourself the way I remember you."
"I always though Nobodies were doomed to fade back into darkness..." the witch of Memory added.
"Yeah, but you and I didn't," the blonde boy agreed, looking towards Sora and Kairi, "We got to meet our original selves."
"So, we can be together again!"
"Right. Anytime Sora and Kairi are together." He took his place beside Naminé, opposite Sora, as the young woman in white was opposite the young woman in pink.
"We'll be together every day," the Princess told them, "Right, Sora?"
"Umm, yeah!" he agreed enthusiastically, blushing slightly. Naminé took Kairi's hand,and then vanished into her original in a shower of white sparkles.
"Look sharp," Roxas admonished Sora, before returning to the Keyblade wielder. Sora patted himself down with a concerned look and a grunt of surprise.
"Don't worry," Riku assured him, "You're all still you."
"Hey, let's go home," Kairi prompted, as the tower shook again. She stepped into the portal, but as she turned back to wave them in, the gateway started to close.
"Sora! Riku!" she cried out as the Dark path sealed, leaving them behind.
Darkwing lifted his head, and regarded Selphie with bloodshot eyes. He jumped up when he recognized the Human girl, and the item she carried.
"You're back... sidekick girl."
"That's Selphie," she shouted at him, "I'd think you would remember the name of someone trying to help you."
"Sorry," he said sincerely, "I've been distracted."
He looked up at the raised platform on the far side of the lair. Then his gaze returned to the nunchaku user hopefully.
"Is that..." he prompted tentatively.
"And can you..."
"In a few minutes, you'll have your daughter back," she confirmed brightly. Then to her surprise, the hero threw his arms around her loosely. She looked awkwardly surprised.
"Thank you, Selphie," he whispered, and her expression softened.
"Come on," she told him, "Let's wake up Gosalyn."
"Garwsh, Kairi," Goofy exclaimed as the path vanished behind her, "Where are Sora and Riku?"
"The portal closed before they could enter," she said sadly.
"What should we do, your Majesty?" Donald squawked.
"Do ya think we should go back for them, Kairi?" Mickey asked her.
"No," she smiled slightly, brushing aside her hair, "I think they can find their own way this time."
"Then we should take you home," the King nodded his agreement.
"You can do that?" she asked, surprised, "There is a path to Destiny Islands in this region?"
"Well, no," Mickey admitted, "But I can make one."
"You can make one?" she sounded amazed, "All the paths I opened were so... random..."
"It might have seemed that way," he shook his head, "But you were guided by your Hearts and the Hearts of those around ya, to where you needed to go."
"And not to toot my own horn," he said abashedly, "But I've got more training and experience than you guys do. And, I'll still need the Cornerstone to do it."
"You can open a path to any world," she frowned, "So you could have sent Sora home months ago?"
"Well, not really," Mickey shook his head vehemently, "I was kinda busy hiding and spying on the Organization. And if I had done that back then, they woulda just followed Sora."
"Also," his voice dropped, taking a worried tone, "It's not safe to do this too often, and I needed to save it in case I needed to track the Nobodies, and Riku was busy."
"Alright," she nodded, "Sorry."
"But before that, can we go back to Hollow Bastion?" she asked, suddenly remembering, "There is something I promised to do."
"Well, they ain't callin' it Hollow Bastion no more," Goofy interjected, "It's back to being called Radiant Garden."
She looked at him in surprise.
"So you remember Radiant Garden?" Mickey asked as they walked through the city. Donald and Goofy had stayed behind with the ship. Both the Princess of Heart and the King suspected that they wanted to use the ship's scanners to look for the two lost Keyblade users.
"Bits and pieces," Kairi answered, "Like I remember when you rescued me and my grandfather. And hearing Grandpa and Grandpa Ansem talking about Balamb Garden."
"That was the beginning of the end," the Mouse recalled, "When Ansem the Wise learned that his apprentices found Leon after Balamb disappeared, and used him as a test subject... Well that was when he decided to shut them down, and they betrayed him."
"What happened to Squall?" she prompted.
"They experimented on his emotions and memories," Mickey answered, "Ansem was outraged, but with Balamb gone, there was wasn't much he could do. He put Squall in the Youth Knights with Cloud, Aerith, and the others. Then, when Radiant Garden fell, Squall thought he had failed again, and that's when he started goin' by Leon."
"There he is!" she shouted, suddenly running forward. "Sqa... Leon!"
"Kairi, your Majesty," he greeted them as warmly as he could, "What are you doing here?"
"Kairi wanted to see you," Mickey offered.
"What can I do for you?" the scarred warrior asked evenly.
"I was asked to give this to you," she took out an envelope, and extended it to him.
"We should go," she told Mickey, wanting to give Leon some privacy. The King followed quickly after her, looking mildly befuddled.
"Squall?" the tall fighter was surprised to see his former name on the letter, and his eyes widened as he recognized the script.
"Now what?" Gadget asked Selphie, as the Gummi Ship left orbit around St Canard.
"I guess I'll go home," the Human answered.
"But don't you want to look for Kairi?" the mouse prompted, "And your other friends, Sora and Riku?"
"I do," the nunchaku wielder answered, "But without a Keyblade, I'm limited to going back and forth between these eight worlds, and I doubt they will turn up here. Besides, I trusted Kairi to bring the boys home. So if I keep searching, it's like I'm doubting her."
"Setting course for Destiny Island," the engineer noted.
"What are you going to do, Gadget?" Selphie asked, as the ship accelerated.
"I don't know," the rodent considered it, "I don't really have any place to go."
"Well, I'm sure my mom will let you stay with us," the Human offered, "Especially if you turn that engineer's brain of yours to fixing our leaky faucet."
"Thank you, Ms Tilmitt," an intensely deep voice behind them said, "But if Gadget has no objections, I will bring her home, after she has returned you to your world."
Both women turned to look at the newcomer, a tall human man in deep blue robes, with a crown of grey hair around his otherwise bald head. His face was stern and weathered, but despite that his expression was kind.
"Master Yen Sid," Gadget greeted him, bowing her head slightly. Selphie studied him, surprised.
"I believe you are finished helping Princess Kairi, are you not?" the sorcerer addressed the rodent.
"Yes," the engineer nodded, "So you can bring me back to Twilight Town?"
"We are no longer in Twilight Town," Yen Sid answered, "The Nobodies invaded that tower; and as Arcadia has been restored, and I no longer needed to watch over Sora's restoration, I have returned to our true home. Do you wish to return?"
"Of course," Gadget beamed.
"Sora's restoration?" Selphie glared at him, "What does that mean?"
"The tale is not mine to tell," the ancient wizard lectured her, "If you wish to know, you will have to ask your friends, when they return. Gadget, call upon me when you are finished, and I will teleport you back to the Sanctum."
Saying that, the communications magic ended, and Yen Sid's apparently solid form vanished.
"Looks like we both get to go home," Selphie said wistfully, "Will I ever see you again?"
"Golly, I really don't know," Gadget said evasively.
"Well, even if we don't we'll always be friends, right?"
"Of course," the mouse engineer agreed.
"So this is Destiny Islands," Goofy looked around, as they followed Kairi off the Gummi Ship, "It's real purty. I can see why you guys like it so much."
"Can you stay for a while?" Kairi asked, the addressed the King directly, "I'm sure my grandfather would like to see you again."
"I'd like to, Kairi," Mickey answered, "But Minnie must be worried sick, and Daisy will probably scold me for keeping Donald away for so long."
Behind him, the Duck wizard shuddered.
"I understand," she told them sadly, "But don't be strangers, OK?"
"We won't," the Mouse agreed, "If nothing else, we'll have to come visit when Sora and Riku get back."
The three residents of Disney Castle all hugged her briefly, and the climbed back into the ship. A few moments later, the vessel lifted into the sky.
"Kairi!" she heard a familiar voice shout, as the Gummi Ship vanished from view.
"I saw the ship land," Selphie panted, when she reached her friend, "And I knew it had to be you."
She looked around suspiciously, and then asked pointedly, "Where is Riku... and Sora?"
"I met up with them," the Princess of Heart answered, "But then we were separated again."
She looked up at the sky, and placed her hand over her left breast, "But they're on their way home. This time I'm sure of it. We just need to wait for them."
"I thought waiting wasn't good enough?" Selphie needled her.
"Maybe not," Kairi agreed with a gentle, happy grin, "But some times, it's the only thing you can do."
Thinking of you, wherever you are.
We pray for our sorrows to end, and hope that our hearts will blend. Now I will step forward to realize this wish.
And who knows; starting a new journey may not be so hard or maybe it has already begun. There are many worlds, but they share the same sky---one sky, one destiny.