~*Yin and Yang*~

Alike in appearance. The similarities ended there.

Sora scowled and hurled his wooden sword towards Riku. The eight-year old boy dodged at the last moment, and the makeshift weapon passed by harmlessly.

There was a splash as it crashed into the sea.

"C'mon Sora, I thought you were stronger than that!" Riku crossed his arms, his own false sword tapping the side of his leg.

The wooden items were special, for they were crafted by the youths. When they got older, they made a new one so that it always adjusted to their growing size. The pair had begun play-fighting back when they were only five, and they were surprisingly good for how very young they were.

Not good enough, evidently. Or at least in Sora's case, for six times out of ten, he usually ended up losing to his friend.

"I-you-we…" Sora sputtered incoherently, his frustration destroying his voice. He clenched and unclenched his hands, blue eyes narrowing into slits of shadowy cerulean.

"Go get your blade, we'll try again," Riku teased, gesturing towards the water.

"I'm done for today," Sora sulked. He turned and sought to ignore his companion's urgings to retrieve his weapon. He crossed the short bridge that connected the small cliff that was little more than a chunk of earth poking out of the tide to the mainland, hands shoved in his pockets, muttering moodily under his breath about the unfairness of it all.

It had been my idea to start with, Sora complained silently in his head. We'd be knights and save the princess!

At this rate, he'd not be the one saving their princess. Whenever they actually met her.

He stalked down the worn steps of the old shack that acted as a stairway to the bridge, opening its ancient, creaking door and heading away from Riku. He traveled along the sandy cove for a while until his gray-haired friend was out of sight—(though definitely not out of mind).

Plopping down in the patchy shadows of a palm tree, Sora stared up at the endless blue sky and felt something stir inside of him.


It wasn't unusual for him to feel strange, and it wasn't something he told Riku or anyone else, since they obviously wouldn't understand. Sometimes the young boy swore he could pick up, could sense, someone or something else far beyond his eyes.

It wasn't long until the natural lull of Destiny Islands relaxed him, and then he felt guilty for being such a sore loser.

I'd not be one if he wasn't such a sore winner!

The waves were crashing against the shore, sure, but it didn't sound at all like the crash that stirred him from his half-asleep reverie. Sora sat up, shocked, eyes widening as he recognized his wooden sword. The instrument of childhood brawling was a darker shade than normal thanks to the water that still soaked its insides and outsides, but regardless, it was far above the tide line and thus not something simply brought in by the ocean.

A shadow fell over him, and Sora turned, opening his mouth, expecting to see Riku dripping wet from diving into the sea to fetch his sword. His grateful response died on his tongue as he beheld someone else entirely.

This wasn't a child; this was a teenager that held himself like a king.

No, not a king. Like a god or something.

The figure was covered entirely in a disturbingly organic black-and-red suit that covered his muscular frame in crisscrossing bands. A glossy, dark helmet completely obscured his face, and a length of tattered dark blue-and-deep russet fabric hung from his waist, held securely by his scarlet belt.

Instinct screamed: Danger!

Sora rarely listened to his surprisingly sharp intuition. "Who are you?"

"It's not wise to throw away your sword. I thought even a child would know that," the stranger remarked with a careless wave of his hand.

The brown-haired kid pivoted to face his weapon. He picked the item up in his hands, feeling its familiar weight, albeit slightly heavier thanks to the saltwater. "Oh. Well…thanks for getting it back!"

"Tch, whatever. Why would you throw it to begin with?"

Sunlight reflected harshly from the being's visor, momentarily blinding Sora as he rotated his head and torso to better view the interloper. He tilted is head at an angle to chase away the glare. "Oh, you saw that?" He murmured.

The teen knelt down so that they would be at eye level, that is, if the future Keybearer could even see his eyes. Regardless, his gaze was tangible in the air. Strong and intense and very, very curious. And not even in the right sense of the word.

"Yes, I saw that," he mocked. "Now tell me, why did you throw it?"

Sora dropped his eyes, hunching his small shoulders and running his fingers along the smooth, blunt edge of his blade. "I lost. I didn't even have the strength to swing it anymore."

"So you threw it? Tossed it right into the sea?"

Bristling, he faced the stranger. "H-Hey! I, I mean, I was aiming for Riku!"

Standing, the teen laughed. The sound sent chills ambling up and down Sora's spine. There was something about his voice…uncomfortably close to his own, if he was older, perhaps.

Shoving that thought aside, Sora told himself it was just his imagination.

"So," the dark male said slowly. "You tossed your only weapon because you were angry and decided to hit your opponent? That's pathetic. It'd be like me…" He twitched his fingers, and something odd and disfigured sprang into existence with a black ripple of fire. The blade in his grip vaguely resembled a key. "Doing this." He flicked his wrist and sent it flying, landing a few feet away.

Sora felt heat color his cheeks. "It was stupid," he grudgingly acknowledged, scrambling to his sandaled feet. "But we were only playing!" He added in his defense.

His instinct again: Danger!

The teen stared down at him wordlessly for a few seconds. "But what if you weren't? You'd be dead."

The boy slung his sword over his shoulder and crossed the gap between him and the stranger's key weapon. Bending down, he closed his fingers around its handle. "Thanks for getting my sword, and here's yours." He stated in his best dismissive tone.

There was a hiss from the interloper and he was beside Sora so fast that the brown-haired kid didn't even see him move. He snatched his blade back and growled, "You can hold it?" His words were laced with surprise.

"Hold what? S-Sorry if I—" Sora began, raising his free hand as if to ward off a blow. For all he knew, this guy would murder him then and there, and he wouldn't stand a chance against him.

Fingers rapped a melody of discord along the shaft of the weapon. "Hmm, I wonder…Tell me what your name is."

The stranger's voice was almost wheedling, oddly enough.

"S-Sora." He folded his arms behind his head and offered a placating smile.

The key vanished back to whatever realm it hailed from. "How about I teach you something? You'll never lose to your friend again."

Those words alone were tempting. But coming from him…

Sensing Sora's hesitation, the teen reached up and removed his helmet from his face. His features were pale, his hair an oily black that rose from his head in hedgehog quills, and his eyes were a burning gold. The silver hooks where his mask connected were still visible, rising on either side of his face and connecting under his chin, like exotic tattoos.

He looks just like me! If he were older, granted, and obviously minus the black hair, yellow eyes, and the gray barbs for the visor. The facial structure, though, was identical.

"Come now, don't you want to save your princess?"

And Sora wondered how he could ever have known about that. The offer was so tantalizing that the boy thought, What's wrong with listening?

Those smoldering yellow eyes reinforced the dark male's gaze with a power that seemed to make it hard to say no.

Sora nervously climbed back up to face Riku. By now, the sun was setting, turning the sea into a blazing field of blood. He had been practicing a certain move with the stranger for a few hours, and though he didn't have a mark on him, the interloper was a merciless instructor and his patience was short.

Hopefully, he hadn't suffered through such a bout for nothing.

Riku had just finished off a sandy-haired boy named Tidus that was about their age. He skulked away with Waka, an orange-headed friend of his, griping about young prodigies in fighting. The aqua-eyed kid turned as Sora was halfway across the bridge, meeting his gaze.

"You're back," the relief in his voice was surprising.

"Yeah, sorry about that." Sora waved his sword. "Want to try just one more time? I've been practicing!"

Blink. "Okay, if you want." Riku arched his arm over his shoulder like he always did, the tip of his blade pointing at an angle towards his outstretched palm, facing up. Sora gripped his weapon, took a deep breath, and made sure both of his hands had a secure hold on the handle.

"Don't make it too easy for me," the gray-haired boy taunted playfully. Riku launched himself at Sora, kicking off of the paopu tree that was hunched over near the center of the impromptu battlefield.

Lifting his arm to block, the future Keybearer deflected the attack, and countered with a swing of his own. Riku grunted in response and ducked down to avoid another strike. He then caught Sora with a blow to the chest.

The boy skidded back and almost fell into the unforgiving scarlet maw that was the ocean, but he regained his footing and managed to get the paopu trunk between him and his opponent.

I guess I should try his move now. He skipped around Riku's searching sword-tip. Here goes nothing!

Sora crouched and flung his hand out, evading his foe's attack in the process. Since Riku always had a one-handed battle style, it was a simple enough matter to wrench the wooden sword from his grip. The earlier training session flashed to the front of his mind.

The dark warrior—that's how Sora saw him now—bent a young palm tree under his hand and said in his peculiarly careless way, "See this tree?"

Wondering how he could not, he nodded.

His words became clipped. "Avoid your opponent's attack but stay close enough to grab his hand. I've noticed Riku fights using only one arm…take his sword from him, and as he's unbalanced, hit him with it. Like this." He brought his key-weapon down in an arc on the trunk of the sapling, slicing it in two with a vicious crack! "Or kick him," the stranger added as an afterthought.

He remembered thinking, Just how much of our fight did this guy see?

Shaking his head, Sora realized he had almost missed his chance. He improvised suddenly, and as the stunned Riku staggered by—(Sora had never done anything like this before)—he swept his adversary's feet from under him and brought the flat of the weapon crashing down on the aqua-eyed boy's head with a sudden surge of ferocity that astounded the both of them.

There was a loud wham! followed by a groan of agony. Riku collapsed face-first on the sand, hands splayed out, eyes closed.

For a moment, Sora was certain it was a trick, and he would come springing to his feet with that special move that he always did to knock back his attackers, since sometimes he battled more than one of the islanders at a time. But after ten heartbeats had sailed by and he hadn't even stirred, the brown-haired kid began to worry.

"R-Riku? Hey, Riku!" He dropped the wooden swords, ignoring their indignant clattering as he raced to his friend and crouched down. Tears leaped unbidden to his eyes, and fear constricted his throat. "Riku! Get up, I'm sorry, Riku!" He shook him, but the turquoise eyes didn't reopen.

"Well done," a voice purred behind him.

Sora whirled around, breaths coming in heaving gulps, and found no comfort in the fact that the dark interloper had returned. "H-Hey, I think Riku might be really hurt!"

"I wouldn't be surprised," drawled the teen as he strode towards them from the bridge. "That was a strong blow for one so young. You have some potential, Sora."

The future Keybearer shook his head, tears flying from his eyes. "Never mind that! We have to help Riku!"


Flummoxed, and hating to be so, the irritated boy pleaded, "Because he's hurt! He's not even moving!"

The black warrior sighed, exasperated. "And here I was thinking you had possibilities. If you did, you'd not care." He knelt down next to Riku's limp form and pressed two fingers to his throat, then his wrists, then one hand over his heart. Scoffing, he rose, and Sora saw his own reflection in the dark exterior of his visor. Scared and wide-eyed. "He'll be fine, you just knocked him out. Not even bleeding."

Does he sound disappointed?!

Relief flowed through the brown-haired boy in crippling waves. He watched the stranger turn away and start walking towards the shed. He came to a halt right outside the shack. "This is probably for the best. You're too weak for what I have in mind." He rotated his head and his invisible yellow stare burned Sora's body, filled with a cruel malice. "Although…I might be able to…" And with that cryptic remark, he entered the old wooden structure.

He never reemerged at the bottom.

Movement. Sora glanced down and smiled as Riku lifted his head and blinked owlishly. He clapped a hand to his skull and rubbed the back of his head. "Ow," he said simply.

And that comment was enough to make the blue-eyed kid hug his friend so tightly that he began protesting.

I promise, I'm never going to fight that way ever again. If that's "potential", he can keep it!

A request from 00virturezero! Hope you enjoyed it! Unfortunately I find it a tad harder to write them when they're younger for some reason, but I hope it came out fine!

Reviews are appreciated!