A/N: Oh my God, I'm alive! Well, maybe right now, but not for long. My muses kicked in tonight long enough to slap the ending on this fic, and then promptly decided to crap out on me again. Oh well. Just as a little background and explanation, this fic came out of an argument a friend of mine and me had a while back about how un- and re-chaining Sora's heart had on his memories of little things. Then I decided to write a fic about it. Ten months later, it is finally done. I personally think that this sort of thing could very well happen, but until Nomura says anything more definite on the subject, I'll never know for sure. Enjoy!
"Hey, Riku," Sora said one day while lazing around on the beach. "Summon your Keyblade. Way To The Dawn." They should really have been doing their summer homework, but saving the world a couple of times sort of made writing a paper and reading some dumb novel seem unnecessary.
Riku smirked and chuckled. It had only been about a year since the latest disaster had been dealt with, and Sora was feeling restless. They were training Kairi how to use her Keyblade a few days a week, when they weren't on the mainland doing something else, but today it was just the two of them. Riku had thought at first that Sora would be bummed about the absence of his girl, but the smile on his face told his friend they'd be all right without Kairi for a day. "Why?" Riku asked in reply. "Do you really wanna be beaten that badly? I mean, not that I mind kicking your sorry behind, but—"
Suddenly, Sora was on his feet. He'd summoned his Keyblade and had it at Riku's throat in an instant. "Like I'm gonna let that happen." He backed away a step or two and flipped Oblivion in his hand, offering it to his friend.
Riku held his hand out beside him and summoned Way To The Dawn. "Whatever. I'm not using that pathetic thing. There's a reason why Roxas used Oblivion and Oathkeeper, you know." Sora rolled his eyes, throwing a fake punch in his friend's direction. Something came to Riku, and he continued, "And anyway, why is it that you have over thirty Keychains and I only have four? Seems a little unfair, you know."
"Because I'm the Keyblade master," he answered, shrugging his shoulders arrogantly. After a moment, his eyebrows came together in confusion. "What do you mean, over thirty? I only have twenty-two Keychains, Riku. Maybe you need to repeat a few years in school and learn how to count again."
Riku decided not to press the issue. They were still discovering things that Sora didn't remember because of Castle Oblivion. Naminé had done her best in piecing his memory back together, but she hadn't been completely successful. He had remembered most of it on his own, without the help of others. Sometimes he would just burst out with, "Hey, guys, do you remember when—?" and it often took both Kairi and himself by surprise. Sometimes the three of them argued about what had really taken place for an hour before Sora's memory would up and decide to work, and he'd remember things as they really were. It happened to all of them to some degree—including all their friends on the island and from the other worlds—because they had all been connected to Sora's heart and memory.
But Sora's was the worst. Riku had more than enough proof of it. This issue about Keychains was a prime example. Riku knew for a fact Sora had more than twenty-some of them. The first time they'd had to save the world, before Castle Oblivion, Sora had collected a number of Keychains for his weapon. The cards Riku remembered Naminé pulling out of Sora pockets were crafted from his memories of those chains, which had come from memories of the people he encountered and the places he'd traveled. Then he'd slept in the pod for a year, only to awaken and go on another adventure to save the world, where he came by the twenty-some chains he knew he had.
It was kind of sad actually, Riku thought. He could remember everything that happened to him during his two rounds of world-saving, could remember all of the horrific things Ansem and Xemnas had done to them, but Naminé hadn't been able to salvage the memories of a couple of charms. It made him angry. Not at Naminé—because Shiva knew she'd done everything in her power to help them—but at the whole situation, and partially at the Keyblade for choosing some oblivious teenager as its master.
"You gonna defend or what, Riku? It's no fun if you don't try."
His friend's voice snapped him back to reality. "Whatever," he said roughly. He lunged forward to attack, catching Sora off guard and nearly knocking him over. Sora's Keyblade disappeared as he caught himself. Riku waited as Sora regained his balance, and when his friend looked back up at him, he grinned like a maniac and summoned the Decisive Pumpkin.
"I have never understood," Riku teased, "how a Keyblade that looked so dumb could be so strong. Well, I guess if it comes from your heart then it would make enough sense."
"Hey!" Sora exclaimed. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"I think you know what it's supposed to mean."
Sora growled in annoyance. "Come on, let's finish this already!"
And they did. The two of them fought until the sun started to set. Riku wasn't sure who won—Kairi usually kept score for them—and Sora would just want to call it a draw anyway. Although, if he had to be honest, he would have named Sora the winner. Riku had never seen him use so much energy, fight with so much passion, since they'd come home again. There had never been a need to here, because the world didn't need saving and it wasn't like they were really trying to kill each other. But today, Riku had struggled to keep up with Sora's attacks at times, and his friend had pulled some of those defensive moves seemingly out of nowhere.
The sparring ended when they both collapsed side-by-side on the beach. Breathing hard and barely able to move, they watched the sun begin to sink below the watery horizon. Riku opened his mouth to ask Sora where his sudden burst of drive had come from, but his friend spoke first.
"Do I really have that many, Riku?"
"When we were talking earlier," he clarified, "you said I had over thirty Keychains. Do I really?"
Riku smiled. "Yeah, you do." He repeated the words in his head, knowing the kind of effect that other people's hearts had on Sora's. His brain didn't remember the Keychains because his heart hadn't, and now that his heart was beginning to grasp at the shards of memory within itself, he was confused. Naminé had tried her best, but the only way to heal Sora completely was to help him remember.
"Really?" he asked, glancing over at Riku.
"Try thinking about something from the first adventure," he suggested, not knowing a better word for the worlds nearly ending. "Adventure" wasn't the right word, because it implied having fun. "Disaster" was a more apt description, but he wasn't about to say that to Sora. "Think about Peter Pan or Pinocchio, and then summon the Keyblade."
Sora nodded and closed his eyes. He sighed, muttering something to himself, and held out his hand. Light flashed brightly. Riku recognized the Keyblade that formed, but judging by the confusion written on his friend's face, Sora didn't.
"See?" Riku asked, leaning forward to point at the charms dangling in the air. "This makes twenty-three, and there's a lot more that came from."
Sora turned it over in his hands, inspecting it as if he was trying to discern whether or not it was real. His nose was scrunched up and his brow was furrowed.
Riku stood up and pulled Sora to his feet. "So, what it's called?"
"Fairy Harp," Sora answered without hesitation. His mouth dropped open a little bit, and he whirled around to face Riku. "How did I know that? I've never—" He broke off suddenly. The memories were coming back to him, slowly but surely. His brain was beginning to catch up with his heart.
"Who gave it to you?" Riku asked.
"Peter Pan and Tinker Bell, after we helped save Wendy. We were all standing on that giant clock thing, and he gave me," Sora picked up the charm on the Keychain, "the feather from his hat." The tone of his voice was amazed, as if this information could change the course of history. Which, Riku thought to himself, is probably exactly what it felt like for Sora.
Sora turned to him. "How many more Keyblades did you say I had?"
"I don't know exactly for sure," he replied honestly, "but when Naminé cleared out your pockets before…" He hesitated a little, because he didn't know a more polite term for the pod Sora had slept in, "well, I got a glimpse of the cards you had then. There were a lot."
He shrugged. "There were a bunch. What, did you think I lined them all up and counted each and every different kind? I was kind of busy, you know."
Sora pushed him playfully. "Shut up, Riku."
They laughed for a while, and the conversation turned to other things. Things that had happened before their home was ravaged by darkness and before the Keyblade had chosen them. Kairi eventually showed up to tell them to come home. As the three of them walked back to the mainland, Riku fell behind his two friends and watched them. Sora threaded his fingers slyly through Kairi's, as if she wouldn't notice him holding her hand, and she turned to smile at him. It was good to finally see his dunce of a friend get together with the girl he'd been in love with for ages. The three of them were home, Sora and Kairi were happy together, and the world was safe.
Well, for now anyway. Who knew when they'd hear from Mickey or some new enemy again. It was depressing to think about, but if their adventures had taught them anything, it was that the balance between Light and Darkness was a delicate thing. It was frighteningly easy to upset this equilibrium, and it became harder and harder to restore with each person who tried to disturb it.
And if their adventures had taught them one other thing, it was to treasure—not only the here and now, what is before your eyes, before it disappears—but also the memories in your heart. They're always there, waiting to be shared with the world and carried on through time. Even if you have little to no recollection of them.