KH AU, Inception-verse. Sora's team has a run-in with another set of extractors.

"Things are going to go fine, Riku." The warehouse is hot, gummy with humidity; moisture crawls into shirts and pants, fusing them together like sediment turning into soil. All Sora can think about is ice cream. If it was earlier in the day, he'd sneak out to find a sorbet cart. Instead, he's stuck checking the spare fluid tubes for the synchronizer, flipping them back and forth to make sure they're still limber. "It's not like an extraction needs me to practice situps anyway."

"Stop trying to skip out of warmup." Folded over on the ground, heels braced against a desk, Riku launches into the familiar lecture even while he continues to stretch. His shirt rides up across his belly, exposing muscles tight as bone. Europe has treated Riku well; he has a hundred different cultures to roam, satisfying even his curiosity. "If your physical body's in good condition, your body in the dream will be too. Your mind still needs to feel ready. If you know how to throw a punch in real life," he hooks an arm out lazily, swatting at Sora as he rolls into a somersault, "then you'll know how to do it even in your sleep."

Sora barely dodges the swipe; he drops the tubing with a yelp, jerking his legs away. His hip jolts off the chair. The table hiccups sideways, disrupting the furniture with a clatter, shivering the cups.

The sedative case bumps against Kairi's foot. "Guys," she said warningly, reaching down to steady it. "They're going to be here any minute, you know."

Riku clears his throat. Sora flushes, caught in the middle of lunging forward to grab Riku's ankle. "Sorry," they both mumble.

Kairi rolls her eyes.

It's weird to be working with new people. Goofy and Donald are the pair that normally get roped in whenever Sora's team needs extra support, but they're off scouting leads in South America with Mickey. That leaves only Kairi and Riku to help plan out the Europe jobs - which would have been okay, except that the subject they've discovered is already the target of another extraction.

The Organization XIII really tore up the CEO of Labelle Enterprises, from what rumors are saying. Extractors in the worst sense, they not only break into their targets' minds, they leave the path ripped open behind them, scarring the subconscious so badly that everything negative rises up to the surface. Every stifled impulse, every suppressed whim - it all bleeds through past the best self-control. Shadows of the unconscious stream out like grubs from an opened sinkhole. Projections turn dark, becoming a threat even to their own dreamer as the victim's mind rejects the damage that has been done to themselves in a kind of frenzied self-harm. It's the human equivalent of trying to gnaw off limbs. No one knows who the Organization members are, or even what their goals might involve. So far, they're anonymous nobodies.

The chaos the Organization leaves as their signature almost completely prevents shared dreaming, but there are other extractors who sometimes take the risk of visiting a damaged mindscape. Bete had been affected two months ago when the Organization scraped his mind raw for insight on a cargo deal. With his subconscious in disarray, the man's temper had exploded into fits of uncontrolled violence; it lead to Bete being sent on holiday, so the official excuse is that he's off at a business retreat. In reality, he's in a closeted hospital, heavily sedated to keep additional charges of assault from racking up. For a reckless enough extractor, Bete's just an overripe fruit waiting to be plucked.

Riku had been scouting Bete's security when he'd run into a second team casing the hospital - but the other team had had a forger working actively on the case, and Riku ended up missing out on the hospital ward's passkeys due to a deft bit of false red tape. Ironically, even with security clearances, the other team is still blocked off. Without Bete in stable condition, they're unable to try and steal any coherent information, so the advantage they claimed is useless.

So it's come down to a matter of compromise. Sora's team can't even get close to Bete's physical location without help - just like the other team won't be able to finish their own extraction without the target's mind being stable enough to give up information. In order to accomplish everyone's goals, they've got to go in at the same time, with Cobb's team making the grab just after Sora locks it.

For better or for worse, they're stuck together.

Sora pulls himself up on the window ledge, squinting out on the streets of Bourges. From where they're camped, he can see the Cathedral Saint-Etienne peeking out through the rooftops. It's the kind of place he'd like to go on a normal day, just to watch the light pouring through all the stained glass - but there's no time for relaxation on this kind of job. Someday once this is all over, maybe, they could all get a vacation. He could bring Kairi. She'd like that.

"I don't trust these guys," Riku says, for what must be the fiftieth time. When no one responds, he approaches the window, propping an elbow up to survey the neighborhood. "Hey. Sora. Is Roxas going to cause problems for us again?"

Sora tears himself away from staring wistfully at architecture. "He probably just hates getting called a figment of my subconscious."

Riku shakes his head with a frown. His dislike hasn't lessened since the incident; it's only changed shape. "Suit yourself. Ansem isn't an annoyance to me anymore. Not my fault if you can't keep your own projections in line."

Typically enough, they can't just go for it right off the bat; Cobb's team wants to review the procedure first, which makes sense considering they're still strangers to each other. Cobb's team does extractions professionally; they're used to breaking and entering. Sora figures they're used to a different brand of sophistication.

They come prowling into the warehouse in a set, six of them together. First is the slim point man that Riku faced off against earlier, dressed in a suit that looks impeccably fresh despite the afternoon heat. Then the cocky forger steps through the door - Eames - who grins at everyone and steals a muffin out of the bakery bag that their chemist carries in, juggling breakfast along with coffee. Their architect is a girl who looks only a little older than Riku, and who offers them a hesitant smile as she navigates her way to the mismatched chairs assembled in the center of the room.

They're a full crew, plus their backer: a pleasant, middle-age Japanese man who introduces himself as Saito before stepping aside to watch the two forces mingle. In fact, the only thing they're missing is a magician, which is probably for the best; Donald gets jealous easily. The lack won't hurt anything, either. Magicians tend to draw attention to themselves quickly with all the special effects that they fling around - and consequently get taken out first by alarmed projections. Attention is the last thing this job needs, anyway.

And then there's Cobb. Cobb comes in last, carrying a sedative case of his own - like the six of them expect to do a job on the fly at any given moment, or like they learned the price of being vulnerable and have vowed never to get caught like that again. Cobb's okay enough, but kind of focused. The way he looks at the world, it's as if he has something inside him trying to claw its way out; his flesh is the last barrier between it and innocent bystanders. He makes Sora second-guess wanting to dreamshare too much, because if Cobb is how professional extractors end up, then Sora should probably get a degree in literature instead.

"I want to see this," Cobb insists, his bright eyes brimming with a refusal to hear the word no. Sora catches a glance from Arthur before nodding. A demonstration won't hurt.

Kairi volunteers to host their dream for them, saying that she hasn't ironed out all the details of the second level yet. Sora's guessing there's another motivation involved. Kairi doesn't get to play around a lot with creative dreamshares anymore, not comfortably, and part of that's because of Riku. Riku never gives Kairi a hard time - not like he teases Sora - but there's still a certain discomfort between them all whenever Roxas appears in the crowd, or when they catch Namine watching them from a window. Ever since the Ansem situation, Riku's been wary of projections. He even went off on his own for a while, before Sora and Kairi pinned him in a hotel to yell at him. It was why Kairi stopped building so much; Namine is good at helping out, really good, but there was something strange in how Riku looked at them sometimes when he saw them working together. Sora doesn't understand it, not really, and he doesn't think he ever will. After the fights between Roxas and Riku, he's guessing Riku has his own share of things he doesn't want to talk about.

He drops into Kairi's dream expecting to see the familiar default of Destiny Islands, but she's loaded in a new design instead, one that's a fantasy castle. The structure's unfinished, stitched together from open platforms that beckon towards the sky. Sunset turns the clouds peach and the marble cream; the color palette is gentle, composed of rippling pastels that nearly disguise the lethal descents that surround them.

She's wanders away from them while she works. There's some trick to the plumbing of the fountains, because the water streams upwards in long, translucent snakes, catching and spitting back rainbows instead of sunlight. They're perfect, impossibly so - except for one of the waterfalls. Amidst all the beauty, one of the streams is broken, guttering liquid in wild gouts. That's where Kairi stops, tilting her head back up to scrutinize the collapsing arc.

Cobb gives her a quick, curious glance, but then his attention's back on Sora again. He takes a seat on the nearest fountain, leaning forward to avoid being peppered by the spray. "So, show me how you do this thing. How you," he makes a loose gesture, something between a shrug and a skeptical lift of a hand, "how you lock up people's brains."

Sora scuffs his foot against the flagstones. "It's not exactly like that." Getting confronted like this makes him feel odd, shy, like he's getting lumped in with the Organization. He exhales, puffing out his cheeks until his lungs are empty. "Ok. Watch."

Unlike a magician, Sora doesn't bother showing off: he extends his hand, and the Keyblade is just there, long as a stick, gold and silver with three rounded prongs at the end. Sunlight glistens off the tip. Cobb, he notices, doesn't reach out to try and touch the Keyblade; the man stands back and watches it politely, as if Sora's presenting an open wound, or possibly a nuclear weapon.

"What I have to do is go find the center - the heart - of whatever the Organization broke into," Sora explains, trying not to feel silly. It sounds too metaphysical - like he's some kind of superhero, but things tend to get bombastic once dreams get involved and people start turning into ducks and dogs. "Sometimes it's a safe, sometimes it's a chest, but it always has a door of some kind, one that can get locked again."

"So you use that symbol to do it?"

Sora nods. "The people who get opened up by the Organization don't - or can't - accept help from outside sources. So we've got to convince them to do it themselves. Once we convince the subject's subconscious that it's ok to put their secrets away again, they're finally able to close that door. Then they get a chance to recover."

Cobb's eyes narrow. His hand shifts to the fountain's edge, propping his fingers on the dampened stone. The knuckles tense like a spider feeling the vibrations of its web.

"Inception," he says flatly.

"Yeah. Kind of! It's really specific," Sora says, squirming on the inside because Cobb's getting a flinty look in his gaze, the kind that means he's probably thinking about what kind of threat Sora presents to Cobb's entire occupation. "It just works to put people back to normal, so they're able to lock things up on their own. Uh. Anyway," he adds hastily, because that just makes him sound more dangerous to thieves across the world, "we really need to fix some of this. Otherwise, shared dreams are going to get banned to try and keep people safe, and that still won't stop the Organization. Sound okay?"

That possibility must be enough to tip the scale, because Cobb keeps silent for another few minutes before finally making a sharp nod.

"Yeah," he says. "We have a deal."

It turns out that Cobb's team is fine with letting Sora's team use their own architect, though Ariadne and Kairi work together to make sure the environments are ones that everyone's comfortable with. Of the two crews, Ariadne and Kairi get along the fastest, conferencing over muffins and biscotti. Arthur and Riku spend most of their time eyeing one another in polite aggression, or at least polite on Arthur's side; Riku's still stung by being outmaneuvered, and it shows in how brusque he is when discussing the floorplans of Bete's hospital.

Getting to the target's location is half the work. Most jobs are easy - the majority of the Organization's victims end up on some kind of sedation, so Sora just finds wherever the dreamer's being stored, nips in with Riku, and they're both out before anyone's the wiser. But the hospital that houses Bete is the kind that serves a discreet clientele, and the security is upped to match. Strolling in the front door will just get them detained, if not arrested.

Thanks to Eames, they have credentials to slip in as part of the staff. That starts the infiltration. Even though there's no danger of their mark waking up and causing problems, they've got to get the hospital employees to leave him alone while they get the job done, along with covering up any changes in Bete's vital signs that might set off an alarm. Ariadne will stay in the hospital as one of the orderlies; she'll be assigned to perform any scheduled bedchecks, so no one else visits. Saito will be in the van outside, waiting in case they need backup from an external influence - and also to make certain they can slip away afterwards. Yusuf will take up watch directly inside the hospital room itself, monitoring everyone's status and providing warning when their time is almost up. Kairi and Arthur will cover the first level of the dream; Arthur's going to be their first dreamer, and Riku will be their second. Cobb will be a free agent, so that if anything happens to Riku, then Sora and Cobb will at least be able to try and finish the grab before the dream destabilizes.

Meanwhile, Eames will be causing a distraction as a relative of one of the other patients, asking to get dear old granddad transferred out because he's concerned about the degree of professional care. He volunteered for the job; it's not something Sora would have thought up on his own, but Eames seems enthusiastic about an opportunity not to go into the dream, so Sora figures it works out.

Five dreamers is hard - Sora's never done teams larger than three - but Yusuf says he has it under control. Cobb doesn't show any doubt either. No one, in fact, blinks twice.

"That's some compound they have," Riku mutters as he passes a wad of orderly schedules to Sora one morning.

Sora, glancing down at the ranks of names and clearances, shrugs. "Yeah," he admits. "But I'm glad they know what they're doing."

They'll be using the same entry technique that Sora's team normally takes, traveling on a ship together to help convince the mark that they're taking a journey back down to where the damage started. The ship is a useful device; it makes the target appears in relatively close proximity, and keeps them in motion ahead of any pursuit. The problem is that it keeps local projections close by as well, so any hostiles they start near, they're stuck with.

The second level - Bete's Castle - will be just Sora, Riku and Cobb. Arthur and Kairi will stay behind: Arthur, because he's the dreamer, and Kairi because she knows what to expect if blackness starts leaking through the walls. The Castle might not need all three of them, but it's safer than taking chances. The last dreamer Sora used the Keyblade on had a dreamscape full of zombies and skeletons.

As they wrap up their final plans in the warehouse, guzzling down tepid coffee and checking various chemicals, Cobb swivels his chair towards Sora. "Inception isn't easy to pull off, you know. Are you sure two levels of dream will cut it? Anyone could do two. A pair of hacks off the street could get that done."

Sora suddenly finds himself meticulously tearing apart his packet of sugar. Cobb's a smart guy; he'll understand the full horror of the answer. "It'll work. All the other barriers inside Bete - the Organization already tore them down."

There's a pause. "So anyone the Organization extracts from - "

"Yeah." Sora shakes the sugar into his coffee and almost drops the paper in too. "Two would be enough."

The entry is textbook perfect. Eames dispenses their security passes, and Sora clips his nametag to his stolen uniform, smoothing a hand over his hair in a futile effort to get it to lay flat. They integrate themselves during various shift changes, staggering their clock-ins and meal breaks, and congregating gradually in one of the stairwells near Bete's room.

When the clock hits four p.m., that's when Cobb sticks a hand into his pocket, and withdraws a phone humming with a fresh call.

He flips it open, then closed again, and nods. "Eames is starting his approach. We're good."

Arthur gives him a pointed look. "Aren't you supposed to turn off phones in a hospital?"

Cobb rolls his eyes, and holds open the hallway door.

They drop into the first level without any resistance. Under Arthur's influence, the ship is a sleek ocean liner, the kind that moves deceptively fast through the water despite its size, making it seem as if it's stationary until you realize it's coasted five hundred miles and you've just been tricked by perspective. The name emblazoned on the side is the USS Mal. Sora decides not to ask.

The only visible projections ignore them. They all look normal - pleasant-faced sailors and hospitality staff - so they must be clean; it's not uncommon for altered projections to come up from another level, but these guys are dressed in white uniforms and ignore the team. They probably belong to Kairi and Sora, leftover from how often the technique has been used before - which means they're jaded parts of the subconscious, not liable to react until someone does something really dramatic. Sora squints at them anyway, curious if one of them will suddenly turn around dressed in black and jump for their throats.

"Watch out for the shadow projections," he warns as they tromp through the innards of the ship. "Uh, we call them that because they're from the closed part of the subconscious, and you can usually tell them apart, so..."

"Very Jungian," Cobb remarks dryly, but he draws his gun anyway.

Bete's half-conscious in business class. He doesn't put up any resistance when they push through the door, sprawled out on the bed with his limbs floppy and limp. He's a big man, but it's all muscle: tanned, blond-haired, with a strong profile that would probably be attractive if he wasn't drooling on the sheets. The creepiest thing, in Sora's opinion, is the way that his eyes are open and refusing to focus on anything, blank and dead and empty.

Cobb stares down at the body. "Wish all my jobs were this easy," he comments, holstering his gun and beginning a pat-down of Bete's pockets.

Arthur's already moving, setting down the case and snapping open the latches. Riku squats beside him, helping to unspool the tubing. While they're preparing, Sora manages to tug Kairi over; he's found a comfortable spot on the floor, and is hoping it'll help him pass out gracefully.

She crouches beside him, butterfly needle nestled in her hands. He offers a reassuring squeeze of her shoulder. "You'll be okay?"

Kairi gives him a small, but brave smile. "Of course. I've got Namine here too, don't I?"

The needle probes at his wrist before he can say anything else, and then Sora's fading away.

On the next level, the Castle, the projections come for them almost instantly. Dressed in black from head to toe, they're organized like knights and foot soldiers, with the occasional enraged chambermaid. It's spooky to watch. Despite their ferocity, they're all silent, never making a single cry of pain as Riku smashes into their ranks.

Sora doesn't like bringing out the Keyblade too openly; it seems to attract projections like mad, especially shadow projections, but it works to get rid of them too. He calls it to his hand, and it appears between one blink and the next, as naturally as a cat showing a claw. Cobb has his gun in action, going through the motions of reloading even though the clip never runs dry. They work their way through the hallways at a reckless pace, getting turned around by trying to navigate with a hundred statues and chandeliers for landmarks. It's a palace that Riku's hosting; Sora wonders how he's not dizzy from the overblown luxury, his brain swollen with velvet and gold.

"The keyhole should be located in whatever's the biggest room in this place," Sora guesses, recalling the discussions he's had with Kairi. Another crazed projection comes plunging towards him, serving fork uplifted to stab at his throat; he sidesteps neatly and raps the Keyblade down. "There's got to be some kind of meeting chamber or throne - "

Riku reorients faster, armed with the layout that Kairi prepared for him. "This way."

The halls twist, merging with open-aired courtyards that hold gardens at the height of spring. Ink-clothed projections lurch out of doorways to try and claw at them, quietly desperate to tear the intruders apart. Sora grits his teeth and tries to clear the way, losing track of the number of stairwells they jog across, until they're standing in front of what looks like a ballroom. Heavy, gold-etched doors stretch all the way to the ceiling. Riku waves towards them before spinning on his heel to face the way they came, shoulders tensed and ready.

"I'll play with the projections out here for you," he promises. "Be fast."

Sora nods. He joins Cobb, who already has one hand on the polished wood. Together, they push open the doors.

The room inside is impossibly large, yawning open like a stadium squashed inside the confines of a roof and four walls. Balconies dip down towards the ground before spiraling back up towards the vaulted ceiling. Canopies of yellow silk are draped everywhere indiscriminately, so that the cloth bunches up in thick wads. At the far end, the walls disappear into a dark, ugly-looking cloud. The outlines of a doorway peep through, but it's huge; Sora can't see clearly through the shadows that are belching out in heavy ripples, like smoke from a chemical fire where every inhalation coats your lungs with tar. His instincts scream poison. His experience tells him that that's where he needs to go.

The rest of the room is nightmarish in another way. An entire garden had been sacrificed for decoration: roses are everywhere, dotting the marble with red blisters. The floor has a carpet of borrowed petals. They wrinkle as Sora walks over them, the pressure of his shoes tearing the scarlet flecks like wet tissues.

He can't see Bete anywhere, or any projections either, which is a stroke of luck. Outside the ballroom, Sora can hear the muffled thuds of combat start up again. The eerie blunt smacks and crunches just keep coming, with only Riku's voice to prove there's a fight going on and not just some kind of mad carpenter on the loose. There's not much time.

Cobb moves carefully. The gun has vanished; apparently he doesn't think that shooting their target is going to help. "Is Bete in here?"

Sora twitches the Keyblade towards the inky blotch haunting the far end of the room. "He might be near the center of that. It depends. Some people try to run away from whatever's hurting them. Others keep picking at it - "

He breaks off as a garbled roar bursts through the ballroom, bouncing off the balconies and coming back in trebled force. Underneath the noise comes a heavy thud of boots, tromping back and forth. "Not an animal!" A man's voice. "Not a monster!"

"I take it he's the latter," Cobb observes grimly.

Papers litter the ramp leading up to the nearest balcony, and it's in this direction that Cobb heads towards, undeterred despite the surreality. Sora already knows what the result will be, but he doesn't argue; he follows along, keeping an eye out just in case Bete's noticed anything. Cobb goes right to the search. He paws through handful after handful of folders, uncovering spreadsheets and flowcharts that seem to spider over the papers indiscriminately.

"These aren't secrets," Cobb blurts after a moment. "They're - this is how he felt about the weather two years ago, here, and this one's about a teacher he insulted as a child who gave him detention, and - "

"It's everything," Sora answers, half-distracted as he squints down towards Bete's voice. Absently, he rocks his weight back and forth on his heels. "Like I said, everything comes up. Your information's in here somewhere, but good luck finding it."

Behind him, he hears a shuffle and then a flutter as Cobb gives up, tossing the pages away. "Okay. Let's get you your half of the job, so I can get mine. I'll keep him distracted. You get to the door."

"What - " Sora starts to ask, and then he sees Bete at last, moving ponderously forward through the black smoke.

Unlike his comatose body back on the ship, there's nothing laughable about Labelle's CEO now. Dressed in the regiment of a European prince, Bete's face is twisted in a snarl. The ruffs of his shirt are tucked into a leather vest; stiff riding boots cover his shins. The man's outlines are obscured by a massive fur cloak that hangs all the way down to the ground; the pelt is thick, the rich brown of a bear, but Bete carries the weight as if it's no heavier than gauze. It drags a trail as Bete moves through the rose petals, clearing a swath that gathers around the fringe of the cloak like clotted blood.

Then, as adrenaline clogs up Sora's throat, Bete turns his head and looks directly at them.

"More thieves!" the man snarls. He lifts a hand, stabbing a finger accusingly in their direction. The nail is long and ragged. "More intruders!"

Cobb jumps off the balcony.

He dives like a javelin, angled for the earth; his grasping hands slide down the nearest banner, turning his descent into a jerky curve as he swings out in a plummeting arc. The banner yanks free of its moorings. Cobb's weight rips the canopy, the fabric making a dull shriek - but it holds long enough for Cobb to twist, bringing his feet in front of him so that he can hit the ground rolling. The distraction is effective: Bete spins around with a snarl, grabbing blindly for objects to throw. A candelabra sheds hot wax as it spins through the air past Cobb's head. A wooden clock smashes into the floor, scattering cogs like caltrops.

Wasting no time, Sora scrambles down the ramp. Cobb took the shortest way down, and there aren't any convenient banners left for Sora to duplicate the stunt with. He cups one hand around the banister, whipping his momentum into a tight turn. Petals smear beneath his sneakers.

By the time he's closed the distance, the two men have already engaged in hand-to-hand combat, and Sora can see how poorly it's started to go. Cobb's fighting with a handicap; he can't kill Bete, only delay him, while Bete has no such restrictions. Pinning a man like Bete might be possible, normally, given the right pressure holds - but this deep into the dream, fueled by pure rage, there's no telling what Bete's capable of.

Sora doesn't bother to join the fight. Keyblade in hand, he sprints past them both, running like a champion. Closer to the door and the air feels like it's burning in his chest, prickling his lungs with toxins. Each inhalation feels like breathing glass. He almost doesn't stop in time, focused on getting the most out of each lunge - then he sees the edge of the open doorway looming far too close on his right, and he goes into a desperate skid to avoid falling deeper into whatever nightmare Bete's engulfed in. He hits the floor; the floor hits him, scraping his arms, rose petals sticking to his face.

The Keyblade jolts. Its tines catch at an angle against the marble stones and wrench his arm, almost ripping itself out of his fingers. Sora tumbles over onto his back, dazed from the impact. The shadows squirm. The open doorway is a pit inches away from his face.

"Sora!" Cobb yells.

Bete's hand raises up, casting a distorted, clawed shadow across the wall.

In Sora's grip, the Keyblade explodes into light.

The teams break up at a relaxed pace - a luxury that stems from a successful job with a minimum of collateral damage. Kairi chats amicably with Ariadne and Yusuf as the three of them pass a teapot back and forth, sharing steam that smells of oranges. Arthur's continuing to scribble down notes in block handwriting, each letter precisely the same size as the next. Eames accepts an envelope from Saito and gives them all a cheerful nod as he slips out of the warehouse, saying something about a poker game in Madrid that he'd be crazy to miss. The Bourges afternoon is still hot.

Bete should be able to recover now. When the doctors perform their next exam, the stabilization of the CEO's temperament should be apparent, and from there it's just a matter of time before everything's back in shape. It's a small step towards undoing the damage that the Organization has spread, but Sora hopes that each little bit counts. Until he's able to catch up with the Organization members directly, he has to do what he can to make a difference.

There's a rainstorm smothering the horizon. The Cathedral Saint-Etienne looks shrouded by the haze, a huddled collection of spires. The air feels bloated, but Sora knows that relief will come after the storm. Once they hear from Mickey about the next mark, they'll be on their way again.

All in all, it's another victory. By now, Sora knows enough to relish them.

Cobb gets to his feet, exchanging a few muted words with Saito before gathering his team's sedative case. He balls up his hand as he passes Sora's table, lowering his knuckles to rap them on the metal- but changes his mind at the last second, resting them quietly next to Sora's soda instead. "Hey, kid. One last question. That key of yours. You ever use it on yourself? Or anyone you knew?"

Sora tries not to let his eyes jerk towards Kairi.

"Yeah," he says quietly. "I did."