Fear Itself

Thirty minutes before Alirah's stabbing

Xehanort slash Ansem had Hiano in his grip. He took the snake and tossed him through a portal. Hiano was in a whirlpool. Being swished around, thrown in every direction. With every curve, he thought about Alirah. He worried that, wherever he landed, she may be left defenseless. He just prayed that wherever he landed someone would help him.

"You guys want anything else to drink?"

"No thank you Aerith."

"Are you sure Merlin, you seem parched."

"Nope. Just this old body telling me it's time for bed." Aerith giggled. She, Merlin, God mother and Geppetto were at the open diner. They were enjoying themselves. They were trying to distract themselves from the danger Sora was putting himself into. Especially since he was going after Alirah.

"So how do you think Sora's fairing on his journey?" God-mother asked.

"He's probably doing fine," Geppetto assured her. "I'm sure nothing too bad is happening." Right on cue, a hole appeared in the center of the first district. The four stood from their chairs, ready for whatever may come. They weren't as ready as they thought they were. Something was spit out and into the small patch of grass. "Isn't that…" Aerith squinted her eyes. Wobbling the thing popped its head up. "IT IS," she screamed, "THAT'S HIANO!" She ran to him.

"HIANO," Everyone screamed. They ran after Aerith.

The hole above disappeared as Aerith and the other arrived on scene. Hiano looked up and saw them. "Am I in Traverse town?"

"Yes," Aerith answered. She and God-mother knelt down. Merlin and Geppetto kept their distance. "Hiano what happened?"

"Alirah and I were in this tower at Hollow Bastion," he began hastily, "We watched as Riku stabbed Maleficent with the Keyblade of Hearts. It was when we saw his aura that Alirah and I knew…" he trailed off. The name was a bad taste in his mouth.

"Knew what dear?" God-mother asked. Merlin and Geppetto were on their toes. They wanted to know what happened. Particularly Merlin.

Hiano licked his lips and blurted, "Riku's possessed by Xehanort." Merlin's eyes shot wide.

"Who's Xehanort?" God-mother asked.

"He was the apprentice to Ansem." Aerith answered.

"More than that," Merlin spoke up. Everyone looked at him. "If I heard Yensid correctly, he was the man that possessed Alirah's brother nine years ago."

"I know the man of who you speak," Hiano said, "And last time I checked he was an old man."

"In our world Hiano, things change. Even appearances." Merlin stroked his beard. "But why would he reveal himself now?"

"ALIRAH!" Hiano shot. "Alirah told me how Xehanort despised her for always being around. Whenever Xehanort tried to claim Terra, Alirah was never far behind. He nearly killed her once before."

"He's trying to finish what he started," Geppetto confirmed. Then he shook his head. "But she's strong. She can handle him."

"Not necessarily," Merlin corrected. "If Hiano is another world apart Alirah can't use her keyblade. She'd have to rely on magic."

"And I'm afraid – even though he has Riku's body – Alirah magic will not work on him. He's impervious to magic." Aerith, Geppetto, and God-mother exchanged frightful glances. "That aside we have to help her. She in – ARRRRRGG!" His chest was torn open. He fell to the ground, twitching like an electrified worm.

"NO….HIANO!" Aerith cried. She picked up the snake. "Hiano, what's happening?" He Hiano didn't answer. Merlin and Geppetto stood silently. Hiano stopped moving. "HIANO!"

Moments after the stabbing

They started their journey from the other side of the galaxy. They barely knew one another, yet became great friends. After all their hard work, after everything they went through, two friends were gone and one was disappearing.

Sora, Donald, and Goofy were crestfallen. Never in their lives have they felt disappointed. Donald and Goofy especially. For eight years they lied and kept Alirah at a distance. But at the same time they cared for her. They could even go so far as to admit that they loved her – brotherly, sisterly love. When she left a year ago, it was as if a big piece of the castle was taken with her. Disney castle felt as Dark as Hollow Bastion. When Mickey ordered the m to look for the keyblade, they thought this as an opportunity to find Alirah. They wanted nothing more than to bring her back to the castle. But when they saw her in Traverse Town, those feeling of empathy were replaced with fear. She seemed insulted and heartbroken to see them. It was proof she wasn't happy when she choked Donald and put that curse on Sora.

Donald – before they decided to take any more steps closer to the upper platform – took his wand and scanned Sora. A bright florescent yellow glow appeared on his neck. Donald was so shocked, he dropped his wand. Sora wondered what was wrong.

Donald explained that Alirah placed a curse on him. If he or Goofy talked about Alirah, the curse would choke him. It could only be removed by Hiano. The thing with curses – depending on what they were – they leave marks and their color represents how far along in healing they are. Since Alirah was – well – dead, the choker – if still active – would be black. When the curse caster dies and the curse was still in place, the choker would be gray. This one was yellow. Donald determined the cause. Thanks to Alirah power level, the curse was strong. The after mark would be left on him for quite a while. The fact that it was yellow meant that Alirah removed it almost immediately after she placed it. Donald felt stupid for not noticing. Alirah would drop hints about the curse. And Donald and Goofy knew Alirah dropped hints by talking about a certain subject an odd amount of times.

Sora then came up with a theory. Jafar, Hook, Monstro, the curse, the keyblade, the fight – all the times Alirah had confronted them. She's been helping them. Which meant that – since he was always close by - Riku knew about it. The two were helping them. Alirah continued to help and now she was on the floor in a pool of her blood. Her life force slowly slipping out of her body. Sora blamed himself. Donald and Goofy told him not to beat himself up. He never caused it. But that wasn't the problem right now. Now they had to deal with the cause of Alirah's pain – the cause of her suffering. Sora was none more prepared than Donald and Goofy. They were out for blood. They planned to make Ansem pay, and make him pay dearly. It was an oath they took right then and there.

They took Hiano back to Merlin's hut. Aerith sat on the bed and held Hiano tenderly. "How's he doing Aerith?" God-mother asked.

"He seems to be breathing. But just barely."

"What does that mean?" Geppetto quizzed.

"It means Alirah's breathing," Merlin answered, "But just enough to keep her alive for another two hours or so. Maybe less."

"THEN WE HAVE TO FIND HER!" Geppetto screamed. "We have to find Alirah and help her."

"Why should we?" Merlin spat. "Once she's gone, Hiano will go with her." Everyone dropped their jaws at him. They couldn't believe he was choosing to let Alirah die. "We'd be better off without that bloody snake anyway."

SLAP! God-mother slapped him across the face. "How dare you!" she hissed. "Alirah had never laid a hand on you. She lived with you, helped you. Then you betray her."

"She betrayed us!" He hissed getting in her face.

"You're only saying that because she has possession of Hiano. You're blaming her for something that was not in her control."

"Then she should never have trained so hard. She should have remained in the castle and stayed quiet."

God-mother held her wand to his face. Merlin flinched away. "Morgana broke the rules." Merlin's mouth parted at the name. "She broke the rules and like all others before her, her soul was captured. You're not mad at Alirah. In fact you're proud of her. You're just angry at Hiano for choosing Alirah – which both had no control over." Hiano coughed, black blood spewing from his mouth. Aerith tried to heal him. Merlin sighed. "You care about Alirah," God-mother assured, "You care about her just as much as we do. You and I both saw her as a happy child. That child is still alive within Alirah, but is dying at an alarming rate. Can you really stand by and let her die alone?"

Donald, Goofy, and Sora took one last look at Alirah. Her skin was getting paler by the minute. Alirah hands kept her charm in place. The charm was fused together with Aqua's charm and the small crystal rose that Terra gave to her. Alirah seemed to die with a smile. Donald and Goofy wondered why she was so happy. How could she be smiling at a time like this?

They made their way towards the stairs that lead to the platform. Sora walked up. Donald and Goofy followed after him but were bounced back. Sora looked back. "WHAT HAPPENED?"

Donald knocked his wand on the stair way. A rainbow shield flickered on and off. "It a force field." Donald concluded. "Whoever this guy is, he wants to be alone with you."

Sora dropped his gaze, and then looked up the stairs. "Go ahead Sora," goofy urged, "Donald and I will be here cheering you on." Sora smiled and continued going up. Donald and Goofy trotted back to Alirah. They sat next to her. Goofy tried not to, but he began to laugh. "What's so funny?"

"Aw….I was just thinkin."

"About?"

"Remember when we did that reenactment of Romeo and Juliet?" Donald nodded. "I was thinking about when Alirah played Juliet. She would always be so dramatic about it."

"Yeah," Donald laughed, "I remember when the play was over, she still laid there as if she actually died. When we poked her, she popped up and yelled BOO!" The two fell backwards, laughing too hard to sit up. When they were finally able to sit up, Donald began to cry again. "That's not going to happen now, is it?"

"Nu-uh," Goofy whimpered. "I really wish it would." He put a hand over her hand. "I want to tell her how sorry I am. I never thought something like this would happen."

Donald put a hand on Goofy's. "Me too pal. Me too." They soon heard footsteps coming towards them. They readied their weapons. "DONALD. GOOFY. IS THAT YOU?"

"Aerith?" they shouted back. Aerith came running in. Merlin was right behind her, "Merlin. "How did you guys get here?"

"Cid lent us his ship." Merlin answered.

"What are you guys doing here?" Donald's question was answered. He saw Hiano in Aerith's arms. This brought hope to him. "HIANO'S STILL HERE!"

"Wa-what's that mean?" Goofy stammered. Inside praying it meant what he thought it meant.

"It means Alirah's still alive and we can bring her back." Merlin answered.

"YAHOOO!" Goofy cheered.

"Don't cheer yet," Merlin warned, "We may be able to heal whatever wounds she has but she has to want to wake up."

They all heard clanging coming from the upper platform. Sora and Ansem were battling it out. "Then let's get started," Aerith urged. She set Hiano on Alirah's stomach. "Everyone put both hands on a part of Alirah." Aerith sat in front of Alirah and put her hands on her forehead. Goofy put his on Alirah's hands. Merlin and Donald took her legs. "When I count to three, everyone – including you Goofy – say heal. Ready?" Everyone nodded. "One, two, three," everyone cried, "HEAL!" Everyone's hands began to glow green.

It was pitch black. Not a single light anywhere. It was an abyss of black and purple swirls that spiraled down but seemed like they were going up. It was an endless darkness. In the center was a red orb. The orb was floating around. "Where am i?" it asked.

"The Abyss," answered another orb. "This is the Abyss you go to when your heart and soul drift from your body and the darkness is trying to take over."

"Who-who are you?" red asked.

"For now, call me beige." He greeted.

"Okay beige," it answered, "Who am i?"

"You don't remember?"

"No. I don't even know what I am."

"I see." He breathed. "Well…let's just say you're a temporary resident."

"Okay. What happened to me?"

"You gave into your fear." He answered. "A fear you suppressed for quite a while." Beige let out sigh. "I never expected you to come here. You least of all."

"Why's that?"

"You always seemed so strong. So full of Spirit. I never expected you to let fear take hold of you. Let alone consume you."

"I'm not scared of anything." Red's glow blinked. It made a heart pulse sound. "OW! What was that?"

"That's what happens you lie."

"I pulsate?"

"When one comes to the abyss, the darkness consumes you based on your charge for being here. Example: your fear. You keep giving into the fear by trying to convince yourself you're not afraid. The more you do that, the more you slip away." Beige floated closer. "So what do you remember? What's the last thing you felt?"

Red seemed to shake its head. "I'm not sure." It answered. "I remember this cold chill. It felt familiar. Like I had experienced it before. It made me…" red trailed off. A crystal fell from it. "Oh great!" red wheezed. "I'm crying like a little girl again." Red caught something. "HEY…I'M A GIRL!"

"That's good." Beige continued. "Keep going. What else? What made or makes you cry?"

"I saw….blue."

"Blue?"

"A sickening, blue. It was everywhere. I wanted it gone. It wouldn't leave."

"What did blue do to you?" beige pressed.

"Blue…cornered me. Made me feel weak. But…that's…not why I cried." Red struggled to remember.

"Why did you cry?"

"People I knew…they left. Blue caused it. Blue made it so….people would disappear. Blue loved it when people left me." She snarled.

"You seem to hate it when people leave." Beige assumed.

"Because they don't come back. They leave me." More crystals came from red.

"Why are you here?" Beige pressured. "How did blue cause this? What were you afraid of?"

Red shook. The crystals fell. "Blue took people from me. In turn I was….Alone." the word echoed. "I'm here because….I'm scared to be alone. I wanted to end that fear. I couldn't stand it. Every time I got close, people e disappeared. It always reminded me of Xehanort."

"Xehanort?" beige questioned.

"He's blue." Red answered. "When I was alone, blue seemed to be there. In my dreams, my nightmares. Sometimes I would see him walking around. I always felt alone."

"And anytime you feel alone…" beige questioned.

"Anytime I feel alone…" red trailed off. Someone once said something like that to her. "Anytime I feel alone, I would look at a rose."

"Red…who was the rose meant for?"

"A young girl…I was that girl."

"What was your name?"

"My….name?"

"Here's a hint – starts with an A."

"A?" Red sounded it out. "Al," more letters came, "Ali….r….ah. Alirah?" Beige chuckled. "My names Alirah?"

"What are you Alirah?"

"I'm a keyblade master. A keyblade master, necromancer and a master of Souls. My Spirits name is Hiano – the guardian of souls."

"Now Alirah, are you sorry you have this power. The power to see, take and control souls?"

"No." she said simply.

"No? And why is that?"

"Because with this power I can see who is genuine and who is false. I can tell who aims to aide and who want to hurt. I can protect people because I can see what others try to neglect." Beige giggled. "You think it's funny," she snapped, "I can help."

"I thought Necromancers dealt with the dead."

"The dead are beyond my help. We've disturbed them enough. It's the living I help with this gift. And I have living friends that I have to help." The red orb grew brighter. A flash filled the Abyss. When the flash died down, Alirah was in full human form. She examined herself. Feeling good as new and better than ever. "Huh." She reached into her top. She pulled out her charm. The star brought a picture into view. She saw Donald, Goofy, Aerith, Merlin, and Sora and they were crying. "Humph. They missed me that much."

"Of course." Beige remarked. "Who wouldn't? Even though you can be a pain." He laughed.

Alirah laughed with him. She stopped and Stared at Beige dreamily. "Thank you….Terra."

Sora was thrown into the steps that led to the door. Riku slash Ansem brought the keyblade down. Sora caught it with his. He pushed up, pushing Ansem away and struck again. Ansem and Sora had been fighting for the last ten minutes. Both had scratches and bruises.

Ansem brought a foot up. It made contact with Sora's stomach. Sora was thrown into one of the consoles closest to the hallway. He groaned trying to lift himself up on his elbows. Ansem walked up and slammed a foot on Sora's chest. "Try staying down boy. It'll make things less painful for you and the princess." Ansem pointed the keyblade at Sora's chest. Sora closed his eyes. He raised it and brought it down. Clang! The plunge was stopped. Sora opened one eye. Both shot open. "ALIRAH!" it was her. Alirah was holding back Ansem with her keyblade. She managed to push him away. Ansem stumbled backwards. Alirah struck relentlessly. Ansem tried his hardest to block. His hand growing numb with every strike. Alirah kicked his knee in. Ansem fell on it. Alirah kneed him in the nose. He fell back. Alirah put her blade to his neck. "Not so tough now, are ya OLD MAN!" Ansem put his hands up. Alirah brought the Keyblade down and hit him in the chest. Ansem, with Riku's face, cried out in agony. "This may not get you out," she snarled, "Just know that you pushed me, now I'm pushing back." She wrenched it from his chest. He faded out of sight. Alirah stood back. She turned to Sora. He was dumbstruck. Alirah walked over to him and punched him on the head. "Stop looking so surprised. I told you," she held her arms open; "I'm not easy to get rid of."

Sora rose to his feet. He stumbled to Alirah. "Alirah…" he trailed off in amazement. Hiano slithered out as well. "Hiano…" the two saluted. "GUYS!" Sora ran over and hugged them. "You're alive!"

"Yes…yes we are." She hugged back. Donald and Goofy came up the stairs. Alirah, Sora, and Hiano looked over to them. It was like a family reunion. But it was short lived. They still had business to take care of. "Where are Aerith and Merlin?"

"Went back to the falls. They're prepping the ship for departure." Donald informed.

"Okay. Sora, seal that keyhole so we can end this."

Sora nodded and went over to it. Alirah went over to Kairi. She knelt down to her. "You've grown so much Kairi. Your grandma would be proud of you."

"Alirah…we have a problem," Sora called. "The keyhole isn't working." Alirah walked over. "Why wouldn't it work? I mean, I've been able to lock all the keyholes before."

"But this one's different," Alirah answered. "There was this all seeing mirror I ran into, He said this keyhole isn't complete without," she looked back, "Without Kairi's heart, the keyhole won't work."

"Then how do we fix it?" Donald asked.

Sora walked back to the center of the room. He picked up the Riku's Keyblade. "The key to unlock people's hearts." Sora studied. The blade disappeared and reappeared in Alirah's hand. Alirah Analyzed it. "Alirah?"

"I hear ya." She walked over to him. The two faced off. "You sure you want to do this?"

"What choice do we have?"

"Sora, I don't know what this will do to you."

"I'll take the risk." Alirah nodded. She held the keyblade at the ready. Donald and Goofy told them to wait. Sora put on a huge grin for them. Alirah lunged the keyblade forward. It hit Sora in the chest. A light came from him. And from the blade came seven hearts. Alirah pulled the blade from his chest. The hearts dispersed returning to their princess. As Sora began to disappear, Kairi's heart returned to her. She sat up in time to see Sora disappearing. She called to him. She ran and tried to hug him. But when she wrapped her arms around him, Sora was gone.

Alirah watched his particles fade away. She knew Sora asked her to do it. She just couldn't believe He was gone. Kairi saw he with the heart blade. "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?" She cried. She stomped over to Alirah. "What did you do to Sora?"

"Only what he asked me to do." She replied.

"Well what happened to him?" Kairi asked impatiently. Alirah shook her head. She didn't have a clue. "No…it can't be…." She trailed off. She fell into Alirah. Alirah wrapped her arms around her. "I WON'T LET HIM GO!" she declared.

Alirah wished she could comfort her. "Hm," she pushed Kairi away.

"What is it?" Kairi asked.

"DONALD! GOOFY!" Alirah called. She had the heart blade and serpents cry in hand. Why the Heart blade hadn't disappeared – she had no idea. The two drew there weapons. They leaped for Alirah. Forming a semi-circle around Kairi. "Where are you Ansem?"

"Right here." He answered. He apparated into view. Kairi stayed behind Alirah. "So, you have awakened at last princess." He commented. Alirah made sure Kairi was protected. Donald and Goofy were ready to pounce as soon as she gave the word. "The keyhole is now complete. You've served your purpose. But now it's over."

"So you think," Alirah spat. She raised Serpents Cry, "Technically you aren't human. So my moral don't forbid me to do this. Riku!" a bright ball shot from the key and hit Ansem in the chest.

"Ha-ha-ha. Don't you remember? Your magic has no effect on me." He boasted.

"But I wasn't aiming for you," she smirked. Ansem challenged her bluff and moved in. He couldn't move. Alirah smiled.

"What? What have you done?" he hissed.

"My specialty is souls and Riku's is in you, still kicking." She flipped her keyblade, the blade pointed towards her. She pushed in, the blade brushing past her side. "He's going to make sure you don't stop us while we escape."

"You would use the man you love in such a manner?" he mocked.

"The man she loves?" Kairi questioned looking at Alirah.

"I thought you couldn't do such a thing." He pressed.

"True," Alirah answered, "But he'd sooner used by me than by you." She gave one last tug. Riku came out. Now he was holding Ansem back. "No…." he struggled, "You….won't….use me for this." Ansem struggled against the restraining boy.

"RIKU!" Kairi called.

Alirah put a hand in front of her. Telling her to stay there. "Riku, you can only be in control for a few minutes, better not screw this up!" Alirah ordered.

"Then take Kairi and Run." He shot back sarcastically. "The heartless are coming." Heartless began to appear. They blocked the exit; whatever windows were there – all exits were barred. Alirah opened a portal and directed everyone to jump through. Kairi took one last look at Riku and went through. Goofy and Donald followed after her.

"ARRRG!" Ansem roared. Riku looked at him with a smug grin. "That girl can't keep me from your heart forever!" he declared. "I claimed Terra; I will claim you and I will eliminate Alirah to do so."

"That's where you're wrong," Riku spat back. "You've tried so many times to kill her. What makes you think you'll succeed this time?"

"Because I came close tonight."

"According to her, you've come close in the past. You've even come close today. But all facts point to you never actually completing the task and do you know why?"

"I'm sure you'll tell me boy."

"Because Terra won't let you." Ansem gritted his teeth. "Terra gave her that crystal and swore he'd protect her. And he's still living up to that vow." Ansem inhaled two deep breaths. Oh how he wished he could hit the boy for his impudence. Riku continued to badger him. "Now I see why Alirah admired him so much. Because even in when he's gone, he still prevents you from carrying out your missions." Ansem squinted his eyes. "Looks like you didn't claim him as much as you thought." Riku folded his arms. He felt like he had won the argument.

Ansem began to laugh. It was deep, low, and maniacal. It echoed throughout the whole hall. Riku shivered. "But I bet you wish I had." He said slyly.

"What?"

"Oh come now Riku," he snickered, "I am able to see into your memories. And I can see that she told you about the kiss she gave Terra."

Riku's face flushed. "What-what are you talking about?"

"Riku I know Alirah as well as those from that pathetic Disney castle. I know she had a crush on Terra. And you knew too." Riku turned away, trying to hide his blush. "What makes you think she truly loves you?" Riku let out a breath. "I know she kissed you. But was it because she cared about you, or because you remind her of Terra?" Riku blinked at the dark skinned man. He began to fade away. His face nearly heartbroken. Ansem gave him one finally smirk and regained control over his body. "Now then," he faced the door, "To finish what I started."

Yay…Alirah's back.

But there's still trouble.

Till next time.

Sorry if chap wasn't that good. I had to do a rush job.