The Locked Room

By Lynx (of Organization VI)

Rating: K

Disclaimer: I do not own Kingdom Hearts or its characters; they belong to Disney and Squeenix, respectively. Please don't sue. While there are original characters in this story, I don't make any large claims to them. If you'd like to use them, just ask.

Summary: A one-shot sequel to "Islands Like Glass Towers." During the events of "Chain of Memories"/"358/2 Days", everyone forgets about Sora...including his parents.

Notes: I don't usually do sequel fics, but the idea for this one stuck, too! So, revisiting Taro and Emi again, this time quite a bit further in the future. Hope readers like this story!

"Taro? Are you going to clean out the spare room today?"

"...Hmm?" He glanced up from his spot on the couch, turning towards Emi's voice in the kitchen. Fishing had been hard today, and he was tired. His arms ached, and it felt like too much work to think.

"The spare room, upstairs." Emi poked her head out of the kitchen. "It needs to be cleaned out."

"What's in there?"

"I don't know. Stuff."

"Does it have to be today?"

Emi sighed. "You said you would last week."

Had he? It seemed like it, but he couldn't really recall. He didn't want to move, but whatever Emi was cooking smelled good, so he decided he might as well get up anyway. He trudged upstairs slowly, past their bedroom, and to the spare room at the end of the hall.

Taro put his hand on the doorknob, and felt the hair on the back of his neck prickle. He turned it, and...nothing. The door was locked. He frowned, and searched his large pockets for a key, but there was none to be found.

"Emi? Where are the keys?" he called down.


"The door is locked. Do you have the key?"

"No, don't you have it?"

"No..." Taro trailed off. Of course they didn't have keys...nothing in this house was ever locked, including the front door. Why would they lock the spare room, and lose the key?

Taro walked down to the bedroom and began to search it with that sort of half-hearted energy for when you needed something but didn't need it bad enough to look that hard for it. In his search, he found no set of keys. Secretly, he was a little glad. He didn't know what they'd left in the spare room, but some part of him really didn't want to find out.

He was starting to dislike that room.

"Dinner's ready!"

He trudged back down and joined his wife at the table for dinner. She had prepared one of the fish he'd caught today...nice and fresh, but it seemed a little much for just the two of them.

"Did you find the keys?" she asked.

"No..." Taro sighed, rubbing at his black hair. "I...can't remember ever having a key for that door."

Emi gave him a weak smile. "We must have, otherwise how..."

And she suddenly trailed off. Taro understood why...he felt it, too. Like they had both nearly fallen into a bottomless pit, like there was a dark hole in his thoughts that he couldn't see through. A blind spot in time, in feeling, in sense.

"It's the Darkness again..." he muttered.

Taro hated how it lingered like that...the Darkness that had overtaken the Islands just a few months ago, sudden and inexplicable. No one knew what had happened then. It was like a collective nightmare that no one could remember. A night of blackness, of loneliness, of fear and anger. Most of the Islanders were just glad that it was gone now, whatever it was. The sun still rose, the flowers still grew, and life went on with all its usual quiet contentment.

But the effects of the Darkness remained. As if the Darkness had stretched the fabric of the Islands' existence and left tiny tears in it. Small objects were missing. People couldn't remember large chunks of time. Thoughts were left unfinished, words were misspoken.

Or strange doors were now locked.

"Maybe Jecht can try and open it..." Emi suggested.

"No," he shot back, a little harder than necessary.

"Or Hoku..."

"We shouldn't bother them with stuff like this."

"'re right."

They ate the rest of their meal in silence.

Later that night, lying next to Emi in bed but unable to sleep, Taro brought up something else that had been on his mind.

"Say, Emi..." He turned over so that he faced her. "What do you think having a baby?"

Emi hesitated before jumping to what seemed like a defensive answer. "Don't you think we're a little old to have children?"

"We're not that old," he countered, although in truth he felt a little of what she meant. All of their friends had had kids years ago, and those kids were all in high school by now. Neither of them were as young as they used to be, and Taro could feel it. It was almost like they had missed the boat on children...but would that really stop them now?

"It's not like we didn't try..." Emi said quietly.

"Yeah, but..." Taro trailed off. There it was again...that bottomless pit in the road; that hole in his mind. He remembered, almost fifteen years ago, he'd taken what they saved up and they went to the South Cliffs Hotel for a few days. They wanted to try and have a baby. And then...

And then what?

Why was it all so fuzzy? Why couldn't he seem to remember what had gone on back then? "Didn't we...didn't we have something?"

"We couldn't have," Emi responded, in a tone that said she was also struggling with this.

That was the thing...they couldn't have. If you got pregnant, you eventually had a baby. You didn't lose a child before it was born like that; not on the Islands. It couldn't happen.

Could it?

He didn't want to think about this anymore. He didn't want to imagine any such situation; he couldn't. He turned over and pulled the covers tight over his shoulders, and shut out thoughts of a starlit night by the cliffs. "You're right. We couldn't have."

Two days later, Taro had almost forgotten about the locked door. There was fishing to do, fruit to buy, gardens to tend and friends to spend time with. That is, until one afternoon, when he happened to look out the living room window and see a girl standing outside. It was Kairi, stopped just beyond the lawn, her schoolbag slung over her shoulder. She was staring up at the top the window belonging to the locked spare room. She seemed to be waiting for something.

He swallowed, and headed outside. Kairi didn't seem to notice until he walked up to her, and then she turned and brushed her hair behind her ear as if embarrassed. "Hi, Taro! Sorry, I was...just on my way to see Hoku and Lana."

Of course, she often stopped by there. She was such a source of comfort to their heartbroken neighbors, in ways that Taro and Emi somehow couldn't be. "Hi, Kairi. I'm sure Lana would love to have you stop by for a bit."

"It's no problem," Kairi said. She glanced back up towards the window and then away again, as if trying to sneak a peek at something. "How're you?"

"I'm fine..." Taro trailed off before deciding to go ahead and ask her. "Is there something you want?"

"No...I just..." Another glance at the window. "I felt like I left something here."

"You're welcome to come in and check, but I'm afraid we can't get into the upstairs spare room," Taro said. He really was starting to hate that room, taunting him with its buried secrets. Kairi looked at him carefully, as if she could see that dark hole in his mind. It was both comforting and unsettling.

"It's okay, it's probably nothing," she lied. Taro could was always easy to tell when a girl like Kairi was trying to lie. He said nothing to challenge her, though. She shifted the bag on her shoulder, and offered him a genuine smile. "I better get going...I'll see you around."

Taro watched as the young girl walked across the street to Hoku and Lana's house, moving slowly, almost hesitantly. Since the Darkness had come and gone, she seemed to act as if half of her was in a dream world...a secret place that no one could penetrate, not even the other kids. And from that place, she drew hope...Taro could see it in her smile, and even hear it in her lies. She drew on the hope and distributed it most everywhere she went, and she visited Hoku and Lana often because they were starved for it.

Taro began to wonder if maybe he needed it more than he thought, too.

Every time Taro thought he could ignore those little tears in the fabric of their world, something or someone would remind him of them, and then those tears would be all the more obvious. Another week passed, and Emi again asked him to clean out the spare room, and again he couldn't open it. The same thing happened again the week after, as if every time they were suffering amnesia for this one specific event. The black hole in his mind stretched wider and deeper every time.

So Taro began to stay a little later at work...anywhere from 15 minutes to half an hour. He felt a little guilty avoiding Emi like that, but he didn't like to be home anymore. It had become too dark, too dusty, like they were afraid to touch anything or move things around. Underneath every object those holes lay in wait, and if they weren't careful they would fall in. Their house was a minefield, a quicksand trap, and every time Taro let his thoughts wander for just a bit in there he felt himself start sinking.

But work was a little better. It was busy with him and his coworkers and the fish; it was easy to just focus on those ripples in the beautiful ocean water and forget his worries. This is what the Islands were like before the Darkness...bountiful, pristine, full of life and color, giving and giving and never running dry. It was so easy to just sit and fish and not worry.

Until one morning, while sitting in his usual spot on the docks by the fishery, that he noticed someone else out on the beach. It was Hoku.

He had an idea of why his childhood friend was here, but that didn't mean it was good. He left his pole, tackle and other gear by the dock, got up and walked to him. Hoku was staring out at the ocean, and as Taro approached he noticed a wet sheen on his cheeks. He swallowed, came up slowly and put a hand on his shoulder. "Hoku."

Hoku spun around in surprise, and let out a shuddering breath. "Oh, Taro. Dammit..." He turned away to wipe at his eyes, but the wetness remained. "Dammit..."

"Hey, it's okay," Taro said, keeping the hand on his shoulder. Like most grown men, they weren't prone to hugging, but Taro could tell that his friend might need one.

Hoku turned toward the ocean again, a visible lump forming in his throat. "I came out just kind of...kind of hoping he'd be here. On a boat, coming home, I don't know." He ran his fingers through his hair. "I always thought would get a little easier with time, you know. But it doesn't. It hasn't gotten easier. It don't think it ever will. It..." His voice cracked in a way that it hadn't since they were young boys. "Dammit Taro, it's not fair! It hurts, it hurts every day, every night."

"I know..."

"You don't know. You don't know what it's lose a son."

For a split second, Taro experienced the sudden urge to yell yes I do, and he got as far as opening his mouth before he stopped. He didn't know where it came from or why, but obviously it wasn't true, so he couldn't say it. He suddenly felt sick to his stomach, like something had welled up in him and he had to swallow it back down. He tried to focus his attention back on his friend. "He will come back, Hoku. This is his home. He'll come back to it."

Hoku sniffed and shook his head out, looking embarrassed. "Yeah. He'll...yeah." He focused his attention on the calm ocean surface again. "Just...want to be there when he does. See him first, maybe." There was a long moment of a silence between them, in which the island itself seemed to fall quiet. "...I'm sorry, Taro. I know I'm being silly. Gimmie a minute and I'll be fine."

"Forget about work. Go home." Taro told him.

"Yeah, I'll do that," Hoku said with a slight chuckle. He turned back towards the fisherman, his eyes softer. "Maybe you should play hooky, too. You're lookin' almost as bad as me."

He had hoped it wasn't that obvious. Taro tried to shake it off. "Just tired is all. I'd rather finish the day here." He definitely didn't want to say he'd rather be here than at home.

"Don't work too hard." Hoku managed a half-smile and gave him a friendly pat on the shoulder. "And thanks."

With that, Hoku headed back up the beach and to the road, in the direction of home. Taro waited until he was out of sight, then let out a long breath. He trudged back to his fishing spot on the dock, not wanting to go home but not really wanting to work, either. It felt too quiet, the gentle ripples on the ocean's surface felt more disturbing than calming. Taro had just finished hooking more bait onto his line when he realized where that yes I do had come from.

It'd come out of that dark hole in his mind.

Taro never would have done this before the Darkness came. But now, almost nine months since the Darkness had taken them all and left them with little more than nightmares, he decided he had to. He called in a sick day to work when he wasn't really sick.

Well, not sick in a traditional sense. He did still go to see Doctor Cecil. He had to set an appointment almost a week in advance, because it seemed the doctor was a little busier these days. Moreover, he didn't tell Emi he was coming. He wasn't sure if he'd mention it after the fact, either...for one, he wasn't sure if the doctor could even help him.

Still, he showed up at 11:00 on the dot, waiting until he was finally called into the doctor's office. Doctor Cecil was sitting at a polished wooden desk, decorated with flowers and pictures of Rosa. The office was clean without feeling sharp or sterile, painted light blue and white. Cecil sat comfortably across from him, looking tired, but with his warm smile that meant he was in his calming mode. "Hello, Taro. It's nice to see you again."

"Nice to see you too, Cecil," he said as he took a seat across the desk from him.

"So, how are you doing? Feeling sick?"

Now came the hard part...really, this entire visit would be the hard part. "No, not like a cold or anything. Not hurt. I just feel like..." He paused, running a hand through his black hair, unsure of how to start. "...I just feel like there's something wrong with me."

Cecil's demeanor changed almost instantly, from calm and friendly to firm and serious. "Then just tell me everything that you've felt. Everything and anything you can think of."

Taro said nothing, completely surprised by the response. Cecil continued, "You're experiencing effects of the're not the only one. I've had many Islanders come in and complain of feeling strange since then. I can't give you medicine, but I can say that just letting it all out helps. So just talk, and don't worry about what you think I'm thinking."

He hesitated again, still nervous to start. It was an invitation he needed, but it still took some effort to open his mouth and say it. "I...I feel like I'm going mad. I feel like I'm going crazy, and I can't tell anyone about it. Not Hoku; he's still worried sick about Riku. And I can't...can't talk to Emi, either. Because I think she's going crazy like I am." He swallowed, feeling unsure. "We don't...we hardly talk anymore. I can't think of anything to say to her, and she's just gotten quieter.'s been a long time since we've made love. Or done anything intimate. I can't concentrate on it. Like we want to grab onto something but we can't grab each other because we're both drowning."

He started talking faster as more of it came rushing out. "I hate being home. There's...a spare room on the second floor, and it's locked, and I can't find the key. I feel sick just thinking about it. I keep finding these...things around the house, and I don't know how they got there. There's things in there that don't belong to me or Emi, and I'm afraid to touch them. I keep buying too much food, and it ends up going bad. Emi's sleep schedule is messed up. And just...there are these giant holes in my memory. I can't remember what I was doing this time last year. I can't remember what I bought for almost any Christmas. I remember going on a vacation with Emi...down to the Cliffs, and we were so happy, and...and then this huge hole just swallows it up. Like there's something important on the tip of my tongue and I just can't say it. I can't laugh, I can't sleep, I can't think, and it's getting worse every day. I'm going crazy."

He stopped, breathing hard, as if he'd just run halfway across the whole island. He felt embarrassed now...was this really the best idea? The serious look remained on Cecil's face, and he barely moved the entire time. Finally, he leaned forward a bit.

"It is an aftereffect of the Darkness...I will say you're not at all the first to complain of memory loss. If it makes you feel any better, I've had quite a bit of it myself..." Cecil paused, as if he meant to add something else, but decided against it. The doctor had never really had to play psychologist before the Darkness...and now, even with everything fixed and back to normal, it seemed everyone needed one.

"So...what do I do?" Taro asked quietly.

Another long pause, and every second that passed filled Taro with more hopelessness. "I can't say for certain, Taro...but I think you should tell all this to Emi. The two of you need to communicate, now more than ever. Just avoiding it isn't going to help. And, in that sense…I think you should try to open that spare room. It may be hard, but it's clearly a source of stress for you. And knowing what's inside may remove some of the mystery and help regain some of these missing memories."

"Okay," Taro mumbled, although it was clear his heart wasn't in it. He didn't know why he was so frightened, but he was. In a way, he was almost more frightened to remember than to just keep forgetting.

Cecil got up from his chair, walked around the desk and put a hand on his shoulder. "Taro, you're not crazy. We've had something unknown happen to the Islands and it's affected everyone. Just always remember that you're not alone in this. It'll help you get better all of us."

Taro nodded. At the very least, he should stop avoiding Emi. She deserved more than that. He stood up, and nodded to the doctor. "Thanks...I guess I really did just need someone to explain it to."

"Anytime, Taro. Let me know if you remember anything important."

"I will." He turned to head for the door, already debating how he would talk to Emi. If he could just remember something important, then—

He stopped short. The bottomless hole was back, staring into him even as he stared into it. He turned his head slowly to look towards Cecil again. " and Rosa visited our house years and years ago, didn't you? A house call?"

Cecil's assuring expression melted into something unreadable. "You know...I can't remember."

"You don't have a record of it?"

"I should, if you'll just give me one minute..." Cecil walked back behind his desk to a wooden filing cabinet, where he kept patient histories for nearly everyone on the Islands. Illness was rare, so it wasn't like there was much to keep track of. Taro waited impatiently while Cecil dug through his files. If this spark of memory could provide any clothes, he had to follow it.

"Ah yes, you're right," the doctor declared, pulling out an old file. "A house call for Emi, almost fifteen years ago. It was for..."

Cecil stopped, staring down at the file. Taro waited, expecting him to read something, but nothing came. Cecil's face took on a strange expression...pale, confused, as if he were two steps away from falling into the same dark hole that Taro stood over.

"For what?" Taro asked.

"...I don't know," Cecil replied, and held up the piece of paper in his hand. "It's blank."

"Honey, were you going to clean out the spare room today?"

Eleven months. Nearly eleven months of them living in this invisible quicksand trap, and still Emi asked the same question every week. But months later, it was less an inconvenience and more a kind of madness. Taro saw it in Emi even now, sitting across the living room from him. She looked tired, so much older, her brown hair shrouding her eyes. She cried in her sleep now. When was the last time he'd kissed her?

"No," Taro responded, his hands balled into fists. "I can't open it. It's locked, and I can't find the key."

"We have to open it, Taro. It's important. If—"

"No. There's nothing in there." He didn't believe it, but he thought maybe saying it would make it true.

"Taro, we have to do something! What are we going to do?"

He closed his eyes, trying to think. He felt like someone was dropping rocks into his stomach, one by one. Finally, he suggested something radical. "Let's move."

Emi looked up at him, and he could see the dark lines under her eyes. "Move?"

"Yes, let's move north, away from the coast. Let's get out of this house." He couldn't stand it here anymore. Maybe if they moved, he could run away from the dark hole that had almost engulfed his entire mind.

"Taro, the problem isn't this house! It's us!" Emi insisted. "We've forgotten something!"

It was true, all of it was true, but he didn't want to say so. He just wanted to run away. But there was nowhere to run to. For the first time in his life, the islands felt unbearably small. Like a prison. He hated the feeling. "And you really think trying to clean out that room will help us?"

"I don't know..." Emi's face turned downward again, and Taro wanted to go and comfort her, but couldn't think of how. "I just want it all to stop."

"But maybe if we moved, it would help—"

"I don't want to move," she shot back. "I just want to remember what it was."

Taro didn't even know what it was he wanted anymore. Except he wanted this hole in his mind gone, and he didn't know how to fix it. He was too afraid to follow Doctor Cecil's advice, and he and Emi couldn't help each other.

"Fine...fine. We won't move," he assured her, his voice now as tired as hers.

"Then are you going to open the room?"

"I can't." He didn't have the key, and he didn't have the will. Finally, he stood up from the couch. "I'm just going to bed."

Emi frowned at him, and also stood. "Fine. I'll try to open it."

Taro was too exhausted to even debate the matter with her. He just wanted to escape, and if he couldn't move them or leave the islands, at least sleep was the next best thing. He'd likely have nightmares, but it wasn't like this would be much different from the waking world anyway. He headed for the stairs along with her, although when they reached the second floor, he headed for the bedroom while she went for the spare room.

He dressed himself for bed in a depressed haze, his mind stuffed with excuses and fears and lies. All crowded around the ever-present dark hole. Taro climbed into bed, and fell asleep to the sound of Emi rattling the spare room's doorknob.

Still locked.

The next few weeks passed in a nightmarish blur. Taro skipped so much work he was surprised he hadn't been fired. He wandered outdoors most of the time, but even the islands' calming natural rhythm couldn't reach him. Everything around him was wrong, broken, darkened.

But the very worst of it came right as he woke up one Friday morning.

Where is my son?

The words seemed to crawl out of his mind as his eyes flickered open. He immediately squashed them back down with a reminder. I don't have a son.

He chalked it up to the remains of a nightmare, and stumbled downstairs to the dining room in a daze. His fingers were still asleep. As he opened the refrigerator door, he felt it again.

Where is my son?

No. He slammed the door shut once again, his stomach coiling into knots. I can't have a son.

Taro skipped breakfast, and then in turn skipped work again. Without bothering to tell Emi, he got dressed, put on his shoes, and took off to go walking across the island again, starting out slow and picking up speed the further he went. There was no way around it now...he was running from the encroaching darkness, but he was losing. He looked everywhere for sources of comfort...the boats on the beach, the crystalline ocean, the swaying palms, the homes of their neighbors, the shops, the roads, the fishery, the gardens. But all of them just reflected the same questions back at him. Where is he? Why did you forget him? How could you forget him?

It really was full-blown madness. There was no other explanation for it. How could he possibly forget he had a child? It couldn't be possible. It made much more sense for him to just be crazy than to conceive of the idea of actually forgetting his own child. Almost a year after the Darkness had struck, and at last, he had gone insane from it.

Where is he? What happened? Why?

This time, Taro actually did start running, straight for home. He'd wandered all day, but he had to be with Emi now. If he was going to fall completely to this madness, at least he would be with her. Maybe she'd spiral down into it with him, or maybe she'd save him from it...just as long as they were together.

Taro didn't know how long or how far he ran, but the sun was turning down towards the west by the time he reached home again. In his panic, he nearly tripped over a young girl just beyond the porch was Kairi. Still in her school uniform, still with her book bag, but she was carrying something else. She hid it behind her back as soon as he ran up, but in the split second before then he thought he saw a glass bottle in her hand. He must have looked quite a sight, because she looked at him with wide, worried eyes. "Hi..."

He didn't answer for a moment, panting for breath. "Kairi...sorry..."

She stared at him carefully. "Do you...remember him now?"

He didn't bother to ask who, because he knew. It was boiling up inside him, threatening to explode. "No."

"The boy...he lived here," Kairi said, nodding towards his house. She clenched her fingers tight around the bottle. "Listen, it's okay...we all forgot him."

"No..." Taro shook his head, and backed up a few steps. He couldn't handle this, not in front of Kairi, who seemed to know much more than she said. Without waiting for a reply, he left her and ran back into the house, shutting the door behind him.

He was no more than two steps inside when Emi was upon him. She flew up to him and gripped hard at his shoulders, her eyes wild. "Taro! Taro, I remembered! We had a son! I remembered him...we forgot our son!"

"No!" he exclaimed, bringing his hands up to the sides of his face. "We couldn't! We can't just forget him! That's crazy!"

She gripped him so hard she was nearly shaking him now. "Stop lying! I remember him and so do you! What's happened to us?"

"That's crazy!" It was all he could think to say; the only response he could muster at the tidal wave that was swelling up around his heart. He couldn't tell if Emi was shaking him anymore or if he was just shaking himself.

"I'll show you!" she yelled back, let go of him and shot up the stairs. She was going for the locked spare room.

"Emi, no!" he cried out, his voice cracking in panic. He darted after her, suddenly desperate to stop her. "We've tried opening it! We can't! The door's locked!—"

He was barely behind her, but she reached the spare room first anyway. He watched in incomprehensible fright as she put her hand on the knob...and it turned. The door swung open as if it had never been locked at all. His legs moved unbidden until they brought him to Emi's side, and he looked inside.

It was a child's bedroom. His child's bedroom, as it had been left over a year ago. The bed lay unmade, and dirty clothes and toys lay scattered on the floor. There were posters peeling off the ceiling, a toy pirate ship and a childhood mobile casting shadows on the wall, and a half-finished robot made out of blocks shoved in a corner. The walls were covered in his drawings, and there was still beach sand in his toy buckets. The lamp over his desk had long since burned out. Everything was coated in a thick layer of dust; untouched, frozen, forgotten.


Emi stumbled inside, one hand clutching at her heart, the other reaching out to his bedpost for support. The contact with the wood seemed to make her choke on her own breath. "Sora..." she sobbed, and then the walls broke down and a flood of tears came sliding down her cheeks. "Sora!"

I have a son. His name is Sora.

Taro felt weak in the knees, and his legs gave out from under him. He felt his back hit the wall as the tidal wave struck, and he slid down to the ground. It all came rushing back to him in an endless torrent...the night Sora was born, his first words, rowing him to the kids' island with his friend Riku, his first day at school, teaching him how to fish, his favorite chocolate cookies at Christmas, his excitement when he talked about their adventures, buying him shoes, telling him to do his homework, bandaging those swordfight wounds, that red in his cheeks when he talked about Kairi, his smell, his muddy footprints on the carpet, his dirty dishes, his laugh, his eyes and the shape of his hands and what he wore and how he walked and smiled...

My son...

He only heard Emi's weeping as at long last he fell, down and down into that immense dark hole in his mind, only to discover that there had never been a hole there at all.

Three days later, Taro got himself up in time to return to work. He couldn't afford to miss any more days, as understanding as Koji and his coworkers had been. He had to go on, knowing that he wasn't really insane.

But he took his usual spot on the docks feeling hollow, drained, his heart scrubbed raw. He went through the motions of setting up his gear, putting bait on his line and casting it near the spot he saw fish breaking the water's surface, but it was nothing more than motions. Emi was with Lana now, which he was glad for. He didn't want her to be in the house alone.

Alone, with all the memories of their son...and the knowledge that he was missing.

He felt he should have some reaction to this neverending reminder, but it had all spilled out of him over the past few days and he'd run dry. He couldn't feel fear, or guilt, or despair...just emptiness. The hole in his mind was gone, but he was too tired to move forward past it now. He knew, if he tried to move forward, it would hurt. It hurts every day, every night.

So he sat at the docks all day, barely noticing when he got a bite, just thinking. There were so many memories suddenly before him that he couldn't even sort through them all. He would pull on one, and find an endless chain of them behind it. He couldn't even remember when he'd forgotten him now. And for all his thinking, he still couldn't understand why. Why would he forget him? Hoku and Lana hadn't forgotten Riku. Why their son?

His empty silence was broken by the sound of footsteps and two girls talking. The kids had to be out of school by now. He turned, and saw Kairi and her friend Selphie walking down the path, towards the southern part of the coast. Looking carefully, he could see Kairi carrying the glass bottle still...but this time, with something inside it.

It's okay...we all forgot him.

He hadn't realized it at the time, but he didn't see the emptiness in her eyes that he felt. She was still drawing on that source of hope. She smiled, and her smile held both patience and anticipation. Something she wasn't telling, but still knew better than all of them.

Maybe he needed it more than he first thought...

A fish splashed in the water, and he turned his attention back to the ocean. He found himself staring at it a little harder...not just looking into space, but out at the distant horizon. Watching it closely, and waiting.


Thanks again for is greatly appreciated!