This (if you're reading it) is for you, reviewer Flightfoot: You always leave such good questions in your comments, but I can never answer them because you're not logged in. Anyway, there might be a third part, if anyone wants me to finish it.

35. Hold My Hand

Broken Blades, Part 2

The cockpit door opened and Riku walked in, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. Sora adjusted himself in his seat, knowing that he had to talk about what happened, but not yet mentally prepared for it. Kairi ushered the boy over to her and he gratefully took a seat on her lap.

"Morning," he mumbled, stretching his arms carefully so as not to hit Kairi by accident.

Kairi affectionately ruffled his hair. "Sleep well?"

He nodded, finally turning his eyes to Sora. "Morning."

"Morning," he replied, feeling his mouth run dry.

"Are you still going to tell me? About what happened?"

Kairi raised an eyebrow at this and Sora smiled sheepishly in response. "Yeah, I'll tell you. I promised, didn't I?" He cleared his throat, leaning back in the pilot's seat.

"About two weeks ago, we got word from the King – King Mickey – that someone was performing some experiments on some Heartless and Nobodies, fusing them with machines to make them stronger… and to control them." He could see the questions in Riku's eyes and realized that his miniature friend probably didn't remember anything about their previous journeys and enemies. 'I'll explain it to him later. He looks like he's more interested in what happened than the minor details.' "It was an incredibly twisted thing to do, so we went to stop him. Some of our friends came with us. When we got there, we were quickly outnumbered and overpowered. We discovered that they were being controlled by a wireless system, but there was no way to interrupt the signal, so the only option was to disable the system. The system was divided between two locations. One of them could only be shut down by Kairi, so I went with her…"

"And I went to the other one," Riku added, earning their stares. "Well, the other me."

Kairi tilted her head. "The 'other you'?"

"I've had this idea, and it's a thought, but there's more than one me. What I mean to say is, the Sora sitting across from me is much older than I am. But Sora is younger than me, right? So, there must be another me that is one year older than this Sora."

Sora smiled. "Typical Riku. Always planning out the most logical answer."

"Of course, since you never think at all," Riku retorted, laughing. "So, what happened?"


Sora braced himself against the door, fighting against the creatures as they pounded away, trying to break into the room. His feet kept slipping on the slick tile floor, making it hard to fight back. He was tempted to open the door and toss a magical fireball out there, hoping to mow some of the creatures down, but he knew they would break through if he shifted his weight away for even a second.

"Kairi! Finished yet?" he yelled, his shoulder thumping against the door as he pushed, knowing it would be bruised by the end of the day.

Kairi's reply came from around the corner, just out of his line of sight. "Yeah, almost!"

Within minutes, she was at his side, pushing against the door with him. The creatures didn't relent, even for a second.

Sora groaned, feeling his muscles slowly beginning to cramp. "What's taking so long?"

As if on cue, the banging on the door stopped and a loud clanging noise filled the air, again and again like a perpetual echo. After they waited a while, making sure it wasn't just their imagination, they relaxed their grip on the door and opened it. All of the creatures were piled lifelessly on the floor, prompting Sora to nudge a couple with his feet to make sure they weren't faking it.

Kairi didn't waste a second. She scrambled out and grabbed Sora's hand. "Let's get going. I've got a bad feeling about this."

Back the entrance, everyone was collecting themselves. Aerith was healing Cloud's injuries as he leaned up again the wall, the one they had used as a shield not long before. Yuffie was dancing around, gloating over their fallen foes when, from the look on Leon's face, she was supposed to be helping clear a path through them. Cid was talking with the King, discussing something quietly and hurriedly, though they broke off when they noticed Sora and Kairi's return.

"Good to see that you're okay," the King smiled, jumping down from the rock he hand been standing on.

Sora looked around. "Where's Riku?"

"We were going to give him some time to get back, and Cid and I were discussing whether we should start looking for him when you get back."

They agreed to do that and everyone regrouped. The second hallway was exactly like the first; the same twisting corridor lined with the collapsed, immobile creatures. Something, however, was off. At the end of the end of the hallway, the door was open, though none of the creatures spilled into the room, and the inside was awash with red light.

As they got closer, Sora realized with a turn of his stomach that the red sheen wasn't caused by a light.

The entire room was coated in splattered blood… and totally empty.

Kairi and Aerith shivered and averted their eyes. Cid shook his head, eyes closed. Cloud turned away. Leon cringed. Yuffie ran partway into the hall and hurled. The King joined Sora in wide-eyed horror.

'There's no way anyone could survive something like this… and Riku's not here…' The thought struck him like a brick wall. 'No one could survive…'

He scanned the room, looking for some sign that his friend had escaped, but there was nothing. Something caught his eye on one of the walls and he quickly made his way there, ignoring the fact that his shoes slipped with every step. The thing embedded in the wall, on closer inspection, was Riku's Keyblade, coated thoroughly in blood. The sight of it made him want to join Yuffie in the hallway, but he fought back the revulsion and dislodged it, cleaning it off on his shirt.

Kairi came up and joined him. "Sora?"

"It should have been me," he muttered, "I should have been the one that came here. This should have been me."


"Why? Why Riku? Why does everything bad always happen to him, and why am I always powerless to help him?" Sora slammed his fist against the wall. "Why?"

Riku, hearing the end of the story, closed his eyes, deep in thought. Kairi was sitting back in her chair, looking at Sora, who had his head down.

"And then what?" Riku asked suddenly, breaking the silence.

"We spent some time trying to figure out what was going on, and then a few days ago, we heard some rumors that led us to find you."

"And where are we going now?"

Kairi smiled. "To see Master Yen Sid at his tower. He might know something that will help us figure out what happened with you."

"And with the other me. And why I don't know a lot of things."

"What do you mean?" Sora asked, "What don't you know? I can tell some of the things, but you haven't really told us what you know and what you don't."

Riku folded his arms. "I don't remember much of anything. The whole situation you explained… I don't remember that. I don't remember anything that happened before that. …And Kairi. I'm sorry, but I don't remember you," he explained, giving her a sad smile.

"You don't? But then, how do you know my name? I never told you."

He shrugged. "I don't know. It's… a feeling. I feel like I know you, and it's that feeling that told me. I don't know how I know, but I do. Maybe it has to do with the other me?"

"Well, maybe Yen Sid will know something," Sora mumbled, standing up to stretch.

"What's that?" Riku asked. Sora followed his eyes until he noticed that he was still holding Riku's Keyblade. "It's… it belongs to the other me, doesn't it?"

Sora felt his heart sink in his chest. "Yeah, it does." 'It is his, technically. I guess I should give it to him.' Stepping over, he held out Way to the Dawn for Riku to take. The boy did, but it disappeared in a flash of light and reappeared in Sora's hand. "Huh?"

"I'm guessing wasn't supposed to do that?" Riku asked, as startled as Sora.

Kairi shook her head. "Another thing we'll have to ask about."

When they arrived, Master Yen Sid went straight to business, visually inspecting Riku from his seat behind the desk. Riku seemed to be doing his best to stay calm, but the more time went on, the more Sora sensed that he was scared. He wanted to do something to comfort him, but he didn't want to interrupt the old Master.

Finally, Yen Sid sat back in his chair with a sigh. "Has anything else happened recently? I know only of what the King has informed me."

Sora gave Kairi a quick glance before he answered. "Riku says he is missing a lot of memories… actually, it's more of not knowing people and things he should know. And, I tried giving him this," he held up Riku's Keyblade, "but it came right back to me."

"This is a curious matter. Memories… are hard to examine, and anything relating to the Keyblade is all a matter of memory."

"Why is that?" Kairi asked politely.

"The ability to wield a Keyblade is passed down from a Master to someone with a strong heart. In order for this action to yield consequences, the action must exist in a moment of time, both for the Master and the chosen."

Sora's mind spun in circles. "Huh?"

"He means that to wield a Keyblade, there's an action involved, and since actions take time, it should exist as a memory. So, I must not have that memory, since I can't wield it."

"Ah. Makes more sense. But then… why not?"

Yen Sid let out a deep sigh. "Then, I will not know without deeper inspection. For that, I will require your assistance, Riku."

"Mine?" the little boy blinked, "Uh…" He looked up to Sora for assurance.

"It's fine. You can trust him."

Though his brows furrowed, not exactly believing that statement, Riku agreed. Yen Sid beckoned him over and he trotted around the side of the desk. Sora and Kairi followed, having lost sight of him behind the tall table, and watched.

Yen Sid placed one hand on Riku's head, making the little boy cringe, his wand in the other. Carefully, his tapped his hand with the wand, the magic flowing into his palm and onto Riku's head. At first, nothing seemed to happen, but Riku's face began to scrunch up and he started shaking, looking like he was fighting some immense pain. Sora wanted to step in and stop it, but Kairi, sensing his intentions, gently held him back.

When Yen Sid removed his hand and the magic faded, Riku gasped for air and grabbed Sora's free hand, holding on as much as he could. Kairi crouched down by his side and pulled him into a light hug, but his grip on Sora's hand never lessened.

Though he was annoyed by Yen Sid's actions, Sora kept his calm. "Did you find out anything at all?"

Before the Master could reply, the door opened and the King entered. He quickly bowed to his Master. "I'm sorry to interrupt."

"Mickey?" Riku looked over Kairi's arm, seemingly cheered up by the King's presence.

Kairi glanced between them. "You remember him?" she asked Riku.

He shook his head. "No. It's like with you. It's a feeling that I should, and knowing that I should, but nothing more than that."

At the mouse king's confused expression, they quickly brought him up to speed. When they finished, he closed his eyes in thought. "That is strange…"

"Have you remembered anything, Riku?" Yen Sid asked, though he already seemed to know the answer to that question.

Riku flinched. "It's… a castle."

"A castle?" Sora crouched down, still holding the boy's hand. "What kind of castle?"

"A… a big brown one… with green towers. Th-the hallways were… really white." He closed his eyes in concentration, his brow furrowed, but it apparently yielded nothing.

The King mulled over the information before he looked up. "It's Castle Oblivion."

"Castle Oblivion?" Sora had heard the place mentioned before, but knew nothing beyond the fact that it wasn't a pleasant place.

"That's a pretty accurate description of it. A castle with white hallways. You're sure?"

Riku nodded. "A castle… in the middle of nowhere."

"It can't be anywhere else."

Yen Sid folded his arms across his chest, his hands hidden in his long sleeves. "That corroborates with my findings as well, though it brings up more questions than it answers."

"How so?" Kairi asked. "What did you discover?"

"Despite what you believe, this is not Riku; only a creation of his memories."

Everyone else in the room descended into varying states of shock. Sora managed to recover first. "What does that mean?"

"The reason why this Riku cannot wield the Keyblade is because he was not created with those memories. He is a memory construct of the real Riku. In other words, a fragment of his memories separated from the rest of him. He only carries Riku's memories up until a certain point, but because he still bears a connection to the real Riku, he knows people and places that he has not the memories of."

The King didn't look any more pleased with the notion, but he was still rational enough to think things through. "That would mean… Riku is still alive."

"Yes, that is what it would indicate."

"But," Sora muttered, his mind grasping at whatever random straws of questions it could find, "all that blood…"

"You've made the assumption that it all came from one person. From one person, it would be fatal, but it would not be for two or more. Significant injuries from more than one party would be enough to create that scene."

Kairi spoke up, holding the stunned younger Riku close. "Then, we can find him?"

"It is very important that you do. The longer his memories remain separated from him, the harder it will be for him to retrieve them. If too much time passes, they may never be able to return."

"But where do we look?" Sora asked.

"The castle," Riku answered, speaking in a depressed voice. "Castle Oblivion. That's where he is… the other me."

"You're sure?"

"I can feel him there. He's been calling me. I didn't know what it was before now, so I didn't mention."

Sora tightened his grip on Riku's hand, crouching down to the boy's level. "It'll be fine. Whether you're all of him or only part, you're still my friend. We'll fix this, I swear."