A/N: Guess what? Yep, another story again.
You know people often say that inspiration will hit you (ouch!) while you're on the toilet? This is one such inspiration that hit me. Yet another annoying little random idea that captured my imagination.
The plot of this one sort of follows the real stories, but at the same time it doesn't follow them at all. I'd explain it, but you'll get a better idea by reading.
And that's about all the explaining I'll do.
As usual, I don't own Kingdom Hearts, the characters, worlds, places, etc, etc... need I go on? Got the idea? Good.
Now, one story, coming right up with a side order of STRANGE (And I mean that).
"Aw, Kairi, you know I hate mushrooms. Do I really gotta get some?"
"Stop whining, Sora," she chided him. "And see if you can find Riku too. He hasn't given me his supplies yet. And stop pouting too," she added, trying not to giggle at him.
Sora grumbled a little more, but went looking all the same. He'd given her everything except the mushrooms in the hopes she'd forget. He hated mushrooms.
But Kairi wasn't going to let him off easily. Some mushrooms in the tiny cave behind the rock, one of his favourite places to hide. No one ever suspected he'd be in the same place as something he'd do anything to get out of having to eat.
Some more from underneath the rickety bridge they'd constructed. It still fell apart from time to time, and it still got patched up. It gave them something to do when they finally got bored, and it kept them in better shape than the other kids. The ones who stayed on the mainland instead of joining them on their island.
Kairi wouldn't settle for just these though, but where else was he going to find mushrooms...
Of course. There were some in the Secret Place, where he, Kairi and Riku frequently etched all kinds of things into the wall.
As he went through the door to the main beach, he spotted Tidus and Wakka testing each other again, with Selphie shamelessly egging them both on. It was harmless fun. Usually. Sometimes one of them would end up getting rowed back over to the mainland for some attention, but for the most part they were fairly self-sufficient on their island. Selphie was bright enough to handle most bumps and scrapes.
Riku was normally up by the few Paopu trees that grew down here. Most of them were further afield, and involved either swimming or hiking. The fruits had an unmatched taste, but knowing the rumoured effects they had, they were rarely sought after. That was, unless one of the less adventurous kids asked them to bring some back from the island.
Just yesterday, they'd shared one. Not just two of them, but three; him, Riku and Kairi. The idea was that their three lives would be bound together just as well as if it had been two of them. It was anyone's guess whether it had worked or not – let alone if the rumours about Paopu fruits were true in the first place.
Today though, Riku was nowhere to be seen. That meant one of three things. He'd gone Paopu hunting, returned to the mainland, or was at the Secret Place. Since Sora knew no one had gone asking for a Paopu, after yesterday it was unlikely he'd gone looking again already. Besides, the one just down here still had several on it.
Gone home? Just as unlikely. His boat was still moored up at their little jetty. That left only one option. He paused to watch the ongoing spar, ducking as Wakka threw one of his Blitzballs, completely missing Tidus.
Sora threw it back at him with a call of, "Missed me!"
"I'll get you next time!" Wakka called back, turning his attention back to Tidus as the little guy finally caught him.
"Hey, Sora!" Selphie called. "Up for a round?"
"Maybe tomorrow," he replied. "I can still feel the marks from last time I took you on!"
He wasn't exaggerating. It was amazing how much she could make that simple, harmless looking rope hurt. At least it wasn't likely to leave more than a few marks.
He crouched low, brushing the ivy aside to duck into the small tunnel that lead to the Secret Place. After a short distance, it rose in height, allowing him to stand up straight again.
Voices came from ahead.
"Oh yeah?" Riku's voice came arrogantly. "I'll show you! I understand more than you give me credit for! I'll get out there and understand everything!"
"A meaningless effort," a new voice came. Had someone else come to their island without anyone else noticing?
"Who says it has to have a meaning?" There was a pause, then, "Huh? Where'd he go?"
Sora crept forward, glancing around the shallow bend. Riku was looking into one corner of the cave. The cave that had all their scratchings on the walls, and the door, the strange door without a handle, a lock, or any way to open it.
He leaned out a little further, seeing no one beside the tree roots Riku was staring at.
Riku shook his head, looking toward the door. He ran his fingers over the narrow crack that proved it was a door, and not just a chunk of wood, then started back toward Sora.
There was a narrow crevice just behind him. One of his other frequent places to hide, and a place he hid again. Even Riku didn't know about this place and he passed by without noticing him.
"I'll show him," Riku muttered as he passed. "I don't know nothing."
Sora stared after him for a few moments, then shook himself, squeezing out of the crevice and heading down into the Secret Place. He already knew where the mushrooms were, and it took him only a few moments to pick them.
He investigated the entire cave before he left, looking for the source of the second voice. There was no evidence that anyone else had ever been there though.
Well, there was nothing else here for him. Nothing in the slightest to suggest someone else, or what Riku had been talking about, so without a second thought to it, he left.
In the shadows behind him, a figure wearing a dark brown robe appeared, looking after him.
"Three?" it murmured. "Unusual."
Then it was gone again.
That night, Sora lay back, trying to think. His thoughts kept turning to Riku, but they were somehow not his thoughts. He recalled times sat on the long, low trunk of the Paopu tree, except he recalled them as if he were Riku. He leaned on the trunk, often looking up to see Kairi, then just beyond her, himself. Every time he looked at himself in his thoughts, Riku looked back at him.
It was distracting, keeping him from reaching sleep. Every time he settled down, his thoughts strayed back yet again. Even if he tried to think of Kairi, it was often of himself as Riku with Kairi.
There was a distant rumble that distracted him from being distracted, then a second. He quickly sat up, glancing out the window to see a massive storm brewing.
"The raft!" he exclaimed to himself. It was exposed like this – he didn't want all his work to be wasted because of one storm. He had to get to their island to keep it safe.
He couldn't just get out of the room – his parents would notice. Instead, he took a long rope he'd stashed under the bed, tied it around one bedpost, then swung it out of the window, ignoring the rain that lashed at him.
It wasn't far from his house to the beach, but it seemed like longer. It seemed like longer still before his almost frantic rowing finally got him to their island. Kairi and Riku's boats were already here, but there was no one in sight.
No one, that was, except for strange black creatures. He quickly discovered he couldn't seem to hurt them, looking wildly about for his friends. Not here, not at the Paopu tree-
No, Riku was there. At the tree. He made a running jump, catching the bridge with one hand and hauling himself up.
"Riku!" he called. "Riku, where's Kairi?"
"Isn't she with you?"
"What? No, I only just got here. What's going on, Riku?"
"The door is opening, Sora," he answered. "We can go to other worlds at last!"
"You're not afraid of the darkness are you?"
"I'm not afraid of anything!"
Riku extended one hand to him. "Then come with me."
Sora tried to reach out to him, but strands of black shot out of a patch on the ground, clawing at Riku, as if trying to consume him. More did the same to him, holding him back just out of reach.
He leaned as far as he could, and just managed to take Riku's hand when a bright flash of light blinded him. When it cleared, Riku had gone, and in his hand was a massive key. Voices filled his mind.
He turned, looking around for Riku. He had to be here somewhere, surely. He hadn't fallen into the water, he wasn't anywhere in sight-
What was that? Something flashed brightly as a bolt of lightning struck down over the rough seas.
It was a large, ornate door. Exactly where the cave to the Secret Place had been.
His friends momentarily put aside, Sora almost ran to the door, avoiding the black things as he went. They seemed to home in on him, as if this key thing called to them.
When he heard one behind him, he struck it hard with the key, sending it flying, then used the distraction to yank the door open, closing it just as fast as he ducked down into the tunnel, running almost as soon as there was enough room until he reached the cavern... and stopped.
Riku and Kairi were both stood before the door. It now had a keyhole on it.
Both of them turned to him, looking as if they were in some kind of trance, then at the same time they both slurred out, "Sora..."
The door was blasted open by a strong gust of wind. He dug in his feet, bracing against it. Kairi was blown into him first, vanishing as he tried to catch her, then being completely knocked off his feet as Riku collided with him, being whipped out of the cavern in moments. Sora caught hold of a rock, withstanding the blast of air for as long as he could before he too was blown outside.
When he landed, there was something... different about the air.
All he had to do was look up to see the water had gone, leaving a cliff into nothingness, and above him a massive ball of blacks and reds, and other colours that seemed to be the source of the storm, sucking everything toward it.
The wind blew stronger, pulling on him as hard as it could even as he got to his feet.
"Don't give up!" It sounded like Riku's voice, but where was he?
Sora was dragged down the beach by the gusts. He caught hold of a tree, almost hugging it as the tugging grew stronger. He was gradually being pulled up the trunk of the tree.
Then there was no more trunk left, and he was flying, being pulled into the dark heart of the storm. As it swallowed him, blackness covered his vision, then his senses, then he passed out.
There was nothing. No sound at all. Not even the sound of the clock in his room. He felt weird. He couldn't describe how or why.
With a groan, he pushed himself up on one hand, feeling something soft under him. Definitely a bed.
Sora opened his eyes at last, looking around. He was in some kind of room. There was a bookcase on one side, a small table by his bed, and a mirror just beside the door. Besides him and the bed, that was the entire contents of his room.
He reached his other hand up to rub at his aching head, but stopped when he saw Riku's glove on it. He checked himself over quickly, finding that somehow, he'd ended up wearing Riku's outfit. Everything, right down to the two black wristbands, was now on him. There were differences though – the chain he'd always had attached to his belt was now similarly connected to Riku's belt, and he still had the crown he kept on a chain.
Had he somehow... become Riku? But why was some of his own stuff with him too?
His gaze fell on the mirror, and after a long moments hesitation, he cautiously got up and headed for it. Another hesitant moment before he finally stepped into view.
"What?" He let out a stunned gasp as he saw his reflection.
Sora almost couldn't believe what he was seeing. His hair had remained the same style, but was now Riku's silver instead. Riku's face looked back at him in shock, but his own bright blue eyes looked out of that face instead of Riku's greener eyes. He also seemed to have acquired Riku's more muscular build too.
It was as if someone had taken Riku, applied Sora's hairstyle, eyes and a couple of his affectations, then stuck Sora into the resulting body.
Sora had no idea how long he stood staring at his new reflection, no idea whether he was shocked, or amazed or horrified.
What had happened to him? What had happened to Riku, and for that matter Kairi?