Riku rose slowly, trying to hold on to sleep as long as he could. There was no need to get up early any more. Around him the few slight sounds of his room came to him, along with the faint wash of the waves playing on the beach.
Kingdom Hearts was free. It was over at long last. It was hard to say whether it had cooperated with all of the requests he'd made – requests, never demands or orders. He didn't want it to get the feeling it had to do what he asked.
On the other hand, some things were plainly visible. He and Kairi had been returned to the islands, arriving with the additional figures of Sora and Demyx, both given their own separate existence again an in the case of Demyx, fully restored.
There had been one hastily made agreement immediately afterwards though. Kingdom Hearts had noted that though he was, at heart, truly Sora, he had used Riku's name and appearance for so long that on arrival, he had kept that. Thus for the people of Destiny Islands, they'd kept up his original act. They thought him Riku and Sora... well, to be Sora.
Mickey stopped by later with Donald and Goofy, having taken a brief side-trip back to the World that Never Was only to find it, and Kingdom Hearts with it, had ceased to exist. In a last act, Kingdom Hearts had pushed back the Heartless far enough to allow its component hearts to flow back safely to where they belonged.
Not long after, Ventus came by on his own now with his armour and glider, since he felt it unsafe to resort to dark corridors. He'd only just taken his darkness back and had little first-hand experience with it. Riku offered to teach him, only to find Terra had beaten him to it.
Ventus told them that Terra and Aqua meanwhile were returning to Castle Oblivion with the intentions of restoring and re-opening the Land of Departure so aspiring Keyblade bearers would have a place to train. He, Kairi and Sora had all been offered immediate places there, and to their surprise Demyx too. The Keyblade the Replica had wielded, Way to the Dawn, was said to be waiting for a wielder, and his time with Riku and Sora had given Demyx what he needed. He too joined the ranks of bearers.
Mickey later reported that Axel and Zexion had set up shop in Radiant Garden alongside the other former Nobodies in an attempt to create a means of communicating between any world so if anything happened, word could be put out in short order. This had however also revealed that the Replica was nowhere to be seen. Given that Riku had asked Kingdom Hearts to do something for him though, that may not have been remarkable. Likely, it had overheard and taken Kairi's advice and was no more...
The Replica's body was in fact lying on the darkened shores of the Dark Margin, unmoving with a blank expression staring at the dark skies. Flickers of yellow appeared in his eyes, always beaten back before they got far.
Sand scrunched as another figure strode up the beach, pausing to kneel at the Replica's side and watch this battle for a time. After a moment it laid one hand on the Replica's forehead, a momentary flare of indigo appearing around the hand which seemed sucked into the the Replica.
The yellow fought back with a vengeance now. The dark flare strengthened it, bolstered it. It established a foothold and started to push back extending its control. It faltered as it reached the half-way mark, whereupon the figure inserted another dark flare. This time the effect was instantaneous, pushing the blue out entirely.
After a moment the Replica sat up quickly, looking about wildly. He spotted the figure, focused for a few moments then said, "You. And I'm..." he looked at himself. "Right. The Replica."
"Didn't you already know?" the figure asked.
"Taking over someone's body is always followed by a few awkward moments," Xehanort replied, looking himself over in more detail. "I look ridiculous, but at least I still exist."
"The Replica's mind?"
"In the same position Terra's was," he shrugged. "He was no more a match for me than Terra. But never mind that. How did you-"
"Survive? Simple. The idiot boy revealed his hand too soon. Told me how he'd survived this long. All I did was conceal my attempt to do the same."
"Didn't he say... you didn't have anyone?"
"That's what he thinks," Vanitas smirked. "Everyone I met while using his name has a tie to me. None of them have any idea what happened. I didn't dare touch Riku or anyone else Ventus brought in, but I had plenty to keep me going. Of course, that infernal Keyblade Ansem created meant I had to give up my half of his heart... but thanks to my friends I now have a fledgling heart growing in me. Riku thinks us both destroyed, and what he doesn't know..."
"Can definitely hurt him," Xehanort finished, grinning at the moonlight. "Watch out Riku. You haven't seen the last of us yet."
A/N: And there we are, one last final twist at the end of the story. Like various other stories, I may or may not make a sequel to cover the consequences of this twist, but right now and at long, long last, Emergence joins the ranks of my completed stories. And what an adventure it's been, huh?
Stay tuned to my other stories, as I'll be continuing another story in progress soon.
Until next time people!