Some say that the greatest of deeds were done in small steps.
Those people were high off the strongest weed known to man.


Kingdom Heartless
Chapter One: Don't

A heavy sigh tore itself from Sora's throat as he watched the setting sun from his window sill. He was so lost in his own mind and thoughts that he didn't even hear the door open and close again, letting in the one person who'd have even the slightest of chances at cheering him up.

"You know you have no choice, so stop thinking about it."

The deep and almost loving voice of his best-boy-friend snapped into Sora's hazy mind and dragged him back into attention. Riku's voice was always the only thing that could snap Sora out of his thoughts. It was either that, or touching him, and it's been a while since someone other than Riku had ever tried to get that close to him.

Sora smiled at the silver haired teen that stood before him. This was his best friend, his biggest love and the only human that knew him down to his core and still remained at his side. That smile dropped, however, when he noticed the boxes that surrounded Riku. Oh yeah. That's why he was so down.

"How do I stop thinking about it, 'Ku? I…I don't want to go."

It was a habit for Sora to use Riku's childhood nickname when he needed comfort or when he was very happy, it became one of the only things that let Riku know that the other needed him.

Riku smiled secretly as he took another step toward the brunette teen. For the first time, Sora noticed that there was something in Riku's arms: a bundle of cotton blue blankets. He only had mere seconds to wonder about it before a noise rose from the thing Riku was holding so protectively. It was like a faint meow of a kitten, and if Sora were to guess, he'd say that was definitely a cat Riku was holding.

" 'Ku?" He asked softly, not wanting to frighten anything, since it was already proven that whatever was wrapped in those blankets was alive. Riku's face went from a smile to a mock disappointed look.

"Aw, I guess he gave me away, didn't he? Well, since you've probably already guessed it, I'll just introduce you guys. Sora, this is Heartless."

Glossy yellow eyes and midnight black fur proved to Sora that it was indeed a cat that was cradled in Riku's hold. He couldn't stop himself from coming closer to the shameless animal snuggling into the silver haired teen's chest and blanket.

"Heartless?" He questioned.

"Heartless." Riku confirmed with a solid nod. "I found him on our Island a few weeks ago wondering around the shore and trying not to drown in the waves, though he looked to be having no problem touching the water. I took him home and kept on thinking that I'd want to give him to you. Now seemed like the perfect time."

It was a smile that bloomed in Sora's face, something Riku missed seeing; god knows that Sora's lips have been straining not to frown as of lately. With slow hands, he reached for the kitten and Riku dropped it in his arms; also smiling as he saw Sora petting the little head softly.

"What was he doing at our Island? Where do you think he came from? Why'd you choose the name 'Heartless'?"

Riku sighed at the many, Sora-like questions; his friend could be so predictable.

"I don't know why he was at our Island, but I think he could be from the outside world. And I wanted to name him heartless because of a mark under his front right paw, take a look."

Taking that as an invitation, Sora flipped a struggling kitten onto its back, taking his right paw in a gentle but firm hold. True to Riku's words, under that very paw was a sign Sora drew constantly on his notebook. It was a sign he only ever saw when he was dreaming or drawing the images of his dreams. He had told and shown Riku all about the dreams, but the older teen told him that he too had been having dreams that involved other worlds and people, as well as little black monsters that were usually called Heartless, unless the mark on them changed. There were three different marks that could appear on a creature in their dreams, they had only ever named one of them, that one being 'Heartless'; in a fit of boredom, they even named every Heartless they had seen in their dreams, not at all freaked that they had seen the same things the other had when in a state of unconsciousness. They shared everything after all, why not dreams?

"I never thought I'd see this mark on anything but paper?" Sora marveled in the feeling that was bubbling in his stomach. It was something close to anticipation or excitement, but neither fit the moment. "What world do you think he's from? He doesn't look like anything from Agrabah or Atlantica or even Halloween Town."

"None of those." Riku agreed with a shake of his head. "I've never dreamed of a Heartless taking the shape of a kitten though. Do you think it means something?"

No one mentioned that what they were talking about was merely a dream world where both were warriors fighting with giant keys. Sora and Riku had never been the most normal of children in their younger years, and they just got crazier as they grew. That was the reason no one talked to or touched Sora anymore, it was the reason he depended on Riku so deeply and loved the older boy like no other. Riku was just like him.

"The fact that you found him means something, Riku." Sora smiled, the feeling he had earlier rising into his head as he rounded through the possibilities of what this could mean. "I think we're old enough now. It's finally our time to leave for the outside world. Riku, I think we've just been summoned."

The grins on the face of his best friend never secede to amaze Riku. They could be so bright, yet hold back so much at the same time. It was something that always marveled Riku.

"But you leave tomorrow, Sora. If we were meant to leave, wouldn't we have done it sooner than now? I did find the cat some weeks ago."

"But you didn't tell me, Riku." Sora's eyes shined. "I know, I can feel it. We've leaving this Island tonight, Riku. Do you feel that anticipation or the excitement? I'm not going alone."

Sora was moving tomorrow; going to a place far from the Main Islands; far from Riku. When Sora had first found out, he freaked; throwing things at his parents, calling them 'heartless' and 'cruel' to rip Riku away from him. At the time, he didn't know that that was the very reason they were moving. In the eyes of Sora's parents, Riku was a bad influence. The boy had grown up with a father that was never home and he spent too much time around their Sora. Not to mention that it was around the time Sora met Riku that he began getting dreams filled with dark creatures and other –strange- worlds. Sometimes they were nightmares and sometimes pleasant dreams.

When it was a nightmare, only Riku could wake Sora up. It was something Sora's parents had found out about in a very unpleasant way. Sora would yell and thrash, hitting anything that came near him, when it was nightmare. The only thing he wouldn't attack would be Riku, who'd then coo him out of the dream. But that had been back when Sora didn't know how to fight the Heartless.

Riku smiled, because he too felt it. Sora was right, they were defiantly going to leave tonight, but they just needed to know how.

"What are we going to do then? We have no way to leave Sora, all we have are the boats we use to get to our Island."

"Don't think about that now. I have a feeling, you know? Sleep over tonight, I just know something's going to happen." This was the most cheery Sora had ever been since the news that he'd be moving. It almost made Riku loose the worries that clouded his mind, but if he didn't worry, who would? He knew for a fact that Sora, being Sora, would believe in the feelings of his heart with the utmost confidence. That was another think Riku envied about his friend; his ability to trust his heart and follow it without question.

"I'll stay, but I don't think your folks will agree to it." He said a little attentively. He never liked the fact that Sora's parents thought he was corrupting Sora. If anything, it was the other way around.

Sora merely grinned. "To them, it's my last night near you, Riku!" he yelled almost accusingly, it would have been, if not for that smile. "God knows I'm going to spend my very last moments beside you. After all, we have never been apart for more than a few days, if not hours."

That was true. Ever since they were little children who met because they were next door neighbors, Sora had never spent too long away from Riku's side. At first, Sora's parents loved Riku and they'd always invite the poor, lonely child over because his father had left him with a useless nanny. It wasn't till Riku and Sora showed a little more intimacy to each other than was normal for best friends, that Sora's mother and father started re-thinking the closeness of the two boys. Still that started when they were 12, they were now 16 and 17 so there was nothing his parents could really do to separate them.

"Fine then. Tonight, some thing's going to pull us into the world we've always dreamed about. When we leave, Sora, I want you grab my hand and don't let go, no matter what. That way, when we land, I'll know we landed together." Riku grinned as he held out his hand, waiting for Sora to do the same.

Sora's smile softened at the words Riku spoke, and with not even a shred of regret or hesitation, he latched onto Riku's outstretched hand.

"The same stands for you too, 'Ku. Don't let go." He pulled the older boy to him in a gentle hug, not letting go of the hand he held as he wrapped his other one around Riku's neck. He felt Riku tighten the hold on the hand he held before wrapping his other one around Sora's waist. Their hands were squished between their chests, but they didn't mind it enough to stop the hug. This was one of the moments that Sora's parents had caught them in countless times. This was also the reason for Sora's move.

~Akemi Ashiuchi Loves You!~

The boys had retired to Sora's bed not long after finishing their packing, though they both had set up a rather large backpack with their more important clothes and belongings just out of eyesight from the door. Even with the anxiety they both felt, it was inevitable that they both feel asleep when under the warm covers and with arms surrounding each other. Their only luck tonight was that Sora's parents had already retired to their room much earlier than they would normally have.

Over the short time when the sun had sunken into the sea, a rain storm had come. It had started out slow and soft; just a slight drizzle for anyone out and about at the time. Now it seemed to pound on Sora's window as the two boys slept on. The only one to awaken from the noise was little Heartless who had been curled up next to Riku's head. The black kitten gave a slight yawn and stretched lazily, wondering what had awoken him. He got his answer in the form of a loud BOOM of thunder that came from just outside the window.

Heartless jumped in surprise, startled but not fearful. He had missed scratching Riku's ear by about an inch in the scare, but with morbid curiosity, the cat decided to see what he could see out the window.

With glowing yellow eyes, he peered at the sleeping faces of these…flesh bags. That was the only thing Heartless could think to call them. They weren't made of shadows and they had hearts, that he could feel, but for some reason, the urge to take these two's hearts just wasn't in Heartless. Granted, he was young for his age, but he had always been attracted to hearts that carried a strong light. Why he wasn't taking the two flesh-bags' hearts, he didn't know, but he promised himself he'd find out.

Carefully, he padded to the window sill. It was fairly easy to climb if he used the brown haired boys hip as a height boost, he could jump more effectively from there. It took only one try for him to glide to the window sill, not even flinching as lights flashed from the world outside.

He had already established while under the care of the silver haired one, that when in their presence, he could not revert to his shadowy form and faze through objects, such as this window, but that didn't stop him from trying when he felt the sudden pull to go to that island in the middle of the sea. It was clearly seen from Heartless' place on the window sill and he was aching with the need to get to it; fast.

In desperation he looked around. Everything in this room was foreign to him and he didn't see a clear way out that wasn't already closed. It was the same as being stuck in that small room with the white bowl shaped seat in the silver haired one's home (I'll give a special gift to anyone who can guess what that room is.); He had no way out.

But Heartless needed to, the darkness was calling out to him, he needed to go to it.

In a fit of panic at losing this train out of this world, Heartless' eyes flashed to the flesh-bags. That was his ticket out.

~Heartless, Nobodies, Unversed!~

Sora was having one of his dreams again.

A giant metal key held in one hand and Riku's hand in the other, this one was somewhat of a surreal dream if you asked him. Their Island was shrouded in shadows as both he and Riku ran towards it, worried about the place mainly because of the memories it carried rather than its importance to the teens now.

Rain pelted at his face and made his hair fall flat and heavy now that it was soaking wet. He was almost blinded by the shadows and water, but the firm grip on his left hand told him he wasn't alone, even if he could not see the other person.

It was when a light blue flash illuminated the sky above him did he intend to question his surroundings. The sky wasn't there. In fact, nothing was. It was just the blackness and the hand holding his; at this point, even the key was gone.

A pounding on his chest made him gasp. That hadn't been his heart and it most likely wasn't normal.

The pounding came again, sharper this time, somewhat like scratches drove at his chest.

Where was Riku, why could he feel the firmly griping hand but not the calm reassuring presence? It made no since, he could always tell when Riku was near him, that was something he prided himself on. No this wasn't happening, Riku had to be here somewhere and why won't that pounding stop, it was starting to hurt now.

"Sora, Sora wake up."

Now that had defiantly been Riku's voice, and it came from beside him. The hand he was holding tightened and a sudden pressure pushed down on his lips.

"Open your eyes, Sor. Wake up."

What was Riku talking about, open his eyes?

The pressure on his lips slid to his cheek, then his eye lids which he had to close. When he opened them again, it wasn't the darkness he saw, it was Riku's aqua green orbs.

"Riku…" He muttered out, voice a little rough because he hadn't used it while asleep. The teen in question smiled kindly and bent down again to land a small kiss on Sora's forehead. So the pressures he'd felt before were Riku's lips kissing him. Well if that was the case why'd Riku stop?

Sora snaked a hand up Riku's arm, over his shoulder and slipped it into his hair. Holding the back of Riku's head, he pulled the older teen forward. He was met with no resistance as their lips connected. They'd only ever done this a few times in the past; some had been purely accidental or used to awaken the other like Riku had just done to Sora. They had learned earlier on that when they were stuck in the dream world, they needed a physical connection to someone that holds their heart in reality. A kiss was the first thing Sora had tried, and since then it was all they did.

Those kisses however, were for no other reason than to merely wake the other up. This was egged on by a feeling in Sora's stomach and he just had to follow what his heart was telling him to do. He knew he loved Riku, even to a level of physical intimacy, but never had he felt this kind of need to touch or in this case, kiss Riku.

The kiss remained innocent until Riku seemed to get frustrated by it. He pulled back only to come in again, harder, kissing repeatedly until Sora seemed to understand what Riku really wanted. Never before had either boy kissed anyone else, but now, as Sora's mouth opened slightly to allow Riku's tongue entrance, they didn't think they'd ever kiss anyone else again.

This was a new feeling; having Riku's tongue in his mouth. As odd as the idea was, it was not unpleasant in the least. In fact, when he began moving his own tongue against Riku's, he didn't think he'd ever want to stop. There was just something about it being Riku that he was doing this with that seemed to make it almost unbearable to hold all the feeling in his heart.

But this had to stop, there had been a reason Riku had awoken Sora, and despite not wanting to end their first real kiss, Riku knew Sora'd never forgive him if he made the boy miss this.

He pulled back again, staying away this time and looking at the window instead of Sora's face pushing himself away from the temptation to stop holding back. If he looked at that face, he'd see those lips, and if he saw those lips, he didn't know how strong he'd be against them.

"Sora," He said in a voice that doesn't seem to be his own. It was low, husky and coated in shadows. He felt the shiver that Sora released through the hand that he'd yet to let go of.

Even with the feelings in him, Riku chose to ignore all this….for now. "Sora, you have to look outside, I think its time."

The brunette seemed to snap into action as he rounded to the window, gasping instantly. He rose from the bed and felt sharpness stab at his chest. Ignoring most of the pain he looked down to see what it was. Heartless looked up with yellow eyes that seemed wider than was wise for the kitten. Sora chose to ignore that for now, and scooped the poor feline up with one arm, cradling Heartless as he crawled up beside Riku who was kneeling on the bed by the window. The hand he'd been holding was finally let go.

What he saw when he looked out into the night was not what he had expected at all.

A thunderstorm raged, but most of all a shadow, looming and sick-looking, hovered over their Island.

"Riku That's…" Sora gasped, not wanting to finish the sentence. It looked just like his dream.

"The Door to the Corridor of Darkness." Riku finished instead, knowing the boy wouldn't. This was something that was always present in Riku's dreams. Darkness. This was his territory, not Sora's; never Sora's. But if it was to be their only way out, he'd gladly lead Sora through it.

Sora was staring in wonder at the shadows, startled to finally see something from his dreams looking so real just outside his window. He didn't notice Riku leave the bed nor rummage through his room for their backpacks. He was entranced by the darkness. Riku had talked to him before about it, saying that the darkness would not hurt him nor would he let it hurt Sora. He had said that he was meant to control it, he said that in his dreams, he worked with the darkness in his heart, and fought against heartless with it. After that talk with Riku, he'd never been afraid of the darkness anymore.

"Come on Sora. I'm not sure for how much longer it'll be open. If we want to go to the outside world together; then this is our only chance." Riku had Sora's bag over his left shoulder and his own over his right, a hand extended toward Sora, palm up, waiting to be accepted.

Sora's heart gave a twirl at the look in those aqua green eyes. Excitement and joy seemed to radiate from those eyes as he knew they were radiating from his own. With no second thought, he gave Riku his left hand, holding onto Heartless with his right, though the cat would not stop withering and wiggling to get free or Sora's hold.

"Don't let go." Sora whispered when their hands touched, fingers intertwining as if it were almost as natural as breathing.

"Never." Riku breathed back, unhooking the latch on the window.

The wind pushed the glass open, curtains and rain flying at the boys and tinny cat. Without a second thought to the things they were leaving, the people they'd probably never see again, or the trouble they'd most likely get into when they'd left; the two boys jumped out of Sora's window, landing hard on a puddle just under it. They gave the water and wind no mind as they began running, hand-in-hand to their island. The only one who seemed worried about the weather was the small kitten Sora still held tightly to his chest.

"No matter what, you can't let go of me Sora. The darkness will drag us down and we'll arrive at another world. We may not know the world or the people Sora, but we'll have each other. There is no turning back." Riku shouted over the rain. He was sure he wanted to do this, he just wanted to make sure Sora was too.

"I know. This is the last time we set foot in Destiny Island. We won't be coming back, I know." Sora yelled back, squeezing Riku's hand. "I know."

Rowing the boat became a challenge, but together, the two boys were able to land safely on the shores of their island. They weren't to remain safe for long though.

Throughout the shores of their play island, dark creatures were scattered around, slithering into the ground and wobbling in the wind. The heartless were everywhere.

"Riku!" Sora called watching the heartless pile together. He recognizes them; they were one of the first ones he and Riku had named, the first they had dreamed about.

"I know Sora. Shadows." Riku cried back, running into the chaos. Due to the hold he had on Sora's hand, the brunette was dragged with him. The heartless seemed to ignore the both of them for the most part, even Heartless seemed to have stilled as they passed by countless Shadows headed straight to the shack that led to the bridge that connected this island to the tinny Paopu island off the shore. It was the only way into that Paopu island without going into the water.

It didn't take long before they were standing in the middle of the Paopu island holding each other's hand, never daring to let go. Shadows surrounded them but kept their distance, as if noticing that Riku was a possessor of darkness, but not quite smart enough to know for sure. What came next scared the two teens greatly.

At the edge of the little island that harbored the only tree that grew Paopu fruits, stood a giant Darkside; the second heartless Sora and Riku had encountered in their dreams.

"Riku, we need to call out the Keyblades." Sora yelled desperately as he stared at the massive Darkside that was thrashing their play island.

"Remember what we felt Sora, draw it from our hearts. Don't be afraid of the dark." Riku let go of Sora's hand quickly, dropping both his and Sora's bags to the black ground before taking his fighting pose, no weapon in hand yet.

Sora hesitated as Riku's hand left his, but he was prepared for this. Switching his hold on Heartless, he held his right hand out, drowning in the light and power of his own heart. It shocked him when he felt the light materialize into the metal key he now held in his hand. The Kingdom Key, something he'd also named, was now in his possession. His dreams were not all fantasies, everything had been real. Elation coursed through him..

"I did it Riku!" He called, even though he knew that his best friend already probably saw the flash of white like that came with the summoning of his keyblade. Sora didn't dare speak anymore as the Shadows finally seemed to charge at them. He kept an eye on Riku as he fought, but soon lost sight of him as he dodged and rolled out of the range of some attaching heartless. He fought with one hand, but didn't even mind as he held onto the kitten given to him by Riku.

The ground seemed to be sinking, the Darkside finally joining the battle and dismissing the weaker heartless from the field. Sora didn't notice this though; he was busy looking for Riku. Heartless did though.

The kitten sneered at the Darkside, struggling again in the brunette's hold. When it finally seemed that the flesh-bag lost his grip, Heartless fell to the ground, only to grow into a rather large black cat. Finally he could be in his true form, and he was not happy at this scene. He was supposed to be the only heartless leaving this world, and he was not about to let anyone, much less a lowly Darkside take his place.

Sora stared for a moment as his little kitten became a giant panther, probably as big as a full grown male mammoth. He couldn't breathe as he watched Heartless pounce onto the Darkside's back, biting it's right shoulder and not letting go. From his point of view, the Darkside stood no chance.

"Sora!"

A flash of silver startled Sora out of his staring and he turned, only to see Riku slashing at the onslaught of Shadows coming toward Sora with the Soul Eater they had named from the dreams. It looks like Riku too was able to summon his keyblade.. He'd been caught up watching his used-to-be-small kitten going at it with the Darkside.

"Pay attention Sora!" Riku scolded, though he too was taking glances at the battle of Darkside vs. Heartless happening just behind him.

The yell seemed to kick Sora into action, giving him the chance to slash at a Shadow that jumped at him from the crowd. Back to back with Riku, Sora slashed and cut down the number of heartless coming their way, only to see more forming from the darkness that surrounded their island. It was a never ending army that now seemed to be only focused on them.

"Sora! Grab my hand!" Riku turned and held out a hand to the brunette, paying no mind to the Shadows coming up behind him. This had to be the first time Sora had ever hesitated to take Riku's hand, but when he looked at the aqua green eyes staring determined and reassuringly at his own, he stopped fighting and grabbed on.

They were piled on by Shadows, stepped on and pinned under the creatures made of pure darkness. It was a struggle to hold on, but they both kept their grips tight.

"Don't let go, Sora! We'll be together!" Riku's voice sounded muffled but sure, it made Sora's heart lighted in the shadows of darkness. Riku would never let him go. As long as they stayed together, they were safe. They would be safe.

It didn't take long for the darkness under them to start drawing them down, trying with some successes to drown them. It was pulling them in but they didn't struggle. A struggled would lead to breaking the link of hands they had, they could not take that chance. And even as Sora felt suffocated and desperate, hyperventilated almost, a squeeze of that hand told him he'd come through okay. They come through it together.

The last thing Sora saw before the darkness consumed him, was Heartless taking down the Darkside, and melting back into the small kitten that had been given to him just today. After that the darkness swallowed him.

~!~

Sora wanted nothing more than to remain in the darkness. The grip on his left hand filled him with comfort and a sense of safety that made him comfortable in the darkness that surrounded him. He didn't want to move, nor did he want to open his eyes. He was afraid that if he did anything at all, this feeling would leave him. He'd just be left all alone, wondering the darkness.

It was unfortunate that whatever was griping his hand wasn't giving him an option. No matter how much he tried to tighten his hold on whatever it was he was holding it was just pried from his grasp, taking away the safety with it. He shivered now, suddenly cold with the lack of connection or stable ground. This was not what he wanted to happen, where was he anyways? He felt empty and the darkness was starting to look threatening and suffocating. Sora couldn't stand it, he was breathing heavily now, forcing himself to keep breathing the dense air of shadows.

The darkness squeezed at him and everything felt tilted, he tried to move but was bound, he was starting to panic now.

"Sor…" A muffled sound echoed in the darkness, driving him to look around wildly for the location of the voice. Sora knew that voice. "Raaa…So…Sor….Sora!"

Warmth took the place of the darkness surrounding him, what felt like arms were wrapped around him, and something soft was rubbing itself on his right hand.

"Sora, wake up, we did it, we're not in Destiny Island anymore!"

Riku. That was Riku's voice. But what was he saying, not in Destiny Island anymore? When had they left? Why did Riku sound frantic and panicked, was Riku okay?

"Ri…ku." Sora tried to use his voice but it was rough, dry almost. How long had he been in the darkness.

"Come on Sora, that's it. Open your eyes, just like before."

Soft, petal like lips touched his cheeks, one at a time, before moving to his eyes and lastly his lips. He didn't want to open his eyes yet, he just wanted to push back into that pressure at his lips, but he couldn't move. He's lips only moved slightly at the effort he used to try and get closer to that pressure, but that only made the lips against his own pull away.

"Come on Sora, the darkness didn't take anything from you. You're all here, with me, just open you're eyes."

And he did. Slowly, his vision was brightened as his eyes blinked themselves over. He heard the sigh of relief before Riku pulled him into a hug again.