A/N: For several weeks, I wasn't going to write this... and then I did. I wasn't going to upload it... but then I did. Please accept my deepest apologies, especially you guys waiting for new chapters of my other fics. I don't deserve you or your beautiful reviews. Nevertheless... this happened. Swan Queen to be introduced in later chapters. (I know I keep saying this all the time. I'm honestly so sorry. lol)
It's just that the idea's been on my mind ever since I started playing the Kingdom Hearts series some months ago. Combining the two would make the unholy mother of crossovers and I am going to reject your reality until Square Enix and ABC fall hopelessly in love and make this baby. In the meantime...
Chapter 1: Destiny Islands
So much to do, so little time.
Huh? Who said that?
Take your time. Don't be afraid.
I've never experienced anything like this before. I hear the voice in my head, loud and clear, but no matter what direction I look, there's nothing that could possibly produce it. No direction. No distortion. No light. Just an echo in the bottomless darkness I've succumbed to.
The door is still shut.
What door? There is no door. I'm falling in the middle of nothing and that's not a good time to be twisting my mind with riddles, Voice. There is no door. There is no nothing as far as the eye can see. Or have I just not opened my eyes yet? It's the moment in pitch black night when you honestly can't tell whether you're blind or just sleeping. I try, but nothing changes.
You will face many challenges. You will forget and keep on forgetting until you've forgotten who you are.
Well, that's a cheerful promise, Voice. I feel a hell of a lot better now, thanks.
In your deepest memories, as little of an apology as it is, know that I did not mean to do this to you.
I hope the kid forgives me.
Your path is set. Now, Emma, it's time to wake up. And remember; the closer you get to the light, the greater your shadow becomes. But don't be afraid. You hold the mightiest weapon of all.
In this castle, to find is to lose, and to lose is to find.
Seashells. That's what it reminds me of. When you hold a seashell close to your ear, this is the sound it makes, the rustle of waves somewhere far, far away.
Where did I learn that?
Just lying here feels good enough. I could stay like this. The surface of whatever it is I'm lying on is rough and it nibbles into the skin on my cheek, which is the only thing keeping me grounded. I don't mind. It's something to hold onto, at least.
Because as much as I'd hate to admit it, I'm empty.
"Uh, Miss? Miss?"
At first I ignore it, but the second time something pokes my arm. "What?" I mumble, annoyed, wanting nothing more than to go back to sleep, and roll onto my side. A hand settles on the spot it once poked.
"Are you okay?"
I could at least greet this new voice. Not that I've ever been very good with manners, but it doesn't seem to mean me any harm and the faster I reply, the faster it'll go away and leave me to my sleep.
"I'm fine, kid." I didn't mean to say 'kid'. With a frown I brush it off as some sort of reflex. Besides, the voice does sound childish, so if they get offended, I can't be blamed. Much. Lazily I open one eye to indeed find a boy looking down at me with worry, gloved hands on his knees. The light is sharp and strong and it hurts, as if I just learned how to see for the first time, so I come to the conclusion I don't need to know every detail of this boy's face and give in to the blackness again. "Go away."
"Are you lost? Hey, maybe I can help!"
Nope, this kid cannot take a hint. Or more like a blatant smack across the face. This will require a more hands-on approach. Sighing, I sit up quickly enough to startle him. "Look, kid, I'm not lost. I don't need your help. Don't you have school or something? Scram, will you?"
It wasn't seashells, I note in surprise. We are at an actual beach, with seawater and fish and sand and all. The sun is shining, but something seems to be off about it, like I'm looking at it through a veil of shadow. I can't see it, but I know I'm in it. Maybe it's the lack of warmth on my face.
The boy has brown hair that is so spiky, sticking out in all directions, that I can't help but wonder how in the world it stays like that without some serious L'Oréal care. He's wearing something I can only describe as a shirt with a hood and a zipper in the front (what exactly is the purpose of that, I wonder), shorts that are way too big to be his size and... a sword? Isn't this kid a little young to be carrying weapons around?
He puts his hands on the back of his head and pouts. "Sheesh, you don't have to be so mean. You can't blame a guy for checking. From over there I couldn't be sure whether you were flat out dead or just taking a nap," he explains, pointing to a smaller island connected to ours by a wooden bridge. There are palm trees over there, but none down here.
The boy abuses the opportunity and while I'm taking half a second to glance over there, he falls rather than sits butt first next to me and gives me the most sickeningly sweet smile ever. "My name's Sora. And you are?"
Sigh. "Swan. Emma Swan," I mutter, pressing my palms to my eyes. Lord, the sun is bright.
"Good, we're finally getting somewhere!" he chirps. "So, were you looking for something, or why do you have a keyblade?"
"A what now?"
"A keyblade. That thing you were holding, over there. I assumed it was yours," he frowns. Apparently he's as confused as I am, but that's nothing in comparison to what my eyebrows do when I look over my shoulder and see an actual giant, black key. The handle is in the shape of an apple. It's simple, but I think I've seen a smaller version of it before. Yes, in a town. Somebody had a whole lot of these... skeleton keys for some reason. Ugh, my head hurts when I try to think about it. So that's it? A skeleton keyblade? Why would I have one? Why does he have one? Why is his different? I doubt there is one door large enough for this, let alone two.
Sora seems to sense the tension inside me. Pretty observant for a little goober. "You don't know? So you are lost."
I was just fine before you woke me up. Sigh. "I must be, then. I don't know."
"Hmm," he hums and ponders for a moment, standing up. "Well, if you're lost, you must be looking for yourself. I could help you look, if you want," he suggests and extends his hand to me.
It's strange, having this boy around. It doesn't seem like he should belong around me. No, it doesn't seem like I should belong around him, that's more like it. I'm cold and tired and I want to go to sleep and the kid will not leave me be. "What if I don't want to look?"
"Oh, I think you do. Someone once told me that what I'm looking for is somewhere in this castle. I think they did. The closer I get, the more I forget, that's how I know I'm moving forward. Anyway, if you're this lost, you must be pretty close!"
Oh, if only it were that simple, kid. Could he be right, though? Maybe I am more than a shell. Maybe I've only forgotten that I forgot. It would make slightly more sense than this pitiful existence. He's grinning from ear to ear again and I know it's no use reasoning with this boy and his infuriating but strangely appealing way of always looking at the bright side of things. I can't help but smile, and he grins some more at that.
"There! I knew you could lighten up!"
Castle, though? This kid's first impressions are endearing, I'll give him that, but he's either a seer or he's completely nuts. On the other hand, I did wake up on a beach with a key-shaped sword and nothing to stand up for...
I decide I can tolerate this kid.
"What are you looking for?" I ask, finally taking the hand he so patiently left reaching out to me.
It's the first time I see the corners of his lips turn downward, and immediately I feel ashamed of asking. "A friend of mine," he says, twirling the chain on the key in his hand.
Do I have friends? I don't think so. I presume I act as standoffish with him as I would with anyone else. Who would be friends with that?
But I exist, therefore I must have been born, therefore I must have a family. It is only logical. I must have a mother and father. I could look for them, right? I don't know whether they miss me, but if they're real, they might. It's worth a shot. "Me too, kind of, I guess."
"Hey, I know." He fumbles about in his pockets for something and finally pulls out several crown-shaped cards. "Cards open doors to other worlds. I've already been through these, but we can go back and look for your friends together."
I raise an eyebrow at him. "Cards? Other worlds? Kid, have you been drinking? You're too young for that."
"I have a name, you know! It's Sora," he grumbles and forces the cards into my hand.
Rolling my eyes, I examine the rectangular pieces of paper. One has a canine pawprint etched into it. Another shows a green cricket with an umbrella. An apple red as blood... "Fine, Soar-uh, whatever. Lead the way," I say, taking the first step forward in a heroic march to... where exactly?
"Sora," he corrects.
"Sora," I shrug. You know what they say; never mispronounce the name of the hand that gives you free tickets to Disneyworld.
"The door is right over there. That will take us back to the entrance chamber, and from there you can choose where to go," he explains and runs off the coast to an oasis in the shadow nearby.
I follow him only reluctantly; though I should be happy for some protection from the glaring sunshine, it only gets even colder under the canopy. "You do realize I don't believe anything you say, don't you?" I clarify, unaware of the extent of the boy's understanding of sarcasm.
He doesn't turn to look at me and instead starts to crawl through a thin corridor in the rock into a cave I would have missed completely if it weren't for him. He must know this place exceptionally well, I think. Perhaps this is where he lost his friend. Or he's just spent an unhealthy amount of time looking for them here. The slick wet walls of the rock don't look like a particularly inviting prospect to me, but then again it's not like I have much of a choice. This kid will bring me to my end yet.
"Don't worry, I wouldn't believe myself either," he laughs as he proceeds through into an enclave with me close behind. Nothing too interesting here. A drawing of a spiky-haired boy and a girl on the wall, some mushrooms, stones and... a door. A wooden door traced with gold, with no handle. "Here we are." He brushes dirt and spider webs off his ridiculously large shorts and gives me a look of pure impatience when he exclaims, "Where's your keyblade?"
"Oh, that thing? I left it at the beach." Do I look like I want to carry around a giant key for no reason?
He blinks once, twice, and then bursts into uncontrollable laughter.
"What's so funny?"
"That's not how it works, dummy. This is the door. Keys open doors, get it?"
Actually, I don't.
"Mine's gone, too, haven't you noticed?"
Actually, I haven't. But he's right; the silver key with a golden-blue handle is nowhere to be found, and I'm pretty sure it was at least half his size. I must still be dreaming.
"You don't have to keep holding onto it. Just think of it and it will appear. Watch."
Yeah, right. I wish everything worked that way. Need some money? No problem, just think of it. Food, love, self-realization in life? Just think of it! Memories? Ooh, we've hit a vicious cycle. Sora is crazy.
...Or I thought he was up until the part where the same giant key materializes out of thin air in his hand.
Okay. That's it. I'm a lunatic. I'm insane and someone's probably overdosing my body on sedatives somewhere as we speak.
Sora insists we won't be able to move on unless I do it too, so I figure it'll be easier to show him I can't do any of that black voodoo magic. I'm thinking of the key. Half my size, coal black, metallic sheen, an apple in a circle. Speaking of which, I'd go for some apple pie just about now. I don't remember what it tastes like but I think I like it. "See? Nothi-" A ray of light interrupts me mid-word as an apple-shaped hilt fills my palm, starting from a tiny speck of dust in the air, then more until it looks and buzzes like a swarm of black bees, and then the solid cold surface of a skeleton keyblade, all in the matter of seconds. Both of our 'keys' then point towards the door on their own accord. It terrifies me, like, you know, most inanimate objects moving by themselves would. Whatever world this is, this is just not right. Sora is smiling, though, and for some reason, that calms me down a bit. He must have done this before. And if I die because of some keyblade-backlash, it's not like I have anything to lose. At least I'll finally go back to sleep. I'll dream of falling, falling down the pitch black abyss forever, with no trace of light. And I'll be content, as content as a shell can be.
The light blinds me.
This world has been connected.
The floor is white. So are the walls and the ceiling and the stairs in front of me. There are two doors - one before me, one behind - a giant key in my hand and several crown-shaped cards in my pocket.
Silence is the best answer he could give. It's not like I expected him to stick around.
Had I known, I never would have walked through that god-forsaken door.