A boy, wearing clothes obviously threadbare and baggy, started climbing a ladder. The spindly thing ran up the side of a set of apartments in the warmly colored, neon strewn town, it worn state suggesting many had used it before.

The boy couldn't have been older than fifteen, with his caramel spikes hanging in front of his tired blue eyes. At first glance he looked like an ordinary teen, but closer inspection revealed an age and weight to him that signified he had grown up long before a proper time.

His jacket was black, long sleeved and too light for the weather, with white on the edges, with an equally black shirt underneath. Except for the stylized emblem, a heart that looked to be covered in thorns or barbed wire, that was a serene white against the darkness. His jeans were dark blue, and held against his thin frame by a well used belt. The shoes he wore looked almost clown like, with the way they ballooned out at the end and the vibrant shade of yellow that dominated about half of them.

The young man then pulled himself onto a narrow pathway and began walking, letting out frosty puffs of breath in an effort to keep his hands warm. The fingerless gloves he wore did little to keep out the cold. After walking to the very end of the precarious walkway, he pulled up to a shabby door and attempted to open it.

He cursed, finding it was locked and his roommate hadn't come home yet. Continuing to mutter, he reached behind a set of garbage bins and pulled out a threadbare blanket used for these situations, wrapped it around himself, and sank against the graffiti covered wall.

"Riku of all the days...! Ugh! I hate winter..." He grumbled, trying to keep himself warm in the chill. He especially payed attention to his hands:

Get frostbite, lose use of his hands. Lose that, and lose half, or more, of the income he and his friend gathered. He forced his train of thought to stop there. Becoming homeless was not an option he wanted to relive.

"Stupid winter and its dumb coldness..." He said as he continued to rubs his hands and curse himself and his partner for their lives. It didnt help that today wasn't a good day in his memory, and it never went well.

Deciding there was no use fighting the cold, he closed his eyes, focusing on memories of his younger days... When things were rosy, filled with sunshine and friends. He felt nostalgic, wistful, longing for the islands he had called home for his first four years of life. Imaginary laughter started ringing in his ears, he could almost feel the sunshine, smell the salty air... But the dream slowly descended into a nightmare, his beloved home starting to fall apart. He started shivering violently, reliving everything he loved being torn away from him-

"Is it really that cold out here?" A quiet, thoughtful voice innterrupted him. The boy opened his eyes to see his companion standing over him. His friend was a year older than him, but he could've appeared even more aged: his hair was stark white. His skin was paler, and his eyes were teal rather than blue. His clothes were the same: black jacket and jeans, but they were a better fit, and the jacket's collar huddled around his neck. The boy noticed his friend shivering as the taller teen said "It's really not that cold..."

"Who said it was cold, Riku?" The boy stood as his roommate unlocked the door. It wasn't much warmer inside, but at least it was warm-er. Riku laughed darkly "Oh, so it's not the cold you were thinking of, Sora?" Sora only brushed past him, not saying anything. He instantly flopped onto a broken couch they moved from the dump, burying his face in a homemade pillow and refusing to move.

Riku walked after him, closing and locking the door behind him without a word. He then mode into the small kitchenette they had and began scraping together a suitable meal.

Silence passed for serveral moments before Riku said "You know you're gonna need to eat at some point."

A muffled, angry response came "I don't care."

"Hmm, I actually bothered to make something nice." Riku continued goading Sora into eating.

"I'm just gonna sit here and starve myself to death."

"That's a pretty slow one, ya know."

"Better than those damn Heartless." Riku thought about this response for a moment, then said

"Funny, I figured you'd want to go down in battle."

Sora sounded less angry and more... Sad. "I'm fine with anything as long as it not the Heartless."

"Why? At least with Heartless you have the mercy of it being quick." Riku started portioning out tonight's meal: some Raman and chicken, nothing fancy.

Sora's voice getting louder signaled that he had finally given up stuffing his face into a pillow "How the hell is it quick?!"

Riku winced slightly, then responded "It's faster than starving."

"Oh, have you forgotten what makes a Heartless kill you?" The sadness in Sora's voice waned again, being replaced with bitter sarcasm "Gee, maybe it's the fact that they rip out your heart, eat it, and turn you into a Heartless as well."

"..."

"Exactly Riku! Even if it's quick at first, you'd still have years where you wandered as a despicable creature that no one loved or respected, with your only source of food trying to kill you every moment, and no shelter whatsoever. The only way you'd trulydie would be if a Keyblade weilder like you or me came along and ended your suffering!"

Several more tense moments passed. Sora then said "I'm gonna go to our room-"

"Not before having dinner you aren't." Riku grabbed Sora's hand and practically dragged him to the table. Sora resisted, but moments later he was picking at his meal glumly. Riku noted that his friend's mood wasn't improving, and said "Well I have some good news,"

"Not interested..." Sora sighed.

"Cid's place got broken into-"

Sora paused, then snapped "How the hell is that good?!"

"It was a Heartless-"

"Even worse!"

"It's been happening more and more often, so he hired me to take care of the problem."

Sora once again stopped. "Wait... Like, every day, take care?" He asked with a numb sense of hope. Riku nodded enthusiastically.

"...A steady job...?"

Another nod.

"Oh my God I'm gonna hug Cid next time I see him." Sora said, a ghost of a smile lingering of his face. Riku, having already finished, went to the freezer "I guess since you're gonna starve yourself, I'll just have to eat all this celebratory ice cream by myself!"

Sora's jaw dropped when Riku pulled out two Sea-Salt ice creams. "No way!" He gasped. Then he tried to grasp the special treat, squirming around Riku in an attempt to reach his prize "Just gimme it already!"

"Not until you finish up."

Sora sat back down and began eating as fast as he could. Which began slowly, as the meal had already cooled, tasting not quite as good as it could have been. "Eurgh, forgot how nasty this tastes when you let it sit."

"Well that's your fault." Riku smiled, knowing Sora was becoming more amicable, more like his old self-

There was a knock at the door. Riku was about to go answer it when Sora pushed himself away from the table, opened the door, and said irritably "What do you... Want?"

The two travelers that met his gaze were quite unexpected. An anthropomorphic dog and duck, to be precise. The duck was short, looking just about as grumpy as Sora usually was, while the dog had one hand in the air, obviously being the one who knocked, and looking rather gentlemanly.

"Oh, um, me and my friend Donald were just wondering if we could stay here for the night. Are your parents okay with that-?"

Riku winced as Sora yelled "What, do you think I can't-mph!" Riku had quickly walked over and placed his hand over Sora's mouth "Of course you two can."

They smiled as Riku ushered them inside. Sora, meanwhile, threw dagger glares at him. Riku payed no mind and said a cheerily as he could "It's not much, but it's shelter enough to live in."

"Thanks... Uh, what's yer name?" The dog said, realizing he hadn't asked for it.

"I'm Riku, and my partner here is Sora."

The duck finally spoke, raspy and just barely legible enough to understand "I'm Donald and he's Goofy. Are your parents around or are you two living on your own?"

Sora violently twitched, then said in a flat, furious voice "They're DEAD."

Both Donald and Goofy blinked, then said "Oh..." quietly. Riku noted Sora's behavior taking another dip, and he said "Sora, you can leave if you want."

Sora instantly left, a slam later signaling that he had retired to his room.

"Gwarsh, we didn't mean to bring anything up." Goofy said, apologetic.

"He could at least hold his temper." Donald added a little too callously.

Riku shrugged "It's the 11th anniversary. He's normally grumpy and bitter, but it usually escalates a little today." Riku frowned, looking tired "He really used to be a sweet kid. Always smiling, always happy, always laughing and curious..."

Riku trailed off in a sigh, realizing just how far Sora had fallen.

"If ya don't mind me askin'," Goofy began reluctantly "what exactly happened?" Donald elbowed him soon after, but Riku shook his head "It's alright. We haven't been able to really get it off our chests because there's been no one to talk to except ourselves."

He took a deep breath "So, the whole mess began 11 years ago..."


Okay, I know the response I'm gonna get:

"Why aren't you working on other stuff?!"
"Aren't you getting tired of this kind of thing?!"
"(Random mix of complaints and praise here)"

I just got the thought if Ven and Vanitas forged the X-Blade at the Destiny Islands rather than the Keyblade Graveyard, that place would get destroyed early, and Sora and Riku would get tossed into the whole "Multiple worlds" mess WAY before their time. Made Sora a grumpy cynic, because I think it'd be interesting to imagine his character in this light, and focus on ways to bring it back to how he is normally portrayed as.

Title is a shout out to my friend here on FF who absolutely loves that Movie/Show/I forget which.