It started with a mistake, like a number of sci-fi stories. Though this one was magic, not science. Time magic has always been harder to define than other forms. It was straightforward in what it does, but also not so, depending on the nature. When it is used to travel to certain times like the future and past, their are many ways that using it can go wrong. Time travel is considered the most chaotic form of magic.
Riku hadn't studied this particular strain, especially since his main concern for a whole year was his comatose best friend. There hadn't been the need nor time to do so. Sure, he was aware of spells like Stop, but the few times he looked over the small potentials for more immediate problems... they just so happened to bite him in the butt.
Considering the "Xehanort Organization of vessels and Time Mages" problem, it may have been helpful to learn some theory.
Not that this was the place to start.
Younger Xehanort was an absolute pain with his time magic ALONE. Fighting Xemnas managed to be easier than this, and that was two on one battles, one after another. Light and dark, he had a better time holding his own with Ansem. Who'd have a creeper party last year until a great number of things made him mostly shut up.
Despite his high inclination toward magic to compliment his physical, Riku found himself often backing up between every other blow. JUST to avoid being hacked to bits. He couldn't get the golden eyes to flinch, couldn't interrupt a blow, not even dodging helped much.
So Riku kept his distance, firing off long rang magic or doing hit and runs. Was it a poor strategy? Yes, but he couldn't help Sora if this guy felled him. The quick swipes from the teleporting blade kept him more on his toes and in the air rather than standing his ground.
Another shot then a flash.
A blue clock appeared in the middle of the battlefield. The Dream Eater teen charged at it, knowing that "if it glows, attack the thing or suffer the consequences."
But Xehanort made a miscalculation. One of Riku's Dream Eaters got mixed in with the clock's formation, corrupting the magic. It set off when Riku called forth a fusion thus connecting the clock's darkness to his light.
Time magic was heavy on the darkness side of magic but extra light makes it distort. So most light heavy mages mainly do stop spells and not much more. When it comes to time travelers and an extra passenger connecting it with light, rather than normal time magic antics... the result cannot be controlled.
Riku knew that the battle wasn't simply drawing to a close when everything went swirly. Lines blurred and colors mixed. The only two solid beings here was him and a very startled Xehanort.
"You've made a mistake."
Black and white all bled.
Sliding past forgotten red.
Time shall rend.
X brings an end.
A silver headed boy was relaxing on the paopu tree when he started getting a headache. -Sora yelling at him, a bat wing blade raised, a blonde girl, Kairi limp on the floor, comatose friend again- The fifteen year old fell off the slanted tree with a scream. Barely staying on his feet before splashing off into the ocean. A quick flip maneuver sent him back to the surface where he coughed up seawater. Wet, confused, and maybe sporting a concussion, the teen quickly saw that he was back at the Play Island.
Putting off the question, he swam to shore to get himself out of a vulnerable position. He took note of a way too familiar red figure on the beach and instead focused on an important assessment.
Was this still the Dream World?
Trying very hard to keep calm despite the "what the hell" shift, was a hard job however. Riku focused on making a heated wind to dry himself.
Judge. Move along.
At least getting his hair to stop dripping over his eyes, he walked over to the sleeping form. Red onesie, yellow shoes, a certain lack of cheek bones. No, not Dream World. Sora hadn't looked like this since the beginning of the test, there is no reason for this. He's no longer having a dream within a dream, sure. But why would their clothes shift back?
Tugging at his own hair showed it to be too long. And it HAD been shorter from the start. It couldn't have grown so quickly, he wasn't a plant. Er... he would think not.
Despite his want to be reassured that Sora was fine, something was obviously off. The battle from a few minutes ago hadn't reached an ending, Xehanort wouldn't have given him up so easily.
Riku felt like he was being baited and he hated it.
Would Sora know anything? Maybe something happened and the time magic just... knocked Riku out?
A startled gasp and he whirled around. Kairi...?! What-
"So Sora went napping again. He hasn't even finished his part and yet here he is. That's it I'm getting a crab. Want to help me find one?"
"Ah..?" What's going on? Kairi wasn't part of the exam. We aren't even... what? This wasn't a Sleeping World. Something is very wrong here.
"Riku? Are you okay? You're spacing out."
Castle Oblivion, Naminè, time magic, waking up here, not Dream World, dream within a dream...
"Sorry, I need to think."
"Still wanting to stare off into the horizon? Alright, but if Sora asks for a spar without finishing his part, I'm coming after him."
Riku didn't respond to that. Instead walking off toward the other side of the island. He didn't rant often, normally keeping his thoughts to himself, but not today. Those were not his friends on the beach, the details didn't add up to what should be. It wasn't Castle Oblivion either, since the odd rooms were very absent. Naminè couldn't be at play, so that left the time twisted fight.
"He said I made a mistake, unless he was talking out loud about what he did." The boy twisted his hair.
Not the Dream World... so where am I? Sleeping Sora, chosen vessel, dreams and time...
"When I pulled forth the power of the Dream Eaters, that's when everything went wrong." His focus was on staying alive, Riku didn't actually command the creatures. At least, not the same way the Heartless would be. Rather, they tended to be like loyal pets, he was sure that's how Sora would think of them too... while cuddling and trying to fatten them on the cookies.
The image brought a small smile but quickly left when he brought back the issue at hand.
"What was Kairi talking about though? It wouldn't have been possible to see her here." A strand of hair slipped off. He glanced at it and flicked it away. Watch and observe, figure it out.
Steeling what little nerves he had left, Riku made his way back. Everything's fine until it goes wrong, just wait and listen.
Everything was not fine. Sora wasn't a psychologist, but he could analyze his friends from just knowing them for so long. The verdict for today was... Something is off with Riku. Because, normally, he'd love to compete with anyone.
Especially him, it was they loved doing since they were kids. Now, he didn't want to race, he'd have to ask him for spars only (after he delivered the stuff to Kairi, of course), Riku was quiet (more than usual) and didn't partake in much of anything today.
He considered his friends feelings. Maybe it was an off day, just needed time alone to recharge social batteries, had a bad night, a thought was just bugging him, etc. Yet none of those explanations did anything to put the troubling thoughts to rest. Riku just stayed on the tree of "brooding and dramatic sunsets." (Maybe doesn't he actually brood but sits and thinks).
Sora would try to ask what was up with him, if the suddenly aloof teenager didn't try to dodge conversation like bullets. Kairi even noticed but had not much to say. "He was fine this morning Sora. If something is on his mind, then Riku will tell. If not, then it might be personal." She then awkwardly brought up the reminder that they were teenagers and... They quickly dropped that line of conversation.
Was Riku having second thoughts about leaving on the raft?
Sora then took to paying attention to expressions after giving up words. Yes, Riku had composure, but hiding emotions? Sora had ease compared to the older boy. Before spars, he would seem unsettled. Give a comment of advice if Sora lost (compared to his usual remarks? What) and wait until he walked away to hop back on the tree.
The fourteen year old decided to send in Kairi while he rethought his strategy.
"You've been thinking a lot lately, haven't you." A surprised look met her gaze. Quickly smoothed over but it was still there. Pained undertone took over as he looked away.
"I've... had lot on my mind."
She joined him on the tree. "Sora's noticed that you're a bit off today. Been worried about you."
"... sorry." Closing in on himself? Riku what...
"It's fine. You're allowed to have your own thoughts you know."
"I do, it's just..." Riku fell silent, the protest dying long before he put one together. His gloved hands squeezed his arms, like some sort of panic attack. Just what has gotten into him?
"The raft is mostly ready by now. All we need is provisions and sunny days ahead. Been thinking about a good luck charm too. The idea of finally taking off must be exciting. But we might not come back."
"Yeah..." A dull tone replied.
"Is it about the raft that's been bugging you?"
"...No, not really."
Question ended, Kairi let the sound of the ocean fill the lull in conversation. The weather has been so peaceful these last few days. Waves too low to surf in. The clouds and sky shining so clearly, so perfect. It made watching the sunsets into complete dreams.
"I can't talk about it."
She glanced at his defeated expression, "Is it personal?"
Talking was dropped altogether, and Kairi later told Sora to just wait for now.
Impossible really. All other possible answers were beaten out from how they acted alone. All down to Sora's subtle and concerned poking to Kairi's chatter. I've gone back in time somehow. Less than a year away from the Organization. They've known where we lived right? No Roxas, Naminè, Ansem, Replica Me, but... Maleficent is a very immediate problem. He looked over at his friends who were more interested in the sunset than he was at the moment. Tonight, he'd have to write up the problems and figure out how to address them.
"So... Kairi's world is out there somewhere right?" Sora wondered.
Riku shrugged at that. They may have visited it at one point but didn't know. Hard to tell with no reference. Sora and Kairi spared a look at the other.
"Suppose you get to another world," she giggled, "what would do there?"
Good question, he'd want to stick with his friends but he might be whisked off anyway.
"Well, I'd want to find out where I ended up." I should try to prepare them for this, how did Kairi end up with Sora? "What the people are like you know? Maybe every world has their own quirks, that it sets it apart from the other ones. Then it's just matter of exploring, right?"
Sora laid back on the tree. "I dunno."
"You're eager about this." Kairi commented.
Eager? No, dreading it. "It's just... who knows what we'll see. Ever since we were kids, it's been peaceful here, so you can argue that maybe the other worlds might not be."
"Never thought of that."
"By the way, Kairi," Riku looked up at her, "if you hadn't come here, I may have not thought of any of this. So, thanks."
"Hee hee, you're welcome."
They headed off after that. A little joke with the paopu fruit and one dash to the boats, they headed home. Even after we got back it was strange to think that. To just go back to the place I once thought of as an overgrown rock. Too bad I don't remember when I opened the door...
That had happened and he remembered the event but not the when. Did he already do it? Or was it the next day that it happened? I'm not going to this time.
But what about the consequences if he doesn't? The Organization isn't at large but they will be. Maleficent is currently alive and plotting. Ansem is running around. Sora became a wielder where he failed. That particular blade more suited for a light heart rather than his middle road.
He was conflicted. On the hand that it was said and done then some parts will stay the same. The other... Riku couldn't be sure. What he hoped for? A better way that doesn't put anyone at risk. The pull of Darkness into a Dark Corridor no longer called him and he knew no other means than the Gummi Ship. And we come back to having us leave. Needing to rather than the wanting.
Fate may have given him this chance, but it was in the most ironic sense it could have done it.
Since it's the true name, screw yourself Xehanort.
I've waited to do a gamer's knowledge story for a while. Self inserts just didn't fit. I couldn't see me in the story on the same level as the other characters. Unless I made it au. Riku ends up doing that with time travel instead.
Riku: Kingdom Heart 3 is coming out but now you're messing with me?
Luna: Keep that up & I'll have you put up with your KH 1 self on top of it. Would you like people to think you have-
Riku: Fine! I get it.
Luna: I don't actually hate Riku. Except for when I was nine years old & not understanding why Silver hair was being mean to Spike head.
Riku: Spike head.
Luna: I don't think I knew that Sora was a boy until I got Kingdom Hearts 2. I wasn't aware of Chain & Days at the time. Can you blame me, I was a child.