Disclaimer: Don't own Kingdom Hearts or anything.
Yep, another new story.
Sora really didn't like Hollow Bastion, it was a massive maze full of really powerful Heartless. That was bad enough but having to face Riku…his friend had changed so much, the old Riku would never had said those things, would have never tried to hurt…kill…him. The Darkness had taken him over and Sora was terrified that he was lost forever. For a second after he'd beaten him, he'd seen a flicker of the old Riku but then he'd run off.
Sora spun, blocking an attack, shoving it away. It kind of looked like a shadow, just bigger and meaner, almost more…human? He shook that thought off and settled into a defensive stance as a group formed around them. They were definitely more powerful than Shadows, tougher to destroy, and better at working together.
Sora tried not to flinch as they walked down the centre of the hall, seeing the six Princess almost lifeless in some kind of capsule, with what looked like crystal creeping up their lower bodies. It was a near non-stop battle until they reached the stairs up to the main area in front of the great heart. Sora's eyes immediately fell on the unmoving form lying on the ground.
"Kairi!" he rushed over, kneeling, to lift her into his arms, not noticing when Goofy was unable to follow off the stairs. He gently shook her, terrified by how still she was. "Kairi! Kairi! Open your eyes!" he begged.
"It's no use."
Sora looked up, seeing Riku sitting above the great heart, except…there was something very off about him, beyond how odd his voice sounded.
"That girl has lost her heart. She cannot wake up," he continued.
Sora set Kairi down softly, sensing the darkness in Riku's voice. "Who are you? You... You're not Riku."
"The Keyhole cannot be completed so long as the last princess of heart still sleeps," he ignored Sora's question, dropping down from where he was sitting, practically floating down to stand before the keyhole.
Sora glanced back at Kairi in shock. "Princess...? Kairi's a princess?"
"Yes, and without her power, the Keyhole will remain incomplete. It is time she awakened."
Sora spun back to him, anger rising, how dare he use Riku! "Whoever you are, let Riku go! Give him back his heart!" he demanded, Keyblade in hand.
Riku's body smirked at him, reaching out a hand. "But first, you must give the princess back her heart." He pointed a Keyblade at Sora.
Sora gasped, clutching his chest in pain, feeling something pulling inside, even as he fell to the floor, barely catching himself on his hands.
"Sora!" Donald cried in alarm.
"What's—" his arms shook, his whole chest aching, no…his heart.
"Don't you see yet?" the thing possessing Riku taunted, Sora could hear him walking down the stairs, but didn't have the strength to lift his head. "The princess' heart is responding. It has been there all along. Kairi's heart rests within you!"
"Kairi... Kairi's inside me?" he breathed, turning his head enough to see her. It was his fault she was like that? How…when the door opened, she'd been pushed towards him, through him, had that been it?
"I know all that there is to know."
"Tell me," he grunted in effort but managed to get up on his knees, head up. "Who are you?"
That was not Riku's smile, more proof it wasn't him in control, even as he spread his arms. "It is I, Ansem, the Seeker of Darkness."
He walked toward Sora, prompting Donald to yell out and rush at him, but he simply knocked the duck past the barrier as if he was nothing and moved on. He stood over Sora, looking down with euphoria, and pointed his Keyblade toward him. Sora refused to be cowed, meeting his gaze defiantly.
"So, I shall release you now, Princess. Complete the Keyhole with your power. Open the door, lead me into everlasting darkness!" With a mad look in his eye, Ansem lifted the Keyblade, readying to strike.
Sora watched with wide eyes, part of him unable to believe it even as the rest of his mind screamed to move.
'Sora!' Kairi's voice called out to him.
Sora lifted his Keyblade and blocked the strike. Ansem grit his teeth, putting more pressure on the blade, but Sora matched him, beginning to push up off his knees. "Forget it! There's no way you're taking Kairi's heart!" he snarled as he shoved up the last bit to stand, knocking back Ansem's blade.
He leapt back and then smirked, extending his hand. "Come!"
Sora did, striking him square in the side. He winced, but recovered, blocking a further attack. He tried to toy with Sora, forcing him to strike first and then dodging at the last minute. Sora blocked his next strike and sent a Thunder spell at Ansem, who responded with a dark fireball that hit Sora straight in the chest, knocking him back.
"Now witness true power!" Ansem called, an aura surrounding him as he floated into the air, his left hand glowing. He plunged his Keyblade into the ground, unleashing lightning shockwaves from the floor. Ansem's eyes were wide with madness and he laughed as he fought Sora. He swiped the Keyblade down, sending a blade of energy surging toward Sora, who used an Aero spell to protect himself from the majority of the attack.
All they could do was watch as Sora fought his possessed friend. Donald felt terrible and wondered…if he hadn't said no to Riku going with them, could things have been different? Could they have saved the boy from this? How was Sora meant to strike down someone he cared for so much?
It was a close fight but every time it looked like Ansem had him, Sora fought back even harder, finding new ways to use the spells he'd learnt to defend and attack. Donald was proud of him, so much for telling Sora he sucked at magic despite his large reserves.
"Behold the power of darkness!" Ansem started running impossibly fast, pelting Sora with blow after blow from his Keyblade as he rushed around the room.
Sora endured the blows, waiting for the chance to strike. He healed as soon as he could and once Ansem stopped running, he tossed the Keyblade at him, hitting him square in the face. Ansem staggered, the Keyblade falling from his hands, a shocked expression on his face. Their eyes met and for a moment, the madness faded, and Sora saw Riku. Riku's body disappeared, leaving behind the dark Keyblade and Sora lunged forward, too late.
"Riku!" he screamed in denial. He collapsed to his knees, exhausted, magic drained, small cuts and scratches stinging like crazy. He felt the warmth of Donald's healing spell settle over him, taking care of the small pains, looking up to see them staring into the Dark Depths.
"Sora! Sora, look!" Donald pointed.
"The... The Keyhole!"
Sora pushed back to his feet, walking over to the bottom of the stairs and aimed his Keyblade…which didn't respond.
"It won't work! The Keyhole's not finished yet!" Goofy wailed and Sora released his Keyblade.
"What can we do?" he whispered, he felt…defeated. He'd never felt so hopeless before. Riku was gone, first possessed and now…and Kairi wouldn't wake up.
"Maybe we've gotta go wake Kairi up."
"I think you're right," he whispered, looking over at her, pressing his hand to his heart. "If we can free her heart... But... But how?" her heart was inside of his, how could he…his eyes fell on the Keyblade that Riku had wielded. "A Keyblade that unlocks people's hearts... I wonder."
"Sora?" Goofy sounded worried, but Sora ignored him, walking over to pick up the Keyblade, staring at it in fascination. "Sora, hold on!"
"No, wait!" Donald called.
He looked up and smiled at them, holding the blade in both hands against his chest. It was the only way to make things right now, he had to save Kairi. Donald and Goofy would keep her safe, get her home one day. He took a deep breath and pressed the blade down, stabbing himself in the chest. His chest glowed brightly and the Keyblade floated out of him. It didn't hurt, he felt…numb, everything becoming distant…he watched as six lights floated up, soaring away, as the Keyblade broke apart. He was falling but he struggled to keep his eyes open, to turn his head and see her one last time, to make sure it had worked. A light surged from his chest floating over to Kairi and he saw her begin to move, smiling again as his eyes fell shut. He couldn't feel anything anymore.
The entrance to the Dark Depths shimmered, the barrier broken, and Sora glowed brightly, slowly falling.
Donald ran toward Sora, unable to look away as the glowing boy was falling slowly backward, his eyes shut, face…peaceful. "Sora... Sora!" he cried but there was no reaction at all.
"Sora!" Kairi yelled, scrambling up, running as well. Her longer legs allowed her to reach Sora, falling to her knees to catch him but as she touched him he burst into a million points of light, floating into the air to disappear, leaving Kairi in shock.
"Sora! Come back, Sora!" Donald yelled towards where the lights had vanished. No! Not Sora!
They remained motionless, waiting for any sort of sign, but there was nothing.
"Sora, are you really…No. He can't be! I won't let him go!" she yelled as she got to her feet. She looked as lost as Donald felt, and he absently sent a healing spell at her, just to be safe.
"So, you have awakened at last, Princess. The Keyhole is now complete. You have served your purpose. But now it's over."
They spun at the sound of an unfamiliar voice…no, not completely. It was the voice that had overlayed Riku's…this was the one that had possessed him? He walked slowly towards Kairi, and Donald didn't even have to check with Goofy as they moved between her and Ansem.
"Don't make another move!" He warned, readying his magic for a fight.
"Do you think we can stop him all by ourselves?" Goofy asked softly.
"I don't know!" But they had to try! Sora had given literally everything to save her, they couldn't let her die now.
As he approached, he suddenly stopped, struggling to move his own body.
He grunted, a prisoner in his own body, even as an image of Riku appeared before him, facing the other three. Foolish child, he had ensured his own destruction in doing so.
"No. You won't use me for this!" Riku held out his arms, blocking Ansem from proceeding further, but also shielding them from him. It was all he could do to buy them time. His eyes locked on Kairi, glad to see her awake, but...where was Sora? She looked so sad…no, not Sora.
"Riku!" she reached for him, but Goofy held her back.
"You've got to run! The Heartless are coming!" he warned, pleading with them to run while they could, even as a horde of Shadows and Neoshadows appeared, surrounding them.
Kairi touched her necklace, staring mournfully at him, but then nodded, trying to give him one last, sad, smile. She turned and rushed for the stairs, Donald and Goofy with her. His last sight was of them running, the Heartless fading…no, a single Neoshadow remained, leaping after them. He tried to yell, to warn them, but everything went black.
"What about the Keyhole?" Goofy asked as they ran through the Castle.
"Let's just get out of here!" Donald yelled at him.
None of them noticed the lone Heartless watching them, its body swaying gently as it crouched on the rail, before it leapt down and began to follow them.
They ran through the Castle, keeping Kairi safely between them, choosing to run rather than fight anything that showed up, only fighting to clear the path when they had no other choice. Goofy jumped down a level in the main lift area, Donald helping Kairi drop down to him before following once Goofy had set her down, it was quicker than making their way around the outside to get to the lower level, if risky.
They finally made it to the Entrance Hall, Donald and Goofy rushing to the castle gates but had to stop since Kairi was standing at the head of the stairs still.
"Kairi, hurry!" Goofy urged her to move.
"I can't leave them behind!" She shook her head and he really felt bad for her, for making her leave them, but there was no other choice. They couldn't defeat the numbers in the Castle and without a Keyblade they would keep coming!
"We can't stay here!"
She hesitated, looking back, before running down the stairs as the Neoshadow appeared in the hall.
"A Heartless is after us!" Goofy readied his shield as she reached them.
"I'll take care of him!"
The Heartless leapt from the balcony to land in front of the fountain, moving towards them, and Donald hit it on the head with his magic wand.
"Confounded Heartless! Get lost, will ya?" he snapped, but it didn't die or attack him in return.
It stared at him with unblinking yellow eyes and Donald found himself lowering his arm, confused. That was not normal Heartless behaviour. It seemed completely unfazed by Donald's actions before it broke their staring competition and looked over at Kairi.
Kairi stared at the strange creature. It was a Heartless, she knew that, could remember bits and pieces of things since that night, but not a kind she could remember seeing through Sora. There was something about it, something different, and Kairi could feel it. However strange, however impossible, she knew it to be true. She took a small step towards it, hand reaching out, and it stayed where it was, hands resting on the ground as it stared at her, the long antennae trailing behind it. She could make out flashing of blue, like trails of lightning, scattered across its body. It looked so inhuman and yet…
"Sora? Is that you?" she whispered, hearing the noises of shocked disbelief from the others. She ignored them, focused on him, watching as he shifted towards her.
The group was suddenly surrounded by more Neoshadows and Shadows and she froze, looking around. She had no weapon, no way to fight, even as Donald and Goofy rushed to fight them. Kairi turned her back on Sora, putting herself between him and the rest.
"This time, I'll protect you," she told him, feeling him press against her back hesitantly, wondering if he could understand her, if he even really recognised her.
The Heartless surrounding them slowly moved closer to their prey. They paused, their antennae and glowing eyes taking in everything and Kairi tensed in anticipation, pressing back against Sora, feeling the Darkness in his form, it was growing every second. Would he join them and attack her if it grew too much? They pounced and Kairi whirled around, putting her arms around Sora, ignoring the Darkness in him, her eyes clenched shut.
"Sora!" She screamed as she felt the other Darkness's, pile on her, surrounding them totally.
"Kairi!" she barely heard Goofy yell her name.
She held tightly to Sora, ignoring how strange he felt in her arms, the coldness of his body. She would protect him! She couldn't lose him too, not Sora. She could see him in her mind, smiling happily as he ran across the sand, sleeping on the beach, play fighting with Riku…She felt the light building and let it go. Everything went white and she swayed forward, but solid arms caught her, pulling her in close to a warm body that smelt of sunlight and home.
"Kairi, thank you," a familiar voice whispered in her ear.
Kairi opened her eyes slowly, terrified it was her imagination, but nothing changed. The body holding her was human, warm and familiar, sparkles of light floating around them still.
"Sora..." she gasped, hugging him back, trying not to cry. She didn't know how but somehow he was back.
"Sora!" Donald and Goofy shouted happily, and he let her go only to be grabbed by the two and hugged tightly.
More Heartless appeared and she was pushed into the middle of the group even as Sora called his Keyblade, but she was scared, he looked exhausted and pale, but determined to fight and protect her.
There was a loud roar form the top of the fountain and she saw Sora smile in relief at the hulking figure there. It leapt down to them and knocked several Heartless aside. "Go! Now!" It…no, he, yelled.
"Come with us!" Sora told him, he definitely knew the…beast?
"I told you before, I'm not leaving without Belle. Now, go! The Heartless are coming!"
Sora hesitated but then nodded, grabbing her hand. "All right. Let's get out of here. We'll be back," he called and then they were running.
Sora sat on the bed in the small house the group was using, he was exhausted and no amount of healing spells would get rid of the bone deep ache. He felt…strange, not entirely there or something. He needed to sleep but he…he was scared to. What if he didn't wake from the darkness? He knew it had almost taken him, much longer and he would have been just another Heartless, would have tried to kill Kairi, to take her heart, even as she tried to protect him. He hadn't known who he was, hadn't really remembered anything by the time the light had wrapped around him. He didn't know how she'd done it, but he could never thank her enough.
He jerked at the voice, but it was just Leon, watching him in concern, and Sora nodded.
"You should get some sleep, once Cid gets the ship fixed up you won't get much time."
"I know," he muttered, drawing his knees up under his chin.
He heard Leon sigh and then the bed dipped, the man sitting beside him, a hesitant hand resting on his back and Sora shivered. He felt hyperaware of every touch, the feel of his clothing on his skin, everything and yet at the same time he felt somehow numb, it didn't make any sense.
"What's wrong?" Leon pressed, and Sora began to tremble, clenching his hands into fists in his hair.
He heard Leon's sharp intake of breath and then his larger hands were grabbing his, easing them down, too strong for Sora to even bother struggling against. He slumped limply against Leon who easily supported him, laying him down and covering him with a blanket even as he shook. There was talking around him, noises…and then he felt Aerith's hand on his forehead before sleep claimed him, vaguely realised she'd used magic on him.
Aerith looked at the sleeping teenager, worried for him. She looked up at Kairi, seeing her fear as she took a lax hand in hers. "What happened to him?" she asked, and the younger girl took a deep breath but told them. A Heartless…oh Sora. It was over now, he was back, but who knew what kind of long-term effect that might have on him.
Yes, I made Sora a Neoshadow instead of a Shadow. Something a little scarier looking and not one you see every fight.
Pairing suggestions welcome.