Disclaimer: not mine

Chapter 2

Kairi sat beside the bed Sora was sleeping in, he looked peaceful now, but was the just because of Aerith's magic? It was all her fault, he had killed himself because of her, to free her heart, he'd willingly become a Heartless to save her and now… she'd just thought he was tired from the fighting so seeing him shaking and grabbing his hair like that, Leon having to force his hands down… what if something was wrong? Would he…would he become a Heartless again? She didn't know how she'd turned him back and didn't know if she could do it again.

"Don't worry Kairi, Sora's strong," Goofy assured her, a hand resting on her shoulder.

"It's all my fault," she sobbed.

"No it isn't," an old man appeared beside her, patting her shoulder, before sitting on the edge of the bed. "Now then, let's take a look."

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Merlin examined the sleeping boy, ignoring Aerith's magic. He had never seen anything like it before! He had seen a person become a Heartless before, it was not something nice to see, and from their descriptions, it had definitely happened to Sora. He had been stabbed in the heart with a Keyblade, freeing young Kairi's heart, and then faded away, forming a Heartless that had somehow retained enough of Sora that it had only followed them and not attacked. It had allowed Kairi to defend it, to hold it, and somehow her light had restored him…or so it appeared.

Kairi had restored him to a human appearance, to memory and some emotion…but there was definitely a component missing. His body was still that of a Heartless, just altered to look human. He had not known that was possible! His body had faded away and Merlin did not know of a way to bring it back. Could Sora live as he was now? Or would the Heartless instincts one day overwhelm him and return him to how he had been briefly? There was nothing to be done about it, only a Keyblade could now destroy him, just like a Heartless. Any other 'death' and he would simply reform elsewhere as they did, although whether it would be in his current form or Heartless one, Merlin wasn't sure.

Should he tell them? Tell Sora? Or should he leave things be unless Sora began having trouble? His current issues were an easy enough fix, Kairi knew what Sora should look like but lacked the knowledge of the human body to make it function properly, leaving 'nerves' either too sensitive or not sensitive enough, and that was just the beginning. He would do what he could to help his new body function like a human one, but it would never be a perfect mimicry.

"Is he going to be alright?" she asked nervously, and Merlin sat back from the examination.

"You did something utterly amazing my dear girl, amazing and unprecedented, at least to my knowledge. This is not the body he had before he became a Heartless, it is brand new. If we had time, I would like to monitor him for several months, unfortunately, the Keyhole must be sealed," he told her. "He needs to re-adjust to this form but in time he should be fine." He just hoped he wasn't lying to her, but the boy deserved to be the first to know the truth and make the decision on who to tell.

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Sora sat on the bed, staring at his hands…except they kind of weren't his hands, they were the hands of a Heartless. Kairi hadn't really brought him back, she'd just changed his appearance back to how she remembered him. It should terrify him to know he wasn't human anymore, what if he fell to the Heartless he'd been? Merlin had done what he could but he couldn't fix him, no one could. At least now he knew why he'd been feeling a bit off since Hollow Bastion, he'd just have to get used to it. He wasn't scared though, he wasn't really anything anymore, he knew he should be feeling so many emotions but all he felt was numb.

He didn't understand how the Keyblade would still answer his call, he was the very thing it was meant to destroy. He couldn't tell anyone, if they knew… he shook his head and got up, shoving his shoes on, they didn't have time for him to think about it. He had to seal that last Keyhole.

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Kairi hugged Sora tightly, the ship waiting, Donald and Goofy already aboard. "Be careful."

"Promise."

There was something…subdued about him since he'd woken and spoken with Merlin. What had he said to him? She didn't understand what was going on with him, he was back, human and with a brand new body somehow. Then again…he had thought he'd killed Riku so that would be upsetting. And Riku was still possessed so many be did have a reason to be down,

"You'll save Riku, I know you will. Then we'll all go home together."

"Yeah, you're right," he grinned but it wasn't quite right. "Try not to get kidnapped again"! he teased and dashed off before she could retaliate.

Kairi laughed as he vanished into the ship, still the same old Sora.

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Riku forced one foot in front of the other, he had to help that voice which meant he had to reach the door in time. He had to do it, for Sora and Kairi, he couldn't let them pay for his mistakes. He was so tired… he shook his head even as his hand flickered like before. No! he would help close the Door to Darkness, even if it meant be trapped behind it forever, he deserved it for being such an idiot.

He was worried about Sora, when he'd reached for them like the voice said it had been so easy to tell Kairi was okay but Sora…something was wrong. What had happened to him? He'd beaten him but then when Ansem had emerged from the Darkness, there had been no sign of him…and Kairi was awake, she had her heart back…no, no way. Sora was fine, he had to be.

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Sora carefully reached through the rip in his clothing, feeling unmarked skin beneath it. that blow would have killed him before, now he had barely felt it. No wonder it took so many blows from the others to take out even a Shadow. And he wasn't one of those, Goofy had explained he had looked like the new ones they had seen in the Castle, the Neoshadows. How much Darkness did he have in him to take on that form?

He shook those thoughts off and stood, he knew the fight wasn't over yet. Ansem claimed Riku was gone but he didn't believe him, he couldn't. Ansem and his stupid Guardian had been the toughest fight yet, and he just knew it wasn't over yet. It didn't help that he couldn't get that cloaked figures words out of his head, the man had thoroughly beaten them. Somehow, the man seemed to know what had happened to him – had called him incomplete. But who did Sora remind him of?

Seeing home again had felt so weird, even if it wasn't real, and he did wonder, when the Worlds were restored, would he go back to the Islands? Or would he end up in the Darkness with the rest of the Heartless? If he did…he knew he'd lose himself and be just like them eventually. He could feel it inside of him, the Darkness, the want to fight and destroy, but he could ignore it since it was locked behind a wall inside him, a wall made of Kairi's Light. It was all he really felt though, he was emotionally numb, feeling only echoes of what should be other emotions. Everything had faded in those first few hours after she had given him back his humanity, he felt kind of empty, clinging to the echoes.

Of course, that was when everything went black and then they were falling.

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Donald was worried about Sora but there was no time to stop and think or ask him as they fought the massive thing that Ansem had become. The whole thing was crazy, how many times did they have ta beat him to actually stop him?

Something had changed in the way Sora was fighting, he was ignoring wounds to land any blow he could. What good would it do to beat Ansem if doing so killed Sora? But he wasn't listening, utterly focused on destroying the monster that had taken his friend. He was…kind of scary actually.

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Sora pulled back as the World of Chaos began to burst from the inside, Keyblade held ready.

"Is this the answer? I can't be..." Ansem spoke softly, looking shocked. The Guardian roared as it imploded, the veins connecting Ansem to the battleship shaking violently and he hung forward, dropping his sword. Ansem convulsed as the World of Chaos was enveloped by a glowing light. Forming a gigantic orb, it exploded, its energy scattering through the

abyss.

Sora stared down at Ansem, who floated before them, twitching, the door to Kingdom Hearts waiting behind him. Sora blinked the spots from his eyes caused by the bright light, the rush of battle fading back to numbness.

"It is futile. The Keyblade alone cannot seal the door to darkness." He whirled around, reaching out towards the door, gazing madly as a man possessed. "Kingdom Hearts! Fill me with the power of darkness..." His hand trembled as he struggled to recite the words. The great door opened, tongues of darkness emanating from beyond its cold white stone. Ansem floated higher in the air, his robes billowing out behind him. "Supreme darkness..."

Sora stared into the Darkness but…there was something beyond it, something that both called to and repelled him. "You're wrong," he whispered before speaking louder, "I know now, without a doubt, Kingdom Hearts... is light!"

Without warning, a blinding light burst from beyond the door, causing Ansem to cover his eyes. It penetrated his being, sending him reeling. "Light..." He struggled against it, frozen in place, and Sora pushed himself back further, actually scared of what it would do to him. "But... Why..."

Light erupted from his body, crystals bursting from his chest. His arms were thrown apart as the light consumed everything. It looked a painful way to die, better to die from the Keyblade.

They flew over to the door and landed on the white sand, racing over to the door. "Come on!" He planted his hands on one of the double doors and began to push, as Goofy and Donald did the same with the other. Goofy peered through them and gasped.

"Stop staring and keep pushing!" Donald yelled at him, before taking a look as well, his eyes widening. "Huh?!"

Sora refused to look, focused on shutting the door.

"The Heartless!?"

"Hurry!" Donald yelled

What did he think they were doing, taking their time? Sora continued to push, but the enormous door hardly budged. "I can't..."

A hand appeared from beyond the door. "Don't give up!"

His head snapped up to find Riku staring back at him and for the first time since he had come back to Kairi holding him, he felt a surge of emotion and not just an echo.

"Come on, Sora! Together, we can do it!"

"Okay!" he agreed, continuing to push as Riku pulled from the other side. The door slowly began to close as stronger and stronger Heartless appeared in the dark realm, Sora knew because he could feel them and he felt a flash of fear for Riku.

"It's hopeless!" Donald wailed.

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Riku kept his eyes locked on Sora even as he pulled with everything he had. He ignored the Heartless behind him, although it was a relief when the King began destroying them. At least he got to see Sora one last time, part of him had been terrified that Sora was dead or worse. And yet…there was something off about him, he'd known Sora all his life, he knew him better than anyone. There was something...dull, like something was missing, even when he looked back at Riku in hope. He hated that he would destroy that hope by having to remain behind the door. He ignored the other two as they called out to their King, wanting to memorise everything.

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"Now, Sora! Let's close this door for good!" the King called.

"Close it, quick!" Donald agreed.

"But..." Sora began to realise the truth, Riku was not going to leave.

"Don't worry. There will always be a door to the light."

"Sora, you can trust King Mickey," Goofy assured him.

Riku turned away from the door to look at the King. "Now! They're coming!"

"Donald, Goofy, thank you," the King called.

They pushed with everything they had and the doors began to close. "Riku!" he called, reaching for him, and Riku reached back, eyes sad. Their fingers touched entangling and Sora felt everything going black.

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Riku was shocked when Sora reached passed the door to grab his hand but it was good to know he didn't hate him, that…his thoughts cut off as Sora's eyes rolled back and he fell forward, right through the small gap in the door. Riku caught him as the door slammed shut, Mickey sealing it from their side. "Sora? Sora! Wake up." He called, kneeling down to settle Sora up against the door.

"Riku?" The King called.

"He won't wake up!" he yelled, trying not to panic.

Soon the King was at his side, raising his Keyblade to send a Cure spell at Sora but there was no change. "What happened?"

"I don't know…he reached out and I reached back, but he reached passed the door, grabbed my hand. The next thing I knew he was collapsing and the door shut behind him."

"That means the door is only sealed from this side!" Okay, so obviously that wasn't good from the King's tone.

He didn't really care at the moment, he cared about Sora being unconscious. He gently brushed wild spikes back from his face. "Sora please wake up."

"He may simply be exhausted, who knows how long he was fighting non-stop for," the King offered.

Riku nodded, hoping he was right. He stood and then carefully lifted Sora up, he was way too light. "So how do we find a way out?" he had been accepting of being locked away forever, but there was no way he was letting that happen to Sora.

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Donald and Goofy stared at the now closed Door in horrified shock. Sora! They saw the glow through it and knew the King had sealed that side. Without Sora though there was no way to Seal their side, would it remain shut? To their relief, the Door faded until it was barely noticeable at all, revealing a winding path behind it, they assumed their way forward.

"Sora?" a familiar voice called and they looked to see Kairi standing on a growing patch of sand. "What's happening?" she asked and they rushed over to reassure her. They wouldn't tell her where Sora was, not when the King had assured them all that there would always be a Door back, they would trust him to get both teens out. Surely the three of them together could do anything.

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Kairi stood on the beach, watching the 'shooting stars', relieved that the Worlds had been restored. She knew Donald and Goofy had been holding something back and it had to be about Sora. He had to be okay. And what about Riku? If they were together then she wouldn't have to worry, they would look after each other.

There was nothing she could do, was there?

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It was impossible to tell time in the Realm of Darkness, but Mickey was becoming worried for his fellow Keyblade wielder as Sora remained still in Riku's arms. He hadn't twitched or made any noise, anything, since he had passed out at the Door. The sooner they found a way out, the better. Sora needed more medical care then they could give, the sooner the better. Mickey didn't think it was exposure to the Darkness on Keyblade holder as he was fine and he'd had a lot more exposure.

He was also worried about Donald and Goofy, they no longer had a Keyblade with them to defend them from the Heartless. They were very vulnerable and who knew where they'd end up. Would the Worlds be restored with the Door only partially Sealed? Or would they be trapped where they had been?

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Donald and Goofy walked down the winding dirt road on an unknown world, just glad to be out of the dark and bale to see, not that there was much of a view.

"Well, now what do we do?" Donald groaned.

"We've gotta find Sora, Riku, and King Mickey," Goofy answered without even having to think about it. "But, uh, where do we start lookin' for that there door to the light?"

They stopped and sighed, still exhausted from all of the fighting. Goofy heads something

up ahead and looked up, seeing Pluto walk in ahead of them, wagging his tail. He tapped Donald's shoulder and he looked up too.

"Pluto?"

Pluto looked over at them, tail wagging harder.

"Hey, Pluto. Where have you been?" Goofy asked as they spotted the envelope in the dogs mouth.

"Hey!" Donald pointed excitedly.

"Gawrsh, that's the king's seal!"

"Have you seen King Mickey?" Donald demanded, reaching for the envelope but Pluto started running forward down the road. They raced after Pluto, Donald keeping his hat from flying off, and laughing together as the road wound ahead of them.

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Riku walked with Sora cradled against his chest, his head resting on his shoulder, relieved to feel every puff of air against his throat because it was proof he was still alive. He didn't know how long he'd been walking, the King at his side, but he wasn't tired yet so he kept going.

"Tell me how you first met Sora?" The King asked, and Riku glanced down to see him smiling at them. "What other way is there to pass the time?"

Riku chuckled but nodded. Why not? He shifted his grip slightly and began to talk.

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A young man slowly got to his feet, staring around dully.

A figure in a black cloak emergec from a Corridor of Darkness and walked toward him, studying him. "You seek answers," he said, but there was no response. He waved his arm between the two of them and the word 'SORA' appeared in the air, the letters shiny, silver, and hovering. "I can give you purpose," he promised, but the boy just stared. He had never seen a Nobody like him before, as if he were a blank slate.

The man waved his arm again and the letters swirled around the boy, gaining momentum until they were barely visible as letters. The man slammed his fist into them and four points of golden light shot out, forcing the boy to flinch.

He opened his eyes and saw a new golden letter X hovering before him. The silver letters re-joined with the X in their centre forming a new word, turning fully golden...

"Roxas," the boy murmured emotionlessly, at least he could still read.

Xemnas smirked, perfect. "That is right, the new you."

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Riku dove to the side, keeping Sora tucked against his own body, the King moving to defend them. A mass of Shadows spiralled around them and Riku swallowed hard. He went to call Soul Eater but hesitated, glancing down at Sora who for the first time moved, his fingers twitching, he picked a great time to start waking up.

"I think he's waking up!" he called, reaching for magic, wincing when dark fire lashed out to clear some space around them.

"We could use the help," Mickey called back to him. He was practically flying around them, protecting them, and Riku knew he couldn't keep it up forever.

He carefully lowered Sora to the ground, brushing a hand through his hair even as Sora's head twitched slightly into his touch. "I'll keep you safe," he promised before standing and calling Soul Eater to him. He would not let the Heartless take Sora.

TBC…