Disclaimer: Don't own Kingdom Hearts

Chapter 1

They stared out at the sunset, Sora and Kairi sitting on the tree while he rested against it, arms folded over his chest. They were almost ready to go.

"So, Kairi's home is out there somewhere, right?" Sora asked, glancing over at him.

"Could be. We'll never know by staying here."

"But how far could a raft take us?"

"Who knows? If we have to, we'll think of something else." They'd find some way to leave their tiny World, to see what was out there. He'd wanted to leave long before Kairi had arrived on the Islands. Riku remembered meeting that man…what had his name been? He'd been so young back then, only five, but he remembered the strange blade thing, the odd…ceremony?

"So, suppose you get to another world," Kairi giggled. "What would you do there?" She looked over at him with a grin.

"Well, I haven't really thought about it," he admitted, Sora's foot tapping against his arm as he rocked back and forth on the trunk. "It's just... I've always wondered why we're here on this island. If there are any other worlds out there, why did we end up on this one? And suppose there are other worlds... Then ours is just a little piece of something much greater. So we could've just as easily ended up somewhere else, right?"

Sora lay down on the tree, head almost on Riku's shoulder. "I don't know."

"Exactly. That's why we need to go out there and find out. Just sitting here won't change a thing. It's the same old stuff. So let's go," Riku smirked, the sooner they left the better. The Islands were…suffocating. He had to leave. There was that door…sometimes he heard…whispers, a voice, telling him to open it. it scared but also excited him, maybe he should do it?

"You've been thinking a lot lately, haven't you?" Kairi asked softly.

"Thanks to you. If you hadn't come here, I probably would've never thought of any of this. Kairi, thanks." Not exactly true, but he'd had no real proof before her arrival that there was something out there, that the story of the boy who left could be true.

"You're welcome," she smiled at him, before dropping down.

Sora groaned but sat up and got off the trunk as well, Riku steadying him as Kairi skipped on ahead.

"Sora." He called, reaching out to pick up the spot of yellow he'd glanced. Sora turned around and caught a star-shaped fruit as Riku tossed it to him. "You wanted one, didn't you?" he teased.

"A Paopu fruit..." Sora stared at it in confusion.

"If two people share one, their destinies become intertwined. They'll remain a part of each other's lives no matter what," he quoted as he walked past Sora. He glanced back with a smirk. "C'mon, I know you want to try it."

"What are you talking…"

Riku laughed, ignoring the twinge as Sora tossed the fruit away. They all ran back to the dock to head for home. Their parents insisted they leave the Play Island before nightfall for safety.

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Sora entered the Secret Place and walked through an underground tunnel, with roots lining the walls. He reached a room made of walled boulders with chalk drawings scrawled on them. The only light was from a small hole in the ceiling, but it was plenty. He smiled and traced a hand over the drawings, remembering making them when they were smaller, before and after Kairi had joined them. Suddenly, he heard a noise behind him and stood up swiftly. "Wh-who's there?" there'd been a noise but he couldn't see anyone! After his weird dream the other day though he felt on edge.

"I've come to see the door to this world."

"Huh?"

"This world has been connected." There was movement and then he saw a stooped and hooded figure, moving strangely. Something about them had him wanting to run.

"Wh-What are you talking about?"

"Tied to the Darkness... Soon to be completely eclipsed."

"Well, whoever you are, stop freaking me out like this. Huh?" he managed to keep his voice steady. "Wh-Where did you come from?"

"You do not yet know what lies beyond the door."

"So, you're from another world!" Sora's eyes widened in amazement but also fear. Something was very wrong, he just didn't know what. And that voice….he absently rubbed at his chest, trying to sooth the dull ache.

"There is so very much to learn. You understand so little."

"Oh, yeah? Well, you'll see. I'm gonna get out and learn what's out there!" he glared defiantly at the figure.

"A meaningless effort. One who knows nothing can understand nothing."

Sora looked toward the board in the wall. It resembled a door, but with no lock or doorknob. As Sora turned back to the figure in the shadows, it had disappeared. That was…he shivered but then grabbed the mushroom he'd come for and then left, trying to put what had happened and his dream out of his mind. It was just his imagination, nerves over leaving soon.

With nothing left to do, he returned to the raft, where Kairi was leaning against the mast, fiddling with something jingling in her hands. "What's that?" he asked as he handed over the gathered supplies.

"This? I'm making a necklace of thalassa shells. In the old days, sailors always wore thalassa shells. They were supposed to ensure a safe voyage. See this?" She held the unfinished star-shaped charm out to him. "It's a charm to help us find each other if we ever get separated. The three of us will always be together." She placed the Wayfinder in her pocket. "Tired? Want to call it a day?"

They sat on the raft, watching the sunset.

"You know, Riku has changed," Kairi suddenly said out of the blue and he looked at her.

"What do you mean?"

"Well..." she fell quiet.

"You okay?"

"Sora, let's take the raft and go, just the two of us!" She announced.

"Huh?" Was today just another very strange dream? Nothing seemed to make sense.

"Just kidding," she giggled, and he shook his head.

"What's gotten into you? You're the one that's changed, Kairi," he told her.

"Maybe... You know, I was a little afraid at first, but now I'm ready. No matter where I go or what I see, I know I can always come back here," she smiled softly, turning to face him. "Right?"

"Yeah, of course!" he agreed, it wasn't like they planned to leave forever.

"That's good," she paused, staring out at the setting sun. "Sora, don't ever change."

"Huh?"

She stood up and took a final look over the ocean. He stared up at her in confusion.

"I just can't wait. Once we set sail, it'll be great."

"Yeah," he agreed.

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Riku stood on the ledge above them listening, hands balling into fists when Kairi told Sora they should go without him. He felt a bit better when Sora just seemed bewildered by her words, but it still hurt. She'd laughed, but why say it all if she didn't mean it somehow? Things had been different before she came, he'd had Sora all to himself and sometimes…he wanted it to go back to that way.

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Sora tied his boat beside theirs and they headed into town. He couldn't get Kairi's words out of his head, her suggestion they leave without Riku. How could she ask that, even as a joke? What if Riku had overheard? Yeah, he'd changed, but his Mom had told him that was normal, they were teenagers. Playful competition had become harsher but Riku was still Riku. Kairi waved before heading for her house, and Sora walked beside Riku, their arms brushing occasionally.

"Riku?"

"Yeah?"

"Are you okay?" he asked softly.

Riku stopped walking, turning to look at him. "Sora?"

He shrugged slightly. "Kairi's worried about you…so am I," he admitted.

Riku stared at him before smiling. "Don't be, I'm fine Sora. Come on, let's get you home before your Mom grounds you and we get stuck here waiting for it to end," he grinned, and Sora stuck his tongue out at him.

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Riku sat on his bed, staring at the Play Island, unable to get the image of the door out of his head. What would it hurt? He got up and slipped his shoes back on, opening his window and dropping down to the ground, heading for the dock and his boat. He rowed across the water in minutes and made his way to the Secret Place, finding it there like it always was. He stared at it, there was a keyhole, but how did it open?

"Do you want to open the door?"

He spun at the sound of a voice, eyes wide as he stared at the slumped figure hidden by a brown robe. That voice…it was the one he'd been hearing for years. "What's on the other side?" he asked.

"Everything you could ever desire."

That sounded…nice. He reached out and touched the door, wavering on his feet, not noticing the wave of dark energy that flowed between him and the door.

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Sora sat alone in his bedroom, the window open slightly, the only light coming from

the moon outside and his dim desk lamp. Clothes and books were piled on the floor as he lay on the bed, peering over at a hanging model of a wooden ship with a boy and a girl passenger. Sora's thoughts drifted to his earlier conversation with Kairi on the dock again.

"I just can't wait. Once we set sail, it'll be great."

Thunder rumbled softly outside, catching Sora's attention and he gazed outside. In the darkness of the cloudy night sky, lightning flashed, striking near the small island.

"A storm?" they didn't get many storms, maybe it'd lower the humidity a bit once it had passed, that'd be nice. He jolted upright suddenly. "Oh, no, the raft!" He grabbed his shoes and leapt from his window, scurrying down the nearby tree, running for the dock and his boat, rowing against the rising waves out to the Island.

He stared in shock at the large orb of energy hanging low in the sky, wind swirling in it dark depths.

"What's that?" he whispered before jumping onto the dock, seeing the other boat moored there. "Riku's boat." He looked around warily, seeing no one.

In the dim landscape a pair of eyes emerged from the ground, the eyes illuminated the strange black body, its antennae wriggling as it scanned its surroundings. Another appeared and Sora gasped in fear. He took out his wooden sword as one of them leapt at him, blocking the strike. He tried to hit them with the sword, but they seemed unfazed by it. It felt to Sora as if it went right through the creatures, doing no harm at all. Sora realised his only option was to run and he made his way to the wooden bridge, dodging strikes from the creatures. Everywhere he ran, more appeared in his wake.

He saw Riku standing at the small island across the bridge, facing the orb in the sky. He appeared unmoving, as if in a trance, and Sora felt a flash of terror.

"Riku! What's going on? We have to get out of here!"

"The door has opened..."

"What?" he asked in confusion.

Riku turned to face him, and Sora shifted, something about his expression… "The door has opened, Sora! Now we can go to the outside world!"

"What are you talking about? We're all meant to go together."

"Kairi's coming with us!" Riku told him abruptly and Sora stared in shock. "Once we step through, we might not be able to come back. We may never see our parents again. There's no turning back. But this may be our only chance. We can't let fear stop us! I'm not afraid of the darkness!" He held his hand out to Sora.

"Riku..."

A pool of darkness formed at Riku's feet, its tendrils licking at where he stood, wrapping around his impassive body. Sora rushed forward to save his friend, and the darkness grabbed at him. He tried to reach toward Riku, but the weight of the darkness pulled him down.

"Riku!" he cried out, desperate to reach him. He had to! He would not let that stuff take him! He pushed off the ground, trying to lunge, his fingers brushing Riku's and then Riku grabbed his hand, pulling him closer. He stumbled through the darkness, colliding with Riku, who wrapped his arms around him, grinning suddenly.

"I've got you," Riku promised and then everything went dark.

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Kairi leapt from her boat, seeing Sora and Riku's moored already. Where were they? She looked around but saw nothing so headed for the Secret Place, assuming they had sought shelter there from the storm. Strange creatures formed from the ground leapt at her and she dodged, scrambling passed them. She saw a familiar wooden sword and scooped it up to defend herself, terrified for Sora if his sword had been dropped. Wood wouldn't do much damage to anything but it was at least some defence.

"Sora! Riku!" She called as she scrambled into the tunnel. She rushed through it but they weren't there. All that was there….was an open doorway. How? She threw her arm up in front of her face as a wave of energy exploded from the doorway.

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It was so cold and it hurt! His chest…his heart, like ice stabbing into him. He clung on tight, feeling someone cling back, his head pressed to something soft…a chest…Riku…his head was spinning and his body went limp as the pain overwhelmed everything.

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She blinked dazedly and sat up, somehow on the beach. She scrambled back to her feet, seeing more and more of the creatures. The purple sky stretched around the island. Kairi stood in the sand looking around at the island below her. Large chunks of the island had broken off and risen into the sky towards the strange dark orb.

"Whoa!" she gasped. Where were they? She had to find them.

The orb loomed above her, lightning crackling in its dark depths as the wind swirled in the air with rocky and wooden debris. She sensed a presence behind her, turning around to see some kind of creature or demon gazing down at her through black tendrils.

"Keyblade….Keyblade…." a voice seemed to whisper to her.

She took a defensive stance and then the wooden sword in her hand grew heavier. She lifted it, eyes widening as she stared at the key like blade. The creature attacked and she drew on everything she knew from watching the boys train. Why hadn't she joined in more? She watched its every move, focusing more on dodging than attacking.

The wind howled louder as the island crept further toward the orb of energy. She dropped to the ground as demon was pulled into the air. The wind whipping at her, she grabbed a wooden board stuck in the sand and held on for dear life. Every muscle in her body tensed as the wind pulled her upward. Kairi's fingers slowly lost their grip and she was sucked into the orb, screaming.

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Riku woke on a cold stone platform. His fingers twitched and he opened his eyes, seeing a large waterfall and crystalline rock platforms floating in the air. The sounds of the Rising Falls filled his ears, and he slowly got to his feet. "Where...am I?" He looked around and then his eyes widened. "Sora!" he yelled, dropping to his knees, reaching shakily for his throat, relieved to feel his pulse. "Sora, wake up," he shook his shoulder but Sora didn't react.

Riku looked around for help, suddenly noticing that the waterfalls flowed upwards rather than downwards, filling his vision on nearly every side, but there was no one else around.

"Kairi!?" he called, but there was no response, she wasn't with them?

Unbeknownst to him, their arrival had been noticed by a tall figure in a black cloak, who walked towards them on a much higher platform, watching as Riku tried to rouse Sora.

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Kairi weakly pushed away what was…licking her? She groaned and forced her eyes open, seeing a big yellow dog which wagged its tail at her. "What a dream..." she slumped, drifting back to sleep, utterly exhausted…until the dog pounced on her and she let out a startled yelp. "This isn't a dream!"

She stared at the dog before slowly getting to her feet, looking around in confusion. Where was she? She spotted several notices are pinned up on a wall nearby, but even in the dimness of the alleyway, what she saw was not familiar. She was…scared. Where were Sora and Riku?

"Where am I?" She asked shakily, arms wrapped around her middle even as she hesitantly moved towards the brighter end of the alley. She looked down at the dog. "Do you know where we are?" she asked, but then the dog took off and left her. "Hey..." she ran after him, finding herself in an open square. The buildings were kind of old fashioned, the streets cobblestone, teasing at mostly forgotten memories. Not of this place, but of one with similar streets.

"I'm in another world," she whispered. She shivered as she remembered the storm, the door, the Islands…she'd seen their boats at the dock so where were they? She saw a shop and headed for it, pushing experimentally on the door which swung open to reveal a blond man standing behind the counter who turned to face her.

"Hey there, how can I... Aw, it's only a kid."

"My name's Kairi. I'm sorry to bother you sir, but can you tell me where I am?"

"Huh?"

She haltingly explained what she remembered happening and he sighed.

"You're in Traverse Town, in the Realm Between."

"So is this really another world?" she asked in shock. She knew she wasn't from the Destiny Islands but how many worlds were there?

"The name's Cid," he told her. "Anyway... Not sure what you're talkin' about, but this sure ain't your island."

"Hmm... Guess I'd better start looking for Sora and Riku. Thank you for your help."

"Well, good luck with whatever it is you're doing. If you ever run into trouble, you come to me."

She left the shop and found the entrance to the Second District. As she entered, a man stumbled out in front of her. A glowing heart bursts from his chest and floated over to an orb of Darkness. They merged and formed a creature that moved strangely and seemed to be…wearing strange armour, with a strange emblem on its chest. It did a somersault in the air before disappearing. Kairi rushed over to where the man's body once lay and a group of Shadows surrounded her.

"It's those creatures from the island!" She gasped, and then the weapon…the Keyblade appeared in her hand again.

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Cid shook his head as he watched the girl leave his shop. Poor lost kid, he'd need to let Yuffie know, she could use a new friend, and the girl wouldn't last long alone, not if she left the First District looking for her friends. It was possible they were somewhere in Town…he hadn't had the heart to tell her they were likely gone for good, lost to the Heartless and Darkness. Though…there was something about her….something almost…familiar? That wasn't possible though, she came from some place called Destiny Islands, their World had fallen years ago.

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"That was quite an entrance," she called, and the silver haired boy looked up, putting himself between her and the other.

"Who are you?" he asked warily, "where are we?"

"So many questions. You are in Hollow Bastion, my home. I am Maleficent, and you are?"

He stared at her for a while. "Riku," he answered, shifting back to kneel by his companion. "This is Sora, he won't wake up."

"Well then, allow me to offer you shelter, at least until he has recovered. It is not safe to be out in the open with the Heartless about."

She could sense the Darkness within the boy, Riku, he could prove useful to her plans if cultivated correctly. His friend however was very firmly Light but any Light except those of the Princess' could be tarnished, corrupted, with time and effort.

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Riku looked around the room they had been given, seeing the two beds, one against each wall. In the space between them, on the back wall, was a window and two bedside tables side-by-side. Next to the door was a large wardrobe and at the foot of each bed was a desk and chair, bookshelves set into the wall above. It was a nice room if cold due to the stone. He walked in and carefully set Sora down on the bed farthest from the door, carefully removing his shoes and jacket before pulling the blankets up over him to make sure he was warm enough.

He didn't know what to think of their hostess, her offer of shelter seemed kind enough, but there was something…he sighed and sat down, hand resting on Sora's arm. They'd stay until he was well enough to travel and then work out a way to get between worlds. Then they'd find Kairi…or maybe just travel. Did they really need her? She'd wanted to leave him behind after all.

TBC…

I seem to have a habit of knocking poor Sora out. At this point, Sora had very little Darkness of his own as he had a happy life and while adventurous, was pretty content. He also has Ventus' very Light heart sleeping in him. So suddenly being exposed to the Darkness that transported them was enough to overwhelm him and knock him out.

And it isn't the Kingdom Key that Kairi has but I'm not sure which she should have. Suggestions?

Pairing suggestions?