Kingdom Hearts: Dark Dawn

BY : Kirsh
Category: Kingdom Hearts > AU - Alternate Universe
Dragon prints: 2579
Disclaimer: I do not own Kingdom Hearts. I do not make any money from this story.



Ten Years Ago


Sora stepped out of the portal with Riku right behind him. He raised his hand to shield his eyes from the sudden bright light and waited for his eyes to adjust. Riku did the same, though he was far quicker in touching the bracer on his left arm than Sora, allowing the armor encasing his body to fade away. Giving the silver-haired young man a searching look, Sora did the same, touching the bracer on his right arm to dispel his armor. He knew from experience that walking around in the armor would only draw questions from people who didn’t understand. These days, not many people understood - or remembered - the fight that had been quietly (or maybe not so quietly, in some cases) taking place right under their noses.

Riku gave him a bright smile for all its reservedness and Sora grinned back. He returned his gaze to the huge skyscrapers and smaller trees, studying the way the wide green leaves danced in the wind that blew. Clouds scudded by, thick and puffy, dotting the blue sky above the trees and the skyscrapers like a herd of sheep.

“It’s been a while, huh?” Sora quipped. “Since we’ve seen a world so advanced.”

Riku swiped a lock of silver hair back behind his ear and nodded. “Yeah. But it’s to be expected. There are a thousand or more worlds out there, some we haven’t even discovered yet.” They shared a look, then glanced at the bracers on their arms. As if attempting to draw the conversation away from where they both knew it was heading, Riku asked, “What’s this one called?”

Sora patted his coat pocket and removed a small notebook. Since Jiminy Cricket no longer traveled with them, he’d gotten into the habit of recording information himself, and Jiminy had thoughtfully provided him with a notebook that recorded the world’s name the moment the two stepped foot on it. He tilted his head from side to side, watching the magic ink slowly scrawl across the top of the page, marking a new entry. “Um... Paradise City. Go figure.”

Riku chuckled. “Let’s go, Sora. We’ll check this place out, and if we don’t find anything, we can head back.”

“Not without picking up a few souvenirs. The last time we went home without anything to give, Kairi nearly dented my head. And Aerith gave me that sad puppy look. You know that sad puppy look.”

Riku grimaced. He knew that sad puppy look well. “Kairi gets pissed when she’s not allowed to come with us, doesn’t she?”

Sora nodded, rubbing the side of his head as if to alleviate an ache. “She gets to come with us more often than not, but you know how Aqua gets if we end up going to a new world none of us have ever been to before.”

“I guess we’ll have to bring back something nice. For all of them.” Riku said lowly, already imagining how their welcome would go if they didn’t come back laden with gifts.

Sora’s laugh was slightly strained. “Let’s not go overboard. If we don’t find anything here, our munny supply is going to be extremely limited.”

Riku smirked at his best friend - his boyfriend, he had to remind himself once again, only because it didn’t feel quite real, even after all this time - and led the way into Paradise City.

The streets were filled with people, moving up one side and down the other. Shops littered the street they were on, from frozen yogurt creameries to shops displaying the latest fashion trend. Sora watched everything and everyone in fascination, though he made sure not to be caught staring too long. Tourists people understood. They accepted the fact that there were other worlds, and people often traveled between them in gummi ships. Cid Highwind made a killing doing that, transporting people and goods to other worlds for a nominal fee. Sora wondered what Cid was doing now, since he and Riku had taken a Dark Path from Radiant Garden to Paradise City instead of doing the smart thing and waiting for a ride. Sora focused on his boyfriend’s back as that thought passed through his mind. Riku had felt fairly confident of his ability to open a Dark Path and maintain it while they traveled, which was why Sora had given in and allowed him to use his powers of Darkness. Their method of travel had been a part of why Kairi couldn’t go with them this time - a Princess of Heart, even one who wielded a Keyblade, was a walking target in the World Between Worlds - and Sora hadn’t wanted to put his best friend in danger needlessly.

He kept close to Riku, just a half-step behind and to the silver-haired man’s left. He wasn’t afraid of getting lost; he doubted he could lose sight of the only naturally silver-haired man in the entire city. Besides that, he and Riku were connected to each other, not just by their feelings for each other, but because they were opposites. Riku was Darkness where Sora was Light. The two couldn’t exist without each other, like the sun and the moon. No matter how far apart they became now, they would always inexplicably know exactly where the other was. Sora seemed to have the same sixth sense for Kairi’s presence, but only if she was on the same world as he was.

Sora stopped walking abruptly. Riku went a few feet more before he realized Sora was no longer with him and had to backtrack. He found the brunette staring at a pair of blue plastic headphones displayed in a front window case, Sora’s head cocked to one side. The headphones were adjustable, with large earmuffs that would cover the ear entirely. A small hole was indented into the left one, no doubt to hold the wireless transmitter that would feed music into the device. Riku gave Sora a sidelong glance. Sora looked back at him via their reflections, a sheepish look on his face.

“If you want them, go ahead and get them.” Riku said, finally smiling. His smile grew wider as Sora’s sheepish look bloomed into a wild grin. “I just don’t know when you’ll get to use them.”

“I’m sure I’ll have a use for them. I have to drown out Yuffie somehow.”

Riku laughed and followed Sora into the store. Twenty minutes later, they emerged with Sora already tearing into the box that held his headphones. He pulled them out and set them around his neck, looking at Riku with a wide grin. The Keyblade Master of Darkness just shook his head and grinned. Then they resumed walking down the street, pausing long enough for Sora to ditch his trash in a trashcan. They explored the city for the better part of an hour, listening to the honking of horns and snippets of conversations, trying to pick up on any rumor or bit of information without trying to be too obvious about it. Eventually, they agreed to separate in order to search the rest of the city rather than just the entirety of the apparent market street, promising to meet up in the park that seemed to dominate the center of the city.

Sora paused in the crowd waiting for the lights to change and make it okay for people to cross the street. He looked up at the giant skyscrapers and the blue sky beyond, and pretended to be actually using his new headphones instead of eavesdropping on the people around him. He hoped Riku was having better luck, because he heard nothing worth writing home about, nor did he see anything that made him feel the need to call his Keyblade to hand.

As he started across the street, intending to go to the park to wait for Riku, he suddenly changed direction, like his feet had decided to ignore his mind’s intent. He didn’t know why, but he felt suddenly drawn in that direction. It wasn’t a bad feeling - he’d had feelings like this before, just suddenly understanding he needed to be somewhere without exactly knowing why until he got there - but it was one of those feelings where he knew he ought to warn Riku, just in case. He tapped the bracer on his wrist, but instead of activating the hologram phone feature, he just tapped out a code on the holographic keypad. Riku would understand, and would follow.

Sora gradually left the city behind and started descending into another park. He hadn’t realized there was another park in the city, and soon saw why. This park was more dilapidated than the one in the center of the city. The trees here had been left to grow wild and rampant, the grasses tall and the paths rocky and almost overground. It reminded him of Destiny Islands, how everyone lived on the big island, but the kids always went to play on the smaller one, just a boat ride away from home. Sora passed through the grasses that came to his waist, plowing a path through them. He pulled his headphones down around his neck - and froze.

He felt them before he heard them, and he whipped around, Keyblade materializing in hand. The first Heartless dissipated against the Keyblade before it even realized the weapon was heading its way. The second and third Heartless met the same fate as the first, but the fourth and fifth - and the rest of the group, about thirty strong - now knew that Sora was dangerous.

Sora laughed, but there was no humor in the sound. “I guess I now know why this place is abandoned.”

The Heartless chittered to one another and as one, attacked. The rhythm of battle came easy to Sora, ducking and dodging and whirling around, his Keyblade flashing as it tore through the inky black bodies of his enemies. Being lesser Heartless, the ambush group didn’t last long against Sora, and he was soon dispatching the last one without so much as a blink. He felt Riku moving closer at a quick speed. He knew he should wait for Riku to reach him, but Sora started moving again, following the invisible path as the feeling that had led him here in the first place grew stronger. He didn’t realize he was running until he couldn’t get enough breath, and he leaped at the last second, avoiding the mace-like tail of an Emblem Behemoth, a bigger, nastier Heartless. As he tumbled through the air, Sora caught a glimpse of a blonde head lying motionless in a trampled patch of grass. A small hand rested by that blonde head, and beside that hand was a deflated soccer ball, punctured by spikes.

All of that information Sora saw in seconds, and he processed it quickly as he landed. Blonde head. Small hand. Child. Electric blue eyes narrowed and he charged the Emblem Behemoth, dancing under its tusked head to score a hit on its chin as he rolled between its legs. The monster bellowed, its massive feet stomping a path through the grass as it tried to turn to chase the Keyblade Master. Sora quickly crossed to the child, scooping him up with one arm as he turned to face the Emblem Behemoth and fired off a Firaga spell.

Sora spun to the side and presented his back as the Firaga spell hit a reflective shield and raced right back at him. He cried out in pain as the fire seared across his back, the force of the blow sending him crashing to the ground. He shielded the boy as best he could, skidding along the ground and fetching up hard against a tree trunk. Sora screwed his eyes shut as his body screamed at him for the abuse and for a minute, he couldn’t move because of the pain. He was dimly aware of losing his grip on his Keyblade, and forced his eyes open to locate the weapon. There it was, laying just a few feet away. Sora struggled to move, but his skin cried out in protest. He figured he was pretty badly burned; Firaga spells were the highest level of fire magic, and Sora only carried around high level spells. He sought a Curaga spell, trying to heal himself quickly.

The Emblem Behemoth roared, its massive head swinging to face Sora and the boy. Its piggish yellow eyes burned as it focused on the prone Keyblade Master. Sora stared back at it, gritting his teeth, trying to push himself up. The boy was faster.

“No!” Sora cried out, or tried to, as the boy reached for Sora’s Keyblade.

The little boy was only four at the most, with unruly blonde hair that came away from his head in gentle fly-away strands, as if he were charged with electricity. He wore overalls and sandals. As he stood there like a sentinel, like a guardian, Sora caught a glimpse of the boy’s face and saw sapphire blue eyes staring up at the monster before them with courage lightly tinged with fear. The little boy gripped the hilt of Sora’s Keyblade tightly, but he couldn’t lift it. It was too heavy for a four-year-old to wield.

It hit Sora then, in the scant seconds it took to get to his feet and reach the boy, exactly why he had been drawn here, and exactly who this boy was - who the boy would be - to him.

A bright burst of light escaped the kid as Sora touched him and the Keyblade at the same time, blinding all three of them. The Emblem Behemoth roared and swung its head from side to side, ripping up trees with its massive tusks, trampling bushes with its massive feet. Even blinded, Sora wrested his Keyblade from the boy’s hands and managed to retreat.

Riku’s Way to Dawn Keyblade ripped through the Emblem Behemoth’s hide easily, breaking the reflective shield the beast had around itself. Aquamarine eyes burning, Riku launched into a series of attacks that had the power of Darkness behind them, stepping quick and fast as the Behemoth tried to turn itself to face the newest threat.

“Sora!” Riku bellowed.

“Gimme a second!” Sora yelled back, finally able to see again. He ducked behind a massive tree and set the boy down, holding him still with a hand on his shoulder. Electric blue met sapphire, and Sora smiled brightly. “Hey, there. So, I need you to stay right here, okay?”

The boy looked at him but said nothing. He hesitantly nodded.

“Don’t go anywhere, okay?” Sora started to move off, but paused. He took hold of his headphones, amazed they hadn’t gotten burned or broken in the fight, and pulled them off. He draped them around the boy’s neck, grinning at the comical sight of the too-large headphones around that small neck. “Hold onto those for me. I’ll be back for them.”

“Wait!” Sora paused at the boy’s voice, looking back at the bright-eyed kid in askance. The boy was gripping his overalls tightly, those brave sapphire eyes focused on Sora’s face. “That monster,” the boy continued, “it has something in its chest. I think it’s hurt.”

Sora blinked. He smiled and reached to rub that electricity-charged blonde head. “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it. Remember, you promised to wait right here!”

He saw the kid nod, but he was already moving back to Riku. His counterpart had already donned part of his armor, shielding his shoulders, chest, and legs from the Emblem Behemoth’s attacks. Sora did the same as he rushed in, his Keyblade leading. He signaled to Riku, and the silver-haired man broke left, rushing around the Emblem Behemoth’s left side. Sora unleashed a barrage of physical attacks, his two-handed style affording him the ability to hit harder than Riku’s one-handed style. The barrage the two of them unleashed on the Heartless monster was more than most Heartless creatures could withstand, and this Behemoth showed no signs of dying soon. He caught a glimpse of Riku vaulting over the monster’s back and saw the look on the other Keyblade Master’s face. Sora was sure he wore a similar one.

He unleashed an Ars Arcanum on the monster’s face. He guarded against the Emblem Behemoth’s breath, which stank like rotten meat, and dropped low to the ground as the monster reared back on its hind legs. Sora then saw what the boy had been talking about and his eyes went wide.

There was a black metal rod sticking out of the monster’s chest, where its heart would’ve been if it had one. The tip of the metal rod had some sort of antenna on it, with a small light that was steadily blinking. Sora cursed softly and called to Riku, “It’s them! They’ve got control of this one!”

Riku’s Keyblade hit a reflective shield and he bounced off it, landing lightly on his feet. The ground shook as the Emblem Behemoth landed on all fours. It roared, thrashing its head from side to side again. Riku hurried to Sora’s side, his eyes tightening as he saw the burned clothes and freshly healed skin. He said nothing, but Sora saw the tendrils of darkness curling around his boyfriend’s body. The tendrils solidified into black armor, a mimicry of the armor Terra used to wear. Riku put his hand on Sora’s shoulder and pushed him back.

“I’ll take care of this.” Riku said. “Support me.”

Sora cast a glance behind him at where the kid was supposed to be waiting. Then he looked at Riku and nodded. “Got it. Better make it quick. They could be close.”

Riku was gone before Sora had finished the last syllable. He reappeared above the Emblem Behemoth, a dark bullet that sped down with Way to Dawn leading. He hit the Behemoth’s reflective shield, and for a few heartbeats, the shield and Riku battled each other. Then the shield cracked, and Riku broke through, speeding down onto the monster’s back. There was a burst of darkness as Way to Dawn pierced flesh and severed bone, and Riku leaped away as the monster roared, twisting to try and kill the Keyblade Master.

Sora felt his armor fully encase him and launched forward, his Keyblade striking solid mass. He spun away from a massive tusk, throwing a Curaga spell toward Riku as the silver-haired man took the brunt of a head-butt. Riku recovered quickly and ducked under the Emblem Behemoth’s chin, striking for the Heartless’s throat. Way to Dawn cut a deep line from the left side of the Behemoth’s throat to the right, spraying more darkness into the air in an imitation of blood. Sora threw his Keyblade in a Strike Raid; the weapon glanced off the Emblem Behemoth’s head and came back to Sora’s hand, only to be thrown again. The Behemoth focused on Sora then, but as it made to charge, Sora’s third throw caught the monster square in the nose. The Behemoth roared, rearing backwards in pain.

Riku dashed in then, straight at the Behemoth’s chest. He jumped at the last second as the monster crashed down on all fours once more, and buried Way to Dawn in the Heartless’s chest. The Emblem Behemoth roared again, thrashing from side to side in an effort to throw Riku off. Way to Dawn had bit too deep though, anchoring Riku to the Behemoth’s flesh. With his feet braced against the monster’s underside, Riku released Way to Dawn with one hand and reached for the metal rod. Sora saw him grasp it and then release his Keyblade so he swung just feet above the ground. Way to Dawn vanished almost immediately, safe in whatever space Keyblades waited until their masters called them. Riku gripped the rod with both hands then, swung himself up to brace his feet, and heaved with all of his strength.

The rod slid out by only a few inches.

“Riku!” Sora yelled in warning, dodging a smashing paw and rolling to one side to avoid being gored by a massive tusk. “Riku, hurry up!”

“Shut up!” Riku called back, heaving on the rod again. “Just get ready!”

Out of the corner of his eye, Sora caught movement. Just as he recognized the little boy - who he was going to give a lecture to about promises - so did the Emblem Behemoth. The great monster swung its massive head around to stare at the little blonde boy, slinging Riku violently to one side. The silver-haired Keyblade Master nearly lost his grip, but somehow managed to regain it and used the momentum of his backswing to add more strength to his heave. The rod slid out a few inches more, spraying Riku’s armor with the black stuff that all Heartless seemed to be made of.

“I thought I told you to stay hidden!” Sora roared, rushing toward the four-year-old. The blonde boy looked at him with wide blue eyes, his mouth half open in shock.

Sora reached him at the same time the Behemoth charged with Riku dangling from its chest. Sora’s hand closed on the boy’s shoulder, pushing the kid behind him and readying his Keyblade to try and block the Behemoth. Riku twisted the rod and yanked as hard as he could. Sora felt a small hand cover his on the hilt of the Kingdom Key and again a bright light radiated out from the boy. On some instinct, Sora crouched and wrapped his free arm around the boy’s shoulders, embracing him as they held onto their Keyblade together. The light radiating from the boy focused into the Keyblade and then, just like it used to do for the unlocked Keyholes, the light shot out of the tip toward Riku.

As if he sensed it coming, Riku let go of the metal rod and dropped to the ground, landing hard on his back. The light hit the end of the rod and spiraled upward, forming a sunburst against the Emblem Behemoth’s chest. The giant Heartless reared back on its hind legs, roaring in pain. The light swirled around it like living vines of gold, and then suddenly the Emblem Behemoth exploded into black motes.

Riku rolled to his feet, his armor melting away once again into the bracer on his arm. He paused when he saw Sora and the kid, his eyes slightly wide as he suddenly understood what was happening. He slowly approached them as Sora rose, still keeping a hand on the boy’s shoulder. The kid stared wide-eyed up at Riku, his mouth slightly agape in awe. Riku’s aquamarine eyes flicked to Sora. “Is he...?”

“Looks like we’ll be coming back in about ten years.” Sora said, trying to smile but barely succeeding. The kid was still holding onto the Keyblade, his small fingers looking comical on the too-large hilt. Riku and Sora studied each other for a moment, before Sora turned to crouch in front of the kid. “What’s your name?”

The boy’s sapphire eyes flicked toward Riku, who stood silent behind Sora. Finally, the boy focused on Sora. “I’m Kaoru.”

“I’m Sora, and that’s Riku.” Sora pointed to them each in turn. “Kaoru, you’re too young to understand now, but one day, you’ll remember this moment. This,” Sora balanced his Kingdom Key between them horizontally, “is a Keyblade.”

“It was heavy.” Kaoru said. His fingers brushed against the Keyblade’s hilt, but he didn’t grasp it, and Sora didn’t let go.

“Right now it is,” Sora said gently, “but one day, it will no longer be hard for you to carry. The Keyblade will give you the strength to protect what’s precious to you. Here, take it.”

Slowly, with both hands, Kaoru grasped the Kingdom Key. When he was sure the boy had a good grip, Sora let go. Almost immediately, the Keyblade fell toward the ground. Kaoru staggered under its weight, but somehow managed not to fall over. The little boy grimaced slightly, his little arms straining under the weight of the weapon. Sora glanced back at Riku, who nodded.

“Kaoru,” Sora said, gaining the boy’s attention again, “you have the makings of a Keyblade Master. One day, you’ll stand with me and Riku and another friend of ours as a Master. One day, you’ll have the strength to move forward and fight. We won’t see each other for a long time, so I’ll tell you this: when you find yourself feeling lost and alone, the Keyblade will always lead you to where you’re meant to go.”

Kaoru’s tiny hands clutched tighter to the Kingdom Key’s hilt, then slowly his fingers uncurled as Sora reached to take the weapon back. He dismissed it and reached to set his hand on Kaoru’s head. “We’ll see each other again one day, Kaoru.”

Riku had already turned away, and now Sora followed. Kaoru watched them go, eyes staring wide as the two men simply vanished into the shadowy underbrush of the trees. He took two steps forward to chase them, but when he reached the spot where Riku and Sora had been only minutes before, there was nothing. Kaoru looked around, trying to find them, and when he couldn’t, he gripped the headphones still around his neck.

“Kaoru? Kaoru! Kaoru, where are you?”

He whipped around toward the voice and began running, grinning widely. “Mom! Mom, you won’t believe what just happened!"

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