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Chapter I: Journey's End

Disclaimer - Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, and Kingdom Hearts II belong under the names of the Walt Disney Company and Square Enix. All names are their properties. I own just the title, the plot, some names I made, some places, weapons, etc. So, understand what is Disney/Square's and what is mine. Happy reading.

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Sora looked at the small letter unfolded in his hands. His friends, Riku and Kairi, stood on both sides of him, curiously leaning over to investigate the letter’s contents. Sora chuckled, to which Kairi gave him a puzzled look. Kairi, who was the same age as Sora, had not experienced the same magnitude of adventures as Sora and Riku did. Riku, who was slightly older than Sora and Kairi, journeyed himself the same way Sora did?traveling across numerous worlds and conquering their own foes. Eventually, the trio found their ways and reunited. Through dangers and certain hopelessness, they made it through. It had been over a year since the trio’s separation, to which Kairi suffered the most from. She was the one that was always protected by her two friends. She was the one that was left behind on their homeland, Destiny Islands. Kairi hated the fact that she was not the warrior type like Sora and Riku, but still she was, at the time, ecstatic when she saw Sora for the first time in over a year and realized that he was safe.

Kairi looked past Sora at Riku. She noticed no puzzled look on his face, only a smirk. Riku let out a small chuckle, similar to the one that Sora let out.

“Okay, guys, I don’t?” Kairi mumbled as she couldn’t settle into a good reading angle. “What’s the letter say?”

Sora flipped the sheet of paper over, revealing an apt symbol, resembling a certain mouse’s head. He pointed to the bottom of the letter and read out loud, “My best regards, Mickey.”

“Honestly, Kairi, you can’t be that clueless, can you?” Riku asked sarcastically.

Kairi shot him a dirty look. “Don’t make fun of me, Riku, did you forget that I wasn’t traveling with you guys?” She smiled and turned to Sora. “So, what did the King say, Sora?”

“Not much. He just sent us his regards. He also says that he breezed through the worlds that we traveled through, too. No Heartless or anything. No signs of Organization XIII either! Wow, we really pulled through…” Sora sighed. “Well, that’s it for our adventures, I guess.” He rolled the letter back up and placed it in his pocket. Even through trouble and chaos, everyone emerged strong and victorious.

Riku left the group and treaded out to the beach and into the water. “Hey, you two. Did you guys forget what we were doing before all this happened?” He pointed out into the horizon. “My question about whether or not there are other worlds out there has been answered. But there’s still time for a joyride though.”

Sora groaned and sat down on the sand. A week hasn’t even passed yet from our return home and Riku now plans to set off again, Sora thought to himself. He looked up at Kairi, who was still standing next to him, and poked her. “Hey, Kairi. Do you think Riku’s crazy sometimes?”

Kairi, reacting from Sora’s feeble jab, giggled and said, “You’re all pretty crazy to me sometimes! But yeah, Riku, don’t you wanna just relax a bit before you get anymore ‘adventurous’ ideas in your head again? Come on?we all just got back together, and plus, everyone on the island is planning on holding a little welcome-back party for us! Let’s stay for a while, okay, Riku?”

Sora stood up again, patted off the sand on his pants and said, “Maybe later. I mean, we already got to see so many worlds! We’ll go make another raft someday when we’re all older and just drift the open sea, but not now, all right?”

Riku threw his hands up in defeat and laughed, “Okay, okay, you two. I got the message. Let’s stay here until life gets boring again, how’s that sound?”

“Perfect,” said Sora and Kairi in unison.

Destiny Islands was filled from one shore to the other with light, warm sand where homes and other structures are built on. Coconut trees are scattered or lined throughout the islands. From an aerial view, Destiny Islands resembled a paradise, with greenery marking the beaches, clear-blue water enveloping the lands, and sunlight radiating in the right locations with the ideal intensity. Not far from their homes, the trio of friends attends their school, which was located near the heart of the islands. Unlike Kairi, who attended the school all throughout, Sora and Riku had not stepped anywhere near the school for quite some time. In the eastern coast, where most of the trio’s friends and acquaintances live, was dotted with multiple log cabins and tree houses. Here, Sora and Riku spend their summers sparring or playing Blitzball with the neighboring Tidus, a young boy, and Wakka, a friendly older kid somewhat obsessed with his ball.

Sora walked along the edges of the eastern shores, listening to the birdcalls overhead. It’s gonna be a good day, he thought. It was the sixth day upon their return to Destiny Islands and residents planned to hold a welcome-back party later on. Sora continued his way across the sands, taking in the summer air until he reached a small cave covered by some vines and slight overgrowth. Every time he entered this Secret Place, Sora surrendered himself to series of overwhelming nostalgia. It was their Secret Place.

“Sora?”

Sora, surprised, tripped at the entrance, no more than five feet into the Secret Place. “Whoa, umm…” he picked himself up and slowly ambled further into the small sanctuary. “Kairi?”

“Sora? Is that you?”

No doubt it was Kairi, since Sora knew no one else on the island with long red hair. Sora went further into the cave and peeked in to seek out Kairi’s figure. “Yeah, it’s me. What’re you up to, Kairi?”

Kairi was leaning by the walls of the cave, her fingers tracing old carvings and drawings that swathed around the cave walls. She continued tracing with her fingers, moving her body along the walls, she gradually stopped at a certain drawing. Kairi knelt down until her face was a mere inch or two from an old drawing. Sora, curious, knelt down beside Kairi and diverted his attention to the same drawing.

“I cried a bit when I saw this the first time,” Kairi quietly said all of a sudden. “It was sweet.”

Sora smiled as he studied the simple drawings of Kairi and him exchanging Paopu fruits. The chalky texture still remained on the wall, yet mere flaking of illustration did not do any damage. Sora was pleased to know that the simple drawing would stay on the cave walls for, quite possibly, the rest of time. “If two people share one, their destinies become intertwined. They'll remain a part of each other's lives, no matter what...” Kairi continued.

“Didn’t Riku say something like that before? Silly Paopu fruits,” Sora said.

“He said that to you, too? Oh, he recently said it to me, briefly mentioning you, too, but I had no idea what point he was trying to make,” Kairi glanced at Sora from the corner of her eye.

“Yeah, I told you he’s crazy,” Sora joked, looking away.

A few silent minutes passed as both Sora and Kairi knelt side by side with their hands tracing the outlines of the wall drawings. Kairi broke the silence again, “Hey, Sora. I forgot to ask you,” she hesitated and then resumed. “Did you ever get a letter from me? You know, when you were gone, before you and Riku came back home?”

Sora searched his pockets and slid out a folded sheet of paper, slightly crumpled, but all in all fairly neatly kept. Kairi beamed as she recognized the folded paper as the one she wrote on. A week, a month seemed like years; yet a year seemed like a day. Sora unfolded the letter and involuntarily began to read the contents out loud.

“Thinking of you, wherever you are. We pray for our sorrows to end?”

“?and hope that our hearts will blend,” Kairi joined in.

Sora smiled and carried on, “Now I will step forward to realize this wish.”

“And who knows: Starting a new journey may not be so hard or maybe it has already begun.”

“There are many worlds, but they share the same sky…”

And both Sora and Kairi turned to face each other and said together, “One sky, one destiny.”

Kairi smiled and blushed, pulling some of her hair down to her cheeks to conceal the redness the best she could. Sora noticed the rare coyness from Kairi and slightly reddened himself. He heaved himself backwards and lied down on the cave floor. “Uh, so?what, umm, what’s up, Kairi?” Sora finally blurted out.

“I dunno, Sora, what’s up? You haven’t really settled down to tell me about your adventures.”

Sora thought a moment before shifting into a comfortable position on the ground. “Hmm, yeah. I didn’t do much storytelling yet, huh?” He put both his hands behind his head. “Okay, Kairi, where do you want me to start?”

Kairi giggled and eagerly lied down on the ground beside Sora. “Hmm, let’s see. Since we all got separated the first time. ‘Cause… we didn’t have the chance to actually relax together since then. We got to see each other, like, once or twice since then. And it wasn’t for quite long either. So, c’mon, tell me what you’ve been doing all this time.”

“Phew… you’re asking for a long story, Kairi,” Sora groaned. “But all right.”

The two friends recalled their experiences and thoughts during the past year and half, from their first parting from their home, to their feelings of dread and hopelessness from one point to another, their first reunion, moments of happiness, sadness, shocks, and terror, and then their second parting. Sora started off with the introductions of his established acquaintances with the royal court magician, Donald Duck, and royal knight captain (the head guard), Goofy, after he, Kairi, and Riku were separated the first time. His adventures with Donald and Goofy spanned across various worlds of diverse heroes, villains, backgrounds, and understandings. Kairi listened intently without interrupting when Sora mentioned how throughout his adventures he battled his inner desperation for finding Riku and her.

“I thought I was never going to see you guys again,” he said.

“But you never gave up hope, did you?” Kairi inquired.

“I never did, and I forced myself back then to keep fighting so I never would.”

His adventures eventually led him to the end of the worlds, finding a foe with Riku’s appearance, which led to the final battle?or so he thought. When the battle ended with him, Donald, and Goofy victorious, he reunited with Kairi for one more time, before otherworldly dimensions split, separating them once again.

“I was quite upset when that happened, you know,” Kairi stated solemnly.

“Me too. But at least you were safe.”

Kairi laughed. “Well, I was…”

“Yeah, save that story. It’ll come together soon.”

Sora continued, how he later found himself shaken with distress from one sentence spoken by a man in a black trench coat: “Ahead lies something you need. But to claim it, you must lose something dear.”

Kairi gave Sora a concerned look. Sora simply shook his head. “But now we know that guy was from Organization XIII. Anyway…”

Later he, Donald, and Goofy found themselves in a mysterious castle where their memories dictated everything. Sora mentioned a familiar name to Kairi, of one he met while in the castle: Naminé. The twisting and distortion of Sora’s memories while in the castle was finally forced away when Naminé put Sora, Donald, and Goofy to sleep. His memories of his experiences in Castle Oblivion were virtually erased, but during this time, a span of about a year, Sora’s real memories were restored bit by bit.

“Sleeping for a year?” Kairi asked.

“I guess. Thank Naminé for that. If it weren’t for her, I’m not sure if I would even remember anything about myself, you, Riku, and everyone else.”

Kairi touched her chest for a second, which a brief silence slowly followed. “She’s in here now,” Kairi said, directing her words at her heart. Sora put his hand over his own chest.

“And Roxas in here.”

Kairi looked at Sora. “What did they say again?”

“Roxas and Naminé. We’re them, they’re us. They said something like… Anytime we’re together, they’ll be together. ”

“And we’ll be together everyday, right, Sora?” Kairi said, reiterating exactly what she said at the climax of their last adventure together.

“Yeah.”

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