full moon through a window on a cloudy night

A Way Forward: Kingdom Hearts Fanfiction

Word count: 679 (2 to 6 minutes) | Rating: T | Note: Spoilers, nightmares, scarring, and canon character death | Characters: Ienzo, Axel, and Riku Replica


“He’s as good a place to start as any.”

He didn’t need a heart to feel the fear cut into him. “You can’t do this,” Zexion insisted, barely able to stand upright, never mind fight back. And yet he tried as the Riku replica slammed him into the wall as easily as if he were a paper doll. The magic channeled between them was searing and numbing all at once as the hand closed around his throat.

An exact recreation of the person he just fought and nearly lost to stared at him, smirking as darkness ate the edge of Zexion’s vision—and his form. His hands grabbed at the replica’s arm holding him above the floor and tightening on his neck as the magic continued eroding his body. Zexion could calculate the very rate of the energy transfer from his heartless body to that of the Riku replica, and he did not have long now. Yet his greatest fear was in not knowing what was to come after.

Would he be with Lexaeus and Vexen? Would this distant, aching pain endure into that next life? Smoke billowed around his hands, and his grip failed. Zexion could only barely make out Axel watching him die on his deceptive suggestion, eyelids fluttering shut while the last of him transferred to the replica.

Deplorable. What of the ties that held us together, Axel?

Ienzo jolted from sleep with a gasp, keenly aware of the cold Radiant Garden castle air. Perhaps because the faded navy blanket was on the floor and his grey sheets were tangled around his legs. Certainly, the sweat soaking his long-sleeved turtleneck sleep shirt didn’t help the matter.

“Just a dream,” he breathed, reassuring himself against the tingling, burning sensation around the scar on his neck and trying to slow the thundering heartbeat in his chest. How interesting that the sleeping world could follow him into the real one so intensely.

The first order of business was to free his legs, getting up from the bed to change his shirt. Whatever he chose to do next, he wouldn’t be comfortable in that. He paused for only a moment to calm himself further and took a moment to appreciate the silver-blue glow of moonlight washing over his familiar bedroom.

This room had been his before the Organization and fall of Radiant Garden, though all but the furniture was new. Well, aside from the bed. He didn’t grow to be tall, but he had indeed grown since he was a little boy.

Peeling his shirt off and into the hamper, Ienzo took a towel from his armoire drawers to dry off the residual sweat. He tossed that in the hamper as well and paused again, this time by the mirror. Even in the late evening light—or was it early morning?—the scars were too visible. Ienzo traced the path from his neck scar to the Lichtenberg-like scarring splintering out and down his torso and arms.

He had some muscle definition now, at least. Perhaps because he was slight as it was, but he preferred to credit the short exercise routine that Aeleus and Dilan devised for him at his request. Still, he did not look well. Pale with tired eyes, Ienzo felt only a glance would betray how truly fragile he felt in this life. And he resented that fact completely.

Everyone was recovering. He didn’t need to match their pace, but he refused to slow them down. Ienzo picked up his latest book from the nightstand along with his gummi phone, leaving his bedroom to warm up water for tea. Returning to sleep was not an option, not after a nightmare like that one. He had tried in the past with little success. More often, he was greeted with another nightmare if sleep came at all.

He would overcome this too, in time. He had to. There was too much on the line and more still to make up for. Ienzo may be haunted by the past, but he would find the path to this future in those mistakes.


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Riku, Sora, Kairi from left to right

Destined to Be: Kingdom Hearts Fanfiction

They had a rare free day, and Kairi suggested they take a break with it. Sora didn’t miss a beat and suggested San Fransokyo immediately. And who was Riku to argue? There were plenty of places Sora went that they hadn’t even heard of, never mind seen. He wanted a chance to see everywhere Sora had been and for Kairi to be at their side.

“Riku,” Sora broke through his thoughts, tugging on Riku’s sleeve and making the bags in his hand crinkle together. “Check it out!”

“What is it, Sora?” He didn’t explain, of course, just ran off into a massive toy store full of giant stuffed animals, blinking robots, and other things Riku didn’t recognize. He smiled, shaking his head, and waited behind. Kairi would be back any minute—someone should be here.

“He’s at it again?” Riku turned to Kairi’s smile, two bags in her hand from the shop behind her. Just putting together some outfits not made from fairies made her feel more at home, she said. Now that she’d thought of it, Riku was sure he’d do the same soon enough.

“Yep. You know him,” he answered warmly, nodding to the game store. Sora wouldn’t go far, he knew that without even looking yet.

And sure enough, Sora looked up from the toy train track just long enough to wave to Kairi with a big, boyish grin.

To both of them, actually. Sometimes it was so hard to believe they are all in the same space at last. Ready to face Xehanort together once and for all… But first, some time just… Together.

Kairi waved back, a broad wave with a bright smile in return. “I missed this.”

Years ago, back on the islands, he might’ve teased her. Expressing what he thought and felt seemed so impossible then. They’d all come so far since their childhood… “I know how you feel. It’s been way too long.” There was so much more to say, but none of it seemed to fit into words the way he wanted it to.

So he held out his hand, offering to take her bags too. Kairi just shook her head. “Oh, it’s alright! You don’t have to do everything yourself, you know.”

Teasingly, she nudged his shoulder and they both laughed—for a moment. Kairi trailed off into a sigh, turning to look out the large windows overseeing the city. Nothing like the islands he felt so trapped on, and so much more than he could ever have imagined. How weird was it that now, sometimes he wished he could go back?

“Being kids,” Kairi thought out loud, “We’re here doing what other people our age do all the time…” Finally turning to him again, her smile was steady.

But there was a trace of remorse in the ocean of her eyes. All those years, she waited without a complaint and only now did Riku realize she’d never talked to him about how that must’ve felt. “And together at last. Thank you, Riku.”

Caught off guard, his eyes widened. “Huh?” What did he do to earn that?

Kairi just giggled, leading him toward the toy store. “You helped him find his way back.”

Thinking back, she had a point… But they were the reason he had the strength to do that for Sora. Riku learned his lesson about being too prideful. “And you helped him see through to me when my face wasn’t my own.” He smiled her way, moving closer to keep together through the crowd. “We all fought for this, Kairi.”

Her smile softened, the sorrow vanishing from her gaze. Riku knew well that it just retreated to greater depths, still there and waiting for her to talk about it—when she was ready. He nodded to her. He would be patient, then.

“C’mon, you guys!” Sora rushed out of the store to meet them, practically bouncing with excitement. “You gotta see what they have!”

Riku had to chuckle at the sight. Sora really was incredible—he’d seen so many places, achieved so much, and that did nothing at all to his natural curiosity. To him, there really was beauty in everything. “Coming, Sora.”

Breaking out into a grin, Kairi matched his energy. “I haven’t gotten a toy in years! I wanna see all the best ones.”

Sora lit up, both of them feeding into each other. “You got it!” And he took her by the arm in a second, the two running ahead of Riku trailing with most of the bags.

“Right behind you!” He would catch up, that much was sure. In more ways than one. After all this time, Riku finally had the strength to protect what mattered.


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SoRiku: I Love You

Kingdom Hearts 3 Spoilers

Riku relaxed into the small sofa of his Traverse Town apartment with a content sigh. Yen Sid said he was always welcome at the Tower, but Riku felt better having a place of his own. Besides, when people came to Traverse, he could help them adjust to their new lives better if he lived there.

But today wasn’t about that.

He invited Sora over after their missions to just play games, watch movies, and be kids for a bit. They both grew up fast, but Sora didn’t have to. Riku made that necessary, and now he wanted to make it right.

His crush on Sora was part of that, selfish as that might be… But it wasn’t the right time to mention it to Sora. Not yet.

When his best friend first got there, dropping his sleepover bag next to the shoes he kicked off, he was all smiles and energy—typical Sora. Riku couldn’t help but smirk at the sight and tease him just a little. But now?

Riku turned to his sleeping friend resting on his shoulder, snuggled in close under his arm and muttering incoherently off and on. He never bothered to pause the movie, knowing the sudden silence could very well wake him up.

And how could Riku be anything but happy as long as Sora was there?

Sora deserved some rest after everything he carried on his own for all those years. He was under so much pressure—to be happy, to always be helping, to be exactly like he was as a kid but still a hero across the worlds. Ones he and Kairi hadn’t even seen, but Sora had saved.

Who else got the privilege of seeing him late in the day, napping away with the occasional murmurs of a dream about pirate life? Riku wanted to believe it was special to him. To them. That he could trust Riku now that things were different and like they were all at once.

Let everyone else see Sora as a dumb kid until they need something from him… As much as he resented that perspective of Sora, he couldn’t blame the others. They didn’t know him like Riku did. It was up to him to show them and Sora all he could be because it was who he already was.

Limbs in a tangle under the blanket that was once on the back of the couch, and the faint ghost of a smile on his boyish face… Riku caressed Sora’s cheek, lightly, as softly as he could to not wake him up and have to explain himself. “I love you, Sora. No matter what might change.”

For now, it was enough to just say it to him whether he could hear or not.

A Hero’s Burden: KH3 Spoilers

So I was doing some thinking on Luxu and Sora, and the parallels between them as protagonists of their own stories (though Luxu doesn’t have a game at the moment, of course)… And how much I’d love to analyze that like the nerd I am. And here we are!

Luxu

Sadly, there’s not much on Luxu himself before he returns as Xigbar. But I can glean some information from The Case of Luxu!

And yeah, he’s not exactly a hero, per se, but he’s got a quest and a mentor and bear with me here

The Gazing Eye

kingdom hearts back cover luxu.jpg

The Keyblade he was given didn’t have a name, but Luxu assumed this was its name. It’s something both literal and philosophical— there is literally an eye in it and it gives MoM the ability to see into the future.

And once he’s told it has no name, he repeats “No Name” with a breathless interest, giving the Keyblade a closer look. It’s safe for us to assume, then, that he’s a philosophical person who looks for deeper meaning in things and that he also reveres the Master of Masters like all the Foretellers do.

Whatever he told Luxu, the seventh member would have been interested and sought depth in the message he was given— whether it was there or not.

EWWW

But when he’s told that it’s the Master’s eye, he recoils and says “ew” immediately. From his voice here in particular, we can assume Luxu was young. Perhaps Sora’s age at Kingdom Hearts 1, but likely a little bit older.

Here’s where it gets interesting, though. When MoM asks him accusingly if he thinks that’s gross, Luxu hesitantly answers, “N-no.” He holds his hand out towards MoM in a disarming gesture, looking a little crestfallen.

So even though he just said Ew and clearly thinks it’s gross, he said he didn’t. Why lie? Based on his body language, he either didn’t want to disappoint MoM or didn’t want to hurt his feelings.

Later in life, I would call that a manipulation, but Luxu’s overall sincerity and inability to hold back his emotional responses here (such as recoiling and saying ew), I think it’s truly a little bit of both.

His Role

kingdom hearts back cover luxu box.png

When he’s told his role, he makes the connections quickly— his role is what allows the Book of Prophecies to exist. Luxu is smart, but for now, he tends to think in linear patterns. As most people do.

MoM tries to congratulate him on a job well done, but Luxu only said, “But I haven’t done anything yet.” This is a far cry from his actions as Xigbar, who sits on ceilings and casually warps space regularly while also helping out with some heart science and time travel.

The first step of his role was the most brutal, which I’ll expand on in this next section.

Luxu’s Disposition

Given how jumpy he can be, he’s likely kept to himself for the most part in his youth, possibly even being distrusting.

At one point, MoM says bingo and points in Luxu’s face and the younger man jumps and draws back to get some distance between them. This tells me Luxu dislikes sudden movements and people being in his space.

That said, all the Foretellers knew who he was even when he was Xigbar and presumably didn’t look like himself. So they knew him well enough to recognize his heart regardless of its vessel, at least.

His isolation during his role that took literally hundreds of years to see to fruition did not do him any favors in this regard. Especially considering he didn’t want to go alone and asked if he really had to, even wondering aloud what the other Foretellers would be doing.

With that and his eagerness to help MoM when pulling out the box, I think it’s a fair claim that Luxu doesn’t necessarily like people, but he’s loyal to those who are close to him. He dismissed his Keyblade the second he realized MoM was struggling with the box, running over to help him even though the job was mostly done.

And his promise to not open the box if he was told what was inside was softly spoken, but sincere, further cementing the notion that he’s devoted to those he already holds close.

But he’s also very curious and loves to push boundaries. If he’s told no, it just makes him want to do whatever it is more. Like not knowing what was in the box paired with not being able to open it made him really want to know what was inside.

And even when MoM told him what was in the box, he wanted to know why. This driven curiosity carried over to his time as Xigbar in the most destructive of ways, where learning secrets was worth nearly any cost.

His Descent

When he was told to just stand by and watch “as things unfold between the others”, the direct instructions from MoM, it was probably actually difficult to do. See them turning on one another, these people that he cared about and trusted, and worse yet— they were bringing the whole world down with them.

It’s no wonder that he grew to value emotional ties so little. It was those ties, their hearts, that led them so wrong. This affirmed that Luxu was right to distrust people, even friends, and that was the start of his descent down a slippery slope.

And now I draw my parallel.

With Sora!

sora riku soriku kingdom hearts

He’s curious, competitive, thoughtful, and loyal. Sora values his friends above all else and there’s nothing he won’t do for them.

To someone like Luxu, who started his journey by watching his friends destroy each other and the lives of those around him, it must be hard to see someone with a good deal in common with his younger self.

Sora also watched one of his friends turn on him, even going so far as to make him feel worthless.

But he was able to act. He wasn’t confined to a role. Sora stepped in and didn’t lose faith in his friends. Whether Luxu thinks he’s a fool who only put off the inevitable betrayal or resents him for being able to save the people he cared about (or a third option I can’t see yet), Sora is a reminder of how Luxu used to be.

Worse, how he could have been.

Then you get into meta narrative bits, like Kairi and Riku either expressly telling Sora or implying that he should never change.

As Sora battles with his insecurities, especially in KH3, it’s possible for him to go down a similar path as Luxu and lose his hope and optimism. For someone like Sora, that would make him change completely.

I can’t say that Kairi and Riku knew that was a risk or if Nomura is teasing that option with Sora. But I personally find it interesting that Luxu can be paralleled with Sora, at least with how they began their journeys, and I hope it is highlighted in some future game or DLC.

But most of all, I hope you had fun reading this!

Hearts’ Reunion: Zemyx

“I’m sorry you had to see me that way, Demyx,” Ienzo explained. It wasn’t much of a greeting for their agreed upon “chat” in the labs, but it had to be said sooner rather than later. Demyx seemed uncomfortable in the moment between Ienzo and Ansem the Wise, and it took Demyx speaking up for him to even realize that. Ienzo shook his head at such a serious oversight. And to think he believed he’d improved so much in understanding social cues since recompletion. He was proud of it, even.

“Nah, it’s no big deal,” Demyx dismissed with a wave, or as much of one as he could manage with two cups in his hands. Thick straws jutted out of the plastic film covering them and dark spheres sat at the bottom inch or two. Ienzo eyed the drinks, glancing up to Demyx questioningly. This was not part of their plans for this reunion and he couldn’t resist his curiosity.

A trait Demyx knew well from his regular visits to see him in the castle labs. He avoided his missions at all costs, but Demyx certainly always found time for social calls… Which led to their friendship and eventually evolved into something quite a bit more despite their lack of hearts. Pushing that thought away for now, Ienzo drew himself back to the present and willed his mind to stay on track.

“I just wasn’t really sure how to handle it. And, uhh, the others might’ve caught on if I dragged my feet.” After a thoughtful pause and a pout, he laughed. “Eventually. And Vexen, man, he is a terrible liar! He’d probably get me into more trouble with whatever story he cooked up.”

Ienzo chuckled at the thought. Even could keep his fair share of secrets, but it’s true that he had insufficient skills in impromptu lies. Given time to plan, at least, Even could deceive as well as any of them. But he had another question to address. “Demyx, what are those…?” He pointed to the cups and Demyx started as if he had completely forgotten they were there. Perhaps he had.

“Oh! Right!” He offered one to Ienzo, smiling from ear to ear. “You gotta try this! There’s a world out there with this stuff called bubble tea,” he answered with a shake of the cup he held out. The black orbs in the bottom jostled about to demonstrate his point that they were the reason for the name. Rather, Ienzo presumed that was the case. “I wanted to surprise ya, so I went with something I thought you’d like.”

“Thank you, but,” he trailed off, folding his arms as he examined the drink. “What is it, exactly? You’ve brought me a fair share of tea, but never anything like this.”

“I found it out—” Demyx cut himself off with a grumble, frowning. “Doing stuff.” Ienzo raised an eyebrow at that. Had Demyx taken up pretending his missions with the Organization didn’t exist? They were both well aware that he’d been deceived back into their ranks, so there was nothing to benefit from acting as though that wasn’t the case.

“It’s tea with some flavored milk, sugar, and they let you put a buncha stuff in it. I stuck with the classic chewy tapioca because the popping boba has this little flim that gets stuck in your teeth, and it’s just kinda weird. Still fun, though, you gotta try that next,” he ended through a giggle.

“Well, thank you,” Ienzo accepted, taking the cup from Demyx. “And now that we’re… getting to chat, I have some questions for you.”

“Huh?” Demyx fiddled with the straw in his cup, angling for the tapioca. “Umm, sure. Shoot.”

“The time at the castle… When we were both with the Organization, I…” Ienzo idly moved the cup around in his hands, busying himself to steady his mind. “Did it mean something to you?” It came out harsher than he meant it to. But what other way was there to ask and get an honest answer?

“You mean dating?” Demyx had a sip of his drink at the single worst time for Ienzo’s nerves, meeting his distressed gaze over the tea. “Aaah. I mean, sure. Even if it was in secret and all, like you wanted, I really lo— Sorry, sorry. I really like you.”

Ienzo sighed in relief, but it seemed there were more problems to resolve. “You can say love, Demyx. And I’m sorry I told you that you couldn’t before. Without believing I had a heart, I…” He shook his head, staring down at his untouched tea. “That was in the past, I suppose.”

Demyx watched him hopefully, brow furrowed but his smile intact. “Right, gotcha. I, uhh, I love you, so yeah, it, umm, it meant a lot to me, Zexion.”

“Please, call me Ienzo,” he diverted, not prepared for his confession even though he had prompted it. “I acknowledge that I am responsible for my actions as a Nobody, but I am using my human name now, and I… I love you as well.” To preoccupy himself, Ienzo finally had a sip of the tea. “Oh, this is delicious.”

“Ha! Called it!”

I’ll miss you

I have never written Saïx before, tbh, and I get the feeling that Demyx and Saïx is an unpopular thematic combo, buuuut…

It’s more about the broship of Axel and Demyx anyway. If nothing else, I had fun. Hope you enjoy it too!

Spoilers below for Chain of Memories and 358/2

His boots brushed the grey-white floor of Saïx’s office while Demyx just… Swung his feet and waited to be yelled at until he died. Again. Maybe he could open a corridor in time to run, but ennnngh… Living up to his title, the Melodious Nocturne hummed an aimless song instead.

[I]He’d just catch me anyway, then he’d be reeeaally mad. Like berserker mad.

“Quiet, Number IX,” Saïx ordered from outta nowhere.

“Eek!” Demyx recoiled, covering his head with arms. One second, two second… Safe yet? He peeked through an opening over his shoulder, that was brave enough. Gold eyes narrowed at him around the big X on Saïx’s face, and… He put his arms down, shrinking in the seat. “Uhh, yeah. Quiet. Got it.”

“Clearly not.”

Saïx glided and kinda stomped to the other side of his desk at the same time (how did he do that?), moonlight from Kingdom Hearts pouring into the giant windows behind him.

Like pretty much everything else in this place, his desk was barren. Well, except for a stack of papers in a filing stand and a couple pens. Next Christmas, Demyx was gonna get him a stress doll. Maybe seven of ’em. For symbolism.

“Heh–” The rest of his laugh died in a fake cough that Saïx bought… Probably ’cause he had something worse to say to Demyx. “Engh.”

“We’ve received a report from Castle Oblivion. You would do well to submit those too,” he warned, looming over the desk. Couldn’t not bring that up, huh? And why didn’t he just sit, this’d be a lot less scary if he just… Didn’t talk?

no, no, that would be waaaay worse

“Umm, okay?” Saïx’s face was a wall, like trying to read blank sheet music. What’d that have to do with Demyx? He was recon, not science or… Whatever they sent Marluxia, Larxene, and Axel there for. Probably fighting, another thing he was so not the right guy for. Still.

“Everyone stationed at the castle has been eliminated.” A stiff smile froze on Demyx’s face and he waited for a breathless beat. Nothing changed. The moon kept on shining and Saïx kept that dead stare. Leaning forward, Demyx kinda felt like he was gonna throw up.

“Wha…” This had to be a bad joke, Saïx would say that just to be mean. No way everyone was gone! “Wait, wait,” Demyx stalled and swatted the air in front of him. Could you get rid of bad thoughts that way? “Everyone’s eli… Gone, so who sent you a report?”

“Number II, not that it’s any concern of yours.”

Now that it wouldn’t make a difference, Saïx sat down. His desk might as well have been a canyon, nothing was reaching Demyx right. “You will need to apply yourself, Number IX.”

He flopped theatrically back into the chair, dropping his arms on the armrests. No hearts, no emotions… Demyx wasn’t supposed to care. Those were the rules.

“We have been reduced to half our numbers,” Saïx droned on with moonlight bearing down on him like a weird kinda spotlight. Demyx got to wondering if Saïx kept notecards too, only hidden under the desk for extra special bad news.

Waaaaiiit… He’d have to feel bad about it to do that. Hmm.

“…and Number VIII isn’t here to protect you from your mistakes.” At some point, he’d stopped listening and from how Saïx was clenching his jaw, Demyx was preeeetty sure that was obvious.

“Mmgh.” Demyx pouted and that just kinda made X-face more annoyed. What was he supposed to do here? He wasn’t the guy with the plan.

And good ol’ Number VII just glared straight on through him, heartless as he claimed they all were. Or maybe he really believed the lie?

Ouch.

“Hey…” Tapping his fingertips together, Demyx wandered into dangerous waters. Metaphorically. “Weren’t you guys friends?”

Aaand there it was.

Demyx gulped and almost stared back down, but that burning glower locked him right in place. W-was he nervous sweating? Ewww…

“Obviously Axel believed you needed that information,” Saïx forced out. Ticking him off this close to the moon, what was Demyx even thinking? Bad bet, don’t go against house, that’s what Luxord would say. “But your focus should be on your work. We don’t have room for slacking off, Number IX. Remember that.”

“Okay, but hey–” Demyx stopped at the soft fwoosh of a dark corridor behind him. “Who’s that?” Just an open corridor sitting between him and the way out. No one else there, so who…? “Oooh.”

“You are dismissed.” Saïx insisted, standing up again. Kinda guessed he was gonna throw Demyx through if he didn’t leave soon and that was a good enough reason to get up too.

“Alright, alright,” he whined and shuffled backwards to the swirling purple-black portal. “But y’know…”

“Dismissed,” he repeated and just a liiiittle bit, Demyx could see his shoulders tense up.

“Got it,” he squeaked and backed through the rest of the way, finding himself alone in the Grey Room. He stood there for a sec, just thinking.

Larxene, Marluxia, Vexen, Zexion, Lexaeus… Axel… All dead. He didn’t even know why. And what’d Saïx tell him personally for? He scratched his head and stared out into the nighttime sky they always had at the Castle.

“Aww man,” he complained to no one. There wasn’t even gonna be a funeral. “I’m really gonna miss you.” No heart, no emotions… Not yet, anyway. Saïx was super lucky.