A Simple Touch

Shades of Gray

Vanitas looked at Sora with his soulless eyes, he had enough…he just wanted him gone. His grip tightened harder around Sora's throat; choking him.

"Please…don't, don't do this," Sora choked out, trying desperately to break free.

Though Vanitas continued to look at him coldly, "I'm not going to make the same mistake I did with Ven to you…I will diminish the light," he said in his mind.

"Show me anguish…"

It was all too quick, but Riku finally bounced back from the hit he'd received earlier. He held his Key-blade up defensively, ready to fight. Vanitas continued to look, having the same smirk on his face. Seeing this, it only infuriated Riku more.

"I'm going to wipe that smirk off your face!"

"Hmph," Vanitas then raised his weapon, "Go ahead and try."

Without another word, Riku then charged at full speed, about to hit his target; though Vanitas stood his ground, he wasn't the least afraid; to him, this whole fight was just an amusing game. As Riku came close and attempted to strike, Vanitas quickly ducked, making him miss, though it created an opening for Van, so he turned his hand into a fist and punched Riku right in the stomach.

As Riku felt the pain, he broke down to his knees, having one hand over his stomach. Seeing him down, Vanitas then raised his Key-blade about to strike, though as he swung, Riku sensed the attack, and with quick reflexes, raised his own Key-blade and blocked him; resulting for the two weapons to clash.

"We got to help Riku!" Kairi cried to the others, but they were still surrounded by the Unversed that Van had created.

Mickey, Donald and Goofy would destroy a creature, but every time when one was destroyed, another kept appearing, leaving them trapped.

"And I thought I seen the last of these things," Mickey said, destroying another.

"What? You mean you know what these things are?" Kairi questioned, looking at one of them.

"Yeah, they're called Unversed, they're creatures based on negative emotions, my Master told me about them back when I was still in training," Mickey said.

Kairi then ran and eliminated another, after she did, her gaze turned towards her friend Riku. She saw that he was shooting a fire spell, but every time the fire would charge, Vanitas would just teleport in another direction, resulting for the fire to hit a wall instead.

Her grip on the Key-blade tightened, "I have to do something."

Emptiness….emotionless...no warmth of light to fill the void; at this moment, everything seemed like it was turning gray. Sora…was going to die, or…at least it looked that way.

Sora continued to struggle, but was still too weak to break free, though out of the struggle, he managed to choke out another sentence.

"Tell me? Is this what you have tried to do to Ven, because to me, it seemed like he cared about you..."

Without really knowing it, Sora's question and statement, felt like jagged knives piercing Van's body; making him angrier…making him remember the shaded memories he wishes to forget. Without another word, to Sora's surprise, Vanitas finally let go of him, resulting for Sora to collapse to the ground on his knees.

Sora ended up coughing, inhaling and exhaling, slowly regaining his ability to breathe; he thought it was over, but he was wrong. After a split second, Vanitas then raised his hand, and with full force, hit Sora on the side of his face.

The hit was so brutal, that Sora fell to the ground. Not really to Van's surprise, he saw that blood was slowly dripping down from the left side of Sora's eyebrow. Van then picked up his leg, and forcefully placed his foot on Sora's chest. Vanitas then leaned a little closer, though still having one foot on top of him.

"Ventus? Care, for me? Don't make me laugh," Vanitas said coldly.

"Ventus never cared about me, hell, he didn't even want anything to do with me, let alone care. He valued his friends more and was willing to destroy me for them…" Vanitas continued, looking down at Sora.

"But…you cared about him," Sora said softly, looking at Vanitas.

"I know you'll probably say that you don't, but…those memories I saw, it showed me that you really did care for him." Sora continued.

"Really…your mind is made up on that, I hated Ventus, he was a weakling, a dim pathetic light that should have burned out from the start, I only took care of him, because it was an order, no goodness of me came out of it," Vanitas said.

"But why…why do you hate him?" Sora asked.

"Because I just do," Vanitas snapped.

"But why?" Sora snapped back.

At this point, Vanitas really felt like breaking Sora's neck for asking these questions. It looked like if Van was going to explode at any moment.

"BECAUSE I ENVIED HIM!" Vanitas shouted, nearly bursting into tears.

Sora's eyes widen in shock after hearing Van's response, to him, it almost looked like if Van was going to break down again, like before.

"He never had to deal with this pain, he never had to deal with this feeling of being alone… he had everything that I wish I had.

He didn't remember the pain that happened to him, he didn't have to worry about being alone…he had those two friends of his…I…envied him."

Then after a second, Vanitas ended up trailing off, sinking deeper into his mind, lost in thought…remembering that day.

Vanitas' Point-of-View

Another day, another step closer into getting this…x-blade. Oh how I crave its unknown power, if Master said it can break me free from this tormenting cycle, than my conscience is clear; I have to get stronger and reunite with Ven, to end my suffering.

After that "lesson" Master gave me the first day of training, I've worked extremely hard to get where I am at this point. Master said I'm improving, yet he says I'm still soft in some areas, which I think is repulsive. I don't really see it, since I'm practically killing myself to even carry out this goal. So…due to this assumption he has, I would still get a few more brutal beatings in some of my training sessions as punishment.

You would think I would be bothered by this, but honestly, I couldn't care less about anything anymore. No tears are really worth being shed since the damage of me being broken has already been done; you can't really help something that has already been broken anyways. To me, tears are insignificant…they show that you are weak and helpless…so in the end, I have buried my pain and my "tears" have already dried out.

Like I said earlier, it was another day in this pathetic wasteland; just staring out, eyeing at the never-ending field of abandoned keys. I had recently finished my training session with my Master, and as usual, I received, yet another beating for my noticeable flaws. As I was still fixed on the gloomy scenery in front of me, I couldn't help, but raise my hand, feeling…touching the nearly dry blood underneath my bottom lip. After so long, I'm already familiar with the dreadful taste of blood.

With all this happening in my life, it makes me wonder how Ven is doing. Is he suffering just as much as me? Or…is there something going on in his life that is different from mine. I…I actually hate to admit it, but…I think I miss him. He was annoying and a handful to take care of, I can't really put my finger on it, but, I guess… I was okay, having him around, despite me saying that I wanted to get rid of him.

The cold wind continued to move across my hair, as I kept thinking, "I wonder what Ven is doing now?"

And…it was weird, just like that; I unexpectedly started to feel something unusual inside my body. I slowly put my hand over my chest…this feeling…it; it was different from what I would usually feel. My body didn't feel pain, or loneliness, I was feeling calm, and, and happy; like if my cold heart was being surrounded by warmth. I then looked up at the sky, closing my eyes. This feeling felt wonderful, for the first time, I felt full… not empty.

After another second of taking this feeling in, I then lowered my head and opened my eyes; it was strange, I wasn't in the Key-blade Graveyard anymore, instead… I was standing in the middle of an unknown world. It felt like if I was seeing more of a vision than actually being present. The atmosphere was pretty nice and quiet, but after taking a few steps forward, a faint cheerful laugh broke the silence and made me stop.

Within a moment, I turned my head to the source and found that the laughter came from Ven. I just couldn't believe it; the last time I saw him, he couldn't even show emotions, let alone talk. Now…it's like if his heart was completely healed; laughing…smiling…and seeing him run; it's like if he doesn't even remember his own pain that Master inflicted on him. Why…why couldn't have that happened to me, I wish I didn't have to remember my pain, just going around, being happy like him.

Yet, why do I sense this warm feeling in my heart to begin with? I then turned my attention back to Ven. He ended up sitting down on a field of grass smiling, admiring the clouds.

Could…could Ven be the reason I'm feeling this way? Could I feel what he feels? Happiness…laughter…love, all these positive emotions I could never feel. Then, something popped in my head now that I was seeing him, it made me wonder, if he's healed, and has no memory of his pain, then, does that mean he doesn't…he doesn't remember me?

Without another word, I slowly made my way towards him, yet I didn't really go far, something inside me was holding me back, so I kept my distance; though the question still floated around in my head, I wanted to know. So without really thinking, I called out his name, hoping he would hear me.

"Ven!" I shouted, though there was no response; so I tried again, but a little louder.


And it seemed like my second attempt worked; he slowly turned his head and faced me. This was my chance…to see if he remembers. As he looked at me, I saw in his eyes that they reflected confusion…he just kept staring, not saying a word; in seeing this, it was clear to say, he doesn't remember me. Everything that happened to him, his past, his pain, and knowing me…all those memories… were gone. At this point, it felt like I was more alone, and broken than ever, my so-called brother…has forgotten me.

After that, everything around me… suddenly turned black and white… with me feeling the cold wind once again. I didn't know what to do, without thinking, I just broke down to my knees…this…this felt like a nightmare. Then, just as I thought things couldn't get any worse, I heard another voice in the distance; a masculine voice.

"Ven, there you are, I've been looking everywhere for you," a young man said, walking up to Ven.

"Weird, I thought I just saw someone…it must have been my imagination," I heard Ven mutter.

He then turned and got up, having a big smile on his face.

"Terra," he said happily.

"You ready for some more training?" Terra asked.

I even saw that he walked up to Ven smiling, putting one hand on his shoulder.

"You bet!" Ven said with a wide grin, "But where's Aqua?"

And in that moment, that's when I saw a young woman, walking down a small set of stairs, out into the field.

"I'm right here," she said giving a smile.

"Great, now that we're all here, we can get started," Terra said.

"Yeah, I can't wait to take you on Terra, I've been practicing on my own, so maybe this time I can beat you," Ven said.

Though, as I was seeing this vision, I saw that the young man named Terra, just gave a small chuckle, and rubbed the top of Ven's head, messing up his hair a little.

"No need to get competitive about it Ven, but let's see what you got," Aqua said, throwing a cheerful laugh as well.

"Yeah," Terra agreed.

So…those two people are the ones who overshadowed me. By the look in Ven's face, he's truly happy and carefree with the new life he has; but…just seeing all that happiness…all that laughter…all that love…IT'S SICKEINING.

And in that moment, that wonderful feeling, quickly descended, having my heart as cold as ice again.

I then closed my eyes and opened them again; it felt like if I was torn away, and brought back into the dark depths of my reality. So without really anything to say, I slowly got up and summoned my Key-blade, holding it firmly in my grasp.

"Ven…" I whispered.

And then as quick as a flash, I picked up my weapon and sliced a big rock that was nearby me. The cut was so deep and sharp, the rock broke into millions of tiny pieces; I was beyond angry, that I took it out on this thing.

I was forever alone…and I will always be alone. I'll still consider going with the plan, but now…if Ven doesn't pull through, I'm going to have to find another way to make this plan work without him.

End of Vanitas' POV

Remembering this…really struck Van hard, he finally picked up his foot from Sora's chest. To Sora's surprise, as he was slowly getting up, he saw that Van just broke down to his knees, frozen, not giving an expression, nor even saying a word; he was still stuck in his trance.

Sora was still weak, and badly beaten, but he forcefully fought through the pain and made his way towards Van. He wrapped his arms around him giving him…a hug; though Van was still frozen, his expression hadn't changed.

"I'm sorry…I'm sorry that all this happened to you…

You were never loved…never shown kindness…nor had friends…you were lonely and most importantly…hurting.

And… you didn't know how to deal with it, so you would hurt others…just like how Xehanort would hurt you…

Please…let me help you…let me help you get a second chance…" Sora said nearly crying over Van's shoulder.

"I…I just don't get it…even after hurting him, he still insists to help me," Van said in his mind.

Vanitas ended up trailing off again, remembering when he first met Sora. Just seeing him as an infant, Sora had that happy face, and wanted to be held by Van. Even after he grown, Sora still had that same cheerful smile when he met Van again at the age of four; it just showed that Sora wasn't afraid of Vanitas at all, in a weird way, unknowingly, Sora probably considered him as... a friend.

"Hmph…he's brave, I'll admit, but…" Van said in his mind.

Vanitas then raised his hand, and rested it against Sora's back, but as he did, he started to curve his fingers, pressing them hard against Sora's body; Van's fingers were like small daggers, ripping the jacket, and the shirt, piercing the skin, opening, yet another wound, resulting for more blood to flow out.

"Old habits…die hard."

More tears were falling down Sora's face after trying to take the pain; but, even when Vanitas was doing this to him, Sora still didn't let go. He thought, if Van probably took out all his pain on him and was able to survive it, it would lead to a chance that he could reason with Van.

"Is this what it felt like? The beatings...that Xehanort did to you?" Sora continued.

"No…they were much worse…" Vanitas said.

Kairi ran and eliminated another Unversed; she was determined to help Riku and get her friend back. She was able to get out of the swarm of Unversed, but Mickey, Donald and Goofy weren't so lucky; they stayed behind, still fighting the monsters off.

As Kairi turned her attention towards the other battle, she saw that Vanitas was frozen for some odd reason, but as Riku came running, Vanitas quickly snapped out of it and kicked him. He went flying, hitting himself hard against a wall.

Seeing this battle, as Van was raising his Key-blade, it stated that he was going to give the final blow, but Kairi got tired and stepped in, breaking his concentration.

"Hey!" she yelled.

Vanitas then turned to her, almost wanting to laugh.

"Oh, it's you, you aren't still mad about that little kiss earlier are you?" Van said playing with her, since he obviously knew she would be.

Kairi didn't respond; she just kept glaring at him.

"Oh, what can I say, specific emotions really can blind people, that is, if you know how to play the right chords though," Vanitas continued.

"Shut up!" Kairi yelled.

"I had enough of this, I don't know exactly who you are, but give Sora back his heart!"

She then raised her Key-blade, ready to fight.

Vanitas then gave a chuckle, "Funny...you do have her spirit…" he then raised his own weapon once more.

"But I'm afraid I can't do that, Sora's heart has sank deeper into the darkness, almost no hope of ever returning; after all, I don't see why it matters since he gave in willingly."

Then as quick as a flash, Vanitas jumped high, and charged at Kairi, intending to stab her.

"Die!" he said coldly.

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