A Simple Touch

Friendship

"All the ones you hold dear…will soon meet their end…"

Screaming…it was the only unbearable sound that could be heard; as horrifying as it was..someone was being tortured. Everything was growing darker…darker than even darkness itself. Can it even be possible for something to be darker than black?

And yet, after a long pause of silence, another scream broke out into the air. Though, just when things seemed like they couldn't get any worse. A harsh sound of clothing being ripped to shreds, added to the unpleasantness of the screams. After another second, the screams finally stopped; once again hearing the cold bitterness of silence.

Still…without another word, the dim light that appeared previously, kept it's faint glow over the two figures. One was standing, while the other was on his knees with his head down; the boy's hands were being pulled up and bind together with a chain. To add to this horrible image, the boy's clothes were brutally ripped to the core, showing that he was partly naked, as well as more chains being forcefully wrapped around his bruised…weak body.

And… what makes matters even worse…this boy was Sora!

The figure continued to look down at him with his cruel devilish red eyes. He was smiling…admiring the hurt and suffering he did to the poor boy.

"Hmph…you're nothing more than a worthless shell…" the figure said with a twisted smile.

But Sora kept his head down, not saying a word. Being in this position, he convinced himself that he was in another nightmare. It was a while, but Sora remembered the previous nightmare vividly, and after comparing the events to this one he was in, he felt that this one was excruciatingly worse.

"Who…who is this guy?" Sora wondered to himself.

"He…he almost seems inhuman…"

Then Sora immediately felt a hand pick up his head. The figure was now looking at him; both of them looking at each other face to face.

"That face…oh, that precious little face everyone seems to love. You're very kind and optimistic, but in the long run, very naïve. I'm nothing like you at all," the figure said smirking.

And without any further warning, the figure raised his hand and slapped Sora on the side his face. Sora did nothing, but continued to have his head down like he had it before, though now, the only difference was…tears were silently rolling down his cheeks and on to the ground.

"If you're nothing like me, then what are you?" Sora said in a low voice, not making eye-contact.

The figure then gave a little sigh, "Again with that question huh, well, I guess I can tell you now since I had a bit of fun…" he said playing with his hands.

"Let's see…to put it in simpler terms…I'm your shadow," he said waving his hand.

"My…shadow?" Sora asked confused, moving his head up a little.

Though the figure didn't take him seriously, he just laughed at Sora's confusion.

"Yes, your shadow…or maybe I should say, I represent what you would be if you gave yourself over to the darkness…" the figure said.

"I…I would never give into the darkness…" Sora choked out.

"Yeah, keep telling yourself that, you're obviously lying to yourself, since like I said before, you got a brief taste of it. And once when you get a taste, pretty soon in time, you'll be craving for more…succumbing to the darkness again…

You'll turn into your own shadow. You'll turn into me…" the figure said.

"No…no…I'm not listening," Sora said; his voice rising higher.

"Hmph, afraid to see the truth I see.

Sora, your heart is very unstable; noticeably unbalanced, you give yourself over to the light, but with one hit, you can easily be knocked over, finding yourself drowning in the dark; you may not know it now, but darkness will be the end of you.

You'll lose yourself forever, and your friends will pay the price for it…" the figure said.

"No…No...No!" Sora said, trying to break free from the chains; but he couldn't.

Then Sora started to hear the creepy laughter again, so he looked up and saw that the figure was the one doing it. But…as he was laughing, to Sora surprise, the figure started to change. Dark aura was swirling around the figure's body, engulfing him. As Sora kept staring, the figure then tilted his head to the side, giving a creepy smile, showing his teeth; they were sharp and pointy, almost like fangs.

In the end, his whole appearance changed, the figure was dark and shadowy; he looked like he blended pretty well with the darkness around them. Though, instead of having red eyes, they were circular glowing orbs…resembling a Heartless.

Pretty soon after that, he disappeared, leaving Sora alone in the dark. After another second, the chains that were binding him, soon disintegrated, leaving no trace…finally setting Sora free; though he was still hurt and incredibly weak.

As Sora was trying to find the strength to stand, he noticed that the environment around him started to change. Within time, he found that his existence was swept away into another world…or in this case…maybe into another illusion.

Wind picked up heavily, moving against Sora's fragile body; with all the bruises and pain he had, the wind was no help, since it felt like a cold blade piercing through him.

"No…I'm getting really tired of this place…" Sora choked out.

He knew all too well about the place he was in…. it was The Key-blade Graveyard.

"All the ones you hold dear…will soon meet their end…" Sora heard the figure's voice echo.

Though, Sora didn't want to hear him, he just shut his eyes and covered his ears, trying to drown out the voice. But, pretty soon…a couple of screams made him open his eyes.

The voices were calling out his name.

"Sora!"

"Sora!"

As Sora heard their calls, he was able to identify who they belonged to.

"Riku! Kairi!" Sora screamed out.

Then out of nowhere, he started to hear the sound of the creepy laughter again. But Sora tried to ignore it, and continued to call out to his friends again…hoping they would appear.

"Riku! Kairi!" he screamed once more.

"Sora please! Don't do this! Stop!" Kairi's voice rang in his ears.

Hearing this, started to make Sora uneasy, he wondered what was going on, then after a second, three figures appeared from a far, in front of him. As Sora paid more attention to the figures, he was in shock when he saw that they were his friends Riku and Kairi…but most importantly, it was more nerve wrecking when he saw another version of himself with them.

"Sora, please stop, we're your friends, don't you remember?" Sora heard Riku say to his other self.

"Save it, I'm not dumb, of course I know the two of you," Sora said harshly to Riku.

"It's just that…I already outgrew the need for friends like you two..." he continued; raising his Kingdom key at them.

"No…this can't be real, I would never say that to them," the real Sora said; slowly sinking down to his knees.

"I'm done with you all, I have found something even better than friendship, and…as long as you two are alive…I feel like you'll be holding me back so…"

Then the dark Sora jumped and did the unthinkable…with his Key-blade, he stabbed one of his friends; having no sympathy or regret.

"Die…" he said coldly, pushing the blade deeper into Kairi's chest.

Blood splattered everywhere; it was truly horrifying to see. Without another word, the real Sora wanted to do something, he pulled himself up from the ground and attempted to run over to aid his friends, but sadly, due to being bind and tortured, his muscles were weak as well as his body to do anything. He tried pushing his body forward, but it was no good; it caused him more pain than ever.

So without a doubt, he dejectedly collapsed to his knees again; feeling helpless once more. Though, he was screaming at the top of lungs, wanting the nightmare to end.

But sadly, it was far from over, as Sora lowered his eyes to the ground, he started to see a pool of blood; it was flowing freely like water. Without really watching, Sora knew what had happened, his other self eventually pulled the blade out, resulting for Kairi's lifeless body to fall, lying on the ground.

"Kairi…." Sora whispered.

He was starting to feel choked up inside.

Then…another stab was heard, Sora quickly looked up and saw that his other self then went in for Riku…his other close friend. At this rate, it seemed like for Sora, time stand still. More blood was shed, reflecting in his watery blue eyes. Within time, Riku was no more, and fell along side with Kairi. After this, Sora was truly broken…staring at his friends with no words to say; witnessing their tragic ends.

"You…you did this…" Sora whispered to his darker self.

Though, he couldn't hear him, within time, darkness was slowly devouring the world.

"No…..I did this…" Sora continued; paying no attention to the darkness enclosing on him.

Then all of sudden, the Kingdom key appeared in Sora's hand. Without really much to say, he just kept staring at the weapon, seeing the dried blood that was left on it.

"What have I done?!"

The darkness eventually swallowed up the world, leaving Sora alone in the dark again. With the Key-blade already in hand, Sora gripped it tighter.

"Maybe…maybe the darkness has finally got to me…"

Without another word, darkness started to wrapped itself around Sora..slowly devouring him.

Sora immediately opened his eyes, and jumped up from the bed; panting…

He then quickly put his hand over his chest, feeling his heart beating rapidly…

It was still quiet as Sora was trying to steady his breathing.

"What a nightmare…it was worse than the one Vanitas put me through…" Sora said in his mind; still having his hand over his chest.

Pretty soon, his heart was now beating a steady pace, leaving Sora to be a bit calmer, though he continued to wipe some of the tears away from his face that he had. As he was doing this, he unexpectedly heard a knock from the door, within a second, the door opened, revealing it to be Riku.

"Sora?" Riku said looking at him.

Sora wiped away the remaining tears and looked at his friend. After waking up from a nightmare, especially after seeing his two best friends in the world…die; Sora couldn't help but smile with happiness; knowing Riku and everyone else is okay; relieving himself that what he had seen was only a dream.

"Riku!" Sora said happily.

Then without hesitation, Sora jumped off of the bed, running, giving Riku an unexpected hug.

"I'm so glad you are okay," Sora burst out, hugging his friend tightly.

Though, on the look in Riku's face, he was extremely baffled; what was Sora talking about?

"Uh…I'm confused, what's going on Sora?" Riku said; still having the same expression on his face.

"Oh…well…"

Sora didn't really know how to put it into words, after all, the nightmare was truly horrifying, but after a second of thinking, he figured it was best to talk about it to his friend, rather than keeping it a secret. Who knows, to Sora's knowledge, maybe he had the nightmare because he wasn't being truthful of what had happened to him when Vanitas took over. Was that the reason, or was the nightmare foreshadowing an event that was going to happen in the near future.

No, Sora didn't even want to swallow the thought of that idea; the last thing on his mind that he would want is for his friends to be in danger, especially if he's going to be the culprit for their tragic fates.

Sora then finally let go of Riku, but his eyes were still focused on the floor.

"Riku…can I talk to you for a minute or two? Sora said; pushing back his thoughts.

"Sure, after all, what are friends for, right?" Riku said giving his usual smile.

"Yeah…"

"So, what is it that you want to talk about?" Riku said walking over; sitting on the edge of the bed.

"Oh boy, where to begin…" Sora muttered to himself, rubbing the side of his neck.

He eventually walked over to Riku and sat on the edge beside him.

"I…I haven't really been honest with you and Kairi lately, I been keeping a couple of things to myself…but as of now, I can't really keep them inside anymore," Sora said looking down at his hands.

"Well…what is it?" Riku continued to look at his friend.

"I'm not really sure in how to explain it actually, but…I feel like the darkness inside me is trying to invade my mind, and considering in what you went through, you must know how this feels right?" Sora said turning to Riku.

"Yeah…it always tries to lurk its way inside, you can never let your guard down, if you do, you'll easily lose yourself; it's like a never ending battle," Riku said.

"But, the only reason why I had to fight…was because I was harboring Xehanort's heartless inside my heart. He always tried to be superior…wanting to take over my body. And…even when I did have him under control at times, I was still able to use his dark powers…resulting for me to become him.

Though I don't think I have to go into more detail, I mean, I told you this before, remember when I told you about Roxas…" Riku said.

"Yeah, I remember." Sora said; remembering briefly when the trio was at The World That Never Was.

"But wait, I don't get it, how can the darkness be giving you trouble, you're free, ever since you defeated that Vanitas guy who was controlling you," Riku continued.

That's when Sora bit his bottom lip; he had to say it, even though Riku was going to hate him for it.

"I didn't defeat Vanitas…" Sora said in a low voice, he then picked up his hand and put it over his chest, "Like you did, I'm carrying Van's heart inside me."

After Sora finished his statement, everything was surprisingly quiet; Sora was just waiting…waiting for Riku to burst out yelling in anger; scolding him for what he did wrong, kind of like how a big brother would do to his younger sibling.

"No…tell me this is a sick joke Sora," Riku said; his voice still calm, though noticeably getting higher.

"I'm sorry, but it's the truth," Sora said looking at Riku.

After hearing Sora's response, Riku was just lost in words; he never ever thought Sora would do something like this; In Riku's perspective, it almost looked like if Sora was slowly following the same dark path he did, before he found the one that suited his personality.

In an instant, images of Vanitas hurting Riku, Kairi, and the others played back in Riku's mind. Just seeing his soulless eyes…that smirk he always had, and even hearing his cruel laugh while seeing blood being shed; honestly, how can this pure being of darkness even have a heart to begin with? Riku thought it must have been a cruel joke since he clearly believes that Van has no heart and could be capable of doing unspeakable things.

Riku then tighten his fists and got up from the bed, "Are you kidding me! How can you do that Sora, you seen what that guy can do, he clearly has no heart!"

As Riku was yelling at his friend, Sora just sat on the bed, having his eyes closed; hearing…taking in Riku's words; after all, Sora knew it was to be expected anyways.

"I'm sorry for advance if this hurts you," Sora said in his mind.

"No heart, really, I could have said the same thing to you when you left me…your best friend, but I didn't because I still had hope," Sora said out loud; opening his eyes, looking at Riku.

Riku was a bit baffled at first, he didn't really know what was going on in Sora's head, but for Sora himself, it was obvious that he was trying to defend Vanitas.

"What?" Riku asked.

"It was that time when we were both trying to save Kairi; remember…you attempted to kill me before you even became possessed and to boot, you made me feel like garbage…."

Flash Back

"STOP!" Sora yelled running.

As he approached the person, it was no surprise that Sora met up with his friend Riku. Though, is the word friend even appropriate to say now, since after the events that happened between the two? It really is questionable, are they still friends, or has their friendship ceased to exist.

"So, you finally made it, about time. I've been waiting for you," Riku said coldly to Sora.

"We've always been rivals, haven't we?" Riku continued; looking down at his former friend.

"You've always pushed me, as I've always pushed you."

After everything Sora and Riku had been through when they were younger, Sora found it extremely hard to believe the words that were coming out of his friend's mouth. Was this it…has their friendship truly crumbled, leaving Sora only to have false hope of getting his friend back? No…it was a nightmare…it just couldn't be true.

"Riku…" Sora said sadly.

"But it all ends here. There can't be two Key-blade masters."

Though Sora was baffled, "What are you talking about?"

Then Riku raised his hand, "Let the Key-blade choose its true master."

Then to Sora's surprise, the Key-blade that he had in his hand was starting to be pulled away from his grasp; he tried not to let go…but it was no use; it disappeared and reappeared in Riku's hand. Sora was shocked; he lost the Key-blade.

"Maleficent was right, you don't have what it takes to save Kairi," he said seeing the blade in his hand.

"It's up to me. Only the Key-blade master can open the secret door…and change the world."

Though Sora shook his head in disbelief, "But that's impossible. How did this happen?

I'm the one who fought my way here with the Key-blade!" he yelled.

Then Riku just made a cold smirk, "You were just the delivery boy."

At this very moment, everything seemed like it came crashing down on Sora. Everything that he knew, everything that he done to even get to this point…was wasted. He didn't know what to do, it was like if Riku broke him; he broke his spirit, making him fall on his knees feeling…defeated.

"Sorry, your part's over now," Riku continued.

"Here, go play hero with this," he said bringing Sora down even lower.

Riku then threw a plain wooden sword over to Sora, who was still on his knees. What a best friend….Sora must have thought sarcastically in his head; as of now, it was clear to say that their friendship…was over. Riku just left him; how could he do such a thing?

Then, as if things couldn't get any worse, Sora's other friends abandon him too, for the sake of the king's orders.

"Sora, sorry." Donald said sadly.

Donald and Goofy walked away, leaving Sora alone in this world known as Hollow Bastion.

"No...I'm not giving up now, I came here to find someone very important to me," Sora said determined; readying to face the dangers that are waiting for him.

Along the way, even after the way Riku treated Sora, he still had a small glimmer of hope that Riku would come to his senses and come back being Sora's friend again, but until then, he was fully focused on Kairi more than ever.

End of Flash Back

"Okay, I'll admit that that was harsh, but come on, I was being dumb back then, you're still mad about that?" Riku asked.

"No, I'm not mad, you know I get over things pretty quickly," Sora said half-smiling.

"So then why did you bring it up then," Riku raised an eyebrow.

"Because I was trying to get my point across that Vanitas isn't so different from you. You made some mistakes in the past, and well, look at you now. And for Vanitas, it kind of goes about the same way, he made mistakes in his own past, and well…I thought with a little work, I can help him walk a different path," Sora exclaimed.

"Mmm…you really want to help this guy don't you?" Riku said.

"Yeah, I guess it's because I've seen what he had been through in the past, and…well you know me, I always want to help people," Sora said smiling.

"Mmm, Sora must have seen his past when Vanitas was controlling his body, and judging by what Sora said about already knowing him, they probably met some time in the past," Riku thought in his mind.

Sora then let out a little chuckled, "And…in a weird way, he kind of reminds me of you at times."

"Really…" Riku said not really buying it.

"Well…I'm still not comfortable with this idea, but it seems to me that you have some special connection with this Vanitas guy I wouldn't really understand.

So…I hope things turn out okay, though…just remember Sora, don't lose sight of yourself. Don't let the darkness inside you grow, and keep fighting." Riku said putting his hand on Sora's shoulder.

"I will," Sora said.

Then Riku started to trail off on a slightly different subject.

"Yeah, I remember it was like that for me too, I would have nightmares or illusions about losing you and Kairi, but within time, I learned how to control it and not let the darkness trick me anymore…is that what happened to you just now when I came in?" Riku asked.

"Yeah," Sora said, remembering the nightmare. "But, I think I'm okay now."

"Good, well I guess I'll go and tell Kairi you're okay, she told me to check up on you," Riku said walking out the door.

"Okay, oh and Riku, please don't tell Kairi about this, I don't want her to be more worried about me than she already is," Sora said.

"Don't worry, I won't," Riku then closed the door and put his back against it.

After talking to his best friend, he didn't know what to think.

"I should have seen this coming after what Vanitas said to me..." Riku said in his mind.

"Your friend had willingly given into the darkness.

Things don't stay pure forever," Vanitas' voice echoed inside Riku's head.

"I think Sora is in more danger than he realizes…this is bad, what should I do?" Riku wondered to himself.

"Mmmm….by the look in Riku's face, he doesn't seem to trust Vanitas at all," Sora said, looking out at the window.

"Well…I'm still not comfortable with this idea, but it seems to me that you have some special connection with this Vanitas guy I wouldn't really understand," Riku's voice echoed inside Sora's head.

"Special..." Sora whispered.

"Maybe...considering him as...a friend..?

Making myself closer to the darkness?"

Sora kept thinking about all this, but eventually, it all led up to thinking about the recent nightmare that he had.

"I think I put my friends in more danger than I realized…I mean…what if the nightmare really is a foreshadowing of the future.

This is bad, what should I do?" Sora wondered to himself.

It was still quiet as Sora kept staring out at the window.

"I wonder though…" he said in his mind.

Sora then closed his eyes and lowered his head a little.

"Vanitas….

Can you hear me…."

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