A Simple Touch

To Be Afraid

"You feel the presence of a shadow behind you, but when you look back, there's nothing there.

You feel confused and lost, but when you close your eyes, there's nothing but the sound of his wicked laughter.

You feel hatred and rage, but when you drift deep in thought, you tend to let your emotions get the better of you.

In the end, no matter what the outcome, the three of you were….scared."

Vanitas was sitting on the sand, close to the shore. After a few seconds of kneeling down, he figured it would have been best to just sit instead. He eventually left his gaze from the water, to the small item in his pocket. It took a moment, but Vanitas then gave a slight sigh, and held out the gift, now having it in his palm.

"It's a seashell; it's always been a hobby of mine to collect these.

And, I heard that, if you hold the shell close to your ear, you can hear the sounds of the ocean waves.

You could probably do the same thing too Vanitas, just holds this up to your ear, and hear the waves to make you calm whenever you feel troubled," Xion's voice echoed in Van's head.

Van then let out another sigh, and put his fingers over the pink seashell.

"Thoughtful of her, but…after what I have been through, I don't think this will really help me.

I mean, after all that destruction in the vision I saw, I wonder…

Can I really be good…or…am I just fooling myself…" he said to himself; with his dark amber eyes trailing down to the sand.

With nothing left to say, already thinking that the shell in itself was worthless, Vanitas simply dropped it, and with his foot, scooped up some sand; burying it.

"If Ven asks, I'll just say that I lost it…"

And within that moment, Van started to hear foot-steps; from Ventus, no doubt.

"Hey Van, I'm back," Ven said cheerfully walking closer to him.

Not really saying a word, Van just turned and looked at Ven. At first, he was quite baffled in what he had brought, but then it clicked. Vanitas wanted to be alone for a bit, so he made up a lie, saying that he was hungry, in the end, sending Ven to go and bring him something.

"I-I brought what you asked for," Ven continued; holding out a Paopu fruit to him.

"Oh yeah, thanks…" Van said taking the fruit.

Even though he wasn't really hungry, Van made himself eat the fruit anyway. After all, if Van didn't eat it, he knew that Ven would think something is up, and would ask about it. So in eating, he would be avoiding an unwanted conversation.

As Vanitas took another bite, Ven walked and sat down beside him. With one look, it was clear that Ven also had a Paopu fruit too; though instead of eating it like Van, Ven was trailing off, deep in thought once more. It was faint, but it seemed like his memories were still slowly coming back piece by piece. And, after what it seemed like forever, Ven found his voice again and asked something that was quite strange.

"Van?" he asked turning to him.

"What?"

"I was wondering, have you ever been…scared, in your life?"

"Huh? Where did that come from?" Van asked; raising an eyebrow.

Ven then turned away, and scratched the back of his head. He didn't know where the question came from, or even knew how to explain it.

"Uh, well…" Ven said.

"I don't really know….

Just thinking out loud I guess…" Ven continued; though in a low voice.

"Hmmm….do you remember a time when you were scared?" Van asked; completely ignoring Ven's question.

"Hmm…well, besides the thought of losing my friends, I guess there was a time in my life where I was really scared," Ven said; putting his hand over his chest.

"And when was that?" Van asked; raising an eyebrow.

"I think…I think it was when you were created. I remember what my Master did to me vividly; striking me down with that Key-blade of his, but…after that, everything turned into a blur until Terra and Aqua came into the picture.

But since I said earlier I'm starting to remember things; I think I'm remembering the feeling of being afraid in that time," Ven explained.

"Could…could he maybe also remember the pain as well?" Vanitas wondered in his mind.

"It's a bit hazy, but, because of what Xehanort did, I think…I was afraid of the key-blade," Ven continued.

"That's strange, I had the same feeling back then too," Van said in his mind.

Flash Back

It had only been a few days since Ven was under Terra's and Aqua's care. He was no longer in the hands of Xehanort. If you look at the entire picture, you would say that Ven was in more capable hands; but of course, if you look at the situation in Ven's point of view, it was quite uncomfortable and strange.

Ven wasn't use to the kindness, and the attention of unfamiliar faces; sure they were nice, but, deep down, he felt like something was missing. Merely making him a mute and being unresponsive when being asked questions. The act wasn't out of rudeness; it was because he just couldn't answer them to begin with. After waking up from his coma, Ven just felt drowsy, and couldn't possibly remember anything anymore.

Ven was in his new given room; sitting on his bed…motionless. He didn't know what to do, or know what to think. Was he fine? Was he hurt? Was he lonely, or even hungry? No, simply nothing came to the innocent child's mind. It seemed like after waking from the coma, he was more broken than ever.

At this point, Ven looked like a lifeless doll, not even the sound of a door opening made him responsive. As Aqua entered the room, she could see that Ven was still in the same state. A frown appeared on her face, but then Aqua figured, in order for Ven to be on the road to recovery, she had to give more positive energy. So, with that idea in mind, Aqua greeted Ven with a cheerful smile instead.

"Hello Ven, how are you feeling today?" Aqua asked; walking to Ven's bedside.

Again, Ven was motionless; not even making eye-contact.

"Hmm, do you…at least remember my name?" Aqua continued; now sitting on the edge of the bed.

With this question, it seemed like it got Ven's attention. He didn't react much, but, Ven picked up his head, now facing Aqua.

"My name?" Aqua repeated.

"A-Aqua…?" Ven said; though in a very low voice.

"Yes, that's right," Aqua said; smiling cheerfully.

But Ven continued to look at Aqua with a blank stare. For him, it was confusing, should he smile back? What was he suppose to do?

"Oh, I almost forgot what I came here for," Aqua continued.

Without Ven noticing, Aqua recently came into the room with a basket full of goods, and when she sat down on the edge of the bed, she placed the basket on the floor. Aqua quickly retrieved the basket and took out a small white box. And like an innocent child, Ven titled his head, focusing on the box.

"I thought you might be hungry, so I baked some cookies," Aqua said smiling.

She showed the box to Ven and slowly opened the top. The smell of the cookies were delightful, but it still wasn't enough to trigger a simple emotion out of Ven. By the look of his blank stare, he probably was hungry, but didn't even know it.

"Here, have as many as you like," Aqua said; handing the box to Ven.

At this point, Ven didn't know what to do. He took the box since Aqua gave it to him, but after that…nothing.

"Here, let me help," Aqua said; getting a cookie from the box.

"You just open your mouth, and take a bite. Like this," she continued; demonstrating.

Ven then saw Aqua eat the cookie, and with nothing to say, he eventually took one from the box and did the same thing. To Aqua, it was kind of hard to tell if Ven liked it or not, but in the end, she assumed that he must have, since Ven kept eating one cookie after another.

As this was going on, the door opened again; getting Aqua's attention.

"So, how is he?" Terra asked; coming in.

"I don't know…still the same I guess…." Aqua said; returning her gaze to Ven.

"Hmm…I see," Terra said in a low voice.

"For some reason, I feel like this is my fault," Terra said; scratching the back of his head.

"What do you mean?" Aqua asked.

"Well, when he first came here, if I didn't bombard him with so many questions, he wouldn't have gone into a coma, and end up like this," Terra explained.

"Well, if you put it that way….but, it was only an accident, you shouldn't blame yourself Terra," Aqua said.

"Yeah, I know," Terra said; though he still couldn't shake the feeling.

"On another subject, Master Eraqus said we should let Ventus take part in our training sessions, who knows, maybe some fresh air will help him," Terra continued.

But then Aqua made a sour face,"Um…are you sure that's a good idea?"

"Well, it's better than for him to be cooked up here in this room," Terra responded back.

"Hmm…you have a point there, but…I don't know…"

To Aqua, seeing Ven in this state… didn't really put her at ease. Even though she only spent a few days with him, Aqua couldn't help but to be protective over Ven; with her portraying herself as a mother, or…maybe even a big sister.

"Come on Aqua, it will be fine," Terra said; trying to sound reassuring.

"Well…okay…"

After the situation was decided, Terra and Aqua took Ven outside to train; or for starters, for him to get some fresh air. Ven was doing fine, with him being able to walk and stand on his own; but he still had a blank stare nonetheless.

"Okay Ven, are you ready?" Terra asked; taking his position.

"Don't worry, he'll take it easy. Here, in your state, you're not ready to train with real ones yet," Aqua said; handing Ven a wooden sword to fight with.

Without another word, Ven took the sword and Aqua simply took a few steps back; waiting for the fight to begin.

"Okay, let it begin," Terra said; making his fighting stance.

And in that moment, the world around Ven felt like it was going in slow motion. As he was seeing Terra, Ven saw that he pulled out a weapon quite different than his. The weapon was also made out of wood, but its shape looked familiar. It was shaped like a key….it…it was a wooden Key-blade. As soon as Ven made the connection, he immediately dropped his sword and started to back away. It couldn't be seen to Terra and Aqua, but Ven's blank eyes were portraying fear. He was scared…scared of the Key-blade; thinking that the dreadful weapon was real.

"Ven, are you alright?" Aqua asked.

But Ven wasn't listening. In an instant, a flashback of a Key-blade piercing his chest came into Ven's head. He was remembering the "incident," what Xehanort did to him. Like before, this was so much to take in, that Ven quickly lost his balance and fell to the ground.

"VEN!" Terra and Aqua cried.

As Ven was now on the ground, he felt extremely lost and confused. What was this emotion he was experiencing? Why did it feel so dreadfully familiar, like…if he didn't want to remember it? Ven then put his hands over his head and shut his eyes tight. To him, seeing darkness was probably better than seeing a possible dark memory. But, not even that alone helped, since Xehanort's evil laugh was creeping up on him. In the end, all this was too much for Ven… that he ended up falling into a coma once more.

Though before he did, he uttered something that Terra and Aqua couldn't hear, as they came to his aid.

"I'm scared….." Ven whispered.

Meanwhile in the Key-blade Graveyard, Vanitas was bored out of his mind. He was sitting on the edge of the cliff, gazing at the world's ruins, but eventually though; he got tired and decided to lie down on the ground instead. He never had done this before, but, as he was lying there, he just kept gazing at the sky; eventually sinking into his thoughts.

Before, Van always experienced nothing, but hatred and rage, though now, after Ven's departure, the emotions some-what descended. Vanitas didn't know why, but, he never really questioned it anyways. All that he could think about…was how relieved he was, now that Ven is gone. But still, he couldn't shake the feeling in why Ven looked so sad when Xehanort said he was leaving. Vanitas remembered confronting his Master about sending Ven away, and when Xehanort confronted Ven about it, Van saw how upset Ven looked when he gazed through the window. At that time, Vanitas felt some kind of pity, but to him, in the end, he knew it had to be done.

"Hmph….he probably wanted to stay with me, but, he would have been a goner. So, I have no regrets on my decision…" Vanitas said to himself.

"But still I wonder…why was I created to begin with?

I know I said before, I think it's to become strong, stronger than Ven perhaps, but…for some reason…the idea isn't really sticking…."

After watching the clouds move, Vanitas then gave a sigh.

"Why do I feel like my emotions are building up inside me, every time I think about these things…" he wondered; putting his hand over his chest.

"It's like if I'm going to explode or…maybe something is waiting to be unleashed…"

As Vanitas was still deep in thought, something unexpected struck him. At first, he was feeling the negative emotions, but all of a sudden, one emotion was overshadowing all the others, making Vanitas experience that emotion alone. Because of this sudden feeling, Vanitas got up; with his heart beating rapidly.

At this rate, it felt like if Vanitas' emotions were getting the better of him. He started trembling and when he turned his attention down to the keys in the large field, his eyes widen in shock; making him crawl back a few steps. It was like if he was a completely different person now.

"No…" Vanitas whispered; turning away and shutting his eyes.

But when he did, Van quickly opened them again, since he started hearing Xehanort's evil laughter. For all he knew, he just didn't want to hear that old man. At this point, it could be seen that Vanitas was terrified. And just like Ven, a flashback of a Key-blade piercing Ven's chest came into his head. No matter if it was Ven, Vanitas was still frightened since he is Ven.

"Wha- what is this?" Vanitas asked himself.

"Why…why am I feeling like this all of a sudden?"

Van then put his hands over his head; trying to make it stop. Though, as he did, a voice broke out; echoing in his mind.

"I'm scared…" Vanitas heard Ven say.

But it was quite hard for Van to comprehend in what he heard. He couldn't tell if Ven said those words, or…if he did, since he was experiencing the same emotion too. Who knows…even though the two are apart, they could have said the words simultaneously without even knowing it.

As Vanitas thought he was losing his mind, the feeling suddenly faded. Now bringing back the familiar pain Vanitas always had. He was no longer scared, or trembling, and his heart rate started to beat in a steady pace.

Things seemed fine now, but it left Vanitas baffled; he was probably thinking, what in the world just happened? As a matter of fact, Van isn't the type of person to even get scared.

"Hmm…was I feeling what Ven was experiencing?" Van said; wondering.

But, judging in what Vanitas believes, with him thinking that Ven and him are different, he quickly denied the idea.

"No…it couldn't have been Ven. Something inside me probably snapped, making me act like that," Van then let out sigh, "I think I need to learn how to control my emotions…."

It couldn't be seen by Vanitas, but, as he was sitting, looking up at the clouds again, dark aura was slowly consuming his body.

End of Flash Back

As Vanitas was remembering that day, he some-what chuckled at the thought of it. He always made fun of people for being stupid and naïve, but it seemed like, after going down memory lane, it made him remember how he was like that himself; being naïve before the Unversed came into the picture.

"Hmm….now that I think about it, it does make more sense now," Vanitas said in his mind.

"That was the first real time I experienced what Ven felt, just never realized it until now….

I remember, I relived the same situation when I was training with my Master. I was so angry and lonely, that I was feeling Ven's happiness. But due to seeing him in the vision, it was more convincing for me to acknowledge our connection when I was questioning it…." Van continued.

"Hmph…you think you were afraid of the Key-blade?" Vanitas said out loud; giving his usual smirk.

"Okay I was, satisfied?" Ven pouted.

"Mmmm…I guess, but if it makes you feel better, I guess you could say, that I did have my share of being afraid one time in my life; answering your question that this," Van said.

"Really?" Ven then let out a chuckle, "I didn't think that was possible for you."

"Well you asked," Vanitas said; looking at the ocean.

But as he said this, Van could sense that Ven was giving him a look.

"And if you keep making that face, I swear I'll break your arm," Vanitas continued; moving his eyes to the side.

"Alright, alright," Ven said waving his hand.

Ven then turned; looking at the ocean as well. It was quiet, until Ven broke the silence again.

"I just hope Sora is doing okay," he said changing the subject; giving a sigh.

It couldn't be seen by Ven, but when he mentioned Sora's name, Vanitas couldn't help but wonder how the boy is doing as well.

As Sora, Donald, and Goofy were on the ship, Sora just kept examining the new Key-blade that he had found.

"Still, I wonder…whose Key-blade is this?" Sora said in his mind.

As this question was floating around in his head, Sora then thought about the man he met earlier; making him space out.

"Where would I find this castle?" Sora's voice echoed.

"That answer lies deep within your heart.

In your memories…after all, you've been there before," the man said to him in return.

This little scene was replaying in Sora's head. He wondered…what did the man mean by, that he had been there before; something just wasn't connecting, no matter how hard Sora tried to make some sense out of it.

As Sora was still in his thoughts, Goofy took note of this, and asked him what was wrong.

"Something wrong Sora? You seem to give that look when something is," Goofy said.

"Well…" Sora said turning to him.

It took a moment, but Sora finally told Donald and Goofy about his encounter with the mysterious figure. After a few minutes of explaining, everything was silent, but Sora eventually broke the silence again.

"So that's what happened, but the thing is, I don't even know this castle the man's referring to," he said.

"Hmm…and he said the answer is within your memories?" Goofy asked; making sure.

"Yeah, he did."

As things slowly became quiet again, Donald spoke.

"Hey I got an idea!" he said.

"What is it?" Sora asked.

"I was thinking, maybe we should go to Twilight Town. I have a feeling we might find clues to where the castle could be," Donald said.

"Twilight Town?" Sora asked confused, "What makes you think we could find something there?"

"Well," Donald said thinking, "Remember when we were sleeping in those pods?"

"Yeah."

"Well, what if we were there for a reason, but just couldn't remember once we woke up, surely if we go there and really examine the place, something familiar might make you remember something important.

You know, in why we were they're in the first place, and if it holds some kind of connection to the castle," Donald explained.

"Well…I guess we could try that then…" Sora said thinking it over; but for some reason, he wasn't really convinced on Donald's idea.

But in the end, it was better than doing nothing, and after all, the gang hadn't been to that world in a while. It wouldn't hurt to just go there and make sure the world is safe and isn't in some kind of crisis.

So, with everything settled, Donald turned off the auto pilot and started driving the ship again; now heading to Twilight Town. It took a few minutes, but the gang eventually made it to their destination, and as soon as Sora entered the world, he couldn't help but feel nostalgic.

Merely because of Roxas being born in Twilight Town, the feeling of home still resisted in Sora; making him treat the world like his second home.

"Hmm…it surely has been a while," Sora said; looking around the sandlot.

"Yup, it sure has," Goofy agreed.

"Yeah, yeah, now come on, we got to get moving," Donald said; already walking ahead.

But as he was, a Heartless appeared in front him, blocking their way. Donald quickly took a few steps back and summoned his staff.

"Heartless," he said.

Then out of nowhere, more shadows appeared, surrounding the gang. This made Goofy take out his shield while Sora was standing his ground.

"Well, looks like we have to deal with these guys again huh," Sora said with a chuckle.

As Donald and Goofy ran, taking each shadow out, Sora stayed where he was; glaring at his target. It was very unusual for him, but it seemed like he was very amused; giving a smirk. It was silent, but then the Heartless ran in lightning speed and jumped, attempting to strike, though as this happened, it seemed like Sora was much faster than the creature.

Sora quickly summoned his Key-blade, and sliced the Heartless in half like nothing.

"Piece of cake," Sora said proudly.

But as he turned, Sora saw that more Heartless emerged. So, without another word, Sora ran towards them, and sliced each one; diminishing their existence. Though as the fight was still continuing, Sora started to feel something strange.

"Weird, why do I feel like I have a lot of energy?" Sora wondered to himself as he fought.

At this point, it felt like a never ending battle, every time Sora, Donald, and Goofy destroyed a Heartless, more kept coming in many forms. It couldn't be seen by Donald or Goofy, since they were busy fighting, but Sora was starting to get extremely annoyed.

"Rrrgh, why don't these guys just go away?" Sora said angrily in his mind.

And, without even realizing it, dark aura was starting to surround his body.

"Enough of this!"

And in that moment, Sora lost control of himself, his blue eyes changed to amber while he then unleashed an attack he had never done before. The power was so great, that it diminished all the Heartless; leaving Sora looking around for more. But no more had appeared.

After taking a breath, Sora realized in what he had done, he lost control of himself again, and used the power of darkness to get rid of the enemies. Sora's eyes returned to normal, but Sora was afraid that maybe Donald and Goofy had seen him.

"Whoa, what happened? All the Heartless just disappeared," Donald said looking around.

"Yeah," Goofy agreed.

Due to seeing their confused faces, Sora lowered his head.

"Phew, they didn't see then," he said; making sure they didn't hear.

Sora then walked over, accompanying Donald and Goofy.

"I don't know what happened, but maybe we should start heading to the mansion before more show up," Sora said.

"Yeah, good idea," Goofy said.

And with that said, the gang left the sandlot, eventually walking into the woods. But Donald and Goofy were basically the ones leading the way, since Sora was still thinking about what he had done; making him fall behind.

"I can't believe I did that…

The way I used the power…

Who knows what could have happened if I had done more," Sora said in his mind.

As he kept walking, Sora then gave a sigh, "I have to learn how to control this better.

As far as I know, I'm probably not doing well, since this is the second time I lost it," he continued.

Then in a flash, a memory came back to Sora.

"Once when you get a taste, pretty soon in time, you'll be craving for more…succumbing to the darkness again…

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

Remembering this, made Sora shake his head; he didn't want to make the dream into a reality. Sora was trying as best as he could to think positive, and not let any of this get to him. But, for some odd reason he started to feel extremely uneasy, and most of all…scared.

As Sora kept walking, deeper and deeper into the woods, the situation felt like it had got worse. To Sora, it felt like a shadow emerged from behind him and started to follow. So, due to this assumption, Sora sharply turned back, only to find that nothing was there. Donald and Goofy took note of Sora falling behind, so they stopped and look at him.

"Hey Sora, is everything alright?" Donald asked.

"E-everything is fine, is just that…I thought I saw something, no big deal," Sora said; turning to his friends.

"Okay, well let's go then," Goofy said.

"Yeah, okay…"

Sora then continued walking; catching up to his friends. To them, everything seemed fine, but to Sora, it was a different story. The question that kept floating around in his head was, how long will it take for Donald and Goofy to figure out what is really going on? Will Sora being able to keep in control?

For all that he knew, even though Sora probably imagined a shadow following him, he couldn't shake the feeling that it might have been the darkness trying to play tricks on him.

As the gang finally arrived in front of the gates to the mansion, Sora slowly turned his attention to the window near the second floor. The only thing that could be seen through the window was white curtains. As Sora was gazing at them, he started to remember when he woke up and first saw this world, he even remembered being in the virtual Twilight Town as well, due to Roxas and trying to find the Organization's headquarters.

"Hmm….now that I think about it, I wonder if there are other things in this place that were overlooked…" Sora said in his mind.

"Only one way to find out…"

"Come on, let's go in," Sora said out loud; feeling determined.

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