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Let It Burn

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I.
My story isn’t special. My story isn’t beautiful. My story isn’t even about me, it’s about him.
It’s always been about him.
I’m eighteen when darkness comes to claim my world. The past nine years have been silent, sweet, playful. Before then? That’s the problem. I don’t remember.
Anything.
When I was nine, Del and Amaya woke me up from inside of a cleaning shed. My head was resting against a dirty mop, my feet propped up against a wall. Del insisted I was an alien. Amaya took my hand and led me into the orphanage they lived at, begging the owners to let me stay. I don’t know if they wanted to or were obligated to. I was in too much of a fog to remember, but that’s how it happened and that’s all I remember. Before then isn’t even a blur. It’s completely gone, almost as though the memories weren’t even there in the first place. What do I care though? My teens were good. My friends were kind. I was happy.
And stupid.
For as long as I can remember, Transmute City has been a cold, bleak, dreary mess of fog and cement buildings. The stars are blinking out but before then, it used to look pretty at night, the light of the midnight sky twinkling against the pavement. Now it just looks miserable. Maybe I’ve just become a cynic in my old age. Scratch that, I definitely have.
Amaya has her pretty, black hair clipped up behind her ears. The explosion burned most of it off, but even with the angry scars along her pale face, and the entire left side of her body and her missing left hand, she is still beautiful. Funny, I don’t think I know anyone who looks this beautiful, mutilated, disfigured and with ear length, choppy hair. Her big green eyes flick up to me.
“Ready to close up for the night, Rueki?” She asks, zipping her jacket up, bracing herself for the night air. Not that the daytime air in Transmute City is pleasant. I skim my fingers over the computer at the cash register and heave a sigh.
“Yeah, let’s do it. We haven’t had any customers in hours, I doubt we’ll get any now.” I shrug, bumping the register drawer shut with my hip. And while it’s true that we haven’t had customers in hours, normally that wouldn’t bug me. I like what I do. In theory, I know how to repair a Gummi Ship like a champ. In practice, it’s a whole different thing, but that’s Amaya’s area of expertise. She knows exactly what to do to restore any ship to full power, but she hates test flying them herself. So that’s what I do. Honestly, if we stayed open through the night, just so that I could take someone else’s ship for a spin, it wouldn’t be the first time.
But it would be the first time we were out this late since the explosion. I don’t like the idea of Amaya being out this late, even with me at her side to protect her. Not while she’s still got her arm and leg wrapped in bandages.
Plus Del will start to worry and the last thing I want to do after working late is placate my easily excited boyfriend. It doesn’t take much to work Del into a state of being completely intolerable.
I yank on a pair of black leather gloves that I have stored under the counter, along with my bag and an oversized claw of a weapon—the Godhand. I have to set it on the counter to slide it up my arm and strap myself into it. It buckles above my elbow and at my wrist. I wish I had something a bit more lightweight. I wish I had something that didn’t nearly knock my 5 foot frame over if I fell slightly off balance. I wish I didn’t need to wear this thing everywhere just to keep my friend safe.
The gloves have holes in the fingertips. They’re old, I’m surprised they still fit my hands. I wiggle a finger out of one of the holes as the bell to the shop door dings loudly. Amaya and I both look up at a boy with big blue eyes and spikey brown hair. He’s mildly adorable and looks distraught, but I don’t have the temperament to entertain a child right now and Amaya could hardly defend both him and herself if they got caught up by a hoard of Heartless.
“We’re closed.” I say flatly.
“Please, it’s an emergency.” He sounds whinier than I expected. He can’t be more than fifteen, everything is an emergency at that age. More to the point, someone his age shouldn’t be out now. It’s way after the town’s curfew. What are his parents thinking?
“Everything’s an emergency. We’ll reopen tomorrow at 9.” I insist.
“But we don’t have time for that!” He insists.
“Do you not listen to the law at all? Kids under the age of eighteen are not to be out after 10 without a parent or guardian. Now go home.” I stomp out from behind the counter, hoping that the Godhand makes me look intimidating at the very least, but to my surprise, the boy doesn’t even flinch. He simply sizes me up and looks to Amaya, whose emerald eyes are narrowed into slits at me. She pouts before traipsing over to the boy, setting her good hand on his shoulder
“I’m sorry about my partner. Of course we’re here to help! What seems to be the problem?” Bitch. She knows that I won’t tell her no. And she’d starve herself if it meant feeding a stranger, she’s such a sap.
“Maya…” I mutter. “It’s late. The Heartless are out.”
She chooses to ignore me.
“Our Ship. When we were landing, something in town went off, it damaged the wing. We just need someone to repair our ship so we can leave.” The boy tells her and to his credit, he doesn’t stare long. He looks over her scars as quickly as his eyes will move, and then looks at me.
“Oh a wing? That’s no good. What model is your ship?” She asks, taking her hand off his shoulder to go to where our catalogue sits, directly next to me on the counter.
“Ummm…” The boy mutters, looking to Amaya who is thumbing through the catalogue, then me, then down at his feet. “I’m not sure, my friends might know.” I don’t even try to hide the fact that I’m rolling my eyes at him. With the Godhand strapped to my arm, I clunk past him, to the door which I throw open and pop my head out. To my surprise, a dog and duck in intricate clothing stand outside. Unsurprisingly, there is a smoking Gummi Ship crashed against the pavement.
“This your friend in here?” I call out to them.
“Yup! That’s Sora!” The dog hyuck’s out.
“Well come in here and collect him, he’s harassing my friend.” I tell them.
“Better you than us.” The duck says back. Snarky bastard.
“Hey!” The kid, Sora, is behind me with his hand on my shoulder. “I just need some help. Please.” He whines.
Suddenly, Amaya is right behind me too, and I hear her voice right at my ear.
“It’s a Kingdom. That might be an issue. That’s an old model. A really old model, I don’t think we have any parts for it.” She mutters, though to herself or Sora or me, I am not sure.
“We definitely don’t. We haven’t ever had anything in stock for it.” I say, not because I have the inventory memorized, but because I’m not stupid enough to believe we have something ordered for a rare, old ship.
“Oh no, what are we going to do now?” The dog asks.
“We have to get out of here to find the king!” The duck says.
“And Riku. And Kairi.” Sora murmurs.
“Sorry. Tough luck.” I tell him.
“Rueki!” Amaya admonishes. “Have some sympathy.”
“I’m not a miracle worker.” I insist. Finally, I step out of the door frame and Sora and Amaya follow me, Sora with his head down, Amaya with her arms crossed. “Look, Sora, right? I’m sorry. It really is garbage luck.”
“It’s okay. We’ll figure something out.” He tells me, with an optimism that he is clearly trying very hard to keep up. It strikes me that I don’t recognize this boy at all. Or the dog, or the duck for that matter. But it’s not every day I find a teenage boy traveling with talking animals through this world. To be honest, until darkness fell, I was the only oddity in this world. Me, the alien from the cleaning closet. “We always do.”
“You’re from another world.” I say, and of course, it’s the most obvious thing in the world, he wouldn’t be here, desperate to get out, if he wasn’t.
“Yeah.” He nods. “Yeah, I’m Sora…but you already heard that. And this is Donald and Goofy.”
“Sora’s the keyblade master.” Goofy says.
“We’re trying to close the Keyholes of all the worlds.” Donald says.
“Oh!” Amaya is locking the door behind me, but when I turn she is standing against the locked door, her eyes are wide with recognition. “So that way the Heartless can’t destroy the worlds!” Well I’m glad she knows what’s going on, because despite being the town oddity, I know nothing about any of the magical keyholes or darkness in worlds that she’s talking about. All I know is the Heartless infestation is a colossal pain and nothing we do seems to be stopping it.
“Right!” Donald chimes in.
“I didn’t think the legends of the Keyblade were real though! A hero fighting for light, fighting away the darkness, the only one who can close off all of the worlds.” Amaya gasps, which I guess is why I haven’t heard of it. If the legends were a little too farfetched for even Amaya to believe, no way she’d expect me to pay any mind to them. “I remember reading tales of the Keybearer when I was little, it always seemed like such a wonderful story. I’m so ashamed I didn’t believe it.” She’s looking down at her boots, her dark hair falling into her face.
I don’t have time, however, to tell her just how okay it is to be a cynic. It’s almost as though the word ‘Keyblade’ tantalized the Heartless. The ever present fog in Transmute City goes black. The Heartless are coming in. I shove an arm in front of Amaya as Sora summons up a sword shaped like a key. Well I’ll be damned, a keyblade. Maybe when this is over I’ll read up on the Keyblade. Maybe.
Probably not.
“Get home. Now.” I order Amaya, who is nearly trembling with fear. My poor friend. But I’m not stupid enough to believe that now is the time to hug her woes away. There’s not a thing I can do but try to protect her. And this time, she doesn’t argue with me, she takes off sprinting in the opposite direction of the darkness.
“We can handle this.” Sora tells me and I snort.
“Magic sword or not, you’re like, what? Ten?”
“Fourteen!” He whines. I grab a handful of items from my bag. A Silence Grenade, a Blessed Gem and a Shining Gem. This will mess them up.
“Get back.” I warn him. “Cluster Bomb’s are nasty.” After all, laying these through the streets of Transmute City to protect the townsfolk was what caused the accident that hurt Amaya.
Sora looks at me skeptically, but as the Heartless begin to materialize and a white light of synthetics begins to surround me, he listens and urges his friends back. The items begin to fuse between the claws of my Godhand and I can feel the heat and energy—my energy--radiate off of the bomb. But I’ve got it, I can contain it. I pinch my eyes shut, wishing I had some sturdier gloves as the items continue to bond to one another until the energy starts to rise and rise and then it’s ready. I wind my claw back and chuck the bomb at the Heartless, leaping back myself. Like a series of fireworks, the bomb explodes, violent and red. It’s nearly blinding and I can feel the flames, hot, hot, hot as the Heartless disintegrate and melt into the ground. By time the flames are gone, I can feel Sora’s eyes on me, and I know he’s not stupid. I can feel the questions radiating off of his blue gaze.
“Yeah, that’s what got Amaya.” I tell him, yanking the goggles over my head. I’m not gonna lie to him, and I’m not gonna let him speculate for himself. “We set them all around town, to get triggered by the Heartless. And they work, Amaya just didn’t get away fast enough.” Sora gives me a sheepish smile and yet again, I get the feeling that he is trying very hard to keep that smile in tact.
“I was just gonna ask how you did that thing with the fire.” He insists. I scoff out loud.
“You don’t need to lie kid.” I tuck a loose strand of hair behind my ear. “I’m Rueki by the way. Amaya was the one you just met. We’ve got another friend, Delfinius, but definitely don’t call him that. Just Del.”
“Rueki, Amaya, Del. Alright.” He nods. And before I can stop myself, the words fly out of my mouth.
“Since we couldn’t fix your ship, the least we can do is let you stay with us. At least until you can figure something out.” I shift my weight from one foot to the other, the weight of the Godhand yanking at my shoulder. I know that Amaya and Del would admonish me if I didn’t offer him a place to stay, and to be honest, I’m curious about this kid. At least maybe I can get some information out of him if he’s gonna be my houseguest.
“Well Gawrsh, you’d really do that for us?” Goofy asks.
“Yeah, what’s the catch?” Donald looks up at me skeptically and I snort.
“Well, while the great and powerful Keyblade Master is in town, maybe he can do something about our Heartless population? That in your job description, kid?” I incline an eyebrow at Sora, who grins cheekily at me.
“Sure thing, old lady.”
Sometimes, I think I’m still too nice.
--
Home is a shack. Like most of Transmute City, it is grey and run down looking, but Del always keeps a fire lit inside so at least it’s a nice little escape from the whipping wind. I’m mostly used to walking home in it, now, but Sora clearly isn’t. He’s shaking so hard he is nearly vibrating and he, Goofy and Donald nearly trip over one another on their way in through the door.
“Are you the Keyblade Master?” I hear Del’s voice before I see him, and he barely even notices me step over the pile that our stray’s have formed on the creaky wooden floor. Of course, I should’ve known better than to think that he would be tolerable tonight. Instead, my boyfriend will spend the rest of the evening ogling this ‘new hero’ like he is a shiny new toy.
“Thank goodness you’re alright.” Amaya thankfully notices me, and tiptoes in my direction, but throws her arms around me with a complete lack of grace. “I made all of you dinner.” She says.
“And apparently told Del everything?” I raise an eyebrow at her then look to my boyfriend, who still hasn’t greeted me, but is instead, helping Sora to his feet, talking his ear off about how cool it is to meet him. “His hero worship is showing.” I pretend to gag and Amaya giggles.
For his sometimes too much to handle personality, at least Del is cute. Sandy blond hair and green eyes, very boy next door. His eyes looked a lot prettier when they were staring at me with wonder though, and not Sora.
“He wanted to know where you were. He was worried.” Amaya insists, and while I am sure that is true, I know that Del was just haranguing her in hopes of hearing a good story. Del shakes Sora’s hand, nodding his head animatedly.
“Well, glad he’s not worrying anymore. What’s for dinner?” I sigh. Amaya frowns, knitting her brow together. She looks at Del and clears her throat. His eyes go wide and for a second, he looks away from Sora, to the two of us.
“Rueki!” His voice sounds like a ray of sunshine, the first nice day of spring. My irritation is instantly forgotten when he strides over to me, takes my face in his hands and kisses me. “I’m glad you’re alright. Sora said you used a cluster bomb to get rid of the Heartless, that’s awesome, I wish I could’ve been there fighting with you two!” His hands slide down to my shoulders to give them a gentle squeeze. I roll my eyes a tiny bit, but smile, because I really don’t mind him talking a mile a minute when it’s about me. I can tell he couldn’t care less about the bombs I threw, though, now that this mysterious trio has arrived.
Amaya scoops out bowls of chili for the group of us, and her and I eat at the counter while Del sits around the fire with the boys.
“I was worried earlier, Rueki. I know you, I was worried you were going to do something dumb and try to sacrifice yourself for them.” Amaya says, spooning some beans out of the chili before plopping them right back into the bowl.
“It didn’t come to that, it was just a few Heartles, Maya. Plus I’m not a complete masochist. The kid’s a stranger, I’m not dying for him. Now eat your food, you’re looking too skinny.” She isn’t. Amaya has always been built perfectly. Unlike it did with me, puberty actually blessed her with boobs. Lucky bitch. I got wide set hips and the chest of ten year old boy. And I don’t know why she’s so worried. Sometimes I think that Amaya only puts up with me because I’ve been her friend for so long. I wouldn’t die for her, I wouldn’t die for Del, and certainly not this stranger. My heart’s not that gold. Hers is. And though she is too polite to say it out loud, I’m sure it drives her nuts.
“It’s getting worse though. Otherwise things wouldn’t be this way, I wouldn’t be this way. The bombs in the city will only help us for so long before there end up being more…like me.” Amaya says. I sigh, chewing on my lower lip.
“I know. This kid, the Keyblade Master. What’s the deal there? I asked him to help with our Heartless problem and he said sure. You mentioned something to him about the Heartless traveling through darkness.” I remind her. She shrugs, limply, not the same Amaya she usually is, cute and lively. Though something tells me that is my fault. She’s not exactly great at expressing her genuine opinion. If she thinks I’m acting somber, she’ll do the same. Anything not to rock the boat.
“They’re old stories I would read about in the library in the orphanage. Legends of warriors who fought on the side of Light and protected the worlds from Darkness. Even I didn’t think any of it was real. But if it is, if this boy is the Keyblade Master, maybe he can save our world.” She won’t meet my gaze, so I squeeze the stump where her hand used to be.
“And if he can’t we’ll figure out a way, okay? We’re not living in fear forever. So, stop worrying, it won’t help us. We’ll do what we can for this world and then, once you’re feeling better, we’ll build a ship and fly away to somewhere safer. All three of us. But at the end of the day the only ones we can save are ourselves.” I promise. Her eyes flick up to mine and she flashes me a tiny half smile before she pulls herself away from me. She looks to Del, Sora, Donald and Goofy and gives them a thoughtful look for the longest moment.
“I think I’m gonna turn in for the night. It’s been a little too eventful for me, I’m exhausted.” She says. “Besides, I’ve got a plan for Sora’s ship, it’s going to take most of the day tomorrow though. I want to save my energy.”
“I feel you there.” I grab our bowls and pour the chili we didn’t eat back into the pot and set our bowls in the sink. “I’ll give him a grand tour tomorrow, see if we can find the source of our Heartless problem.” Amaya follows me over and turns on the water. I shake my head at her.
“Don’t. He can do it.” I say, nodding toward Del in the living room. She doesn’t seem too keen on my attempt at revenge, but she smiles anyway.
“If you say so.”
--
I am woken up at what I would guess to be about three in the morning to Del, wrapping his arms around me in my bed.
“Is your mattress broken?” I ask, sleepily, irritated because half awake, I don’t care how cute he is. I don’t want him disturbing my slumber with affection.
“I told Donald and Goofy that they could sleep in my room, Sora is taking the couch.”
“What a hero.” If I could roll my eyes and harder I would end up swallowing them.
“He’s a nice kid, you and Amaya should fix his ship.” He says, running his hands down my sides.
“You should let me get to sleep.” Because clearly he couldn’t stop chatting Sora up long enough to listen to why we can’t fix his ship.
“All I’m saying is he wants to help us with the Heartless, this is the least we can do.” I feel his fingers slide into the waist band of my pajama pants.
“I’m not awake enough to be having this conversation with you.”
“If you guys can’t fix his ship, you could build him a new one.” His hips press against my ass, his cock hard and I jerk away, rolling onto my stomach.
“Del, seriously, it’s not a time normal people are awake.” I swat him away.
“C’mon Rueki, it’s been such an exciting night, I just have so much energy.” He insists, wrapping his arm around my waist. I roll my eyes and turn over onto my back. With the room being so dark, he doesn’t see me close my eyes as I let him pull my pants down and climb on top of me. It’s not bad. It’s not that I don’t find Del appealing. But the idea of sleep sounds so much nicer than letting him treat our intimacy like a momentary distraction from his adventure.
He tells me all about his plans to show Sora around the city tomorrow as he fucks sloppily into me. I zone out, thinking about how I will be showing Sora around the city because Del will probably be too overzealous an excitable to properly show the Keyblade Master where the worst of the Heartless population is, effectively.
“Rueki, were you listening to me?” He must’ve asked me a question. Damn, now he’s gonna know I was zoning out.
“No, not really.” I don’t bother lying to him, if he wants to be with me, its not because I’m a bullshitter.
“What’s wrong?” He asks me.
“Nothing, I’m just tired.” Which isn’t a lie, but listening to how great Sora is, on repeat mode, isn’t exactly turning me on.
“Okay, I’m almost done.” And he is, it takes just a few more seconds before he pulls out and finishes on a towel that he must’ve brought into bed. I throw my legs over the side of the bed and yank my pants up, coming to a standing position. “Where are you going?” He asks.
“To the bathroom?” I raise an eyebrow, though I know in the darkness, he cannot see me.
“Oh, okay.” I have to try not to roll my eyes at how completely unenthused I have been every time the boy has opened his mouth tonight, and there’s a selfish reason for it. For the past nine years I have been the topic he constantly brings up, I have been the hero he has worshipped. I have been the most exciting thing in his life and not living on that pedestal anymore has nudged me closer to the anticlimactic truth—Del is a child. And it kind of unnerves me how much of a deal breaker I know this is and yet how little I think it will hurt when I have to break things off.
After using the bathroom, I pop my head out toward the kitchen. Unsurprisingly, Del did not do the dishes. My hand curls into a fist and I have to take a deep breath. He’s only annoying to me now that Sora is here. Once our world is free from Heartless and the Keyblade Master is gone, I will be the exciting thing again and he’ll be back to worshipping me on his hands and knees. I just have to get through this next day or two without throttling my boyfriend.
Sora appears to be sleeping pretty soundly on the couch, and though I don’t want to wake him, my desire to avoid Del is a little stronger. I turn on the water in the kitchen sink, just a little so that the stream is soft and gentle. As the water heats, I put a lid on the pot that the chili was in and put that inside of the refrigerator, hoping that it isn’t bad after sitting out for a few hours. I don’t know, I’m not some domestic goddess, I don’t know how long anything can be left out for. But at least I can clean up a mess. It dawns on me, how incredibly codependent me, Amaya and Del are to one another and it makes me instantly uncomfortable. I resolve to try to be a lot less needy when it comes to them as I get to work on the dishes. Or at the very least, non-needy enough where I can figure out by myself if my food is still good.
My goal of keeping my actions quiet works almost the entire time I’m cleaning. The kitchen is borderline spotless when I hear Sora mumbling to himself in the living room.
“Mom must be wondering where I’m at. Dinner was almost ready when I ran back to the Island.” At first I think he’s talking in his sleep, and then I see him sit up and lean over the top of the couch, looking at me.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you. The rule in this house is last person to go to bed does the dishes. I guess Del’s nose was just too far up your butt to remember.” I mutter, turning the water off. I quickly dry my hands off on a towel. “Do you want any water or something to eat or anything?” I ask.
“Some more of that chili would be great.” He says and I smile a bit to myself. Of course, a teenage boy wakes up at the crack of dawn and instantly wants food. Sounds about right. I tuck into the fridge and spoon out a bit from the pot into a bowl and set it on the counter. I open up a drawer in the kitchen and pull out a few things. Bomb fragment, Mana Sphere. Perfect. I set them on the Transmutation Circle that we have drawn on the counter, then set the bowl down and give it a tap. It lights up for a very brief second, and after a series of five silent bursts of flame, the bowl is piping hot and the flame is but a memory. I put a spoon in the bowl and walk it to Sora.
“Careful, it’s hot.” I warn him, but he’s looking at me like I have two heads. “Dude, you can summon a giant, magical key that’s supposed to help get rid of darkness or whatever. Don’t make that face at me.” He at least has the good sense to look away as he stirs his chili.
“Yeah, but I didn’t ask to be the Keyblade Master. It just kind of happened.” He shrugs.
“And I had to learn Alchemy before I could use it. I can’t mix something without the right supplies. You just happened to be lucky I had a bomb fragment still. A heat blaster works a lot faster and quieter than the microwave.” I tell him. He smiles softly then looks up at me.
“Sorry your boyfriend didn’t spend any time with you. I kept telling him that you did all the fighting back by the shop, I didn’t even have to kill any Heartless, he should’ve been checking on you.” He looks so sweet and sincere that I can’t even make a snide comment at him. I mildly hate myself for being such a sucker for this kid.
“No worries. Del’s always been like that. Apparently he and Amaya used to be inseparable until I just appeared in town one day. For the past seven years he’s been following me around like a lost puppy. She was his friend first, I can only imagine how cheated she feels.” I shrug. Maybe if Del wasn’t getting on my nerves as of late, I’d be more upset. Maybe, but probably not, it’s not like I’m great at actually expressing my feelings anyway.
“Still, I’m sorry.” He takes a bite of chili and I have no idea how he is okay eating it at that temperature, but I’m not gonna try to parent him. “What do you mean you just appeared in town?” He asks.
“Are we playing twenty questions now?” I smile, and he meets my expression with a smile of his own.
“I just…we’ve made a lot of friends in every world we’ve been to. But I don’t know much about any of them. Not really.” He confesses and my stomach drops a little. I get that. I can’t count how many times I’ve been driven crazy by Del and Amaya barely grazing the surface of things. It’s almost as though, despite being my closest friends, they are both functioning on a completely different wavelength from me.
“Okay.” I nod. “So twenty questions: what’s the deal with this whole Keyblade thing? Amaya doesn’t really have a ton of information for me and I know for a fact Del couldn’t sit still through story time, let alone ever read a book on his own.” Sora snickers a little and has to make a visible effort not to choke on the chili.
“You know, I know about as much as you do.” He tells me. “My world got taken over by darkness. But before it did, the Keyblade appeared in my hand. I met Donald and Goofy in Traverse Town. The King of their world disappeared, and left them a note, telling them to find the key. Which I guess meant me. Anyhow, every world has a keyhole and once the Heartless invade a world, they try to find the keyhole, so they can get inside it and destroy a world’s heart. We’ve been going from world to world, sealing the Keyholes so that all of the worlds are safe.” He tells me. I scrunch my face up at him.
“You’re like five years old and you’re doing all of this?”
“I’m fourteen.” He whines and I smile at him. “Okay, I get a question. That Alchemy thing you do…what is it?” He asks, wide eyed as he spoons chili into his mouth.
“Alchemy was a science for transforming matter. It’s part of a lot of different cultures, but the natives of Transmute City were mostly refugees and those from an ancient race called ‘Al-Bhed’. From what I know of their history a lot of them were technofiles and built a lot of crazy machinery, which is where that claw I had earlier, the Godhand, came from.” It’s super old, but I got it at a pawn shop for cheap, so I can’t complain. “But along the way, they also spent a lot of time mixing and creating different items, both of help and for destruction. Bombs and elemental weapons as well as potions and elixirs. It’s all just a lot of trial and error, but I’ve got a list of things I’ve created from successful mixes and a list of ones I should never try again.”
“But how do you do it?” He asks.
“I either have to combine the items inside of my Godhand or with a Transmutation circle. Which is how I heated your food. You just gotta have the right things on hand and you can make anything.” I say.
“Is it hard though?” He’s shoveling food into his mouth faster, as though it’ll make me answer questions with some more urgency.
“The first couple times. It uses up some of my energy to combine everything. That’s how you get a chemical reaction. But once you get the hang of it, you figure out how many transmutations you can handle at a time without hurting yourself.” I can remember the first time I tried transmuting a basic potion and how exhausted I was after. I think I napped for about five hours straight. “Okay, my turn. Where are you from?”
“I was from The Destiny Islands.” He tells me.
“So like tropical type climate?” I lift an eyebrow and he nods. “Damn, this town’s gonna kill you. I don’t think it’s ever gotten warm enough to walk around without a jacket.” I tell him. He groans and rolls his eyes.
“Just the walk from here to your shop coulda killed me. My friends from home—Riku and Kairi—and I talked about seeing other worlds forever. I didn’t think I’d miss the Island so much.” He sighs.
“I get it. Your world was destroyed. Doesn’t matter how much you wanna leave home, it’s different when you can’t go back.”
“Is that what you meant when you said you appeared in this world? You were from a different one?” He asks, his eyes lighting up. He’s a cute kid, I’ll give him that.
“I don’t know. Probably.” I confess. “I woke up here one day and all I could remember was that my name was Rueki and I was nine. I don’t have anything else.” I say, toying with a loose thread on my pajama pants.
“Well, what do you think?’ He sets his bowl down on the ground in front of us.
“I think I’m lucky to be alive and healthy. Waking up in strange places isn’t safe for anyone, let alone a kid.” I remind him.
“C’mon Rueki, for real!” He insists.
“I don’t know. I don’t like to speculate, I don’t like to be wrong. Amaya and Del both think I’m from a different world. I don’t have the telltale Al Bhed green eyes. But like I said, this world was only mostly populated by the Al Bhed. There were other refugees here too, it could just be a coincidence.” I say.
“You have green eyes.” He reminds me and I smile a little.
“They’re a little too blue of a green. Amaya’s eyes are the right shade of green.” I tell him
“So… you don’t remember anything?” He asks.
“Nothing at all.” I confirm. He makes a face at me like I just said the wrong thing, but a smile quickly covers up the distraught expression and he doesn’t leave me in the dark long.
“My friend Kairi, it was the same thing with her, but she was younger. Her and I were both only five when Riku and I found her. I tried asking her about her home world tons of times, but she didn’t have any memories of it.” He touches his heart as he talks and my eyes widen. Oh, young love.
“Have you found any trace of your friends?” I ask him and he frowns a little.
“Riku. I found him in Traverse Town. We’re both looking for Kairi, but neither of us can find her.” He trails off and then says, brighter than before “I know we will though.” He says. I nod at him, tucking a knee to my chest.
“I’m sure you will kid.” Though I don’t know if I believe that, but I’m sure Sora will try his damndest.
“You know, I do want to help your world. If I can go for a look around town tomorrow, I can try to find the keyhole. It might help you…and your friends.” And when he talks, I know who he is talking about, specifically.
“Thanks for not staring at Amaya, by the way. You know, I used to get annoyed when people would stare at her before. I’d think to myself ‘we all get it, she’s the most beautiful person anyone has ever seen, carry on’. I dunno, it was selfish of me, I guess. That’s why I liked Del so much, he was the only one who was more intrigued by me than Amaya.” I tuck a strand of sandy blonde hair behind my ear. “Now, when people stare at her, I’m annoyed for a whole different reason. She didn’t choose to be out late. I mean, she did, her me and Del were working late one night when Del and I first started dating, she told us we should go home and enjoy some time together. She’s never been anything but happy for us. But while we were at home, making eyes at each other, she was closing up shop. She got attacked, some bombs went off and instead of escaping from the Heartless and running home, she got caught up in the explosion. She got trapped underneath a swarm of Heartless.”
“She’s lucky she’s alive.” Sora breathes and I nod.
“Oh, I know, and she knows. Still, I’m annoyed at this world. At our sorry excuse of a security system. Bombs placed all over town, bombs that require darkness for activation. We’re lucky this hasn’t happened to more people.” I grumble, mouth twisting into a pout.
“It’s not your fault though, you know. Leaving her at the shop. She told you to go home, you couldn’t predict anything like that would happen.” I don’t know if he’s trying to reassure me or if he’s trying to reassure himself of something, but I scoff.
“I’m not dumb, of course it’s not my fault, I didn’t attack her. I don’t make a practice of blaming myself for things that are out of my control.” I tell him.
“But I thought she was your friend and you wanted to protect her?” He asks.
“I do, obviously. Anyone would, she’s quite nice, I’m not a monster. But I’m also not a self loathing crybaby. With age comes wisdom, kiddo.” I grin at him. “Besides, if you’re gonna preach to anyone about absolving oneself of blame, preach to Del. I swear, it’s once a week ‘we’ve gotta protect her Rueki, if we’d stayed late with her, she’d still be safe’. And I get it, it sucks, she’s gonna be marked forever, but that’s why I want to get out of here, go to a different world, a safer world.”
“Are you ever gonna try to find your home world?” He asks me.
“Yeah, one day. Del wants to the most. Not that I don’t, but it’s hard to miss a place when I don’t remember anything about it. But Del’s like you and your friends. He wants to see everything there is. That’s why he’s clinging to you like a lost pet. You’re the closest to a real adventure he’s ever come.” I snicker a little. Sora rubs he back of his head and looks apologetically at me. “He’s gonna try to show you around town tomorrow unless you can wake up early enough to come with me and Amaya to work.” I say. Sora’s eyes flash in mild horror.
“Please wake me up before you leave.”
I have to bite back a cackle.
“Then you’d better get some rest, kid.”
“You should too, old lady.” He says. I roll my eyes at him, but give his shoulder a light push as I get up off the couch.
“Gnight, brat.”