Courtship Rites, OR Thirteen Ways To Die Trying


Technically Demyx gets the credit for finding the new kid — one of the Dancers, flitting through Twilight Town after the Door’s been closed, is the one that finds the boy, lying curled on his side under the spreading branches of old trees. (Axel finds this out later, because he steals the report Demyx submits from Xemnas’ desk and reads it himself.) In the middle of a meeting, as the Superior is ranting about blah-blah-blah Kingdom Hearts will soon be theirs, Demyx gets an odd look on his face and lifts his hand.

“Sorry,” he says. “I’ll be right back.” Continue reading

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For Want of the Soul

Only once in the whole year does she go down to the room where Sora is kept, walking quietly as she can, hiding whenever a Nobody flickers past. She walks into the room and to the pod where he sleeps, reaching up to press her palms slowly to the sides of the unit. It feels warm, pulsing slightly, like the breath of a living thing.

He’s grown noticeably since she last saw him — the shorts that had reached his knees are now halfway down his thighs, his arms float slightly akimbo from his body. After a year of activity, he should have atrophied — should have withered into nothingness just like she was, but instead he remained solid, so much more real than anything NaminĂ© has seen in her entire life. Continue reading

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Alex was in the middle of some half-formed peculiar dream

(with the roar of the ocean in his ears, and wet sand under his feet
and Kingdom Hearts in the sky overhead
while he stretched his arms up)

when his bedroom door opened. He didn’t lift his head from the pillow; only two people ever came into his room without knocking first, and the footsteps were too quiet to be Sora. He did tense a little, because he was lying on his stomach with his face in the pillows, and while it was comfortable enough, it was also quite a bit of his back being left open. Continue reading

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A Story About Nobody

The White Room is exactly two hundred and fifty steps from corner to corner, if Naminé stretches her legs just a little, one hand to the wall for balance. There are windows, but one has been charmed to show the sunny beaches of some unknown island and the others just show darkness (outside)(inside)(everywhere). She keeps the curtains to those drawn closed.

No rules have said that she has to remain there at all times, but the one time she ventured out, two Nobodies materialized from the walls to trail silently after her. She made it as far as the end of the hallway before losing her nerve and ran back. Continue reading

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The Sea to the Shore

Riku slouched up to the school gates as Kairi was leaving, shoulders up and head down like bad posture would somehow make him less conspicuous. It didn’t really help: she spotted him immediately and quickly said goodbye to her friends, hurrying over. “Riku! What are you doing here? You didn’t have to come meet me, club doesn’t go that late …” She stopped and frowned. “Riku?”

He glanced aside and she almost prodded him again when he said, “We’re on our own for the day.”

“Huh?” She blinked. “Riku?” Continue reading

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Where No Shadow Hides

The gist of the problem: Alex is bored.

It’s nothing against Destiny Island itself, not really, though it’s so peaceful and balmy and beach-paradise that he sometimes thinks about setting a few fires, just for something to happen. People don’t lock their doors at night, even after everything — why should they? They’ve got Keyblade Masters setting up shop just down the street. Everyone knows everyone by name, and kids are allowed to roam pretty much freely, with only the loosest of restrictions. It’s sleepy and slow-moving and a little out of step with the rest of the world, like a fat cat lazing in the sun and unconcerned by anything.

And that frankly drives him crazy.

He sits crouched on the roof of Kairi’s beach house and watches long hot days turn into gentle balmy nights and– Continue reading

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Sleight of Hand

“Magic is easy. It’s all a matter of tricking the eye into seeing what you want it to see.” Allen displayed both of his empty hands. “If you do it right, even if they’re looking very hard, they’ll miss it.” He closed his fingers for a moment, then opened them again and handed Rinali a small red rubber ball.

She turned it over a few times, then bounced it against the ground once before catching it again. “What happens if someone does see the trick?” She closed and opened her fingers, copying Allen’s movements, but the ball remained cradled between her palms. “How do you explain that?”

“Then you convince them they were imagining it. Magic isn’t something you analyze — you should just believe. If you think about it too hard, it loses all its fun.” He took the ball back from her and rubbed it between his palms, then showed her his empty hands again. “It’s not as interesting when you know what I’m doing.”

Rinali studied him for a moment, then reached out and pulled the ball from his coat pocket, holding it up from him. Allen blinked at her, then laughed a little, leaning back and scrubbing a hand through his hair. “Ah, you found it.”

“I think it’s all a matter of knowing where to look,” she said, rolling the ball between her palms. “You make it seem so easy.”

“I’ve had a lot of practice.” Allen leaned back, resting his elbows on the steps behind him; the late-morning sun felt good on his face. “I mean, there was a magician in the entertainers I grew up in, and usually one of the girls worked as his assistant, but I picked a few things up –”

“Not just that.” Rinali put her knees together and spread her ankles, leaning forward for a moment. Up close, her hair smelled vaguely like lilac, and like the ozone and dust that followed all Exorcists, like Hebraska’s feathers. “Everything. Allen, you always work so hard, and fighting akuma is so easy for you — but that’s also just what people think they’re seeing, isn’t it?”

Allen scratched his cheek. “I don’t know if it’s all that,” he said. “Depends, I think, on what they’re seeing.”

Rinali pursed her lips. “I think,” she said, “that anything we see about you, Allen, is only what you want us to see.”

Surprised, he blinked at her again. Rinali closed both of her hands around the rubber ball, blew on her fingers, then opened her fingers to show him her empty hands.

“Like that,” she said, and smiled.

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kagome kagome

The sound of rain is loud on the roof. It comes down in torrents off the eaves, louder still: shaa, shaa, shaa.

His tea has grown cold. Even the refinement of his bowl doesn’t help the bitter taste on his tongue.

Night has fallen, and there is no moon.


The first sign came in blood: the oni didn’t come anywhere near them, but the scars on Knatarou’s chest opened, bleeding slowly. Haruka had not noticed until he smelled it, until it spotted in a bright red trail down his front.

Kantarou laughs it off weakly. “My fault,” he says. “I was rubbing it too much.” Continue reading

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Born in Fire

Sora is terribly popular among the younger kids on Destiny Island; someone in the elementary class saw him sparring with Riku and their Keyblades and then suddenly, every Saturday afternoon, there’s a crowd of wide-eyed hopeful faces peering at their back doorstep, and well. Sora hates to disappoint anyone.

Besides, it’s a good chance to practice and a lot more fun than the drills Roxas makes them undergo otherwise. So he waves goodbye to his housemates and trot out with the kids, down to the stretch of beach where he used to play when he was younger, and sometimes there will be “enemies” set up for him, made from beached logs and old sand buckets and long pieces of dried seaweed. They sit in a wide half-circle and Sora obliges by spinning Oathkeeper and Oblivion in the showiest way he’s learned, doing high jumps and spins and leaps and bouncing off tree trunks with a firefly trail of red or blue or yellow or silver behind him. Continue reading

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First Steps

It isn’t that Alex is an early riser by nature; rather it’s that he can’t sleep for more than two or three hours at a time anyway, and if anyone asked him (which no one has), he’d say it was force of habit.

Anyway, better some sleep than none.

It leaves him with a lot of free time, at any rate, which would normally mean wandering around and poking for hiding places and backdoor escapes, but Riku is an early riser (and a light sleeper), and after their last argument left him against the wall with Way to Dawn at his throat and Kairi yelling at them both, he figures it’s not worth it when it’s this early. Riku’s attitude is all surface, anyway; scratch him just a little bit in the right way, and all the bad things he’s ever done are in his eyes, replaying, and he doesn’t like to be reminded of that.

Which is too bad, because Alex kinda gets a kick out of needling him. Sure, he’d stop if he were told, but no one’s really told him to yet — “you should really stop doing that” is more of a suggestion than an order. Continue reading

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Things Old And New

The invitation came in a bottle, like the letters from the King; Sora found it washed up on the beach and brought it home to open, barefoot in the kitchen with Kairi peering over his shoulder and Riku rummaging through the fridge for drinks.

The paper inside was made from far higher quality than even the normal letters from the king, held by a seal in metallic-silver wax. Sora had to work carefully to keep the delicate material from ripping as he broke the seal. Inside, the handwriting elegant and scrawling, with exaggerated flourishes and a final signature in golden ink, over the same seal as before. Sora scratched his head.

“Oh,” said Kairi, and took the note from him. She squinted for a moment. “Aurora’s getting married.”

“Er,” said Sora. He took the soda Riku offered and said, “Good for her?”

“We’re invited,” she added. “In official capacity, as Keyblade Bearer and Princess of Heart.” Continue reading

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No Crowd

The events of Sora’s first kiss with Riku sort of goes like this:

The kiss itself is kind of hesitant and kind of clumsy — because Riku got really damn tall during his year world-hopping and Sora had never really managed to catch up — but kind of warm and tingly too, starting in his stomach and spreading out to his fingers and toes. And just as Sora is getting comfortable with how he has to bend his head and how tightly Riku holds onto him, as though expecting him to disappear, he thinks, rather unexpectedly, You both suck at this.

It makes him jerk back, hard and sudden enough that Riku’s teeth score a cut in his lower lip, and he spends a few seconds sucking blood, trying to figure out where the thought came from. And Riku looks at him with hollow eyes like he was just expecting that, the rejection after getting what he’s quietly wished for, and Sora has to kiss him again before he can think, because he hates that look, hates it so much and is grateful when he feels Riku relax again. Continue reading

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… And A Wreath of Flowers His Crown

“Let’s meet in the next life, okay?”


When Sora dreams, it’s either the island throughout the years, childhood and slowly-settling adulthood and the smiles of everyone he’s always known — or it’s darkness, come spilling from a madman’s fingers or a witch’s cloak, until it swallows everything and the last thing he can do before going under is stretch for a star just out of reach.

When Roxas dreams, it’s only of fire. Continue reading

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Not with a bang, but a whimper

Somehow it still comes to this: lying on his back in the water, choking on it and the blood in his throat. He can no longer tell if the other battles are continuing, but his is over.

It’s over.

“Heim,” he croaks. “Heimdall.”

There is no answer. Loki rolls his eyes back, but all he can see is a fringe of dark hair, bobbing slowly in the water.

“Are you already dead?” He wants to laugh but he doesn’t have the breath for it. “That’s weak, Heimdall. Really weak.”

Somewhere at a distance, Fenrir howls. Loki closes his eyes for a moment and sees his son fall in an explosion of blood and worse. When he opens them again, it falls from the sky as red rain.

“Ah,” he breathes. It chokes in his throat. “Ah. Ha. Haha.”

It’s the best he can manage, he the trickster, and it burns. Jormungund is already gone, and Thor with him; Odin and Fenrir are eliminated — even Heimdall has gone ahead of him. He’s finally alone, as the White God wished upon him years ago, but more than sorrow, it’ll be the hole in his chest that kills him.

“Unfair,” he mutters. “O Norns.”

Loki closes his eyes again and waits for the last battle to end.


BONUS: doujinshi-inspired tactics drabble!


“If I become an oni, I want Haruka to kill me.”

He dreams these words, caught on the wind and snatched away.

They taste like blood. When the stranger turns back, there is a trickle of it, bright red, at the corner of his mouth. He smiles.

“Haruka, I want–”

The Oni-Eater opens his eyes into darkness. The summer night is hot, and his robes stick to him like a second skin. A headache lingers between his eyes.

He’s had these dreams time and again since being unsealed, but if he thinks on them too long, they fade away.

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her new home

Part of her isn’t quite certain why she accepts the offer to live with him, and she almost regrets it when he gives her this new name. It feels awkward, like clothes that are too large and too heavy, and it makes her uncomfortable. She’s heard stories of what men will do to a youkai who has been named, especially one of her sort, and she spends the first evening in her new home waiting for him to make his move.

Her new master is cheerful, complimenting the dinner she makes, and she sits with her hands folded nervously in her lap the whole time, her shoulders hunched and her ears back.

“Ah, that was good,” he says, beaming. “Youko-chan is such a good cook!” Continue reading

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