Turn Your Radio On

by Tenshi

(written prior to all post-KH2 game releases.)

Hello, hello turn your radio on
Is there anybody out there?
Tell me what went wrong
Life is a strange thing
Just when you think you learned how to use it
It's gone

-Shakespear's Sister

Their names have been on the tip of his tongue for years. He has carried them through the skies of a hundred worlds: his psalm, his prayer, his battle cry. He breathes them out in the morning when the brightly-colored capsule lets him out of the strange twilight of gummisleep. He whispers them to himself before he is pulled down into dreams he no longer understands.

Riku. Kairi.

Once merely the object of his search, now they are his own sense of identity. He says their names to himself, every minute, every hour, so that he does not forget who he is. After so many worlds, so many faces, it only takes their names to put him back on that island, to remind him who "Sora" is. Not the hero, not the keyblade master. Just Sora.

Somewhere along the way, he feels like he lost that. Only their names remind him. Somewhere, in a world he doesn't remember the name of, his adventure stopped being about clean cut light and darkness, trying on tails and fur, hopping from place to place in a rush of color and light, buoyed up by the constant optimism that as long as I keep going, I will find them. As long as I keep fighting, we will win. As long as I win, everything will be all right. Riku, Kairi, everything will be all right.

Somewhere along the way, he came to the conclusion that shadow is not the same as darkness: it is only the wide grey line between narrow bands of black and white. And then nothing was so clear cut anymore. It was easy when evil was ugly or faceless or with madness burning in its eyes. And though Sora knew somehow that it had started when things were still bright, when unlocking his own chest was as simple as turning a key and love could keep you from dying, he couldn't help wondering when he first realized he was not the same.

Or that the world was always like this, and he had just never seen it before.

The new keyblade burns his hand even through his glove, white-hot. Like his eyes are burning, like his throat is. Dark rain sizzles as it hits the metal and magic, sending up tiny clouds of steam, like ghosts.

Sora's face is already wet, with tears he does not remember shedding. The skyscrapers pull at him as though they could make him fall up into the sky and he would be lost to light and darkness both. He knows this world; he has seen it lingering behind the eyes of men like Cloud and Leon and Auron. It's a world where there is dark and darker and light only comes in flickers, like lightning and spitting, irritable neon signs.

Riku. Kairi.

And he realizes that things are not simple and the finding is not the end. It wasn't supposed to work out this way, he thinks, blinking away the cold rain as it strikes him across the eyes. Good was good and bad was bad and only one of them was supposed to lose. Bad was never supposed to be good and nobody was ever supposed to die.

Sora runs that line again through his mind, as scrabbling, yellow-eyed shadows burst into inky nothingness on the blunt edge of the keyblade. It almost makes him laugh.

Nobody was supposed to die.

It's not the answer he wants.

Riku. Kairi. And a dozen more heartless fade.

Twice has what he called Darkness given itself up to save him; more times than he can count has the line been blurred. And the debt of names grows on him, until it's more than he can say in one breath, more than he can carry in both hands.

The keyblade sends up a smell like an extinguished bonfire, sharper and brighter than the stale smoke smell of the heartless. Fire should not be a weapon of darkness-- not when it, by nature, creates light. A light that burns his heart, streaking afterimages in his vision as he spins with it, and he realizes he is not just sad, he is grieving, and the two are as separate as childhood and adulthood.

Somewhere, Sora knows he crossed out of a world that cannot be unlocked again.

Sometimes, seeing people in your memories is not enough, not when you have watched them dissolve through your fingers, not when you never even got a chance to know them. The sentiment he has spoken so many times rings hollow to him now, false as a neon reflected in a rain puddle and every bit as cold.

Arms aching with the weight of names, he plunges into the grey, knowing at least he has a heart.

And it is breaking.


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