AUTHOR: Amet (amet)
FANDOM: Kingdom Hearts
RATING: PG, ha!
SUMMARY: Alice's thoughts on the events of the first game, and idiot boys who squander their power.
PAIRINGS: mentions of Riku/Sora
WARNINGS: NONE, ha!
SPOILERS: Ansem's a bad guy, Alice gets kidnapped. You knew this.
ARCHIVED: Onion Girls
FEEDBACK: Makes the world go 'round! ^.^
THANKS: To sephyelysian. ♥ I wouldn't get anything done without her.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This is a series of flashbacks meant to be a part of a larger framework (see Madness Without), but since I've been trying to figure out a way to salvage that plotline since Nomura started retconning again, this is going to have to stand on its own for a while.
The boy was... handsome, with a smile that was positively winsome, as her books would say. Dashing, even. He crouched with one hand supported on the wire holding the cage up in the air, the other outstretched to her, blue-green eyes alight with mirth and perhaps a little of the madness that so characterized Wonderland's inhabitants, black-gloved fingers wiggling in invitation. Alice reached out to take his hand on automatic, grateful and relieved, before reality (and perhaps a little propriety) hit, forcing her to curl her fingers back toward herself, peering up at him in open scrutiny.
The boy huffed, shining silver hair falling into his eyes where he ducked against the opening in her cage. "Is that a 'thanks for saving me, oh dashing hero guy'?"
Alice blushed, tried not to stammer, frustrated with herself. "Oh no, I'm very grateful," she said, pleased when her voice didn't waver but she couldn't quite make herself meet his eyes. "Its just—How do I know that's what you're doing? Saving me, that is."
He rolled his eyes, huffing in exasperation. "Bet you didn't give Sora this hard a time."
"Sora?" Her eyes widened. "Oh! You know Sora!"
"Whatever." He scowled. "Look, I get it. Stranger danger, very important not to wander off with people you don't know. I know I can be very intimidating, but think about it, Princess. Could coming with me possibly be worse than staying here waiting for the Queen to hand down judgment?" He paused, fingers flexing, smiling ruefully. "At least I can promise I have no intention of beheading you."
His expression did nothing to quell the butterflies fluttering around in her stomach, but. "You do have a point there."
"Yeah. Logic's a real shock in this place, isn't it?"
She took his hand, squeaking a little when he pulled her up and out of the cage in one short, fluid movement. He was stronger than he looked. That should have made her feel safer, but as he slung an arm around her waist and moved to launch them both towards a rise of nearby hedges, it only made the butterflies in her stomach triple in number.
It was the beginning of the end.
She knew that form, the silver hair that shone even in the dank hallways of this abysmal castle. Alice strained against the barrier separating her little cell from the hall—invisible, until she touched it, and then she got such a shock—watching him turn this way and that, muttering softly to himself, looking for all the world like he'd gotten lost in his own castle. She smiled, it was an ironic thought.
'Don't even know where we are,' she heard him murmur.
"You know," she called, tone purposefully conversational and light, "They say talking to oneself is a sure sign of madness."
He whipped around so fast he nearly dropped the thing—person?—in his arms, looking her up and down for a long moment before he relaxed, rolling his eyes. "Oh. It's you."
"Yes. Me. The girl you kidnapped with your dreadful lies? I trust you haven’t forgotten."
That gets a rise out of him, and Alice had a moment to wonder how he stalked forward so effectively with a person—albeit a small one—in his arms. "Lies?" he snaps, affronted. "I never lied to you, Princess. Letting me cart you off had to be a damn sight more pleasant than letting the Red Queen cut off your fool head."
"Right," Alice said, shaking her head. "Because being kidnapped, thrown into a circle of villains and left to rot, wondering what horrible fate awaits me—that's so much better. At least the Queen of Hearts was more direct."
The boy ignored her, looking down at the person in his arms. Alice could see it was a girl now, a little older than her, perhaps the boy's age, or Sora's. She wondered what had happened to Sora, once she was gone. Hopefully the Queen wasn't too angry with him. Surely she'd blame him for Alice's 'escape'.
"Are you all this difficult? Is the attitude problem a Princess of Heart thing?"
Alice couldn't tell if he was talking to the girl in his arms or to her, but as the little redhead seemed to be unconscious, she replied for her. "You're one to talk."
To her surprised he chuckled a little. "You're right. I really am." He hefted the girl in his arms a little. "Kairi would probably agree."
Alice's eyes widened. "Kairi?" she asked, recognition sparking, and she struggled to remember the other name Sora had mentioned. "Then you—are you Riku? Oh you are, aren't you? You must find Sora and tell him you're alright! He was most dejected when I said I hadn't seen you."
The look of naked shock on his face made her giggle, a short spike of mirth that fizzled out as his expression shuttered over, brows knotting.
"How—? You—" he stammered, then shook his head as if he were clearing it, scowling. "You don't know what you're talking about. He's just worried about Kairi."
"And so are you, because she's your friend, obviously," said Alice, frowning herself. Such a difficult boy. "And he asked for you specifically. How else would I know your name?"
"But—" Riku still looked pained, but his shoulders unknotted a little, clinging tighter to Kairi where she lolled in his arms. "He replaced me," he said quietly. "I saw! With... animals. So he can't be all that worried."
"You love him," Alice said, crossing her arms defiantly. Honestly, did the boy want to be miserable?
Riku, for his part, looked horrified. "What? I don’t—"
"You do," she told him, matter-of-factly, "Your posture relaxes ever so slightly at the mention of him. So why do you look so frightened?"
"I'm not scared of anything," Riku snapped, dully, but Alice didn't think he even believed it himself.
She pressed on. "If you love him, why are you doing this? Why hurt him? He's looking everywhere for you. Both of you."
He turned away. Paused, a few steps from her, and his answer was so faint she could almost convince herself she'd imagined it. "Because he's hurting me."
He walked away before she could try to make him see the obvious, awful truth.
He was only hurting himself.
To Alice's surprise, she saw Riku again. Frequently, in fact, always with Kairi tucked silently into his arms. She found she didn't mind as much as she might have, if anything he was a welcome distraction from the endless bleak quiet of the castle, and she began to feel sorry for him (not that he would have appreciated the sentiment), pathetically frightened boy that he was. He made a point never to mention Sora after that first disastrous encounter, and she let him avoid the subject, unnerved by the dark, bottomless emotion that sparked in Riku's eyes whenever the conversation strayed towards the subject of the cheerful Keyblade Master.
He had power, she could see that. It reminded her in a puzzling sort of way of Sora, the way he could so effortlessly drop and raise the barrier around her cell, cut down what Heartless roamed too closely with a flick of his wrist and a flash of his ridiculous sword. He was, in his own fumbling way, a reflection of Sora, but one who lacked conviction. Riku, it seemed, wanted to believe in something, in himself. But something prevented him, quashing his potential.
Alice became convinced that he could save them all if he would just believe.
She asked him once why he bothered coming to visit her, curiosity getting the better of her as it always had.
He shrugged. "You're mostly sane. That's at a premium around here, if you've noticed, and—" He paused with a shuddering sigh. "Kairi's not much for conversation these days."
Kairi was stretched across the narrow cot Alice had been given to sleep on, placed there by silent agreement on Riku's first real, purposeful visit. She lay deathly still, never shifting from whatever position they arranged her into, hands at her sides. Alice had found that unnerving at first, but the tenderness with which Riku spoke of her painted a picture of the girl she had once been, vivid and so full of life she was bursting with it. If anything Alice found herself wanting to meet that girl, to see her restored the way that Riku hoped she would be if he could just figure out what was wrong.
"Why do you bring her here?" Alice asked quietly, rearranging her shabby quilt around the girl's shoulders nervously. "Surely she ought to be resting, ill as she is."
"I don’t trust those psychos with her anymore than I have to," Riku said sharply, crossing his arms over his chest.
"But you trust them not to hurt the rest of us, I see," Alice said dryly.
"Nobody's touched you, Princess," Riku countered, "I'd know, and they know I'd know. Besides, she looks more comfortable here than on that slab Maleficent keeps her on, like she's on display."
He was checking after her then, and Alice was grateful at the knowledge. That was hopeful, wasn't it? That he still paused long enough to care? Perhaps things could still be salvaged...
Mind whirring a mile a minute, she said quietly, "That is the trouble with throwing one's lot in with villains, isn't it? They are not often kind to one's friends." She tipped her head to the side, meeting his eyes. "That's how it happens in all my books, anyhow."
He startled, straightening. "Don't start, Alice. It's too late for that. Worlds have been destroyed, my world has been destroyed, I couldn't stop it if I wanted to."
"I'll look after her," she said, ignoring him entirely. "If you like. I'd wager I'm a better caretaker than your witch, anyway."
"You'd do that? After what I've done to you?"
"I don't understand you sometimes," she huffed, frowning. "It's like you want me to despise you." She shook her head, crossing her arms in a mirror of his stiff posture. "I worry about Kairi too, you know. And you, because you're a big dumb boy with no sense."
He laughed, but it held no mirth. "Sorry, I'll get right on that. Do you think it'd help if I let you braid ribbons into my hair?"
"Ooh!" she grumbled, unintelligibly, stomping her foot. "That's not the point! You could stop this, Riku, I know you could! Like Sora is trying to stop this, running about out there, looking for you, while you hide down here in the darkness! If you'd just stop looking for reasons to justify what you've done you could un-do it just as easily!"
And that just wasn't fair, because he had the power to put an end to this and he wouldn't.
"You really don't get it, do you?" he snarled, pushing away from the wall and turning to go, the barrier in her doorway sparking to life and then vanishing with a rough jerk of his hand. "Sora is toddling around out there with the ultimate weapon and no clue how to use it! If he's not dead by the end of the week it'll be a miracle!"
"Then help him! Riku!" She lunged forward as he stepped through the door, only just stopping as the barrier sparked to life again, nearly shocking herself in the process. "You're the same, you and he, I can feel it! You could be so much more than this, you only have to believe!"
Riku paused long enough to throw her a pained look over his shoulder. "There's only one mystical hero, Alice. That's how it goes in all the storybooks, remember?" He shook his head, straightening to go. "Thanks for looking after Kairi."
She never saw him again.
The boy who stepped into her cell wasn't any larger, but his presence seemed to fill the room with a looming, menacing air, eyes wide and alight with a frightening intensity.
"You're not Riku."
The stranger smiled. "How very observant of you, Princess."
The voice was Riku's but not, overlaid with another, deeper cadence so steeped in arrogance it was all Alice can do not to recoil in open horror. She managed a slower retreat, stepping carefully between this stranger and Kairi's defenseless form, trying to be brave in the face of this new horror.
"And what have you done with him?" she demanded, voice thick with a haughtiness she didn't feel.
The stranger laughed with Riku's mouth, low and mocking. "You truly believed that boy would save you? How naïve."
Alice was surprised to feel her fists curling at her sides, anger sweeping in quickly, blotting out the fear. Frustrated, she ignored the tears pricking at the corners of her eyes, demanding, "What happened to Riku, you villain? Answer me!"
"Oh, poor thing," the stranger mocked, sauntering closer, reaching out a hand to take her chin in Riku's hands and turn her face to look him in the eye, chuckling again as she frowned and tried to pull away. "Such faith, so long built and so easily destroyed." He let go, turning away in apparent disgust. "If you must know, beloved Sora happened. The poor boy just can't stand to find himself wanting in Sora's eyes, completely loses his head over it, I'm afraid."
The look he threw her when he turned around was pure venom. "It's the only reason I allowed this little farce of yours to continue."
"What are you talking about?"
"You said it yourself, Riku's power is like Sora's, like the Master of the Keyblade, because that is what he is." He paused, shrugging. "Or would have been, had I not introduced the Darkness to him at such a young age. I've been arranging this for a long time, Princess, longer than you've been on this little stage of ours and this boy—oh, he's been destined to fall. I need a wielder of the Blade, as I need you and your cohorts. Princesses to form the Dark Blade, and a Master to tame it."
"To form the—"
"You're a fool," the stranger said dismissively, coldly. "But then, so is your Riku. He actually believed I had told that witch Maleficent the whole of my plans, that I would let you live when all was in place." He shook his head, adding, "As though anything could stand so close to the full fury of Kingdom Hearts and survive."
"Please, you don't want to do this, Riku! You have to be in there somewhere, you can still stop this!"
The blow, when it came, was swift. Pain blossomed slowly in its wake, a terrible, dull ache that radiated from her slowly swelling jaw. She hardly noticed the tears finally spilling, tracking the stranger fearfully as he turned away a final time, moving toward the door. The barrier vanished in a spark of eerie darkness with a wave of his hand.
"You will address me as Ansem," the stranger hissed, motioning for her to follow. "For that is my name. Now come. And bring the child. She has a part to play herself."
He smiled coldly. "Beloved Sora is coming."
The next time Riku reached for her, it was to rip her heart out.