Word count: 1500 (3 to 12 minutes) | Rating: T | Note: Kingdom Hearts Spoilers | Characters: Braig, Dilan, Luxu
Kids weren’t supposed to sit on the fence, or so said all the bossy grown-ups at the orphanage. But Braig was 14, not a lame 5-year-old. So he swung his feet from the top of the stone fence, resting back on his hands. They were still scratched up from his last nasty fall, but that’s how he got to be so tough. Not everyone could be born built like a rock like Dilan.
“You’re going to be in trouble,” Dilan said from the ground, back turned to the fence as he kept an eye out. For the adults, probably. He wasn’t going to stop Braig or encourage him, but he’d dreamt of being a guard since they met as kids in the orphanage… So why not get a head start on his guarding skills by being lookout for his dumbass friend?
“Only if you tell,” Braig corrected him, turning to lie on his back. Perfect, fluffy white clouds drifted over Radiant Garden like they did on most days. What a beautiful paradise. He scoffed at his own thought, rolling his eyes. Yeah, right. If you had connections, anywhere was a paradise. But the little guys like wannabe guards and problem orphans? Nah, they had to work twice as hard to get half as much, and the hot shots took a cut on top of that most of the time anyway.
“Or if they look.” He glared over his shoulder and Braig answered that by sticking his tongue out. What a killjoy, with his common sense and logical talk.
“Whatever.” Braig sat up, planning his jump down to put poor, fragile Dilan at ease. That’s when he felt it. Suddenly, he got hit with this loneliness that usually crept up on him between 2am and 5am, but sharper. With an edge. Ambition, maybe? No, it was hungrier than that. Desperate, almost. He wasn’t a deep thinker when it came to hearts, but… He scrunched up his face, trying to track this weird feeling down.
“What is it?” His friend’s expression had softened to neutrality, a sure sign he was worried. Dilan practiced his resting bitch face, and when it dropped, that was when he meant business. Braig turned away from his friend, staring out ahead at the sun-kissed horizon painters dreamed of.
“Remember that book I told ya about?”
Just from the scoff he got, Braig could tell his RBF was back. “The one you weren’t supposed to read at the castle library trip you weren’t supposed to go on?”
“Yeah, yeah,” he rushed out, waving off the moral concerns he’d had enough of already. What he had to say was way better. “I think it’s got to do with hearts connected across a shared sky or whatever.”
“Someone out there?” He was surprised, sure, but he believed him—of course he did. Dilan always took Braig at his word when it really counted, the poor idiot. He looked down the path to town like he could see a heart waltzing up the lane. “From another world?”
“Yeah, that’s the one.” What were the next steps again? The book was wildly unhelpful. Just said to reach out or something, and he couldn’t believe he was really going to try this—but hey, what’d he have to lose? He took a breath and closed his eyes, chasing that thread of biting loneliness…
Coming to in a dark place where the only light was the stained-glass circle window under his feet. Not the safest structure, so it sure was lucky for him it wasn’t even real. Braig walked to the center, looking around for some reason to be here and hoping he didn’t fall off the fence in the real world for nothing. He lifted a foot and tilted his head to realize he saw Dilan’s face in the pattern of the glass. Beautiful bastard.
“I sensed you,” a voice echoed from above. Or below. Next to him? Braig whipped around, eyes peeled to see someone in the dark. But no, not a soul there but him. “In the dark, I found you.”
“Creepy,” Braig said, wondering where in the book it was gonna mention voices from nowhere. Maybe he’d’ve gotten there if that stingy Even guy didn’t yank it out of his hands and squawk at him about trespassing. “Who’re you?”
There was a pause before the reply, maybe some kind of darkness deal. Or maybe the voice was a jerk.
“Luxu,” the guy answered. “It was your heart that led me here. I was in danger, so… Thanks for the save.”
“Yeah.” Braig relaxed, and he could’ve sworn the light shining from the stained glass got warmer. Was this supposed to be his brainscape or something? He rolled his eyes at the idea. How lame.
“Mind if I take shelter here for a while?” Luxu sounded hopeful and familiar, like they’d been friends for ages. He really had to be desperate. “I have a mission to complete, and the danger hasn’t passed.”
“A mission?” Braig sneered, spinning on his heel to turn away from the voice—he thought. Hard to place a formless sound in the dark. “Look, I’m not signing up for anything ‘til I know what’s in the contract.”
The laugh from Luxu was quiet and not exactly… Bright. “Of course. I’d do the same.” The shadows shifted outside of what the platform’s light could reach, or maybe he imagined it did. Scary as hell either way. Braig tried to watch for it again and keep track of the motion. “My master needs help to see his mission through. Thousands of years ago, he trusted me to watch for the right time to finish the prophecy he foresaw.”
“But I was betrayed.” If he was spiteful about that, it didn’t sound like it. Cool as can be, like he was making small talk. Braig figured from there that Luxu ran into that particular snag more times than he could count. To him, all this was just a Tuesday. “And now I’m missing a key piece. After waiting so long, I would hate to disappoint my master.”
This master business was weird as hell. The only one he knew was Master Ansem—Ansem the Wise—and the Keybearers that carried the title around. Like it mattered to anyone without one of those special weapons. “So, you’re an apprentice? Man, your boss didn’t even give you a good title before he started pushing his work off on you?”
Silence carried on for a beat again. Maybe Luxu was slow in the head.
“This is my trial, actually. To prove myself. So. What do you say?”
Braig glanced over the stained glass again, curious to get a closer look and wondering what Luxu would even do in here. “What’s in it for me? This looks like a pretty important place, kinda fragile, and I’m not gunning for let some random guy in for free.”
There was that laugh again—it was light, but chilling all at once. He’d sooner bite his tongue off than say it, though.
“My master would like you. When his plan is complete, I’m sure he would be willing to pass a Keyblade on to you.”
Braig had to let that one sink in. He was quick on the uptake, usually, but this was something he didn’t even think they could do. Greedy Keyblade wielders kept the rules of their special, one-of-a-kind weapons close to their hearts.
“That even possible?”
“For one with a strong enough heart,” he explained patiently. “I found yours even in the abyss of darkness, so I’m confident you could. Having me here could be enough to tip the scales too. It wouldn’t be the first time,” he admitted. And Braig had to say, there was something fishy going on here. Luxu had to know the power of what he was putting on the table, but he wasn’t acting like it was a big deal to take seriously. Not like the somber, duty-driven Keyslingers back home.
But this practically fell in his lap. He had Luxu at a disadvantage too. Not like he could just hop into any heart, they had to reach out. Braig was his only option, and he wasn’t going to risk him. If Luxu tried anything funny, this wasn’t even his heart to call the shots in. One of the books in the castle would have to say something on evicting people from your heart if it came to that. What Braig knew for sure was that he’d never come across another chance like this. He could be nothing and nobody while Dilan lived it up as a guard someday, or he could be a Keybearer.
“Ah, what the hell, why not?” He shrugged, a smug grin on his face. “You think you can get something out of this shitshow to get your fancy title, go for it. Just remember I did you a favor.”
He got one last cold, joyless chuckle from Luxu. Had to give Braig a sinking feeling for the road.
“Thanks, Braig. I will.”