Sora sat next to Chirithy in the Land of Departure atop a stone wall while they watched Ven and Vani play with the orphans that Aqua and Terra have taken in. Vani was teaching them the ways of the tackle and they were having a fun time bringing Ven to the ground over and over again while the raven-haired man cackled with approval.
Sora watched with a faraway look on his face. "Chirithy..."
The little creature looked up at the pensive man. "What's up?"
"What will really happen to me when it's time for me to reach the Final World?" he asked. "Or rather...what will happen to Darkness?"
It was a morbid question to be sure, but one that Chirithy knew would come one day. After all, Sora was supposed to fade away the last time they saw each other in the Final World. It's only natural that he'd have questions now that he's shouldered the burden of being a prison for Darkness as well. "It's likely Darkness might die with you...or the seal will get broken. Who knows? It might be the natural order of things for Darkness to only be sealed temporarily. After all, a balance of Light and Dark is needed."
While Sora knows that's true, he can't help but think there has to be another solution. Maybe a treaty or a compromise? Something that ensures balance is kept without anybody getting hurt. But even as badly as he wants it, he can't imagine it happening, either. What would that even look like? A future where light and dark coincide in the open? Vanitas and Ventus had said Darkness, herego heartless, seek hearts and yet they don't understand them. Vanitas is born from darkness and yet has his own heart...or is it really half of Ven's? Sora was able to give a piece of his heart away to somebody who needed it. Roxas and Xion were able to grow their own hearts and identities after "borrowing" Sora's for a while. Riku has found a way to tame darkness and wield it as his own. So maybe there IS a way for light and dark to coexist...maybe LOVE is the bridge?
The gears turned rapidly in his head the harder he thought about it. Kingdom Hearts...could be made of hearts...hearts can be filled with so many things, the strongest of which he was certain was love. And if love is the ultimate power like many say...maybe...just maybe...
What if Kingdom Hearts wasn't meant to be used to eliminate darkness, but bridge the two instead and enforce TRUE balance? Could light co-exist with darkness and create bonds that enable hearts to grow even within the darkest depths? Eliminating the need or drive for darkness to hunt down light to claim hearts for themselves that they don't understand anyway? What if eventually the two sides were no longer separate and the worlds could all finally reunite? Is it possible?
"Hmm..." he hummed thoughtfully. "Thanks, Chirithy. I'll see you guys around." He gave one last wave to everybody before summoning his keyblade vehicle to head to the Symphony of Sorcery next.
At Master Yen Sid's tower, he sat down with the wise wizard and ran his thoughts by him, in desperate need of advice and asked that this conversation be kept between just the two of them.
"You need to be careful with this line of thinking, Master Sora," the wizard warned as he poured Sora a cup of tea. "It's possible Master Xehanort himself may have been led down this same sort of path."
"You're probably right," Sora agreed thoughtfully. But he wasn't about to give up yet. After all, Master Xehanort wanted to destroy the worlds and make a new one, "pure and bright" as he put it, and be the one to lead. But...that's not what he wants. There must be a way to bring about peace without destroying what they already have.
Next he spoke to Ansem the Wise, the old scientist pleasantly surprised that Sora asked to speak with him. Again, Sora asked that this conversation be kept between them.
"You've done so much research on this topic already," Sora said. "So I thought I should ask for your opinion on the matter before I pursue it any further."
Master Ansem offered Sora a macaroon from a large pink box of confectionaries from Ven's bakery, a bakery set up to help fund the school in the Land of Departure. Sora took one gratefully to go with their tea, a beverage he was slowly learning to appreciate, emphasis on slowly. As he munched on a sea salt caramel macaron, Ansem studied the young man's face with a warm smile. The young master before him has grown so much in so little time. Even at the age of twenty-three, the fun-loving man has matured and wizened so much in the past couple of years. But he supposed it was to be expected, after everything he's gone through. With a heavy heart, he sipped from his own tea. "I'll help in any way I can," he offered cautiously. After all, he recognized the curiosity in Sora's eyes as the same curiosity he's seen in so many of his pupils in years past and it hasn't always led them down the brightest of paths.
Sora ran his thoughts past the wise man. What are the odds of beings of darkness growing their own hearts? Is it a sustainable ideal? Would darkness even want that or would it just be a few exceptions?
Ansem took in his questions thoughtfully. "Hearts are capable of many things and can be grown in the darkest of places and the most unlikely, such as the datascape, for example. But whether or not beings of darkness desire actual ownership of hearts for themselves that's a question that should probably be asked directly."
"So...I should ask Darkness, you think." Sora's brow furrowed as he stared down into his tea. "We've spoken before but it's not exactly...I'm not sure how safe it is." He bit his lower lip in frustration before looking back up to Ansem. "But SOMETHING has to be done. I don't feel right about putting future generations at risk for the same conflict we just went through. How can I even bring future children into the world and revive all those kids in the datascape knowing that they will all be at risk when I die?"
Ansem sighed. Of course the young keyblade master would feel guilty, even for something beyond his control. He's gone above and beyond and still he wants to do more. He wished he knew the answer.
"I'm not saying the solution will happen overnight, but it's something we have to start building towards NOW before it's too late. After all, I still don't know what will happen to the χ-blade, either. No Name was passed on for generations, even in hung up in Scala ad Caelum while Luxu watched over it." They knew this much about it after gathering more information over the past couple of years from multiple sources. "But can that be done for the χ-blade? It sounds too risky and definitely too much of a burden. But if it's destroyed when I die, will the pieces be separate again? Will there just be somebody to start a new war to gather them once more?"
Ansem put up a hand to calm the young man's spiraling train of thought and offered him another sweet, the brunette giving a small sheepish smile before he accepted another one. "Master Sora...just because you possess the χ-blade doesn't mean you HAVE to make a decision. You could very well just let things be, let them happen as they come. You've done so much for the worlds already. It isn't fair to expect yourself to come up with the perfect solution to everything."
Sora shook his head. "No. I think the worst thing I could possibly do is be indecisive about this. Something HAS to be done."
The master relaxed his shoulders with a quiet sigh, his own brow furrowing as he allowed himself to truly contribute to this discussion. "If you merely pass the χ-blade down, temptation will always be a risk. There's still a chance for conflict over ownership," he agreed. "And like you said, if you were to pass, would it break apart on its own if you don't pass it down? I'm afraid all these things are likely scenarios, including another keyblade war. But we can't just keep eliminating new ambitious individuals over and over."
"Right. It'd be a never-ending cycle," Sora nodded solemnly. Something just has to be done for the future. "What will it take to drive change, do you think?"
"Somebody for sure needs to guide the way," the old man answered simply.
"Yes, somebody to guide the way, to SUPPORT change, not force it. To serve, not dictate." Sora looked up with a smile. "Xehanort didn't believe people could change, so he wanted to start everything anew, to destroy and start fresh, and lead after to ensure his ideal. But I believe change can be done NOW. I believe in people and their hearts and I believe they can be shared. Yes, even with darkness."
Ansem's eyes widened slightly, stunned by the sudden determination sparkling in Sora's eyes. When his face lights up like that, it really feels as if the young master can do anything he says.
"Only with cooperation can there truly be balance," Sora continued. "Maybe in a way, everybody can be like me: give a piece of themselves to help a creature of darkness get their own heart?" He laughed, realizing how silly that might sound. "Maybe not as literally, but dedicate themselves to trying to CONNECT with something different from them. In a way, you do give a piece of yourself when you go out of your way to really connect with another person, and you get something back, too." He deflated just a smidge as he took another sip of tea, letting the warm liquid calm the quickening pace of his heart. "There will always be bad eggs here and there, I'm sure. But with the right guidance, I think we can re-unite the worlds again for a better future for ALL. At least that's what I hope for with all my heart."
Master Ansem smiles confidently. "If anybody can do it Sora, I believe you can."
Sora shyly smiles back. "I know it won't be perfect and I know I'll make mistakes, but I know with my friends backing me up and supporting me along the way, the only way I can fail is if I don't try at all. I have to believe there is a reason I ended up where I am now. I feel like I've been given a huge chance to make everybody happy and I don't want to screw it up. But...I won't do it if nobody's on board. This isn't just my decision to make, after all. This affects everybody and all those who haven't even been born yet."