Hello, wonderful readers! This is a story I've been working on for quite some time now. It's actually finished, so I'll update with one chapter a week until I've uploaded them all. I did my very best to keep Vanitas in character, while trying to make him actually care for someone. It was tricky! Please let me know how I did! Enjoy!


Aqua awoke laying on the hard, rocky ground. Her head was pounding, so she made sure to sit up very slowly.

Where am I?

It came back to her with a force that left her breathless. Terra. Ventus. Their last stand at The Keyblade Graveyard. Now Ventus was in a deep sleep that could last an eternity and Terra was...somewhere in the Realm of Light. She hoped.

"I'm with you! Go!"

"I know it's a lonely place, but you'll be safe here. Terra and I will be back to wake you up before you know it..."

Tears welled in her eyes, but she wiped them away before they fell. I will not give into despair. I can't. I will find a way out of here. I have to. Terra. Ventus. I need to see you again!

Aqua stood slowly, trying to pull herself together and surveying her dismal surroundings. This was the Realm of Darkness. High cliffs with sharp, angry looking rocks jutting from them surrounded her. The sky was the most dismal thing she thought she'd ever seen. No stars. No clouds. It looked like she was in an enormous canyon. She rubbed her arms to stave off the cold she felt both inside and out, and simply began to walk.

The young man born of Darkness woke in agony. His body hurt so badly he had to fight the urge to retch. He counted his breaths to try to distract himself from the pain.

One, two, three...

He tried to relax so he could stretch, to uncurl his body from the tight fetal position.

Four, five, six...

He lay on the rocky earth, counting each and every breath he took until the pain became bearable and he was able to sit up. He counted five hundred and sixty four breaths.

What is this place?

He looked around, seeing nothing but sharp, rocky cliffs all around. He reached to touch his face, to rub his temples so he could try to ease his awful migraine. His fingers touched something cool and hard. He scowled with irritation and allowed the dark visor covering his face to melt away. Then he froze.

How did I do that?

He looked down at his hands and realized with a sick feeling in his stomach, that not only did he not know where he was, he had no idea who he was.

A broken vision came to him. There was an enormous, desolate wasteland and a young boy with blonde hair lying face down in the dirt, unmoving. The boy clutched some kind of sword. A man stood near the boy. He was old, bald, with a voice like sandpaper. The old man also held a sword, but his looked sinister and ancient, blackened by wicked deeds. He knew them both, but couldn't remember their names. He also knew that he had once called the old man Master.

My master? Master of what?

His head pounded as the vision faded just as abruptly as it had come. Was that part of my memory?

Before he had a chance to mull it over, a flash of movement caught his eye. He turned to see a black creature with yellow eyes. It was small, and it looked like a shadow. It also had sharp but small claws.

What is-

It lunged towards him before he could finish the thought, aiming to strike him with its pathetic claws. Forgetting his pain, he snarled at the creature. Before he even knew what he was doing, he leapt to his feet, extended his arm, and clenched his hand, instinctively summoning a weapon like the ones he had seen in his vision. He smirked, covering his face with the dark visor. He struck the creature hard. A feeling of superiority and pleasure washed over him as he watched the thing fade away into nothing. He turned around and was promptly greeted by more. Balls of pure darkness floated forward, their mouths stretched out in hideous smiles. He let his instincts take over, swinging his blade strong and fast. When they thought to attack him from behind, he phased away, leaving behind an illusion of himself that the creatures would bite and claw until he reappeared, only a moment later, above or behind them to end their miserable existences.

I am not weak. I will not fall to creatures so pathetic. They shouldn't even be allowed to exist.

He brought his weapon down hard one more time, ending the life of the last monster, a mere shadow. He smirked, raising his strange weapon to rest on his shoulder.

"You!" came a voice.

He turned around to see a girl standing just a ways away from him. She was slender, with armor on only her arms and feet. She had fierce, blue eyes and pretty blue hair that went just passed her jaw.

"Who are you?" he asked.

Anger flashed in her eyes like lightning in a storm. "Is that supposed to be some kind of joke? What are you doing here, Vanitas?"

Vanitas...The rush of adrenaline from his earlier fight was fading fast and the terrible pain was returning. Vanitas is my name? The pain became intense, but he stayed on his feet. He looked at the girl again, not bothering to answer her. He wondered why she looked at him with such anger, it was almost fury. "Tell me what you know about me."

"What?" She clenched her fists.

"Which part confuses you, stupid girl?" he asked. "You seem to know who I am, and I'm telling you to tell me everything you know. I woke in this cursed place with barely a trace of my memory. A broken one at that."

"Whatever you're trying to do, I'm not falling for it. You won't trick me with your little games!"

"Temper, temper," he sneered. "I must've done a real number on you for you to be so angry with me." His body was screaming, and he was glad that she couldn't see his face, for it was taking everything he had to remain standing. Whatever had happened to him, he wished he had just died from it. Death had to be better than this.

"You ruined everything! You and your corrupt master!" Her eyes were blazing now. She stretched out her arm as if she was reaching for something, then her fingers wrapped around the hilt of a sword of her own. "I'll finish you, monster!"

To her utter shock, he fell to his knees. If he thought it was impossible to hurt more than he already did, he was wrong. A pain like fire ravaging his body overtook him. He felt as if his very soul would be burned into nothingness. His vision blackened, then he saw a giant moon in the shape of a perfect heart. He was suddenly back at the wasteland with a young man, clad in armor, and the Master.

"Go, take what Ventus owes you, and take Aqua's life." Those were the Master's orders. The young man in armor tried to stop him, but he wasn't nearly fast enough; he still had the Master to deal with, anyway. The next thing Vanitas saw was himself, above the blue haired girl. This time, she was in full armor except for her head. Aqua. He swung his weapon, intent on sending it straight into her skull...

Vanitas let out a cry so loud and terrible that it made Aqua's blood run cold. He was still on his knees and he was clutching his head. His face was covered, but it looked like he was in immense pain. What is going on?

She took a step towards him. She could almost pity him. Is he playing me? She angrily steeled her heart against any feelings of sympathy she might feel for him. He was darkness itself. He was evil. He was everything her Master had taught her to fight against. Even still, she could not bring herself to attack him while he was in such a pitiful state, but she did not go near him.

Several minutes passed, then an hour. Eventually his tremors stopped, and she could hear his light breathing. He was laying down now, collapsed on the hard, rocky ground.. Did he fall asleep?

Aqua stood from the rock she was sitting on and slowly approached him. Her head was screaming at her for daring to go near him, for being so careless. She should just leave him there! She pushed those thoughts away and knelt beside him. She reached for his helmet, a curiosity she could bear no longer taking over. Let me see your face. The second her fingertips touched his helmet, his had sprung forward and seized her wrist.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" He asked. His head still hurt, and he was in an extremely foul mood.

She yanked her wrist free of him, noting that he did not resist. "Nothing. Nevermind."

"You curious or something? I thought you said you knew me," he said, sneering.

"I do know who you are," she snapped, moving away from him and cursing herself. "You never showed your face."

"I'm sure I had my reasons," he said with a smirk.

"I'm sure. Why wouldn't you want to hide a face as terrible as yours?"

He laughed, unfazed by her remark. "Go ahead, think whatever you want." He pushed up on his elbow, facing her now. He winced inwardly. He was very sore, but he wasn't in crippling pain anymore. "Make yourself useful and tell me where we are."

She sighed. "This is the Realm of Darkness."

"You came upon me fighting those things. Do you know what they are?"

"No." They remind me of the Unversed, but they aren't the same, she thought.

"Gee, you're so helpful," he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

Her eyes glittered, and she stood. Turning on her heel, she began to walk away. I despise you!

"I don't think so!" He leapt to his feet, feeling thankful that the fierce pain he felt before had now ebbed to a dull ache. He strode forward, moving in front of her. "You're not going anywhere until you tell me everything you know about who I am."

"And if I refuse?" she asked, her chin held high.

"You are not going to refuse me, nor are you going anywhere until you tell me what you know," he said.

Aqua suddenly felt tired, so very tired. She looked at him, the fire in her eyes going low.

"What game are you playing, Vanitas?" she asked wearily.

"I don't need to play games, Aqua." he said. "I told you already. I don't remember who I am. I might remember at least part of the reason you're so angry with me, though."

"And why is that?" she asked, exhaustion settling over her.

"Because," he said, grinning behind his visor. "I tried to kill you. I wanted to kill you."

"On more than one occasion, I might add," she said, letting some venom seep into her voice.

"But I can't remember why," he said.

This time it was her turn to laugh. It was a harsh laugh, it didn't sound like he thought it should, and he didn't like the sound, for it did not touch her eyes. "Then you get what you deserve!"

"Maybe," he said. "Why did you want to see my face? What were you looking for? What did you expect to find?"

"I can't answer that because I don't know myself," she said, her voice softening. She gasped when he allowed his face to show. His hair was jet black, and his eyes were gold. But...his features...Vanitas. You look like...you look just like him. That boy from the islands, Sora...How can this be?

"You look just like you've seen a ghost," he said. "I take it this is not what you pictured?"

She didn't have a chance to reply before something dove at her from the darkness and scratched her face before landing on the rocky ground. Large, yellow eyes stared at her as it prepared to strike her again. Aqua cried out, pressing her hand to her cheek. "Why you...!" She summoned her Stormfell, swinging her Keyblade and striking down the shadow.

"We're surrounded," he said calmly.

"How do you know?" she asked, turning away from where the creature had been. She scanned the area. "I don't see any more of them."

"I can feel it. Them. Whatever they are, they're all around." He summoned his weapon and gestured to it. "What is this thing?"

"That's your Keyblade. It has chosen you for its Master. It should have a name, but I don't know what it is," she answered.

He examined it for the first time. Its main colors were black and red, just like the suit he wore. It had a gear around the hilt with a brilliant blue eye, and the teeth of the key was a gear also, with another eye. The length of the blade had a chain wrapped around it. It was a formidable weapon indeed. Void Gear...

Suddenly, more of the monsters manifested. Some spawned, and some were crawling out of the crevices from the cliffs all around. There was more than Aqua could count, and this time there were different ones than just the two kinds she had seen Vanitas fight before. She saw the ones that looked like shadows, the balls of darkness, and some that looked like the shadows, but were bigger. These had longer limbs and jagged antennae. Then there were the heavys. These monsters looked like black devils. They had horns that came together to form hearts on their heads, with long tails that were barbed on the end. They also had small wings jutting out from their backs and they carried large, scalloped swords. What in the Worlds?

"Think you can even handle this many?" he asked, his usual bad attitude evident in his tone.

"What other choice is there?" She replied.

Several of the large shadows came at her, and she raised her Keyblade to fend off their attacks. "Thunder, Fire, Freeze," she cried as she cast her spells. She felt the Light wrap around her body as she entered her Spellweaver form. To Vanitas, she looked like a deadly ballerina. She fought the monsters with an ethereal grace, then went into a spinning frenzy of Light, taking out a good number of them.

One of the devil monsters came for Vanitas. He had to admit, these ones were much stronger than the others he'd fought before. It struck at him, and he did his signature phase away move, leaving behind an illusion of himself. "Pathetic," he said, appearing behind the monster and striking it with his Void Gear. "Fire!," he shouted, casting Dark Firaga and sending the beast into oblivion.

They were Light and Darkness, fighting together. Vanitas moved with a decided precision, with speed and cunning. Aqua silently wondered how she'd ever managed to best him in battle before. This is so strange, fighting alongside him, she thought. She raised her keyblade to fend off one of the bigger shadows, when one of the devil monsters came at her from the side, it's sword poised to strike her. There wasn't time for her to react. She would be hit, she knew it. She closed her eyes, bracing herself, then she heard the sound of metal clashing. She opened her eyes and turned her head to see Vanitas between her and the monster, his Keyblade blocking its sword.

"Too slow," he said darkly, shoving it back. He pushed the monster well away, then swung his Keyblade in an arc, striking and destroying it with a strength even Terra could envy.

Did he just save me? Gratitude washed over her in palpable waves. He was supposed to be evil in the flesh! Wasn't he?Resolutely, she fought her way over to him, striking, blasting, freezing anything in her way into nothingness. I guess the enemy of my enemy is my friend, she thought.

Vanitas swore. "We've barely made a dent in their numbers!"

"I know," Aqua replied solemnly. She turned away from him and positioned herself so that they were back to back. She took a deliberate half-step backwards, so that her shoulders were touching his. He noticed, but said nothing. "We can do it," she said firmly.

"Then let's," he replied, a sinister smile on his face. He called his dark power to the surface. It flickered around him like a black flame. She entered her Spellweaver style again, her powerful light emanating off her body.

They were Yin and Yang. If anyone ever told Aqua that it was possible for Darkness and Light to fight so perfectly in sync, side by side, she would have never believed them. Yet here she was. She fought for him and he protected her. The monsters' numbers were diminishing quickly, but Aqua knew their stamina was beginning to run low as well.

Three of the devil monsters and two of the large shadows went for Vanitas. She saw him fend off two devils, then she cartwheeled over and sent a Strike Raid into the shadows, stunning them. She gasped as the third devil swung its sword and struck Vanitas in his side. He let out a pained cry before sending a Triple Dark Firaga at the monster, effectively destroying it. He grimaced as he pressed his free hand to his wound, then fell to his knees.

"Vanitas!" Aqua cried, moving quickly to be at his side. "Vanitas, are you-"

He shoved his Void Gear into her empty hand before she could finish. "I'm fine. Finish them!"

Aqua didn't have time to contemplate before the monsters came for her. "You'll pay!" she cried, determined to defend Vanitas. Her ally? Was she his? She fought with agility and grace. She focused on defeating the last of the monsters while allowing herself to think about what this dark Keyblade felt like in her hand. This Darkness, his Darkness didn't feel anything like she expected. She almost laughed at herself. What was I expecting, for this Keyblade to scorch my hand? Maybe I was...

She wondered, as she fiercely swung Vanitas's Keyblade at a devil, what her Master would think of her double-wielding this keyblade with her own. He'd think I had become corrupted. Master, you'd be wrong...This Darkness felt vital, strong, and hungry. It was so different from her Light, and yet, maybe not as different as she had thought before. It felt...good. "What have you done to me, Vanitas?" Aqua said aloud, throwing her Keyblade in one last Freeze Raid, destroying the last of the creatures, a dark ball, and putting an end to their fight. She took a deep breath, then let it out slowly.

Aqua turned to find Vanitas. He was standing now, but with his hand still pressed to his side where he'd been struck. She walked over to him and stuck her Keyblade in the ground, then put her hand on his shoulder. "Heal," she said for the both of them.

"Hah, thanks," he said, taking his Keyblade. There was an edge to his voice.

"No problem," she replied. She grabbed her Stormfell and dismissed it. "but I should be thanking you."

"Unnecessary," he rudely retorted.

What happened? His attitude is so different now. He's just like he was...before. "Vanitas," she began.

"Don't bother," he snapped. "You don't have to pretend you don't hate me just because we fought off some monsters together. You were going to leave before, weren't you? Go ahead. I won't stop you this time."

Is that what this is about? Aqua squared her shoulders and got in his face. "I'm not pretending anything, Vanitas. Yes, I'm still angry about what happened before. I think I will be until it's made right again, if it even can be made right. I realized just now that my anger was misguided before. As far as your lost memory goes, I don't think it would be a good idea for me to tell you what I know right now. When you were doubled over in pain before, it was because a piece of memory made its way back to you, isn't it?" When he didn't say anything, she continued. "It'll probably happen again if you're forced to remember."

He looked at her. "Does this mean you're sticking around?"

She sighed. "I guess it does. It beats being all alone, anyway."

"Thanks," he said sourly. Aqua saw something flash in his eyes for just an instant. It was gone before she could identify it for sure, but it looked like pain.

"I didnt mean it like that, Vanitas. I've been on a solitary journey for such a long time now. Company will be a nice change, especially here in this awful place." she murmured.

"Sorry it has to be mine," he replied, still sour.

"I'm not," she said softly.

"Am I not your enemy?" he asked.

"We don't have to be," she said sincerely. "We were before, but not because I wanted it that way, Vanitas." She wrapped her arms around herself. "I only wanted to keep my friends safe."

"From me?" he wondered aloud.

"And your Master," she said, not wanting to reveal anything more for both their sakes.

"Was I different then than I am now?" he asked.

She smiled softly. "Yes, and no. I still see some of who you were back then in your personality, in the way you talk and especially the way you fight. You're still you, Vanitas. You're just not as...cruel as you were back then." She laughed a little, and he liked the sound this time.

"What?" he asked.

"Earlier, when you stopped that monster from striking me, you told it that it was too slow. I was just remembering that you told me the same thing, in the exact same way when I fought against you before."

"Hah," he said, a superior smirk splayed on his face.

She pressed on. "I watched you fight today, and I even wondered if you had been going easy on me in the Realm of Light. You're lethal, Vanitas, and I'm glad we were on the same team today."

"I guess you're not half bad yourself," he muttered.

She smiled at that. "We should rest now. I'm exhausted, and I'd bet my Keyblade that you are, too."

A/n: I wanted to add another note here. I didn't describe the Heartless in this chapter by name because Vanitas and Aqua had never seen those before, so yeah. Hope I described them well enough. If not, here's a key. Small shadows = Shadows. Larger shadows = Neoshadows. Balls of Darkness = Dark balls. Devil monsters = Invisibles.