Dedicated to the Redeemer.

A/N: HAPPY THANKSGIVING! HURRAY! I hope y'all stuff yourselves with turkey and dressing. Be safe, have fun, watch football, enjoy your family.

And enjoy the chapter! It's not very long – no need to pull you from the festivities.

Sorry. Yes: doom and gloom play a major part, here. Don't let it get you down. I have, and will have, funny goodies for you to cuddle.

Disclaimer: Unfortunately, no.

ooo

Riku's emotions were at a crossroads. A part of him regretted his decision to confront Nevaeh. Only because he was now in Sora's debt. Or, actually, they were even. Riku hated even. He wanted the top of the pyramid of their nonexistent competition. Then there was a part of him that was indescribably, undoubtedly, incandescently happy. (And all those other 'ly' words he didn't know how to spell.) This sensation thwarted the other most heinously. (Yet another 'ly'.) Over and over and over again. Riku, in all aspects of the phrase, was as light as a feather.

His heart felt liberated from the evil chains of hesitancy. On cloud nine. As high as a kite.

Why? All because a girl – one: Nevaeh Alexander – loved him in return.

Riku didn't know what to do with himself. He felt muddled, elated, invincible, and vulnerable at the same time. It was heart-stopping. Mind-blowing. Nerve-wracking. It was nothing and everything. It was, and wasn't, tangible.

It was love.

A stupid smile plastered across Riku's face. As if he'd been sculpted from idiocy since birth.

Nevaeh, on the other hand, was as beautiful as ever.

Riku loathed the idea of a girlfriend and courtship and romance, but he cherished the idea of Heaven at his lips, in his arms, or at his side. Riku realized that, perhaps, Nevaeh was (and would be) his greatest weakness. In the end, he didn't know whether he wanted to complain to or thank God.

At a crossroads, he most certainly was.

Nevaeh smirked. She rested her upturned chin against Riku's chest. "You look like such an fool."

Riku blinked. "Hn," was all he said.

"Hn, yourself." Nevaeh kissed him. Again. Riku couldn't (and wouldn't ever) understand how she managed to kiss so deeply and so quickly simultaneously. (Blasted 'ly's...) Her lips delved – probed – into his very core. But her abating point was too quick.

Riku considered himself gypped. Taken to 'a heaven' and withdrawn against his will wasn't something he appreciated. Still, he returned Nevaeh's affections, ever competitive. The drive to surpass her was innate. Though silly.

Grappling for dominance via a kissing match might have been overdoing it.

Nevaeh withdrew. Her cheeks flushed with color. "Well..." She took a much-needed, feeble breath. "That's enough P.D.A. for now. We need to-" Nevaeh fell silent. She sank to the ground and alighted her forehead to the sand. "S-s-s-so cold," Nevaeh stuttered. "T-T-T-"

Riku knelt down beside her. He touched Nevaeh's shoulder with is hand, only to withdraw as soon as his fingers made contact. She was freezing. Beyond freezing. "Heaven?"

Nevaeh trembled. "He's h-here." Her blanket slipped to the ground. She was too shocked to keep herself warm with steady hands. Nevaeh looked at Riku. Her orange eyes were bright and blazing – the last of the heat she possessed. "Tarsus is here."

Riku tensed. His senses peaked, but pinpointed nothing. Riku opened his mouth to reassure Nevaeh – to tell her that he wouldn't let Tarsus snatch her from his hand – but all his oxygen rushed from his lungs in one, fell swoop.

Riku strove to inhale. His body disobeyed.

It was almost as if...he didn't remember how.

"Evening."

Riku's insides turned to stone. In spite of this fact, his second nature thwarted his fear. Riku spun on his heel. He swept his opposing leg down and around until his calf met Tarsus' ankle.

The tip of Riku's shoe scraped against the sand. A plume of dust scattered in wake of his miss. Tarsus was nowhere to be found.

Riku's chest heaved. Still, no breath was forthcoming.

"Such a shame," droned Tarsus' voice. "I never would have thought you'd turn your back on the one you love."

Riku's heart came close to failing him. Anxious and wavering, Riku turned his head.

There, standing behind him, was none other than the leader of the Mastery.

"Heaven," Riku wheezed. He tried to stand, but Tarsus made Riku's immobility his precedence. First the right leg. Then the left. Both extremities were stripped from his conscious – how to use them – how to sense them. Riku was left to support himself with his hands. Still, he faced Tarsus, hangdog in appearance.

Tarsus held Nevaeh by her frozen wrist. She was chilled to the point where she couldn't retaliate. She didn't blink, she didn't speak, and she didn't acknowledge her predicament.

"Let Heaven go!" Riku choked on his words. His vision swam. His chest felt on fire.

Tarsus tut-tutted. "Don't speak. You'll die sooner."

Riku scowled. "You won't kill me..." He clawed the sand. "You need what's inside of me..."

Tarsus didn't respond. He opened a hazy portal from which a sinister light did pulse. Hence, the island wind howled and the sky grew ever dark. Tarsus thrust Nevaeh through the gateway. He studied Riku's reaction over his shoulder. "Perfect. You're heart is much stronger than Nevaeh's."

Riku bared his teeth. He could barely see.

"Come fetch her if you have the courage. I'll be waiting."

Riku slumped to the ground, unconscious.

(A/N: I'm being lazy. I'm typing my note here. Tarsus took Nevaeh for a reason. He couldn't take Riku from before because Nevaeh's heart would have gone with him. Tarsus, obviously, doesn't want to have to deal with more hearts than he has to. There's also a reason for that...)

ooo

Delicious breath returned Riku to his senses. He blinked open one eye, then another, greeting the darkened sky with steely irises of mint-green. Riku gritted his teeth. Anger boiled in the pit of his belly. And pain. Tarsus hadn't disembarked without leaving a lasting impression. Riku could barely move.

He'd taken her. Tarsus had taken Nevaeh. Just like she said he would.

Riku beat his fists against the ground. Fissures snaked their way into the sea, where they ruptured the water to pieces. If Riku wasn't careful, he'd capsize his islet. But he also didn't care. His need to vent was overpowering. Nevaeh was gone.

Every time Riku hit the sand, the ocean revolted. Pillars of water shot toward the sky, only to plummet from whence they came.

Riku gasped. Rain pelted his body.

"Don't sulk," snapped a familiar voice. A vision of Nevaeh bent over him, her eyebrows skewed in the form of a challenge. "Get up."

(A/N: Remember when Sora could see Kairi because he held her heart? Yeah.)

Riku blinked. He clutched his chest. A pink light manifested there. "Heaven? I thought-"

"-thought Tarsus took me?" she purred. Nevaeh tucked her hair behind her ears. Its unbound ends lingered over Riku's face. "Yes. And no." She pointed to Riku's torso. "My heart's weaker than yours. When Tarsus took me, my heart stayed with you." Nevaeh rolled her eyes. "Pathetic."

The salty rain dispersed. Riku lay on the ground, soaking wet. Nevaeh stood over him, completely dry.

"You're not real?" Riku asked.

Nevaeh shook her head. "Afraid not, Mr. Riku." She smiled a flirtatious smile. "I'll explain later. Right now, you need to help Sora. Tarsus has taken Kairi, along with me. And you know as well as I do what'll happen to your friend..." She didn't finish.

Riku struggled to rise. His movements were sluggish and agonizing. He bit his bottom lip to mess. Riku groaned. By the time he pushed himself half-way into the sitting position, the salt on his brow derived more from sweat than sea-rain.

Nevaeh watched Riku. (Up until this point.) Visibly frustrated with his pain and his tedious pace, she lowered herself to her knees in-between his legs. She planted her palms on either side of his waist. "Riku." She leaned close. "Get up." Nevaeh licked her lips, which hovered just out of Riku's reach. Her voice was airless. "On your feet..." She closed her eyes and breathed against his mouth. "On your feet..."

Riku's pulse spiked. As did Nevaeh's. Their pumping blood rushed Riku's veins, reviving his legs.

Nevaeh grinned, victorious. She disappeared to her heart, leaving Riku painting, aching, asking: "Heaven?" When she didn't answer, he regained his composure to stand. Only Nevaeh Alexander would utilize 'coy' as an end to her means. Even if she wasn't 'real' – even if Riku couldn't feel her. "It is possible to quicken my heart rate without trying to seduce me..." Riku grumbled.

(A/N: Tarsus has other powers – which involve blood. That's all I'm saying right now.)

An explosion lit the night sky. The ocean churned and the island trembled.

"Sora..." Riku grit his teeth. Every step felt as if he were being stabbed through the soles of his feet. Tarsus didn't just affect memories. He could literally destroy someone without laying a hand on them. Riku had to remind himself: this was why the King feared the Mastery.

Riku bolted down the beach. What awaited him trapped his insides like a vice.

The Gummi was battered – likely unflyable. Donald, Goofy, and Axel were strewn across the shore. They're weapons weren't in hand. Tarsus was swift. There was no doubt about it.

Sora was nowhere to be found.

Riku limped toward the nearest body: Axel. Upon further inspection, Riku found the pyro with a ridiculous grin on his face. Riku imagined him saying something to the extent of: Roxas, you've done your pal a great service. GET SOME, RIKU!

Riku resisted the urge to punch Axel. "Idiot," he murmured. Riku double-checked his darkened environs before dabbling in first aid. Though, none was needed. Donald and Goofy were just as unconscious and just as fine. They weren't injured, save in their sleep, from which they refused to awaken.

Riku touched his chest. The warm glow beneath his fingertips reassured him that Nevaeh's heart had done him a courtesy.

Riku left his comrades alone. He didn't dare move them, least their limbs hurt as much as his did him. Riku took a look at the Gummi. It wasn't so much broken as it was scuffed. Something or someone had taken their claws to the hull. But who?

The Gummi rattled.

"Alright..." Riku lowered his center of gravity. "Sora, I know you're in there."

The wind whistled in Riku's ears. Heavy clouds shrouded the moon. The stars twinkled out of sight.

A massive blow threw Riku off his feet. He soared through the air at lightning speed – faster than he could process Sora's attack. To the ocean, he flew. Riku skimmed the water, parting it in his wake. From the corner of his eye, he perceived Sora...

Black. Solid black. This wasn't a mild transformation.

Sora ran across the ocean waves like an animal. He moved so quickly his hands and feet didn't register against the crests and troughs. Sora zig-zagged, back and forth, ever advancing. His blackened fist came into contact with Riku's face before the latter made touchdown.

Riku plunged through the ocean. A surge of saltwater stung his nostrils. He fought to keep his breath.

Sora tore after him, fangs exposed.

Riku barely had the time to dodge, let alone make a break for the surface. Claws pierced the depths every which way he turned. It didn't matter what defensive maneuvers he brought to play. Sora's brute strength proved a worthy opponent in and of itself.

Bubbles escaped Riku's lips. His time was short.

"What are you waiting for?" (Riku scowled at the vision of Nevaeh. Her pretense mocked his position.) "Kairi isn't here to stave Sora's disease. You'll have to find a way to defeat him on your own."

Riku's shoulders sagged. He shook his head. 'I can't beat him,' he said with his body language. 'He's too strong.'

Nevaeh tapped her chin. "Oh dear..."

Sora grabbed Riku's ankle.

Riku vanished in an outbreak of bubbles. He couldn't shake Sora's grip. Riku knew, if he didn't act, the oceanic pressure would kill him. Both Nevaeh and Kairi would be lost. Not to mention the Worlds destined to fall at Tarsus' hand. Riku had one choice. He didn't like it, but his options were limited.

Riku's eyes flickered from green to red instantaneously.

Nevaeh's heart flared.

Riku grappled with his chest. Blood dribbled from the corners of his mouth.

Sora released Riku's leg. His hand sizzled.

(A/N: Light hurts dark. Riku has Nevaeh's hear tin his chest. It's light. He tried to force out the darkness in himself, which hates the light. That's why Riku didn't transform and that's why Sora's hand burned.)

Riku swam for the surface, Nevaeh beside him.

"Keep going," she said. "He'll only be hurting himself as long as I'm around." Nevaeh spun to see Sora on Riku's heels. "Blast, he's quick." She held her arms open wide, ready to receive him. Nevaeh's expression was determined. Sora couldn't see her, sense her, or hear her, unlike Riku. Nevertheless, she would do all in her limited power to protect-

Riku's hands slid through Nevaeh's chest.

Nevaeh seethed. "I'M NOT REALLY HERE, YOU IDIOT! STOP TRYING TO SAVE ME AND SAVE YOURSELF!"

Riku blinked.

Sora dove through the ghostly Nevaeh. He held Riku at his shoulders, burying his talons through Riku's flesh, furthermore. Sora wasn't satisfied until Riku sank to the ocean floor. There, he sank his hind-claws through Riku's thighs.

Sora no longer understood friend from foe. Kairi was gone. That was that.

Riku screamed a silent scream. The last of his breath abandoned him. He counted himself incredibly unlucky to have to suffer the same pain twice in one day.

A soft, pink glow inspired Riku. At Sora's chest, mimicking his own, lay a heart. No doubt, Kairi's heart. I've awoken it before, Riku said to himself. I'll awaken it again.

Riku extended his palm. He could feel Kairi, as plain as day. As opposed to Nevaeh's heart, which was controlling and panicky, her heart was steady and calm. She was hardly awake – such light confined in such a body couldn't have been easy on Kairi. 'Come Princess' Riku mouthed.

Sora stilled.

Riku could see it. Riku could see a conversation playing across Sora's yellow eyes: 'There's no way...there's no way I'm letting you take Kairi's heart!'

Riku felt it coming. He released himself to comatose hands. No need in fighting the inevitable. He could merely have faith. It hadn't forgotten him in the past.

ooo

Again, delicious breath returned Riku to his senses. And, again, Riku opened his eyes. He was surprised at what he saw. Which was saying a lot, considering the past hour or two.

Nevaeh stooped low. Pressing her lips against his, she exhaled life into him.

Riku had never been so grateful. He coughed. His lungs shuddered. "How...are..."

Nevaeh pinched his nose. She made to continue her resuscitation.

Riku stopped her with a flimsy wave of his hand. "How are you here? Didn't Tarsus take you?"

Nevaeh shook her head.

Riku furrowed his eyebrows. His limbs were numb, bleeding, and itchy – he was lying on the beach. They sky above coiled with dark, as he remembered it. "I passed out?"

Nevaeh nodded. She bent down to check the whites of Riku's eyes.

Riku mistook her gesture for something else entirely. He slipped his hand around the back of Nevaeh's head, buried his fingers into her hair, and guided her face to his. Once their lips met, however, Nevaeh pitched a fit.

She howled, spit, and raked her arm across her mouth. Nevaeh stuck out her tongue.

"Since when do you snog boys, Mr. Riku?"

Riku shifted his gaze to his right: ghostly Nevaeh and Kairi, on the verge of laughing. He returned to his left: solid Nevaeh, on the verge of throwing up. Riku rubbed his eyes. The Nevaeh on his left melted into beastie-Sora, who was still trying to get the taste of Riku off his tongue.

Riku's eyes grew as wide as saucers. "Sora?"

Sora finished mopping himself off. He eyed Riku, yellow corneas bulging at the thought of swapping spit with the boy that lay in front of him. By the looks of the Keyblade Master, he was back to normal. Or...as normal as he could be under the circumstances. He resembled a Chaser, despite defining characteristics, and he didn't utter a word. But, other than that, he was Sora. Thankfully.

Or...maybe not...

Riku took a quick look around. Axel, Donald, and Goofy were as close to being 'here' as Nevaeh and Kairi were. "Let's keep this to ourselves, okay?"

Sora zipped his lips with two, clawed fingers.

ooo

A/N: Haha...I thought it was a fun way to break up the HOLY-CRAP-KAIRI-AND-NEVAEH-ARE-GONE! Yeah.

Talitha Koum: (Raises glass.) A toast! For my 100-thousandth hit!

Sora, Kairi, Riku, and Nevaeh: (Join the author in raising their glasses.)

Tali: I think we should tell each other what we're thankful for this year. (Grins sneakily.) Riku, you start.

Riku: (Scowls.) Do you hate me or something? (Submits when Tali grabs her pencil.) Alright, alright. (Looks around the non-existent room.) I'm thankful that you haven't killed me off. Yet. (Drinks his Paupou juice.)

Kairi: (Nudges him.)

Riku: ('Hn's.) I'm also thankful for...(Tries not to look at Nevaeh.) ...for Heaven.

Kairi: (Coos.)

Sora: (Snorts.)

Nevaeh: (Doesn't know what to think.)

Tali: (Claps her hands.) Good job, Riku!

Riku: Hn.

Tali: Now it's Nevaeh's turn.

Nevaeh: (Looks at her Paupou juice.) I don't understand this holiday. (Purses her lips.) What does eating loads of turkey have anything to do with thankfulness?

Riku: It's an American tradition. (Glowers Talitha Koum.) Which means Sora, Kairi, and I-

Tali: -Shut up and drink your juice.

Riku: (Sips his drink quietly.)

Nevaeh: American, huh? (Turns to Talitha.) Am I American?

Tali: (Blinks.) I dunno.

Nevaeh: You made me.

Tali: I made you for the game – so you're Japanese. (Ponders.) But you guys aren't really Japanese. You have no ethnicity...sorta. You're Destiny Islanders. For the purpose of the holiday, I give Destiny Islanders the tradition of Thanksgiving.

Riku: (Shrugs.)

Sora: (Laces fingers behind his head.) Works for me. As long as I get to eat.

Tali: (Clears her throat.) So. Nevaeh. What are you thankful for?

Nevaeh: (Doesn't hesitate.) You.

Tali: Me?

Nevaeh: Yes. I wouldn't be here, otherwise. (Smirks.) I'm also thankful you wrote Riku as such an excellent kisser.

Sora and Riku: (Spits out drinks.)

Nevaeh: (Goes glossy-eyed.) The way he holds me, the way his fingers run through my hair, the way his lips overpower mine when-

Riku: HEAVEN! (Slaps a hand over her mouth.) What are you doing?!

Nevaeh: (Pulls away.) I'm complementing you, sir.

Sora: (Laughing his head off.)

Riku: Could you do it later, please?

Nevaeh: Like when we're alone? (Purrs.)

Tali: (Beaming.) Right. Sora?

Sora: (Wipes the tears from the corners of his eyes.) I'm thankful for Kairi, Riku, Donald, Goofy, my island, my...(Has a list that lasts for twenty minutes.)...and Sea Salt icecream.

Tali, Nevaeh, Riku, and Kairi: ...

Sora: What? I have a lot to be thankful for! (Pouts.)

Tali: Kairi?

Kairi: (Giggles.) I ditto Sora.

Riku: What about you, Talitha Koum?

Tali: I'm thankful for my readers and my reviewers, my life, and my fingers. Without which, I wouldn't be able to torture-I mean type you guys.

Riku: Should've guessed as much.

Leave a review and I'll get back to you!

God bless!