Back on the beach, Hayner watched as, before his eyes, the boy he had just met doubled over in what appeared to be pain. He let out a few, strangled rasps of breath and the blonde frowned in concern.

"Hey, are you alright?" he asked, taking a cautious step closer.

"Stay away from me!" the creature now inhabiting Riku's body shouted. He clawed at the ground, chest heaving with pained breaths. "Riku...I'll kill you!"

"Riku?" Hayner repeated with a frown. "So you're..." With a low growl, he advanced on the other boy and pulled him up. "Where's Roxas? Where's Sora?"

Nise only gave a short laugh, the most he could with what felt like the oxygen being ripped from his lungs. "You really think I'd tell you? This won't work. Even if Riku does know where they are, you'll never reach them in time." Speaking of time, he felt his own quickly dwindling in this body. That must mean Riku was suffering, as well, though. Knowing he could do nothing in the debilitated state he was in, Nise wasn't concerned that their plans would be stopped.

"Tell me!" Hayner shouted, drawing back a fist to smash the heartless boy's face in.

Nise smirked at the younger one. "Time's up," he grinned, jerking his head toward the large clock that hovered over the town.

Hayner's eyes followed the trail, settling on the second hand that slowly ticked toward midnight. There wasn't enough time. Even if Riku knew. Even if they ran as fast as they could. It was over. Feeling the fight drain from him, Hayner slumped down to his knees, eyes dulling over with defeat. In the end, he had been useless.

"What are you doing?" The choked, raspy voice of Nise was replaced by a smoother, friendlier tone.

Hayner looked up to see a bright-eyed and perfectly healthy Riku standing in front of him. "It's over...isn't it?" he murmured.

With a slight grin, Riku reached down and grabbed Hayner up by his arm. "Not yet," he said, an air of excitement in his voice. "Turn of events, so to speak. Do you know where the construction site is?" He hoped there was only one around.

"Construction?" Hayner asked, frowning slightly, "I don't know of any place that's under construction."

Riku's heart fell and he looked down to the ground. "Sora..." It was hopeless to try the same trick again-- Nise would be on his guard now and even if Riku managed to get back into his other half's body, he wasn't sure he had the energy to fight off the darkness again.

"Wait...wait a minute!" Hayner suddenly brightened.

"What is it?" Riku asked, but no answer came as the blonde grabbed his wrist and drug him down the streets.

"Olette said something about a new shopping mall, I'm sure of it!" Hayner finally answered as they rounded the corner to the group's secret hideout.

Sure enough, they rushed in to Olette, Pence, Kairi, Namine, Tidus, and Wakka sitting around the small den-like place. Wakka raised a hand in greeting. "What's up?"

"Who's the new kid?" Tidus asked, studying Riku up and down.

"He's cute," Kairi whispered to Olette, who giggled and nodded in agreement.

Hayner shook his head. "Olette, where did you say that new shopping mall was being built?"

"Shopping? You, Hayner?" the brunette asked, skeptically.

"Maybe the new kid's his boyfriend," Tidus said with a grin.

"Guys, I'm serious, Sora and Roxas are in trouble!" the flustered boy shouted.

"What do you mean?" Kairi asked, frowning.

"I don't have time to explain, just tell me where it is."

"It's over on the east side of town," Olette said.

"The east side? That's at least ten minutes away." Hayner groaned and buried his face in his hands.

"It's only a minute to midnight," Riku muttered, looking toward the giant clock tower in the center of town.

"Guys, what's going on?" Kairi asked, now more worried.

"Come on, we don't have time to waste," Riku said, this time being the one to grab Hayner's wrist and run off. "If he can stall, maybe we can make it in time."

"He?" Hayner parroted, allowing himself to be drug along.

"Yeah," Riku glanced over his shoulder at the puzzled blonde, "Seifer."

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Kai nearly snarled at the boy standing in front of him, a determined gaze he matched with fierceness.

"There has to be another way," Seifer told him. He gritted his teeth lightly against his own conviction. He wasn't quite sure what was going on with Nise and Riku, but he knew the two were connecting somehow, and he had the feeling that, for a few moments, Riku had been in the room with them, instead. During that time, he swore he'd heard the Egyptian mutter something about Hayner, and it had set him off.

Hayner. Hayner would never forgive him if he let Roxas or Sora die. Why did he care? Honestly, he couldn't figure it out himself, but there was no doubt in his heart when he moved in front of Kai, to stop him from killing Sora. In the end, he was another sap that sold out to love. What a crock.

"Get out of my way," Kai growled. "Do you want all of us to die?"

"You're a greedy bastard," Seifer spat back. "You'd find a way to save yourself, and that means saving us, too."

The twisted grin that pulled up the corner of Kai's lips was unmistakable. "That's where you're wrong." The knife shifted in his hand and raised to Seifer's throat, the other hand tightly clenched around the two necklaces. "The ritual only requires one of our lives. It doesn't matter whose." His eyes darted to the clock hanging on the wall. The seconds ticked down.


Seifer's eyes narrowed. "Is that your choice, then?"


"Is this yours?" Kai countered, a slight frown tugging at his lips. "To sacrifice yourself for...what? The happiness of someone else?" (Three...) He gave a short laugh. "He won't be happy, in the end, anyway. He'll be losing you, won't he?"


Seifer hesitated, for just a moment, then grinned and grabbed Kai's wrist. "He's probably better off without me, anyway."


Prepared to take the plunge, Seifer yanked Kai's arm toward him, only to be met with the resistance of muscles much stronger than his. Confused, panicked, and a bit pissed, he snapped his gaze back up to Kai, who only shook his head and gave a chuckle.

"Did you really think I'd let my own son kill himself?"

Seifer went to reply, but was cut short by a burning sensation creeping up his leg. "What...what the hell?!" His pant leg was pulled up to reveal very familiar, black markings crawling up his skin. He shot a look toward Nise, who was watching the entire scene with mild interest. "'re the one that cursed us?"

The silver-haired boy grinned. "Your father was there when it happened. He was the young Prince Riku's dedicated bodyguard, always looking out for the runt." A sadistic gleam shone in his eye as the markings traveled up the group's legs and burned its way onto their hands. "I was always a part of Riku. I knew how much your father just loved his family, and I made a decision then and there to use that to my advantage."

"You cursed him, telling him that in exchange for a way to lift the curse, and save his family, he had to either kill one of his bloodline, or give you a way to take me over." Riku frowned in his other half's direction. "Well, here I am. Now stop it."

Nise laughed dryly, grinning at his twin. "It's too late, now. It's already started. Don't forget, though," His head jerked toward Sora and Roxas, still chained to the wall, "they'll die, too. Better think of something quick, prince."

"Riku," Sora mumbled out, wincing from the burning marks that had consumed all but his upper torso and face.

Riku grit his teeth and charged toward Nise, tackling him to the ground. "I know you can stop it, so do it! You can have me, just leave them out of it, you selfish bastard!"

"Hayner!" Seifer had set to work freeing the imprisoned boys, and motioned him over.

The blonde frowned, but his growing concern for the entire family threw away any feelings of betrayal that he might have had. He raced to them, helping his (ex?)boyfriend lower Sora and Roxas to the ground. "What's going to happen?"

Seifer, for some reason, felt guilty at the fear and dread he heard in the other's voice. "I don't know," he admitted in a low tone. He turned his attention back to the two foreigners, knowing that Riku probably held the key to saving them.

"Seifer." The name was said with unusual compassion.

"Huh?" the punk turned his head upward to see Kai approaching him, frowning at the serious expression lining his face. "What is it?"

"The curse," Kai told him, the necklaces and dagger still held tightly in his hands, "if it's broken, I have a feeling it will break the wall separating Riku's and Nise's souls, as well."

"So they'll..." Seifer understood, then. Everything was linked, though his head hurt at trying to connect it all at once. "No," he said, shaking his head resolutely, "I won't let you kill Sora."

"I wasn't planning on it. I never was." Kai gave a light chuckle as both his son and Hayner looked up at him in mild confusion. "I knew if Sora was involved, that eventually he and Riku would meet, and that they would inadvertently fall for each other."

"You planned to have Riku sacrifice himself to break the curse, to save Sora," Seifer muttered.

"But I made a bit of a miscalculation," Kai admitted, glancing back to the struggling pair as he felt the markings advance up his chest and neck. "Riku isn't strong enough to overpower Nise on his own." With a light sigh, he placed a hand on Seifer's head. "Don't interfere, and take care of your brother."

Seifer blinked a couple times. "Don't interfere with wha-...hey!" Kai's intentions were obvious as he moved toward the pair of silver-haired boys. "That's not fair! You can't leave us!"

Kai gave a light smile over his shoulder. "You're probably better off without me."

Feeling rather powerless at having his own words used against him, and understanding the level of sacrifice it took to say and mean those words, Seifer could only watch blankly as the events unfolded before him.

Kai approached Riku and Nise, the latter of which had easily pinned his weaker half to the ground, and grabbed the evil twin up by his hair. "Play nice, boys," he chided.

"Get off of me," Nise growled, swiping a clawed hand across Kai's face. "You'll be dead in a few minutes, anyway."

"Riku," Kai said, though kept his sights trained on Nise, "be ready."

"Ready?" the younger boy repeated. "Ready for-" he stopped then, noticing the dagger and necklaces. His lips twitched upward for a brief moment in understanding, before nodding. "Do it."

"You shouldn't have tried to mess with my family," Kai informed Nise, slinging him into the nearest wall. Taking a deep breath, he looped the necklaces around his own neck and gave Riku one, last glance. "Watch out for them, they're all troublemakers." Then, without another moment of hesitation, he plunged the knife through the necklaces and into his own chest, grunting as a different sort of burning filled his body.

"You bastard!" Nise shrieked, standing as the markings enveloped Riku, himself, and Kai.

Jumping to his feet, as well, Riku pulled the dagger from Kai's chest, the man's body fully dissolving into black, archaic letters that wrapped around the weapon. Gripping the handle firmly, Riku let out a shout as the pitch blackness that enveloped him turned into a brilliant gold. With a grin of satisfaction, he rushed toward Nise once more, plunging the knife deep into his stomach.

Then, again, everything blurred away as he found himself in that same room again. This time, though, the walls and ceiling were covered in a brilliant white, and only the shadowy figure of his worse side darkened the surroundings.

"It's over," Riku told him, eyeing the dagger that was still plunged into the creature's stomach.

"I'll never let you have me," Nise hissed. "I refuse to return to you!"

Riku grinned. "Good," he said, simply. "I didn't want you back, anyway." He stepped toward his other half. "Just disappear."

"You can't just get rid of me." Nise, ready to attack Riku once more, halted his movements before they even began. A warm, sickeningly pleasant feeling in his stomach drew his attention to the dagger, which had turned from wicked black to stunning white.

"Maybe not alone," Riku agreed, "but I can, with his help."

Nise attempted to pull the blade from his stomach, becoming more and more furious as his attempts proved futile. "No... you can't survive without me! You'll die, too!"

"Wrong," Riku told him, holding up the arm that had linked them together before, void of any markings. "See? I'm all clear."

"You...bastard!" Nise shouted once more as the warm feeling suffocated him, a bright light encompassing his entire body and drowning out his shouts.

Then, Riku was alone. His stance relaxed considerably as he closed his eyes. "So, that's it," he murmured to no one. "It's over."

The blinding white faded and he found himself, once again, in the large room where Seifer and Hayner were attempting to wake Roxas and Sora. He noticed, relieved, that the three relatives were free of any evil curses. As he approached the group, Seifer looked up at him, nearly troubled.

"They're not waking up."

Riku bent down next to Sora, cupping his cheek lightly. "The stress was probably too much for their bodies to handle," he surmised. "We should get them back home, and let them rest."

"I'll take Roxas home," Hayner offered.

"I don't know where Sora lives," Riku admitted.

"Jeez," Seifer grumbled, finally standing. "I'll take him."

"I'm coming with you," the silver-haired boy insisted, scooping the brunette into his arms.

Seifer visibly rolled his eyes and headed for the door. "Great, this'll be loads of fun."

"Does he need to be that sarcastic?" Riku wondered.

Picking Roxas up, with a slight grin, Hayner chuckled. "He grows on you, after a while."

"You people are...strange," the prince decided, and followed Seifer back to the streets of Twilight Town, Hayner close behind.

One Week Later

"Sorry, we're late!" Sora pushed through the entrance to his friends' secret hideout, Riku following close behind him. "This guy didn't have any normal clothes, so we had to go shopping."

"Shopping?!" Kairi demanded, looking highly offended. "And you didn't invite me?"

Sora chose a seat away from the fire-breathing dragon and gave a sheepish shrug. "It wasn't planned, or anything."

"Besides," Seifer spoke up, a wicked grin slipping across his lips, "I don't think Riku could've survived clothes shopping with two girls."

Hayner, who was comfortably seated in his still-boyfriend's lap, gave the older boy a light jab with his elbow. "Be nice."

"This is as nice as Seifer gets," Roxas reminded him.

"See? Roxas understands. Why can't you be more like him?" Seifer broke out laughing at the annoyed glare he received.

"Well," Olette announced, standing from her seat next to Tidus and Wakka and turning her attention to Kairi. "Since we weren't included, I say we make up for some missed-out shopping!"

A collective groan came from the direction of the males, who would be inadvertently drug along. Kairi beamed and turned to Namine. "We can go buy those dresses we were looking at the other day!"

The fragile girl gave an agreeable nod and stood with the rest of the group, filing out with them, one by one.

"Sora," Riku said, catching the brunette's wrist before he exited behind the group.

"Huh?" The younger one glanced over his shoulder. "What is it, Riku?" He only blinked as he was turned around to fully face the taller boy, a light blush rushing to his cheeks at just how close they were.

"Thank you," Riku murmured, bending down and pressing his lips to the other's flushed ones. He was sure Sora would have no idea what he was being thanked for, the absent-minded boy that he was, but it was just as well. A light smirk lit up Riku's face at the stunned reaction he received, and he ruffled the mess of brown hair. "Come on," he said, in a bit of a louder voice, "let's go buy you a dress, or something."

Sora just barely processed the words as Riku dashed from the hideout. "A...wait! Riku! I'm not wearing a dress!" With a huff, Sora chased his (boy?)friend out and down the streets of Twilight Town.

Riku's a prince because it's sexy and...he needed Kai around for some reason, and any other explanation except bodyguard probably would have turned perverted and weird. Well, I was asked to finish this, so I did. Jeez, apparently it's been two years since I wrote anything on it. I wonder how different the writing style is? Well, hopefully it's only better. Hope you enjoyed!