Final Disclaimer: Kingdom Hearts is the creation of Squeenix.

Butterfly Kisses – As DiZ and Riku prepare for Sora's awakening and the defeat of Organization XIII, Riku finds himself being haunted by a familiar figure. For even with no powers left, Zexion still knows his every weakness. Riku x Zexion.

This fic takes place between Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II, and tries to follow canon enough that it leads into KH2 without too much deviation. Besides the entire Zexion being alive thing (I don't care what you think; I like my Zexy-baby alive). It works off the idea that in Chain of Memories, the Riku Replica did absorb Zexion's powers but did not actually manage to kill him. It also takes the 'Zexion being surprisingly domestic' idea to a delightfully absurd extreme, although that might be because I've started to get a little more domestic myself (sweatdrop).

As for the entire coupling thing… um, I don't really know if it makes sense, but the story is less about the coupling than the interaction between the two characters. Or at least that's what I tell myself to stave off the guilt.

Also, when I first started this fic, it was supposed to be a one-shot. It didn't take me long to realize that it would be pushing 20,000 words minimum, so I split it up into sections. I personally would have preferred to make it one nice long story, but then I thought a 20,000 word one-shot was pushing the limits of people's patience. So this story will be in parts. Because it ended up being over 38,000 words, and I don't think anyone wants to read a 38,000 word one-shot.

And lest we forget, many, many thanks to Coffee-Flavored Fate for beta-reading this for me. Thank you for allowing me to delude myself into thinking that maybe I'm not as crazy as I probably am for writing this fic.

Rated T for language, violence, emo angsting, and random bouts of domesticity.

I. Opening Act

Riku is not exactly what one would call a forgiving person, considering his tendency to obsess over past mistakes. It's a trait that's usually at its best when turned against himself (but not without good reason, of course), which explains why he spends so much time being emo and angst-ridden.

As it turns out, Riku is not the kind of person to discriminate, and so he applies this lack of mercy to everyone else too. Especially when it comes to those who have wronged him, Riku finds that it is much harder to forgive than to forget, and frankly he's not too good at doing the latter either.

This casual aside into a tortured hero's mental psyche goes a ways into explaining why Riku is so damn upset when DiZ returns. But it is not as much DiZ's appearance that upsets him as the fact that the strange, revenge obsessed man is accompanied not by Naminé, as he had expected, but with a familiar somebody (Nobody) else slung over one caped shoulder. Although really, considering Riku's expression, upset seems a delicate way of putting it.

"Where's Naminé?" he demands as he springs to his feet. He regrets this hastiness when, a split-second later, his legs give way and he nearly topples over. This is not surprising, considering how he had been sitting there for quite a while, apparently long enough for his feet to fall asleep. More interesting was his failure to notice that tingling sensation caused by lack of blood circulation, although that can be explained either as shock at DiZ's companion or because of his deep brooding. Possibly even a combination of the two. Thus the spectacular near-fall on his face, as his feet had not taken the sudden movement with grace and enacted swift revenge in the form of his upper body almost having a brief love affair with the dusty hardwood floor.

But even his humiliation is not enough to cover for the anger, or maybe it's the other way around. He doesn't really have time for such petty details, seeing how he needs to concentrate on glaring at the gray-haired Nobody that had not so very long ago been taunting him with Sora's images and his own insecurities, of which there are many. He thoughtfully ignores the fact that his insecurities are his fault and his alone, as well as the Nobody's current state of unconscious bliss that renders it rather incapable of noticing his fearsome glare, complete with awesome, dagger-like forces. No, all of that is completely beside the point as he gestures angrily at the Nobody, "And what'sthat doing here?"

DiZ sighs with the air of someone who has been anticipating an inevitable argument with an unreasonable idiot, and he speaks to Riku as if he is a particularly insufferable child who still believes in Santa Claus (ha, as if), "Now Riku, be reasonable."

"Don't 'Now Riku' me!" Riku shoots back like a mature eight-year old. "You were supposed to bring back Naminé! Not that… thing! Why did you even bring it here?"

Riku likes to think that this is a perfectly logical question to ask, seeing how Zexion is a member of Organization XIII. Which, as DiZ and King Mickey had explained to him in excruciating detail, was made up of dangerous and psychotic beings with no hearts, no feelings, and no morality. As well as no fashion sense considering their uniform, but again, completely beside the point. But from the picture the two had painted, Riku had been under the impression that they were supposed to be getting rid of these threats against the worlds, not bringing them home as if they were lost puppies left out in the rain (Riku would know about abandoned strays). And judging from his own experiences, Nobodies made as good a pet as a rabid skunk named Fido.

Yet here it is, regardless of the threat it so clearly is. But what is clear to Riku is apparently not so to DiZ, which is testament to the man's decidedly convoluted thought process. Not that that's anything new… just look at those bandages! Didn't his face getitchy?

"If you are worried that he will be causing problems, you have nothing to fear," DiZ replies calmly as he heads for the stairs. The words might have been soothing if it was not for the fact that DiZ has a voice which reminds Riku of Tolkein's Saruman, mass murderer of men, elves, dwarves, trees, and innocent butterflies. And no, he doesn't know why he associates the two; he just does. "He seems to have completely lost his powers over the darkness. Almost as if… someone has taken them from him. It was really quite peculiar. He seemed as surprised as I that he was still alive."

"But that doesn't answer my question," Riku whines, following DiZ up the main stairs as they make their way through the dusty mansion. He nearly screams when a spider tries to make a nest in his hair, but calmer heads prevail in favor of continuing his complaining. "Why did you bring him here? What purpose can he serve?"

"I could not very well let him return to the Organization, could I?" is the reasonable response as DiZ pushes open a door to what seems to be a library. It's a little hard to tell since Riku is too busy staring at the bust of what seems to be a deformed unicorn, and is only brought back to this reality when DiZ continues, "Powerless or not, it is still trouble that we do not need. Open this door now, will you?"

He blinks, "What door?"

DiZ makes a soft sound of impatience. "I thought you would have better utilized the time I gave you to explore this place. It seems that I was mistaken."

Riku can only shrug irritably at the disapproving tone like the rebellious teenager that he is, and immediately regrets it when DiZ says, "Take him."

"I'm not-" Riku starts, but freedom of choice is apparently not high on DiZ's list of priorities as the Nobody is unceremoniously dumped into his arms. He expects to stagger beneath its weight, preparing for another humiliating fall, but Zexion is peculiarly insubstantial. Riku finds this strange, considering how Zexion is taller than him. Not by much, granted, but still taller.

As DiZ heads for the desk in the center of the room, Riku glares at the Nobody and debates dropping it. Except that would just be petty, and Riku isn't that petty. Sure, he might have a tendency of flaunting his superiority over lesser beings, taking innocent people hostage, and mocking his victims when they're down… but dropping unconscious people? That's a whole different level.

Except… Zexion isn't actually a person. He's a Nobody. So technically….

As if reading his mind, DiZ says curtly, "Don't drop him."

The man has to be psychic. There is no other explanation for that remark, as for all intents and purposes DiZ seems to be concentrating fully on defacing the desk with crayons.

"I wasn't going to," he lies through his teeth.


He's about to ask what that is supposed to mean, but his mouth is not fully open when the ground suddenly begins to pull away, revealing a staircase. DiZ goes down it with the air of having done so millions of times before, but Riku hesitates. He can't be the only person who's heard the stories about people who went down mysterious staircases, stories which usually ended in those same people becoming mangled carcasses?

Riku covers for the pause (his fear) by shifting the Nobody so that it is easier to carry, but still there is something seriously, seriously wrong with the picture. The blue-green gray of the walls seem to glow with their own eerie light, contrasting sharply with the soft glow of the perpetually setting sun. The doorway that seems to lead to darkness itself is not getting his voice of confidence.

But he can't stand there forever, and he takes the first step. And then the next, and the next, until the mahogany walls and monstrous unicorn bust are quite out of sight.

He tells himself that it is all for the greater good. He tells himself that it is for Sora.

Riku wonders if it's a bad sign that the mantra is almost not enough. He settles for telling himself that almost is better than simply 'not'.

"So are you going to tell me what's going on?" he asks as he sets the Nobody down in the spot DiZ has indicated. As soon as he steps back DiZ punches in rapid commands at the computer with multiple screens, and there is the soft hum of energy before a glass barrier comes down, seemingly out of nowhere. Actually, it wouldn't take much effort to just… look up and see where it came from, but Riku's too busy staring. It looks almost like a giant test tube, and considering DiZ's personality, it is not a leap of imagination to think of Zexion as the vaguely interesting test subject. The comparison is disturbing, but Riku keeps his mouth shut. Regardless of the circumstances, he is still relieved by the barrier, although he'd feel even better if the Nobody was anywhere but here.

"Will an explanation convince you to cease your attempts to maim him?" DiZ replies, his voice mild.

"… maybe." DiZ stares at him, expressionless—which isn't saying much since it's hard to see expressions under all those bandages anyway—until he scowls and throws up his hands. "Fine. Yes."

"Good." The man leans back in his chair, hands folded in his lap. For one crazy moment, Riku almost feels like he's six again, about to hear a story from his grandfather. Except back then, sitting next to him would have been Sora, eyes bright with anticipation. Not the Nobody collapsed on the ground, unaware of its surroundings. Plus his grandfather's eyes most certainly did not burn with such overwhelming hatred and anger, tempered only by the great sadness that flickered in and out surreptitiously. "As I was saying, I found him when I returned to Castle Oblivion with the intent of bringing Naminé here. This, of course, you already know. To my surprise, she was not alone."

Riku starts to speak but DiZ holds up a hand to stop him before he continues, "I am not certain of the circumstances of how she found him, and she could not explain his… pitiable condition. I do not suppose you could fill in that particular detail?"

He frowns, shrugging slightly, "I cut through one of its illusions." He chooses not to specify what that illusion was; it's not a matter of trust but more of… himself. Because truth be told, he is not completely over what transpired in that false Destiny Islands, and he is unsure if he ever will be. "It looked like I hurt it pretty badly in the process, but it was far from dead when it escaped."

"Hm," DiZ glances over at the unconscious figure. "So he still had his powers?"

"Well, yeah. I'm pretty sure Soul Eater doesn't take away powers." Granted, he doesn't know the exact properties of his own weapon. Still, he's pretty sure it's isn't capable of that; hopefully he would have noticed earlier if it was.

DiZ's gaze is still on the Nobody as he says slowly, "Judging from what you say, his injuries seem far deeper than what you inflicted. Something must have happened between then and when Naminé found him, although she had little to tell except that he was the only other person left in the Castle. I then decided that it would be best to bring him here. I believe he will be of some use to our plans."

"How so?" Riku can feel the anger start to fade, although he still resents the Nobody's presence. But the practical part of him realizes that it is best not to waste his anger on it when there are bigger things at stake, and anyway if he hadn't been so weak in the first place, Zexion would not have been able to throw him so off-guard.

"You'll see." The explanation is completely unsatisfactory, but Riku knows from his tone that the subject is closed. DiZ stands, making his way for the exit to the upper levels of the mansion, "There is no time to waste. I know you are upset, but I assure you that I am not doing this on a whim. You must trust me on this point."

He doesn't reply. They both know that trust isn't an issue here. Their relationship was never built on trust; it came from a mutual need for each other's services. Still, there is almost a soft plea in DiZ's voice, one that Riku might have just imagined but he nods anyway. Because despite how much DiZ disturbs him with his single-minded plots for revenge, there is something about the man that asks, very quietly, for sympathy as well. Whether or not it is actually deserved is a different story.

"Then for now, I must ask you to stand guard and make sure that he does not try to do anything foolish when he awakens. I myself must immediately return to Castle Oblivion and bring back Naminé; we need no more delays."

"You really think its powers are gone?" Riku asks, eyeing Zexion skeptically. It's not that he can't handle the Nobody, but he does happen to remember how quickly it had managed to escape back at Oblivion. Riku had barely had the time to comprehend what was happening before the Nobody was gone, although what he would have done is a question mark. Perhaps a part of him was relieved that he did not have to make that decision, despite the hostility he feels. Anyway, the point is that if DiZ is wrong and the Nobody does still have its powers, Riku won't be able to stop it from making another one of those dark portals and running off again. And seeing how that seems to be the opposite of what DiZ wants, he would like to be sure.

"Quite certain," DiZ assures, with a hint of cold satisfaction. "I am afraid that I am the reason why he is currently unconscious. When he saw me he tried to escape, but found that he could not get far without his powers. Still, he was not quite pleased to see me, and I had to subdue him through force."

It takes everything in him not to shudder at DiZ's cool explanation, and he is only glad that the man is no longer facing him. He does not want to see the cruel indifference in those disturbing eyes. "Fine. I'll watch over it."

"My apologies for placing you in this situation," DiZ replies, although the words seem perfunctory at best. "But Riku, do remember. Should he wake up before I return, try not to get caught up in his falsehoods again."

He blinks. "How did you-?"

"I didn't." DiZ turns to face him, and the expression is both angry and sad. Vengeful, yet so desperately, desperately longing, as if remembering a good memory gone sour. "But Ienzo always did have such a way with words."

And with that oh-so-cryptic remark, DiZ takes his leave.

Zexion says nothing when it awakens, and it takes Riku a while to even notice that Zexion is staring at him through the glass. It had been a little disconcerting, to say the least, to casually turn around and see that one dark blue eye glaring at him, the other hidden behind gray hair.

He probably could have reacted better, 'reacted better' being defined as anything but screaming like a little girl and falling out of DiZ's chair. Okay, so that was a bit of an exaggeration; he didn't scream so much as yelp when he fell onto the ground, and in his defense he had been sitting off-balance.

Riku isn't sure if he should be glad that Zexion takes no amusement from his plight. The Nobody's expression doesn't change in the slightest during this little display, as if it isn't even watching Riku. But when he stands its eyes follow him as if he's a tasty rabbit.

But last he checked Zexion isn't a vampire, and he fights back his fear (if that is what it is) to stand up to the glass, arms folded. If he was smart, he'd walk away. If he had any sense worth mentioning of, he'd pretend that nothing has changed. Zexion doesn't seem particularly interested in talking anyway, but something in him goads him to speak. Some part of him just doesn't want to sit here in silence, trying to outglare someone who won that contest a long time ago.

"So you want to tell me what happened?"

Zexion eyes him, face still devoid of emotion. There's a lovely bruise blossoming on its forehead; probably something to do with DiZ's 'subdue through force' bit. And just when Riku thinks that the conversation is dead before it has even started, the Nobody shrugs and says shortly, "It was Axel. He set the Replica on me."

He has never heard of this Axel, but the mention of his Replica made him go cold. Their near-death battle, the final blow, the pitiful look in eyes that couldn't really feel but couldn't really stop from trying either. Not truly real, but not truly false, so desperate for humanity that it had been willing to throw away all vestiges of morality in the process.

Had it really been that different from himself?

"So… this is the end. Figures. But I'm not afraid. Good riddance to an artificial life. I never had a real heart. Even what I'm feeling now is probably fake."

What are you feeling?

Why did he even ask?

"What happens when someone who's not real dies? Where will my heart go? That is, if it doesn't disappear completely…"

It'll go somewhere. Probably the same place my heart will go.

Empty words. The Replica had agreed, and he remembered a twisted half-smile as it started to fade.

"Heh… how original. Oh, well."

The words had not been satisfactory for either of them, but Riku pushes aside his self-hatred long enough to remember the rest of the conversation he'd had with his counterpart. Before the battle, when he had been too jittery to really comprehend what was being said. And even if he had, he probably would have passed them off as craziness, since they had made no sense to him.

Until now, anyway.

"I thought by finding some new strength I could be someone, someone who's not you! But nothing changes… I'm still just empty! Everything about me is borrowed. As long as you're around, I'll never be anything better than a shadow!"

… oh. He blinks at Zexion. So that's what the Replica meant by 'new strength' and 'borrowing'.

"It took your powers, didn't it?" he asks, comprehension dawning.

"Yes," Zexion replies flatly, looking down at its hand. Its expression is empty but the barest hint of contempt. "It should have killed me as well. Or barring that, VIII would have. But I should have known that Axel was never one for following through."

"Um." Yeah, he has absolutely no clue what the hell that means, but then Zexion doesn't really seem to be speaking to him anyway. He scratches his head nervously, "So, this… absorption thing. Think it's permanent?"

Zexion looks up at him. It looks rather irritated as it says, "I would not know. Needless to say, it has never happened before."

"… oh. Yeah." Duh. Besides, logically speaking, if it wasn't permanent wouldn't Zexion have gotten its powers back after Riku had defeated the Replica? Unless it was one of those slow processes; in which case the Nobody could escape at any time. His eyes narrow, as if waiting for Zexion to suddenly display some sign of its hidden powers (which would be stupid because the point of hidden powers is, say, to remainhidden until a more optimal time), but the Nobody seems far more interested in scrutinizing him.

He squirms. Riku knows that the hatred between them is mutual, or at least as mutual as it can be when Zexion is incapable of real emotions. So he is sorta surprised when instead of a biting yet painfully insightful insult, Zexion asks, "Where is he?"

He blinks. "Who?"

Zexion just stares at him levelly, making him feel stupid without really knowing why, and Riku decides to hazard a guess. It's not like there's that many choices anyway. "You mean DiZ?"

"DiZ?" Zexion lets out a sharp laugh. "Is that what he calls himself now? How droll."

Riku's curiosity is piqued. "You knew him?"

It shrugs, replying vaguely, "Another lifetime ago."

"When you were Ienzo."

This earns him some (semblance of) surprise as Zexion brings its legs close to sit in a neat, cross-legged position before asking, "Didhe tell you that?"

"He mentioned it, more or less. Not explicitly," he adds. "But seriously, how many names have the letter 'Z' in them? It's not exactly common."

Zexion ignores those last comments, tilting its head slightly. "Is that all he told you?"

"… more or less."

"How deplorable. I honestly did not think he would stoop to this, although I suppose I should not be surprised. He has changed greatly from the man I once knew." Again, the words were spoken so off-hand that Riku is certain they are not meant for him as much as for Zexion itself. Unless this is just another one of its methods of manipulation, which wouldn't surprise Riku in the least.

"What are you trying to say?"

Zexion smiles at him coldly, "That if I was you, I would be wary of any promises he is offering you. He has an interesting tendency of hurting those closest to him."

Warnings echo in his head. Try not to get caught up in his falsehoods again. Again, being the operative word. He stiffens and points an accusing finger at the Nobody. "Yeah? And why should I believe you? You were trying to kill me."

"You nearly killed me. And you killed Lexaeus. I would say that makes us even."

"But he was trying to kill me too!" Riku replies, frustrated with that line of reasoning. Is this how Nobodies thought? That killing one another is a perfectly reasonable pastime, as long as the gesture is reciprocated?

Zexion raises an eyebrow. "Hm, is that what you thought? That was not our intention, I assure you. We were simply seeking your assistance, and we were willing to give you powers in return."

"You were going to pit me against Sora!" By pitting Sora against him in the first place; no, wait, that was simply Zexion trying to do away with him. Still, the irony is not lost on him.

"Better to destroy the Keyblade Master than allow him to be a puppet for traitors," Zexion replies.

Riku throws his hands up in exasperation, "I don't even know what you're talking about!"

"That does not surprise me in the least. If you did, perhaps you would not be so quick to judge. I would, however, recommend that you ask Naminé about it. What a story she could tell. Do you not agree?" The question is positively poisonous, but Zexion is not looking at him; its eyes are focused behind him. Riku quickly turns and sees DiZ (how did he miss his entrance, the hiss of the lab door opening and closing?), who is watching the exchange calmly.

There is a silence as Riku and Zexion look at DiZ, and him at them. Finally, Riku asks more to break the tension than from a need to know, "Naminé… did you bring her?"

"She's in the White Room. I wanted to give her some time to settle in. And it seems that you are awake, Ienzo. Or shall I call you Zexion?" The transition in conversation partner is smooth; so smooth that Riku fails to notice his dismissal. Instead he stands there, fixated as Zexion speaks.

"That would indeed be preferable. Now it is only a matter of which name you would prefer, DiZ or-"

"Riku," DiZ says loudly as Riku spins around to stare at Zexion, who is smiling coldly but no longer speaking. "Please go check on Naminé. When she is finished, take her down to see Sora."

"But-" he begins to protest, except there is no room for argument.

"Please," DiZ cuts off, the word not a request but a command. "I need to have a word with our… guest. Alone."

He looks from Zexion to DiZ, and back again. Zexion's returned to the mask of cool indifference, and Riku finally gives in, knowing that the Nobody will say nothing more while he is still here. "Fine."

As he walks past DiZ and through the lab door, he can hear Zexion say icily, "How quickly your new apprentice leans, An-"

The door slides shut, cutting off the words.

Riku never does find out what DiZ said to the Nobody after he left, but it must have been quite effective because Zexion no longer brings up the topic of DiZ's true identity. Riku tells himself that it's not like he ever cared, and he doesn't have the time to worry about that sort of thing anyway. The following days are taken up with their plans, and Riku spends most of his time with Naminé in the blinding white room where Sora sleeps, unaware of the shit they are going through in order to bring him back.

Sometimes Riku wonders exactly how the hell Sora manages it, trying his best not to be envious when he spends his nights tossing and turning. Granted, it's not like Sora's sleep is really by choice, but doesn't he feel… a little blinded by his surroundings? Whenever Riku is in the room he is always reminded of a moment when he was drowning in light, believing he deserved his death because of past actions. If it hadn't been for Naminé, he would not have been able to move past his guilt to seek out the darkness. If it hadn't been for her, he might still be trapped in that illusion, half mad from guilt and fear of what he has become.

It's a constant reminder of how Zexion has wronged him, which might be why Riku has made no progress whatsoever on the entire forgiving and forgetting thing. Hell, he hasn't even bothered.

Zexion's behavior isn't exactly helping too much in convincing him to let bygones be bygones. Riku almost wishes that the Nobody would just go back to dropping hints about who DiZ is and how untrustworthy he is because at least it's not a personal attack on him. Which is more than he can say about what Zexion says now, even though they only see each other for brief moments when Riku passes by the Nobody's laboratory cage on the way to where Sora sleeps peacefully.

He tries to tune it out. Fails, for the most part although it's not for lack of trying. He's not sure why he's so susceptible. Maybe it's the darkness within him, and Zexion is somehow reaching out to it. Maybe it's Zexion's voice, which has a certain seductive lilt about it, burrowing into your mind and depositing the words there so that they festered to the point of utter insanity. Barring that, there is also the fact that Zexion knows precisely what strings to pull, what cruel truths to say. Nothing the Nobody says can be denied, no matter how hard Riku tries to justify his past actions. But there is only so much you can do to blind yourself, and Riku had promised himself long ago that he would not do that again.

It wouldn't be fair to let him off that easily, after all.

Still, he tries his best to hurry by the Nobody each day. It's actually quite easy to ignore Zexion; the Nobody blends into its surroundings well, pale skin, gray hair, and black cloaks fading into the darkness of the secret lab. But then, Riku knows that he is much the same despite his heartfelt appreciation for primary colors; even he and Naminé still seem to sink into the shadows, as if they are not actually there. Only DiZ really stands out from all the gloom, with his red robes and bandages making him resemble a homicidal hobo skulking around an alley of disposed electronics. Yet perhaps the description is more fitting than insulting, for what are any of them except discarded waste, the excesses of better people? Riku, Naminé, the Nobody—they are all rejected material that DiZ has collected to further his own means, and who are they to argue with his wishes?

"Ironic, is it not?" Zexion asks each day with a cold smirk, just as Riku is making his way (read, fleeing reality for the sake of sanity) to the stairs to the never-ending glow of the setting sun. It does not need to be any more specific than this; Riku knows exactly what it is saying, and he finds himself hating the Nobody all the more for its infuriatingly accurate insights. The fact that he doesn't respond, not even in his own defense, makes him feel almost like a co-conspirator in Zexion's scheming, as if the knowledge itself marks him as a guilty man.

"Why do we need it?" he complains to DiZ almost as often as Zexion irritates him. In other words, everyday. He tries not to sound like a whiny twelve-year old girl, but his voice tends to crack at such octaves. "How is it going to help Sora wake up?"

"That is something you do not need to be worried about," DiZ always replies, with little variation. He has little time to sulk about this as DiZ would quickly change the topic, to something that could make him writhe in his usual stewing of guilt. "But enough of that. How goes your task to track down Roxas?"

The bloody bastard really doesn't have to ask. They both know how that is going; even his vague attempts to forgive Zexion are more effective than finding Roxas. Riku would argue that it isn't fault, seeing how he has no idea where and how to look for the blond, but DiZ seems to be in complete disagreement. In fact, should he try to make that point, DiZ would probably reply that locating Roxas is the only task Riku has in this cheerful little operation.

He still remembers the conversation well, when DiZ had suddenly interrupted him as he stared blankly at where Sora was sleeping.

"I need you to bring me Roxas," DiZ had said, without a word of greeting.

He had blinked at this. Roxas?

"Number XIII of the Organization. Sora's Nobody. Surely you recall." Patronizing does not even begin to describe DiZ's tone.

I remember, Riku had snapped, despising the fact that he was being lectured as if he was an ignorant child. But why do you need him? After all, even now he has still not figured out what the hell Zexion is doing here. He is increasingly starting to think that maybe the Nobody had had a valid point in DiZ's reliability.

"Sora's Nobody contains a part of Sora himself. Without him, Sora can never be whole. He will not be able to wake up until he and Roxas are reunited into one again. It is crucial that you find him, and bring him back here."

"But did you ever wonder why the Keyblade Master did fine without XIII until his memories were twisted apart by that witch?"

The apathetic question is asked when he least expects it, but in a way he expects that now. Zexion always did have the most horrible sense of timing, just another thing Riku resents it for.

"No," he replies shortly. Because all he needs to know is that to awaken Sora, to make him whole, he needs to do this. He needs to find Roxas. It doesn't matter what Zexion has to say about DiZ, himself, or Naminé; he knows what he has to do. There is no doubt.

"How nice it must be to be so blindly trusting."

Riku frowns, wanting to tell the Nobody that it is wrong. Because Riku doesn't trust DiZ. He especially doesn't trust his intentions, but he needs the man to wake up Sora. That is all there is to it. It's partially his fault that any of this happened in the first place, and even if it wasn't he feels a certain responsibility to his friend. Back on Destiny Islands, he's always tried to take care of him, even if it was for the most part condescending. And maybe it's true that Sora really didn't need to be taken care of, but that was back then and this is now. Sora could never do anything without his help, and Riku could never deny it. He doubts Zexion would ever understand that, and even if it did it would only try to use that information against him. But for Sora, he is willing to do anything.

Once he figures out how to locate Roxas, anyway.

End Notes:

Dear Microsoft Spell-check (you wanted the dash, not me): is it really pathetic of me that I love you as much as I do for wanting to change 'Zexy' to 'Sexy'? It rather does make me laugh, although not quite as much as your attempts to change the Harp Seal's scientific name to 'pedophile'.

So that was chapter one. It ended up being longer than I wanted it to be, but the same can be said for the entire story. Anyway, the story is in eight parts, and I have no idea when I'll be updating next between finals and law school applications. I know it's done, but I swear I'm even lazier about updating than I am about writing, and it doesn't help that I can be really forgetful too. Reviews help though, hint (me, subtle? What?). They also help me justify my existence, seeing how I've spent a third of my life writing fanfiction (sob)….