Full Summary:
His little light and little fire, to mess with her is to burn.
From the moment that Kairi see's the boy, she feels an instant connection to him. And when she talks to him properly; her world comes alive. However, to everyone else, he quickly becomes an object of hatred and jealousy. Kairi naively tries to understand just why people despise and turn the boy down, as well as the meaning behind her motherly protection over him. But Fate is a cruel thing, for by some sick and twisted turn of it, Kairi is torn beyond repair when he suddenly has to leave.
Only it is when he goes that she realises that she must do what was right in her heart.

I'm sorry if anything in this chapter upsets you at all. But the beliefs that are portrayed later in the chapter are my own, but if it offends you, I'll say again – I'm sorry, really! It's a necessary part of Kairi's character you need to know… so…

I'm extremeuberly sorry for the lateness of this chapter! It's just, something about it didn't seem right… a bit anti-climatic, maybe. I've been re-reading it so many times it's hard to believe I'm still the only one that has! It still doesn't feel just right… but I feel it's been too long, so. I know if I'd been reading it I would have been looking forward to the Halloween outing thing, because I guess I'm some sort of sappy hopeless romantic at heart or something (god help me!) like that, but it doesn't really seem all that great… I might run over a bit into the next chapter, but I had to stop because it just seemed like the right place to, you know? And the word count is… pretty high…

I apologise if it doesn't meet your expectations… but I think there's some fluff in there! And now, as I say this, I really do mean it:

Enjoy.


"It's unhealthy to bottle up your feelings inside, sometimes you've gotta just let it all out…"

A date? of gentle words.
Monday.
31st October.

:::::::

You're reading this. Of course you are. But you're reading this, and you're probably thinking – is this some kind of blow by blow account? Do we really need to know what happens every… freaking… second, of your life? Is this completely necessary? And all I can say is – no, this isn't a blow by blow account… not every second… and necessary? I'm just telling you what happened -that's what I'm doing. I wanted to write it, I wanted to give my sadness some life, is that such a crime? I'm just writing here. I'm putting pen to paper and I'm pouring my heart through it, my soul, my mind, my thoughts, my feelings… all there. Pouring. But no, not pouring, not merely pouring, it's bucketing and hammering and heavy and torrential and… wet. My tears – wet.

And there are plenty of them too.

They're on my cheeks and my hands and in my hair… and the paper. It's not easy, you know, remembering something like this. And I know I've hardly started – god, this is nothing, really. What's there? Just three days… not even that. I've not even got to the… the other parts, the parts that I have an excuse to cry over. Perhaps… perhaps I'm just too emotional. The very thought of… him, and that's it. I'm down, switched on those damn waterworks… fetch the tissues please…

But that's not exactly true. I'm not even much of an emotional person to begin with. I can remember times… times when I was younger and happier and loved and it was easy to smile… times when I had a mummy and a daddy that cared… and a sister. Namine and me – we did everything together. You could have attached us at the hip; it wouldn't have made a difference. She wasn't always like she is now. She was never an angel, but she was never a tart either. She loved me back then. And we would read stories together, watch films, read books… articles from daddy's newspaper. Sad story? She's down, switched on those damn waterworks… fetch the tissues please… and me? Completely dry eyed, completely dry… not a single tear.

I'd wondered if there was something wrong with me. But there isn't – it's just me, I didn't cry at stories. Sure, bad things happened, they always do, but it never affected me, I wasn't harmed at all, why cry about it? Most of it was fictional, anyway, but if you gave Namine a story with a sad ending, you needed to brace yourself against the flood of tears. Me? Nothing. No sweat, no tears, no worries. Awww, poor them, that's horrible… next.

I guess it's kinda like blood. If you don't faint at the sight of it, that is. You could watch someone bleeding right in front of you and, yeah, you feel pity, and it's not exactly a pretty sight, but you're okay. But if you cut yourself, you see your blood, and your reaction's not quite the same, is it? It wasn't the sight of blood that you didn't like; it was just the sight of your own that was so depressing. Yeah, it's sorta like that, in a weird and slightly demented way. Other people, other happenings, other stories… yeah? You just move on, why shouldn't you? But then, if it happens to you, if it happens to someone you care for…

You're not quite so dry eyed.

I'm not even sure about what I'm saying. Maybe I'm just rambling now, just pouring… yeah, just pouring all those things through that pen onto that paper. Telling my story. Crying my story.

It's not the same.

I think of him now, and every time it's the same; I feel so confused. I close my eyes and I think, think about his walk and his voice and the way his laugh had made my heart sing. I think about his chocolate hair and his intense blue eyes and his sad smile…

Where are we now? I wonder. Where are you now? How do you see me? Do you think of me, like I think of you? How do I see you, you ask me? How do I see you…

Good question.

You want an answer?

Don't look at me; I ain't got a fudging clue.

:::::::

Through all of that, I'm not saying anything really bad happened in the cove with R.G.Y. I think I began writing with the thought of just letting you know I wasn't going to describe every single minute there, but then I kinda went off on my own not-so-merry way. But hey, I do that an awful lot at the moment, it's not like it's anything new.

The day was rather simple actually, as simple as things could have been right then... just another day… another day hanging out on the beach with friends and messing about and laughing and swimming and having a good time…

Yeah, I thought, things would be great if they were so simple.

We'd all scrambled back to Olette's side, and the girl who had shouted at us – can you at least pretend that you care…? Or something like that. And yeah, it was harsh and all, but I had to admit, it shut us up and got us stumbling to the rescue. The girl, that was Selphie, I'd found out. The blonde one was Tidus, and the pineapple dude was Pence, so that had cleared some things up.

Olette had been in the middle of explaining just why she was in tears to the group, but she started all over again for mine and Yuffie's benefit once we'd all settled down around her, touching her with our respected skin in soothing and calming gestures, and Selphie with her arm around the other brunette's shoulders. It had been hard for Olette to start all over again, I'd realised that, I'd seen it in the way her eyes became more painful than they already were, the deep breath, the clenched fist – and I'd appreciated that she was going to tell me, but been able to do nothing else other than grip her hand tighter. And she'd smiled at me, a sad smile, a strained one, and I'd returned it with a heavy heart.

They'd herded Olette to a dead end, somewhere where she'd had nowhere to go and no way out. The one called Riku – and when I asked – who? They'd described the one with the old man do, the silver hair, and the piercing aqua marine eyes. So it was Silver who had shoved her up against the wall, Silver who had put a knife to her throat, and Silver who had spat in her face as he'd threatened and blackmailed her into… into…

That was the point where Olette paused, and everyone else had suddenly gone quiet. And don't get me wrong, they'd been quiet before, listening intently to it all again, but when Olette had stuttered to a verbal halt the silence had changed. I don't know what it was… yeah, I do. There was a sudden tenseness in the air, a reluctance to go on, and because all of them seemed to share in it, I'd felt like the odd one out. Like when there's a secret whispering through the air and you're the only one who doesn't know it, you're the only one who hasn't been told… yeah, that's how it'd felt. Even Yuffie seemed to know what was coming, but I was clueless. And by the way they'd all looked at me with a sort of painfulness in their eyes, I knew it couldn't have been good, and it had something to do with me.

"What?" I'd asked, or croaked would be a better way to describe it, "What did they want you to do?"

You could tell it by the way their eyes flickered between Olette and me, by the way they kept shifting in their places and opening their mouths as if to speak, by the way Selphie kept biting her lip and Hayner was gazing worriedly at Olette, they wanted to relieve her of the struggle of telling me, they wanted to take over. But, as if she knew this too, Olette had looked at them all and shook her head fiercely, before clearing her throat.

"They want you, Kairi," She'd said to me, her voice kind of soft with a clear hint of unwillingness, "Axel, he's wanted you ever since he saw you – and he's not going to change that, either." Deep breath. And I'd thought to myself too, breathe, Kairi, breathe, for Amahime's sake"They wanted us to 'hand you over', like you're some kind of item or something… but don't worry!" She'd seen the look on my face, and had attempted another smile through her next words, "We won't let Them near you, I've already promised, Kairi, we'll keep you safe. I saw that glint in his eyes back at 'The Garden', I knew it then, but I never wanted to worry you…"

"Worried? Who's worried?" I'd tried to make light of the situation, but my voice came out too high. I'd got some smiles out of it, though.

"There's no point in lying to yourself, Kairi," Yuffie had said sadly, "But we will help you."

"So what did you say?" I'd directed my enquiry to Olette. Her lip had quivered as she met my gaze.

"You can't blame her, Kairi," Hayner had jumped in quickly, sounding as if he was defending Olette… which I suppose he was, but I was rather confused as to why. And Hayner cleared that mental question up in a jiffy. "She said what she had to so they'd lay off her, Kairi, she –"

"So she said she'd 'hand me over'?" My voice had cracked.

"No!" Olette had sounded close to hysterical, fresh tears were rolling down her pale cheeks, "It… it wasn't like that!"

A tight and loud silence had shrouded over us then, and it really felt like I was being suffocated as I stared at the brunette. I guessed I could understand her position, but I couldn't help but be at least slightly hurt, surely that was reasonable? But as nobody continued to speak, I was suddenly not so certain that anything made sense anymore, not even anything within my own mind. And if all of Them had been there, was Namine included in that? Did she just allow it to happen, a helpless girl, threatened into 'handing over' her own sister? Did she even care about me anymore?

I didn't know.

Still don't.

"We're moving school, because of Them," The one called Tidus had abruptly informed me, trying, it seemed, to change the subject. And I'd switched my violet eyes to look at him instead. He'd smiled nervously. "We're going to go Angel Falls… all of us."

There was a brief murmur of affirmation around the group. And although I'd wondered how that could even be accomplished; - for how many of them were there, really? Olette, Yuffie, Hayner, Wakka, Tidus, Pence, Selphie… one, two, three, four, five, six, seven… seven of them, all changing to the same school at the same time? –I'd disregarded it, and simple opted to accept it.

"That's where I go!" I'd announced with forced jubilation, but even so, from then on the mood had considerably lightened.

After that the day was a bit of a blur, Yuffie mentioned to Olette about how fast I was at running or something, but how poor my stamina was (it seems somewhere along the way I mentioned this to her…) and Olette had recommended the Gym to me or something to build up on it. At some point or other I received their mobile numbers – I just looked in my phone book one day and there they were, but I have no recollection of having been given them. We'd visited the rock pools back up the beach a little, and for some reason I'd found something weird in one of the pools, and of course if you think it's weird; you remember it. But I decided not to reveal it to the others; I don't know why I didn't tell them, I just didn't. But I found some dog hairs and something in the water that could have been a type of shampoo or something; pink and bubbly. I don't know, but it was a strange thing to see in such a natural pool.

I even heard the mournful howl of dog once or twice, but I guess it was my imagination after the hairs. Although why my mind would make it seem sombre to me, I haven't a clue.

Pence, it turned out, actually lived in the little refreshment hut in the cove, and I got some free sandwiches and a hot chocolate – even though I'd refused, Pence had practically forced the hot choc on me after discovering it was a favourite drink of mine for a cold day.

And why we were hanging around on the beach on such a said chilly day, I wouldn't know, it might have something to do with how Pence lived there. How the beach is always somewhere nice to be… yeah, maybe. Olette, Yuffie, Selphie and I had a good laugh when we jokily attempted a spot of sunbathing, and I even went paddling in the ocean for a bit, which had turned into a water fight, which had turned my clothes into sodden bits of cloth clinging to my skin, so then it'd just been a case of – eh… what the hell, and diving right in.

I'd suffered for it later, embarrassing comments, chattering teeth, biting winds, shivering flesh, refusing clothes from Pence's mother but accepting a towel and then blanket… But it was fun, and I enjoyed being underwater. It used to be a favourite sport of mine; swimming. I like it when I'm submerged in the liquid, the silence, the feel of the water, the sense of complete control; no gravity, nothing tugging at my body, no nothing. Loving how I could spin around so easily, whirling, twisting… dancing, I guess, in a sense. I like to just float there, too, just listening… just listening to the soundtrack of the underwater world. Hearing the distance roll of the waves crashing onto the shore above, even the sting of salt onto my eyes was welcomed.

And it wasn't hard to imagine myself as the last person on Earth, swimming in the last water, surrounded by the last silence, under the last wave, holding the last breath, dancing the last dance… this is how it must have been a hundred thousand years ago, I'd thought. No people, no gardens, no stereotypes, no games, no hate, no twisted hearts… just this, the seasons and the skies and the rain and the wind and the tides… things without grown spirit. Nothing to remember or want. Light. Darkness. A heartbeat. No words to think. No unnatural emotion. Nothing but cold and hunger to avoid. No tomorrow. No names, no history, nowhere to go. Nothing to do.

Nothing to do but swim.

I swam.

Yeah, there's something strangely satisfying with swimming below the surface. I could be me, I could lose myself. I could, quite simply, just get away from everything for a while…

It was today that I realised how much I'd missed my swimming.

We gathered some wood from the woods and lit a small fire when dusk began to descend onto the sky, casting a soft gauze of pale pink over everything the withering sun's shine touched. It was rather breathtaking, the sunset. And it wasn't even exactly late, but this was winter time, the days end early in winter, don't they? And the sea was painted in that gentle blush of pink, and there wasn't anything on it but a far off container ship thing inching across the horizon. So the water was quite calm, despite the waves, it was as if even the ocean was settling down for the night.

They started to talk about Halloween, their costumes, where they were going, what they were doing… and I was quite happy to just observe and listen to this particular conversation. Selphie asked me what I was wearing… going… doing… and my silence seemed to make her realise it wasn't a question I was going to answer, so she just smiled and turned to ask Yuffie. Everyone else seemed to get the hint, and I was glad of that. The exchange was making me think, anyway, what was I going to wear? I didn't even know where I was going… and what I would do when I got there… but I kept my wonderings to myself. Trying to come up with something. Failing.

I began to get a fluttery sensation in my stomach. Nerves, it was. Butterflies… or moths… or flies. But it actually felt more like a hundred tiny hummingbirds were flying around in there, hummmmmmmmmmming constantly. I was feeling sick, but had no idea why. Perhaps it was the idea that I didn't know where I would be tonight, that I would be with him… maybe it was the reality of the situation catching up with me, and my body was at last reacting to the thought.

What was it, anyway? I'd thought to myself quietly, as Selphie was announcing proudly that she would be at the competition tonight… whatever that was - an outing? A friendly oooh let's go here tonight? He'd asked me to go with him… he'd asked me out. Wait, he was asking me out? As in, a date? He… eh? Excuse me, Amahime, Kairi! You're getting way ahead of yourself here, girl…

I'd laughed to myself softly, grinning like an idiot, almost, but not quite, oblivious to the stares…

It's a thought…

But still… it's a thought. It's the thought that counts…

After that, they began to discuss about some camping trip they were planning to have during the weekend, it was something they did every school holidays, apparently. And when they'd asked if I would like to go along, I'd gladly accepted. Any chance to get away from that mansion that was my home was eagerly embraced – home was even more unbearable than before. I don't exactly know what it is – but something about that place has changed since the day I reacquainted myself with the outside world. Something I didn't like, something unsettling and uncomfortable.

It wasn't long after that, considerably dryer and warm from within – both with the hot beverages and the nauseating nerves – that I said my goodbyes and left, assuring them that I could find my own way back on my own… yes, I'd be okay… yes, i was definitely coming this weekend… yes, you all take care too… yes, see you later…

And then I was off.

When I'd reached Yuffie's cottage, I'd glanced down at the bottom of the tree to find that the little girl's coat was gone. But whether she had come back to collect it or someone else had taken it out of spite… I didn't know. And I had no way of finding out either. I'd briskly walked on past.

It'd been quite easy to sneak back into my room unseen, and that had surprised me in a big way. It became apparent that no one had bothered to check up on me, and although I was grateful that I hadn't been found out, I still couldn't help the feeling of bitterness rising up inside of me as I'd closed the balcony door behind me and locked it again with a hairclip.

I was just in time. No, I mean, I was just in time. For right then the lock in the other door clicked, and I threw myself onto my bed as it inched open and a familiar looking maid popped her head around the door.

"Sir would appreciate it if you joined him and the missus for dinner," She told me in a formal manner, but her eyes showed some shred of concern as she locked gazes with me.

This is Davies, my brain suddenly told me, the tone and the familiarity clicking, so I smiled at her, this one actually cares.

"It's okay," I told her, making the connotation of my words clear to her, and she seemed to relax some as she returned the smile. "But I'm not hungry." I finished.

"Are you sure?" She pressed, frowning slightly, sounding worried now.

"Absolutely."

Another smile, but this one seemed uneasy. A nod. She hesitated for a fraction of a second, nodded again, and then she slowly closed the door, locking it before retreating down the corridor.

What good timing I have…

I sighed, getting back up and stretching once I did so. I glanced lazily outside, and then my thoughts whirled.

I suppose it was inevitable when I thought about how I used the hairclip to lock the door that my thoughts would turn to The Boy, and as I sorted myself out – toilet, sink, shower, new clothes, sorting out hair… - my thoughts did. I wondered where he was now, what he was doing, whether he was okay or not, cold or not, whether he was looking forward to seeing me as I was to see him… I wondered if he'd been able to fix Bluebell, I wondered if he was angry with me or not… I wondered…

Yeah, I wondered, the usual.

I didn't know.

I wish I did.

So then, there I was. Lying down casually on my bed, hands behind head, one leg balanced on the other, seemingly without a care in the world. And I guess, for me, that façade would be quite easy to pull off, but I had no way of knowing if I was pulling it off successfully this time. No way to be sure at all, and, quite frankly, I couldn't have cared less at that moment.

I was adorned in another pair of boyfriends, a darker pair, and my very own 'five seconds to hell' shirt – black, with a dull beige-y skull and black ravens and crimson ribbons and red clocks and black flags and too many swirls to count – it was something I had forgotten I had, but Tidus had reminded me. With my black and grey converse, stripy fingerless gloves, black beanie, and some mascara and eyeliner (which had taken a good half an hour to get right) added in, I was quite proud of my gothic appearance. It was Halloween; after all, I could at least look the part a little. Why not get a little dressed up? Spice it up a bit… like a good old friend of mine from school would say, spice it up a little, girl… show a bit of leg, a bit of belly, slap a bit of lippy on…

God, I thought, I'll be embarrassed if I see her tonight.

And yeah, she was my friend, which made me suddenly wonder… was he my friend yet? Or was I just an acquaintance in his startling blue eyes? Just another girl… just another Islander… just like the rest of them. Of Them. I shuddered delicately. Turning my head to gaze outside at where it was steadily getting darker, I frowned. But I'm not, a voice that sounded like my own whispered in the back of my mind, almost as if it was trying to be soothing… which I think it probably was, I'm not one of Them, I'm really not… hasn't he realised that by now? And then I sighed before answering my own question – I hope so. Which, as I think about it now, wasn't really much of an answer at all.

Them… and Namine, did she even care about me anymore? I didn't know, and I wondered what she would be doing tonight… would she be with Them? In the dark? Alone? But what if…

"Psh," I muttered to myself bitterly, "What do I care?"

There's no point lying to yourself, Kairi…

My frown deepened. I looked at the clock.

Nearly time to go… I thought, somewhat relieved, smiling slightly at the glowing digits, nearly time to get up and go out into the cold… to unlock that door with a hairclip again and…

I froze. My body tried to gasp, but I'd frozen up, and I chocked on the air.

Them… Namine… unlock… door… hairclip…

But you know me now, and sometimes, I wondered… What does she do in there?

Do in there… what does she do in there? Namine always locks her door. Well, most of the time, anyway. Last time I went there seemed to be one of the off chance times that I came about when the door was adjured. However, all in all, that door was forever bolted up tight – especially when she wasn't in her room at the time… so what does it mean? It could mean nothing, of course, but if she's out at the moment… and she will be for quite a while longer… would it really hurt to try…?

I was speechless – and slightly sickened with myself, come to think of it.

Where the fudging hell did that idea come from?

But once it was there, like always, the notion refused to go away.

I could see myself doing it. I could see myself grabbing a hairclip and carefully scanned the corridor before I exited my room, and again becoming aware of the cost I would have to pay if I were to be discovered. I could see myself, shocked but relieved, scampering up to Namine's door undiscovered ("go away") and simply slipping the hairclip into the lock, twisting it around a bit, hearing a click, opening the door, stepping inside and closing it behind me – locking it again, just to be sure. Yeah, I could see myself doing it.

As easy as one two three. Easy as pie. Done in a jiffy. I could make it sound so simple, I surprised myself.

Would Namine do it, if she were me? Would Olette? Yuffie? Hayner? Or Pence… would the others? Would The Boy do it, if he had the chance? The chance to get some answers, to understand? Would anyone seriously ponder over something like this, something so deceitful?

After a fleeting consideration, I decided that yes, maybe they would. And then I wondered why it should make a difference anyway – what they would have done. But then I disregarded the latter and decided that yes, maybe it would be an idea to make these visualisations become reality.

So I did.

I grabbed a hairclip and carefully scanned the corridor before I exited my room, and I did feel the awareness of the cost that would have to be paid, should I be discovered. I turned the corner, shocked and relieved, and scampered up to Namine's door undiscovered ("go away") and simply slipped the hairclip into the lock, twisted it around a bit, heard a click, opened the door, stepped inside and closed it behind me – locking it again, just to be sure…

I did it.

And after that I was stood awkwardly in the doorway to my sisters' room with a sudden feeling that I would be totally screwed.

The reason why?

Namine had a life sized picture of herself tapped up onto the opposite wall.

I was surprised. Or maybe that's an understatement. But whatever the reaction, I can safely say that I almost wet my pants.

Trust Namine…

I smiled slightly despite myself and shook my head in that slow and disbelieving way. But my feet suddenly had a mind of their own and became stubborn, rebelling against my brain and refusing to move any further into the room. So as I stood there and waited for the rebellious limbs to back down, I made use of my time, and scanned the room with my eyes instead, carefully. Trying to see anything that would be out of the ordinary in the illegal sense, any reasons why she should have her room eternally locked.

There were a lot of pink and fluffy things and bunnies and playboy. A queen-sized bed, a plasma screen TV, a desk with a laptop on it that looked more expensive than an average citizens yearly wage, posters on the wall ranging from singers to actors and… a lot of things, wardrobes, chests of drawers, mirrors, makeup, clothes strewn astray, teddies…

It was the room of a spoiled brat.

Namine was a spoiled brat. So it suited her well.

My body had relaxed by the time I'd completed my scan of the room, but it was suddenly so much so that I was struggling to keep myself up – I was using the door and its handle by way of preventing myself from collapsing. Nothing was wrong in here, I tried to assure myself firmly, you've had a look, there's nothing wrong, now you can just sneak back into your own room, okay? And try not to get yourself discovered in the process. Go back, Kairi, there's nothing wrong.

And as much as I wanted to, I knew I couldn't. I didn't and still don't know why or how or anything… I just couldn't leave without making sure… and there was nothing else to it. I wasn't exiting through that door until I'd searched the place thoroughly. So I dragged my feet forward, and after the first step, they seemed to just take over; they wanted to get this done and over with just as much as I did. My mind just appeared to momentarily switch off, and shut down, as I crossed the room to the wardrobe furthest away from the door. My mind was sickened by what I was doing, and it didn't want to take part in it – it was reluctant. But when I reached the wardrobe and pulled the doors open I forced it to contribute, I needed to think, and I needed to recognise what I saw.

So it was like this, with a heavy heart, more nerves than ever, and a bitter taste in my mouth, that I began to comb through Namine's room.

As I worked my way through her draws, I felt like a traitor, a burglar, a liar, a cheat… I felt it so strongly that my hands shook, almost vibrating. And as I worked a part of my brain detached itself from the rest to observe over my feelings; my mind wandered. The bitter taste seemed familiar to me, and over it my mind puzzled. And then it clicked; the taste, it was metallic, like metal, blood, and rough and prickly against my throat. As if I'd been coughing up blood, although I knew I hadn't… and then a memory sprang forth. And I knew then that it reminded me of a time when I was forced to do cross country at school – and I still was, but more rarely – and how at the end when I stopped and began to walk around with my hands behind my head, trying to recover, the same bitter metallic taste at the back of my throat would abruptly appear as if to say – take that! And that! As if my body was punishing me from what I'd just forced it through. I'd cough, hacking; my eyes watered, and every time I vowed I'd never agree to do this again…

But every time we did it in class, I found myself running and tasting it again, and I wondered why they forced me through it – because, let me tell you, it hurt. But maybe you know that… maybe you've had that kind of experience too. Horrible, huh? You actually think you are coughing up blood, which isn't very pleasant, if you were wondering.

I felt like that then, shifting through her things… and my heart beat raced as if I had just run through a cross country route; my blood roared through my veins, pulsing warmth through me, fuelling my nerves, as if I had just run a mile.

It hurt, god, it hurt so much.

My body wasn't used to it. A simple fact, unused to it and finding it hard to cope.

And then I found it.

Second chest of drawers; the one beside her bed – the side away from the door, fourth set of draws down, the one to the right, squirreled away and wrapped up in a sock at the back of the drawer…

A thick wad of money.

I was the Presidents daughter. Namine was my sister. The President is a very rich man. So, it's not exactly an unfamiliar sight; seeing so much money. But normally I would see it with my father or mother, I would see it in their wallets, in their hands, and I would see it my own sometimes, and even Namine's. But rolled up tightly, and secured with an elastic band, and shoved into the depths of my sister's drawer? Nope. Never.

So I guess you could say I was slightly confused. There wasn't any need for it to be there, so why was it? Why would Namine need to hide some money like that?

I didn't know. It could mean anything, and it could mean nothing at all.

I looked back down at the sock I held in my other hand, frowning, and then I noticed that there was something else in it, something more solid and squat and square shaped-ish… I reached in. I pulled it out.

A small brown bottle of white pills.

Slowly, carefully; trying to stay calm, I replaced the money in the sock, and replaced the sock in the draw, and closed the draw before I rose to my feet, taking my time as I did so. And I stared curiously at the bottle, twisting my hand around to examine it, as I did all that… I never took my eyes off of it once. Once I'd straightened up, all I did for awhile was hold it up to the light – the labels had been ripped off, so I couldn't identify just what the pills were, and I prayed to god and Amahime and hell and heaven… to everything… that it wasn't what I feared it would be. I frowned at it as the light reflected off it softly, sparkling only slightly.

What on Earth…?

I heard a sound.

And suddenly my blood didn't feel quite so warm.

I turned my head, wide eyed, jaw slackened, to gaze at the door. And because of the way the lines in the wood ran, it looked like the thing was staring right back at me, with a cruel glint in its eye.

You wouldn't even dare…

Oh yeah? Just watch me…

I watched it. Could it not see that I already couldn't take my eyes off it even if I willed myself to? And I was still staring, helpless and in despair, as I listened to the lock clicking. Silently I cursed, I cursed myself, I cursed Namine, I cursed my supposed 'good' timing, I cursed The Boy for helping to put the idea into my head… and then I just cursed. All in the space of about two seconds. Damn me, damn you, damn that, damn you, damn, damn, DAMN…

Now I was screwed.

I could see it clearly. Namine coming through, stopping at the sight of me, and then demanding through a screaming fit just 'what the bloody hell are you doing in my freakin' room?!'. I could see it. I could hear it. Just there, only just beyond my reach; a figment of imagination that was about to become reality. I was trapped, I was dead meat – yes, I was dead meat. I was the deer, and Namine was the lion who was about to amble into her territory and spot me. A stream of unfinished excuses were already playing through my mind, like on an announcement screen thing, where the writing travels across it horizontally… know what I mean? No? Well… anyway, that's what they were like. And it was as if they fizzled out before I can even see the entire thing. I was just looking for something… I thought I heard something… I was asked to come in here…

It would be a waste of time. She wouldn't even consider it if I told her a lion had just been in here when there were paws prints and bites marks and scratches all over the place whilst I stood there in a bloody mess.

This too, I thought sourly, will surely be a 'bloody mess'.

My skin felt cold.

I quietly opened the drawer, put the bottle in its sock with the money, placed it back in, then just as quietly closed it again.

After that, I couldn't move.

I stared, petrified, at the door handle.

Nothing happened for a moment. Maybe she's changed her mind, I thought. Maybe she's forgotten something, and she isn't coming in after all. Maybe she'll turn around and go back to wherever she was and everything will be alright…

Then the handle turned and the door swung open.

--x-x--

I don't know what happened then. I don't know what suddenly took control of me as I stared at the door as it swung open. Perhaps it's an instinct… a survival instinct. I could feel the adrenalin pumping through my body, preparing it for the evident 'fight or flight' thing, I could feel my conscious thought slipping away… and then I supposed the adrenalin took over. Fight or flight, huh? Neither appealed to me at all, so then what?

My body seemed to know what it was doing, or maybe I just hoped that. I let the instinct take over, and just hoped for the best. It was as if without my mind my body could still think for itself, and it could think quickly. Would a deer attack a lion?

Not a chance.

So my body took what it thought as the next best option; can't fight, can't run… so hide. It buckled my knees and dropped me to the floor; it stretched my arms and rolled me under the bed, as quick as anything. It was all over before I knew it – bam bam bam. And then I was staring at the underside of Namine's mattress as I listened to two laughing voices entering the room along with two pairs of footsteps that suddenly faltered. I held my breath, praying they hadn't noticed anything and hadn't seen me – Please please PLEASE don't let them notice I've been here…

"Namine, What the hell are you doing?"

A feminine voice I didn't recognise. And I turned my head, squinting at the feet I could see that still lingered in the doorway. Hesitant, it seemed, to move. I knew which feet belonged to Namine, they were the small ones clad in red two inch high heels, pale as death. The other ones were strangers to me; bigger, in black only slightly heeled leather boots that went higher than I could see, tight on the owner's legs. One of them was tapping on the floor almost comically with impatience, had the situation been at all comical and less dangerous, I would have laughed. But this sounded like someone who wasn't to be messed with, and was used to getting what she wanted, no matter what the cost was.

"I…" I heard my sister start, then waver. The tone of her voice surprised me so much my mouth dropped open, which was okay, I suppose, because the maids hovered down here and there wasn't anything like fluff to irritate my nose or creep sneakily into my mouth. But she sounded almost… scared. She sounded so small and so weak… so inferior. I couldn't understand it at first, but then, I guessed, she was with someone who was actually above her. Someone she didn't want to get on the wrong side of. And I wondered to myself quietly who that could be as the stranger spoke again.

She said, in a clipped voice, "Yes?"

"…Never mind," Namine almost whispered.

"Right…" The voice replied near mockingly, obviously unconvinced. I heard footsteps, and with a flutter of panic, noticed how they were headed for me; they were getting louder. And a glance showed me it was the stranger, Namine hadn't taken another step. But then I calmed myself with the knowledge that they wouldn't see me unless they looked under the bed, the thing was too big, I was easily obscured from their view. And when the other girl pivoted around when she reached the bedside and sat down on it heavily, I knew I was right, and the nerves almost vanished completely. I heard a slight groan of springs and saw the depression in the mattress, as well as the whoof of air being squeezed out from between the girl's backside and her desired seat. Quickly and expertly, the boots were whipped off and dropped carelessly onto the floor, before the feet disappeared from my sight.

There was a brief silence. And then, the voice snapped with frustration; "For Amahime's sake, girl, spit it out already."

"There's nothing to spit out." Was her reply. I heard a low growl. "Sorry!" Namine added hurriedly, "I didn't mean it like that…" She trailed off as the unknown voice snorted.

"Okay. Fine." Another pause, and then the sudden burst of laughter made me jump so much I'm sure they must have heard something. But I suppose the laughing was too loud for anything to be heard over it. It shocked Namine too; I saw how her feet flinched with the movement of her body. "Oh, the look at that bitch's face was fucking priceless!" My sisters' companion howled through her mirth, dissolving into another fit.

When the stranger's hilarity had died down enough, I heard Namine giggle. But to me, it sounded forced or something. I don't know, but something about it told me it wasn't genuine. "I know!" She said easily after the pathetic attempt at a giggle subsided.

"Shivering and whimpering that a bloody baby… god, they're just as bad as the god damned gypsy," The last words were almost spat. And suddenly they had my full attention. I only knew of one 'gypsy'. Yuffie's words came back – the urchin, the gyppo, the tramp… gyppo was another word for gypsy. And with 'gypsy' they were no doubt referring to him. Alone, I silently seethed at the connotation to her words; not exactly at what it implied, but what it meant… as in, they must have cornered him at some time too, right?

My palms hurt where my nails dug into them.

"Amahime, the dirty bastard…" Namine muttered almost unenthusiastically.

"Agreed," The other said airily, seemingly not noticing Namine's lack of passion on the subject. "Hey, could you pass me that?"

"Sure." I heard Namine say, and then her feet were moving, taking her to her bedside too. I listened to the sound of her rummaging in something, and I breathed again when I came to the assumption that she wasn't digging around in the drawer. Because one – I didn't hear her pull it out, two – there's no scrape of fingers on wood, three – she was on the wrong side of the bed. So I soon relaxed again, even when I heard the unmistakable sound of a lighter, I was okay. Even when I heard the stranger exhaling like people do when they exhale smoke, it's a distinct sound, I was okay; I hear it all the time. So it wasn't anything knew, and at least it wasn't Namine smoking, anyway… because that was just too shameful to think about.

"Do you really think they're gonna give her up?" My sister then asked, as she stood there almost as if she didn't know what to do with herself.

"Nah, 'course they're bloody not." The other girl made it sound as if it should be obvious… which I supposed it was. Or at least, hoped it was. "But if it comes to it, we'll force the bitches – If I'm gonna have Axel, the sooner he shags her or whatever the better."

I blanched at her words. Waiting painfully for what Namine had to say to that…

"Mhm…" She mumbled. That was it – just a murmured 'Mhm' … I felt sickened. And under the mattress, I squeezed my eyes shut and clasped my hands in front of me, almost as if I was praying. But no matter how much I might take His name in vain, I didn't believe in any god. Nothing in a physical form, anyway. I believed there was something… just not an old man with a white beard. And certainly no heaven or hell, I believed in ghosts and reincarnation. No… I didn't believe that there was some higher being up there… I was no religious person. But right then I suddenly found myself praying for whatever it is up there to keep Ginger away from me, as if there could be some protective shield that It could cast between me and that ginger prick. I knew that it couldn't, I didn't even believe in that kind of magic… but it never hurts to try, right? It never does any harm in hoping…

Yeah, hoping.

Not believing.

But why should something I don't have faith in help me?

"And you're okay with that?"

I snapped back to reality at the sound of that unfamiliar, yet, now familiar voice.

"What?" Namine sounded lost. And tracking back to the source of her voice, I scraped my head against the floor downwards and to the side to see her feet dangling off a chair in the corner, only just in my view. I blinked in surprise, since when did she get all the way over there? I suppose I missed that in the midst of my mental discussion… with whom? Myself? First sign of insanity,I sighed, talking to yourself.

"You're okay with that? I mean, she's your sister." The person laughed. Oh, my mind clicked, they're still talking about me. Well, okay then. Are you okay with the thought of Ginger raping me, Namine?

"I don't care."

Like a fist to the stomach, I felt winded and wounded. Yeah Namine, punch me, why don't you? And knowing her, she'd probably take that saying literally. Fine, I huffed to myself; two can play at that game…

"Good for you! The little bitch will get what's coming to her for doing that to Axel!" I narrowed my eyes at where I'd seen the feet disappear. What? You're gonna beat me up because I stopped him from destroying something that wasn't his? Some crazy justice… but then, what did They care? I guess, in a sense, I had humiliated the bastard. I'd embarrassed him both in front of his friends and, worse, his enemies. So They would want revenge… an eye for an eye. Oh yeah? Well, at the rate we're all going, we'll soon all be blind… blind as bats. Is that really what this world's coming to? Blind as bats… but at least bats have enhanced hearing. We'd be doomed without sight. Why couldn't they just forgive and forget?

Right. And why couldn't the sea stop moving?

It can't.

They can't.

No, I reasoned with a tight smile, I'm the only one who's doomed here.

"Holy, why the hell did she even do it, anyway?" The girl I didn't know the name of muttered, I found myself wishing Namine could address her with her name so I wouldn't have to keep thinking that… out of everything I could wish for, I was wishing I knew her name… I think I needed therapy. I laughed a little inside; I'm the insane one here? Maybe… For now I'll substitute her name for… Jim Bob Jane. Or Jane for short. I smiled again; yeah, Jane. Jim Bob Jane… ha! Yeah, I was slightly insane alright… or perhaps just creeped out with the whole thing... Hm… I think it's because I was creeped out. I was trying to make fun of the girl in a pathetic attempt to not feel quite so intimidated. And did it work? Nope… I had a sudden urge to laugh then, but I bit my lip to stop myself.

"Oh!" 'Jane' exclaimed abruptly, (well… she needs to be called something…) and I heard the springs whine in protest as she shifted on the mattress, sitting up, I guessed, "Speaking of which, this weekend, apparently, the gyppo's gonna do a bit o' summert at the old gramp's shop – and he's gonna go down Fillister Alley after he's done there. Fuu's been watching him, he'll definitely be there."

Old gramps? I raked my brains, thinking of somewhere where The Boy would do a bit of work. Did she mean… Cid? "Yeah…?" Namine sounded almost worried about where this was going. And in truth, I was too. Worried about why they should want him to go down an Alley… how they knew. And of course I was worried for his safety, that goes without saying. A nauseating twist in my stomach made sure I knew of that. Were they going to corner him like they did to Olette?

"So…" Jane started as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, as if Namine should know where she was going with this. I held my breath as the next words left her mouth, unable to breathe as they rolled off her tongue and rode on the airwaves before entering my ears. Even though I was expecting it, I was so shocked I was speechless. "We meet him down there, and then we'll teach him who the fucking boss around here is – Your little Kairi won't be there to help him this time." Breathe, Kairi, breathe, for Amahime's sake… "It's gonna be me, Axel, Riku, and you who'll meet him."

"M-Me?" My sister was scared now. I could hear it quite clearly, and all I could think right then was – ha! Screw you! … But where the second part of that came from, I didn't know. I guess it was my anger seeping into my thoughts. I was infuriated with the entire thing, just… everything. The people, the scheming, the stereotypes, the hate, the twisted hearts, the way They treated it as if it was nothing… a game, perhaps, just a laugh. Something to look forward to, something to want to do, something They knew They would enjoy and feel excitement about… something with grown spirit. They remembered what happened, they wanted revenge… and it was full of darkness, pure darkness… where was the light? More than one heart beat… god, why? Many words to think, unnatural emotions everywhere – hate, anger, jealousy, vengeance, want – more than cold and hunger to avoid; failure, Them. And there was a tomorrow, there were names; too many, in fact, there was a history, places to go, things to do…

More things to do than to just swim.

Right then, the only thing I wanted to do was to scream.

"Yeah," Jane sounded eager, "And then you can show us what you're truly made of, right?"

A pause. And I could almost see the forced smile on my sisters caked up face. "Of course."

"Have a little more enthusiasm, girl! We're gonna teach that bastard a lesson once and for all!" Another silence and a funny look; I knew it was there… a strange glance on a blank face. A mouth, simply, and nothing else. I didn't know the face, did I? "God, what is the matter with you?"

"Nothing." It didn't sound as if it was nothing, but I didn't care, I was too angry now to care. So I just closed my eyes and listened.

"Okay, fine. You be that way, see if I care."

Namine was quiet for a while. "I don't really understand."

"What?"

"I don't really understand."

"Understand what? What's there to understand?"

"I mean… the gyppo, it's not like he's exactly done anything wrong…" I frowned when she said that. Utterly confused… she didn't care… I don't care… stop acting like you do…

"He's dirty. He's a pervert. He's a gyppo; like you said, a piece of shit. And you don't let shit into your own home, do you?"

Then get out.

Namine mumbled something unintelligible.

"We live here, Namine, this is our territory. End of story. And we want him out, get me?"

Yeah, I get you. Now bugger off. Go away, leave me alone, go away, go away, go away… "Yeah…"

"You had any of that stuff that Cloud brought in?"

"S'all right, a bit buzzy."

Naughty girl, Nami, you know you shouldn't be taking drugs…

I don't care…

"Axel said he was getting some more…" Okay. Fine. See if I care… "So… you know what you're wearing then?"

"Uh…?"

"Tonight, girl, tonight! What are you wearing?"

Movement. Footsteps. Rustling. Metal on metal. Cloth on carpet. "This."

"What the freak is that?"

"My outfit."

"That?! Dear, Amahime, woman; what the hell…?" More footsteps. Heavy footsteps. A thud. Footsteps… "You're coming with me, we are going to go and get you a new one – end of."

And just like that they left, the door slamming behind them.

For a while I just lay there. Blank. I felt empty, and void of emotions. I didn't know what to think, so I didn't think. So many voices in my head… trying to say things, think things. I closed myself down, my mind didn't want to take part in this – it was reluctant.

And this time I didn't want to force it.

Go away, leave me alone, leave him alone, go away, go away, go away…

Where was the light…?

Don't look at me; I ain't got a fudging clue.

--x-x--

These moments, these experiences you have and take to be confusing and confounding, so that you lose all sense of self, they have a way of melting back into reality. And I found that after a while, as time progressed and moved away from the moment, the experience, I guess I regained some conscious feeling of self. My sense of rationality came back, my sight returned, and I was suddenly wondering what I was doing still lying there under Namine's bed, why I hadn't taken the opportunity to escape while I had it already. I suppose I was somewhere else for a while… not exactly reality or even imagination, but in some curious state in between the worlds of realism and dreams…

I don't know where.

All I know is that wherever it was, it was peaceful. Like some kind of state of non-being, like I was floating… without thoughts and feelings, without memories and worries… but then I was brought back, my mind came crashing back home, the bird returned to its nest…

My heart felt heavy as I scrambled back to my room and sat down heavily on my own bed, with my head in my hands.

I thought; this is turning out to be one hell of a day. But one last glance at the clock showed I didn't have the time to dwell, and I guess, in some sense, I was glad of that. I didn't want to think about it anymore.

Time to go...

:::::::

Time for the beginning of the end…

:::::::

--x-x--

"Cool outfit! …What is it supposed to be?"

"Hey guys! Over here!"

"You're looking… beautiful tonight?"

"Ooooh, I love it!"

"I hope this outfit is good enough…"

"What do you think?"

"Very nice. Very gruesome. Very zombie-ish."

"I wish Kyle could have come…"

"Ow! Don't do that…"

Such was the snippets of conversations I remember that I heard as I arrived at my destination. I have no idea why, but if I think hard enough, this is what I hear as I was stood off to the side, keeping out of the way of the crowd, and feeling extremely awkward with what I was supposed to do now. I'd followed his directions, but for some strange reason I felt as if I must have left out something or taken a wrong turning somewhere…

My destination was on a busy street on the outskirts of Twyport. One of the kinds of streets where there are houses lining both sides nearly all the way, with the exemption of a few shops and turn offs. Cars and Lorries and buses and other vehicles groaned up and down both sides of the road almost non-existently; there was an awful lot of traffic. Kinda like rush hour – but rush hour had always confused me ever since someone had asked me, quite out of the blue – why is it called rush hour when nothing moves? And none of the vehicles were moving, horns were bleeping, lights were flaring, engines were revving… but no real movement. There were people filtering in through all the gaps, though, and all of them had the same destination as myself in mind.

All in all, it seemed pretty chaotic.

Everyone was heading in the direction of this particular turn off between two of the houses, it wasn't exactly a road, it looked more like the builders had simply forgotten to build a house there; it was just an empty space with patches of grass and a gravel path leading to the temporary metal gates that had been placed there to stop people from just walking straight in. There were what seemed to be policemen stationed at the gates, in those bright green coats that are supposed to make it easier for a car to see you in the dark, and the crowd was making for them, giving them something, and then squeezing through the gaps in the gates and emerging beyond.

Beyond was darkness at first. But it looked like there was a path to follow, the dressed up people were sticking to something as they sauntered along, and in the distance there were lights and music and movement. Or more specifically; Bright lights, loud music, and lots and lots of movement.

Just looking at it all made me feel queasy, as I stood with my back pressed against the wall of the house on the left, the people walking barely within centimetres of where I stood. I felt claustrophobic, and was constantly having to wipe sweat from my brow from the heat of all those bodies packed so closely together.

Claustrophobia was a fear of mine, as well as storms, I couldn't stand it. And I'd only been there for five minutes, but already I was wishing I was anywhere but where I was. Panic was threatening to overwhelm me, bile was threatening to rise up my throat, my limbs were shaking, threatening to collapse, my body was threatening to burn up with the sheer temperature of the atmosphere. I closed my eyes, but behind them lights flashed, bodies towered, and I heard a voice I knew scream out, 'Mummy!" for all she was worth… and for a moment I thought I was going to faint…

But then I felt something else. Something cold and smooth was touching me, I could feel it against my bare skin, but I was too weak to protest - my eyes closed and my knees merely buckled with the sheer relief of the coolness of it. Something around my back and something else knocking my feet from under me, saving me from my fall, and I felt helpless as I was unmistakably picked up by someone, and as much as I wanted to see who it was, I couldn't make my eyes open for the life of me.

Whoever it was, they were surprisingly gentle as they carried me away. The skin on their arms was cool, definitely below the average body temperature, which went in a rather pleasing contrast to the hotness of the warmed up metal of the clasps on my bag, the metal having been heated up by the warmth radiating from the crowd, it was strangely pleasant. I could feel the air cooling, and knew we must be moving away from the crowd and, consequently, the heat. And this person was male, I noticed, their chest was flat and felt wet as my head was pressed against it – I could hear the fluttering of a heart beat, and noted how it was shockingly fast.

My saviour walked quickly, as if he had somewhere important to get to. But the walk was smooth, simple, yet calmingly bouncy, resolute, without concern and without vanity… and then I knew who it was.

I smiled to myself softly, and the greater part of me hoped he saw my smile.

The noise of the crowd was fading away, becoming just a distant babble of unintelligible and Babel voices. The music was getting louder, the senseless graveyard tunes of a Halloween fairground, yet strangely enough I got the feeling we were moving away from as well as towards it. Then, above the music, which was curiously quieting again, I could hear the rustle of leaves and snapping of twigs, the flutter of wings and then a sudden ka-ching! of something on the fairground, which sounded incredibly out of place amidst all the natural noises. And the air was cooling down now rather rapidly, especially cold on my baking skin, when a breeze whispered by it even made me shiver slightly. His footsteps faltered a little when I did the latter, I felt him give me a timid and gentle squeeze.

"Kairi?"

I couldn't respond, my mouth wouldn't cooperate, and my tongue wouldn't shape itself around the words I wished to say. So I reached for his forearm, intending to squeeze it to let him know I could hear him, but my hand found his shoulder. So as an alternative I grasped that instead. I felt as well as heard him laugh quietly to himself.

"I'm sorry for keeping you waiting in that," He said, softly, "Are you… okay?"

He sounded unsure as to whether it was the right question to ask, considering it was slightly obvious. My lack of response seemed to tell him that the thought was mutual, and he sighed. Coming to a stop, he continued;

"Would you like to walk? If yes, then squeeze my shoulder."

I didn't squeeze his shoulder.

"Okay," He murmured, beginning to walk again. His voice didn't sound sad about my decision, nor was it cheerful. It was simply patient and compliant, gentle as if he feared that if he spoke too harshly I would break or something, calm as if he had anticipated that I wouldn't want to walk. And I appreciated his easy acceptance. The silence that followed was peaceful enough. I liked that too. My hand still lingered on his shoulder, and I left it there, for some reason the solidness of it, bone instead of muscle, was somewhat reassuring and comforting.

I listened to his heart rate decelerating.

I listened to his breathing.

I listened to his footsteps.

I listened to the soundtrack of the surrounding forest. For I knew now that was where we was, I'd know that kind of music anywhere.

And then I listened to the returning soundtrack of the fairground. It was gradual, the voices, the music, the ka-ching!ing, the footsteps…

My heart plummeted, and because of my sudden despair I finally found a voice.

I said, in a voice so quiet I barely heard myself, "Are we going there?"

It seemed easy for The Boy to both hear me (considering the silent-ness of our surroundings) and know where I referred to when I said 'there', and the misery in my voice sounded pretty clear to even me, so I knew he must have picked up on it too. He did, because when he replied his musical voice was tainted with reassurance as he spoke the simple word; "Nope."

"Oh." I paused, thinking. "Where to, then?" I eventually finished, after I wasn't able to come up with a reasonable explanation as to why we were approaching it then, nor why he would have wanted to meet up there in the first place…

Somehow, I knew he smiled, "I asked you to 'come and have a look at the other children's costumes with me' remember?"

I remembered…

"What are you doing for Halloween tomorrow?"

"I don't really know, I guess I'll just go for a walk around town and have a look at the different costumes like I normally do…"

"You don't trick-or-treat? Me neither…"

"So then why don't you come and have a look at the other children's costumes with me? It would be nice to have some company for a change…"

The last part of the memory saddened me again, the 'nice to have some company for a change' bit… It made me wonder, and feel remorseful for him. When I next spoke I disguised the ruefulness in my voice with sarcasm for no particular reason, or it could be that I had a pretty smart answer for his question, so I opted to use it to help lighten myself up so the unhappiness didn't show through.

I forced a smile, my eyelids fluttered open halfway to reveal my viewing orbs. "Vaguely," I said to him.

He laughed a laugh that made my heart stutter. "I changed my mind about the walk when I heard about this place," He told me happily, "After I dropped Bluebell off at Cid's shop, I came and had a search for a good spot where we could sit away from the crowd – you don't like crowds much, do you?"

I sighed when I could breathe again. "Was I that obvious?"

There was amusement in his voice when he replied, "Quite."

"Darn it," I muttered. And then I opened my eyes fully, blinking rapidly as my pupils adjusted to the sudden flare of lights. Once it was bearable and not quite so blinding, I turned my head to find the source of it. He felt me moving, and his grip slackened to make it easier for me to look around without hurting my neck.

I've despised anything like fairs ever since I was little. I was eight, maybe, or seven or six… perhaps nine. But I was young and when I lost my grasp on my mummy's hand back then as someone wedged in between us, my heart had jolted with the fear of being on my own in such a crowd. It had taken me many minutes, many tears, and many calls to find my family again, and although it hadn't really been that long, I'd been completely shaken by it.

I've feared crowds of any kind ever since, even if I was alone in it to start with, if I hadn't gone there with anyone I knew. The same overwhelming panic would well up within me, the same claustrophobia, the same desperation, the same overpowering heat… everyone else would seem to be towering over me again, the lights flashing, and the screaming… mummy… it would all come back. It's always been too much for me to handle.

But despite my hatred for fairs and crowds and noise and such bright lights, I couldn't help but marvel at the scene that met my eyes. It was almost beautiful, in a kind of eerie way. Everything was accustomed to fit the theme of Halloween, and the colours were in various tones of sickly oranges, sinister purples, foreboding blacks, acid greens and the darkest of blood reds. The people that milled about the colours were interesting with their unique costumes, and on this side the music had more sense to it, it had vocals; they were real songs.

Sally's song, sung by Amy Lee in the new Nightmare Revisited CD, released in September, last month,floated through the air with its respective music, and I realised I was almost smiling as I listened to it.

-- to stand by him,
Can't shake this feeling that I have.
The worst is just around the bend.
And does he notice my feelings for him?
And will he see how much he means to me?
I think it's not to be…

What will become of my dear friend?
Where will his actions lead us then?
Although I'd like to join the crowd,
In their enthusiastic cloud,
Try as I may, it doesn't last…

And will we ever end up together?
Oh…

As the instrumental took over, I suddenly became conscious of the fact that The Boy was now descending into some kind of ditch, he slipped slightly on the mud slickened with the rain of last night, and I instinctively shrank into his arms whilst gripping his shoulder with the hand that was already on it, pressing my face into his chest. The sudden dread that he was going to fall with me in his arms momentarily overcame any kind of embarrassment at the reaction I performed, but as the fear passed, I felt my cheeks heat up, although I made no move to change my position. If he went down, I didn't want to watch it, after all.

And then he chuckled, "I'm not going to fall, Kairi."

I gave no reply, even as my blush intensified; almost stubborn, because I knew that if I spoke my voice would shake. So I was silent, but I didn't have to be for long, because then the lyrics were proceeding, the instrumental had finished.

And will we ever end up together?
No, I think not, it's never to become,
For I am not the one…

I sighed as the last chimes of the song blended into the next tune, one that was unknown to me. My eyes closed, but I was aware of the silly smile on my face, Sally's Song by Amy Lee was strangely relaxing and mesmerizing to me. I don't know why, for it's the kind of song that's supposed to creep you out, to make your spine shiver… as was the mood of Halloween. But it didn't. It may be weird, or it may be perfectly reasonable, I wouldn't know. But that was how it was, that was how the song made me feel. And I was okay with it, being soothed was better than being weirded out, right?

Depends on what you think, I guess. But personally, I'd say it was.

"She did a pretty good job with that song, huh?"

My eyes reopened at the sound of his voice, and I found myself tilting my head back as I tried to catch a glimpse of him, and I get the feeling I was prematurely successful, for he'd cocked his head to the opposite side, and it was easy to see his crooked smile. The light reflected in his eyes, making them sparkle almost as brilliantly as the lights themselves, and it glowed softly on his slightly tanned skin. I found myself staring, but I wasn't ashamed, in fact, the simple sight of him was soothing in a way that music could never be.

He stared right back at me, his face calm and serene, his smile faltering slightly, but his cobalt eyes shone with such a savage sweet clarity that I was rendered wordless.

And then he was smiling again, soft and gentle, a different smile, and just like that the moment was past.

As he looked away, his eyes returning to observing the fair, my orbs remained motionless. They were fixed on him.

Back then, what I felt, it was indescribable. But I knew above everything that my mind was tranquil, pacified to the point where I was almost drowsy. Something about him… it made me feel safe and secure, something about his eyes told me… I don't know. I just don't know.

It was indescribable.

And I knew why I was so excited to see him. I did want to know him, to understand him; I did want to ask him about himself. I wanted to know about him, I wanted to know his name, his age, where he'd come from, about his family, what he liked, what he disliked. I wanted to know his favourite colour, why he and Them hated each other so much, his favourite food, I… I wanted to know.

No more wondering.

I wanted to know.

But suddenly it all seemed so trivial and unimportant.

I was tired, I realised. I'd had a long day, so many things had happened, so many things had been said, I'd learnt so much… in both mind and body, I became aware just how exhausted I actually was. My limbs were suddenly heavy, my brain became sluggish, at that moment even to think would have been asking too much of me.

With the thought that I was finally in safe hands, quite literally, the next thing I knew I'd closed my eyes and allowed my mind to slip into the world of imagination. Past realism, past that curious state of in between… right on to the other side.

And that was the most peaceful one out of them all.

--x-x--

:::::::

Sleep is a strange thing. You don't know precisely when you succumb to it, although when you write about it like I just did, it makes it sound as if I did know when my mind slipped. I didn't, though. But closing my eyes, listening to the music, with the feel of his arms around me… it was the last thing I remembered. I remember it so clearly, so vividly, that it's almost as if it happened yesterday.

But, even back then, after only knowing him for three days, I could already sense some kind of connection between us. I don't know what it was, precisely, nor could I understand it. But there was something there, something different, something… unique. Sometimes, it seems, it's good to be different.

And back then it was. The distinctiveness of it was what intrigued me so much, what made him so interesting to me, what made me feel so protected when I was with him. And when I slept back then, somehow I knew even in unconsciousness that he was close, and I took comfort from that thought. Comfort is a warm and pleasant feeling, and I surrounded myself with it, allowing it to rock me in my slumber, to help me to let go and not hold on to my worries… to help me forget the bad things and remember the good.

Sleep is a strange thing, alright. Sleep is like a possessor; it takes control of you and bends you to its will. It can make you writhe, it can make you scream… and it can simply make you smile. It can make you dream, or it can make you experience a nightmare. It can make you look forward to it, and it can make you dread it too. It can be kind, or it can be cruel, but really it just depends.

Sleep doesn't balance you on a knife edge; it has no shades of gray. It is purely black or white, simple as. Good or bad, bad or good… no okay, no in between…

Sleep is a really strange phenomenon; there is no doubt about it, for you also never know when it's going to release you. You don't know when the dream or nightmare will fade away and your consciousness will seep through, or when your consciousness will seep into your imagination. You don't remember it occurring, you just know it does. It has to, because otherwise, how do you stop dreaming?

If I could, I'd never stop a peaceful dream, I'd never wake up to the confusing reality my life has become.

If I could.

But things don't work like that, do they?

:::::::

I don't exactly know what it is about this particular waking up process that made it stick with me the most. Perhaps it's because of him, but I'm not so sure. Because of him, in more than one way… but like I said, I'm clueless. I can just remember it all, remember everything, so clearly it's really rather scary.

My consciousness back then returned to me rather slowly, as if it too was reluctant to awake. Like the last sense to go, my sense of hearing was the first to come through, a strange and curious mixture of blurred and hazy voices and laughter and crying and tuneless music. I listened with wonder at how distorted and disconnected it all sounded. But then, above all that, a noise in particular overruled everything else.

Ba-dump… ba-dump… ba-dump…

It was rhythmatic and steady, unlike everything else that I heard, and I suppose that's why I listened to it more intently than the rest.

Ba-dump… ba-dump… ba-dump…

It was the most eerie thing. It sounded sole and desolate and alone… but fairly hypnotic, although right then it wasn't lulling, but more of a wake up call.

Wake-up… wake-up… wake-up…

And then suddenly my sense of smell and touch returned. I could smell the fumes of the fairground rides, the scent of hotdogs and burgers and sweet perfumes, the odour of sweat and brand new clothes, of smoke and mud and vegetation and… him… And it was a rather pleasant smell, like… I don't know. I can't describe what it was like. But I know I liked it, liked it enough to want to smell it again in fact. Like… something. Something nice and almost calming… and… there was the fragrance of…

Then I felt the breath of wind curl against my bare flesh.

My body reacted naturally, it shivered.

The rest of my sense of touch abruptly sent various messages to my brain, like the shiver was the first spark of the fire; something warm and rough over my shoulders and against my right arm, something solid and cold against my left forearm, something resting on my right hip and something else rubbing my right forearm… and then that something that was solid and cold moved, pushing against me, lifting me slightly, and then moved back, only to move again… and back… and again…

My right eye twitched.

Eh…?

And then something other than the wind was breathing, so silently I almost missed it, but once I caught it, I concentrated on it. Breathe… and back. Breathe… and again…

Oh, I thought, it's a person.

I froze.

The hand that was rubbing my right forearm stopped as I gasped and my eyes snapped open, my body trying to jerk away, but whoever it was pulled me back against them. I tried to resist, struggling against them, trying to get away, the panic, alarm and terror beginning to settle in…

"Woah, woah, woah, Kairi! Cut it out, it's me!"

At the sound of that voice, I was so stunned that I ceased movement entirely, and fell back against the person heavily as they were caught off guard from my sudden lack of resistance. Their grip immediately loosened when they noticed I was no longer trying to break away, and I heard them sigh, but with what, I didn't know. My violet eyes were wide and my mouth was open, shaping itself around a surprised 'oh', and for a split second I remained that way; shocked, but then the realisation came through and I didn't know whether to laugh of cry with the relief that accompanied it. So instead I did neither and simple croaked one word; "Mister…"

He laughed softly, and then patted the top of my head with the hand that had been on my waist.

"Silly Kairi," He chuckled, "Who did you think it was?" He paused, thinking, "Actually, don't answer that… uh… did you have a nice kip?"

"Uh…?" I blinked, and then shook my head to try and clear it.

"You didn't?" He asked.

"Y-Yeah… I did," I sighed, before lifting a fist and attempting to rub the sticky sleep from my eyes.

"Still tired, I see," He murmured softly.

I yawned, and listened to his responding laugh with a glowing heart.

"You've had a long day."

I looked at him, his eyes were laughing. "How did you know?" I enquired, quirking an eyebrow. He blinked.

"I… didn't," He returned the cocked eyebrow, "I was guessing."

"Oh."

He gazed at me steadily, trying to understand, I suppose. And I returned it, feeling quite self-conscious with how he was surveying me… no, not self-conscious… I felt exposed. As if he was looking right down into my soul, as if he was seeing everything, including the things I didn't want him to see, to know… I forced myself to look away, and even though when I did I didn't feel bare anymore, I could still feel him looking at me, and I have to admit, it was slightly disturbing and uncomfortable. Which was a first, but there's a first for everything, isn't there?

"So… what happened?" He asked me, eventually. I glanced back at him, but he seemed more concerned about me than anything else now, so I relaxed a little. Although I was still wary.

"Well…" I sighed, looking away, and then looking back at him, "You see… Not long after you left, I decided I'd go to the beach, because I was barefoot, and I didn't want to go back home, you know? But as I was walking down the road I came across Sil – across Riku and… Axel…"

And it was like that I began to tell him about my day. It all seemed so long ago as I explained it to him, told him the things he needed to know, or would want to know. I told him about outrunning Them, about the little girl, about Yuffie and how she said that Olette was resentful towards me for sticking up for him and how she wouldn't explain her words, about how Olette had called him 'Sky' and Yuffie had told me to stay away from him. And then about Them threatening Olette into 'handing me over', about Axel 'wanting' me, about how Namine and her friend had discussed how They would be waiting for him in Fillister Alley… and when he asked how I knew about this, I explained how I'd snuck into her room but had been too late to leave undiscovered so had hidden instead… I didn't mention the pills, however. And when he enquired why I had snuck into her room, with clear amusement and possibly a hint of pride, I just told him the straight truth – that I wanted to understand what changed my sister.

And apart from those two questions, he remained silent through my entire explanation. Just listening, silently trying to understand… but no words to interrupt me. I was grateful for that. I didn't like talking about half of the things I did, and if he'd cut in I might have faltered and not been able to restart. Like when you run, say… when you run for awhile. And if you stop, then you can't easily make yourself get going again. I remember the incident with Paula Radcliffe in this Marathon some years ago… I can remember quite clearly seeing her slow and then stop completely on the TV screen, her trying to start running again… but not being able to… the look on her face, to me, seemed like pure agony. Yeah, I thought, running does that to you.

I bet she was tasting metal too.

"Changed her?" He said, his third question, which instead of interrupting my voice interrupted my thoughts.

By this time we were both sat cross legged on a mat he'd apparently set out before we'd arrived there. He had his arms crossed, resting on his knees, and he was leaning towards me with his head tilted to the side with the recent curiosity his latest question flaunted. I had a blanket around my shoulders that had appeared out of a bag he'd brought there too, it was old, ragged and worn out. But it kept my warm, it was soft, and it smelled like him, so I'd gladly accepted it. It was actually the same blanket I'd had around my shoulders as I'd woken up. I was sub-consciously nursing a still steaming mug of hot chocolate; whilst his was off to the side, hardly touched.

It seemed he'd thought about everything, but how he knew I liked hot chocolate was anyone's guess. I hadn't dwelled on it; I was too busy talking to dwell on it. And right then my eyes were downcast, staring into the contents of my mug, and sarcastically wishing things could be just a little bit more complicated…

"Yeah," I sighed again, finally looking back up at him with a strained smile, which was probably more like a grimace, "She wasn't always like she is now… Sir, she just… one day she was her usual self; the next day she was giving me the cold shoulder. It's been like that ever since, picking fights with me… getting me into trouble… bossing me around… the works."

As I spoke, my eyes drifted. And when I glanced back at him after telling him the latter, his eyes were sad when I met them.

"Kairi…"

I smiled at him again, forcing myself to be cheerful. "Eh… you get used to it, I suppose," I took a sip of my drink, it scorched against my throat and burned my tongue, but I didn't let him know this, he waited for me to finish, and opened his mouth to speak again as I was wiping my mouth with the back of my hand. But somebody off in the distant fairground suddenly screamed, and we both looked around at the noise. It was nothing, though, just a too drunk and overly enthusiastic teenage girl on a ride, shrieking like a banshee. We both returned our attention to each other.

"Maybe so," He said to me, almost carefully, "You might be used to it, but that doesn't mean it becomes any less painful, does it?"

I looked down again as I swallowed hard, and winced at the pressure on the burned muscles of my gullet.

"No," I whispered softly, tracing the rim of my mug with my finger lightly, "I guess it doesn't."

"She still hurts you."

The emotion in his voice made me take another glance at his features, and the sadness on them, the sadness for me, made me look away. I'd never liked sympathy; I'd always been like that. I'd prefer to suffer in silence then have the sympathetic pats and glances, the fussing women and the helpless men… no. I'd rather let the pain die inside myself instead of share it.

But I was sharing it, I told myself. I was telling him this, wasn't I?

It was then I realised with shock that I didn't actually mind telling him, either. The uneasiness, the painfulness, the timid glances, the uncomfortable sighs… I was forcing them all out of pure… what's it called… routine-ness? Something… I don't know. But it's what I normally did, so I did it. But I found that if I didn't concentrate on all of them, if I just relaxed and thought to myself – you can tell him, Kairi, it's okay to tell him… they all but disappeared. I blinked at the brown liquid in my mug with fleeting surprise, but just as I was about to laugh at myself and look back at him, he was there. But… it wasn't in any way I would have thought he would be.

He'd leant forwards and wrapped his arms around me, pulling me towards him. I stopped breathing when I felt him bury his face into the crook of my neck, his sudden exhalation danced across what there was of my bare skin, and I could feel it moistening the latter. His grip was surprisingly tight for a first hug, as if he was unaware of any awkwardness such a situation could bring. But then again, he was naïve, as innocent as a child when it came to this kind of thing; when it came to contact. I'd been pressed against him; the rigidity of his embrace had my shoulders bunched up so that my left one rested against the side of his head. My heart was spluttering frantically, my breathing was suddenly coming out all ragged, and I could have sworn I was spilling my drink my hands were shaking so much; the hot liquid burned my fingers.

It's the surprise, I told myself firmly, it's the suddenness of his actions… yeah, that's it. I was caught off guard, that's all, I wasn't expecting it…

But just like I knew Namine would have known I was lying with my excuses, I knew I was lying to myself when I said I was merely startled.

For a while neither of us said anything. The wind howled eerily, the crescent moon glared balefully, the leaves on the trees rustled noisily, forest life flickered all around us never endingly, and I wondered to myself… what does it all mean? This is how it must have been a thousand years ago, I thought. No people, no gardens, no stereotypes, no games, no hate, no twisted hearts… just this, the seasons and the skies and the rain and the wind and the tides… things without grown spirit. Nothing to remember or want. Light. Darkness. A heartbeat.

Two heartbeats.

I watched his hair as it danced with the wind. As childish as every other part of him, it was so untidy it was almost stubborn. And we were still for so long that I was beginning to calm down just a little… well, I wasn't shaking anymore, anyway… but my heart all but accelerated to the point where it thrummed like a hummingbirds wings, and my breathing ceased entirely, when he next moved.

He lifted his head slowly and slightly, tilted it, and rested his cheek against the side of my head gently, the soft texture of the skin on his face brushing against my ear. His arms slackened their hold on me, and then I felt something rubbing gentle against my back, barely skimming the cloth that clung to it. The tenderness was so intense that all my thoughts and ponderings and feelings… they just scattered, scuttling away with their tails between their legs. And closing my eyes seemed like the most natural thing to do.

"Es ist okay zu weinen, du bescheid," He murmured in a voice just as tender as his actions, he spoke this new language without any trace of an accent – you could mistaken that it was his nationality, which for all I knew then I probably could have been. And although I know I should have wondered where the sudden German came from, I didn't, I knew enough to know what he said that it hardly mattered.

It's okay to cry, you know…

I might not be an emotional person. I might be able to read a story or a book or an article, or watch a film, and be able to remain completely dry eyed. But right then, you could say, I saw my own blood. I was down, switched on those damn waterworks… fetch the tissues please…

You don't need to cry, I tried to reason with myself, you don't let her get to you anymore, do you? You've learnt to cope with it, you can deal with it, you're not emotional, you can handle it… she hasn't done anything that bad recently, has she? She's hardly done anything, god, she's hardly even touched you, woman…

But more things have occurred other than Namine… bad things. Sticks and stones… no, whoever came up with that must have mentally confused. Words do hurt… words like… like…

I don't care

It was then that I began to cry. Onhis shoulder, I sobbed my heart out as I wished They didn't exist and everybody would stop hating him so much.

But this time I did know.

Know that that was never ever going to happen.


End of Chapter Six.

dundundun...
LOL. Who's watched Boy Meets World? ;D 'tis ledgeeee.
I think i deffo will carry on with this outing in the next chapter. I am not satisfied with what I have done! And I still can't figure out what exactly it IS…
blah.

REVIEW REPLIES!
(beware.)

FrozenFire42:Agreed; lie ins are just total win. But I'm not so sure about the calming thing… sometimes those scenes can be angsty and the likes. And I get angry with myself if I don't use any spare time trying to THINK of what could happen and such, and sometimes I like to go back to a certain scene and redo it, just because I like the scene. I have a computer in both my houses – but I have a laptop too! HA! Go me. :P you're so jealous. And bud, that's not exactly my idea of a long review, LMAO! XD! I dare you to make it longer ;). Trust me, that's about as nice as my dares get. Uh… yeah! Yeah, you do that! You go and rule the world, and good luck with that? 'Fraid I don't think I really want to join… world domination just seems a complete waste of time to me. Costs too much and shizz… I don't really like blondes either. I know it's not nice, but with blondes all I can think is 'dumb blondes' even though I know that can't be entirely true. Black and brunet is good, because black and brunet is normally the colour emo styled hair is. :) I don't know Ouran, but I've watched Vampire Knight, and whilst my sister goes drooly over… um… Yuuki's brother (see, he seems so unimportant I don't remember the name) I prefer Zero! SEXY BEAST! o: and I am very happy that you don't mind long stories, that sets my mind more at ease. Thankies! And toodles? XD! Oh, and if you haven't already, I recommend you watch the KH version of Boy Meets World – and then there was Shawn by pwilliard. (after watching the real thing, of course, otherwise it doesn't make much sense.) I laughed myself more silly than I originally was! And that's an achievement, I tell you…

chasingfireflies: I feel your pain, really, we can suck at sports together whilst giving the finger to those who don't. Well, okay, you can bag… lol! Bag? LMAO! You can bag Kairi's dad! XD! No no no… what I meant to say was, you can bagsy beating the shizz out of K.D. 'cause then afterwards we'll all be happier anyway. Don't tell me… you have no idea what's going to happen next in your story? Well… crap, that's just great - you disappoint me! o: or is this just lazy-ness? ;P and yes, you DO know where it's gonna come from… the blankness of your brain. Kinda like from where Aros and Saor are supposed to be in Sora's noggin? Chyeah. And no, before you start getting weird ideas about me I don't read ALL your reviews. I just generally skim down for the biggest review REPLY and take a look to see what's been said because I am so nosy like that. And that is normally your r.r., so then I got interested and followed them in all the chapters… which is slightly disturbing like but yeah… I don't really go through fandoms. I stick to Sokai, I think I've got some weird obsession over them, it scares even me at how fudging LOYAL I am. And check this: YAOI: Your Are Obviously Idiots – or something. I am very anti-yaoi. I don't entirely agree with the ear piercings burning thing, I think, though I guess it really depends where you're getting it pierced so… but apparently stretching your ears hurts more, so writers block can have some of those instead. I'm pretty insomniac too, I suppose, but that's mainly due to me making my brain work hard to visualise my scenes and all so I guess it's okay, 'sept for in the mornings… they're not so great. But that is so like me! The pretending and envisioning… and YOU think you have weird dreams? I've dreamt about a shark chasing me on LAND, yeah, somehow it was walking on something, but my dream self was too busy with its head to notice the feet. I've dreamt of not being able to fit in my granddads car… and then strangely enough some guy on a white horse comes sweeping in and says in all his fancy English that he'd give me a ride, but he ends up taking me to some castle and calls me 'bwiller' or something. I woke up then, and had a bit of a 'what the freak' moment. CHEESE GALORE. I've had more, but I think I'll spare you. Kairi's character in this is based off a lot on mine, and as you can see in this chapter it says about how she CAN'T RUN. Well, long distance, anyway, it just about kills me. But I'm fast, so I guess I'm more of a sprinter… Hm… and lol, how'd the dentist go? XD! I have no life either, I had no school this week and have done just about bugger all. I switch from my mums to my dads, that's about the only times I've been out. And my cousin's boyfriend was… 17, and my mum was 35 or +… I think he had a right to be scared. Which part was an oxymoron? The 'Olette' and 'a face full of peafy's old guitar' one? I wouldn't actually call that much of an oxymoron after this chappie, though… and LASTLY, yes, please try and update, or I may have to go as far as to threaten you with no more of MY updates until you do… muahahaha.

Sora195: I think I've already sent you an email… but I'm not exactly sure. It's been awhile, and I forget things. I guess all I can really say is thank you for the compliments and… um… I don't really think it was any faster than usual, do you? Hell no. :/

Please could you tell me whether you prefer me to reply in this way, or via email?
Personally, I think I preferred email, but I'll leave it up to you.
…see you when I do? XD!

A storyteller is I, now it ends we say goodbye.

onlylotte.