Author's note:

Now, just a few words before we begin this story.

1: This is the sequel to Searching for Sanctuary. If you haven't read that one yet, I suggest you do, since this continues after a bunch of world-changing events that happened in SfS.

2: This fic is rated Mature for a reason. Sorry to those of you who wanted some good clean fun, but I couldn't justify keeping it Teen, what with some of the topics that will be covered. Sora and company are just getting into their twenties, so being all clean and G rated... just isn't happening. Sorry, but I, and my co-writer wanted a totally free hand to do what we wanted with this. I promise, though, there will be no lemons in this fic. It's rated for mature thoughts, themes, violence, and swearing. Mostly the violence and themes, though.

3: I don't own Kingdom Hearts, any of the Final Fantasy games, or any of the worlds that are visited in this fic. Neither does Sayana Blade, my co-writer. We haven't been paid for this fic, we're not going to get paid for it, and generally, we're rather poor and have to turn to writing for entertainment because we can't afford much of anything else at the moment.

4: I do own Kaiyou and her permutations. Most of them anyway, but this is really a moot point considering that if I remove the KH stuff from her, she's really not much at all. Sayana owns Seielo and a few other characters in this, but again, it's kind of a moot point.

5: I'm writing this fic with someone else, and this would be my first experience in doing so. I tried to edit to make sure that the flow between what I wrote and what Sayana Blade wrote is seamless, but I'm sure there will be places you can tell. It's probably inevitable. Please forgive us both if it's jarring or anything. But also, give us reviews with any thoughts that might help make this story better. Remember! It takes longer to write a good fic than it does to read and review and the only payment we're getting for this is your appreciation. Be kind to your favorite authors (not just us) and review often!


Chapter 1

(Heaven and Hell)

The sky was shining and the ocean a clear crystal blue.

With the sand warm and comfortably soft beneath her, Seielo found it difficult to stay awake. She opened her eyes anyway, and rubbed them while yawning as she rolled over her stomach. Sand crabs had kept entering her white t-shirt, and black shorts when she had been trying to nap, so she had taken her shirt and shorts off revealing the black two piece bathing suit she wore underneath. It was not too revealing, consisting of a halter top and boy-shorts. Seielo, still drowsy, wiped away some drool she had on her arm and sat up, noticing a blue crab crawling across the sand near her elbow.

Reaching over, she prodded it with her finger, feeling its thorns and bumps. Amused, she leaned in close and admired its opalescent colors. She chuckled when its bulging eyes popped in and out of its hard protection to blink at her.

Resting her head on her hands, she watched the crab continue on its way, then looked up as she heard a familiar shuffling in the sand. Lifting her head, she watched Kasumi stroll towards her, struggling with some fruit in her arms, her purple dress with yellow flowers flapping around her thighs as she walked. It was a dress her dead mother had made for her, as a result Kasumi tended to wear it often; especially in the spring. Kasumi had a honey-colored tan, and currently her bright red hair was tied into a bun on the back of her head, though quite a few of the silky strands were starting to work their way loose. When down, her hair was hip length and partially curly, Kasumi said it drove her nuts how some parts were just wavy and others were curly.

Kasumi's green eyes glittered when she saw her best friend and wickedly smiled down at her, "You look like a boy when you have your hair tied up, oh what a waste," she teased plopping down next to her dark browned haired friend.

"Ha-ha, very funny," Seielo laughed at her sarcastically. Reaching over, she took an orange from her friend's arms and replied as she peeled it, "I may not be a double-d like you but I am definitely not flat-chested. I have perfectly sized boobs," she stated with her nose held high.

"Yea, but it's fun to tease," Kasumi mumbled then laughed, her mouth full with the bite of banana she'd just taken. Kasumi noticed her friend frown while she chewed, leaning closer, she swallowed and said, "You may look like a really hot boy from afar, but up close you're a pretty hot girl too." She took out a water bottle from her pack. "Not only that but you got long dark brown hair, a really hot body up close. And you know what your best feature is?" Kasumi paused and Seielo angled her head in curiosity, "Your heart." Kasumi smiled poking her.

"Uh-huh, you sure you're not my stalker?" The brunette asked her red haired friend smirking with an eyebrow lifted.

"Oh give it up, Seielo!" Tossing aside her empty peel, Kasumi pounced on her, tumbling Seielo backwards in the sand. They wrestled each other until Kasumi pounded the ground three times for submission. Both the girls settled down wheezing.

Kasumi looked over at Seielo and smiled. "Hey Seielo look the waves are coming in, and it's perfect for a picture." Kasumi squeaked.

Seielo sat up and gazed at the ocean. "I guess. You wanna take a picture?" Seielo asked her, pulling out her camera.

"Yeah that'd be cool." She stood up and offered her hand to Seielo. Seielo took the offered hand and stood up.

Seielo paused, looking up and down the beach, then noticed a couple holding each other's hands, heading their way. Dashing towards them, she held out the camera, "Will you take our picture?" she asked politely enough. The woman of the couple nodded and took the camera. Jogging back, Seielo said, "Ok Kasumi, let's get into the water." Kasumi nodded and stripped off her sundress, revealing her pink bikini with black smiley faces dotted everywhere.

"I hate you so much." Seielo said examining her friend's body as the camera clicked. She crossed her arms over her chest.

"Huh? Why?" Kasumi asked hands on hips.

"You know what I mean!" Seielo kicked water at Kasumi making her jump from the coolness of the water. "You have a beautiful honey tan, model legs, long red hair, and really cute toes!" Seielo kept splashing, already soaking Kasumi to the bone.

"Hey!" Kasumi splashed Seielo too. The couple took the pictures, then set the camera down in the sand in order to continue their walk while Kasumi and Seielo continued splashing each other.

It was getting dark and both girls had plans for New Years. While the two of them did have family, neither one was very pleased with the idea of spending time with them. Kasumi's stepfather was a royal pain. He had married Kasumi's mother shortly before her death – Kasumi's biological father having disappeared shortly after she was born, they said he had an accident. Her stepfather worked in a high-rise office in the city, an hour away, he tended to live there during the week, either in an apartment or under his desk – as Seielo hypothesized. As a result, Kasumi was left on her own for the most part with neighbors checking in on her occasionally. Her house was a haven for Seielo - however, since it was New Years, her dad had kited in from the city and announced he was having a big party and that Kasumi needed to scat for the night. Seielo's situation was slightly different, but she preferred not to think about it when she was with Kasumi. As a result, they had nobody but each other to spend the holiday with - except for Bibo, a small black chocobo that could talk.

As for Bibo, he was paddling in the water near her, trying not to get dunked. He had been nesting in the stand of trees near the beach but had decided to come join the girls in their play. Reaching down, Seielo picked him up and placed him on her shoulder. Lifting her other arm, she struck a pose. "Yarrr! Come on to the top of our summer clubhouse!" announced Seielo with a pirate accent, acting as a captain.

"Let's go already Miss Black Beard." Kasumi laughed.

"Oh yeah, well if ye is not careful you'll be eaten by me mate, Bibo," yipped Seielo. They all laughed heading into the clubhouse, which was built in the stand of trees that stood near the beach. Theoretically, it was a public beach, however, the town was kind of small and the other kids knew that the clubhouse was Kasumi and Seielo's so they stayed out of it – for the most part anyway.

Drying off with the towels they had left on the beach, Kasumi collecting the remainder of the fruits and water bottles she'd brought, the girls climbed to the roof of the clubhouse and sat down amidst the blankets piled there. Having been planning this all week, they had everything they needed to spend the night. Falling into companionable silence, Seielo laid down closing her eyes until it was time. Lacing her fingers behind her head, she fell into thought, musing about the strange dreams she had been having. They were odd, that was for sure, and sometimes her heart would tug at one point or another, as if being called, and always at random moments or whenever she felt something familiar, even if it really wasn't familiar at all.

Kasumi glanced over at Seielo, admiring the way the sunset lit her cinnamon colored hair. It had only been a year since Seielo had moved there. It was this day exactly that Seielo had come, almost as if appearing out of nowhere with Bibo in her arms. It had been a cold night with a raging storm, so bad that they'd had to cancel the fireworks display. Kasumi had been devastated, since her stepdad had been throwing a party and she'd been stranded at the clubhouse. That was when a weird flash of light had happened down the beach – it couldn't have been lightning, since there was no thunder. Curious, and already fairly soaked, Kasumi had gone to check it out and that had been when she'd met Seielo and Bibo. She could never forget how heart stricken Seielo's eyes looked then. Broken, dead, black emptiness and shattered somehow. Seielo's hair was up to her ears at the time, and she had been shorter in height. Bibo had looked terrified of something and was shaking like a leaf. But what exactly had scared him, she didn't know. When Seielo had spoken to Kasumi for the first time, the only thing she said had been 'Am I me?'

Kasumi had not understood then and to this day she still didn't understand. Bibo, and Seielo were lonely, but now that Kasumi thought about it, she recalled seeing someone else briefly – a tall woman with long ash-brown hair. All she could assume was that the woman had been Seielo's mother, but as for where the woman had gone, Kasumi didn't know. 'Now isn't the time to be acting emo, doofus!' she yelled at herself, instead deciding to do something with herself before she went all droopy. So, she broke the silence, "Hey, Seielo?"

"Hmm?" She asked.

"Well I was wondering, if... if I disappeared what... would you do?" she asked reluctantly, nervously playing with her still-wet hair.

"Huh? That's a dumb question," Seielo stated without opening her eyes.

"Your right I mean, if I was you and you were me I'd try to find you. But it's ok if you-" Kasumi looked down as she stammered her way towards silence.

"Go find you"

"What?"

"I said I'd go find you." Seielo finally opened her eyes and sat up rubbing the sleeping chocobo. "We're friends no matter what." She smirked, staring at Kasumi. "You know," she started. "I had the weirdest dream last night."

"Oh? What was it about, the same dream you had since you moved here?" Kasumi asked intently.

"Yea, about another world, and a boy with a whole lot of friends. He hung out with them, especially three of them. A boy with silver hair and a girl with reddish brown hair, and another boy or maybe it was a girl – I couldn't quite tell, but he had long hair the same color as mine braided, but that was all I could tell of what they looked like – as usual," Seielo paused savoring the moment in her mind. "This time, though, the one I could see clearly, I heard what they called him. Sora. I wanted to join them too, but every time I would call they didn't hear me." She said sadly.

"Eh... well what was so different about this dream? You've had it since you can remember," Kasumi replied.

"Well you see, when I called to them this time they all turned to me. The boy they called 'Sora' told me, 'Man, what took you so long?' and he smiled at me. He took my hand and..."

"And what, what happened next?" Kasumi asked but was soon cut off from the boom of the fireworks.

"Hey, wakey-wakey Bibo!" Seielo crooned as she poked her bird with a finger. The chocobo could sleep through a hurricane. Seielo stood up, setting Bibo on her shoulder and shoved her hands into the air. With the fireworks booming, she reached for one that particularly looked like a feather. "Someday, I'll explore the universe Kasi. One day I'll meet him." She smiled to herself. "Sora." She tried his name and it felt like she already knew him.

"Yeah and when you do," Kasumi stood up and reached for the night sky, "I'll be with you all the way!" Seielo smirked at her friend and they both gazed at the fireworks display, with one hand reaching out towards the sky.


"Seielo! Seielo!"

The girls started awake, finding themselves on top of the roof where they had fallen asleep after the fireworks, and below, a woman was yelling at the top of her lungs. "Seielo, don't make me repeat your name again. I know you're up there with that girl, doing all sorts of things you're not supposed to do!"

Seielo got up from her warm and comfortable nest. She peered over the edge of the clubhouse, finding that a head of blonde messy hair was in fact her 'beloved' Aunt Sarah, who was yelling hysterically. Aunt Sarah was a strange one. Seielo did not like the woman, but couldn't ever quite tell anyone why. As Kasumi said, Seielo, upon arrival, had been immediately claimed by the woman as family, and Seielo had been living there since.

Seielo retreated back to her nest and nudged at Kasumi for trying to hide her laughter. Bibo was the last one to be awoken by the noise. Seielo sighed heavily. "I guess it's time for me to go."

Kasumi let out a small chuckle, immediately hiding it with her hand to her mouth. "Yeah, I guess so. I'm surprised that you even made it out the door yesterday."

"Heh, as if I'll let her catch me doing something like that. I snuck out yesterday." Seielo grinned happy that she succeeded in escaping from her prison.

"Well no wonder she's throwing a temper tantrum, she's just getting old." Kasumi laughed. Both the girls turned to look at the edge of the roof as Sarah's yelling got louder.

"That's bad, maybe you should go before she decides to dismantle our clubhouse." Kasumi gestured folding her arms under her chest.

"Yeah, see ya tomorrow. If I can..."

Seielo stood up bundling her blanket with Bibo perched on top of Seielo's left shoulder, they both waved goodbye to their friend and departed. She began descending down the steps from the roof of the clubhouse hearing her friend's horrendous laughter from the roof. 'Oh how nice to hear her laughing, hopefully she bust a gut,' she thought in irritation and a little bit of terror.

Aunt Sarah was waiting outside the clubhouse door with a disgusted look on her face, and flames in her strangely colored yellow eyes. "To think that an intelligent young girl like you would be doing such a thing! Well," her aunt continued griping as they headed for their destination; home. "I expect you to study! Your brilliant mind needs excessive attention, given your future." Her aunt sounded ominous. Aunt Sarah, though not really her aunt at all, had taken Seielo in after shortly after her arrival to Ellensburg and the person she had traveled with had disappeared. Seielo couldn't help but fear for what was going to happen to her, when she got home. Since then Seielo had been studying nonstop and filling her mind with useless knowledge. But for some reason her aunt was always cruel to her, beating her, scaring her, and even deliberately knocking her unconscious for days – but only when Seielo would not be missed, such as during holidays.

Then before she knew it her aunt would be nice to her, for no apparent reason. That woman had psychological problems. Seielo, so terrified of the woman, couldn't even bring herself to tell Kasumi how she got the bruises.

When both Seielo and Sarah arrived in front of their house a little girl with blonde curly hair ran towards them happily waving her arms in her little whit laced dress. 'Well if it isn't our favorite little princess,' Seielo thought sourly, scowling at the girl that was part of the reason why she got beatings in the first place.

"Mommy, mommy! Beary is gone!" The little girl exclaimed. Seielo examined her prison eyes scanning the mahogany walls and four tinted windows. The house had always smelled a little musty but today it had a heavy, imposing aura to it.

"Aww, don't worry Renie we'll just make another one." Aunt Sarah went to her knees and patted her daughter's head. "All it takes is a good heart." Her eyes turned to malice in a matter of seconds, which her daughter completely missed noticing. Taking her daughter by the hand she entered the house. "Come Seielo, it's time," Sarah called and gestured for the paranoid teen to follow. Seielo winced at the tone in her aunt's voice.

Seielo reluctantly headed towards the house, Bibo shaking like a leaf. "There's something wrong Seielo. You shouldn't go in there, there's something wrong," he said in a small soft tone.

Seielo stopped inches from the door looking towards Bibo. "You think she's gonna do more than hit me?" She asked her feathered friend.

Bibo turned his little body. "Yes, and this time I don't know what will happen. Her aura isn't its usual color; black. Instead it radiates from black to purple, it's a dangerous feeling my gut tells me to run away."

A shiver trailed down Seielo's spine. "Don't worry, this time I won't let her get to me. I'll fight back." She nervously smiled at him. "Besides, it's been a month since she last time she hit me. During those months I've been practicing my running and dodging." Seielo reached over her shoulder; her hand shaking patted Bibo's head. She heard her aunt's irritated voice, quickly heading inside the house, closing the door behind her.

Turning, Seielo found Sarah at the top of the stairs with her daughter by her side. "Come on dear, quit dawdling." Her aunt was in a long black gown with spaghetti straps; when she'd had the time to change, Seielo didn't know.

"Yeah, no being lazy and slow!" Renie laughed darkly.

Slowly, she ascended the stairs, feeling that every step was bringing her closer to her impending doom. Her heart thumped loudly enough for her to hear, she felt her body become dead weight, fear was gripping the pit of her stomach. 'I can't be a coward. I won't let her scare me anymore!' she gathered all the confidence inside her and walked with her head held high.

"My, my, haven't we gotten full of ourselves now." Seielo's aunt chuckled behind her hand.

"Well, I guess you were a failed experiment after all, I didn't think you would turn out to be exactly like that wretched child." Her eyes altered into cat like eyes. "At least your heart has grown plump. All ripe and exquisitely tasty I hope." Aunt Sarah sucked on two of her fingers as if she were anticipating eating a three course meal. Renie imitated her mother.

Seielo stopped dead on the sixth step. She looked at her aunt with an appalled expression.

"What the heck are you talking about?" She asked her, afraid Bibo might have been right after all.

"Why dear," She snickered. "you aren't real. You were created for one purpose only, to be the key for the destruction of all Good! You should remember that day one year ago you little brat!" She raised her arms and cackled evilly.

"What? That doesn't make any sense!" 'I'm not real?' Seielo had already dropped her belongings over the railing and was in a defensive position.

"Then I'll make sense." Aunt Sarah disappeared in a blink of an eye. Seielo was shocked and would have fallen down the steps if the railing hadn't been there for her to grasp. Her aunt's hollow laughter rang through the house. Renie stood there with a menacing smile. A gust of wind hit Seielo cutting her check, arms and bare legs, thanks to the shirt and shorts she was wearing. The wind blasted her again, and before she could catch herself, Seielo was falling, landing hard on the floor at the bottom of the steps. Bibo, knocked off her shoulder landed beside her.

"You see, you were nothing but a toy for Hojo, Organization XIII and Maleficent. They needed something that resembled the Keyblade brat, and they got what they wanted. A whole bunch of them failed, all in darkness, but you were the odd one out, Remembrance Extraction Seven." Aunt Sarah appeared in front of her in the form of a black mist slowly solidifying, towering over the numb Seielo.

"Remembrance Extraction Seven? That's... that's my name?" She struggled to form the words with her mouth.

The woman smirked. "That's right, you were made to fit for our own convenience, but you failed exactly one year ago." The woman leaned back to throw her head up and laugh loudly seeing Seielo's shattered face. She looked down at her again and lashed out with a kick to Seielo's ribs making the girl cough. "They gave me instructions to kill you, RE-Seven, to take your heart for Hojo as a new specimen. So say good bye." "Aunt Sarah" slammed her hand into Seielo's chest, dark vapor seeping out around her arm. Seielo gasped when she felt her heart pulse against the hand that caught it.

'It hurts!' She yelled in her head unable to stop from gasping for air. Tears began to slide down her cheeks, the pain became unbearable. 'I'm gonna die! I should have listened to Bibo! This is all my fault I have to get us out of here I don't want to lose what little I have!' Feeling adrenaline kick in, she grasped Sarah's arm and began to pull it out.

"You little beast! How dare you deny me your heart? For that I will make you suffer all the more!" Sarah was furious her face strained.

"I don't care anymore! I won't let you take my heart - you evil creature!" With the confidence she had in her pulsing heart she was able to pull out Sarah's arm half way. 'My heart, she's still holding it. I won't let her take it from me even if I am fake.'

"No your hands are burning me!" Sarah immediately let Seielo's heart go. "Why did you – of all the others – become like him? Why?" She backed away from Seielo holding her simmering hand.

Seielo slowly got up from the wooden floor. "I don't care if I'm fake! I won't let you take away what I've obtained. I may not remember about my past but I will not let you take my heart so that you could do with it what you like." She picked up Bibo and held him in her arms. 'How am I gonna get out of here.' She stood her ground, desperately holding onto a brave front while inside, she trembled.

"Well then, you dumb experiment, I'm done playing with you. I don't know what that trick you did with your hand was but you'll regret ever injuring me!" Sarah's cold piercing eyes glared at the defiant teenager. She lifted her good arm, palm up and fingers curled like claws. A glowing red ball formed in the cage she had created with her hand. "This is the end of you Remembrance Extraction Seven!" She shot the blast at Seielo.

Seielo instinctively lifted her hand to block the blast.

When the smoke cleared, Seielo was gone. Straightening, Sarah smiled wickedly. "Well, I'll just tell them that she fell off a cliff, right Renie dear?"

"Yes mommy, she fell off a cliff because she wasn't as smart as everyone thought she was." The little girl gleefully jumped down the flight of stairs and skipped to her mother's side.

"And now to engulf this world with darkness," Sarah threw her good arm into the air, summoning darkness to her palm. The ball of darkness shot upwards, sliding easily through the material of the ceiling and floor above. As it rose, it grew until it finally exploded and sent a wash of darkness across the town. Shreds of shadow formed into monsters, which immediately began attacking townsfolk.


AN: Those who know a bit of Spanish might recognize the word Ceilo out of Seielo's name. This was an intentional misspelling.

Next Chapter: An introduction to what has passed, a step forward into the future.