'Sup, people? ;)

Man, I'm such a sucker for romance, ain't I? Well, who isn't? This was another think I really wanted to do for a while. It's just the plot bunnies were hard for me to find for some reason, so there was a slight delay... T.T

Anywho, enjoy! :)

Creaking hinges filled the almost-hollow mansion as the ancient doors were pushed shut. She had always hated walking through that thick forest: On multiple occasions, there would be an incorrectly picked direction that would force her deeper into it, and the swarms of Heartless would grow ever more hostile. But come to think of it, she really didn't like walking into that old building, either. Both of them, without fail, frightened her all the way back to the nothingness of Betwixt and Between.

Unfortunately for her, however, she had an…"appointment." Or whatever the heck the Superior called those meetings where loose ends had to be tied up. It's not like she could remember or anything.

But of all places… Does it have to be in a place like this? The short hooded figure scanned the room's destroyed décor, peeling walls, and dusty floors; but she found nothing that particularly intrigued her—big surprise there. Junk was piled along the walls almost like blockades, and pebbles of ceiling plaster were discarded over the wooden floor like rice after a wedding.

"Demyx would hate it here," she laughed vacantly as she walked up the creaky stairs. Given their age, she was afraid that they would give way under her weight, but she puffed with relief when she made it to the top and realized that she was just being afraid of nothing.

She walked around the upper foyer, which spanned most of the perimeter of the large room's interior, and smiled when she saw a band of white light casting itself in a ray from a crack under a door at the end, standing out brilliantly against the sunset-lit halls. Hand fumbling the knob, she opened the door slightly and poked her head inside. She almost had to shield her eyes from the room's snow-white radiance; it had clashed so greatly with her dark appearance.

The walls were decorated with numerous drawings, many drawn only with what looked like colored pencils. The pages easily blended in with the background, and it was this that made it almost seem like someone had doodled on the walls. In the center was a table that was also as white as snow, as well as the decorative curios that sat there without much purpose.

At the end of the table was a girl around fourteen or fifteen years old—golden hair on her head; a small, white dress hugging her petite frame; and focused blue eyes that frowned at the sketchbook in her lap. Her body trembled every so often as a black pencil flew across her paper like a wand, summoning whatever was running through her mind and translating it into a visual form.

When she noticed the dark cloak practically sucking in the room's bright light, she looked up at the figure, smiling as soon as she realized its bearer. "Oh! Xion! I've been waiting for you."

The cloaked figure finally removed her hood, revealing a feminine head of short, black hair and ultramarine eyes. A blank expression, almost a sad frown, hung below her small nose as if on a string. "Hello, Naminé…" she said faintly.

The golden-haired girl tilted her head slightly, her hair hanging deftly below shoulder level, and a look of concern drawn neatly on her face. "You seem troubled. Does it really bother you that much?"

Xion nodded, her eyes staring at the floor as she took a seat, careful not to accidentally step on one of the drawings.

"Well, I guess it's good I called you here, then." Naminé placed the sketchbook and pencil down on the table and placed her delicate hands in her lap, giving the black-haired girl a warm smile of support. "Go ahead and tell me. What exactly has been troubling you?"

Xion looked up through a worried air. "A whole bunch of things…but mostly it's just questions I've been asking myself ever since I joined the Organization…such as, do I exist?"

Naminé's warmth subsided into doubt and unknowingness. Was she not told? she asked herself. Her thumbs twiddled under the table, where she knew that Xion couldn't see her unease. "I…don't think I can properly answer that, Xion. What did Xemnas tell you?"

She closed her eyes slowly. "That I'm nothing," she put bluntly, wincing as if in pain. "Heh, it's probably true, though. It's like what Vexen keeps saying: 'One with no memories and no past might as well have no present.' Or something… He always speaks in riddles. Can't say I'm the best at them… And it's not like I remember anything at all from my original life."

"Xion…" Naminé began when she almost saw tears welling up at the corners of the girl's eyes. "Don't let it get you down."

She wiped her eyes dry and locked on to Naminé's shoulder. "Yeah…I'm sorry."

Naminé shook her head. "Don't apologize. I know how you feel. Castle Oblivion was a terrible place…" Her face recoiled in emotional pain as she reminisced about her past prison from only weeks ago, as well as the memory sabotage that she still berated herself for, even now.

"That's another thing I want to talk about…feelings."

Naminé slapped her attention back to the conversation's focus. "Feelings?"

"Yes…" Xion murmured, nodding with flipping bangs. "After all that's been going on…why is it that…I can feel? Even slightly? If I'm a Nobody, shouldn't I be feeling nothing?"

The blonde closed her eyes, completely soaked in contemplation. That was quite an oddity, after all. She herself, one who was truly not meant to exist—or so it was said—had felt great loneliness in captivity, and all that she ever really had to keep her company for the time right after her "birth" was her hobby of drawing and that cruel woman Larxene…and sometimes the dynamic Axel whenever he felt like bugging her.

After holding her breath for a few seconds, she raised an eyebrow and asked, "What kind of emotions have you been feeling, exactly?"

"Oh, I'm not sure. Sadness? Dread? Something that pops up whenever I talk to Riku?"

"Riku?" a bemused Naminé inquired. "Why Riku?"

Xion shrugged with her eyes turned unreasonably suspiciously toward the door, as if she were expecting someone to barge in on their tête-à-tête within the quarter-hour.

"Is that the only time that happens?"

"What? The sadness?"

Naminé covered her mouth in light mirth that bounced off the white walls, mixed in with the white light. "No. The Riku."

"Oh. Yeah…"

"What sets it apart from the former two emotions? You're not still mad at him, are you? I know he called your Keyblade fake and all, but—"

"No, no, no, I'm over that," Xion interjected hastily, waving her arms. "I'm not mad at him… It's more like…tingles."

Naminé's confusion only increased. "What?"

"I don't know what it means, either. It's like these…bugs are crawling around in my stomach. It's difficult to explain."

She hummed in wonder for a second, but her ears perked when she heard a faint footfall coming from the door. Oh, please don't be DiZ… she sighed in her head, subconsciously untangling a knot in her hair in irritation. However, when the door creaked open, what she saw was not the masked enigma that took residence in the mansion, but instead, it was another cloaked figure. Spiky, silver hair rested on his head; and a well-carved face with eyes hidden behind a black blindfold found solace in the shadow cast by his hood.

He removed the blanketing hood and recoiled slightly from the brightness. "Geez, Naminé," he growled, "you really should dim the lights in here or something."

"Sorry, Riku," the girl laughed.

Xion froze to the spot as she heard Riku moving toward her, and she dared not breathe when she felt the small zephyr of movement caress her skin. Her instincts told her eyes to look away: Just look to the left, Xion! Nothing will see you that way! Her eyes, however, snapped shut when she felt the firm pressure of the teenager's hand ruffling her hair into an even more of a black mess.

"Well, hello, Xion," Riku smiled behind his blindfold, although Xion couldn't see his friendly expression.

Darn it… she groaned inwardly. He noticed me… "Uh…hey, Riku…"

Naminé leaned to the side in her chair, careful not to topple over, a bit confused at the Organization member's odd behavior…well, okay, odd was a bit inaccurate, since she was prone to act reclusively toward just about everyone, even to her on some occasions. It was kind of different with Riku, however—at least with him, she was so-so with interest most of the time, garnering only a "meh" shrug when she first saw him.

Not now, apparently.

However, the bright lighting made it kind of obvious, so for her, it was more of a matter of whether or not her eyes were just going kooky. She squinted, rubbed her eyes, and even shook her head, doing her best to deblur anything in her vision; but it was never necessary. She was right. Unbeknownst to her two guests, a wide grin had grown on her face, plain as dawn.

My gosh… she thought, trying her hardest not to giggle. Xion's blushing!

Riku quite fortunately didn't notice Xion's bashful conduct, and while he lifted his gloved hand from her head, leaving her to remain seated like a quiet schoolgirl, he opened a small box that he had surprisingly managed to sneak in without their knowing. Inside, he pulled out two blue ice cream bars and handed one to each girl, who eyed them with ravenous eyes.

"There were only a few left, so I figured, what the heck?"

Naminé stared at her bar for only a second before preying on it like a hyena. "Thanks, Riku," she said as she licked it with delight. Xion, on the other hand, just ogled at it as if it were an easy acquirement and hesitated to put it in her mouth. It was like that until a runny, melted drop shed from the side like a tear, which ran down her glove without resistance.

"I didn't poison it, if that's what you're scared of," Riku laughed, helping himself to an enclosed snack. "Go ahead and help yourself."

Then Xion just shrugged and attacked the ice cream mercilessly, almost like she had a desire for retribution on it. The ice tore like meat, and the melted juices flowed like blood; both of them went down without a hitch. The bar had a chance for barely a minute.

"You didn't get these from DiZ's freezer, did you?" Naminé asked suspiciously, invisibly wagging a finger at him.

The blindfolded teenager shushed her with a hiss. "Not so loud…" he said with shifty eyes, though no one really gave it any thought a second afterwards.

While they took their time enjoying their frozen treats, Riku examined the room to his heart's content, viewing and mentally critiquing each drawing that he had spotted, from the intricate detail of color to the hastily scratched scribbles. Just by looking at the number of pieces, he could only imagine how much time she's had alone—for a weeks'-long job as of then, it would've most certainly bored him to tears.

With one final lick, Naminé had conservatively finished her treat, the last of the trio to do so. She smiled again in content of the sweet-and-salty flavor. "Mmm, that was first-class…" she whispered, her taste buds in shock. She recovered nicely from the tasty experience, however, and took a stab at picking at her curiosity. "Say, Riku," she chimed, "you did kind of come in on short notice. What's the occasion?"

"Actually, I wanted to see if I could talk to Xion for a sec," he answered with a face turned in the black-haired girl's direction, to which she felt the freezing feeling of the ice cream in her stomach defy gravity and chill her spine.

"Say what, now?" she asked naïvely but nervously, but Riku didn't catch it.

"Were you two in the middle of something important?"

"Well…" Naminé didn't exactly know how to approach that, after all; yes, it was important, but if Riku took the time out of his busy schedule in order to talk to Xion, then it would only make sense if what he had to talk about was important, too. "…Technically, yes, but…"

Riku gave her only a couple seconds to pick herself up from the pause, but when the time expired, he promptly interjected. "Oh. Well, in that case, I won't impose." With that, he gave them a brief wave and turned and walked toward the door.

By now, Xion was incredibly antsy in her seat, contesting with her inner conscience whether to take him up on his offer or to stay behind with Naminé. Stay behind or talk with Riku? Stay behind? Talk with Riku? Her options weighed themselves in front of her on an imaginary scale—Naminé on the left, and Riku on the right—and neither felt like tipping in either direction.

She looked up hopelessly for guidance, meeting Naminé's eyes for a push in decision. They were drowning in thought for a few seconds, but they resurfaced in time for Naminé to make a swift motion of her finally-beaming head, pointing toward the door. Xion hesitated as she weighed her options once more with a panicky face—then she just ditched thinking about it entirely and ran out of the room, crying, "Riku, wait up!"

Naminé giggled at her friend's indecisiveness, but she was thankful that she closed the door much more quietly than the boy did. Slightly saddened from winding up alone once again, she reached for her opened sketchbook and pencil, turned the page, and twiddled her pencil madly as she continued drawing anew.

"Riku!" Xion called once more, the hallways echoing with her hurried voice. Riku was in the middle of the entrance hall when he had heard her and stopped in his tracks.

"Yeah?" he asked with the floorboards screeching in protest to his weight.

"Um, you wanted to talk to me?" she replied timidly, avoiding his blindfolded gaze.

"I did, but if you have something you want to discuss with Naminé…"

"Oh, it's fine!" she responded quickly. "She and I can chat later. What was it that you wanted to talk to me about?"

Riku looked into her curious, blue eyes and smiled. She's so cute when she's inquisitive, he thought softly through closed eyes hid perfectly behind the strip of cloth. "I talked to Roxas this morning. He said that you've been…struggling with things."

Xion slapped herself in the forehead in disgust. "He didn't tell you about the time Axel tricked me into going sledding with Vexen's shield, did you? He promised me he wouldn't tell anyone about that!"

"Oh, no!" Riku laughed, his arms crossed firmly. Xion sighed with the utmost relief and met Riku's face again. "But with your memories gone, you must be having a tough time."

She turned to the side slowly, her nerves compelling her to fidget. "Y-yes…"

"I just wanted to let you know that if you ever have something bothering you," he said warmly, a reassuring hand resting firmly on her shoulder, "come find me. I'll help you out in any way I can, okay?"

A gloomy Xion then perked up in surprise—so much that her eyes nearly glistened with sparks of gratitude. "Really?"

"Sure. And we can…you know…" Xion looked up as he tripped over his own words; if she didn't know any better, she'd say that he was sensitive to the idea himself, however mildly. "…talk about it later, if you want."

"Uh, okay," was her quick answer. For the first time in Riku's knowing her, he got to see a genuine smirk shine from her face; it was like gazing at a phenomenal constellation during the peak pressure of nighttime darkness. His being whirled in the sheer satisfaction of seeing a new sight—just like he did on the islands.

But then, he turned around and frowned, glaring at a messy corner of the hall. It was what Zexion told him before, after all: it was his desire to leave the islands in the first place that paid the price of many hearts' descent into darkness and bred the problem of Ansem's curse in the first place. Was he telling the truth, though? he asked himself often The Organization's full of deceivers, after all…but I still turned my back on the light and welcomed the darkness without any fear—or thought, for that matter. Man, I was so stupid…

He walked toward the element-worn doors, his mind still stuck on his past, forgetful of the young girl standing behind him.

"Would…tonight be a good time?" she asked, effectively breaking his thought. He stopped in place once again and thought for a moment until he remembered the original context of the conversation.

However, within a few seconds, he grinned in approval. "Yeah. Sounds good, Xion." Then, as soon as he had originally appeared, he was gone, leaving Xion behind to pump an arm with glee.

Naminé started a bit when the door to her room suddenly opened, ticked slightly at the screw-up she made with some shading. Looking up again, she found that Xion had reentered—this time with a very noticeable spring in her step and bright eyes that lit up the room by a candela or two.

"So, Xion," Naminé said with a chuckle, happy to see that rare smile of hers, "did the talk go well?"

Xion let her emotion—however the heck she was feeling it—get the better of her. "Yeah," she laughed. "He's…an okay guy." With a small bow, she thanked Naminé and silently left the room, careful not to disturb the fragile quietness with outbursts of jigs.

This silence was just what Naminé needed to give the finishing touches for her latest work. Smoke practically rose from the graphite of her pencil as she went into overdrive with the shading (and erasing the mistake she made earlier, of course), and with a loud smack of her pencil hitting the table, she christened her drawing complete.

She rose out of her chair, enamored with the classic satisfaction of achievement. "You're very lucky, Xion…" she whispered, ripping the page out of her sketchbook and hanging it up on the wall with all the Soras and Roxases and paopu fruit: On it was a beach-like environment, twilight colors dominating the overall atmosphere like fruit juice oozing from the sun's mouth. Amidst all the detailed waves and sand, two figures—a black-haired girl and a silver-haired boy—stood in a protective embrace. One glance dictated all thought that it was an image of peace and security—impenetrable and a terrible thing to not experience.

Her creative labors satiated for the time being, she pushed her chair in and left the room; she hadn't checked on Sora for hours. Plus, the ice cream fill was wearing off quickly, and no one wanted to be in her blast range when she had a voracious appetite.

Still, she couldn't help but smile at her quiet friend's vulnerability—and at the very least, she was glad that Riku was more than happy to help Xion out with her problems.

Well, she had high hopes for the two of them, that's for sure.

There we are! Forgive me if I made any glaring mistakes. ;)

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it! Reviews are greatly appreciated, of course, but if you're a Rion fan like I am, feel free to drop a line anytime you want and cheer the pairing on. Let me know you Rion fans are out there! ^_^