Author's notes: … Why am I always getting beat up? I apologize for the late update ^^;. My writer's block has been really bad. But school's almost over for the year, so I'll have more time to write.


"That was AWESOME, Rahs!" Tara exclaimed as they, literally, bounced through the Palace of Twilight. Riku sighed, watching the two hyperactive girls. She paused as music began playing from her pocket.

'I'm not ready to make nice, I'm not ready to back down, still mad…'

The music stopped as she pulled her phone out and answered it. "Yo, Edo… Are you serious? That's awesome! …Yeah, why? …Mhm."

Riku left her and her friends to their own devices, following Terra, Aqua and Ventus to the small lounge they'd taken over as their meeting place.

"So," Xion looked up from the maps her and Axel were scanning, "how'd it go?"

"Sarah sent a bird at Xigbar and poked his eye out." Ventus answered. "It was kind of amusing." Xion smiled. The Freeshooter was as good as gone now, since he was blind in both eyes now (what, you thought he wore the eye patch for show?).

"So the blond fangirl got some ability now?" Axel questioned. Riku nodded, although he was smirking.

"Yeah, she can manipulate the elements around her." Aqua explained. "She used the air to send the bird at Xigbar."

"Nice." Axel chuckled.

"Anything new?"

"We believe they'd be hiding somewhere they could escape notice." Xion answered. "It could be anywhere from Ayer's Rock to the North Pole to any climate in between. It's not like they have to be worried about being close to their target."

"That's what I was worried about." Riku sighed. "Anything on Sora?"

"Sorry, Riku." Xion shook her head.

Riku sighed. "That's okay."

"Hey, Riku, you remember Rachael?" Axel asked. The silverette nodded.

"She was my sister. How could I forget?"

The replica stood, brushing a strand of black hair from her eyes. "Follow me." She left the room. The Keyblader of Darkness, confused as he was, followed her.

Xion led him through a few hallways, up several stairs (Riku was beginning to wonder why they didn't just open a dark corridor) and around a few corners. She paused outside a door, and knocked before opening it. She stepped back, allowing the door to swing open as she motioned Riku inside. Hesitantly, he obeyed, glancing over to the thirteen year old kneeling on the bed and staring out the window. Her long, silver hair shifted as she turned her head to look at them with sky-blue eyes.

"Riku?" She shot to her feet and wrapped her arms around him. Riku returned the gesture.

"Rachael… I missed you."

"I missed you, too." She answered. Riku released her, stepping back. Rachael swayed slightly, looking somewhat dizzy. Her brother picked her up and sat her on the bed, realizing how light she was. How long had she been back for? However long it was, she didn't seem to have eaten very well. She must've gotten through Death's slipping security. It seemed odd that he would let his 'victims' escape easily. There must've been a reason. But they could figure that out later.

"Are you hungry?" He asked her. Rachael nodded. "I'll go see if I can't get you something."

"Thank you."

Riku nodded, leaving the room. He closed the door behind him.

"I went for a walk in Hyrule Field," Xion told him as they walked towards the kitchen, "and found her wandering out there. She was in a worse condition then than she is now."

"Thanks, Xion." Riku nodded.

At the kitchen, Riku grabbed something Link had called roast Cucco (it tasted rather close to chicken, thus making Riku wonder why everything tastes like chicken… except Red Rooster…) and put it on a small plate. He then took the plate back up to Rachael's room. She took it thankfully, eating away at the food. Riku sat beside her, watching.

"Thank you." She said when she finished, setting the plate on the end table. Riku smiled, putting his arm around her shoulders.

"Don't mention it."

Roxas, who had been allowed by Ventus to awaken for awhile, walked through the hallway with Riku, discussing anyway to lure the Organization out. They paused outside Tara's room. The door was open, and she and Sarah were sitting on the bed, the brunette playing on her blue, first version Nintendo DS.

"Yes, that's the final form defeated!" She cheered. She high-fived Sarah.

"What're you two doing?" Roxas asked.

"Playing Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days." Tara answered. Curious (and deciding that it was, ultimately, harmless), Roxas and Riku walked over to watch. "And thus does Xion die." Tara muttered. Roxas watched the cutscene, memories awakened inside of him.

"Never forget that."

"No! Xion! Who else will I have ice cream with?"

At this, Roxas turned bright red, and Sarah and Tara cracked up laughing. Riku arched an eyebrow at Roxas, who sighed, turned, and slammed his head on the wall.

"I still recon the Kairi comment Naminѐ made to Xion completely ruined whatever good things she had left." Sarah remarked. Tara scoffed.

"Xion's awesome! Don't diss her!"

Sarah blinked at her. Tara muttered an apology.

"I got to talk to Bekkah while we were on Earth. It's like the game-speech thing. Start playing a game for too long, start talking like the characters."

"That explains the random 'yo' after you watched Advent Children…" Sarah remarked.

"What can I say? Reno and Rude Comic Relief is hilarious." Tara shrugged. "Now, when I start quoting the Japanese, then there's a problem." She paused. "OH! You know that the Japanese teacher doesn't know what 'namine' means?"

Riku arched an eyebrow. "Wave, isn't it?"

"Yeah, but he told Ve- Kyle, I mean, that he didn't know what it meant. I had to keep myself from laughing. It was so hard." She paused. "He also speaks German… and French… and he's also the English teacher…"

"Sounds slightly ironic." Roxas remarked.

"Mhm." She paused. "I wanna know how he pulls that off. I can barely remember my Katakana. I do know some Hanakotoba, but that was a personal interest from the Aster Tataricus."

"The what?" Sarah glanced at her.

"Aster Tataricus – Shion in Hanakotoba. It's used for 'remembrance'"

"What is 'Hanakotoba'?"

"Japanese Floriography."


"The language of flowers." Tara sighed. "For example, a bluebell means 'grateful', while a carnation means 'disappointed'." She frowned. "Speaking of Asters, that's my birth month flower..."

Riku sighed, rolling his eyes. His attention was diverted when Rachael bolted into the room.

"It's Luxord!" She cried. The group put down whatever they were doing and bolted down into the courtyard, Tara grabbing her Ipod on the way out.

As Rachael had said, the gambler was standing there in the courtyard, seeming unarmed. Everyone knew better than that, though. Link was already waiting for them a good distance from the Gambler of Fate. Also arriving were Axel, Terra, Aqua, Adam and Kyle.

"Another one?" Terra muttered.

"Let's play a game," Luxord spoke up, "shall we?"

"Oh great." Tara muttered. "Luxord's games are never fun."

"On the contrary," Luxord responded, "I find them to be quite amusing." He held his palm out towards her. Tara yelped as she left the ground, and what felt like an electric shock went through her body. She went limp in mid-air, suspended by invisible chains. Luxord flicked his wrist to the side, and Tara skipped across the ground like a stone in water until she stopped at his side. Her Ipod had been dropped beside Sarah.

Now Kyle and Sarah were both pissed off. Everyone else was annoyed, sure, but Kyle and Sarah were both good friends with Tara and they did NOT like anyone touching their friends.

Kyle ran towards Luxord, his hand clenched into a fist as he went to punch the Nobody. Luxord blocked it with an Ace of Spades, before darting around Kyle to grab his fist and twist his arm, painfully, around his back. He let out a cry of pain. This caused Adam to dart forwards and try to punch the gambler. He didn't get a chance.

A black dragon, about thirty meters in length, with four legs and wings currently had Luxord pinned to the ground under his right foreclaws, growling at him. Luxord stared at the dragon emotionlessly, before smirking.

"December 22nd is coming early, isn't it?" The Gambler of Fate remarked, before he sunk into a dark corridor in the ground, which closed after he vanished.

"Kyle?" Adam questioned hesitantly. The dragon looked at him curiously. "What happened, man?"

"What do you mean?"

Riku paused. Kyle's voice was coming out of that large lizard, and the boy was nowhere to be found. There had only been a split second between when one was there and then the other…

"Wait." Link spoke up. "So, the kid turned into the dragon. Can he turn back?"

Riku hadn't thought of that.

Kyle stepped towards Tara, gently rolling her onto her back to make sure she was alright. Sarah was already beside her. Riku was hesitant, unsure if Luxord had hung around or not.

"Like I said…" Tara muttered, "Luxord's games are never any fun." She yelped as Sarah smacked her arm. "That hurt." She whined, sitting up slowly.

Link looked over at Riku. "Did you hear what the guy said?"

"Hmm?" Riku blinked. "What do you mean?"

"He said something like 'December 22nd is coming early'. Any clue what it means?"

"Not a one."

"Maybe," Aqua suggested, "it means something to them."


Riku glanced into Tara's room, checking to see if the girl was alright. She looked like she was a bit out of it, but that was normal for her. She was lying on the bed, staring off at nothing.

"You alright?"

"Hmm?" Tara glanced up, before sitting up. She nodded. "Still recovering from being electrocuted, but I'll survive." She answered. "How's Kyle?"

"Still can't figure out how to turn him back."

Tara sighed.

"Tara, Luxord said something to Kyle. He said 'December 22nd is coming early'. Any idea what it means?"

She shook her head. "No. I'll do a search on my computer for anything about it, but I dunno." She answered. Riku sighed.


"Sorry. My brain's fizzed right now." She apologized.

"Not your fault."

Tara simply laid back down. Riku sighed and walked away. He needed to talk to the others to see where they were going to go from here.