I'm back, baby. Can you dig it?

Ah, whom am I kidding? I always have long hiatuses like this... _; It's perfectly natural for someone like me, trust me. Blame it on the laziness! *coughcoughandthatC++programI'vebeenworkingoncoughcough*

Anywho, Rion still wins the Internet, and its uber cuteness is Chuck-Norris approved. Told ya I wanted to write another one! And you didn't believe me, did you? HA! (Must've been the hiatus...) But whatever! Go ahead and read on, my fellow Rion fans!

Many thanks to Homely for helping me out with this! Without you, my "writer's block" probably would've been prolonged!

Moonlight from the giant heart in the sky was among the few viable sources of light in the World That Never Was that night; the drumming of the rain and the gongs of thunder, the only instruments of companionship for the young girl in her room. A large crash of lightning creating an explosion every ten seconds or so, the windows trembled in fear much like she did. The covers were her only shield from the startling flashes of light, and the cold from the constant rain nibbled at her as she curled in her sheets even more tightly.

That night was quite unbearable for her, in other words. Had it not been for the storm, her sleep would've been able to only ignore part of her midnight distress. It was the second time in a row that she had gotten a nightmare—and the fourth one she had that week alone—and neither one failed to bring her close to tears. Flashes of memory, crashing through her mind like the lightning flickering in the windows, blinded her through it all. No sense of it at all could be made out logically from the inner ordeals of the events from the heart she wasn't supposed to have—if she had one—so all she could interpret from it was that it was threatening her voraciously. Something about a castle and a Keyblade stabbing her in the chest to free what was inside her?

She sobbed at her apparently-growing insanity.

It was then when she decided that she was no longer able to sleep and proceeded to blindly reach for a light switch. She slowly sat up on the bed, her watery aquamarine eyes painfully and slowly adjusting to the sudden burst of light. The stench of hopelessness easily invaded her small nose—the smell of complete absence of control. It was a mystery in and of itself as to why she was feeling at all, much less in this way in particular, so…

"Why?" she kept asking herself, and she was finally answered quickly by a sudden quake of thunder whose only intent was to inflict needless fear. It was enough to startle her to the point of spilling onto the floor in surprise and to have her sheepishly climb back on to resume her grief.

"I don't know what to do…" she cried as she hugged her black-cloaked knee as the only means of comfort. "Everything's falling apart… I'm seeing things that I shouldn't be seeing, hearing things I shouldn't be hearing, and obviously feeling things I shouldn't be feeling. I'm slowly going mad with all the questions and the mysteries…and the dreams."

She looked out her window and, though blurry eyes, stared at the mystifying wonder of Kingdom Hearts looming over the damned world, the puddles in the streets stained with the hardly-collegial mix of stone and silver. When she found that it was nothing of any help, she sadly stared down at her moonlit floor once more, hiccupping a sob. "What should I do…Riku?"

Another bolt of lightning soon came—and with it, the lights in her room went dead. Her door spun on its hinges and slammed into the wall with a crash. With a small gasp, she retreated into the pseudo-safe refuge of her covers. A dark shadow slowly faded into the dark corner of the room, soft breathing leading the way—deep but almost inaudible. She apprehensively peeked her eyes out from under the blanket and scanned the intruder completely, but all she could see from it was black.

With quick breaths and the tapping of courage inside her, she tore the blanket off of her, summoned her Keyblade, and charged at the figure with a yell. A burst of light coming from her hand accompanied another flash of lightning that assured that both of them saw nothing but white for a split second, nearly causing them both to recoil. She brought her weapon down upon the enigma in a swift vertical slice, but with some summoning of its own, it parried the blow.

The figure pulled down the hood that had been camouflaged by the dark and revealed a platinum-haired young man with blindfolded eyes. "Xion! It's me!"

As soon as she realized the figure's identity, she dropped her weapon onto the floor in shock-induced surprise. "Riku!" she gasped. Sparks of white magic shot out like stars as her Keyblade disappeared to sleep in wait once more should it be needed again. Her legs gave in and caused her to clumsily topple onto her back.

On instinct, friendly or otherwise, Riku dismissed his weapon and stretched out his gloved hand for hers. She awkwardly accepted it, and with a strong pull, he brought her back up to her feet—a little too forcefully so, however, since her face made a half-pleasant, half-awkward landing into his chest. It was a good thing it was dark, she thought subconsciously; the instant blush the darkness had concealed so well would've only silenced them both, especially her, for words.

Embarrassed, she swiftly turned her small body to the side, her fidgety hands to herself, facing her shaded bed. "Thanks," she squeaked quickly, fearful that she had invaded his personal space.

Riku turned to the door and felt for the light switch and was disappointed that, after flipping it at least thrice, the ceiling light wouldn't respond. "Stupid storm," he hopelessly sighed as he took a seat next to Xion, who had already silently taken a seat on the askew bed. Even in the darkness, he could practically see the thin streaks of water from her eyes and hear the sniffles from her nose.

"You okay, Xion?" he gently asked.

She responded by hiding her face in her hands, immediately making him feel guilty. "I don't know…" she sobbed. "Things are happening…that I don't understand. You told me before that I need to 'return to my original self,' and now these dreams have been haunting me for nights, and…now I feel my time is short… I can't deal with this anymore!"

While he, deep down, knew that it was the truth, his heart sank like an anchor in a stormy sea when she acknowledged what likely-little time she had left. He had to learn to feel indifferent about her kind, nonetheless, but his discipline crossed itself into disuse whenever he interacted with her specifically. She was one of the few exceptions if there ever were any. So what if they clearly started off on the wrong foot? She was always full of interesting questions, ones that he was always more than willing to answer.

As much as he wanted to help her out, all he could really do was feel pity and sadness—sadness that his time left with her, too, was about to conclude.

"And now with this storm—!" she began to gripe violently, but she was interrupted from another incoming flash of lightning and boom of thunder. Fear kicked in again, and without a blanket to hide under, she yelped and plowed herself into Riku, hiding her face into his chest again and no longer caring about personal space.

He was…shocked, to say the least. It wasn't exactly so much that she was astraphobic than it was that she was perfectly willing to glomp him to take refuge—and that she'd do it so comfortably in her right mind. Well, in comparison to a frightened child, anyway; save for the intense shivering and heaving breaths, she at least handled it somewhat decently, within a bare minimum of her own control.

An awkward silence flushing his face, he, nevertheless, tried to hide his surprise. "…I didn't know you were afraid of thunder and lightning," he said to break the silence, making himself chuckle to try to lighten the mood a little. …Or did he really find her childish fear amusing, as heartless as it sounded?

"Why do you think I try running away from this place all the time?" Xion half-joked as she met his blindfolded gaze. The two shared a brief laugh, which ended as soon as another flash and a two-second-belated crash forced her to cease and hug him tighter.

As strange as the situation was, in all reality, Riku was…actually enjoying himself in her fearful grasp. Like quite a few situations prior, she was depending on him in her times of need; with that, especially at that point in time, he felt that he had gained a great strength in his chest, backed up by the self-assigned duty of her protection.

"With all this commotion," Xion meekly continued, "I can't even sleep… The only place where I can escape the hardships of this nonexistence and peacefully reflect on myself… And now I can't go back freely without fearing another loud boom fueling another nightmare and another stab making the fear come back again."

For her sake, Riku knew he had to think of something to calm her down. Even he was pained from her disturbing situation, but he could think of absolutely nothing. He didn't have any magical sleep potions up his sleeve, and he didn't have a glass of milk in months. Not that he was known to have insomnia or anything.

Fortunately, though, Xion saw the puzzled look on Riku's face and made a suggestion: "But I heard…sometimes, a child uses music to go to sleep."

Riku had a hunch what she was trying to get at, but he surely didn't like it. "What are you saying…?"

Xion giggled as much as fear would allow. Uh-oh… "Well…what if you sang me a lullaby?"

He called it. His throat froze in even more shock; and gulping, though very tempting, proved impossible. "A…a what?" he stuttered, trying desperately to play dumb.

"Could you sing a song for me, Riku?" she asked as she spread the sweetness across her voice like strawberry jam. Even though he averted her gaze, he could just imagine her eyelashes fluttering in begging cuteness.

What the heck is she talking about!? he thought incredulously. I hate singing! Well, in actuality, he didn't mind it, really; it's just that he wasn't that good at it, as much as he hated to admit it. There were a many nights on the islands where he, Sora, Kairi, and the others would have late-night bonfires on the shore, with roasted fish; marshmallows; and karaoke, of all things.

Those nights were always a blast, but if there was one thing that made him want to high-tail it across the sea in only a life jacket, it was the last item on that list… There was one time when he had to do a solo in this one song—by popular vote, no less—and he could've sworn that his voice was cracking just to spite him. He also could've sworn that his voice was so bad that it was making the karaoke machine screech in protest. Thankfully, Sora and Kairi helped him out by joining in during the last half-minute or so.

The experience was so embarrassing he dared not speak of it to anyone, and he looked upon karaoke machines with absolute horror. From that day on, he just let Sora and Kairi sing together when it was the trio's turn (maybe having Tidus sing in his place on rare occasions). The two certainly seemed to enjoy singing together, at any rate…

But why!? he cried in his mind. Why, God, why!?

"Well…what do you say?" Xion continued to ask, although he only heard any follow-up to the original question once.

"Uh…" he nervously answered while still trying to avoid looking at her. "I…I don't know many—" Another flash, and predictably, Xion's constricting grip on him tightened even more. It was only a matter of time before she would squeeze the life out of him like a boa.

Just then, Riku gave in with a defeated sigh. "All right. You win. I'll sing you a song…"

In just a few blinks of his concealed eyes, she quickly released him and hurried under her covers. Wow, how punctual. At that time, all he could really see of her was a tuft of raven-black hair and a pair of glimmering, longing sapphires. The sight made his heart flutter and, somewhat miraculously, lightened his attitude about her request a little.

He continued sitting at the foot of her bed and took a careful "look" through the under-compiled song library in his mind. "So, uh…what song do you want to hear?"

"Oh, I don't really care. I'll let you decide, if you want."

Fair enough. Unfortunately, the only song he could think of was the song that hated his guts at that one karaoke night. He was about to consider instant refusal from all the potential embarrassment, but taking another look at Xion's puppy-dog eyes forced him to decline reconsideration. But why that one song? Why couldn't he think of anything else?

Just then, though, as he thought of the song, he realized how fitting it actually was—if his interpretation of it were correct, that is… She really does need someone to look after her. More than ever, I'd say. For her sake, then, I need to do this.

Well, here goes… He braced himself. Much pain erupted from his throat as he began his singing trial, but as soon as he looked past it, he realized that he actually didn't sound that bad.

He started out with soft humming that almost vibrated his lips, remembering the woodwind-esque sound quite vividly. He glanced at Xion to check his progress, and she didn't seem to hate it. She wasn't covering her ears or anything like that.

"She left a week to roam.

Your protector's coming home.

Keep your secrets with you,

Safe from the outside…"

She really did seem to be enjoying it. She lowered her sheet level just enough to reveal a slight, comforting grin, although a small rumble in the distance caused her to wince and hide her face. Riku instantly doubled his effort.

"You walk along the stream,

Your head caught in a waking dream.

Your protector's coming home. Coming home…"

Xion crawled out of her shell a little and regained most of her calmness. It's working! he rejoiced. With a small increase in voice and tempo, possibly from his own comfort and confidence, he continued:

"As you lay to die beside me, baby,

I'm the one in the shootin' game.

Would you wait for me,

The other one?

Would you wait for me?"

Xion came out of her shell even further, and now her entire face was exposed, wearily looking above her. He could see her eyes threatening to droop, struggling to stay open. She then knew that she was completely safe; nothing, not the Heartless, the Organization, or her state of being, could harm her at that moment—when he was watching over her.

Riku chose to skip a few lines—for brevity or for necessity, he wasn't entirely sure himself—but at that point, he was feeling confidence that he had never felt while singing. Maybe it was the lack of an audience… Oh, well, he thought, Xion makes a much better audience than those guys anyway.

As he started closing the song with half-"ooh"s, half-hums, her eyes were open by only a crack. The moonlight from the outside reflected on what little bit was open—her eyes, to him, very well emulated sister moons circling about each other in the crescent of their waning phases. He kept humming the same measures over and over again until those little moons were finally new; they were finally closed, and he knew that she was finally asleep when one sibling pair of thunder and lighting failed to budge her an inch.

I did it… he pondered, just beginning to realize that he had successfully sung. He did it! Now Wakka can finally get off my back! he cheered silently, pumping an arm.

He looked at Xion once more in his inflated state. "She looks so peaceful. Huh," he whispered in amazement. "Maybe tonight, she'll be able to have a good dream…" He was saddened to realize, however, that his job was done; he was no longer needed, and it pained him more than a little bit to get up and go.

While he reluctantly lifted himself up off his "seat," he noticed a curious pile of shells lying by her pillow. They looked just like the ones on Kairi's good-luck charm, he noticed. Curiouser and curiouser… he thought, shocked to see that, after reaching into his cloak's pocket, he had one, too.

He eyed it sadly for some reason. It was not often that he grew attached to everyday items, much less items that he saw just about every day lying in the sand in his childhood. But strangely, it reminded him of his home, the one he swore that he would never go back to until he made amends. Perhaps that it was that he missed it much more than he thought.

"What are you doing collecting shells, Xion?" he softly asked with a smile. With a few twitches of his fingers, he twirled the shell around in his hands as if it were a rock. He knew he wanted it…but seeing her dedicated collection, he knew that she needed them more than he did.

Softly, he placed the shell on the very top of the stack, sad to part with it, but sadder still, if it could be imagined, to part with her. As he opened the door and closed it as softly as he could, he could feel a tear soaking into his blindfold; he instantly remembered the details of her plight, one of the things being that her time left was dwindling—precious, precious time.

Another tear.

When will that time come? he wondered. Will it be out of the blue, or worse yet, will I see it coming entirely? Even worse still…will I have something to do with it?

Yet another tear.

After all, DiZ was known to completely show hatred toward Nobodies, and to her, it was no different—maybe even to a greater extent. He wouldn't in his right mind let DiZ do that to her; he couldn't do that to her. But considering DiZ's absolute loathing for Organization XIII, he wouldn't be surprised if he were to be made to finish her off just to bring the entire group to an end. And the absolute worst thing of it was he'd have to follow orders, regardless of his inner objections. He'd have no choice to stop DiZ's decision—and then his self-assigned task of protecting another person he cared for would, too, have been a failure.

For the rest of the night, a stream of tears followed him wherever he walked.

Yeah, kind of short in comparison to the others, I know. T.T But hey, I thought the idea was cute...

If you liked it, please leave a review! ;)

By the way, that song...it's not mine. It's called "Your Protector," written by Fleet Foxes. In case you can't tell, it belongs to them, not to me.

EDIT: Hold on, if any of you are Fleet Foxes fans out there, are the lyrics right? If they're not, could you tell me? Some sites contradict themselves, so now the lyrics are ambiguous to me... Thanks!