OMIGAWD finally! School's over and I'm not overloaded so I can FINALLY UPDATE AGAIN! Plus, I've become addicted to Pokemon and X-men updates XD

Chapter 8: Nobody's Dream Anymore

Merlin and Leon stalked into the house, but the atmosphere was tense. "Hey, we're home!" Leon called out, "Did we miss anything?"

Tifa made her way down the steps and over to them, "Glad you guys got back… Listen, we had a problem with the Heartless and the Turks while you were gone. Yuffie punctured her lung but Vexen woke up just in time to patch her up."

Merlin arched an eyebrow, "Whose Vexen?"

"I'm Vexen." The blonde scientist emerged from the back room where he had been checking in on Yuffie, "There's been no negative change in her health, Tifa… and have you seen my scarf? I could've sworn I left it on my bed…" He scratched the back of his head and glanced around, "Hm… Weird."

"Sorry, haven't seen it," Tifa gestured to Leon and Merlin, "These two here are Merlin and Leon, but we usually call him Squall."

Vexen bowed slightly, "Nice to meet you. If you see a dark green scarf anywhere it's probably mine," He peered around once more, double checking every visible corner of the room, "Oh, well. I'm sure it'll show up eventually."

"Who are you again?" Leon questioned with an accusing point of his finger, "Aren't you the one Xemnas and Xanze saved?"

"That I am."

"Oh, OK," He shrugged it off, "Where's everyone else?"

"Cloud's with Xanze and Xemnas," Tifa said matter-of-factly, "Cid's probably blowing shit up, Yen Sid just left to go home so he won't be back for a while, and… well, now I'm here with Vexen and an unconscious Yuffie."

"Speaking of going home, I need to head off too," Merlin turned to the door, "I must be on my way… and I'm afraid I won't be back for a while either."

From inside the back room Yuffie's voice drifted, like she was sobbing, and Vexen quickly spoke up, "Don't worry she's most likely having a bad dream. I'll go make sure she doesn't break her stitches." He disappeared into the room.

Tifa shifted uncomfortably, "Alright, go do what you have to, Merlin. I'll see around."

Merlin nodded, "Good-bye." And he strode out the door and out of their lives. Leon studied Tifa quizzically and noticed her eyes were blurry, almost like she wanted to cry. Her clouded pools shuffled from left to right, trying to find something else to focus on besides him.

"So… uh…" Leon brushed imaginary dust off his sleeve, "What now?"

"We wait… we don't really have a choice now do we?"

"Wait for what?"

"I don't know, Squall. I don't know."

Cloud raised his sword and aimed the tip of the blade at me. I readied Carron, swinging her over onto my shoulder so she tapped against the back of my neck.

"Begin!" Phil announced.

Cloud moved first, rocketing towards me with blinding speed. I reversed at least I can still use my ability his world so the arena had flipped up-side down (to his eyes) and his backwards movement forced him to the ground. I sniggered, "You have no idea what I can do, Cloud! My ability is to reverse almost anything in my favor—so everything you do and everything you see, hear, taste, or even say can be inversed."

I summoned out Sharpshooter and Carron's form changed, and I negated the inverted world around Cloud to give him a chance to stand.

"An interesting ability," He commented, wielding his sword at an angle, "but I do believe I'm faster." He lunged and I sprang at him as well, his sword slashing down on Carron. My Arrowgun Rifle didn't crack under the pressure, but she was slammed into the cage of my chest and I shot into the ground. The impact didn't hurt as much as my lungs when I tried to catch my breath.

Suddenly Cloud screamed, "XANZE!" and his arms wrapped around my waist. He pulled me from the tattered ground just as an iron-clad fit punched the spot where I had previously been.

Xemnas slashed it with his Keyblade but it recoiled and knocked him to the side. The arm latched itself onto the much larger body of a Solid Armor. "I think that's our Heartless!" Xemnas exclaimed, working his way to his knees by using the support of Two Become One. I was still struggling to breath, my ribs burning under the stress of the blow I had just taken.

Cloud smirked, "Alright, let's get it!" He left me lying on the ground to recover and he moved for the legs of the monster, slashing and hacking but to no avail. Hercules leapt from the pillars nearby, rearing his fist back and using the momentum of his fall to smash the head of the Heartless in, forcing its body parts to detach and collapse.

The arms spun in rapid circles and nailed him solidly in the gut, sending him sailing into the wall. The legs stomped down repetitively, marching right in my direction. Cloud stopped one with his blade-the slash connected with the ankle and the iron crumpled in on itself. The second one hovered over me for a second, and I tried to roll out of the way.

Pain ripped through my body and I cried out, clutching at my bruised chest. Two Become One zipped by, zooming in a full-bring circle that rammed the foot away from me. I summoned out Sharpshooter and Carron, and without thinking I jumped to my feet and sprinted for the body of the Heartless searching for its dented head. I aimed and fired, the triggers heating up in my grip. The white and purple bullets pierced the Heartless' armor, knocking it back and immobilizing it.

Xemnas appeared above it, bringing his Keyblade down upon the Solid Armor's head, smashing it in completely.

The arms spasmed, and then dropped... and all was still.

I tripped and landed on my side, the guns clattering on the ground beside me. Before my fallen form the heart lifted into the air, leaving behind the crystal casing that housed a sleeping body within. My chest heaved and threatened to burst, and it took every ounce of energy not to scream too loudly.

"Nice job," Hercules remarked and slipped my arm around his neck. He lifted me to my feet and then took me in his arms bridal-style. "You did take a pretty bad hit from Cloud, though. I thought I heard something break."

"Probably my pride," I responded deftly. The heart cracked, and I reached out to touch it-but then it shattered completely. Xemnas caught the Nobody against himself, sighing heavily. "Two down," I told myself quietly.

The Nobody groaned and Xemnas rested him on the ground, "Welcome back, how are you feeling?"

"Feeling?" The Nobody mused, pushing himself up so he was sitting upright, "I'm... dizzy. Superior... where are we?"

Xemnas smirked, "It's a long story, Lexaeus... I'll tell you all about it later. As of right now, we should go home..."

"Phil and Herc were great," I stated as we limped back towards Cloud's place, "Too bad we had to leave on such short notice." Despite Lexaeus being the recent rescue, he was the one carrying me. He had recovered quite well, unlike Vexen, but the big lug was lost when we tried explaining our story. After three tries he simply nodded, figured we were on crack or something, and followed us through the passage of light. Back in Traverse Town, his clothes were a simple White tank-top, green cargo pants and boots. He had dog tags, two: both with V engraved on them.

"We're home!" Cloud exclaimed as he kicked down the door, startling Vexen who was digging around the hallway closet. "And we brought another Nobody back!"

"Lex!" Vexen retorted, beaming, "So glad you could join me! I can't find my blasted scarf!" He quirked an eyebrow at me, "And what in Kingdom Hearts did you do to yourself?" I pointed accusingly at Cloud. "You can't stay out of a fight for one second, can you? I shouldn't let you out of my sight if you're going to come home looking like this!"

"How's Yuffie doing?" Cloud questioned, interrupting him.

The scientist shrugged, "She's doing just fine... but she still hadn't woken up yet."

"Cloud?" An unfamiliar voice rang out.

"Squall?" Cloud replied, "Hey, you're back!" He moved off into the kitchen and the door shut out his voice. "Did Tifa explain wha..."

"So anyway," Lexaeus commented, setting me down gently, "Vexen, can you explain the story better than them? I don't understand a single thing."

"OK," Vexen started, "Here's a sum up: We all fade, Crazy Dead Lady tells Scout that she and Xemnas must save the Nobodies, and they get warped to different places to save us. Easy enough?" He winced when Yuffie called someone's name in a disoriented voice, and he sighed, "She's finally awake." He turned sharply on his heel and strode into the back room.

Lexaeus sighed and gripped the back of his neck, "I'm feeling tired. Where can I rest?"

"Follow me," I told him, leading him upstairs and to our room. There was an additional bed now, so I let him lay down in the newer one, "When you wake up Xemnas and I might not be here, but don't worry about that. Vexen's got everything covered for now." He nodded and fell fast asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow, so I quietly stalked out and down to the kitchen. I wrapped an icepack into a paper towel and placed it up against my chest, hissing about the pain. I wasn't the best with Cure or Cura (usually the effects were reversed… Axel never let me live that down) so this would have to do. Cloud and his friend Squall were at the counter, chatting about something I didn't quite care much about. I approached, "Hey, who's this Cloud?"

"My friend Leon, or Squall," Cloud slapped the man's shoulder, "Squall, this is Xanze."

"Oh, so this is Xanze," Leon took my hand and kissed my knuckles, "Nice to meet you."

I rolled my eyes. Xemnas was fiddling with the table top in the dining room when I found him a few minutes later. "Scout…" He muttered, casting a weary glance up at me, "Can I confide in you for something very… important?"

"Sure," I affirmed and sat in the chair beside him. "What's up?"

"On a normal occasion if that foot would have crushed you I would have let it," He admitted, and I arched an eyebrow. "But… when you were about to get smashed I just felt a surge of… well, just a surge and without thinking I chucked my Keyblade, letting it do what it thought was right. It can't be feeling for I do not have a Heart, so what do you think it was?"

I shrugged, "Beats me. Thanks for that, though."

He rubbed my back briefly, but before the situation could grow awkward he stood and left, "I'm going to check on Yuffie. You should do the same."

Instead, I sat for a moment longer and removed the ice pack, feeling my nerves grow numb on that end. Aerith appeared beside me, her trademark smile plastered on her face. "Hello, Xanze. It seems Xemnas is warming up to you." I huffed. "After you check in on Yuffie, take a nap and when you wake up I will send you on your next mission."

I nodded and returned the ice to the freezer before heading into the back room. Xemnas was already gone, but Yuffie was still asleep with Tifa gripping her hand. "Thought she woke up?" I inquired to Vexen, who scoffed.

"I had to put her under again. She was in too much pain to sit up." He leaned back against the counter, his hand pushing various medical supplies around. Thinking quickly, he folded his arms back against his chest, "Xemnas went off to bed. I suggest you do the same."

"We're all tired," I muttered, and then tracked back upstairs.

It was going to be a good sleep.