A/N: Eh heh . . . This story's late update has no excuse other than lost interest. But I thought, perhaps I will update and get everyone's opinion on whether or not I should continue this fic? Let me know in a PM or a review! Thanks guys!

"We may never meet again . . ."

". . . But we'll never forget each other."

How long would it be before Kairi realized that she could stop running? Even now, as her feet slammed down on the cobblestone pavement of Disney Town's main street, she could see no end to the constant battle she was fighting within herself. To eat or not to eat. To purge or not to purge. To exercise or not to exercise.

To be happy or not to be happy.

It was a never-ending race-a race in which she had no idea where the finish line was located.

Kairi drew her Keyblade, Floral Memories, and with one swift uppercut, she cleaved the large globular Heartless in two. She felt as well as heard the hiss of Darkness as it faded into the ground, but she hadn't the time to wonder what it was that she had just killed; it definitely seemed more sinister than just a plain old Heartless. In fact, it reminded her painfully of the night before last, and of the wicked monsters that had overrun Traverse Town.

Her elbow-length hair fanned out around her thin body like a crimson cape of fire as she whirled around to shield herself from another Heartless' blow. This Heartless, small and spiky like a more modified form of a Shadow, had tried multiple times to gouge into her flesh with its dagger-like hands and every time Kairi tried to slay it, it melted into a puddle and zoomed just out of her reach. She gritted her teeth as this time it was able to stab into her sword hand, causing her to drop Floral Memories to the ground with a clatter. She let out a screech of surprise and pain as the spiky, compact Heartless leapt onto her back, landing with its sharp hands sunken into the fleshy area between her shoulder blades. Pain exploded like stars in front of her eyes and she fell to her hands and knees, acutely aware of each and every movement of the Heartless that had set upon her.

All around her, the Heartless were attacking the animals of Disney Town, sparing none and showing no mercy. Kairi was, again, helpless to watch as countless lives were snuffed out, age and gender having no effect on the Heartless' malicious mission. Though she was terrified and images of the dying people of Traverse Town kept playing like a movie reel in her mind's eye, she knew she had to get up and fight. She knew she had to prove to Sora that she could fight, so that he didn't change his mind about letting her stay.

With a strengthened howl of rage, Kairi rolled over as forcefully as she could, hoping to squash the Heartless that was attacking her under her slight form. Alarmed, the Heartless hissed and hurriedly melted away, saving itself from certain death. Now free, the crimson-haired girl was able to scramble to her feet and re-summon Floral Memories. She prepared to slice through the Heartless that had put the two painful gashes in her back, but was stopped by the harsh yell of someone calling her name.

Distracted, Kairi stumbled forward, tripping right over the body of the Heartless she'd been about to kill. She fell flat on her face, losing her grip on her Keyblade yet again, and gasped as it skidded to a halt at the foot of a small mouse. The young mouse screamed in agony as three of the spiky black Heartless set upon her, tearing the fur and flesh from her bones and sending blood spraying all across the street. It was nothing, however, compared to the body parts and drying blood that already smeared the walkway, and only seemed to add to the carnage in a nondescript way.

Just then, Kairi heard an ear-splitting scream and, through a haze of torturous pain, she realized that it was coming from her own mouth. She tried to move her body, but the heavy foot of one of the large, globe-shaped Heartless stamped down upon her unprotected back again, surely breaking most of the bones in her ribcage. She struggled to take a breath in, and the only sounds she could heard were the sounds of her shaking, rattling breath trying to fill her lungs with air. Trembling and convulsing violently, she attempted to haul herself up, but to no avail.

She heard the voice calling her name again, and she felt her heart skip a beat.

It's Sora, Namine choked out, the intense relief she felt washing through Kairi's head in waves. Sora's come to help you!

The loud, jarring clanging of Keyblade striking metal was enough to bring Kairi back to the real world, and out of the reverie that her pained body had thrust her into. She gathered up all the remaining strength she had left in her body and forced herself to her feet.

"Strike Raid!" she heard Sora yell just before she saw both of his Keyblades, Oblivion and Oathkeeper, come spinning around either side of her head. They intersected at the neck of the globular Heartless, beheading it, and whipped back around to behind her. She turned her head, saw Sora-who was clad in the black and yellow outfit that he'd been wearing when they left the Islands, tattered, ripped, and bloody in some places, though it was-jump up to catch both blades in midair. Behind him, Donald and Goofy came dashing in, weapons drawn. Goofy performed his Tornado attack, spinning rapidly and with deadly precision into a line of Heartless before they even knew what was coming. Donald cast his most powerful Thundaga spell, growling as several lightning bolts shot down from the sky to zap their enemies into nothingness. Sora, meanwhile, flipped his body forward and landed on his haunches with the Keyblades outstretched. His gaze was cold, calculating, which was not much different from the look he'd had just earlier. But this time, he didn't look like he was trying to get them out of there alive.

This time . . . He was going to try and save Disney Town.

"Goofy!" Sora called, his eyes snapping to his friend. "Ready?"

"As ever, Sora!" he replied, raising his shield as a haze of Darkness suddenly spread about the surrounding area. Sora seemed to be pulled into the air, a glowing yellow aura sizzling about his skin and an unseen wind whipping his unruly hair about. All limbs spread, he looked for all the world like a human star.

"Give me strength!" Sora roared, a strong, almost vicious wind exploding outward from his body. The light hovering over his body got so bright that Kairi had to shield her eyes with her arm just to escape the full brunt of it. Then, the light faded, and she could hear Sora yelling, fighting with all of his might to save the villagers. Her eyes snapped open, shocked to see that his clothes had changed and instead of yellow, he was now clad head-to-toe in red and a bit of black. He was much faster now; light on his feet, even. He struck with more force and even more determination in his eyes than before, and with each spin of his body, more and more enemies flew into the air, the Darkness on their bodies screaming and hissing in protest as intense halos of Light attacked in a wide berth around his body. As each Heartless disappeared, more seemed to come and take their place, killing the mammals that Sora had been trying to save and causing more screams to rise up to meet the sky.

Just beyond the reach of Sora's Light, Kairi caught sight of a tiny shrew that couldn't have been much more than a few months old. It was lying atop its mother's body, wailing and wailing and wailing. It seemed like its cries would never stop.

But the Heartless that was looming behind it, fangs bared and the three silver claws on each hand outstretched, seemed to have other ideas in mind.

Kairi clenched her fist and scrabbled forward, her pain forgotten as her hand once again closed over the hilt of Floral Memories. She rushed toward the crying shrew and its dead, dismembered mother, and, turning the upper half of her body slightly to the left, she swung her right arm outward and let the Keyblade fly. It sliced through the air with wicked accuracy, and when it came back to Kairi's hand, it left behind two halves of what had once been a Heartless. Kairi ran across the remaining distance and scooped the little shrew up into her left arm, holding it tightly to her body. It clutched tightly to the chest of her white sundress, its paws staining the fabric with blood other than her own. She turned around and caught Sora's eye. He was standing in-between two of the large globular Heartless, the tips of Oblivion and Oathkeeper sunk deep into their midriffs.

Kairi jerked her head in the direction of Donald, who was watching her and seemed to get the gist of what she wanted. The blood-stained duck waddled over as fast as possible.

"Okay, change of tactic, everyone!" Sora hollered to the palace guard, which Kairi hadn't noticed were fighting alongside them in the midst of the fray.

"Grab as many of the survivors as you can and get them up to the palace!" Sora continued, having to turn his attention to one of the thorny Heartless that had jumped onto his back. It screeched with an unearthly howl and sunk its fangs deep into Sora's neck, causing him to fall to his knees and his face to screw up in pain. Kairi gasped and took a step forward, but Donald moved in front of her, faced outward, and raised his magic staff to fend off a small Heartless that looked like a treasure chest with four spidery legs.

Sora snarled with rage as he dropped Oblivion and grabbed the top of the head of the Heartless that was viciously trying to tear into his flesh. His radioactive-blue eyes seemed to shine as he viciously ripped the creature away. The creature screamed and its limbs shook wildly as Sora held it out to the side in the air, the Keyblade Master's flesh and blood dripping from its bared teeth. Sora bowed his head, his sweat-laden hair falling forward to shield his face from view as he crushed the skull of the Heartless with cruelly curved fingers, black blood and shadow oozing over his palm as the body of the Heartless dissolved. It seemed to groan as it died and disappeared, its glowing yellow eyes being the last to vanish as the light faded from within them.

Kairi stifled a cry of horror at what she had just witnessed, her mouth dropping open when Sora's head snapped up and she saw that familiar saffron shifting behind the cobalt of his irises. Clutching the baby shrew even tighter to her chest, she, together with the rest of the palace guard, Goofy, and Donald, began to rush around the street, gathering as many survivors as possible and trying to usher them down a side street that would lead out of the town and up the dirt path to Disney Castle. Sora continued to fight, a huge wave of red Light knocking a cluster of Heartless into the air and spearing them through the middles.

Turning her back and feeling quite reluctant to leave Sora alone, she ran with the rest of the hundred-some group down the street. The palace guard flanked the edges, Goofy-their captain-leading them out of town and out onto the grasslands beyond. But for some reason, no matter how much they ran, they couldn't seem to get close enough to the castle.

What was going on?

Kairi called Goofy's name, desperate to find out what was the matter, but no sound poured forth from between those cherry-red lips. She stopped out of pure confusion, and was horrified as the baby shrew in her arms began to wail again, suddenly cursting into bright red flames that were so hot that they seared her right to the bone. Kairi screamed in agony and horror and dropped the flaming ball of shrew and started to back up, watching in terror as everyone of Disney Town's inhabitants spontaneously combusted as well, including Donald, Goofy, and Goofy's knights.

"Sora!" she cried, turning to go find him and have him see what she was seeing, but as she turned, all of Disney Town seemed to fade around her, until she was left standing in a dank dungeon cell, unseen by the cell's inhabitants.

Before her, on the worn cot, sat a girl as familiar to Kairi as herself, with hair as black as night and an elegant gold dress. She was staring down at two leather-bound books and her mouth was moving constantly, as if whispering a dark incantation. Standing before the unknown girl, clad in the Organization's black cloak, was a man with hair as dark as hers and a loving, tender expression on his face. It was clear to see that this man loved this woman, but she was too absorbed in the books to notice.

Then, as if Kairi wasn't already more confused than she'd ever been in her life, Sora seemed to materialize out of thin air beside her, tall and imposing, wearing the same cloak as the raven-haired man. Before she could say anything to him, though, the girl suddenly gave a shout.

"Roxas!" she cried, leaping into Sora's arms. They embraced each other for a long moment, Kairi watching on in dumbfounded shock, and then Xion's eyes met Kairi's.

"The key forms from the joined seams."

Kairi's eyes snapped open, and after a moment of disorientated looking around, she realized she'd been dreaming. She lifted her head from her arms on the table that was in front of her, surprised that she'd fallen asleep in the first place. She couldn't even remember being tired. When she glanced down, she saw that she was no longer wearing her chemise, but was now clad in a simple long-sleeved dress the color of pink roses with a sweetheart neckline and a high, cinched waist. The skirts, made of chiffon, swept across the floor like the ghost of a whisper with every step she took, and the bodice, made of satin, laced up the back from the swell of her bottom to the middle of her shoulder blades.

Well, Kairi, you haven't really eaten anything in a couple weeks, or more, Namine reminded her worriedly. Your body is more tired than you think.

Kairi ignored her words, though she knew her Nobody was correct, and then reflected on her strange dream. Or could it be considered a nightmare? She wasn't sure. All she cared about was the last part of the dream, and the raven-haired girl with the same face as her own. Her words echoed in Kairi's head, floating before her mind's eye like a flashing banner. What had she meant by "the key forms from the joined seams," and what connection did she have with Roxas? Had the attack on Disney Town been merely a dream, or rather a dark premonition of events soon to come? Where was the cell that the girl had been locked in located, and who was the man staring at her with such longing in his eyes? And why, oh why, did the girl, Namine, and herself have the same face? As far as Kairi was concerned, a person could only have one Nobody.

The redhead surveyed her surroundings, surprised to see that she was in the King's study. She faintly remembered shopping with the Queen and Lady Daisy all day, buying countless numbers of different types of things that she could wear on her journey, all the way down to panties and brassieres. She glanced to her right and down, and saw all of her purchases stacked in their boxes neatly next to the King's desk. Then, she realized that it was the King's desk that she was sitting at and sleeping on, and she jumped up to her feet. She was bombarded by the usual feeling of intense dizziness, and she had to grab on to edge of the desk to steady herself, but when she finally felt all right, she moved toward the door.

'Why am I in here?' she thought in puzzlement as her hand closed around the doorknob. Her heart sank as she pushed and pulled, but the door wouldn't budge. Her mind began to whirl with questions, the biggest of all being her utter bewilderment at being locked into the King's study of all places.

Voices began to waft through the door in pieces, and she automatically recognized them as belonging to the Queen and Sora.

"She . . . The town square . . . Very distur . . . Do?" the Queen asked.

Kairi pressed her ear to the door, straining to hear their conversation, as she could hardly remember anything after leaving the Infirmary that morning to retrieve the cloak that had been set out for her to wear while shopping.

She heard Sora sigh, and then, "I . . . Looks very . . . Lately, and . . . Riku . . . But I don't . . . Her?"

" . . . Course you . . . But you must . . . Frightened the little . . . Right there!"

Kairi heard a key being turned in the lock on the door and, alarmed, jumped backward just as the door swung open and she looked into the eyes of none other than a worried Queen Mickey and a very exhausted, very concerned Keyblade Master Sora. Sora wore a very unadorned outfit of black leggings, a russet-brown jerkin with no sleeves that was just a shade darker than his own hair, and a wide brown sash around his slender waist. His feet were slipped into slouchy black leather boots that reached halfway up his calves and had wide brims that flopped down as if they weighed too much, and his familiar silver crown pendant still glinted against his chest. When his radioactive azure eyes met her own crystalline cerulean irises, all she could see was his disappointment, set into the unyielding mask that seemed to cover his face.

"You're awake!" the Queen gushed, slipping the antique golden key into a hidden pocket at the front of her dress.

"What happened?" Kairi demanded, brushing Sora's hands away as he reached for her.

"Why, you don't remember?" The Queen frowned. "Maybe we should send you to the Infirmary; you'll just have to skip the feast."

Kairi stubbornly shook her head. "I'm not going anywhere until you tell me what happened!"

"No, Kairi," Sora said sternly, folding his hands across his chest and tossing his head to get his chin-length bangs out of his eyes. "Why don't you tell us what happened."

Kairi took another step back and stared at Sora as if he'd just punched her in the face. Almost as if on cue, her stomach gave a low, wild growl, and she hurriedly placed her hands over it, as if she could stifle the sound by doing so.

She knew she'd been found out.

Sora's stone-like façade seemed to crumble, and he reached for her again, his face showing every emotion possible in that one moment. Kairi kept backing away from him though, until her back his the front of King Mickey's desk and she was forced to stop. She placed a hand to her chest, as if grasping something close, and stretched her other trembling hand out until her palm was flat on his chest. He stopped coming closer, looked down at her shaking hand, sighed, and stopped.

"What . . . Happened?" she whispered, staring intently into Queen Minnie's big, black eyes.

The Queen continued to stare at her with a worried expression before she finally said, "You fainted in the Town Square. When we tried to rouse you, you became fanatical and tried to attack Lady Daisy. We were forced to have a couple of nearby knights hold you down."

Kairi's eyes widened. "Then . . . How did I get in here? And why did you lock me in?"

"Well, you were screaming!" the Queen gushed, somewhat nervously smoothing out her skirts. "You were kicking and waving your fists about wildly even as we rode in the carriage back up to the castle. The King told me to put you in his study and he would see to you with his magic. He went inside, a moment later your screaming stopped, and he left."

"Locking me in?"

"You were in a frenzy," the Queen answered. "We were worried."

Kairi's eyes shifted from Sora to the Queen. She had about as much of an idea about what had occurred as the two of them did, but for right now, she felt just fine. Well, as fine as a girl who hardly ate could feel.

"Well, I feel just fine," Kairi snapped irritably, running a hand backward through her elbow-length, tousled crimson hair. "I'd like to go to the feast, actually."

"I don't think that's such a good idea," the Queen said in reply. "You should rest. A feast and a ball would be-"

"I said I'd like to go to the feast!" Kairi shrieked, fed up with Queen Minnie's "suggestions." She glared at the little mouse as if to challenge her. Her hand was still on Sora's chest, and, powerless to stop him, she cried out in alarm as he grabbed it tightly and yanked her close to him.

"Sora, let me go!" she insisted, fighting against his embrace.

"Kairi, calm down," he said sharply, the sudden rise of anger in his tone making her cease her struggling. She closed her eyes and exhaled, relaxing against his chest. As a result, he tightened his arms around her and glanced over his shoulder at the Queen.

"Queen Minnie, do you mind giving us some privacy? Kairi and I will be down to dinner as soon as it starts."

"Are you sure?" the Queen queried apprehensively. "The whole of Disney town will be in the Grand Hall; is she well enough to handle it?"

"I understand your concerns, milady, and I assure you, she will be just fine," Sora said softly, the maturity and calmness radiating from his body enough to soothe Kairi of her irritation.

"All right," the Queen said reluctantly. "Kairi, there's a dress for you to wear tonight in the very bottom box of the stack. If you'd like a maid to help you into it, the guard outside the door can send for one. Dinner is in thirty minutes; try and arrive ten minutes before so that the seating can be properly arranged." She drew herself up and gathered her skirts in front of her to keep herself from tripping as she exited the study. As soon as the door closed, Sora seemed to relax and he pushed Kairi back at arm's length.

"Kairi, what happened?" he whispered, gripping her shoulders so tightly that it hurt her.

"I know as much as you do," Kairi answered curtly. "I can't even remember anything beyond leaving the Infirmary."

Sora finally moved aside as she brushed past him and began to move the boxes of clothes from the top of the pile to reach the bottom box. Her mind whirled at a million miles per second, working as hard as possible to figure out what had happened. No matter how hard she tried though, it seemed that the memory was just out of reach-as if something was holding it back.

Kairi grabbed the bottom box and slammed it down on top of the desk. She removed the lid, glowering at a dress made of deep burgundy velvet as if it had done her some personal wrong. She practically ripped it out of the box and shook it out to look at it in its entirety. Seeing the dress in all its hideousness, she made the decision to wear something else. She tossed it aside, ignoring Sora's shocked gasp as the offending garment hit him square in the face.

The redhead fell to her knees and began rummaging through the other boxes, tossing things this way and that as she searched for something to wear that reflected her personality a bit better. Not only that, but she had a feeling that somehow, this feast was going to end up frighteningly similar to the feast in Traverse Town. If worst came to worst, she wanted to be dressed for easy movement in battle.

Seeing nothing but her chemise tucked into the bottom of a box that also carried a long, double-breasted black coat with gray animal-fur on the hem, the ends of the sleeves, and the collar, Kairi realized that she was out of luck.

"Kai, what are you doing?" Sora asked with a bit of annoyance in his tone as he gathered up the things she'd tossed about the King's once-clean study.

"I'm trying to find something more breathable," she muttered, peering through the boxes again to find something substantial that she could put together.

"Why?" he asked. "We're going to a ball and a royal feast-even I'm going to change."

"I wouldn't," Kairi advised, briefly shooting him a warning glance.

"Why not?" He looked down at himself, then found that he couldn't see himself what with the giant pile of dresses and other assorted clothes that he was holding.

"I . . ." She sighed and then let the shirt she was holding fall into her lap along with her hands. She gazed up at him. "I had a dream."

"A dream?" He looked utterly confused. "A dream about what?"

"I just . . . I think we should be ready," she said, resuming her search. "That's all. I just think we should be ready."

Sora seemed to think about her words for a moment before something clicked inside his head and he sighed. He set the pile of clothing on top of the King's desk and knelt beside the thin, frail girl.

"Kairi," he murmured.

She didn't look at him, only continued to search.

"Kairi," he repeated.

She looked at him, then, and there were tears in her eyes. Sora reached out and touched her face.

"Don't worry," he said with a slight smile. "We're in the King's territory-if there's any safer place, it's here."

Kairi searched his eyes for a long moment before heaving yet another sigh. "Sora . . . I don't think so. I think . . . I think something's going to happen. Something bad. I just really think that we should be as ready as we can."

"I agree," Sora said, relaxing onto his rump on the carpeted floor. He crossed his legs Indian-style and placed his hands on his knees. "We should be ready for battle at all times. But I promise you, everything is going to be fine. Even if Disney Town were attacked, the castle is protected by magic spells cast by Yen Sid himself. The entire town will be inside the castle tonight-everyone will be fine."

Kairi stubbornly shook her head. "Sora, you're not getting it! My dream was so . . . So vivid! And I saw this girl who looked . . . She looked just like me! But it wasn't Namine. And there was this guy . . . And a dungeon cell . . . And . . . And . . . Sora, she called you Roxas! And . . . I could fight!" She continued to splutter nonsense, not really comprehending the blank expression on Sora's face. Her mind was whirling once again, trying to catch up with itself as it ran a wild race of recollection.

"All right," Sora said quietly after she finally quieted down. "I get what you're trying to say, Kai-you just want to be careful."

She nodded.

He went on, "I get that. And I can assure you, we'll be ready for an attack. I'll talk to the King, and I'll tell Goofy to make sure his knights are prepared and armed at all times tonight."

Kairi's worried face relaxed into a small smile. "Thank you," she said, sounding relieved.

He continued, "But I really think you should wear one of the dresses that you bought today. It'll please the Queen, for one thing, and-"

"Sora!" Kairi protested. "I can't fight in a dress!"

Sora's eyebrows shot up his forehead. "Fight in a dress? Kairi . . . You can't fight at all!" he spluttered in amusement.

Kairi glared at him and smacked him on the leg. "I can, too. I may not be very polished, but I can fight if I'm not caught off guard like I was at Traverse Town. But I won't be able to do anything to help if I'm in a dress."

"Kairi," Sora insisted, exasperated. "Just wear a dress. I promise you that you won't have to do any fighting-I'll look after you. Quit worrying so much about things that have a low probability of happening." Kairi watched with a sour expression as he rummaged through some of the scattered garments until he found something that stood out to him. He handed a bundle of black silk and white chiffon to her with a carefree, innocent smile.

Kairi held the dress up, pleasantly surprised to see that she, too liked it. It was very pretty, what with the way the white chiffon bodice gave way to three or four flouncy knee-length skirts. The black silk was used as a sash around the waist that tied in a medium-sized bow at the back, the tails of the bow falling to the hem of the outermost skirt. The strapless bodice had a sweetheart neckline, much like the dress she now wore, and laced up the front rather than the back, a black silk panel just beneath the laces.

"See? Since it's short, you'll be able to move just fine," Sora said encouragingly.

Kairi looked at him with narrow eyes. "All right, all right," she said. "I'll wear it. But I'll need help undoing the laces at the back of the dress I'm wearing now."

Sora held up his hands defensively. "Whatever it takes, Kai," he laughed as they both stood up.

Kairi turned around, gathering all of her long, long hair to one side of her head and exposing her shoulders and the back of her dress. She faintly shivered at the feeling of Sora's fingers deftly untying her dress.

"So how was your day?" she asked quietly as her dress swiftly became looser and looser on her thin frame.

"Eh," he said. "Very manuscript-y. Riku, King Mickey, and I spent hours reading through books on Heartless that the King brought from Ansem's office in Radiant Gardens."

"I didn't know that there were books on Heartless," Kairi said thoughtfully as her dress slipped down her body and pooled at her feet in a puddle of white fabric. She cupped her own breasts in her hands and stepped out of it. "I always thought that Ansem was the only person who had written anything about them."

"Me, too," Sora murmured, his eyes roving over Kairi's panty-clad body as she turned to face him.

"Could you grab my dress?" Kairi asked after a long moment of Sora staring at her hands, the only barrier between his hungry gaze and her breasts.

"Huh? Oh . . . Yeah," he said, leaning down to grab the dress he'd picked out for her. He held it out to her, but she gave him an hesitant look. Her eyes went from her chest to him, then back to her chest, and he blushed in embarrassment. There was no way for her to grab the dress from his hands without giving him a peep show.

Not that she thought he would complain.

Kairi waited patiently for him to figure out a way to help her into her dress, and was extremely taken aback when the look in Sora's eyes changed from thoughtful to lustful all in a moment's time. She cried out in shock when he grabbed her hip and pulled her body against his roughly, causing her to let go of her breasts and take hold of his shoulders to steady herself.

"S-Sora?" she stammered in perplexity. "What . . . What are you doing?"

He leaned forward, his hands moving up her sides ever-so-slowly as he did so, and his eyes flashed that dangerous yellow color that terrified her so much.

"Feeling you," he murmured into her ear before his teeth grazed the lobe so gently that the pit of her stomach began to ache. Her knees wobbled and she leaned against him, her nipples brushing his rib cage as a pleasurable shudder ran through her tiny body.

"Sora, p-please . . ." she whispered as his lips trailed down the side of her neck. "The feast . . . You . . . You're not yourself . . ."

Kairi's eyes widened in stages as she found herself bent backward over the top of the king's desk. Papers and other inanimate objects clattered across the wood and rolled onto the floor as the boy she loved forced her to sit atop the aforementioned piece of furniture. Their breath mingled as he ran his hands down her scarred arms over and over again. She closed her eyes.

"I assure you," he chuckled. "I'm entirely myself."

Sheesh, Kairi, Namine growled in annoyance. Can you not be alone with Sora for five minutes with you guys have a deep heart-to-heart and exploring each other's bodies like two third graders?

Kairi was about to retort, but Sora's wandering hands began to move up her stomach, inching toward her bare breasts and forcing her into complete and total silence of the mind. Her head fell back and her back arched-she longed for him to touch her where she'd never been touched by anyone else before; longed for the Keyblade Master's strong hands to show her just how breakable she was.

"Sora . . ." His name fell from between her lips like the ghost of a sound, barely audible over the sounds of her heavy breathing. Sora dipped his head to her shoulder, and she felt his smile against her skin as his fingers ghosted up over her nipples. The feeling she experienced was intense and unlike any other, sending a lance of lightning straight down to the area between her legs. Sora repeated the action, apparently liking her reaction and groaning as she arched into his touch as much as she possibly could.

Just then, a knock came at the door that seemed to echo around the entire room so loudly that Kairi cringed.

"Hey, you guys about finished in there?"

"Riku," Sora grimaced. He looked over his shoulder as he stepped away from Kairi. "Yeah . . . Just . . . Give us a minute."

Kairi hurriedly slipped into the strapless white dress Sora had chosen, turning around so he could tie the bow in the back while she tied the laces at the front. She felt Sora combing his fingers through her long, long hair, desperately trying to arrange it.

Riku burst into the room as the two disheveled, heavily-breathing, and embarrassed teenagers bustling about the room, gathering up the clothes that Kairi had tossed about. His aquamarine eyes roved around the room incredulously, positively shocked at the damage the two had done.

"Good God, what happened in here?!" Riku cried. "Holy shit, it looks like a tornado came through here!"

"Nothing happened," Kairi snapped, hurriedly folding dresses and stuffing them back into their boxes.

"There wasn't any tornado," Sora added, following suit and trying his best to fold as well as she could.

Riku crossed his arms over his chest and eyed the two of them with a knowing smirk playing about his lips. He was clad in an outfit similar to Sora's, only the jerkin and his boots were both colored a light tan. His hair was loose and wavy about his shoulders and he seemed a bit on the upbeat, energetic side.

"Maybe not a tornado," he chuckled, earning himself a dark look from Sora. He rolled his eyes and then said, "Anyway, I didn't come here to pry into your hidden sex life, you guys. I came here to see if Kairi was okay, and to talk to Sora for a minute."

Sora stopped folding for a moment to give Riku a quizzical look. "Talk?" he asked. "About what?"

"Well," Riku said as he reached into the chest of his jerkin and produced what looked like a folded-up letter from within the lapel. He waved it somewhat lazily in the air. "I found this in one of the books that was in the castle Library."

Sora rose to his feet in one fluid motion with a frown on his face.

"What is it?" he asked, reaching for the paper.

Riku held it just out of his grasp, a devilish glint in his eyes. "Not so fast. I have to ask you a few things first."

Kairi scowled as she packed up the last box. "Riku, quit messing around and just make your point already."

"Sheesh, someone's feisty . . ." Riku muttered as he unfolded the paper and looked down at it. "It's a diary entry."

"A diary entry?" sora asked. "From whose diary?"

"Uhh . . . Some guy named Ventus." Riku glanced up. "Ring any bells?"

Kairi and Sora both shook their heads simultaneously.

"Nope," Kairi said.

"Me neither," Sora added. "Did you ask the King?"

"Nah," Riku said with a shrug. "It's probably no big deal. I'll just hold onto it until we get around to visiting Radiant Gardens-figured your friend Leon might know a thing or two."

"Yeah," Sora chuckled, rubbing the back of his neck. "Leon has a tendency to know more than he should. Anyway, you ready to head down to the feast?"

"Sure," Riku answered, re-folding the diary entry and slipping it back into the front of his jerkin. He looked Kairi up and down and flashed her a winning smile. "You look beautiful, Kairi, as usual."

"Thanks," she said somewhat absentmindedly. She was furiously racking her brain for any information on this "Ventus" that Riku had spoken of. His name sounded so familiar and yet . . . So unfamiliar. She frowned and asked Namine, but Namine didn't know anything about him either. Kairi supposed they'd find out in due time; right now, she wanted to focus all of her attention on the feast and the possibility of the events in her dream coming true. She also wanted to try her best to figure out the meaning behind the raven-haired girl's message.

"The keys forms at the joined seams."

What could that mean?

Sora, Kairi, and Riku headed down to the Dining Hall, the boys' joking and laughter echoing off of the high, stone ceilings as they padded down the burgundy carpet. Kairi's eyes lingered on the potted plant that she had purged in the night before, wondering what everyone would think if they knew. Riku had commented on how much weight she'd lost just that morning, but so far, Sora hadn't really said much about it. It irked Kairi, in a way, and fueled her desires to continue her weight loss journey.

Maybe if she wasted away, he'd finally love her.

The Dining Hall was like an extravagant piece of art all on its own. The entirety of it was the same silvery stone as the rest of the castle, and along the back wall, great windows reached from floor to ceiling, leading out to grand balconies that overlooked the town. There were twenty or so fifteen-foot long wooden tables arranged in perfect rows and columns and one great round table in-between them and the tables. Currently, nobody but the three teens were in the Hall.

Riku darted forward to the circular table, throwing his arms up into the air and "tra-la-la-ing" his way to one of the seats. He could be so eccentric sometimes that it was sometimes difficult to believe he'd ever been a stoic, creepy follower of the Darkness at the beginning of their journeys.

"Sora, how come there's nobody here? I thought the feast was starting soon," Kairi commented quietly, though her voice still seemed to echo in the gargantuan room.

Sora replied in a quiet murmur, "No one is usually allowed to enter until the Great Circle is filled. It's an ancient tradition of theirs."

"And the Great circle is . . . ?"

"Just the royal family and any special guests. It's usually the King, the Queen, their little boy Tiny Tim, Donald, Daisy, Donald's nephews Huey, Duey, and Louie, Goofy, and Goofy's wife Clarabelle," Sora explained. "Tonight, I'm sure it'll be all of them, and then us at the table. The townspeople will fill the surrounding tables."

Kairi nodded as they walked down the long Hall and took their seats at the table, Sora beside Riku and Kairi beside Sora. Riku and Sora immediately fell into light conversation about some of the manuscripts they'd read earlier that day with the King in the Library, leaving Kairi to pore over her thoughts and converse inside her head with a slightly miffed Namine.

Kairi, seriously, you've got to get a hold of your hormones. It's kind-of frustrating-I'm starting to dread the times you're alone with Sora, she told Kairi angrily.

Kairi placed her elbow on the tabletop and rested her chin in her hand as she zoned out. 'I'm really sorry, Namine . . .' she said honestly to her Nobody. 'It's not like we plan it or anything.'

I understand that it's not planned, but so far this is the third time you guys have gotten . . . Well . . . Frisky. Maybe you could talk to him about it . . . ? Maybe you could see if he's aware of it?

'Aware of it? Aware of what?' Kairi queried in confusion, her brow furrowing.

Well . . . He's not stupid. It's not like he just loses complete control and it just happens, and then he totally forgets about it right after. It's like . .. Where do you guys stand? Are you in a relationship? Does he want to be in a relationship with you? Or are his intentions just to explore for the sake of exploring a woman's body?

Kairi's eyes wandered over to the boy in question, watching as he laughed and excitedly waved his hands about whilst telling Riku about something he'd read. His cobalt blue eyes were lit up with something short of pure joy and in all honesty, he looked happier than she'd seen him in a long, long time. It was like . . . It was like he was back to his old self. In fact, it'd been awhile since she'd heard him say any of those strange, dark sayings that he'd been constantly spouting off back home on the Islands. She felt happy just seeing him so carefree, and her love for him grew even more, if that were possible.

Still . . . Namine's point was dangerously spot-on. What did Sora want? Was he just using Kairi because she was one of his best friends and because she let him do things like kiss her neck and, as he had in the king's study, touch her breasts? Was this something he planned and looked forward to? What exactly were his feelings for her? Namine had said that Kairi should talk to him about it, but Kairi didn't think she could.

And yet, her confession was inevitable. One day, she wasn't going to be able to contain her love for him in her heart any longer, and it was going to spill out of her tiny body like boiling water from a pot. Even as she looked upon him, her heart felt fit to burst with all of her emotions. She was forced to turn her head and discreetly wipe away the tears that threatened to fall.

Oh, Kairi, Namine sighed fondly. As noble as your secrecy is, you've got to tell him one day soon. It's unhealthy to keep something like this in.

'I know,' Kairi replied. 'I'm just . . . I feel like I've got to be perfect for him first.'

Namine gave an exasperated sigh. I've told you this thousands of times, Kairi! You're perfect right now! He thinks you're perfect! Why do you feel the need to lose all this nonexistent weight! You have no fat on your bones!

Kairi remained silent, feeling no need to explain herself more to a girl who was supposed to be her other half, and who knew the inside of her head most likely better than she herself did. She got irritated with Namine sometimes and how clueless she could be.

A hand on her thigh snapped Kairi out of her reverie and she blushed at the sight of Sora's hand on the white chiffon of her dress's skirts. Riku's attention had been drawn elsewhere-to the King's little son Tiny Tim who was seated beside him in one of the high-back wooden chairs that ringed the table on top of something reminiscent to a booster seat one would find at a fast food restaurant back on the Islands. Apparently, the "Great Circle" had been filled while Kairi was thinking to herself. Everyone that Sora had named off was there, along with an irritable-looking duck that Donald called "Uncle Scrooge." They were all conversing amiably while the rest of the hall slowly filled with townspeople and their children.

"Are you feeling all right?" Sora murmured in a low tone, ignoring a couple of shouts of his name by some of the townspeople. Even here, he was considered a great hero to the town's inhabitants. Kairi felt somewhat proud that he was paying full attention to her, and not to his "fans."

"I'm fine," she whispered back. "Why do you ask?"

"Heh heh," he chuckled, nervously rubbing the back of his neck. "You looked like you were off in your own world there; that's all."

She kept her head bowed and looked up at Sora somewhat shyly through her lashes. He was gazing down at her through his long bangs, which were shrouding his eyes most handsomely, and she found that the combination of his strong hand seeming to engulf her entire thigh and the intensity of his innocent stare was enough to give her the chills. She couldn't read the emotion in those sparkling irises, though, so she merely lowered her gaze again.

"Thank you for your concern," she replied politely, knowing that there were many ears around them that could hear their conversation. Kairi knew that as a Princess of Heart, she was expected to be on ceremony at all times in the presence of royalty like King Mickey so as to give a good first impression.

Sora smiled slightly and leaned even closer; so close, in fact, that it almost appeared that he was going to kiss her. It took every fiber in her being not to close the space between them and dart forward to taste his lips, especially with him displaying that impish smile that always seemed to remind her of Anti-Sora.

"The hickeys on your neck are quite obvious, Kai," he breathed, his eyes positively dancing with naughtiness.

Kairi flushed deep red and hurriedly arrange her elbow-length hair so that it fell about her face in a slightly-wavy, elegant way. She had forgotten all about the marks Sora had left upon her flesh, and hadn't known they were so obvious.

"Well," she huffed in reply, reaching up and fondly patting his cheek, "I blame you. So there."

Sora's grin widened. "You'll be doing more than blaming me the second I get you alone again."

Kairi's jaw dropped out of pure astonishment and she hurriedly turned her face to the front, away from Sora's devious lips and playfully teasing eyes. She could hardly believe what he'd just said. Maybe it was the atmosphere that was getting to him . . . Maybe he was just feeling a bit under the weather. Yeah. That was it. Under the weather.

Kairi. Are you kidding me? Literally twenty minutes ago, he was touching your boobs. He's definitely not under the weather, Namine scowled. Honestly, I'd be afraid if I were you.

'Afraid? What is there to be afraid of? He's just . . . He's just messing around.'

Yeah, you both seem to be 'messing around' quite a bit lately . . . She grumbled before finally retreating into the recesses of Kairi's mind.

Dinner progressed almost uneventfully. After the King stood up to give a speech on honoring the souls of Traverse Town's deceased and ordered a toast to Sora, Riku, Donald, and Goofy for their bravery during the battle, dinner came. Kairi handled it with ease, piling her plate high with food and pushing it around and around with her fork until it looked as if she'd eaten several helpings in a row. Sora hardly even paid attention to her during dinner, finding himself engaged in conversation with the other occupants of the table. They all seemed to be finding a story about Goofy being late for one of his own birthday parties a few years ago quite humorous, so nobody paid any attention to Kairi's eating habits.

Except for Tiny Tim.

"How come the Princess hasn't eaten any of her food?" his high-pitched, squeaky voice rang out over all other talking at the round table. "It's quite delicious-you should have some, milady!"

A deathly silence settled over the entire table, and even some of the townspeople at nearby tables fell quiet. It seemed that all eyes were on Kairi and there was no way out of this.

"Thank you for your concern, Tiny Tim," Kairi said sweetly, carefully avoiding Sora's burning stare to look the King's son directly in the eye. "But I have eaten. And it's very delicious."

"No offense, Kai," Riku spoke up, "but you honestly haven't touched your dinner save to push it around a bit. It's kind-of obvious. Are you feeling sick?"

"I'm fine," Kairi said, her smile seeming strained. Her heart was pounding at a million miles per minute, and now, almost all of the guests in the entire Dining Hall were watching her, hanging on every word that was spoken at her table.

"Then why aren't you eating?!" Uncle Scrooge quacked. "It seems quite obvious that if you're not feeling under the weather, and you think the food is delicious, then it only makes the most sense to eat the food!"

Kairi felt on the verge of tears. She couldn't look at Sora, Riku, or anyone else at the table. Her eyes seemed to bounce around wildly in her head as the pressure built and built until she felt like her heart and head were going to simultaneously explode.

"Pl-Please excuse me," she whispered, rising from her seat, turning, and running out of the Dining Hall. She felt the tears begin to fall, slipping down her cheeks like diamonds of despair as she slipped through the double doors and hurried down the hall to the nearest room.

"Kairi!"

At the sound of Riku's voice, Kairi halted and turned, surprised that he'd followed her.

"Kairi, what's wrong?" he demanded, eyebrows pulled together with concern. "Why did you run? Why didn't you just eat? Why-"

"Just stop, Riku!" Kairi shrieked. "Just leave me alone!"

Riku grabbed her wrist tightly as she turned to go again and yanked her back. She stumbled, steadying herself just before she felt against him.

"Does this have anything to do with those scars on your arms?" he hissed with such rage in his eyes that it frightened her. "Does it?!"

"No, Riku," Kairi sighed. "It doesn't."

"Then what, Kairi?!" he said, grabbing both of her hands and searching her face desperately for answers. "Sora's in there, pissed of as fuck because he has no idea what's up with you, and the townspeople are whispering, asking questions that shouldn't be asked."

"I'm sorry!" Kairi sobbed, more and more tears falling down her heart-shaped face. "I'm sorry, but there's nothing I can do!"

"Nothing you can do?!" Riku looked beyond perplexed. "Kairi, what are you talking about?! I can't help you if you won't tell me what's going on with you!"

Kairi stared at him for a long moment of tense silence before a gut-wrenching sob broke loose from her body. She couldn't tell him; she just couldn't.

Because then . . . He'd make her stop.

He'd make her stop, and she didn't want to stop.

Kairi ripped her hands out of Riku's grasp and made quickly for the doors to the garden, knowing that it was her only escape. She didn't hear Riku behind her, but she didn't stop her breakneck pace. She barely heard Namine's desperate pleas for her to calm down-barely registered the immense pain in her chest as her heart struggled to keep beating. Tears drifted lightly down her cheeks, a testament to her inability to accept help.

Because how do you learn to take a helping hand when you didn't even have the hands free to help yourself?