... I'm not dead.

Disclaimers: Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy and as a result, Disney, do not belong to me.

If they did, I would put in Wolverine into KHIII. Just saying.

Who would not laugh at that?

Chapter 10: Is This For Real... Or Not?

I stare at the segment of fine metal chain intertwined between the girl's slender fingers for a moment, silently debating to myself on what to do. Her fingers were thin and a pallid white color, almost like her skin was actually transparent and that I was really looking through it, at her bones. They were that pale and that thin. She had virtually no weight on her, a wisp of a little girl with nothing but the solemnity holding her to earth. When I look up into her serene blue-violet eyes, there's nothing in them but the faintest hint of the ocean and of a promise long forgotten. It's an encouraging look, like she was asking me to take the chain from her, like there was some big special secret about what she offered out to me. I gulp nervously, my cheeks beginning to burn a fiery red in the presence of this strange, serious girl.

The girl smiles knowingly, as if fully understanding what my problem was, why I was being so silent, why I was being hesitant. It's like she knows, even though I don't even know myself. "It's okay, Sora," her voice was like the waves of my island, soft and serene, but hiding the dark undertones beneath, "Don't be afraid." She murmurs in a gentle but kind voice. Miss, I'm not scared, I'm freakin' terrified. She places her hand on my shoulder carefully, as if assuring me that everything would be okay. Now normally, I don't like contact – especially from members of the opposite gender – but her touch was warm, kind. Reassuring. Like a mother's hand soothing her infant's tears away. I look back at the delicate chain clenched in her hand and watch silently as each individual link begins to glow. It was like the color of sunshine, colorless but a pale shade of the most beautiful golden color you could imagine. It was... like looking at home. The light, despite how faint it was, left bright spots in my vision, strange contorting lights that flickered from view when I tried to look at them.

Despite how pretty the gleaming chain was, there was something weird about it, something that just rubbed me the wrong way. The feeling of wrongness was like remembering as a baby when you touched the pretty coals of a fire, only to find out that the beautiful light would burn you, char your skin and melt it off into a world of throbbing pain. There's just something totally weird about it, something just... bizarre. It glows in the girl's hand and despite that little-kid-remembering-burning-his-hand-off feeling, never-mind that every ounce of common sense that I had starts warning me to get the hell away from the weird chain and the girl who wielded it, I automatically reach up for it.

I can feel my heart pounding – either with excitement or fear I didn't know – and I watch my fingertips tremble slightly. I was afraid... but of what?

The girl smiles then nods at me, her warm blue-violet eyes peering into mine. My heart suddenly begins to beat that much faster, my skin beginning to burn with the knowledge that I had suddenly remembered. I know this girl.

"It's okay, Sora," She repeats soothingly, her hand clenching slightly on my shoulder in encouragement. "You won't disappear... You'll be whole." The sound of her conviction, of her faith in me, echoes in her soft sweet voice, like a balm to all my doubts even though I had no idea what they were. Her pale blonde hair falls over like a curtain over her beautiful eyes, encouraging the impression... I remember a warmer smile than hers, a girl with the same but completely different bluish eyes... those beautiful oceanic eyes... The girl who had been my friend since we were both little... this girl reminded me of her... but this girl's name was...

The moment that her fingers touch my wrist, I reach up and grasp her other hand in mine, clenching at her and at the first link of the glowing chain intertwined in her fingers.


It's like dreaming. It's like remembering. My eyes are open but it's like... they're closed, for all the good that they do me. All around me, there is nothing but cold and empty darkness. Nothing but shadows as I fall down... down... down into the darkness. There's this overpowering sensation of loneliness and sadness... like going to a funeral... where the person who died was someone you dearly loved. … But... there's something... else... something I have to... The girl... the one with the sunshine in her... there's something I have to... remember...? Is any of this for real? Or... not?

"Hey, Sora! Are you even listening anymore?" She demands with an amused laugh, giving me a curious nudge. I blush slightly, startled out of my reverie by the soft, almost musical, sound of her gentle voice. It takes me a moment to remember where I was – at the paopu tree out by the Kids' Island – , looking out at the sunset with my two best friends. Something inside me seems to melt at the sight of the glowing red-orange orb falling slowly into the ocean, as if being swallowed up by it, and the glow that the setting sun gave to my friends. For once, it was peaceful, relaxing even, to just sit there on that tree trunk and do nothing except watch. From the serene expressions on Kairi's and Riku's faces, it was obvious they thought so, too.

I give Kairi a sheepish grin and shrug as the girl at my side lets out another peal of high-pitched, melodic laughter. She almost falls off the tree, and would have succeeded if not for Riku quickly grabbing her arm and dragging her forward. The laughter turns her face bright pink, the shade of her dress, and her short red hair gets almost as spiked up as my own messy mane. I blush even harder, embarrassed at having been caught by the all-too perceptive Kairi. Riku gives me a solemn look, as if seriously asking what the hell I had done to make her laugh so hard. I shrug again and it's his turn to laugh, though his laughter was much more subdued, just like he was. Where Kairi was full-out passion and laughter, Riku was serenity and solemnity, they were basically the total opposites of each other.

That was what I loved about them.

I begin to answer Kairi's question when she finally hiccups to a stop. Just as I begin to form the words on my tongue, after giving it a little thought, she reaches out and raps against the top of my head with her knuckles, her violet-blue eyes glittering mischievously in the afternoon sunlight. "Heeeelllllllloooo! Kairi to Sora, come in, Sora, we've lost you, Sora! Anybody home?" She calls out loudly in my ear, laughing again even as I jump back, holding the side of my head – she sure has a loud voice! – and I give her a glare, scowling even as she goes into another fit of laughter. "Geez, give me a break, Kairi!" I protest as I rub the now throbbing spot on my head, sighing. She needs to control her strength... not like it hurt or anything.

Riku chuckles softly as he sits up from his spot near the tree's tangled roots, removing the partly-chewed grass stalk he had in his mouth from his lips. He gives the giggling girl an amused look before smiling solemnly, shaking his head at Kairi and me as if scolding the both of us. We both give him a glare, though we were both grinning. "It's not his fault, Kai," Riku comments idly, lying back down, his back resting on the tree roots, "Sora's got a lot on his mind... for once." He smirks as I turn red. Gee, some best friend you turned out to be! Riku laughs, almost as if he heard my thoughts. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that he turned telepathic.

But he was right, despite the teasing tone of his voice. I do have a lot to think about. Kairi and Riku become quiet as I do. Sighing softly, I remember that he would be coming to the island soon. My older brother. What would it be like, having a sibling again? I had been an only child for most of my life, while he was off at boarding school or whatever it was. My family was me, my mom, my dad and Riku and Kairi. I never even knew Ven. "Yeah... Ven's coming back." I murmur in agreement, frowning a little at the prospect of his return. It wasn't like I knew him all that well either... but... he was still my brother.

"Cheer up, Sora, it could be worse. At least it's only a visit," Riku says thoughtfully, his tone solemn but I knew he was thinking about it. I look over at him and sigh at the spark of mischief suddenly in his expression, almost imperceptible to anyone who didn't know him. "But..." He continues, smirking darkly – and I mean darkly, when this guy makes an evil expression, it looks freakin' evil – at the thought he just had. "We could make it a visit he never forgets." He chuckles lowly, rubbing his hands together as though he was some sort of diabolical genius mastermind. With his pale silver hair and his dark blue eyes, he could be one... but like, in high school. I could only wonder what he was hatching up in that silvery head of his, and wonder how much trouble would we get into because of it. Again.

"Let's throw him a surprise party!" Kairi suddenly says, making both of us turn to look at her. "You know, like a birthday party... but for his coming here. That'll make him feel welcome." She says honestly, blushing slightly at the confused looks we're giving her. Riku and me give each other a glance before mimicking the same gesture, cupping our hands over our chins, our thumbs resting on our lips. We grin and say in the same goofy voice: "That's just fine!" Kairi laughs. "Well, then it's settled! We're throwing Ven a party!" Kairi says eagerly, no doubt curious about my mysterious older brother. … So was I...

"So... on a different topic... what do you think that they wanted to talk to us about?" I ask, not really wanting to talk about Ven right now. Kairi shrugs and Riku only pops his grass stalk back in his mouth. I sigh. Great. Yet another thing that the adults were keeping from us. "It's not like we're little kids anymore... We can be trusted... we have been before, right, Riku?" I grumble moodily, scowling. Riku nods but frowns. "Who knows? But you know that he thinks it's important." He comments. I sigh, shaking my head in the memory. But from somewhere within me, I felt confused. Who thought what was important? But Riku keeps talking: "And you know... he's always got a reason to think that way." Riku finishes, chewing on his grass stalk thoughtfully, showing that he's done with the conversation and that I shouldn't ask any more questions.

I lean back on the tree trunk, my mind reeling with questions. I close my eyes and sigh, wondering just what the King was keeping from me this time. It wasn't like I was a little kid anymore... I didn't have to be protected like this...


I sit up, startled by the sudden crunch of sand and the creaking noises of the old wooden bridge that connected this smaller island to the Kids' Island. It made those loud creaking noises every time the slightest pressure was put on it. Someone was coming. I sit up, looking out at the bridge... to find... Riku growls, getting up. "What the heck are you doing here?" He demands coldly, his eyes glaring threateningly at the solemn looking girl who continues to walk towards, undeterred by my older friend's growls. Where even the toughest kids on our island would back off, the small girl just walks past Riku, heading straight for... me.

"Sora," She says softly, her pale hands clenching at the skirt of her white dress. Her dark blue-violet eyes glitter thoughtfully in the fading sunlight, almost as if she was about to cry or she had just stopped crying. She holds a hand out to me and I look up at her. "It's time to wake up, Sora." She says softly.

"This is only a dream."

"Who are you?" I ask in confusion, standing up and taking her hand in mine. It was like... I knew her. Riku definitely knew her... but where did I know her? She just smiles and closes my eyes with her other hand. There's a strange sort of pressure on my eyes as I feel a hard shape beneath my body, almost like I was lying on a very hard mattress.

"You know my name, Sora."

"Station Five! All passengers bound for Station Five, Twilight Academy, all boarding!"

I could feel a name at the tip of my tongue: a name that I really didn't remember, but it was the name of a person I couldn't forget...


I blink sleepily up at the ceiling, I vaguely register that I was on my back and that I 'm looking up at the white tile-covered ceiling of the compartment I was in. I fell asleep... When did I go to sleep? I blink sleepily, letting out a very loud yawn, feeling so tired for some reason... like I hadn't slept for days or like I just lost a lot of energy. My limbs actually felt like they had been popped out, stuffed full of lead, and then screwed back in as I slept. That's how weak I feel... God, I need to stop eating so much sugar. I guess... it gives me weird dreams.

I begin to sit up on the stiff foam seat, frowning slightly. This is my stop... great... I look down to pick up my-

Oh shit.

At my feet, where I normally have my stuff, there was nothing but empty air and a tiny dust-ball. Where. The. Heck. Was. My. BAG? I leap out of the seat, ignoring that I just heard how loud my joints popped violently in protest to the sudden movement – OWWWW – but I still didn't see my backpack.

I glance out the window and see several teenagers – some of them were about my size and age – already leaving the train, backpacks on their shoulders, surly looks on their faces, and books already in their arms. They were off to school... and I still wasn't. I run my fingers through my bangs, hissing in anger at having lost my backpack. Shit. I was so dead if I didn't get off this train soon. It would go to who knows where and with me on board. But where the hell was my bag? Did I bring it with me when I went exploring? The fragmented dreams echo eerily in my head, like I was some sort of broken radio. I keep hearing my friends' voices, Riku's serene murmur and Kairi's teasing laughter... I keep hearing that girl... who was that girl...?

"This... really sucks." I mumble to myself as I jump off of the seat, kneeling on the floor on my hands to peer under the seat and begin to focus on what was important: my backpack. It could be under there, I've lost a few backpacks that way -… Ew. The underside of the seat was cover in little spot of gray gum, like a messed up (and gross) version of the night sky, all lightly dusted over with a centimeter-thick layer of dust. They really should clean that gum out of here. There's practically a constellation of chunks of chewed up of plastic-y gum in here. I groan, not seeing anything except... wait a second.

I reach in, trying not to whimper as my hand brushes against both hardened and still sticky pieces of gum – it feels so... freakin' gross – and my fingers curl around a small sphere, a little bigger than one of the shooter marbles I used to have when I was little, about an inch or so in diameter. I yank it out and immediately sneeze, snorting a bit as the dust goes up my nose. I sneeze again, sending a loud snort echoing through the chamber, my eyes and nose beginning to water. I hate dust... Yet my room at home is covered in it... I wipe my nose on my sleeve and look at the little crystal I had pulled out. As I hold it up to the sunlight to look at it clearly, a shaft of sunlight goes through it, lighting it up from the inside. I smile slightly, feeling a strange sense of nostalgia at seeing the tiny blue marble light up like that, almost as if I was holding a glowing sapphire in my hand.

It was... strangely familiar... as if I had seen it before, somewhere in a forgotten dream.

I feel a tear trickle down my cheek as a hand suddenly touches my shoulder, a loud thud echoing throughout the empty compartment as my backpack drops heavily to the floor. I turn around and stare at the girl in the black jacket who had brought it to me. She bows her head at me silently, as if trying to be respectful. Her dark hair hides her expression as the younger girl straightens up, tugging the oversized coat around her a bit more before she straightens up into a sort of – there was no other word to describe how she leaned against the door – in a "guarding" position. She looks at me calmly, a blank expression on her face.

I stare at her in surprise before bending down to my bag: I quickly make myself busy with unzipping the bag and shoving my hand inside, quickly feeling through my things to see if anything was missing. My finger brush against my binder, some books, a game system if I was bored, OUCH, that was my pencil, sharpener and pens. Yup. Everything's here. I look up at the girl expectantly, wondering what she wanted. She stares at me with that same blank stare, like I was something mildly interesting under a microscope. It was kinda creepy.

She frowns, as if she heard what I was thinking. "You're... Sora? Hayner told me to give that to you," the girl motions to the bag. The way she talks was kinda weird, a bizarre clumsiness that reminded me of someone who had been sick for a while and was only now beginning to recover. "You left it in their compartment. … He said to take you to the gates for him... your brother is waiting for you out there." She continues in a dull tone, flicking a wayward strand of black hair out of her face before giving me a vague smile and pointing out the window.

She nods before blinking in surprise, staring at me. Huh? I stare at her before wiping the worst of the dust off of my button-down. "...Sora..." She murmurs softly to herself before grabbing my wrist. Huh? She yanks me towards the door, a strange look appearing on her face as she starts dragging me down the corridor. What the hell?

"I... remember... something..." She mutters darkly to herself, flashing me a serious look. She clutches at her head, her hand grabbing a fistful of hair near her temple. I freeze and nod, recognizing the pained look from somewhere; she looked like she was about to faint from the intensity of whatever she was remembering. I don't really know why, but there was something strange about her. Like she knew something that I didn't, a feeling that I got a lot lately. There was something wrong... and only she knew what it was.

It looked like I had to trust her.

The younger girl quickly leads me through the hallway, her solemn expression slowly growing more and more concerned. Several times, she stops and opens up one of the compartments we pass and peers inside. Whatever she saw, it made her upset, because each time she would slam the door shut again and keep going, dragging me by the wrist all the while. I try to look inside too but she moves too fast for a fourteen year old – I'm guessing by the girl's size, she seems several years younger than I am – and she keeps a very powerful grip on my arm, the kind of hold I would expect from like, a professional arm-wrestler or something but not a little girl.

Just as I begin to summon up the courage to tell her to stop and to ask her what the hell was going on, she pauses in front of a door and glares inside. She sighs and turns to me.

"Alright. Who are you?" She demands in a cold voice, her dark blue eyes seeming to pierce right through me, sending a dagger of ice straight through my heart. I gulp nervously, completely clueless on what to say to the girl. I mean, I don't know her from Eve but now I have to talk to her? Seriously, where was the class on how to talk to girls and why did I miss it? I begin to brood silently, trying to figure out a way to mime my predicament to her, tell her that I just fell asleep in that compartment – and had really weird freakin' dreams – but I stop in the middle of my hand gesture.

Her face just flickered. K... She was...

I stare at her in shock but she only turns back down the hallway, running her fingers through her cropped black hair. She sighs softly. "...Then I guess I have no choice. Come on, Sora, I'll walk you to class. Twilight Academy's a big school," She suddenly says in a much more friendly voice, giving me an almost sweet, child-like smile. I give her back a scowl but follow her when she starts walking past the compartments towards what I guessed was the exit. "I'm guessing you're not from around here." The girl comments quietly as she pulls her over-sized jacket closer around herself, seemingly hiding herself from my view as she walked. She pulls up her hood, furthering the impression of hiding herself in shadows to escape notice.

I nod at her question and the girl smiles. "Maybe your hometown is a lot nicer than mine, Sora. … I wouldn't doubt it, actually." She says in a suddenly much more gloomy voice, making me give her a surprised look. I sigh and scratch at my hair, annoyed. God, girls are seriously temperamental. Five seconds ago she was smiling at me and now she looks like I just drowned her goldfish in front of her. Geez... As I wonder what to say to her (god, I was gonna have to talk to her, right? This was going to suck...) to make her feel better, the girl stops and suddenly laughs. I jump, startled. Ooo...kaaaay... I'm walking with a psycho apparently.

"Won't Roxas be surprised to find out who you are... mmm... I don't think I ever introduced myself, right?" The girl asks, smiling brightly again. I shake my head no and she continues: "Well, my name is Xion Arugami. It's nice to meet you." She introduces herself in a soft voice, holding her hand out to me as if to shake it. I just stare at her gloved palm, feeling... something... weird... Goddamn it, I hate girls sometimes. I take her hand in mine and shake it briskly, wincing visibly. She laughs. "Oh wow, you're such a baby. I didn't expect that!" She laughs, looking at me in amusement. I'm not amused.

In fact, I really want to know how to get rid of this Xion girl. I mean, really. She's annoying. She giggles softly, as if hearing my thoughts. The second I give her a glare, she looks away, a really annoying sort of smirk on her lips. Man, I want to punch her. Does that make me a bad person? I don't think so. Xion sighs softly, still smiling as she turns to me. "Well, Sora, I guess I should explain to you about the school, huh?" She asks curiously, looking at me as if wanting my permission to go on. She sure does talk a lot.

When I don't answer, she starts listing off about the different buildings in the school – I have the feeling I'm going to get lost now – and says that: "There's three buildings in the school, the main hall which is called Kingdom Hall, the elective building, called Oathkeeper Building, and the History, Science and Gym building called the Oblivion Gymnasium. Each one has three to four floors, with Kingdom Hall being the largest with four floors. Do you have your schedule?" She asks quickly, pausing for a breath. … Um... What the hell is up with this goddamn school? I shake my head no and she goes rattling off again. "Well, you're going to have to go to the office. It's connected to Kingdom Hall. It's this little connected building, you won't be able to miss it. Go straight there and then ask one of the counselors for your schedule. Go now, actually. This IS our stop after all." She says as she nimbly jumps out of the train door, landing gracefully on the sidewalk. I just walk out and look up at my new school.

I nearly have a heart attack.

Uh... I don't know what this is...

My absence is only because I was trying to fix this chapter and was fighting with my friend...

So to everyone, my apologies, please review, do not flame me, and Xion is a badass in my humble opinion.