Ugh, how long has it been since I updated this? Alrighty, for you reviewers/readers who are left, whazzup and I apologize for the delay. I've been sick, both physically and emotionally, mentally even. I'm not makin' excuses, only that it's been affecting my writing. This is the work of about two months. Yeah, since I last updated. Even then, I'm still not satisfied with what I've gotten. I hope you enjoy anyway.

Disclaimers: Kingdom Hearts is not mine.


Chapter Five: The Wind's Call

Amber eyes glitter at her as the man in black leans against the wall, observing the now completely silent teenager. Ven's gaze darts back and forth between the two, but confusion prevents him from moving as Xion takes a step towards her former leader.

"Xemnas." She repeats again in a much softer voice and she bows in an almost compulsive way, as if she really couldn't help it.

The older Nobody's lips twitch in mild annoyance at her informality but he continues to smile. He nods slowly, sweeping his arm in a dramatic yet casual gesture at her. "So... this is where you have been hiding, XIV," His fingers curl back up into his palm as he takes a step forward and chuckles in a low, quiet voice. Xion flinches. "To hide in a place that we control... How clever of you. We have searched so many worlds for you... And yet we could not find you until Axel suggested to look in this Castle. That you had some bizarre connection to this place..." With each word, Xemnas takes another step forward, towards her, until he is finally able to place his hand gently on her shoulder.

Xion turns her head away, not looking at the man that so intimidated her. She quivers in his grasp, making Ven begin trying to stand up. "... S-Sorry, Superior." She murmurs quietly, bowing her head in what almost looked like shame... but what was in reality, a very deep fear. Echoes of the threats to turn her into one of the Lesser Nobodies resonate through her mind, emphasizing the shivers as she remembers how they were created. "Don't touch Xion! Get away from her!" The injured boy yells menacingly, as if he was about to stand up and throw Xemnas to the wall.

At the sudden shout, Xemnas turns and notices Ventus for the first time.

His tanned skin immediately turns as pale as a sheet, his breathing begins to accelerate in sheer shock. Xemnas's hand drops from the girl's shoulder just as the tears begin to trickle down his cheeks. "R... Ven...tus?" He whispers hoarsely, staring at Ven like he wanted to run over and make sure that the boy was real. It was so quiet that it was doubtful that Ventus even heard his name come from that little voice. From where Xion stands, she could hear something strange in the Superior's voice. It was... softer. Not as deep. It even had emotion – true heartfelt emotion – in it, despite the lack of a heart.

It sounded like someone completely different.

A quiet chuckle emerges from the Superior's lips as he takes a step towards Ven, his hand outstretched as if to touch him. A brief flash of a strange emotion crosses his face before he composes himself, turning to Xion with another blank but somehow still proud smile. "Xion... you have done well to find this boy. He shall be useful." He says, still looking at Ven rather than her. In response to these words, Ven just raises his hand and smiles.

And of course, he was about to do something completely stupid.

Ven sucks in a breath and wiggles his fingers in the air. "Aero," The boy says calmly. For a moment, all three of them stand completely still, waiting for the shock wave of air that would no doubt blast out of the boy's hand and send the standing pair flying into the wall. Xion flinches, closing her eyes in preparation of being flung into the air. "Huh?" Ven says in confusion, staring at his hand as nothing happens. Both Xemnas and Xion sigh in relief even as the boy starts shouting other spells. "Thunder! Fire! Blizzard! Heal!" He says in confusion, looking around in the air for the resulting elements to start appearing.

They don't appear.

Xion looks at Xemnas, briefly taking in the extremely rare sight of her amused Superior before sneakily beginning to inch towards Ven. "It seems you have forgotten, boy," He says softly to the horrified Ven, smiling superiorly at him. "I wonder... just how many years of sleep did it take you to forget those spells? Is it only your memory of magic that is lacking?" He asks in an almost kind voice, immediately getting back an enraged look as Ven realizes what he is insinuating.

"That's a lie! I remember everyone from home! I remember Aqua, the Master, Terra!" At the last name, Xemnas seems to twitch but Xion doesn't notice it, so focused she is on Ven. Meanwhile, Ven starts trying to stand up again, if only to yell at Xemnas in his face. His arm quivers violently as he tries to throw himself up onto his feet.

The two stare at each other in that macho-man 'I'm going to destroy you' sort of way, the kind that nearly every guy got into with someone they really didn't like. Xion rolls her eyes. Boys. Even when they were different types of creatures they rarely got along.

"Ventus," He says, reaching out towards the boy even as Ven glares at him angrily. "Shut up! No one calls me that except the Master!" He snarls, suddenly glancing over at Xion as if barely realizing what she was going to do. Xion shakes her head and nods towards Xemnas, who takes a single step forward, suddenly intent on touching the furious blond. He smiles, understanding. Ven nods and suddenly falls limp on the floor, waiting for the younger girl to-

The pain across her cheek is sudden, sharp, and all too familiar. "Geez, poppet... if I were you, I wouldn't even think bout doin' that" An amused voice chuckles, laughing. The man's name is on Xion's lips faster than she can even speak. "X-Xigbar!" She stutters, looking around the room nervously. Among one of the six founding members of the Organization, Number II – also known as the Freeshooter – was also among one of the craziest fighters. And in his case, madness had a method: the pair of Arrowguns he held in his hands.

Xigbar chuckles again. "Well, are you going to be a good girl, poppet? Or am I going to have to shoot you again?" He asks curiously, sounding as if he wouldn't mind but would pretend to feel sorry about it later. Xion closes her eyes, focusing on the sound of his voice. If Xigbar was here... this was getting bad. He normally didn't leave the Castle, he was just too unpredictable to let loose. Xemnas only let him out on the most important missions... And he was looking for her.

The Superior really wanted her back, it seems.

"Poooooopppet! I asked you a question, ya know!" The older Nobody sneers playfully, laughing as Xion begins to pick him up. It wasn't too impressive of a skill; as long as he stays still, she could maybe find out where he was. And the one quality that Xion shared with both Sora and Roxas was this.

She throws her hand up above her head, shouting with all her might, forcing the last bit of her magic into her words. "Firaga!" She calls out, aiming the gigantic ball of flames at the tiny – almost imperceptible – black speck on the ceiling. She remembers one last bit of physics that Axel had taught her, something that even Roxas hadn't known. Fire, when it enters a small enclosed space and is suddenly given oxygen from an external force, can explode.

Ven gives it one last shot. And this time, it works."Aero!" He screams, aiming the breeze at the flames.

A harsh yelp echoes from the tiny Corridor, accompanied by such furious swearing that Xion claps her hands to her ears to block it out. "Damn! You got me!" The surfer-like voice of Xigbar snarls in appreciation, and then Xion suddenly hears the click of the Arrowguns cocking behind her. "Nice try, poppet, tiger." He says fondly, chuckling even as he pulls the trigger.

The young girl collapses by his feet, screaming even as the arrow speeds through her leg, impaling itself neatly on the wall in front of her. Xigbar wraps his arms around his stomach as the blood begins to flow out of the girl's wound, the bullet having passed through a vital vein. She howls in pain, rocking herself as the fractured femur throbs in sheer agony.

It felt like she was on fire. Literally on fire. The world turns a sickly shade of gray as she collapses.

Ven watches numbly as Xion turns pale, her face suddenly clouding over from how intense the pain was. He had seen someone go through that kind of pain before, and it was obvious that Xion was going into shock. All of a sudden, he finds himself standing, albeit unsteadily. He collapses against the wall, clinging to the white stone as he hobbles towards the girl. He wouldn't let her be in pain. He really couldn't let her be in pain much longer. His first shaky step towards her is unnoticed by the arguing Organization members, and so is his second.

"Whaddya mean, 'don't shoot her?' You said capture and use force if necessary!"

Xion hisses in pain as Ven's hand touches her shoulder, looking up at the older boy as the light fades from her eyes for a moment. Her head bows forward as she loses consciousness, and Ven quickly begins to remember the wound. Sure, it had happened like, not even a minute ago, bu time could be critical.

If he wasn't careful, she would bleed to death in another minute. If that Xigbar had hit either the femoral vein or the great saphenous vein, she could die. Those were the largest veins in the leg, and the femoral vein held a lot of blood.

The young Apprentice places his hands onto the hemorrhaging wound, taking in a deep breath as he whispers the spell quietly. He was no healer. "Curaga. Curaga, curaga." He feels the flesh begin – slowly at first, then faster – to knit together neatly, closing up the wound even better than a needle and thread would have. Xion's breathing suddenly relaxes and then Xigbar notices what Ven was doing when he pulls her out of his arms.

"HEY!" He snarls but Xion's head suddenly snaps back up. Both Ven and Xigbar freeze, startled by the strange look of sheer rage on her face. Her eyes glitter with the force of her emotion, and she holds her hand out to her side. "Shame on you. Picking on a girl." She growls in a low voice, a voice so very different from her normal quiet speaking voice it was like listening to a completely different person. She then falls limp again, clutching at her leg and sobbing quietly in pain.

Ven pushes her behind him protectively and then turns, facing the two Organization members. His hand curls by his side as if he was holding some sort of weapon. Xion whimpers besides him but somehow manages to grab his ankle. "Don't," She hisses quietly, wincing as she looks up at him. Her gaze drops to her fellow Nobodies. "They're going to destroy you. Especially since Xigbar's here." She warns quietly, even as Xigbar laughs.

"I knew you'd remember me right, poppet," He says in a teasing voice, giving her a cocky wink out of his one good eye. Ven growls under his breath and starts to step forward, until Xion's grip around his ankle tightens. Xigbar smirks. "You better do as she says, Venny ol' boy. Xi Xi's got it right. We're not good guys. But we'll treat you nice... if you're a good boy, ya know!" He holds his hands to his sides, his single golden eye gleaming as the two hilts of the Arrow Guns reappear in his hands. The purple metal gleams threateningly but Ven stands his ground and simply looks at him.

"And if I don't want to be a 'good boy?'" He demands. Xigbar blinks at him, looking startled for a moment. Ven uses this time wisely, holding his hand out to his side. Xion cries out in shock as the Keyblade flashes into existence in his hand, the golden handle gripped tightly in the boy's hand as if he had wielded it a thousand times before.

Xion goes numb again, and this time it had nothing to do with the pain. Ven was a Keyblade Master. Just like her. They were the same, they were both Keyblade Masters. … It was... so strange... Before she had been forced to join with Sora, she had thought that Riku and Sora were the only ones. After all, the other two were a Nobody and a Replica. The thought had never crossed her mind that there were others...

Her breathing goes labored and Ven looks at her, smiling sadly. "Yeah. I... I guess you've never seen one of these before. I'll explain it. … I'm not evil," He mutters this last part quietly, as if he had been accused of this before. Either way, he steps in front of Xion with a surprising amount of strength for someone who had been unable to even walk a few minutes ago. "I'm just fighting for my friends." He gives the two Nobodies a disdainful glare before gripping the blade with both hands, obviously ready to do exactly that.

Xigbar chuckles. "'Never seen one before,' huh? Well, lemme tell you somethin', Ven... You should really pay attention." He motions towards the silent girl, making her look away from him. "That little girl... is our Keyblade Master." Ven blinks in surprise, glancing over his shoulder at her. "She's your what?" He repeats, startled and staring at Xion. Xigbar chuckles, looking over at Xemnas. "That's right! She's the one helping us get to Kingdom Hearts! Just like your ol' master Xehanort!" He laughs.

Xion shrivels in her coat, looking up at Ven. She isn't sure what he meant by 'old master,' but she knows she had to say the truth before they distorted it even further. "They created me to do that," She says honestly, knowing that she couldn't lie to him. "They created me to be their Keyblade Master. … My friend... was the original. And the boy I came from was the one who really wielded the Keyblade." She looks up at the Organization members, suddenly unable to withhold her rage. "And you guys are the ones who made me kill Sora." She snarls, her expression darking with anger.

It couldn't have been more effective than if she had suddenly slapped both of them.

Xigbar jumps, his jaw dropping in shock as he stares at her. "Wh...What? You're kiddin'... right?" He asks, looking both impressed and terrified that Xion had killed her original Somebody.

Xemnas wasn't so subtle. "You destroyed Sora?" He demands softly, looking like he was about to kill the Replica for this admission. Xion nods. "Therefore you have destroyed all of our plans for controlling him." Ven stares at him at that like he wasn't sure he heard Xemnas right. Xion nods. "Yes," She says bluntly. "I have. And Riku wants me dead." Xion knows that now there was no way she was going to be free of either the Organization or of Riku. They would both be gunning for her, either to protect her... or to kill her.

Xemnas's face twitches, a very rare sign of emotion from him. His eyes flicker to Xigbar, who was still staring at the girl. "You are the last of the Keyblade wielders... just like Ven." He says softly, taking a step towards them both. They flinch away in unison, the girl trembling even harder while the boy took a swipe at the air, as if he was warning the man not to step any closer. Xemnas chuckles. "Well... if you will not come willingly... we shall take you by force." He warns, holding his hand out to the side in a gesture identical to Ven's Keyblade summoning one. A jet of red light appears in his hand, and it gleams menacingly in the light.

Xigbar lets out an amused laugh. "Well, you heard the boss man, Xi! You gonna give up and come with us?" He asks as he looks down at the blood on the floor from the injury he had already caused to Xion's leg. At his words, the girl trembles and clutches her thigh. The echo of the femoral break courses through her, a wave of hot bile and hate going through her body. Xion knows her decision.

She would rather die than go back to the Organization.

Ven, since he was in front of her, doesn't catch the grim expression in the girl's face but from the way the two men tense up in front of him he knows what her answer was. He grins, allowing himself a quiet chuckle. "You heard her! She isn't coming with you!" Ven declares with a lot more confidence than he actually feels, since he had been almost crippled a few moments before. In fact... He feels his weakened legs tremble from the effort of forcing the magic from his lifestream, from walking/running to Xion's aid, and from standing up without a support.

He couldn't take much more of this, and neither could she.

Xemnas spins the beam of light known as the Ethereal Blade in his hand, looking for all of the world like a stereotypical villain from a movie or a play. But the cold, calculating way that he looks at the injures of both teenagers is enough to know that this wasn't a game. Not in the least. Ven's legs continue to tremble, until even Xigbar realizes there was something funky going on between the two. Xemnas cocks his head at the children, smiling vaguely. "Are you... the master of this place?" He asks quietly, a very sincere question.

Ven blinks at him. "No," He says honestly enough, shaking his head slowly as he backs away from them towards Xion. He allows the girl to cling to his ankles for a moment before crouching down to prop her up against his back. "I don't know who this castle belongs to. Don't you guys own this castle?" Ven says as he lets Xion lean against him. She pants weakly but smiles at him gratefully for helping her. Ven smiles, nodding to her in a secretive way.

Xemnas scowls. "The owner of this castle... is dead. I believe we know that much," He says in a reluctant voice, as if the identity of the owner was a mystery. He takes a step forward, his Blade hissing as it swings in the air. He cocks his head to the side, eying Ven with a strange sort of desire, as if he wouldn't let the boy leave without him right at his heels. Ven shivers at the stare and brings his Keyblade up to prevent Xemnas from coming closer than the length of the blade. "The owner is dead," The Superior repeats softly. "And the owner... left an heir somewhere. Are you it... or are you simply a Replication?" He says this last word like a curse, as if just the idea of Ven being a Replica broke his heart, or whatever he had left inside of him.

He didn't sound like Xemnas at all.

Ven just shakes his head and grins. "Nope. I'd like to think I'm one of a kind." He says in an extraordinarily cocky voice before hurtling himself towards a wall. He grabs the scalloped decorations, forcing Xion to grab a hold of him to keep him from collapsing. He trembles in her arms, looking at the Organization members in fear.

For a moment, Ven looks like he's about to run and abandon Xion to whatever fate she was to face at the hand of the Organization members. Then he pulls her behind him once more, stepping away from the wall to protect her. Xigbar grins, very much amused when Ven raises his Keyblade to about eye-level. "You can barely stand! How do you think you can take us on?" He sneers, using the muzzle of his Arrow-Gun to scratch at his temple. Ven still shields her, even though Xion protests.

Xion clings to his shirttail, pulling on it with a weak hand. "I can fight." She whispers, looking at the grinning Xigbar and the solemn Xemnas in fear. She knows that in a fair fight, she would lose. Xigbar was just too crazy and unpredictable unless he felt like playing around. As for Xemnas... She shivers. Xemnas was just an unknown variable. As far Xion knows, no one had ever seen him fight.

Ven looks at her for a moment, pain weakening the inner strength inside of him before he nods in agreement. "Alright... but first chance you get, you run." He says quietly, gripping his Keyblade with two hands now. Xion shakes her head. "You and Roxas... are both seriously sexist." She mutters to herself, summoning her own Kingdom Key in a flash of white light. As the familiar weight settles into her right hand, she feels a bizarre warmth emerge from the metal handle.

The two Organization members stiffen at the sight of their Keyblade Master's weapon but Xigbar just smirks in that annoyingly cocky way. "Well, ain't that pretty. Let's see how fast we can win, Xemnas. Fifty munny on me beating Poppet before you can blink." The Freeshooter laughs confidently, cocking his Arrow-Guns with a flick of his fingers. The safeties of both crossbow-gun hybrids echo menacingly as he takes a step forward towards said Poppet.

The two Wielders just smile at each other and laugh nervously. "We're gonna die." Ven says as he raises a bottle of elixir to his lips, rapidly drinking the sweet potion down as fast as he possibly could. Xion does the same, shaking even as Xigbar takes one more teasing step forward. She knows that he wasn't going to fight them on the ground like Xemnas would. The Freeshooter would be up in the air.

Her dark eyes suddenly fill with light as she thinks of a strategy. "Take Xigbar. I'll get Xemnas." She says quickly, throwing her bottle of elixir down on the ground. It shatters into a thousand tiny pieces even as she charges forward, her blade extended and firmly in her grasp.