MANDATORY AUTHOR'S NOTE: I. Am. So. Sorry. I am so freaking sorry that I updated so late! I got attacked and maimed by writer's block, MAJOR and finishing this chapter was really hard for me because I wanted to make sure it was a good one, and not pointless. Anyway, be prepared for a shock at the end that won't make much sense now, but will later on. Happy reading!

DISCLAIMER: This disclaimer applies to the entire story. Kingdom Hearts and any and all things having to do with it do not belong to me. However, the plot and plot events are entirely MINE, along with the band Destiny's Embrace, the use of the word Hikari as a name, and the characters' personalities. In this chapter, I mention the song Fame Over Demise by Woe is Me, and I use the song Violent Bounce (People Like You) by I See Stars. I encourage you to look up Violent Bounce because it's literally my favorite song by I See Stars right now!

NOTES: This story is rated M. This chapter has some violence.

ENJOY!

~x~

Chapter Twenty-Four

~x~

Kairi stared at her reflection in the mirror, finding that for the first time in months, she actually saw beauty. She smiled a little bit, wondering how such a thing could be. Were Sora's words magic? Did he have some sort of secret, hidden power that washed away all of her negative thoughts about herself and made her feel pretty? It was almost frustrating, as Kairi was such an independent person that she would have wanted to pull herself out of the darkness. However, the fact that Sora had been the one to pull her out was still just as wonderful.

"Babe!"

Kairi perked up at the sound of Sora calling for her attention from downstairs. She still wasn't used to hearing his use a pet name on her, especially since just weeks ago they were constantly at each other's throats. Hell, they still hadn't even gotten around to discussing her suicide attempt! Kairi was beginning to think that she and Sora would forever be a pair of "live in the moment" young adults.

"Yeah?" Kairi hollered back.

"When did you wanna make dinner? Cuz Tidus is coming by before the show, and he's hungry."

"And how do you know that?" Kairi retorted, putting her hands on her hips as if he were standing right in front of her. "Is he here already?"

"Nah, he's on the phone," he replied.

"Oh . . . Well, I'll come down and make something right now. You got groceries, right?"

"Yeah," he said, then she heard nothing more from him.

Kairi turned back to look at herself in the mirror again, fluffing up her carefully-crafted crimson waves. It was nice feeling as though every dream you'd ever yearned for had come true. She didn't mind making dinner on such short notice and without really even being asked politely. She didn't mind because it was Sora, and Sora loved her.

That's right. She'd heard what he'd said. And even though he had playfully and teasingly denied it the next morning, it didn't matter because his words would forever be stuck in the forefront of her mind. Sora loved Kairi, Kairi loved Sora, they loved each other . . . No matter how you said it, it still sounded like music to Kairi's ears.

Kairi took a step back and twirled around, scrutinizing how she looked in her dress for that night. It was the only dress she had brought with her form her old apartment—the floral pink-and-white Liz Lisa babydoll dress—and while it was beyond adorable, she was beginning to think she was in desperate need of a new wardrobe. After all, if she and Sora were going to be living in this house together, she couldn't keep wearing the same things over and over again. Sometimes, she didn't even have enough time to wash her clothes before she had to wear them again.

Thinking about her clothes and her apartment made her think of her mom, and how her family had disowned her, and how Riku was on a wild, evil rampage that nobody seemed to be doing anything about. Kairi was sad about losing the only family that she'd ever know, but she was happy that she was finally going to be able to make a new life for herself. She no longer had to worry about Riku sneaking into her room at night, and now that she was in Sora's sights nearly 24/7 (except when he went to get food that morning), she felt safe. Yes, she hadn't spoken to her mother, and yes, her father would probably rather see her dead than anything, but now that seeing pictures of Sora's deceased uncle had awaken hidden curiosities in her, Kairi had decided that she was ready to do some digging.

Kairi wanted to find her real family, even if it brought her more pain than promise.

"Baaaaaaaaabe!" Sora whined up the stairs. "I'm hungryyyyy!"

Kairi rolled her eyes. At least Sora was back to his old self.

Heading out into the hall, Kairi snapped back at him, "You shut your whore mouth, Yoshimura! I'm comin'."

"Yeah," he grinned wickedly when she came bounding down the stairs in her cute little dress and pretty wavy hair. "But I'm your whore."

Kairi punched him in the chest on her way past him into the kitchen. "Oh, shut it. We've only had sex once—you're not my whore until I pay you, or until we have sex more often."

"That, my dear sweet girl, can be arranged," he teased in a British accent, grabbing her hips and pulling her back against him. He hugged her around the shoulders before she could get away and kissed her cheek.

"Sora, do you want a home-cooked meal or not?" Kairi asked, finding it harder and harder to pretend to be miffed.

"I dunno . . ." Sora murmured with a slight chuckle. "I think I might be feeling fast food tonight."

Kairi deadpanned. "Sora, you may be hot as Hell now, with plugs and skinny jeans and all that spiky hair, but you still don't know how to hit on a girl."

"Whaaaa—?" He dropped his arms from around her and pouted. "That wasn't a cool pick-up line? You don't care that sempai finally noticed you?"

Kairi shot him a weird, disturbed look and shook her head. Sora sure had changed, but he was still just a nerd inside.

Sora crossed his arms over his chest and leaned nonchalantly against the counter while the redhead bustled about the kitchen, gathering up the materials she would need to make Sora and Tidus some food. Their show was tonight—the show where they would be performing mostly for the sake of signing to a new label, one that was from the mainland and not local—and she knew their excitement was making them hungry.

"So tonight, I want you to stick with Namine at all times," Sora was saying absentmindedly, scrolling through something on his phone. "The guys and I really need to focus tonight, so it would be easier if we didn't have to worry about you the whole night."

Kairi arched one eyebrow as she placed a pound of ground Italian sausage into a heated frying pan on the stove. "You think they'll show up tonight?"

"Think? Kai, I don't think—I know. They've been looking for you like crazy since we left. Roxas told me he's noticed people snooping around. He said the neighbors keep seeing the same car driving back and forth past the house," Sora told her, setting his cell phone down on the counter. "There's no doubt in my mind that at least Zexion, Axel, and Demyx will be there. Maybe not Xigbar and his crew, but I don't want to take any chances. You stay with Namine, and you guys try to stay toward the front of the crowd tonight so the guys and I can see where you're at."

"Okay," Kairi said softly, stirring the meat as it browned. She didn't really want to admit it to herself or to Sora, but she was terrified. She didn't want to be kidnapped and raped again, and she didn't want to die. Riku wanted her to be killed, and Kairi hadn't really taken it seriously until now. Seeing that he was willing to employ the use of a completely separate gang from her own just to ensure that she died was scaring her out of her mind. She was sure that one of them had been behind Memory's death, and she was sure that it had been some sort of sick, twisted warning to her. She almost didn't want to go out of the beach house and into public again, but she knew that it was safer beside Sora than apart from him.

"Hey."

Kairi shuddered out of her stupor and realized that Sora was standing beside her at the stove. He gently took the spatula from her and set it onto the counter. Then, he took her chin in his hand and forced her to look into his eyes. Kairi's heart skipped a beat.

"It's going to be all right, babe," Sora said quietly. "I told you I would protect you."

"I know," Kairi whispered, reaching forward to grab the fabric of his black Bring Me the Horizon tank top at his hips. "I just can't help but feel scared."

Sora cupped her face in his hands and leaned down to kiss her gently, obviously intending it to be an innocently reassuring kiss. Unfortunately, it made Kairi's stomach twist with desire, causing her to stand up on her tiptoes and push deeper into the kiss, which in turn awakened Sora's passions. Their tongues began to tangle and dance, Sora's hands began to wander all over her body, Kairi was moaning . . . It was getting crazy, and then Tidus walked in.

". . . Should I leave for a little while?"

Sora and Kairi stared at him unblinkingly, stunned and in a daze.

Tidus smirked. "I'd only need to leave for five minutes, right Sora?"

Sora narrowed his eyes. "Is that a jibe at my sexual performance, Tidus?"

"No. Maybe. Likely. Yes."

"I'm going to beat the shit out of you."

". . . I'm going to run now."

"You probably should," Kairi advised, turning back to the nearly-burning sausage. She smiled to herself in amusement at the sounds of Sora and Tidus chasing each other around the house. God, she loved this. She loved the feeling of finally being happy and carefree.

Kairi boiled some noodles and poured some spaghetti sauce into the sausage, wandering aimlessly about the kitchen as she waited for everything to be fully cooked. They had about a half hour before they had to leave, but Sora and Tidus had insisted on starting one game of Call of Duty before they ate, so Kairi could hear them cursing and joking around from the living room. Kairi checked through the cupboards in a bored sort of game, looking at all the food they had and trying to plan meals out for the week. She didn't know how long exactly they'd be staying in Sora's uncle's house, but she was hoping Sora was working on a solution to their problem—one that didn't involve any death whatsoever.

As Kairi mindlessly rummaged, she came across something odd. She had gone over to the china cabinet in the dining room, finding the plates displayed inside to be exquisite, and she'd come across something hidden behind a white plate with a painted on unicorn. After carefully moving the plate aside, she pulled out what appeared to be a picture. It was completely covered in dust, so Kairi took it over to the counter and got a paper towel to wipe it off. Curiosity shining in her eyes, she cleared it free off all dust and stared down at the photograph.

It was a picture of a smiling, happy woman with long red hair. She was standing upon a beach (Kairi recognized it at the beach just outside the house they were currently hiding out in), her arms outstretched as if welcoming in the sea breeze. Next to her, a small red-headed child was performing the same stagnant dance, and Kairi recognized him as Roxas by the weird way his blonde hair spiked out. There was a certain joy in the woman's face, and Kairi could tell that it was Roxas's mother.

Kairi frowned. So Roxas's mother was a redhead, too? With blue eyes? Just like Roxas, Roxas's dad, and . . . She didn't want to get too eager or jinx anything, but . . . It was just like Kairi. Was it possible that . . . Could it really be true? And if it were true, then that would mean that both of Kairi's real parents were dead, and none of her questions would be answered. But that would also mean that she had a brother. A brother named Roxas. A brother who might have the answers to her questions.

"Babe, is the food done?"

Sora's voice echoing loudly through the quiet kitchen made Kairi squeal with fright. She whirled around, quickly hiding the picture in her bra before doing so, and glared at the brunette.

"Don't scare me like that!" she scolded, turning to the stove to switch off the heat. "And yes, it's ready now. Are you guys done with your game?"

"Yeah, because Sora killed the other team with his crazy skills," Tidus cheered, entering the kitchen behind Sora.

"Crazy skills?" Kairi asked as she grabbed some plates from one of the cupboards.

Sora rolled his eyes. "Oh, God—it's not that big of a fucking deal, dude."

"Um, I'm sorry, but every kill you made was a headshot. I have never before seen someone do that," Tidus shot back, plopping down at the table.

Sora sat down across from him and stuck his tongue out at his friend in a childish, entirely Sora-esque way. "Whatever, man. You're just trying to get on my good side because Yuna is Zidane's sister, and Zidane was my friend before he joined the band."

"I am not!" Tidus scoffed. "I don't need your help to get Yuna to go out on a date with me."

Sora opened his mouth to respond, but Kairi set their plates full of piping hot spaghetti in front of them to shut them up.

It worked.

As the boys happily mowed down on their fresh food, Kairi went back to the stove and pretended to be getting it ready to go into Tupperware for leftovers. She took the picture out of her dress and glanced at it one last time. The woman smiled back at her, as if she had no idea that she was going to pass away at some point. If this woman was her mother, then Kairi wanted to know all there was to know about her. She wanted to know why she'd given Kairi up, and if she had loved Kairi at all.

Folding the picture into fours, she slipped it back into her bra surreptitiously, and then put the food into Tupperware. She would have to have a talk with Roxas, and then with Sora.

"This is so fucking delicious, Kairi," Tidus cried merrily, mouth full of spaghetti.

"Hell yeah," Sora agreed. "You're such a good cook, babe. What would we do without you?"

Kairi took her own plate to the table and sat down. She smiled and said, "Probably eat Top Ramen or pizza every night."

Tidus and Sora looked at each other for a long moment and then nodded, bursting out laughing as if they had shared some sort of telekinetic joke between the two of them. Kairi merely continued to eat her food, her thoughts preoccupied with the picture of Roxas's mom. She barely responded to Sora and Tidus's jokes, though they didn't really notice because their conversation had turned to their anticipation of that night's performance. Eventually, everyone was done eating and it was time to go.

"You ready for this, man?" Tidus asked as they headed out the door to Tidus's car. "This is it—this is our chance."

"I know, dude, I'm fuckin' stoked," Sora said gleefully. "I'm excited to debut out new song, too."

"What, Violent Bounce?" Tidus nodded in agreement. "Me, too. That's got ot be one of our best songs yet—so glad we added keyboards to that one. Who knew Zidane was a bassist and a pianist? Well, anyway, I'm gonna call Vani real quick and let him know we're on our way now."

Sora turned to Kairi and took her hand gently in his. She looked at him, but quickly looked away, completely and totally lost in thought.

"You okay?" he asked, sounding genuinely concerned.

"Hm?" Kairi blinked. "Yeah. Yeah! Don't worry about me."

"That' what's funny, though." His thumb caressed the back of her palm and he gazed down at the ground almost shyly. "I always worry about you. I've been worrying about you since the moment we met. Remember when I used to lay in puddles so you didn't have to get your feet wet?"

Kairi's eyes twinkled. "Because you saw them do it in that old cartoon from the fifties, right?"

"Yeah," Sora chuckled. "And you always refused to walk on me—you'd always walk around me and go jump into the next puddle."

Kairi grinned. "I'd get dirty on purpose just to prove to you that I could take care of myself."

Sora chucked her under the chin. "Yeah, well . . . How about tonight, you be careful and let me do the caretaking, all right?"

She nodded, knowing it was better to agree than to argue.

Sora said, "Good. Remember what I told you to do?"

"Stay with Namine, and stay near the front of the crowd," Kairi reiterated dutifully.

"Great," Sora said with a bright smile. "As soon as the show's over and we're done talking with the record execs, Roxas and I will come find you and Namine by the stage, so just wait there after we play the last song. And if you see anyone who looks suspicious, whether you know them or not, don't go near them. At all."

"Got it," Kairi said, saluting with two fingers.

Sora suddenly pulled her into a bone-crushing hug. "You're cute," he said into her ear, kissing her cheek for the second time that day. "Now, get in the car so we can go rock the fuck out."

Soon, the three of them were on the road, the two boys chattering with excitement and Kairi still feeling frightened of what the night would bring.

~x~

Kairi met up with Namine by the front door to The Secret Spot, opening her arms for a long-awaited hug. She hadn't really seen Namine since getting out of the hospital (only a few phone calls), so she was definitely happy to see her sunny smile and twinkling baby blues. Namine enfolded her in a warm, tight embrace the moment she saw her, and the two girls laughed joyously.

"I'm so happy you're okay, Kairi!" Namine gushed as people streamed into the club around them. "How are you feeling? Better?"

Kairi grinned. "Much better."

Namine raised her eyebrows and stepped closer, pointing surreptitiously over her shoulder at where the band had disappeared inside to. "Like . . . Are you guys . . . ?"

Kairi nodded slowly, and the two girls began jumping and squealing excitedly. She supposed it was pretty exciting . . . After all, Namine knew how sad Kairi had been at the fact that Sora had been so cruel to her. Namine knew how much Kairi loved him . . . So yeah. Hell yeah, it was exciting!

"We so have to talk about this!" Namine yelled over the sounds of the loud music as she led Kairi into the overcrowded club. It was clear to see that tonight had a much wider turnout than the last couple of times Kairi had been here—the dance floor was overflowing onto the surrounding restaurant floor, and Kairi kept bumping into random people. The lights were already turned down low, flashing blue and red, and Kairi could feel the growing burn of excitement within her.

"Two 7-Ups, please," Kairi told the bartender as they took their seats on two of the stools.

"So . . ." Namine wiggled her eyebrows and leaned in close. "Spill the beans, girlie. What happened?"

Kairi laughed slightly and explained the events of the previous few days to Namine, skipping over the horrid details concerning Memory's death. As she was talking, she scanned the crowd periodically, looking for anything or anyone who looked threatening or suspicious. She was still beyond frightened of what could happen to her tonight, and even though Sora believed she was safe by Namine's side . . . Somehow, Kairi didn't think it was going to be that simple. She needed to be on her toes, because if Axel, Demyx, and Zexion showed up, it wouldn't be all that hard to hurt both her and Namine.

"Wow," Namine said after her tale was done. She took a sip of her drink and winked at Kairi over her straw. "Sounds like you and Sora have had a pretty lewd few days."

"Namine, it's not like that," Kairi protested, blushing furiously. "We only did it once—ever since then he's been passing out in front of the TV on the floor."

"What? Why?"

"He got the newest Call of Duty, so he can't stop playing it. I don't know where that boy gets the money to buy anything, since he's the only one of them that doesn't have a job. I know they make money off their album and their shows, but it can't be that much if they're splitting it between the band."

"Nope, not at all," Namine said. "Roxas makes money for the bills from his job, and he told me that the money he makes from their album is usually just enough to cover our dates for the month."

"That's what I thought," Kairi said. "I think that's probably one of the reasons why this show is so important to them."

"Yeah, probably," Namine agreed. "I mean, you're gonna be living with Sora, right?"

Kairi nodded. "Yeah . . . I'd better try to get a job, though, since I can't really go to school."

"I still can't believe your mom on that one," Namine snorted, pushing her empty cup away. "I mean, really? What the fuck kind of parent voluntarily allows their child to be suspended for the entire rest of the school year?"

"Tch," Kairi scoffed. "A parent who isn't really a parent. But it's whatever. Let's not talk about her—let's talk about me getting a job. I wanna try and find one in—"

The loud screeching of a guitar amp followed by a short yet brutal guitar riff cut Kairi off, and the girls whirled around on their barstools. The band was gathered on the stage, milling about as they prepared the instruments for the show.

"How's everybody doin' tonight?" Vanitas asked into the microphone with a small smirk, uncapping a water bottle and taking a drink. He was dressed in a black-and-white-striped tank top and a pair of black skinny jeans, and his black hair seemed much spikier than usual. His sunset-colored eyes were full of life and zeal—he was obviously excited.

The audience raised a loud, obnoxious cheer to the ceiling, and Kairi found that for some reason, she wasn't as full of adrenaline as she would have liked to have been. She frowned and crossed her arms over her chest. Beside her, Namine was jumping up and down as the music started to play, eyes zeroed in on Roxas. Kairi watched her for a moment, wondering why in the heck she herself didn't feel as pumped up as she usually was when Destiny's Embrace played.

Maybe it was just her nerves acting up, but . . . Was somebody watching her?

"This is a song me and brother wrote," Vanitas laughed wickedly into the microphone. "Me and my brother, Sora. We wrote this song for all those motherfucking dicks who fuck with your shit, my shit, any shit, and get away with it. This is a song for that one fucking asshole that gets on your last. Fucking. Nerve."

Sora threw the audience a roguish wink. "We're talking to you, Riku. So listen up."

Vanitas grabbed hold of the mike with both hands and screamed, "Listen. The. Fuck. UP!"

Kairi cast a furtive glance over her shoulder, worrying her lower lip between her teeth, and subconsciously took a step closer to Namine's side. The dancefloor in front of the stage was jam-packed with bodies and it was almost impossible to make out one person from the next, yet Kairi felt as though she saw Axel, Demyx, and Zexion in every single one of their faces.

Terror didn't even begin to explain what she was beginning to feel.

Despite her fears, however, music was something that Kairi couldn't resist, and the techno music that was playing over the loudspeakers (something that they must have prerecorded) sucked Kairi back into the world that was Sora and Destiny's Embrace.

"People like you are," Sora was singing as he strummed his guitar with gusto. "The reason I keep the good so close. And here you are, so impressed with yourself. I see right through you. I see right through you."

Kairi started bobbing her head a little, liking the new sound the band was coming at her with. She began to dance, the catchy tune and infectious instrumental

Vanitas placed one foot upon the amp and screamed, "How many people do you plan to burn? And all the damage left at every turn."

"You watched us struggle," Sora sang.

"And now you're parched with a thirst for attention to fuel the fire of your self obsession," Vanitas roared.

We'll watch you crumble
You are the scum of the world
And we'll watch you fall

People like you are
The reason I keep the good so close
And here you are so impressed with yourself
I see right through you
And we intend to
Let the world know the truth
Let the world know the truth

You sit there and smile so smug in your skin
second and third chances gone in the wind
I lied, and I begged, I swore I would change
What do expect of me!?
Fuck,
you'll never know true unity

Look around you
Look around you
Everyone is terrified
One wrong move
One wrong move
And their dream won't survive

You said

"You better keep your fucking mouth shut I gotta closed mind and no time to lose."
Bow to the stronger element
The truth will outweigh you
All it took was a spark right?

People like you are
The reason I keep the good so close
And here you are so impressed with yourself
I see right through you
I see right through you
People like you are the reason I keep the good so close

People like you are
The reason I keep the good so close
And here you are so impressed with yourself
I see right through you
And we intend to
Let the world know the truth
Let the world know the truth

Watch your back when your out on the town tonight
At every corner I lurk in the dark like the shadow on these very walls
Put the man on trial
I bet he turn colors that he's never shown.

Watch your back when your out on the down tonight
At every corner I lurk in the dark like the shadow on these very walls

Put the man on trial
I bet he turn colors that he's never shown.

The last note rang out throughout the room, and everyone went ballistic, raising cheers to the ceiling. Kairi was dizzy from dancing so much, and she and Namine were grinning at each other whole they cheered. Now that she'd had such a good time listening and getting into the music, Kairi felt silly for actually thinking that someone was watching her. After all, they wouldn't be so stupid as to attack her right in front of Sora, would they?

"I'm gonna go get some fresh air," Namine said over the sounds of Destiny Embrace's next song. "Wanna come with?"

"Yeah!" Kairi agreed, and the two girls pushed through the crowd, toward the doors.

Once they were outside, the contrast of the cool air upon her skin was just what Kairi needed to clear her head. The band could still be heard clearly, as the doors to The Secret Spot were wide open, and Kairi and Namine had free reign to stretch their limbs as they saw fit. Namine leaned up against the club wall and smiled over at Kairi.

"I never told you how glad I am that you came out of the hospital okay," Namine said.

"Aw, it's okay," Kairi said, stretching her arms out above her head. "I know you care, so don't worry."

"Except it's not okay," Namine scoffed incredulously. "Kairi, you tried to kill yourself. I think in light of that situation, you really need to know how glad I am that you survived."

Kairi glanced at her in awe, her mind automatically transporting her back to the beginning of their friendship. How Kairi had misunderstood Namine's intentions, how shy Namine had been, how cold Kairi had been toward her . . . Now, Kairi could happily say that Namine was her best friend. Namine had helped her through a lot of things, and even though Kairi was a terrible procrastinator and gave up on tons of things halfway through (i.e. her letter to Sora that still lay unfinished inside her bag at the beach house), it was the principle of the matter that counted the most. Namine's heart was big and pure and golden, and Kairi was lucky to be able to have her as a friend.

"Thank you, Nami," Kairi said with a fond smile. "Thank you for being there for me."

Namine giggled. "Thank you for coming back to us, girlie. I hope we never have to go through that type of fear again, thinking that we lost you."

"You won't," Kairi said firmly, eyes serious. "I promise."

"I believe you." Namine walked away from the wall and came to embrace Kairi, the two girls standing in the parking lot and holding one another.

"Well, isn't this touching."

Kairi bristled and whirled around, carefully placing herself in front of her best friend. Her eyes narrowed and her heart beat faster; her face darkened with hatred and rage.

"Zexion," she spat out.

The silver-haired fiend put one hand on his hip and the other combed its way through his silken locks. He smirked and looked from one girl to the other as if amused by their very presence.

"Is that any way to greet an old friend?" Zexion spread his arms wide, and as if on cue, Axel and Demyx exited the club.

So someone had been watching her . . .

"What do you guys want?" Kairi demanded, reaching behind her to grasp tightly to Namine's hand. "You already killed my dog . . . What, do you want my best friend, too?"

Zexion's smirk turned into a calm smile that was almost eery in the way it shone. "Hm . . . You still believe this whole . . . 'dance' revolves around you, don't you?"

"Um, that's because it does," Kairi retorted. "Riku sent you guys after me, didn't her? You, and that other gang."

Axel chortled and nudged Demyx. "It's like she's so naïve that it's almost sad."

"Tsk tsk," Demyx chided, resting and elbow upon Axel's shoulder and leaning into him jauntily. "And to think Sora warned us how clever you could be."

"There's way more to this than you can even begin to imagine, little girl," Zexion said coolly, slipping his hands into the pockets of his skinny jeans. "You think Sora's told you all of his secrets? Think again."

The music was swelling to a crescendo, signaling that Destiny's Embrace was ending their last song of the set. Kairi could hear them playing her favorite song, Fame Over Demise, and she bit her lip. Was Zexion right? Was Sora still keeping things from her? But . . . What more could there possibly be to this?

"I'll humor you for like, one millisecond," Kairi said haughtily, putting her hands onto her shapely hips. "Let's say Sora's still keeping secrets . . . What exactly hasn't he told me?"

Zexion looked down at his nails, much like the night he'd played a literary puzzle game with her before letting her try to escape their clutches. "Depends on your definition of the truth. Either he's told you everything that you wanted to know . . . Or really, he's told you nothing at all. Which is it, Kairi? Do you want the whole truth? Or do you want the truth that you want?"

Namine stepped forward. "Nobody understand what the fuck you're saying, you crazy asshole!" she cried. "If you're here to hurt Kairi, then you'd better just get ready for a fight, because you're gonna have to go through me." She jabbed her own chest with her thumb and nodded determinedly.

"Namine," Kairi warned, touched though she was by her best friend's protectiveness.

"The blonde one's feisty," Demyx cooed, smirking up at Axel.

"I'm guessing Riku didn't send you here for anyone but me, though, right?" Kairi snarled, once again pushing Namine behind her.

"So selfish," Axel scolded. "Riku didn't send us at all. Riku doesn't make the rules around here."

"Then you guys are working on your own?" Kairi relaxed a little bit. She wasn't very scared of these twits.

The corners of Zexion's lips twitched and her tilted is chin up, looking down his nose at Kairi.

"Wrong again, little one."

"Then who the Hell sent you?!" Kairi shrieked, growing fed up with Zexion's stupid games.

Without any warning and before either girl could make a move, Zexion produced a black gun from somewhere on his personage and aimed it directly at Namine's face. Kairi sucked in her breath and felt her entire body go cold.

"We don't answer questions," Zexion smirked. "We ask them." He cocked the gun and Kairi heard Namine whimper.

"Please . . ." Kairi whispered, not wanting to move for fear of inciting him to strike.

"There's a new lesson to be taught, girls," Zexion laughed derisively. "This time . . . Kairi's the student."

The gunshot rang out, and Kairi's scream shattered the night air. The music and cheering had come to a stop right after the sounds, and people began pouring out of the club in curiosity and concern. Girls were shrieking and clamoring and boys were yelling, but Kairi was on her knees beside her fallen, bleeding friend.

Namine's fingernails dug into the dirt ground beneath her trembling body. Blood was welling from a wound in the center of her stomach, and fear unlike any other had filled her baby blue eyes. Kairi was panicking just as much as she was, her mind racing as she struggled to remember what the fuck they'd taught her in First Aid class.

"P-Pressure," Namine spluttered, blood speckling her chin and staining her lips red. "Put . . . Put pr-pressure on i-it . . ."

Pale and ashen-faced, Kairi did as she was told, placing her palms upon Namine's wound and pressing down with all of her weight. She looked up, prepared to yell and scream her outrage and desperation, but was flabbergasted to see that the evil trio had disappeared into the night. There was blood everywhere, and Kairi wanted to cry, and they had just left. They had shot her and just . . . Left.

"Sora!" Kairi screamed as Namine's eyelids began to flicker shut. "Somebody call an ambulance! Someone get Sora!"

Several people were on their phones, calling 9-1-1, and one section of the assembled crowd parted ways so that the band could get through.

"What's going . . . ? NAMINE!" Roxas fell to his knees beside his girlfriend and cupped her face in his hands. "No, God no . . . Oh, my . . . Namine? Babe? Nami . . . You're gonna be okay, all right? You're g-gonna be o-okay . . ."

Kairi continued to keep the pressure on Namine's wound, watching as Roxas began to weep unashamedly out of terror. She couldn't help but wonder if that was how Sora had felt when he'd had found her in the bathtub. Kairi was overcome with a sudden rush of determination and she pushed down even more upon Namine's wound, hoping to staunch the blood flow completely.

"Th-That's good, K-Kai," Namine choked out, though her eyes had closed. "Just k-keep . . . K-Keep me from bl-bleeding out . . ."

Sirens were screaming in the distance, and Kairi only had eyes for Namine. Vanitas had Namine head cradled in his lap and Sora's hands were on Kairi's, helping her apply pressure. He was saying something to her, but she couldn't hear him. There was wind rushing past her ears—because this could be it. This could really be the moment where her best friend died right in front of her. She was completely, utterly in despair. The thought of losing Namine, the only other person on the planet who understood exactly what Kairi had gone through with Riku . . . It was nightmarish. Why had Zexion shot her? Why?

But most important and strange of all . . .

Who would want Namine dead, and why did Kairi need to be taught a lesson? And by whom?

"I'm gonna be okay," Namine was saying to Roxas a few minutes later, as paramedics wheeled her into the ambulance. Kairi wanted to ride to the hospital with her, but Roxas was so beside himself and in tears that it was probably best if he was the one to do it. With blood on her hands and clothes, she stood there and watch the car scream out of the parking lot, leaving her standing in the middle of the crowd in a bit of a dazed shock.

"This is so surreal," Kairi murmured.

"You heard her, though—she said she's going to be okay," Sora said soothingly, sliding his arms around her.

Kairi stood rigid in his embrace, finding that she felt much too wired after the events of the night. Perhaps she was in shock? Was that why she couldn't form any tears?

"Let's get you back home," Sora said softly. "Vani, I'm taking her back to the beach house. You gonna meet me there?"

"Yeah, but the police are coming. Shouldn't she stay and give a statement, or something?" Vanitas asked.

Their conversation went on around her, but it just sounded like a God-awful buzzing noise. It kept building and building and building, until Kairi felt like her head would explode. She didn't even realize she was screaming at the top of her lungs with her hands over her ears until Sora shook her out of it.

"I want to go," Kairi whispered, staring through Sora as if he were transparent.

Sora frowned and studied her face for a moment before he said, "Dude, you guys, I'm taking her back. Tell them if they want her statement, they can get it from her tomorrow morning. And besides, I . . . I never should have brought her out."

"It's not your fault, man," Tidus said worriedly. "Don't start thinkin' that shit. Just take my car and drive her back to the beach house—I'll ride over with Vani later, okay?"

Sora nodded and Kairi felt his hands on her shoulders, leading her away from the anxious, still-gathered crowd. Kairi blinked sluggishly up at him as the noise grew quieter and quieter. Even in her state of shock, she could see that he was blaming himself for this entire situation. She wanted to say something to him, but she honestly didn't even know what to think about her own part in this play.

Whose fault was this? Was there anyone at fault? Was it Sora? Kairi? Riku? Or was it someone else completely different? From the way Zexion, Demyx, and Axel had been talking, it sounded as though they answered to someone that was above even Riku, and even more malevolent than the Organization (which Kairi didn't even really know too much about).

"Sora?" Kairi said softly when they reached Tidus's car. She placed her hand on the door handle and looked at him. He was still standing next to her.

"Yeah?" There were tears sparkling in his eyes, though whether it was from the guilt or the sorrow over Namine, she could not be sure.

"Why am I not crying?"

Sora blinked. "You're in shock, babe," he said. "You just saw your best friend get shot right in front of you—it's understandable."

"No, it's not," Kairi's brow furrowed. "I should be upset. I should be . . . I should be sobbing . . . I should be . . . I don't know what I should be."

Sora took a step toward her, but she shook her head and put up a hand to stop him.

"I just . . . Just take me home, Sora," Kairi sighed. She felt like something was wrong with her, and her heart felt tired, too tired. After losing Memory, and now not knowing what was going on with Namine or with her own brain, Kairi was just . . . Tired.

"Okay," he sighed, backing away from her. "Okay."

Before they climbed into the car, Kairi lifted her face to the moon and closed her eyes.

'Please be okay, Namine . . .' she thought desperately. 'Please, please don't leave me.'

~x~

A/N: I FUCKING FINISHED IT, YEAH! Man, that was difficult. I hope you guys liked it enough. I know there wasn't too much plot development, but some of Kairi's family secrets are going to come to light soon! Anyway, it's like one AM, omg. Until next timeeeeee~