Disclaimer: not mine

Chapter 36

Riku fought not to tense as Sora licked at his throat before sharp fangs sank into him. He bit back a gasp of pain, hands moving to cling to Sora as he began to drink. Slowly, the pain faded, leaving a funny pulling sensation. He felt strange, it wasn't blood loss…he just felt…relaxed, no urge to struggle. He moaned softly, trying to pull Sora closer, arousal flooding his body. He was vaguely aware of movement and then he was lying on the sand, Sora's body pressed to his, mouth latched firmly to his throat.

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She watched in shock as the smaller male seemed to bite the silver haired boy…silver hair. Was it possible? Had her sacrifice failed to save him? She heard a low moan, saw him clutching at the other boy as they moved so that he was lying on top, moving…yes, well.

There was something strange…the boy on top, she could feel the Darkness in him but there was Light too. And…were those wings?

She hesitated, but she was not watching if they decided to go further and they both had Light within them, soon they would attract the residents and they would be easy targets with how occupied they were…she should warn them.

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He drank deeply, grinding his hips down, able to taste the arousal in his blood….Riku's blood. He had to stop…had to… he snarled, crouching over Riku, wings flared out, claws ready, and fangs bared.

"Sora?" Riku mumbled from beneath him, dazed.

Sora shook his head, struggling against his instincts, to think like a human. There was a figure approaching….humanoid, a Nobody? He sniffed the air, he could detect a scent, female. He growled in warning, he wouldn't let anyone hurt Riku!

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Riku lay in the sand, panting, struggling to focus. He heard Sora growl and groggily lifted his head, one hand pressed to the wound. There was…he forced himself to move, sitting up as much as he could with Sora crouched over him. He gathered what magic he had and focused a cure spell at the bite, it was enough to stop the bleeding at least.

He looked over again, it was a woman, a few years older than them maybe…familiar? That outfit, hair… he reached out and touched Sora's back, being carefully of his spread wings. "Sora, shh," he soothed, rubbing his back gently, trying to calm him. "Come on, let me up."

Sora whined softly, shaking his head, but he moved a little, enough to let him sit up properly.

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She stopped as the boy literally growled at her, everything in his body language screaming threat. She really wanted a Keyblade but Master Eraqus' had vanished after the Door was shut. He didn't look at all human anymore, but she hesitated, threat to her but….protective of the other boy. There was…blood on his mouth and another look at who she was becoming sure was Riku, revealed blood on his throat, some dripping down his neck.

She watched him move, a little sluggish, unable to sit or stand with the other boy crouched over him, but he showed no far as he touched his back.

"Sora, shh," he soothed, rubbing his back without any sign of fear. "Come on, let me up."

Sora? That couldn't be the bright young boy she had met on the beach, could it? He whined, shaking his head, but he moved enough to let Riku sit up.

"Riku?" She asked warily as he pushed his hair back from his face. His hair had been a lot shorter in the glimpse she'd gotten of him as he raced to the Door. How long ago had that been? She took a step and Sora snarled.

"Just stay there," Riku told her, shifting around to kneel. "Easy Sora, it's okay." He looked over at her again. "You're…the woman from the beach when we were little," he said warily, and she nodded. "You aren't going to try anything are you?" he asked.

"He wasn't…" she indicated his throat, and he went red.

"It was consensual," he answered. "He wasn't hurting me," he told her before turning his attention back to Sora. "It's okay Sora, she's not going to hurt us." He pressed himself close, very close, kissing Sora's jaw. "Can you get into your magical pockets, Sora? Get an emergency pack," he was whispering, but sound carried very well in the stillness of the Darkness.

Sora jerked his head in a nod, leaning in, nuzzling at Riku's throat even as his hand reached into a pocket, coming out with some kind of packet. He pulled back and then tore into it with his teeth, drinking the contents. He shuddered, slumping against Riku, who wrapped his arms around him. It was strange…suddenly she was seeing two versions of the boy, one human overlaid on the winged version. An illusion of some kind?

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"Riku?" he licked at the wound to finish sealing it from where Riku had managed to partially heal it, feeling bad for not doing so earlier.

"I'm okay, you didn't hurt me," Riku promised, gently tipping his head up, kissing him softly. "You with me?" he asked, and Sora nodded.

He sat back and looked over at the person who interrupted, studying her, and Riku kept an arm around his waist, it wouldn't stop Sora but would make him think. "You got me to promise to keep Riku safe. But you never said who you are." He was pretty sure she had to be Aqua though, he could feel something in his Heart…like he should know her, Ventus?

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"You remember me?" she was surprised, they had been very young at the time.

Sora nodded, "I remember everything. I know another stranger came, before you, and talked with Riku, after he left Riku wouldn't tell me what they talked about, that it was a secret."

That must have been Terra. It explained why she had sensed his Keyblade magic around Riku back then.

"I'd forgotten that," Riku admitted. "He never gave his name either."

"Aqua, my name is Aqua. And from what I sensed about you back then, that would have been Terra," she offered. "I saw you and King Mickey, we were going to close the Door. Why are you still here? Where's the King?"

"Safe, or he should be," Sora told her.

"We got out a while later apparently, I don't really remember," Riku admitted. "I ended up in Castle Oblivion, where Sora was already fighting through. The place…messes with memory, so did someone there. I don't remember anything between closing the Door and waking up in Twilight Town a year later."

"We were fighting Organisation XIII, Xemnas led us in here. We beat him but drained too much magic to get out of here," Sora spoke up again.

They had a way out? Could she finally be free of the Darkness. She watched as Sora stood up, Riku following, hovering at his shoulder. They'd both grown a lot since she had met them on a very different beach, Riku had grown since that last glimpse she'd gotten of him too.

She looked back at Sora, she was sure he'd been human as a child. He definitely hadn't had wings, claws or fangs! Was it the Darkness she sensed in him? Not as much as Vanitas, but more than she'd felt from Terra until that last fight. Riku had Darkness too, but far less. Master Eraqus would not have approved at all. Had Riku learned to call his Keyblade?

"Incoming," Sora suddenly spun, scanning the area. He drew his hand back and to her shock a Keyblade materialised. Riku was instantly back to back with him, calling a weapon, it wasn't a Keyblade…not quite…

She moved cautiously closer to them but Sora didn't react negatively to her presence, even as she slipped into a defensive stance. She could use a little magic without a Keyblade to channel it, she was a Master and she did focus on magic use after all.

"Heartless," Riku said.

"Be careful," Sora turned his head to look at his friend. "You've lost some of the skills you're used to."

"I know," Riku agreed.

That was interesting, what had he lost and why? She saw the incoming wave of what Mickey had told her were called Heartless. The two boys….they were amazing! They fought in such unison, totally at ease with one another. If one faltered, the other was there to cover them. She stayed back, tossing spells where and when she could. The fight didn't last very long but it was tiring, she hadn't had much rest since the Door had been closed.

"Are you alright?" Sora asked her, and she nodded.

"You have a way out?" she asked.

"Yeah, give me a few minutes. Too many fights in a row, even with taking blood between."

"Don't forget you got impaled, pinned to a wall, and then had Xemnas cutting into you with a blade of energy," Riku told him.

Aqua's eyes went wide, all that and he was still able to fight?

"I'm fine," Sora told his friend…er, lover? What did they call things like that now? He looked at her. "You can come with us, I'm sure Mickey'll be happy to see you," Sora told her.

The Realm of Light…it was everything she'd dreamed of…and that made her wary. How many times had she been fooled into thinking she had found her friends or a way out? And they both had substantial Darkness within them, were they really the boys? Or something else tricking her?

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Riku saw the doubt and he didn't blame her, he knew what this place could do to you, and he hadn't been trapped for even a year, let alone the years she had been. "We're real Aqua, and we'll get you out. You can trust us," he told her, Soul Eater gone, hands spread and empty.

Merlin had told them what little he knew of the three older Keyblade wielders. Aqua was a Master, the other two weren't. He knew they were all worried about how Ventus would be affected by Sora being a vampire. No one had heard a thing about Terra since he'd been seen fighting strange creatures, not Heartless, around Radiant Garden with the others.

"Come with us Aqua, back to the Light," he pleaded before glancing at Sora, should they tell her?

"We know where Ventus' Heart is," Sora told her softly, and she froze. "We've been working on a way to give him a body."

"Where, where is Ven?" she demanded.

Riku shifted closer to Sora again, just in case she took it badly.

"In my Heart. He was badly hurt and needed somewhere to sleep and heal," Sora explained.

"In…you?" She looked between them. "Sora was a human child, you," she hesitated, "what are you?" that was a definite demand, and Riku bristled, but stayed quiet.

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Sora didn't flinch at her question, he'd been expecting it since she'd interrupted him feeding from Riku. He was actually glad she had since he'd been having trouble trying to stop himself. He could kick himself for not realising how different it would be to feed from Riku than it had been from Jane. He'd gone right for the throat with Riku and with their relationship the way it was…he may not be able to produce the venom needed to change someone yet, but to begin the mating process? Yeah, good thing Aqua had spoken up when she did. Riku was going through enough changes without adding that in, maybe once it was done then they could discuss it, all three of them.

He hated having to explain what he was, but Aqua needed to know, because it may have affected Ventus. He just hoped he hadn't turned as well.

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Kairi paced the beach, worried sick for her boys. Why had the Corridor shut? They'd beaten Xemnas already…hadn't they? She knew Sora had opened it, she knew the feel of his magic too well by now to be fooled, though she understood why he'd hidden it from Mickey. It had been two days and no sign of them, she knew Sora would do everything he could to defend Riku, but even the vampire had his limits. Still, so long as they were together they made an excellent team…so long as Riku was able to get used to being back into his true body…especially since he was changing into a Dark Faerie.

She was a little scared about that, she assumed it would mean a physical change, which hopefully Merlin could hide like he did for Sora, but…would he change mentally? Emotionally? Would he still be Riku…or would he be like Maleficent? Sora trained under her so she had to have some kind of good points to her, right? Then again, Sora had changed since becoming a vampire…or because he'd been fighting a war alone and growing up? He'd become a lot more…pragmatic, less cheerful. Would he have changed the same way if they had never left home?

"Kairi!" Goofy yelled, and she turned, seeing where he was pointing….a Dark Corridor!

She ran to join them, seeing them ready to fight, but then Riku emerged, lifting his hand to shield his eyes from the bright island sun. "Riku!" She yelled, running towards him and he met her, wrapping his arms around her as she clung to him.

"Kairi," he whispered, freeing a hand to stroke her cheek. She went up on tiptoes and he met her, kissing her softly.

"Hey, what about me?"

She laughed and moved to the newly arrived Sora, hugging and kissing him too, before she saw the stranger behind them, the woman, blinking in the sun.

"Aqua?!" King Mickey called in wonder and shock.

"We found her in the Realm of Darkness," Riku told the King.

"What happened?" he asked her boys.

"The Corridor shut after Kairi, turns out Xemnas wasn't as dead as we thought. We beat him and ended up on a beach in the Dark where Aqua found us. Between the three of us we managed to get another one to open," Riku lied to the King, covering for Sora, which meant…Aqua had to have seen something, enough to convince her not to tell.

"This is really…the Realm of Light," she whispered, and then she looked at Kairi, her gaze dropping to the necklace she always wore. "You're Kairi."

"Do I know you?"

"We met once when you were very little, I put a spell on that to ensure that if anything happened, you would find safety."

"Guess it worked," she whispered, was that how she had ended up on the Islands?

"We should get back to Radiant Garden, we…we need to tell them about Axel," Sora spoke up. That sobered the group.

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Aqua smiled shakily at the King, seeing his joy at seeing her. It wasn't his fault, what had happened to her. He'd explained how hard it was to get access to the Realm of Darkness, and with the fight Sora and Riku had told him about, he wouldn't have had time to search for a new way in. She was sure he would have once the fight was done. It was good to know that all three children she had met back then were happy, although she had never dreamed they would all meet. She still wondered why Sora had a Keyblade and not Riku but would ask later.

"Who is Axel?" she asked the King softly.

"He was a Nobody, a member of the Organisation, but thanks to Sora he left them to help us. He was the one to show us the way to their base but he gave his life to ensure we made it through," Mickey explained quietly. "Sora was the closest to him, he didn't take it well."

"He told me…that Ventus' heart is in his," she whispered, and Mickey stared at her with wide eyes.

"Well…come ta think of it, first time I met Sora, I was surprised by the similarities. Ventus' heart could explain that."

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Demyx watched the group moved into the house, they'd all made…where was Axel? He stood up, seeing a blue haired lady…but no redhead besides the Princess. Naminé and Daichi stood beside him, he wasn't sure what he thought of them. Naminé…she was like a person, as if she really did have emotions. They'd done a good job helping Dai look as different as possible to the original Riku and he seemed to be developing into a unique person.

Sora walked up to them, blue eyes wide, and Demyx knew….Axel was gone.

"Was it Xemnas?" he asked, and Sora shook his head. "Good, that was good, better destruction than being turned into a Dusk.

"We were outnumbered, he sacrificed himself to burn out the army of Dusks. I'm sorry guys."

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Naminé pressed a hand to her mouth, felt Dai wrap his arm around her waist. Axel…he'd given his existence to save them…or the memory of Xion that lived on in Riku and Sora? She hoped he would have peace now…and that they'd soon see him again. So long as his Heartless had been destroyed at least. She didn't know, that wasn't in her ability to see, she saw memories, sometimes something that was coming so long as it was connected to Sora or Kairi, like how she'd known he was on his way to the Castle, how she'd found Riku because of how tightly he was tied to them.

She knew why Demyx was grateful for how he had died, the thought of Xemnas turning him into a Dusk…it would have been to destroy him if that had happened. It was over now, Xemnas was gone, they could have peace, right?

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Aqua studied the eclectic group gathered in the cosy home, she only recognised Merlin out of the group that had been waiting. She watched Sora approach a tall blond, standing with a younger pair, it took her a second to realise they looked a lot like Riku and Kairi, younger siblings maybe? The girl and older male seemed to take the news of the man's death hard.

As much as she felt bad, she wanted to discuss Ven, if he was truly sheltered within Sora then she needed to retrieve his body so that he could wake up. The thought of him locked away alone, unable to wake, for so long made her sick. She had promised to be back for him soon…she only hoped that if he was aware, that awareness lay with Sora and not his sleeping body.

And now that they were out, she felt….tired, hungry.

"Ah! Well, you are a marvellous sight my dear," an elderly voice said and she started but then managed a smile for the wizard. "A nice hot bath, food, and rest, that's what you need. Although we have good news. Sora!" he called, and the vampire turned to them. "Good news from the castle, they succeeded with a Replica for young Ventus."

"Really? That's great, but he doesn't need it. Aqua knows were his body his."

"Even better," Merlin agreed. "Then I believe Naminé is next in line," he nodded at the blond girl. "Come along, let's find you a room."

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Kairi knocked and then let herself into their room, finding Riku standing in front of a mirror, staring at himself, Sora hovering over him. "You're still far too good looking," she offered, and Riku looked over at him.

"I…" he looked back at his reflection, shaking his head, hair moving with him.

She walked over and reached out to gather his hair in her hands. It was longer than Dai's had been when he was found, and somehow softer. Considering he'd been stuck with another's form for months that was amazing.

"Kairi," he closed his eyes, leaning back towards her.

She pressed against his back, letting go of his hair to wrap her arms around his waist. "Love you," she told him, and then he turned in her arms, looking down at her. She reached up to trace his cheek, staring into familiar cyan eyes that she'd missed so much.

"Love you," Riku told her, utterly serious.

He leant towards her and she smiled, meeting him part way, kissing him. They stood there, kissing for an eternity, before she drew him to the bed, Sora joining them there. Sora settled against the pillows, holding Riku against his chest and she straddled him, kissing and touching him, loving how much more expressive Riku's true form was compared to the Heartless'. They went no further, Riku still worn out from the battle with Xemnas, and he needed some time to adjust to being himself again.

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Sora lay beside Riku as he and Kairi slept, unable to keep from running his hand up and down Riku's side softly. Xemnas and his Organisation were gone, they'd rescued Aqua, and very soon Ventus would be free. He was a little unsure about that, if it would affect him or not, but it had to be done. Would he lose his Light when Ven left him? Was it only because of him that he had any? No, his Light was his own, even if he was a vampire.

TBC…