Disclaimer: Not mine

Chapter 37

Riku stirred slowly, body aching a little which meant he'd been fighting recently. He could feel warmth against his chest and cold at his back….Kairi and Sora, but…something felt different. He groaned but opened his eyes, finding Kairi's head against his shoulder, felt her legs tangled with his…wait…what? He lifted his head, feeling his hair fall forward as he did, saw the flash of silver…he let his head drop back to the pillow as he remembered.

"You okay?" Sora murmured so as not to wake her, and he felt cold lips press to the back of his neck.

"Not a dream?" he asked to be sure. He felt Sora's arm tighten around his waist and realise it couldn't be a dream because Sora's arm went all the way across, he'd been too big before for him to do that.

"You're back Riku," Sora promised, whispering in his ear, nuzzling at him, and Riku shivered. It felt…different….better than before.

"Sora," he whimpered, grabbing the arm around his waist, trying to roll.

He felt Sora shift back, gently pulling him with him, seeing Kairi shift and cuddle the pillow in his place, freeing him to roll to face Sora. It felt amazing to be able to look him in the eye, their bodies aligned with only a little difference, he was still taller than Sora but only by a few small inches. He lifted his hand to trace his face, seeing the contrast in their skin, it wasn't as much as when he'd worn Ansem's form, but even now he had darker skin than Sora. Sora had always been the most tanned of them and now he was so pale. At least his hand no longer looked so huge against Sora.

Sora smiled at him, leaning into his touch. "Love you," he whispered.

"Love you," Riku told him, leaning in and Sora met him half way, kissing, softly at first but then with more passion. It took Riku a few seconds to get used to the differences and work out how to kiss around Sora's fangs.

He wrapped his arms around Sora, stroking the base of his wings, and Sora moaned into the kiss. Warm hands drew back the mess of his hair, pressing to his neck and he realised Kairi was awake. She pressed against his back, a hand slipping under his shirt to stroke his side slowly.

"Okay?" She asked against his throat even as Sora rocked his hips against him.

Riku knew why she was asking, everything felt…more now. He was trembling between them even as Sora broke the kiss to let him gasp in a breath.

"Riku?" Sora asked, panting for unneeded air, struggling to hold back.

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

It was hard to think with Riku's hands stroking over his wings, their bodies pressed flush against each other, but Kairi speaking had helped clear his head a bit. He was panting for unneeded air, clinging to Riku as Riku trembled between them, his eyes looking almost black from how dilated his pupils were. It didn't help that he could smell all three of them either. But Riku was only just back to himself…if…if he needed more time…

Riku groaned, face flushed, breathing heavily. "Please, want…please…"

"Switch," Kairi said, and Sora easily rolled Riku between them, managing to get his sleep shirt off at the same time.

Riku had a much smaller build than Ansem, though still broader than his own. It was all new for them to learn and Riku seemed very eager to let them. They were soon naked, Kairi encouraging Riku to do what he had been too nervous to try with her before. Sora was content to touch and kiss, not wanting to try going that far so soon.

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Mickey looked up as the three teens finally emerged, all freshly showered and dressed. It was a relief to see Riku looking so at peace, walking in the middle, holding their hands. He found himself watching Sora as the three took seats at the table, still remembering Ansem's words on the Dark Corridors.

Had it been Sora to open the one that had allowed them to escape? That would explain it going to their home. Sora had changed since they had first met, but he was a growing teen…but still, it seemed more than just growing up even with the things he had gone through. Surely Sora would never give in to the Darkness, not after seeing what had happened to Riku. And because he was watching, he noticed that Sora…wasn't actually eating anything. Had he ever actually seen the teen eat?

Kairi giggled at something Sora had said, leaning in to kiss his cheek and he smiled at her, love clear in his eyes, easing Mickey's fears some, even as Riku snickered, Sora sticking his tongue out at him childishly. Not at all behaviour of someone who was sinking into the Darkness. He could sense the Darkness still within Riku's Heart but it was well balanced with Light and from his interactions with the other two, Mickey did not think he would be so easily lead astray again.

He smiled when Aqua emerged, looking a lot better than she had the night before, even as Aerith began plying her with food.

,,,,,,,,,

Aqua sat at the table, enjoying her second meal in so long, even as she watched everyone. Seeing the three children she had met back then, nearly grown, and so obviously in love…it was amazing to see. It made it easier to ignore the Darkness within the two boys, such love would be difficult to corrupt. Having heard even a brief summary of what they had been through in the last years…she wasn't sure if she wished they had never found the Islands or that she had performed the ceremony with Sora to give him his own Keyblade. She had wanted to spare them and yet they had ended up fighting each other anyway. She only prayed that she could be reunited with Terra and Ven the same way they had been.

She wanted to go immediately to retrieve his body, to finally wake up, but she understood why they had insisted on waiting. Sora and Riku had been exhausted, Riku having to adjust to a complete change in his body, and the others were tired as well from the early fighting. It would have been too risky to go since her description apparently lined up with one of the Organisation they had just defeated bases. Which meant there may be dangers there she would not expect.

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Riku could feel eyes on them and it didn't take long to realise King Mickey and Aqua were watching them. The King seemed almost…suspicious when his gaze fell on Sora and Riku feared what he may have seen or heart. He was the oldest of the Keyblade wielders, apprentice of Master Yen Sid himself….what would he do if he learnt the truth? He shifted in his chair to block his view of Sora more, to help hide Sora pretending to eat.

They would be leaving soon to retrieve Ventus' body so that Ienzo could somehow remove his Heart from Sora. If Ventus had changed then the gig would be up once he woke, everyone would become aware of what Sora was. If the tried anything…he would fight to keep Sora safe and he knew Kairi would too. He hadn't been able to open a corridor back there but he was pretty sure that desperation would help as well as a closer end point, like Maleficent's castle…and when had it begun to feel like a safe place again? He didn't want to believe that the King would turn on Sora, not when they had worked together so well when he'd been asleep but he would not be caught unawares.

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Sora waited for the group to gather. Part of him was worried about going back to Castle Oblivion, if it could have a bad effect on Riku, if it would be infested by Nobodies…anything. He could hear Riku's heart speeding up the closer it got to the time to leave, so he slipped his hand into his, squeezing gently. Riku looked down at him and offered a small, shaky, smile. Kairi moved to Riku's other side, taking his free hand. They would not let anything happen to him.

Aqua and Ienzo soon joined them, Ienzo with some portable equipment to ensure that Ventus' body was in good enough condition to accept his Heart without bad side effects. Sora bit back a grimace when Mickey joined them as well…that was not expected. And it worried him, if Ventus had taken on any vampiric traits…no, there were enough of them to keep Mickey from doing anything rash, there were. Of course, now how were they going to get there?

Mickey motioned to him, and Sora hesitated, but then he kissed Riku's cheek, squeezing his hand, before moving over to his friend, out of ear shot of the others…maybe not Riku, depending on if his senses were picking up yet.

"Mickey?" he asked.

"Sora…DiZ, Ansem the Wise, told me something before his machine blew up that I wanted to speak with you about."

"Okay?" Sora asked, knowing that if his heart still beat, it'd be racing.

"He said that you can open Dark Corridors," Mickey told him, watching him.

Sora was torn, should he lie and risk being caught out later…or tell at least that much of the truth? He bit his lip, not even feeling the pain of his fang sinking in, the wound healing immediately. "I can," he answered softly.

"Sora…" Mickey stared at him with wide eyes.

"Naminé taught me, Merlin's fine with it as long as I'm careful."

"You opened the Corridor that got us to safety."

Sora nodded. "But I didn't close it, we were right behind Kairi. I opened the one that got us out of the Realm of Darkness too, it took longer cause of the fights, I was drained. I'm not falling to Darkness Mickey, I would never…it'd kill Kairi and Riku if I did."

Mickey stared at him for a while before nodding. "Alright, I trust ya Sora. Just be careful, please. We can't lose you."

Sora smiled at him. "You won't, I promise."

Mickey nodded and then surprised him by hugging him, and Sora knelt to hug him better.

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Kairi relaxed when she saw Mickey hug Sora, Riku had told her of how he was watching him. She didn't know what they'd said to each other but that had to be a good sign. And then Sora stepped away and held his hand up, opening a Corridor. They all pulled out the coats, Sora going without due to numbers. She kept her grip on Riku's hand as they walked towards Sora, pulling the hood up with her free hand. Sora reached out and adjusted Riku's before taking his other hand, the three of them waiting for the others to go through since it would close behind Sora.

,,,,,,,,,,,,

Riku stiffened as they stepped out, staring at the strange castle before them. He pressed a hand to his head, feeling a brief sense of something strange. He felt his hand being squeezed and shook off the feeling, pushing back the hood to find Kairi had shoved her own back, staring at him in concern, and then Sora's arm was around his waist. "I'm okay," he told them, ignoring the looks from the others.

He forced himself to look at the castle again. "So what now?" he asked.

"I promised Ven I'd wake him. Said I'd be right back, but I'm not even close. I'm in for an earful," Aqua answered, smiling slightly.

They watched as Aqua aimed the Keyblade at the castle doors, a Keyhole appearing with a dazzling light. The group stared in amazement as the wind whipped around them and Aqua steeled her resolve. She thrust the Keyblade forward and a beam of light sparked forward into the Keyhole. They shielded themselves from a burst of wind, while Aqua stared unblinking as the seal on the castle broke. A projection of a splendid castle rose on the face of the current castle and the many towers and floors readjusted themselves to match the projection, untwisting and untangling the endless halls, everything clicking into place. The shadowy darkness of the clouds around the castle was pushed back to reveal the bright blue sky of the world known as The Land of Departure. They walked forward in awe of their surroundings, even Ienzo who had grown up in the old Radiant Garden.

As soon as the change finished, Riku felt the strange sensation fade totally, much to his relief. They all stripped off the coats so as not to confuse Ventus when he woke.

Aqua turned to face them. "Ready?" she asked, and they all nodded.

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

As soon as Sora stepped into the castle he tensed, scenting the air subtly. There was something…

"Sora?" Kairi whispered.

"Something's wrong," he murmured, and they were immediately on guard.

"Sora?" Mickey called his name, and he grimaced.

"There's something wrong, we're not alone," he said loud enough for the others to hear. He moved ahead of them, not yet calling his Keyblade, searching the halls, but he couldn't find anything.

They came to some stairs and Aqua moved passed him, up to the door. "Ven," she murmured and Sora rushed after her. She opened the door and Sora heard a low growl.

"Aqua wait!" he yelled as she entered the room.

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

She heard Sora but didn't listen, Ventus was in there and if Sora was right then someone might be there to hurt him! She pushed through the doors, eyes immediately going to the dais and the three thrones, freezing as she realised they were empty. "No," he gasped. "Ven?" she called and then she heard it, a low growl. She summoned her Keyblade, looking around warily. "Ventus, are you here?" she asked.

She cried out as something moving too fast to see slammed into her, knocking her to the floor and her Keyblade from her hand. She groaned, blinking up at blond spikes and a beloved face…but the usually smiling face was locked in a snarl. "Ven? It's me, it's Aqua," she tried to get through to him.

He snarled at her, no recognition at all in his eyes. There was nothing, he was…like an animal. And then his weight was gone and she scrambled up, hearing snarls and hisses from across the room.

"Sora!" Mickey yelled in shock.

"No, don't!" That was Riku. "Sora knows what he's doing."

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

He snarled and snapped, fighting wildly, hungry, he was so hungry. Food was so close, he could smell it, he needed it!

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Sora heard the snarls and hit the doors at full speed, launching himself at the blond pinning Aqua to the ground. They skidded across the polished floor, Ventus snarling and snapping at him….with human blunt teeth thankfully. He was stronger than Sora had expected, nothing human in his eyes, and Sora felt sick, it was his fault! But he didn't slacken his grip on the other, pinning him to the floor. He heard Mickey and Riku in the background but he was fully focused on getting Ventus under control.

"Shh Ventus, it's okay, calm down," he breathed in Ventus' ear. "I'm here, you're safe," he crooned, nuzzling at him, beginning to purr.

He felt Ventus freeze under him, before the fight slowly drained out of his body, the other boy whining softly, needily. He wasn't actually feeling the hunger was he? He didn't have fangs, his heart was pounding from the exertion….surely he couldn't ingest blood? He knew blood made humans sick but maybe he could drink?

"Sora?" Ienzo called softly.

"Is his Heart in him or is this his body reacting?" he asked, just loud enough for the scientist to hear him.

"Will he allow me to examine him?"

Sora lifted a hand to gently stroke through spiky blond hair, getting a good look at Ventus' face, shocked by how much they looked alike. He was whimpering, pressing into his touch, and Sora wanted to protect him, keep him safe…like…oh. "I can keep him under control," Sora admitted shakily.

He carefully let Ventus go and sat up, the other boy immediately moving with him, whimpering, seeking comfort. He licked at Sora's wrist in a clear request, and Sora grimaced.

"What is it?" Riku asked, shifting closer, one hand around Aqua's wrist, holding her back.

"He's hungry…but I don't know if he can feed."

"Feed?" Mickey asked in alarm.

"As it appears the King is the only one here not in the know, he should either leave so that we can work or be informed," Ienzo pointed out.

Sora pulled Ventus up against his chest, hunger glazed blue eyes staring into his own, and he gently rubbed his back. "It's okay, you're okay," he murmured. "Want him awake or asleep?" he asked Ienzo.

"Asleep may be best."

Sora nodded and gently cupped Ventus' cheek in his hand. "Shh little one, just relax, time to sleep now, I'm here," he crooned, and Ventus' eyes began to droop, body going lax against him, until his eyes closed. Sora stood with Ventus cradled to his chest and Aqua pulled away from Riku, reaching for him, touching his face, terrified. "It's okay Aqua, we'll work this out."

"Is he…"

"You can feel the warmth of his skin can't you?" he asked, and she nodded, relieved. Sora carried him to the thrones and gently settled Ventus down on the one that smelt like him, making sure he was in a comfortable position and then nodded to Ienzo who moved in to set up his equipment.

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Mickey didn't have a clue what was going on…but it all centred on Sora. The way they had fought, Ventus' behaviour….they'd been acting…like wild animals. He watched as Sora stepped back from the once again sleeping Ventus only for Riku and Kairi to move in, looking for injuries.

"I'm fine," Sora whispered but it carried in the large open room.

"Is that…how she got you?" Kairi asked, and Sora looked away before nodding.

"I've never tried to before, but I just knew how to do it." Sora glanced up to see him watching them. He kissed Kairi's cheek and squeezed Riku's hand before walking towards him.

"I think we need to talk more Sora," he admitted, and the teen nodded. Mickey was shocked to see the barely hidden terror in his eyes. What could make him that scared of him?

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Aqua stayed at Ventus' side as the young scientist set up the necessary equipment, even holding things for him when asked. It was a relief to hear the steady bet of Ventus' physical heart once the machine was connected to him, yes, Sora had said Ventus was alive, but it felt better to have proof beyond his and her own senses.

"Hmmm."

"What is it?" she asked.

"I've never seen readings like this," he admitted. "And yes, Sora has allowed me to scan him, especially once he learnt of Ventus' presence, he has been worried about how his condition would affect him."

"But he's still human."

"I fear that isn't strictly true," he argued and then one of the monitors wailed and Ienzo looked up before glancing back to where Sora had been, except now he wasn't in the room. "Sora!" Ienzo called and the vampire reappeared quickly, the machine quieting. "Very interesting."

"What is it?" she asked.

"It seems that Ventus' Heart is in neither of them."

"What?" She demanded.

"It is between them. It seems to have partially woken, which is why Ventus was able to move and attack you, even respond to Sora the way he did. It is trying to return fully to Ventus but is still partially tied to Sora, that is why the readings plummeted when he left the room."

"So what do we do?" Sora asked.

"Is there anything special about how he reacted to you?" Ienzo asked him, and Sora winced.

"Yeah…he...it's like he's my… but he's human and even if he wasn't, I didn't turn him!"

"So he is reacting to you as if you were his Sire?" Ienzo pushed for clarification, and Sora nodded.

Aqua listened, terrified for Ventus. She reached out to stroke his hair, needing to reassure herself he was really there and alive.

"Aren't we a bit young to have a teenager?" Kairi tried to joke.

"And if he was, how would you sooth him?" Ienzo asked Sora.

"Feed him, it's why he was licking my wrist, he's reacting like he's starving. But humans can't drink blood."

"Not normally, no," Ienzo agreed.

"Are you suggesting I feed him?" Sora demanded, growling slightly.

"Will that turn him?" She demanded as well, she liked Sora, but to have Ventus become his something…she couldn't lose him.

Sora shook his head. "It's venom in the fangs that does that." He frowned, stating at Ventus. "You think the link of my blood can help his Heart finish moving across and waking?"

"Indeed. It is my best theory at the moment. Perhaps with Even and Merlin's help we could come up with something else but it will take time and you would have to remain close to him."

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Mickey had followed Sora back into the room and was listening intently since there'd been no time to actually speak before Sora had rushed back in as a machine had wailed and Ienzo had summoned him. Turn him, drink blood…Sire. He'd heard that kind of talk once, when he'd been an apprentice, but where and in relation to what?

"Okay, let's do this," Sora stripped out of his jacket and Riku took it.

"Sora?" Riku asked him, and Sora managed a shaky smile.

"I can do this," he told the older teen.

Mickey watched quietly, Sora seemed very unsure about what they were suggesting he try.

"Sora, maybe you should take it off, if he's reacting instinctively and you don't look right…" Kairi spoke up quietly.

Sora paused and glanced at him, before nodding, reaching for his upper arm for some reason. "Mickey?"

"Yes Sora?"

"I…I'm sorry…I should have told you ages ago, but you learnt under Yen Sid, and Merlin made it clear to never go near him. I…I was scared you'd, well, hate me."

"Sora," he started, but the boy shook his head.

"I didn't chose this Mickey, you can ask Donald and Goofy," his voice was almost pleading, and Mickey nodded.

Whatever he was about to see and learn, this was still the same boy who had defeated Xehanort's Heartless and Nobody, had saved countless Worlds, worked himself to utter exhaustion to ensure Riku woke with his memory intact. He saw Sora pull his hand down, a band of metal appearing as it moved, and then the image of the Sora he knew was gone.

,,,,,,,,,,

Sora didn't wait to see how Mickey reacted to his true appearance. He approached the Throne and lifted Ventus, sitting down to cradle him in against his own body. He made sure he was in a position where he wouldn't choke, his head against Sora's shoulder, then checked with Ienzo who nodded. Sora took a deep breath and then used a claw to slice into his wrist, pressing the wound to Ventus' lips even as he began whispering encouragement to him. He opened his Heart to Ventus, his sort-of Childe, wanting him to have what he hadn't when he was turned, the feeling of safety. He rubbed Ventus' throat with his other hand to encourage him to swallow and then he felt warm lips seal over the wound, Ventus sucking greedily.

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

There was something delicious in his mouth and he swallowed eagerly, wanting more. He was so tired but there was a gentle voice calling to him and he felt completely safe. Slowly, he became aware of being held, a hand rubbing his side gently, a wing wrapped partly over him. Sire…he knew him, the voice that had saved him… He could feel his energy returning, could smell at least five others, four human and one not, could make out talking but not the exact words, and then he began working on opening his eyes, flinching at the bright light, but then slowly he focused, blinking. He whined as the food stopped, licking his lips to get the last, and then someone was in front of him. Someone he knew….

"Good morning, Ven," she whispered.

He knew her…he did…he did! He reached for her clumsily, felt the arm holding him let go, falling forward, and she caught him, holding him close. He rubbed his cheek against her shoulder. "A…Aq…Aqua."

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Mickey watched how gentle Sora was with Ventus even as he fed him his blood. It was a shock but he could still see bits of the Sora he knew in the vampire, his face, hair, expressions…he understood now why Merlin had kept Sora away from Master Yen Sid, he could feel the Darkness in Sora now, different than Riku's, stronger too in some ways. But it didn't control him. No, Sora loved too deeply for that.

TBC…

Ventus is not a vampire, more like half. So he has some adjusting to do but not as much as Sora did.