CHAPTER 01: The Odd Dream & the Beach

*Dream*

Sora was running. Just running. As he ran, little yellow eyes kept popping up around him. He could hear screams and shouts and he kept running, panting slightly as he began to slow down. He stopped altogether, and bent double, complete chaos erupted around him. The sky lit up with fireworks, and all the flowers around him erupted in full bloom. Sora could see an ocean nearby, and little water figures were dancing to some non-existent music. The sky above started to layer itself with stars as even more fireworks blew up, the sky was representing night, and was utterly black. The wind had picked up dramatically, and as Sora looked around him, worried, a mountain started to form itself underneath his feet, making Sora gasp, and he lost his balance a little. He regained it quickly, when the top of the mountain, where he stood, started to coat itself with ice. Sora gasped as the cold hit him slightly. Then, there was a roar of thunder and lightning which made Sora look up, eyes wide, and a stroke of lightning came down upon a palm tree. A moon arose behind it, and even as it did, a bright, flaming sun came out of the shadows at the other end of the sky. As Sora stared around, the transformation finished, and his breath left him, it was that beautiful.

"A great view, beautiful... Isn't it?" A voice from behind him said. Sora spun around, forgetting he was on top of an icy mountain, and slipped, hitting his head hard on the floor. He groaned whereas the voice chuckled. Sora looked up from where he lay to see a purple haired boy in a black trench coat. The boy offered a hand to Sora, to help him up, which Sora took, smiling his thanks to the boy. Sora looked around until his sight settled on the boy in front of him.

"Where am I?" He asked and the boy chuckled again.

"Instead of asking who I am, you ask where you are. Interesting. To answer your question, you are in a place that is 'In-between the Worlds'. There is no proper name for this place. Just that. I'm sure it used to be called 'Nome', but it's obviously changed over time. It's just an odd surprise to see that hadn't included my own element into this concoction of beauty. Illusions. And then that leads me to my name. We have never met, but I'm sure you've met some of my ex-colleagues. I'm Zexion, or as I used to be called, Ienzo." Zexion smiled warmly at Sora, who was still frowning. Riku had mentioned a Zexion; he had fought this 'Zexion' in Castle Oblivion. And then Zexion got destroyed. If that was right, how come he was standing here in front of him?

"Riku fought you, in Castle Oblivion. He said you got destroyed. Right?" Sora questioned, and Zexion nodded, a frown appearing on his brow. "Then how are you here? And why haven't you destroyed me if you're with Organization XIII?" Sora questioned further, and this time Zexion chuckled.

"To be honest, I don't know how I stand either. But this is a dream, for both of us. And about Organization XIII... I've decided to desert them; they've humiliated me far too many times. I just came into this dream to heed you a warning. They're back. Organization XIII are back. I'm to desert, and I want to re-do my life. I want to be forgiven all the wrong-doing I've done. They know I've deserted, that's why Illusions are not around us. But there are several others who plan to desert as soon as they see you. I need your help, Sora. We need to find them, so to speak, so we can defeat the Heartless, and Xemnas before a bigger evil shows up. This evil might show soon. We will encounter each other very much sooner in this journey, and once we do, we shall pair together with Riku, and Kairi to find the other traitorous Organization XIII members. Roxas we can rule out; he joined with you didn't he?" Zexion phrased and Sora nodded. Zexion also nodded. "He might come out of you in full form to help you along your journey. But only a little. We shall meet soon Sora. I hope. And when that time comes, I hope you've made your decision to help me or not..." Zexion said and Sora interrupted him.

"What if I made my decision now?" He said, bluntly and Zexion chuckled.

"I think not. You need to think about it. Give it some time. You may find, if you chose now, that you regret your decision later on. I don't want to experience that if you do. Think about all the possibilities over the next day, and I'll find you. I will..." Zexion smiled again, when they heard a clock tower chime. Zexion looked up at the sky, horror on his face.

"No..." He muttered and Sora frowned. "Sora, go. Wake up. They're coming." Zexion muttered and Sora's eyes widened. As Zexion disappeared and Sora's vision blurred, he could make out a clock in front of him, saying 9 o'clock. Sora closed his eyes as he touched his heart, and blacked out from his dream altogether.

*The Islands*

"Sora! Wake up!" A girl's voice screamed. Sora opened his eyes slowly, and he yawned, showing he wanted to go back to sleep. The girl's voice laughed openly, as Sora groaned.

"Urgh, I want to go back to sleep... such a good dream..." Sora lied and the girl stopped laughing as Sora opened his eyes fully to see Kairi and Riku. Riku was smiling and frowning at the same time, while Kairi was just grinning. Then, Sora remembered the decision he had to make. To go, or not to go?

"What was your dream about?" Riku asked; concern in his voice. Sora frowned.

"What's up, Riku?" He asked, seeing how he didn't want to talk about Zexion yet.

"Oh, well, it was just that you were muttering in your sleep. Some groans, a few chuckles, then some gasping. We got kind of worried so we went to wake you up..." Riku tailed off, refusing to look at his best friend. Sora's brow flattened out, as another question came to mind.

"Have there been any visitors this morning?" He asked with a yawn. Kairi and Riku glanced at each other, confused and worried, before Kairi turned back to him, and answered.

"It's 1 o'clock in the afternoon Sora..." She also tailed off and Sora laughed.

"Well, I had just been asleep! How was I meant to know?" Sora laughed even more, and Riku joined in. Kairi finally joined in, and together, they just laughed, until Sora shooed them out.

"I want to get dressed." Was his excuse and they left him in peace. Sora got out some fresh clothes and dressed in them quickly, before leaving his room to find his friends outside.

"Shall we just walk around today?" He suggested and the others nodded.

"Just don't do a vanishing act again..." Riku whispered and Sora laughed. They trailed downstairs where they quickly grabbed some toast, explained to Sora's mom where they were going, and finally going outside, into the fresh air.

"Beach?" Riku suggested and Kairi and Sora nodded. "Race you!" Riku shouted and sprinted off towards the shore. Sora laughed and followed, Kairi close behind. They were laughing, and smiling, but inside Sora's mind, all he was thinking about was not his friends, but in fact his dream and Zexion. In result to that, when they all reached the beach, instead of stopping, Sora stampeded into the ocean. He only realised when he felt his feet get wet. Riku was laughing and Kairi was giggling.

"...What's so funny?" Sora asked, frowning. Riku pointed at him, and when Sora looked down, he realised he was waist deep into the ocean.

"AHHH! Cold...!" He screamed and ran back to the warm sands, shaking. Riku fell to the floor laughing. Kairi took pity on Sora and hugged him, Riku smiling like he didn't care. Of course he did. But he just had to feel happy for his best friends. Sora smiled and shook Kairi away. He looked around, thinking about other stuff, before sitting down. Looking out to the ocean. Kairi and Riku sat on both sides of him, smiling at the clear horizon. Sora frowned, as an unknown feeling come over him. He had a feeling... He was being watched. He looked around, his eyes sweeping the area swiftly, before resting upon a palm tree, swaying in the wind. Sora got up, frowning even more, and started to walk towards it.

"...Sora...?" Riku asked, also standing up, and he watched Sora approach the tree. Kairi stayed sitting, even though she stared intently at the retreating back of Sora. Sora, however, had finally reached the tree, and placed his right palm on the bark. He closed his eyes, as a thousand thoughts came to mind.

Sora... The voice of Zexion broke through all the others. I am on the Islands. I hope you've thought about last night. We are to meet, finally, soon. You can bring Kairi and Riku along, even though they might not like me. I could just say... I can see you. Sora's eyes snapped open, and his eyes darted around him. Then, he could hear Kairi's and Riku's thoughts.

Why is Sora next to that tree? Riku's thoughts said. Why does he look so worried?

I really do care about him; I just can't think what's wrong with him... Kairi's thoughts whispered and Sora removed his hand from the tree before he got a headache. So the tree showed everyone thoughts. Impressive.

Sora stepped back away from the tree, and turned towards Kairi and Riku.

"We have to go find someone." Sora shouted before striding towards them. Riku frowned, and for a split second, Sora was tempted to place his hand upon that tree again to find out what his best friend was thinking. But he restrained himself, just.

"I have... a friend to find." Sora complied and Riku smiled.

"Okay then. Are they on the Islands?" Riku asked, and Sora grinned.

"Apparently so." He replied, a mysterious look on his face. He helped Kairi up before they went to the palm. They walked past it and into the forest. Sora kept looking around, while Kairi and Riku conversed about him behind. It was inaudible to Sora, so he didn't even know that were talking. He stopped outside an old bamboo shack, and Kairi and Riku slammed into his back. They tumbled to the ground. Up in a tree, a boy looked up from his book, and down at the three. He smiled when he saw Sora.

"OW! Watch where you are going guys! That really hurt!" Sora whined underneath Riku, who had piled on top of him. Riku had Kairi on his back, who was delicately trying to stand up. When she finally did, Riku stretched on top of Sora before bounding up. Sora just groaned feebly before getting up himself, but a load slower. Riku and Kairi laughed and Sora rolled his eyes. The boy in the tree grinned and placed the book inside his black trench coat, and pulling up his hood. He stood on the branch and jumped down delicately in front of Sora, Kairi and Riku. Upon seeing him, all of their eyes widened, and they all summoned each of their Keyblades. The boy stood back, in shock, but then relaxed.

"Organization XIII?!" Riku exclaimed and eyed the figure carefully. The boy rolled his eyes and answered him.

"Ex-Organization XIII member actually..." He answered and threw back his hood. Sora made his Keyblade disappear upon seeing the boy's appearance.

"Zexion." He said politely, and threw forward a hand for the boy to shake. Zexion smiled, and took it, shaking it slightly. Riku looked shocked.

"Zexion?!" He shouted before also relaxing. "You got destroyed!"

"Oh yeah... That. Ask Sora. He'll explain." Zexion grinned, and Sora also grinned. Riku looked even more shocked.

"How?" He questioned and Sora laughed.

"That dream earlier." He answered and sat down to relax.