In My Dreamworld ...

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The dreamworld was an inexplicable place. Kirihara turned, watching sand fall from the sky to pool on the ground, rising and swelling beneath his feet. The sky was a dark field of silver sprinkles. One in particular shone down onto his now dark world. Before he thought about it, he had wished on it. It sparked and fell flaming from it's place in the sky, streaking into the horizon. Startled, he took a step forward to follow it and the sand became an island that stretched as far as he could see to the left and right. Palm trees rustled gently in the soft salt breeze that lifted from the ocean before him and swept across the sand. Dune grass sprouted as he watched, streaking off into the distance.

Forgetting about the star, he took another step forward and the sky became a brilliant blue set with a burning golden sun. Before him now was the ocean, waves swelling in white foam to splash against the shore. One more step and he was at the wave line, feeling water swirl around his bare toes.

It was only then that he noticed the boy. Kirihara blinked but the boy remained, lazily sprawled in a tangle of crusty wood and tarred rope that formed itself into a dubious sailboat. The boy's pale arms were folded behind his head and a bare leg was propped up on the mast. A gypsy's collection of clothing was wrapped around that skinny body. Ripped lazuli shorts were held together with a ruby sash, where a long dagger made of bone and steel was thrust. A peacock green shirt was tied together with string to keep the mass of fabric from slipping off bony shoulders. A motley collection of beads and shells and golden coins were strung around a narrow neck while bandages wrapped around the boys wrists and ankles, where they tucked into ragged leather boots. Merry green eyes watched him lazily from under bright orange hair that was held back by an ebony bandana emblazoned with the shape of emerald frog skull on crossbones. A long blade of dune grass projected from thin pink lips, bobbing gently in time with the ocean as the boy chewed.

"What are you doing here?" Kirihara asked with a frown. It was obvious that this was Kirihara's island. His very own barren, deserted, silent island. Free from every possible interference from anything that could run counter to his will. This was his perfect place. So what was that boy doing here?

The boy smiled. "Waiting for my ship," he said around the stalk.

"Ship?" The ocean was as empty as the island for he commanded it as far as the eye could see. "What ship?"

The boy pointed, waving his hand in a circular manner, as a maestro waves his baton, "That one."

Kirihara's eyes followed the grubby, pointing finger against his will. Before his eyes a ship materialized in the waters, growing plank by plank from the sea. A skeleton of wood raised, bursting from the depths as curving ribs streamed water. Slats spouted like flesh, swarming the bones until the hull was a smooth, curved mass afloat. Barnacles and tar crept from the foam to coat the wood like skin, staining it black and brown. Masts thrust up from the deck and sails unfurled to swell with the wary sea breeze. Windows opened like eyes from the cabin wall and cannons sprouted from the hull like fingers. A fairy with dragonfly wings exploded from the nothingness of the sky in a shower of gold to alight on the prow, sliding into the sculpture of wood until only her sparkle and her smile remained. The wind cracked and a flag appeared on the highest mast, flapping the black cloth to reveal the frog skull and crossbones.

"You can't do that," he protested vaguely, trying to will the ship away. It refused to vanish, instead, it's flag snapped more sharply in the breeze.

The boy just smiled, "Are you coming, Kirihara?"

"I ... where are you going?"

"To Neverland."

"I'm already in Neverland!" Kirihara protested, sweeping his arms wide.

"Nah, you followed the wrong star, Lost Boy," came the lazy reply as the boy shook his head.

"I knew where I was going!"

"Sure you did," the boy swung his foot off the mast and stood, springing from the raft into the sand, "So you coming? The Lucky Star says she'd be honored to transport the Demon Prince." From across the bay, the fairy prow waved at them gaily, laughing brightly.

"I'm not the -- " and he paused, staring down in shock at his hands. The tips of his fingers had changed from the moment the boy had opened his mouth. Instead of pink, uneven nails, he now had black claws. The trust out of sleeves that were now white satin and black velvet. Kirihara patted his chest, and found a line of golden buttons and a red sash that buckled at his waist, over the ebony and ruby sword that hung from his side and dripped blood into the sand. He could feel the patter of each drop as it struck beside shining black boots, leaving the white satin of his pants untouched. Swallowing, his tongue rubbed against teeth now sharpened into points and he didn't need a mirror to know that his eyes were now a field of solid red. The boy smiled.

"Is that it then? You're a pirate and I'm a prince, so you're going to kidnap me?!" Kirihara snapped, struggling to realign himself to the sudden rippling changes that occurred at every syllable of the boy's words.

The boy raised an eyebrow in amusement before he leaned forward to bring the two of them nearly nose to nose. "Kidnap you? I'm here to rescue you."

"I don't need you to rescue me," he whispered.

"Everyone needs rescuing," the boy danced backwards into his boat, "Let's go. The way won't wait forever. At this rate we're gonna be late."

"The way?"

"Sure. You only have so long until you grow up, yanno? After that, the way's closed."

"How ... ?"

The boy thrust his hand out, dangerously poised on the ramshackle raft as it rocked threateningly back and forth, "Do you trust me?" Kirihara frowned. There was no way the boy could pull him in without tipping it over.

"Of course not! You'll let me fall to save yourself!" Kirihara snapped, thrusting his hands sharply behind his back and glaring at the smile that blossomed on the boy's face.

"You'll fall anyway. The island's sinking."

"Huh?" Kirihara whirled to stare at the sand and trees that was his sole creation, struggling to assure himself that the island couldn't possibly fall. But the boy had made a ship appear and his existence warp and he was afraid, so afraid, that this time too the words would be enough to destroy his world.

Fingers wrapped around his wrist and jerked. Surprised, he stumbled backward, tripping over the boat's edge. Then he was falling, falling, falling, and it seemed as though he'd never stop ... until it did. Arms wrapped around his waist and pulled him against a warm, narrow body. His head jerked up as the boy smiled down at him, "Have a little faith, neh?" and the waves swelled suddenly, sweeping the tiny sailboat into the sea.

The island faded the farther they were swept, whisked across the tides to the looming ship like a cork in a stream. Kirihara felt him stomach clench as they left his safe, controlled world, "Who are you? Why are you doing this to me?!" he demanded, annoyed at how plaintive he sounded.

The boy smiled, "I'm Sengoku," callused fingers ran themselves through Kirihara's dark hair, "I'm here because you wished for me."

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