"What's with you today?" Riku kicked himself out of the chair and stood over the brooding man, fists balled on his hips, legs akimbo, chin high. He'd woken up in a very odd mood, and Leon's insistence on having one of what Riku had taken to thinking of as his Squall days was doing nothing to temper the mounting sense of inevitability that Riku was feeling. Something, he thought, is going to happen today. I think I might be going to do something a bit... rash.

He had a habit of doing this. Sometimes, when a certain mood had him, it was like there was two of him, one watching resignedly as the other toyed with fate. Like that thing with Sora and the Paopu fruit. "Leon!" He poked at the figure lying prone on the floor with a toe, "why are you ignoring me?"

"Sometimes," Leon grumbled, not looking up, "you sound like Sora. 'Leon, where's the King?' 'Leon, where's Kairi?' 'Leon, why are you so glum?' Leon this, Leon that, Leon the other. Damn it, Riku, sometimes I feel like an overgrown nursemaid." He picked savagely at the coarse grain of the floor boards with a gnawed thumbnail, scowling.

The silence stretched out, pregnant with possibility. Uh oh, here it comes...

Leon levered himself up onto one elbow and glanced over his shoulder at the boy. "Well? I take it there was something you wanted? Or were you just bugging me for no reason?"

"No," Riku shrugged, "I'm bugging you for a reason."

Leon frowned. "Riku, I'm in no mood for this. Not today. Please?" But he saw the spark of mischief, of unthinking delight in deviltry, dancing in the boy's eyes.

"And what's so special about today?" The words were no less of a challenge for their apparent innocence. Riku stood there, smiling down at the taciturn man, every line of him a provocation.

Leon shook his head, and clambered wearily to his feet. "Okay, okay, you win. If you must know, it's my birthday. There. Happy?"

Riku gave a short bark of laughter, and Leon's brow furrowed. "What, that's funny to you? That I spend my birthday here, in this forsaken hole, so far away from everyone else I love that you can't even measure it? How is that in any way funny?"

Riku shook his head, trying vainly to stifle the laughter that was still bubbling out of him. "No, no, it's not funny. I was just thinking that I didn't get you a present, that's all, and I had an idea."

"A present?" Leon looked incredulous. "What would you have done? Popped out to Gunblades R Us in Fragment Crossing and got me a fur handgrip? Or maybe treated me to a little picnic in the Brink of Despair? Damn it, Riku, try and have a bit of empathy."

"Ooh, mardy pants!" Riku wasn't stopping. "Better than the great big helping of self pity you seem to have given yourself."

Leon's face clouded. "Listen to me, kid," he muttered, "don't make me regret coming here."

Riku grinned again. "Don't worry. You won't regret it."

"Oh?" Leon raised an eyebrow as Riku fumbled in his pocket. "And what are you going to do with that?"

Riku grinned and slipped the blindfold over his head, lifting his long hair free. He stood motionless for a moment, as if getting his bearings, his chest rising and falling with his quickening breathing.

"Okay," Leon said, "you've caught my interest finally. Now what?"

In response, Riku laid a single finger across his lips. Then, without a word, he began to move. In the small space of the room they occupied, slowly, and then with increasing urgency, Riku began to dance. Silent, unseeing, mesmerizing.

The impact of his dancing was complete and irresistible. The rhythm was staccato yet somehow fluid, each movement whether of limb or torso somehow resembling a pause or pounce. As he watched, Leon realised what the dance was. The feints, the spins and swoons, the leaps and lunges were the same as when they fought the Heartless. A private battle, just for me. Leon - gazing rapt at the handsome, self-possessed youth; fine-boned; disdainful as a stallion; dancing in front of him now – felt a long slow wave of lust break over him. Wait, he pleaded with himself. Just wait. Don't spoil this.

Riku danced, and Leon - irritation forgotten - sat motionless, watching. Riku danced, and Leon - in an agony of desire - forced himself to stay seated. Riku danced, and as the dance unfolded, Leon – caught helplessly by the flow, carried along on the swell of it – felt as if he could see everything, feel everything; the relentless rain falling through the interminable night; the street bathed in the unreal wash of neon; the mad silent rush of the Heartless. Riku! There! Behind you! he almost cried out, but the dancer had turned with the dance, and swept on into the unseen foes. Lithe, liquid and seemingly unstoppable, gliding and spiralling, Riku danced through the battle, until – at the top of a spinning leap – he stopped, almost as if pinned to the air, and with a great silent cry fell crashing backwards into Leon's lap, limbs flung out in disarray, teeth bared in agony.

For a moment Leon stared open mouthed at the dead boy. Dead? Riku was panting with exertion, his chest rising and falling quickly, the hammering heartbeat almost audible. Of course he's not dead! But you might as well be, idiot!

Leon took Riku's inverted head in his hands, fingers beneath his chin, then leaned forward and covered the boy's open mouth with his own. Riku's breath was hurried and harsh. He felt the boy's arms enfold his head, pulling him closer into the kiss. Urgent fingers began to press into the top of his neck, sending quick shocks darting across his shoulders.

Riku shifted, breaking the kiss, and turning onto his front, sat up. "Here," he said, tugging the blindfold from his eyes. "You need to wear this. It's time for your present."


Afterwards, Leon lay on his back thinking of Riku's fingertips and tongue skittering across his skin; of his nerve endings alive with anticipation, straining for the next touch before it fell; of the incredible warmth of the inside of the younger man's mouth. Riku lay curled against his chest, a quiet smile on his face, perhaps asleep, perhaps not. In the infinitesimal moment before it was over, Leon had given a soft cry, and had felt Riku's hands squeeze ever so slightly at his waist. When it was done, and Leon was riding the last waves of pleasure shuddering through him, Riku had kissed him lightly and said Happy Birthday, Leon.

Leon brushed the hair out of Riku's face and glanced down at the boy. He'd been fairly sure he was asleep, but those startling eyes were open, and looking at him. "What are you looking so pleased about?" Leon smiled. "Else," he replied quietly. "You said 'everyone else'".