**Warning/Disclaimer** Kingdom Hearts and it's various characters do NOT belong to me. They belong to Squaresoft, Disney, yadda yadda yadda. I can't get rich off of this sort of stuff—but it does give me all sorts of added bonus. XD
Anyhoo—AU fic, alternate ending, whatever. It's my take on what should happen, and how Riku and Sora should get together, get over the whole thing etc.—since this is a YAOI fic—two guys getting it on—there will be mention of sex—but sadly, it will be edited. ^^ I'll provide a link to the uncut versions when it's needed…but for now…
Strictly R-rated…XD Enjoy your stay! (and yea, it's really athravan)
Bind to Thee
:: one ::
:: Frozen in time… ::
:: —without your touch ::
:: —without your love ::
:: Bring me to life ::
:: Wake me up inside ::
:: Call my name and save me from the dark ::
Without opening his eyes he could hear the wind around the edges of the shuttered window, the faint hiss of sand as it skittered against the walls. The breeze, cool and moist in the early air, brushed over his bared shoulders and exposed feet. It smelled of damp earth and the faint hot human smell. Familiar. The sun, newly born from the dark star-brushed night, was creeping slowly higher, glinting with golden light against the walls and floor. He spent the time motionless, waiting for the first brush of the heat-giving light, like a caress of liquid gold in its purest form.
Without moving his body he felt the loose drape of the scratchy gauze sheet, the constriction of the slightly twisted leggings made of silky fabric. The sunlight edged further, brushing tentatively against the exposed flesh of his legs, his bare feet. As it warmed him slowly, he flexed a foot, and then stretched legs that felt sleep-heavy. The collar around his throat was a barely noticed weight, slight comfort and oddly easing—and at the same time horrifyingly cold.
Since the day he had woken up in the desert, exhausted and near death, it had all seemed like some odd sort of dream. All of it, the days he had spent with the cold sorceress Maleficent, the strange blurry instances he had of fighting Sora, of the darkness…
He could remember the kind words of that odd-looking King, the horror he felt as he heard Sora on the other side of that door, the hurt and loss as he tried with all his might to shut it, to possibly divide himself from the only close friend he had left.
Then this place…
The presence of the collar, however, meant that this place, this dream, all was still horridly real. The collar, the thin circlet of beaten gold, the only thing that tied him to this damned city—
Kept him here like a caged bird, like a leashed pet—
To his 'master'—his lip curled slightly in concealed derision—he was nothing more than a pet, a plaything, something to amuse him on the long days of repetition. He knew Ithian wouldn't allow the collar to be removed, not for all the slaves in the city, for all the gold or power he was able to provide. No matter who he fought, or what he declared or threatened…the collar wouldn't loosen.
~It leaves me cornered…I cannot fight enough to please him, and I will not give him what he wants the most…~
Without knowing it, he inhaled softly, held the air in his lungs and whispered as quietly into the cool and pale morning light as he dared, a treasured image of sapphire eyes flickering in his thoughts.
"…Sora…I need you…I miss you…where are you?"
"Your name, master?"
"Your name? For the tournament entry?"
"Oh, that, right…" the stranger pursed his lips, suddenly deep in thought. "Ummm…" His bright eyes lit up with sudden revelation. "Key! My name is Key."
Looking at the stranger with an unsure and obscure glance, the man taking down the competitors looked pointedly in the strange blade hung upon the narrow shoulders, the young face. He shrugged minutely, thinking ~Never a real name anyways,~ then wrote the name deftly and stamped it with a seal.
"You'll start in the preliminary round, the melee. If you are the last one standing, you proceed. The first 300 people will be split up into groups of ten and the strongest fighter from each group will ascend to the next level. So on, so forth. Got it down?"
"Got it!" the young man said cheerily.
The attendant doubted he'd make it very far. He motioned with a hand towards the nearest entrance, looked up for the next person-
"Oh, hey! One more thing—who fights the final battle?"
"Ithian's champion, Iceheart, is the top-tier fighter. If—" the man stressed the word and smiled to show no offense. "If you make it that far, the final competition is fought blindfolded."
~What a strange human…~ the attendant thought, and promptly forgot about it as the long line of people—he was in charge of taking watchers and fighters today—slowly progressed.
"Mmm…don't forget, Pet, what happens if you lose."
"If you win, of course, all the luxuries a boy like you could need, all you could ever ask for will be granted—anyone, anything—"
Cold and mustering all the arrogance he could, he sneered and turned his face away. "Keep to the agreement, Ithian."
"Of course, of course," the leanly muscled man, raven-haired and ebon-eyed, merely smiled and raised templed fingers to his mouth. With a good deal of lust he eyed his slave of nearly a year—his profitable irritating slave—and narrowed his eyes. He chose his next words carefully. "If you do lose…you would do well to keep that part of the bargain as well…"
Stiffened shoulders betrayed the unease that didn't show on a smooth and golden-toned face. "I won't lose." Aqua eyes flashed in anger, a sly glance shot at the elder man in askance.
Ithian smiled innocently, and examined his fingers. "I hear the challenge is difficult today."
"The challenge I fight is to stay out of your bed, Ithian. A challenge in the ring is better than the challenge of your bed," the slave spat. "After all, you did agree to a certain amount of victories to assure my freedom, did you not?"
Ithian curled a lip into a sneering smile. "You'd serve me well either way, Pet. Fame for your prowess, your legend…your virtue, if you will. That gives me money, and attention like never before. But if you lost even one match…Ah, I would be satisfied either way." Ithian reached out, caught fingers in long pale locks, twisting painfully until the boy more or less faced him. "Be happy I do not tire of your insolence."
"I pray for nothing less everyday," came the soft reply, biting and scornful.
Eyes narrowed into slits, mouth flattened into a line, Ithian casually backhanded the face with his free hand. "You would be wiser to pray I feel mercy and remove the collar that binds you to me. There's still a chance—if you follow my advice—"
"—I will not be your whore!" came the angry hiss.
"—You will be, if you lose," Ithian smirked, replied in a cold and dangerous voice as he pushed the boy away. "Either way, I win."
Icy eyes the color of the sea narrowed. "If I ever do get this thing off, the first thing I do would be to seek you out, if only to rip out your tongue to gag that throat of yours as I eviscerate your entrails."
"Such a pity, then," Ithian replied, unfazed. "that the collar cannot be removed by anyone other than me—I have the only key."
From somewhere outside the balcony—for the room in which they waited was the upper level, two stories above the ground and arena seating—the gong sounded and the deafening waiting roar of the crowd surged into the tiny room. The seats themselves were filled with all manner of people, shapes and sizes. All of them, for the last three days, had raged into a bloodthirsty mob, screaming and cheering and mindless, in a way.
~Horrible,~ the boy thought. ~to face such a crowd, to find your life is nothing more than a mere passing amusement…~
"Your cue, Pet."
Sneering over his shoulder at the tall raven-haired captor, he reached to heft the eyeless visor in his hands. Beaten and chased silver in the shape of a raptor-bird, feathers that looked nearly real curved downward over the cheeks as it rested over the head. From behind the curtain the roar of the crowd swelled to the point that he felt it in his bones, deep and throbbing as forgotten pain. ~Another fight…~ he thought.
His gut twisted as he thought of the consequences of failure. Even thought he hadn't lost a fight yet—that fact alone made him respected and feared, made his 'master' Ithian rich—it had become common knowledge that the price of his first loss would be different sort of loss.
He shuddered to think of it, revulsion as he envisioned the act with Ithian, unable to shake his sick sense of despair. ~I will never give myself to him…I would rather die…~ And yet, people from all over the cities and world came to see him fight, came to see if he lost that day. They knew as well as Ithian that if he won only six more matches—six more—his freedom would be his—
—But more and more were trying for the 'prize' of Ithian's high-stake battle. The silver-haired foreigner, the prize of five hundred thousand gil….It was all the prize of the last battle. ~Defeat me in the arena…defeat me in the bed,~ he thought scornfully.
He couldn't lose.
He didn't dare.
Emotionlessly, he twirled the silver weight in his hands and walked to where the curtain wavered in the breeze, where Ithian stood with one arm up to see through to the frenzied crowd.
"They lust for you, Pet." Ithian didn't look back to see him, merely smiled that cold smile down into the crowds.
"Shut up," the boy said, and slipped the helm over his head, hating the cold feel of the metal on his skin, on his cheeks. "Who am I fighting?"
"A younger one named Key. Lucky fellow—lucky, or stupid. Fought three days straight, right through all the finals and contests. He's good, I'll give him that. Pretty, too."
"So? He'll be tired, then."
Long fingers reached out to tug at his hair. "Are you prepared, Pet? Win or lose…a fight amongst the sheets or out in the sand…are you ready?"
"I won't lose," he hissed again.
Ithian smiled, mysteriously pleased. "We will see, Pet." He swept back the curtain with one bare arm, standing dark against the brighter outside light. Blind, the slave walked the few steps outward to the edge of the balcony that overlooked it all. The crowd screamed out at him, screamed for blood and lust and excitement.
Without looking he caught the hand of Ithian meant to touch him and growled. "I haven't lost, you disgusting pervert—So don't touch me!"
"As you wish," Ithian sighed, and smiled a dark smile he was sure that his pet could see, even blinded as he was.
The gates opened with a familiar grinding squeal. Orientating himself by the noise, he raised a hand to greet the crowd and pushed a foot forward. Toes felt the edge, skin shivered under the breeze. The crowd responded with cheers and yells and screams of his name.
He shuddered every time he heard it.
It brought back too many painful memories. Too many things he didn't want to remember—couldn't afford to remember in this game.
~After this, six more tournaments. Three months. I will be free.~
He jumped, a graceful fall of tumbling agility, and landed catlike on the hard earthen ground.
The crowd went silent—
—and his opponent entered the arena, blind and cautious.
Riku drew his blade.
Blood and sweat ran in rivulets down fatigue-trembling muscles, dripping into the dry and greedy dust beneath the bare feet of both. They stood merely a pace from each other, both exhausted, both stubborn. Both blind. They had fought well past the third-hour mark, and were nearing the fourth. The sun had dipped low in the sky; the air was cooling rapidly, shivers and goosebumps spreading while the breeze was strong.
No words had been spoken since the start because none had been needed. Both of them knew that it wouldn't be much longer; both knew that it would be very close, knew in a way that needed no explanation. They were evenly matched, opposites and equals in nearly all things.
The crowd, transfixed, fascinated, enthralled, kept the silence. The only sounds were the harsh breathing, the whistles of the blades as they sliced air and met nothing, and the silvery chiming clashes when they did. In the silence, in the echoing of the arena, the clashing of the two blades seemed very loud.
They knew this match was different.
The two figures, one pale and dressed only in a tattered pair of shorts, his silver helm gleaming in the fading light, stood in a ready stance, blade held out before him. To his credit the blade shook only with the most minor of tremors, the tiniest clue to his tired body. He was favored, respected, and many of the people urged him on in their secret hearts to win.
The second, slim and lethally quick, stood in an equally ready stance, his darker chestnut hair combed gently by the wind. His clothing was a simple white shirt and trousers cut off at the knee, and his blade whispered "Foreigner" to the crowd, but they could not place how they knew. Perhaps it was the way the boy had walked, confident and sure of his steps, when so many before him had faltered. Or perhaps it was his youth, close to the one they cheered, as if they were a matching piece of something long forgotten.
Iceheart would have a tough time of it all, many were thinking, and feeling a strange sort of pity. With Ithian, it was always pity, always sympathy, but never interference. Many knew of Ithian, and his reputation for making a devil's bargain. Many knew of the cruelty afforded to his slaves, the hopelessness and the helpless servility, his power and prestige, his rank and flashing temper. Many knew that Iceheart, had he been given a proper chance, would have won his freedom many many days ago.
Many knew of Ithian's greed, and all feared him.
Dust skittered in furling spurts, blown by the wind's sporadic touch. It played with the loose fabric ripped around Ice's knees, the spiky dark hair of the one called Key. The dust blew against their ankles, both of the barefoot in this place, and as it touched, set them off again.
It was the last.
Blocking, ducking low behind the gleaming metal, Iceheart pivoted on a single foot, spinning and slashing out with his blade—
—and the resistance he expected, the parry, was not there!
A step sounded to his left, and the cold touch of metal against his throat, and he knew, he knew, he had been defeated. A short pained sound escaped from his mouth before he could stop it, a sound that spoke of anguish and longing, a sound that twisted something in the heart of his opponent and left him wondering.
The blade fell from pale fingers, signaling defeat. Ithian, high in the over-balcony, smiled darkly behind his hand.
The crowd exploded into a frenzied roar of disbelief and cheering, deafening, numbing, to the sinking heart of the boy kneeling in the center.
Somehow, in the confusion afterwards, he found himself walking the upper halls of Ithian's sprawling castle-like home, helm dangling from one hand and the other trailing against cool marble. He didn't remember standing and walking from the arena, he didn't remember feeling deafened by the roar of disbelief as he left.
All he felt was cold shame and the bright hot sparks of despair choking through his throat.
The silver helm dropped to the floor with a resounding clash, bouncing. The golden collar felt icy against his neck, restricting and almost painful. He ignored it, stepping with bare feet and looking with blank eyes until a voice murmured a question.
"You lost, didn't you?"
Riku froze, one hand pressed against the wall in sudden emotion, shoulders tense. "Yes," he said, without turning. "I lost."
A gentle touch brushed his shoulder. "It's okay," said the voice. Riku turned slowly, his mind screaming out ~It's not okay!~ over and over. Before him stood an old man, stick-thin and wrinkled, pale and age-spotted. A worn and tarnished collar graced the column of the throat. White stringy hair swept back into a meager ponytail, and warm brown eyes smiled gently, forgivingly, understanding, into his.
"It's not," Riku whispered. "I…I can't…I won't—"
Long slender fingers, unmarked and still resilient, patted at his shoulder. The brown eyes twinkled in hidden mirth. "Oh, it's not so bad," the man said.
Riku felt a flash of anger, scowled and turned it away before it erupted into a childish and unnecessary display of temper. "Belnak—just leave me alone. I want some peace and quiet for a little while…"
"I have something important to tell you, Ice."
Rolling his eyes, Riku made a bored face at the old man and frowned. "What is it then?"
"The collar will open when, and only when you lay with the one who defeated you. The prize is your body, and the keying to unlock your collar is to give up that prize..."
It took a long moment to sink in, the meaning of that statement. The victor…Ithian hadn't lied about that…the victor would take his body, and subsequently return his freedom…the collar would open. He would be free.
The price was his body, young and unbroken as it was…and…
And Ithian had lied about that. Disgust and a self-hatred of believing such a lie swarmed within him, choking him. Riku looked down, seeing his clenched fists and and bloodless knuckles. His jaw ached, and he knew—he could feel it—his eyes had narrowed into murderous slits.
"He lied," he stated.
"He always does," Belnak responded. "He always lies. You have a chance…do not pass it up…"
Riku raised his narrowed eyes, a glint of something dark and dangerous in their cerulean depths. "Thank you, Belnak," he said softly. "I will not forget this…"
Belnak smiled gently, and patted the shoulder one last time. "I wish you well, young man. Fare well and good journey, to you."
Nodding once, Riku turned, and sped down the hall as fast as he could walk. If he hurried, washed and dressed in the appropriate clothing—of course, one couldn't call what he was required to wear 'appropriate'—he would make his way to the banquet. He would do his best to convince the victor, this Key to take what was now his. Ithian be dammed, he would be free by morning.
~Soon,~ he thought. ~Very soon…~
He held his head high as he descended upon the carpet-clad stairs, one pale hand resting carefully upon the railing, and slippered feet stepping silently. He knew, as everyone knew, that tonight would be…different. That it would be this night—
He had lost, and everyone knew, everyone was whispering about it behind their hands and when he wasn't looking. He could see pity and respect and sympathy in the eyes he met. So he held his head high as he walked, pale and composed and living up to his name.
Servants, some of them well known, darted through the crowds dressed in sheer silk and woven silver, carrying platters of rich and exotic food, small beverages. Some were escorting other attendants out of the room for other 'favors.' Riku smiled faintly at a few, reassuring them in the only way possible.
His eyes, however, darted to the tall and dark haired man responsible for all of his suffering, his imprisonment and humiliation, and smiled a bit wider. He knew how to play this game, taught by the darkest of the night. He threw back his shoulders, raised his chin a notch when Ithian's ebon eyes wandered in his direction.
He threw a dark seductive writhe into his step, and watched it spread across the room. Another step and he was standing at the extending carpet upon the floor, looking out into the unfamiliar faces, his hand grazing the polished rail. He felt everyone's eyes turn towards him as if pulled by some invisible force, and smiled darkly inside.
Ithian, separated from his prize possession by only a few people and a chair, narrowed his eyes, suspicious, but unable to help the way his dark eyes fell down the lines of Riku's body, clad in pale gauzy whites and blues, with the faint glitter of gold dusting his cheeks and chest. Thin gold bracelets clinked along his wrists in musical testimony to his presence. Riku paused, allowing a tiny smile to form upon his face.
His eyes scanned the crowd, some seated at the long table of the hall, looking towards the seat of honor—the position next to Ithian—
—a crystal goblet fell to the floor with a shattering noise, loud and sudden and sharp—
Riku looked into sapphire eyes, and felt his world shimmer into a strange sense of disbelief, hope and breathlessness.