Author Notes: Long time no see. This chapter was actually really long with all the events going on, but I decided to cut it in half and save the last and final part for later. So...my wonderful, patient, loveable readers...on with Trials and Tribulations Chapter 15!!
Special Thanks To: Ickis Krumm, , KageKitsune16, Dark Wing Angel, NiGhTrIkKu, Joonie, Uzumaki-sama, Draconis-Donavan, MusiqMistress, Discordia-Erebus, Katca Mcadar, Ariana, AkaiUsagi, Praetor, Twinstar1, diamondprincess2006, ChibiCatDemon, Sora Otaku, HushedBlaze, TinyClownBean1, takuya89, Illorion, inumoon3, IchigoPocky, lordkagome, Katy Kinneas, dragonchild, Jack, Rock-Howard-17, Super Yam, SilverYami, Lightdemondarkangel, Neko Kate-chan, Van de Fanelia, flclinutri, Junsui-san, and my Mediaminer reviewers shady gurl, Echan2, and Alliey jo!
Excellent Beta Work by Crystalline Tears!
Disclaimer: If I owned Kingdom Hearts, I would be filthy rich right now!! So, get off my back!!
Warnings: This is a yaoi, or to plainly put it male x male relationships! If you don't like it, don't read it!! I don't want to see flames on this subject because I plainly put my warning here!
Rating: I have boosted the rating on this story for future chapters...
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Trials and Tribulations
The discussion about the court proceedings took an hour at most, and even in that short period of time, Kairi's respect for Ryo matched the amount of respect she had for Dr. Miyazaki. The man was silly; the jokes he made had the entire group laughing loudly and wanting to hear more. But he, without a doubt, excelled in his profession, using his meticulous organizational skills to make the client feel rested and assured; his motivational charisma to make the client feel hopeful, and his slap-on-the-knee humor to make the client feel more comfortable.
It was easy to see why Dr. Miyazaki had been so excited.
During the hour, Ryo explained his plan to the teenagers in the room on how he was going to prepare for the trial. When he had first come to the hospital yesterday afternoon with Leon and Cloud, he proposed his plan to Dr. Miyazaki and Mrs. Tatewaki, for they truly were the only adults in the group. What he had explained was simple; launch a full investigation on the Tatewaki house to collect physical evidence concerning Kairi's case. The blood-veiled mop used by Taiyou, the ripped shirt, blood samples and pictures of the bruises taken by the doctors - those items were crucial to the investigation, and by simply taking them to the lab and finding a trace of the boy there, Kado Yamahashi could be thrown in prison for up to 25 years.
Hope renewed, the three adults called the authorities, and because of Ryo's status, the chief of police promised to launch a full investigation tomorrow morning.
Meaning they should have been collecting the evidence during the discussion.
Ryo was now putting the important documents and sketches of the house he made himself back into the briefcase while amicably chatting to Kairi about the upcoming events. Riku made to help Ryo out, but Taiyou touched his arm lightly and motioned to the door with a serious, almost defeated, look on his face. Riku knew from that simple gesture that it was time to talk.
And he dreaded it simply because he knew for sure Taiyou would want to know what the hell was going on.
Sighing, Riku shifted from his original course, to the hospital bed, to the door, not bothering to look at Sora or check to see if Taiyou was still behind him. That irrational urge to run away swelled up in him once more, and he found himself hoping that some way, he could make it through this. 'Lose-lose situation' was the best phrase to describe this scenario; it made him so terrified, he almost forgot the words of wisdom Sora told him just last night.
You should do what you want to do, not for the sake of what's right.
Don't ever say you will do something just for the sake of what's right, Riku. That is a very black and white statement; have you forgotten the areas of gray?
So what if it was black and white? Society is black or white, good or evil, strong or weak. The 'areas of gray' didn't apply - they don't and never will matter!
It does matter! This is not about what I want, Taiyou wants, or the strangers you are so intent on pleasing want! This is about you; it's your decision and your decision alone!
Riku froze with one shaking hand on the doorknob and the other clenched tightly in a fist. It was his decision, but what if he makes the wrong one? What if, by chance, he picked Sora and his older brother came to visit, only to leave in disgust at the fact that his younger brother picked his best friend over his boyfriend? What if his feelings for Sora weren't as strong as he thought they were, and they would end up being like those couples who are afraid of breaking it off? What if...?
What if he never saw Sora again after high school?
What would he do then?
The feather-light touch that settled on the small of his back startled him so badly that he had to steady himself by holding on tightly to the door knob. Ignoring the beads of sweat that were starting to trickle down the sides of his face, Riku turned around, breathing as if he ran a marathon, and flashed the concerned Taiyou a weak, reassuring smile. "I'm alright."
His eyes still trained on Riku, Taiyou held the door open for Riku and walked out when his boyfriend left. He looked back at Sora and Ryo, each sporting identical concerned expressions, then began to lead the way to Riku's vacant room. Since it dealt with 'her silver-haired god,' Joyce let Taiyou use the room for 'the talk.' Of course he didn't say exactly why he needed it, but that was none of her business in the first place.
Taiyou looked to Riku, who grew deathly silent over the last few minutes, and mulled over the situation: he heard Riku say that he would pick Sora over him, he heard him say that what Sora said about their relationship was actually true, and he heard that Sora reciprocated the feelings.
What was he going to say when he sat Riku down to have their talk? Would he be calm, cool, and collect when Riku shared just how much he liked Sora? Or would he wind up listening to his irrational thoughts and end up saying something he would forever regret? Sora broke his inscrutable mask when he said those earth-shattering things to Taiyou a couple of nights ago, so how would he react?
He could only pray that he loved Riku enough to break up with him gently and allow them to be friends afterward.
Taiyou was suddenly in front of the hospital room door, wondering briefly where the time went. Riku was beside him looking absolutely miserable and cornered, showing how much he wanted to run by constantly (and longingly) looking down the hall that lead to Kairi's room. With a sigh and a realization of the inevitable, Taiyou opened the door and went directly to the bed, where in his mind's eyes, he recollected the picture of Riku kissing the shell of Sora's ear with tenderness he had never been on the receiving end of. A wave of helplessness rolled over him, and as he got comfortable and watched Riku sit next to him, he leaned his head back against the propped up pillow and closed his eyes. Almost instantly, he knew what he was going to say. "It's easy to ignore the pain someone else feels. It's so easy that people sometimes do it unconsciously - they avoid the inevitable and carry on with their already trouble-filled lives."
He let a few drops of tears seep through his closed eyelids as he took in a shuddery breath and began to talk once more. "I think that's what I did to you, Riku. Even though you looked fairly normal on the outside, I saw the pain in your eyes when we would hug or kiss or that flicker of sad reminisce, like when I would kiss my mother goodbye and she would hug me with all her might. But I ignored it like an idiot would do. I thought that over time, that flicker would cease to exist and everything would be fine. I continued to see that flicker, though, and always managed to convince myself that there is nothing wrong with remembering your mother and being reminded of her every once and a while.
"When Sora called me a coward that day when we all met, I cried not only because of the pain I caused you from our first break up, but I cried because all this time I had selfishly continued on with our relationship without even trying to see if you had or hadn't changed."
Taiyou held up his hand to stop Riku from talking. He succeeded. "No matter what you say, Riku, you know that it's true when I say that I transferred to our school, realized you were here and asked you to be my boyfriend again at my convenience."
Riku looked away. That was an excellent point; Taiyou did just come back and proceeded to start where they left off. And Taiyou did have a habit of saying things that were true freshman year, but not true now because Riku changed.
Example: before his collapse, Riku took everyone (Taiyou, Sora and Kairi being the everyone) to get ice cream at a local shop. When they approached the counter to order, Taiyou immediately ordered for Riku saying that he would like two scoops of mint chocolate chip ice cream in a cup, when in truth, Riku wanted three scoops of chocolate cookie dough on a waffle cone.
He had grown to hate mint chocolate chip over the years.
He didn't have the heart to tell him so he went on and ate all of the mint chocolate chip ice cream. While Taiyou went to the restroom, Kairi and Sora had thrown him puzzled looks. "I thought you hated mint chocolate chip," Sora had asked as he licked his two scoops of chocolate cookie dough on a waffle cone.
"I do," Riku had replied, "but I liked it back in freshman year."
Without another word, Sora had handed Riku his cone.
Riku almost smiled at the memory, but refrained from doing so because of Taiyou. Nothing was remotely nice about your current boyfriend not knowing enough about you to the point where he can't even say the things you hate. It's even sadder when your friend-on-the-way-to-best-friend knows more than your boyfriend.
Taiyou's voice broke him out of his train of thought. "Please tell me one thing, Riku."
Riku looked up as his response. "Tell me how you feel about Sora."
Taiyou, who had long since wiped the tears from his eyes, looked into surprised sea green eyes with resolute amber eyes, and reached out to hold Riku's hand.
Riku stiffened on contact simply because he felt very strange holding his boyfriend's hand when he is getting ready to tell him how he felt about another boy. How would Taiyou react? Saying 'I think I'm falling in love with him' could easily destroy the relationship. It would be awkward, tentative - like skating on thin ice when it's clearly known that the ice could break at any moment. Yet all of the proclamations about Sora kept rising, making themselves known. So he didn't pull away, and even went as far as to look Taiyou directly in the eye and say, "I think I love him."
Although he saw a flash of despair in Taiyou's eyes, he kept going, unable to keep what he has been bottling up inside of him a secret any longer.
The dreadful knowledge that truth brings can be painful, but it was a necessity.
"Since the day I met him, he has been a constant in my life. If he were to pack up and leave right now, I think I would be lost, torn, confused - I don't think I would survive."
The hold on Riku's hand slackened.
"There are so many things, so many places I want to show him and share with him...and I hate the feeling because it's something I'm supposed to feel with you."
Don't say you'll do something for the sake of what's right.
"I'm supposed to be feeling that with my boyfriend, not best friend. It's...wrong..."
That's a very black and white statement; have you forgotten the shades of gray?
"...but..." He whispered the last part. "I can't help it."
"I want you to be happy, Riku," Taiyou murmured as he slid to the edge of the bed and stood up, facing away from Riku. "You can't help who you're attracted to. Two years ago, it was me. Now, it's Sora."
Riku stood up as well, feeling guiltier as the minutes ticked by. "I will be with you, Taiyou."
"If you are happier with Sora, then break up with me, Riku. No 'I'll do it to make you happy' martyr-type shit, please."
"I wouldn't be a martyr!"
"You would." Taiyou's voice was shaking. "What's wrong with making that decision?"
"It's wrong because you're making me choose."
Riku was feeling more and more panicky as the time went on and Taiyou was continuing to make this demand. Taiyou knew who he would choose and why; he already told Sora that if he was presented with the chance to choose, he was choose Taiyou. But after what Sora said yesterday...
He just didn't know.
"Well, life is full of choices!" Sadness forgotten, Taiyou became filled with rage. "You can't get out of making decisions for yourself, especially if it deals with other people. Don't you think that maybe you are hurting me more by staying with me when you don't even like me? Do you think that maybe I would be happier being your friend if you were happier with another person? Stop thinking that by staying with me, you are doing me a favor because you're not! I'd rather be alone!"
Clenched fists were the only means that kept him from striking out as he glared at Riku with disgust and disappointment. He cursed himself for letting his emotions take the reins again.
He didn't have this problem before.
Releasing the tight ball his hands formed into, Taiyou managed to rebuild his cool countenance, waiting for a response from Riku. The boy was once again staring longingly at the hospital door, hands clutched together tightly in his lap, and he refused to look in Taiyou's direction.
He finally let out a deep sigh. "Taiyou, please..."
"I'm...breaking up with you."
Unable to stay, Taiyou left the room and let in the spying pair, Kairi and Sora, his shoulders slumped and his eyes cast downward. He knew Riku was going to break up with him; that was evident by the proclamation he made to Sora yesterday and the hesitation just now. Yet this feeling...
Was this how it felt to be heartbroken?
He felt soft, lithe arms wrap around his waist, and he automatically turned around and buried his face into Kairi's neck and cried.
It didn't take a genius to figure out that something was going on among the four friends, Ryo concluded. Call it lawyer's intuition, but the way Taiyou walked out in defeat, Riku walked as if he was walking to his execution, and the way Kairi and Sora followed with too much interest for it to be something mediocre really set the alarm off in his head. From what he heard from the Akiko, Riku had just woken up from passing out because of emotional and physical exhaustion. Whatever was going on, there was no doubt that it was something that Riku wouldn't be able to handle right now.
Deciding to check on the teenagers, Ryo picked up his briefcase, told the doctor and the rest of the occupants of the room that he was off to do some more business, and headed in the direction the group went in. He immediately spotted two figures huddled together two doors down, one figure leaned against the wall with her legs folded neatly beneath her and the other figure leaned across her lap, his face buried in the crook of the other figure's neck.
He recognized them as Kairi and Taiyou.
Quickening his stride, Ryo was beside the pair in a matter of moments. "Are you two ok?"
When Kairi looked up, he immediately knew what happened by the tear streaks and the tight grip she had around Taiyou's neck, Giving her a small nod, Ryo moved from the pair and farther down the hall to confront Riku and Sora. He reached the room quickly from his long strides, Leaning close to the door and hearing nothing, Ryo pressed against the door to make it slightly ajar and peered inside.
In the middle of the hospital bed laid a tangle of arms and legs. Sora was propped up on his knees, supporting the limp figure of Riku while rubbing his back periodically. He was speaking in soft tones - obviously comforting his distraught friend with words of empathy. When Ryo inched closer, he realized that was not the case.
"You disliked the fact that I didn't show my real self," Sora whispered as he moved his hand from Riku's back to his hair. "But you seem to be the same way. Which of you is real - the sexy, devilish, confident-on-the-verge-of-cocky boy I meet the first day of school or the timid sensitive boy I see here now?"
Propping himself onto his elbows, Riku flashed Sora a watered down version of his trademark smirk. "Both."
Sora was surprised at the answer. Ryo was intrigued. "This is a personal side of me; one that not too many people get to see because I hate it.
"You, on the other hand, mold yourself to what people want you to be, and no one has had the privilege to see the real you."
The hand froze.
Riku meet Sora's eyes when it did, seeing the need for isolation slowly begin to rise within him. He then rose fully and embraced the boy like he had for him, content with being in an embrace. Sora's hold tightened, and the feeling he had was something he truly had been waiting for.
"Please give me more time."
Riku didn't need to ask what he meant; he understood and smiled, knowing that soon, Sora will open up. "You have all time in the world. I'll wait."
Sora pulled back from the embrace, a toothy grin adorning his face. "You do realize how corny that saying was just now, don't you?"
Riku laughed loudly, Sora joining him after settling comfortably in the embrace. Ryo chuckled as well, thoughts identical to Sora's, and began to close the door, Sora's gaze following his every action.
Finished! Next chapter will be the last, uber-long chapter!