Blurb: Seems like I'm back, or at least, I updated with one new chapter. I'm not sure if anyone is still waiting, but I did read each and every review I got in the past, what, two years? I'm amazed that this story is liked by so many people despite not having been updated in forever. Naturally, I apologize for my long absence and I really hope that I can continue this until it's finished.
So, this chapter is dedicated to all of the people who waited, and part of it dedicated to myself, because I think I've overcome something and matured. Thanks to that, I will hopefully be able to finish this story, along with Blueberry Sky, which still needs at least a few more chapters, too.
Oh, and since it's been ages since I last wrote anything about FFTFT, there might some inconsistencies... Try to ignore them okay? And I know some confusing stuff (?) that might seem irrelevant is happening in this chapter, but I planned to tie it all together in the end. At least I hope I can manage.
"Does that remind you of something?" Riku asked as he glanced at his friend, raising an eyebrow at how the boy was still staring, even after five whole minutes.
They had entered the room a while ago, both reaching to open the door together, and Riku had felt as though a new world had been revealed to him when he saw what was hidden behind the wooden door.
'One bed big enough to fit two people, even if it's way smaller than the one at home… a window big enough to see all of the town's houses…'
A small table with two chairs and a big mirror standing against the wall as though it was yet another door to an unknown world. Then there was another door to what must have been the bathroom, since they had been told that there would be one in every room.
"It's just like grandma's room," Sora eventually murmured, his voice thick with awe and something Riku wasn't sure he could decipher.
"Grandma?" he asked lightly, smiling when the brunet nodded absently and then turned to glance at him.
'Grandma…' he thought to himself, the image of a small, weak woman coming to his mind. 'My grandmother…'
Kira, or so he thought when he tried to remember her name; he really couldn't be sure if that was it since he had never heard anyone call her name directly. Although she was the wife of retired wealthy business man, she had never done much more than stand around as some kind of decoration, following her husband wherever he went and letting him treat her as an object rather than a person.
'They always called her weak and clumsy…' He wasn't sure what he thought about her, never having really spent time with her, but somewhere in his heart he must have felt the same, be it because of his own sense of pride or because of what he had always heard from his parents. 'A weak person who always let everyone push her around…'
"See the curtains there? Granny had the same. I always thought it was weird to have flowery patterns on curtains but it's kind of nice, after all…"
Riku blinked, realizing where his thoughts had been and feeling slightly shamed to have spaced out like that when this was supposed to be their week.
"Sorry…" he murmured quietly, although he wasn't sure Sora heard it. 'I won't think about home now… this is our world…'
"Whoa! Look at that!! They have a TV!"
Sora jumped towards the desk that held a small TV, frantically pressing the buttons on the remote, his eyes lighting up when some kind of shampoo commercial came on, and the quiet room was suddenly filled with music and voices, making it alive and cheerful.
Riku had to smile and shook his head when he watched his friend. 'So easily distracted…' he thought in amusement, walking to the door and picking up their discarded bags to start putting away their things while Sora dragged a chair over to sit.
"You're going to get bad eyes if you sit so close to the screen, Sora," Riku chided although he wasn't sure if he sounded serious at all, too amused by the sight of the teen sitting there with his knees drawn up and hugging the remote, completely absorbed into the colorful world of commercials and game shows.
Seeing Sora like this made him think a little—about himself and about things that had changed ever since the boy had come into his life. He remembered his first time in Sora's house, a place small enough to be his closet , if you wanted to describe it like that.
But even as small and cramped as it had been, there had been a certain feeling inside that house. He thought that it might have been the difference in temperature due to the limited space, but gradually, he had come to realize that this feeling didn't only reside in the house itself; it was there whenever Sora was with him.
Sora had no television at home, no money for anything but the most necessary things; it made him feel guilty for everything he had but at the same time he felt that he needed all these things to distract himself from the other things that were going on in his life.
An education he didn't want, drilled into his head from the moment he was born, great expectations he always had to meet—and although he always seemed confident and even arrogant, he also sometimes felt insecure in his heart, afraid of not being able to do everything that was asked of him.
Sora didn't have those problems, and he envied his friend for that.
'But he lost his father… and he never sees his mother…'
And yet, the brunet never seemed to falter, never stopped to be depressed about anything—no, he never stopped. Sora never hesitated and never gave up. Sora kept on moving like a clockwork, doing everything that had to be done at home and going to school, even finding the time to comfort someone like himself, just like he did during their nightly phone calls. If anyone should have a fanclub and be admired by everyone, it should be Sora, and not him.
"I don't know why you came to me, but I thank whoever made you enter my life…" Riku mumbled eventually, despite knowing how sappy that thought was; he meant it because he appreciated Sora's presence more than anything else.
'And I want you to know that…how important you are to me…'
"Then thank yourself, silly. You're the one who gave me a nosebleed on the first day and dragged me off to the restroom."
Riku blinked in surprise when he heard the muffled response, dropping the shirt he had been holding and planning to put into the closet.
"W-What?" he asked almost faintly, still blinking when he saw Sora in the same position as before, just as though he hadn't said anything at all.
But then, slowly, the boy turned his head, and Riku saw the gesture he had fallen in love with: Sora smiled at him, genuinely, cheerfully, and so comfortingly that he couldn't help but smile back, feeling the warmth and reassurance that only Sora could give him.
"If Mister Charming Monster hadn't seduced me right away, I might have gotten lost on my first day and been the clown of the school for the rest of the year…" Sora said even as he kept smiling, a faint ding-dong sound coming from the TV when someone answered a question on the game show.
They stared at each other for a while, both smiling, while the TV continued to rattle on with its noises and colors, making up for the silence they were causing.
Eventually, Riku began to chuckle, shaking his head and then starting to laugh a little as he let himself fall onto the bed behind him, taking a deep breath when he stared up at the ceiling.
"You're an angel. I swear you are," he said with the most content smile he had ever worn.
Sora merely chuckled in response and turned back to the screen, shifting slightly in the chair and placing the remote on the armrest.
"If I'm an angel, then you're the devil," he joked after a moment, humming when he heard another short laugh, knowing that Riku was taking it the way he meant it.
"Yeah… maybe I'll taint you eventually, pure little angel…"
'But maybe you'll make me into an angel, too…' he whispered in his mind, rolling to the side and curling up for a moment, hearing a soft creak when the mattress adjusted to the shift.
More silence filled the room, except the game show was still going and applause was heard whenever someone answered something correctly. It became far away for Riku when he closed his eyes, absorbing the scent of the unfamiliar but nice room, liking the way the pillow wasn't perfect, but still somehow very comfortable.
He ignored the fact that he had stopped putting their clothes away and simply stayed like that for as long as he could, hearing an occasional yawn or sigh from Sora and almost drifting off in the relaxed atmosphere, before the sounds suddenly stopped and he heard clothes rustling, first wondering if Sora had gone to work on their bags, before he felt the weight on the bed, realizing where his friend was.
"Aeris isn't going to make us do homework here or something, right? She said it's a vacation…"
Riku tried to open his eyes and shift to look at Sora but he felt too lethargic to bother with all that movement and instead settled for a small grunt, earning a snigger from his friend.
"Pig." he heard Sora say, ignoring it and heaving a sigh when he realized just how relaxed he was feeling now.
But a second later, he felt warmth looming over him, his eyes finally obeying his mind and opening only to see Sora leaning over him, watching him, and studying him with a kind of care that he hadn't seen in anyone else's eyes before.
Before he knew what he was doing, his arms moved to wrap themselves around the boy's shoulders, pulling him down and bringing their faces close together, so close that he could feel the warmth between them.
They looked at each other for a moment then, only staying close like this and not moving, before he finally leaned up and kissed Sora, staying in that position for a while until he found it too uncomfortable and shifted to switch their positions.
Sora didn't struggle when he was suddenly under Riku but he kept his eyes open even as Riku kissed him—and he kissed back.
Riku was looking right back at him, their faces so close together that it was hard to see clearly, but it didn't matter because all they needed was the soft touching of lips, the warmth of having a body so close to their own, and the overwhelming pools of color that were the other's eyes.
Eventually, Sora gave in and let his eyes slide shut, and Riku did the same, both of them trying not to break the moment that seemed so fragile between them right now, as if one tiny movement into the wrong direction would disperse the magic that surrounded them.
But Riku felt a small nip on his bottom lip, surprised into parting his lips an inch, and it was enough for Sora to initiate something that wasn't their usual playful brushing of lips, but something far deeper.
'I think... I think I really love you, Sora…' he thought dazedly when he felt hands on his back, fingers curling into his shirt and then loosening their grip to slide somewhere else, an unconscious caress that made him shiver with every touch even if he knew that he usually wasn't ticklish. He moved to be closer to Sora, not worrying about pressing his weight onto the other because he was careful, and because Sora seemed to be pulling him closer willingly when he felt the movement.
The kiss slowly became chaste again until their lips were just lingering against each other, the light puffs of breath warm and soft. Riku wanted to be even closer than that and Sora thought the same, and they ended up hugging each other tightly, the silver haired boy moving to place a gentle kiss on his friend's neck to earn a sound that faintly sounded like a mew, making him smile.
After what seemed to be a long time, Riku slowly began to hear the sounds of the television again, realizing that Sora hadn't turned it off but merely lowered the volume. They had shifted after a few moments to lie to next to each other, but Sora was curled up against him, holding one of his hands and playing with it by stroking his palm, smiling every time he saw Riku twitching and curling his fingers in reaction.
Nothing else seemed to matter in this moment, in this room—in this world that was their own little sanctuary now.
"Sora! Riku! Are you in there?"
Well, even if it didn't matter, Riku had to admit defeat and acknowledge that the outside world was still there.
'It would be unfair to ignore Kairi now… would it?'
As if being able to sense his thoughts, Sora made a disapproving little sound and nudged him, convincing him to get up after all, no matter how nice it had been just now.
"I want to know who she's rooming with. You know no one in class likes her since she's friends with us… I feel sorry for her…"
Riku had to agree to that, knowing how hard it had been for Kairi to be accepted in the first place since she had never been one of the fangirls, and the fact that she was closest to their object of worship made it all the harder for her. At least she had Selphie and a few other friends that she had met in different courses… but since this was a trip for only their class, none of those friends were with her now.
'The other classes are either going somewhere else or just get a week off…'
"Hey, are you two asleep or what? Don't tell me you're making out in the middle of the afternoon!"
At that, Riku could hear a hushed murmur, blinking in confusion as there seemed to be a second voice, no matter how small and quiet it had sounded.
Sora, meanwhile, went to open the door, grinning sheepishly when Kairi glanced over his shoulder to see the half unpacked clothes and gave him a look as if to call him a lazy bum, like she had started a while ago.
"Honestly, you'd think you'd get something done in one hour. What were you doing, sleeping?"
She smiled when she saw Riku's slightly grumpy expression, smoothing out his disheveled hair in an attempt to hide that they had been in bed just a moment ago.
"Well, I got distracted by the TV. You know how I don't have one at home? It's like Christmas and my birthday on the same day!"
Riku watched as Kairi laughed and poked Sora's forehead, telling him that Christmas was coming very soon, and that she would find something good for his birthday then, if he treasured it so much. But after a moment, he lost interest in that scene, glancing at the girl behind Kairi instead, his eyes widening slightly when he thought he recognized her.
Kairi jumped and turned around, slapping her forehead in an apologetic manner and gently taking the blonde's arm to pull her forward.
"Sora, Riku, this is Naminé. She's been living here for a while, but she's coming with us after this week and will go to our school. No one wanted to room with me, so Aeris asked her if it was possible to put me in her room, and she agreed."
She paused then, remembering what had made her jump and looked at Riku quizzically.
"How did you know her name? Or did the headmaster tell you about this already?"
Sora blinked and looked at Riku, too, blinking again when his friend fell silent and glanced away after shaking his head.
"No…No one told me about this… Since it's not any of my business which people are accepted into school and which not."
'After all, it's not like I'm the headmaster or anything.'
Even if his family had a lot to say in almost every area, and the school was supported by his parents' money, he didn't want to be too involved into the whole system, as it would only give him more responsibility. He did establish an okay relationship with the new headmaster after the old one retired, and no matter how weird Leon seemed sometimes, he was a good guy, Riku could tell.
"Well, anyway. We're going to meet downstairs now, you know, discussing the plans for this week. I just hope that Ms Larxene isn't going to make us run laps in the snow or something," the redhead said with a smile before she waved at Sora, taking Naminé's hand a moment later.
"We'll go on ahead, okay? Just be sure to come quickly. You're the class rep, after all."
She only hesitated for a moment, watching Riku's far-off expression for a second before she shook it off.
"Let's go, Naminé. You're part of us now, so you'll have to participate in whatever activity our crazy teachers decided for us."
Riku could see the blonde looking at him with her large blue eyes—they reminded him of Sora, and of a promise that had been made a long time ago—before she glanced down and followed after Kairi, smiling at what the other girl was saying.
When they were out of sight, Sora moved to close the door, his face betraying the wonder and curiosity about the new girl.
"How did you know her name if no one told you? And… what's she doing alone in this hotel… where are her parents? Or are they…"
Riku paled when a certain memory came back to him, the thought of something that had happened more than ten years ago making itself vivid in his mind.
'Naminé… The daughter of Mother's best friend… if anything were to happen to her parents, they wanted Mother to take her in and make her my…my…'
Sora blinked when his friend collapsed against the bed, letting out a groan and then starting to bang his head against the pillow, as ineffective as that was—at least it didn't hurt too much.
Riku buried his head in the pillow, not wanting to believe what was happening. 'But maybe—maybe I'm just jumping to conclusions, maybe it's not like that…'
And maybe his mother had forgotten about that promise already; after all, she had been trying to find a fiancée for a while now; if she had found a fitting one already (Kairi was a candidate, wasn't she? His mother had been completely enchanted with her last time), the promise to Naminè's parents would have to be broken.
'Okay… don't panic. No one's going to marry anyone… I'm not going to marry any of those girls, especially not Naminé.'
He remembered the shy, blonde-haired girl, and how he had played with her a few times when he had been really small. Back then, she had always drawn pictures by herself and he, as the host, had to try and entertain her, even if she said it was okay if he wanted to do something else. He had never seen her as more than an occasional guest that he had to take of, and the visits had stopped very soon after he entered elementary school, but the promise was there, and if his mother remembered…
"Hey, Riku. I don't know what's going on in your head right now, but we should get going," Sora murmured as he stood quietly at the door, looking at the floor instead of giving him the usual cheerful smile.
Riku felt horrible when he shifted to look at the brunet, knowing that it was his fault that Sora was confused now and couldn't smile at him.
"I'll tell you tonight, okay? About everything…"
'Just why do these things like that have to come up every time I think we're going to be fine? How often have I started with 'I'll tell you about everything' already? One day, Sora'll get sick of it, I know it…'
But seeing Sora so unhappy and worried made him want to forget about it, and he finally sat up again, discarding his worries for now and reminding himself that this was supposed to be his week with Sora, and Sora alone.
'And if Mother pushes me into marrying one of the girls, I'll elope with Sora first,' he told himself, suddenly amused by the thought because it was so ridiculous, even if a tiny part in his heart wanted exactly that—to be with Sora, forever, exactly like that.
Sora's eyes lit up when he finally received an answer, nodding and immediately switching to his cheerful self again, going so far as to grab Riku's arm and drag him out bouncing, only stopping to go back and lock the door before he ran down the stairs with his friend.
"If we have to run laps, we can turn it into a snowball fight! Everyone has to run while trying to hit someone else—and the one who gets hit the most has to do something really funny! I should propose that idea, right? Maybe you could—since you're the one in power here—"
Hearing Sora's voice made everything seem to fade away immediately, and Riku found himself smiling at the suggestions, unable to keep himself from teasing his friend when they reached the entrance chamber and headed for the dining hall where they had to meet.
"And what if you're the loser? I could make you do all kinds of things for me…" he purred with a smirk, mentally laughing at the face Sora was making now, turning many, many shades of red.
"Geez, I wonder what you're thinking about… maybe you're not such a pure angel after all…"
'Or maybe this is just the way it is… you, making me feel so happy for no reason at all…'
Sora said something in response but he didn't pay attention to that, knowing that it was just a small protest that was only uttered because Sora wanted to fight the embarrassment.
It was okay, Riku thought, pushing open the door to the dining area and walking in, feeling Sora taking his hand and squeezing it after a moment, giving him another wave of affection and reassurance by that simple gesture.
Yes, it was okay. Because no matter what would happen, Sora would never let go of his hand, and he wouldn't let go of Sora's.
Blurb #2: Yes, that's all for now. Reviews would be nice, so be nice, ne?