Title: A Few Redeeming Qualities

Author: Slashapalooza

Disclaimer: Sora belongs to Riku who belongs to Sora who belongs to Riku who belongs to Sora who belongs to Riku who belongs to Sora who belongs to Riku who belongs to Sora who belongs to… See where I'm going with this?

Rating: PG-13-ish

Summary: AU. Sora was messy, wild, mysterious, and everything Riku never wanted in a lover. That didn't stop Riku from falling for him. Oneshot. RikuSora.

Author's Note: Ah young love. The trials and tribulations. The making out in the empty flat and waking up with a hot ass next to you the next day. I mean, er… Did I say that out loud? Forget you ever heard that! And, while you're at it, read this and make my ego go up.

Yes, this is what I've been doing with my spare time. That and writing LOARD Chapter 14, but they haven't had sex yet.

P.S.: This is un-beta'd as Starberrie is still working on Part II of Separate Lives and I don't want to load her down with work, so if you see any mistakes… ignore them?

Category: Romance – Humor – Slash – Boys making out – Extreme sarcasm – Lots of drooling – Intense flirtation – Mild seduction – Should-be-illegal molestation – Somewhere between PG-13 and R rating

Spoilers: I love Ayumi. I really do.

Feedback: Pweese?

Setting: Hokkaido, Japan

Date Begun: May 22, 2005

Date Posted: May 23, 2005

He holds me when I start to cry, makes me smile with just his eyes,
Shares my hopes, dreams and fears, wipes away all my tears,
I love him without regret; I just haven't found him yet

Sunday, April 18, 2004
Sunday was the day he typically took a walk around town and captured the sights. There was nothing he loved more than a natural pose – nothing faked or awkward about it. Just people – relaxed, laughing, embarrassed, free – as they happened to get captured on film.

It was, to him, the very epitome of beautiful.

Riku glanced around the shops, his camera hanging loosely around his neck as he contemplated exactly which part of town he wanted to walk to. He was dressed for comfort in a pair of black pants and a loose blue shirt that contrasted with his eyes. His hair hung loosely about his shoulders and his jade green umbrella was protecting him from the rain.

Maybe he could go to the countryside. The meadows of Hokkaido were beautiful in the springtime, with the rain giving the plants new life. But landscape photos bored Riku to no end. He studied people, not nature.

"I'll decide after I get some food," He muttered to himself as he crossed the street. "I'm starving."

Riku's immediate choices were a sushi bar at one end of the block and a café at the other. He glanced between the two passively.

The café was closer.

…he didn't really like sushi, anyway.

He stepped into the café and was immediately assaulted by the scent of coffee, heat, and laughter. It was refreshing and immensely comforting. Riku instinctively reached for his camera.

"Good afternoon, sir!" A cheerful brunette said as he sauntered over to Riku and flipped his notepad open. A friendly smile was on his face. "I'm Sora, your waiter. What can I do for you?"

"Geez, Sora, say it even huskier, why don't you? You sound like you're inviting him to hop into your pants!" Called a redhead from the counter, causing the rest of the staff and some of the customers to break out laughing. Sora's cheeks turned a healthy red color as he turned to stick his tongue out at the girl.

"Shut up, Kairi! Nobody asked you!" Sora turned back around to face Riku, an amused smile on his face. Riku grabbed his camera and snapped a picture before the brunette had time to react.

The camera dropped down to its normal place, swinging slightly, while Riku just stared silently at the confused expression on Sora's face.

The boy blinked. "Are you a police officer?"

"Not that I know of," Riku answered, his first words spoken since setting foot in the café. He smiled. "Just coffee, please."

The sunny smile was back. "Coming right up!"

I don't know if I like you
I don't know if I care
All I know is you're really hot
And it's hard not to stare

Monday, April 19, 2004
The next day found Riku on the exact same route in front of the exact same café. It was weird for him to walk the same way when on a stroll through town, but he couldn't resist the urge for coffee.

The café must have made it special or something because no matter how many different ways he'd tried to make it back at his flat, it never tasted as good.

It wasn't raining today. The sun was shining as if it had never been away, warming the wet streets and drying up the rain that threatened to come back. Riku loved the rain more than the sunny days.

It was easy to capture someone in the sunshine, when things were bright and joyous. It was the mark of a true photographer who could take a picture in the midst of a heavy rainstorm and still make it look beautiful.

Riku walked in just in time to hear an uproarious cheer. The café was filled to the brim with majority of the crowd gathered around the front counter. Only two people seemed to be interested in their coffee and nothing else.

His eyes slid over to a poster taped to the glass of the door:

Sundae Eating Contest

Whoever can finish ten of our Monster Monday Sundaes receives free sundaes for a year. And all you have to do is pay ten dollars to enter.

Yes, this is a shameless money-raising ploy. But, hey, free ice cream!

Riku chuckled as he looked back at the counter and scanned the crowd. The brunette from the day earlier was laughing as he slid another bowl of ice cream towards a blonde boy sitting there.

"C'mon, Tidus! Chug it!" Sora cheered, patting 'Tidus' on the back. The blonde merely grinned in return and dived into the ice cream with all the enthusiasm of an Olympic diver. "Yeah! One more sundae after this one! You can do it, no sweat!"

Riku unbuttoned his jacket and was hanging it on the coat rack when he felt eyes on him and looked up to see Sora glancing his way.

The brunette looked confused for a moment before a familiar smile spread on his face and he hopped the counter, walking over to Riku.

Sora placed his hands on his hips and grinned. "What are you doing back here again? Don't you have coffee at home?"

"Yes," Riku answered, smiling. "It just doesn't taste as good."

Sora laughed and began heading towards a table by the window, gesturing for Riku to follow. And he did, sliding into the seat across from the brunette.

Instead of opening his pad like Riku expected him to do, Sora folded his arms on the table and rested his chin on them, looking up at Riku with sparkling blue eyes. "Hi."

"Hi," Riku replied, trying to keep the amusement off his face. He looked over at the counter for a moment, then back at Sora. The brunette seemed to have no interest in the excitement. "Shouldn't you be over there with your friends?"

"Shouldn't you be at home with your…" Sora's eyes flashed briefly. "Boyfriend?"

The amusement shined through. "Not gay."


Riku opened his mouth to protest – did he look gay or something – but Sora had already moved on and was flipping through the pages of his notepad.

"Alright, let's see. Yesterday, you wanted coffee with a drop of sugar and a pinch of milk, stirred to perfection." He rattled off, his blue eyes moving from the pad back to Riku. "Same thing?"

"Same thing." Riku confirmed. "Thanks for remembering."

Sora got up, sticking the pad into the back pocket of his jeans. He paused for a moment, turning and beaming. "What's your name?"

"Riku Masaki."

"Sora Harada. Nice to meet you."

Riku rested his cheek on his hand, watching the slight swivel of Sora's hips as the brunette pushed through the crowd to get to the coffee machine. He smirked.

If anybody's gay here, it's him.

There's a sparkle in your eye that only I see,
And there's a place in your heart where only I want to be

Tuesday, April 20, 2004
"How old are you?" Sora asked immediately when Riku showed up at the café the next day. The white-haired boy paused, hanging his coat on the coat rack and shaking out his wet hair. The rain had caught him by surprise – and without an umbrella.

"A lady never reveals her age." He said calmly, smirking at the horrified look on Sora's face. He laughed freely. "I'm twenty-one. You?"

"Nineteen," Sora replied, still trying to get over his initial shock. "That wasn't funny, by the way."

Riku simply smirked and headed over to the table by the window. He slid into his seat, watching Sora slide into the seat across from him. He looked out of the window and watched the rain fall, silently.

"Hey," Sora voiced, sounding surprised. "Where's your camera?"

Riku blinked and looked down. Instantly, his heart clenched in fear. Where was his camera? He practically slept with the thing! Where was it?

"Sorry," He muttered quickly, getting to his feet and running to the door, grabbing his coat on the way out. His daily meeting with Sora – correction: daily cup of coffee – would have to wait until tomorrow. There was nothing more important to him than his camera.

He sprinted across the street and up the block, thanking the heavens that his flat was only a few blocks away from his new hangout.

Three flights of stairs and hurried apologies to the people he shoved out of his way and he found himself at the door, fumbling through his pockets for the key.

He nearly had a heart attack when he heard a breathless, yet amused voice ask, "Have you ever thought of going out for track and field? I mean, seriously."

Riku took a deep breath and turned, not surprised to see Sora standing behind him.

"Did you follow me home?" He asked, finding his key at last and slipping it into the keyhole.

"Well," Sora murmured, twiddling his thumbs. "You were in such a rush, I thought somebody died or something and they have the café more or less under control and I really didn't think you'd mind so I maybe kind of did. Follow you home, I mean."


Riku opened the door and stepped inside, waiting for Sora to follow before closing the door.

Sora gasped. "You live here?"

Riku blinked. "Um. Yes?"

He didn't think it was much. It was a two room flat - the second room being the bathroom. Everything else was right in front of them. They could see the queen-sized bed from where they were standing, impeccably spread with a navy blue coverlet with a dresser between the bed and the couch a few feet away. Directly across from it was his wardrobe, where he kept his clothes, and the television. To the left was the stove, oven, and cabinet - all attached to one another, and the table was in the center of the room.

Sora hadn't even seen the balcony yet and he was already impressed? Riku was starting to worry about what kind of home conditions the brunette had to live with.

Riku took off his coat and tossed it on a nearby chair, walking over to the wardrobe and throwing the clothes over his shoulder as he started searching for his camera with all the desperation of a dying man. He didn't even bother to dry himself off.

He heard rushing water from behind him, but ignored it. Sora could toy around all he wanted; Riku really didn't care.

He didn't find his camera in the wardrobe, or by the bed, on the couch, or in the cabinet. He even got so desperate as to check the bathroom. Of course, it wasn't in there.

He fell down onto the couch, exhausted, wet and frustrated. Riku jumped when he felt hands on his shoulders.

"Just relax," Sora murmured, starting to move his hands in a way that seemed to relieve all the tension Riku was feeling at the moment. "You're going to burst a blood vessel."

Riku sighed and stared moodily at the wall. His camera was like another part of him. He felt significantly empty without it.

"By the way…" Sora whispered, massaging the muscles of Riku's lower back and causing the older boy to groan in approval. "You left your camera at the café yesterday. I didn't say anything then because I knew you'd have to come back to get it."

He pulled his hands away as if expecting Riku to explode, but the he did the exact opposite. He laughed.

And, after a moment's hesitation, Sora laughed, too.

If you want me to fall for you, you got to give me something worth tripping over.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004
"Your apartment is way too… white." Sora commented as he stepped inside. Riku was by the stove, making himself breakfast. He raised an eyebrow.

"Breaking and entering is illegal, you know," He pointed out, grabbing a plate and rolling his omelet out of the frying pan. Unconsciously, he grabbed two more eggs from the refrigerator. "What do you want in yours?"

Sora looked surprised only briefly before he closed the door and answered, "Just the egg, thanks. I'm not really all that hungry."

Riku hummed as a response and waited for the pan to heat up again, wiping his hands on a dishrag and watching Sora plop down at the couch.

"Shouldn't you be down at the café?" Riku asked, raising an eyebrow in Sora's direction as the brunette pulled off his coat and scarf and tossed them carelessly on the bed.

Sora shook his head. "My shift doesn't start until noon. Usually, I'm not even up until then and Kairi has to fight me to get out of bed."

"Hm. Girlfriend?"


"Got it."

Sora was giving him that look again, but Riku ignored it and cracked the eggs into the now heated pan.

"I was serious with what I said before," Sora hummed, turning his eyes to the wall. "Your apartment is boring. Ever heard of color?"

Riku smirked as he flipped the egg. "Color? What's that?"

"Don't you do anything but stand there and make sarcastic remarks?" Sora teased, sticking out his tongue.

"Oh, no. I can cook and clean and, for ten dollars, I dance."

"Very funny." The brunette quipped, hopping to his feet and walking over to Riku. He watched the older boy tend to the egg for a moment before smiling. "Anything I can help with? I still have an hour until I have to be at the café."

Riku glanced around for a moment, but he could see nothing for Sora to do so he shrugged. He flipped the egg again. "Why'd you come here?"

Sora didn't answer for a moment, walking over to the wardrobe and staring at the woodwork. He was smiling when he looked back at Riku. "I never go anywhere I'm not welcome."

He had a point, Riku mused to himself. He had no objections to Sora being there. He appreciated the company. He had no siblings and his mother lived all the way in Osaka so it wasn't as if he could go visit her whenever he pleased (not that he even wanted to). Most of the time, it was just him and the television.

Riku set the plate on the table and sat down in front of his own plate, reaching for the salt. Sora sat down as well, taking a bite of his omelet.

He beamed. "Have you ever thought of yellow?"

"Oh, sure," Riku said, swallowing the food in his mouth. "I always have colors on my mind. There is no better thing to think of than the wonders of the color yellow."

"No, you dork!" Sora laughed. "I meant have you ever thought of painting this flat yellow? It'd look nice."

"No, I haven't and I don't plan to. Yellow is way too cheery."

"You wore yellow on Monday!" Sora pointed out, pouting slightly. "So, you must like it!"

Riku raised an eyebrow. A few seconds later, Sora realized what he'd said and turned an interesting red color. He ate his breakfast in silence.

Riku chuckled and finished his omelet, getting up and heading over to the sink. Before he could even grab the sponge, Sora was by his side, batting his hand away and turning on the pipe.

"I'll do the dishes. You made me breakfast, so it's the least I could do." The brunette said, setting his own plate in the sink and grabbing the sponge. Riku smiled.

"Alright. I'm going to take a shower." He called, grabbing a towel and change of clothes from his wardrobe and disappearing into the bathroom.

When he returned, the dishes were perfectly washed and Sora was gone. He glanced at the clock on the wall. It was noon.

Riku paused for a moment as if debating something, then sighed, grabbing his camera and leaving the apartment.

It was faith that we met
Choice that we became friends
But falling in love with you
Was beyond my control!

Thursday, April 22, 2004
Thursday found Riku back at the café – and Sora-less. Much to his disappointment, the brunette hadn't been back in his flat when he'd returned from the Hokkaido countryside. Riku hadn't felt like walking down to the café to find out when Sora's shift ended, either.

He wasn't a stalker. Well, not really.

Riku had had trouble falling asleep that night, but he was now awake, refreshed, and ready for some coffee.

He glanced around the café briefly. It was much calmer than the last time he'd been there, with only five or six people inside – not including himself and the staff.

The redhead recognized him immediately and waved him over, a frown on her face. "Are you looking for Sora?"

"I…" Riku stammered, about to say he'd come for the coffee, not the brunette. Then, he sighed. "Yeah."

"Oh," The girl pursed her lips slightly. "Well, he's not here. Thursday is his day off. I suppose he didn't tell you?"

Riku felt a rush of annoyance at this, then remembered that Sora was under no obligation to tell him anything. He shook his head.

"I'm Kairi, by the way. Kairi Ryubara. I'm like his mom, I guess you could say." Kairi told him, tapping her fingers against the counter. "I wish I could help you, but I have no idea where he is. He never tells me where he's going on Thursdays."

Riku frowned thoughtfully before looking back at Kairi again. "Well, can you tell me where he lives?"

The girl visibly tensed. "Can I… um… no. I… oh, look, a customer needs assistance. Coming, sir!"

He blinked, watching her wipe her hands and run over to a man sitting at the back of the café who choked on his coffee in surprise when she appeared next to him. Riku furrowed his eyebrows.

What the hell?

Riku looked through his camera's viewpoint and zoomed in on Kairi, who was blatantly ignoring him now. With a click, he captured the expression on film to be sorted out later. As much as it frustrated him, he loved the purity of the expression.

"Riku? What're you doing… I should probably stop asking that by now."

Riku turned, blinking at the brunette standing in the doorway. One glance at Kairi told him that she was surprised to see him here, too.

"Sora," She stammered. "What—"

Sora looked sheepish, scratching the back of his head. "I remembered that I forgot to tell Riku it was my day off, so I went by his flat, but he wasn't there. So, I figured I'd come down here and—" He glanced at Riku, then gave Kairi a furtive look. "Talk to you."

Kairi understood immediately. "Um, yes, sure. I… just let me…" She turned to look at the customer she'd been talking to. "Do you need anything else, sir?"

"I didn't need anything before." The man muttered. Kairi's cheeks turned a bright red color as Riku raised an eyebrow at her as if to say busted.

"Come on, Sora. There's nobody in the back." She said, not meeting Riku's eyes as she walked through a door behind the counter.

Sora smiled at Riku warmly. "I'll only be a minute. Hang around, would you?"

With that, he disappeared after Kairi.

Riku sighed and sat down in front of the counter, toying with a sugar packet. A brown-haired girl with mischievous green eyes gave him a sympathetic look.

"Don't worry, buddy. I've been working with Sora for the last two years and I still don't know him as well as Kairi does." She said with a shrug. "And even she doesn't know everything."

Riku smiled slightly. "What, did you used to like him or something?"

"You say that as if you don't." The girl retorted, raising an eyebrow at the confused look on Riku's face. "Ah, still in the denial stage, hm? I'm Selphie, by the way. Selphie Tillmet."

"Er," Riku managed, still confused. "Riku Masaki. What do you mean I say that as if I don't? I don't what?"

Selphie sighed. "Nothing, nothing. Look, here he comes."

Riku turned to look at the door as Sora walked through it, climbing over the counter and landing on the stool next to Riku. He leaned forward.

"Hey, want to go to the park with me?" Sora asked, his eyes sparkling. Riku stared for a moment, then released the breath he hadn't known he'd been holding.

"Sure." He agreed softly. "Why not?"

Selphie tittered somewhere to his right, but Riku ignored her. Sora merely beamed once again, grabbing Riku's hand and tugging him to his feet.

"Sora, be careful," Kairi warned, looking worried between him and Riku worriedly.

Sora waved at her dismissively and dragged Riku out of the café and out onto the sunny streets. He took a deep breath and released it, still smiling.

"I love sunny days!" He announced happily, turning to look at his companion. He blinked at the thoughtful look on Riku's face. "What?"

"Can I…" Riku began slowly, fingering his camera. "Can I take pictures of you while we're at the park?"

"If I say no, would you do it anyway?" Sora asked, smirking.

Riku thought a moment, looking down at the camera. Usually, the answer would be 'yes'. However, both his head and his heart were in agreement on this one.

He shook his head.

Sora looked surprised for a moment. Then he smiled softly. "Yeah, go ahead and take pictures."

True love cannot be found where it does not truly exist,
Nor can it be hidden where it truly does.
Love is magic. The more we hide it, the more it shows;
More you suppress it, the more it grows.

Friday, April 23, 2004
"Mo-om!" Riku said as he examined the picture in his hand – one of many that he'd taken at the park the day before.

Sora had been a remarkably good subject. Never once did he stop and pose for the camera, like Riku had been afraid he'd do. Instead, he ran, jumped, swam, and had a rampant good time, trusting that Riku would take the pictures whenever the older boy felt like it. Riku had been up most of the night developing all thirty-one pictures he'd taken.

The brunette was once again back in his flat, although it was drawing closer to nighttime. His shift was over for the day and he'd suddenly appeared in Riku's doorway, saying something about wanting to make Riku dinner.

Who was he to complain?

Now, Sora was busy washing up the plates while Riku talked to his mother, who'd called just as he was helping Sora clear the table.

"Don't you 'Mo-om' me, Riku Masaki. When are you coming home? I haven't seen you since Thanksgiving. Of 2002!"

"I've been… busy. I'm sorry." Riku apologized, watching as Sora glanced at him over his shoulder.

"With what? Or, better question, with who?"

Riku's cheeks turned faintly pink. "Mom!"

"What? Has my ickle Rikie-poo got himself a little woman? Girlfriend, maybe? That's wonderful!"

"Mom, I don't have a girlfriend! I don't have time for stupid things like dating!" Riku protested, trying not to start pouting. What was it about his mother that made him want to sit in a corner and sulk for hours? It had to be some form of mind control.

Sora snorted. "Oh, no, because sitting around your flat all day is so time consuming."

"Who was that? Oh, was that her? She sounds adorable! Put her on the phone!"

"Uh," Riku stammered, surprised. "I… he… uh—"

"He? Oh, dear, Riku, I didn't know you were that way inclined. Not that I have any problem with that. I just wish I'd known, which I might have if somebody had come to visit at some point during the last two years."

"Mom, I'm not—"

"He must be very special for you to allow him into your apartment. You don't even let me in there. Whenever we do see each other, it's always you flying out to see me. Why don't you ever invite me over for a little tête a tête, hm? Has our relationship really deteriorated that much?"


"But, anyway, put him on the phone, dearheart. Come on, now."

Riku gave up with a sigh. Covering the receiver with his hand, he turned to the brunette who was now drying his hands. "Sora, Mom wants to talk to you."

If he thought this was odd, he definitely didn't show it. Riku sat down on the edge of the bed as Sora took the phone and put it to his ear, sounding cheerful.

"Hello, Mrs. Masaki!" Sora greeted, tracing circles on the dresser. "Oh, um, Sora. Sora Harada. I work down at the café Riku goes to all the time."

Riku laid down on his stomach, raising an eyebrow and trying to follow the conversation, even though he could only hear one half.

Sora snickered. "Really? He said that, did he? Oh, yeah, I've been here before. This is my third time here, actually. I made dinner." Sora's cheeks were now a healthy red color. "No, I wasn't planning on… no."

Riku groaned, hoping his mother hadn't made some sort of sexual remark. She was so embarrassing.

"I—Oh, really? You don't say…" Sora was now giving him a deviously thoughtful look. "That's… very interesting."

Riku blinked as Sora began walking toward him, the phone still at his ear.

"There, huh? Fascinating."

Riku opened his mouth to ask what his mother was divulging when Sora held the phone to the side with one hand and placed the other hand on Riku's shoulder to keep him from moving. Then, he leaned forward and licked the very sensitive area behind Riku's ear.

Riku shivered involuntarily, feeling the blood rushing from his head to his… head.

Sora's eyes flashed, visibly darker. "Very interesting…"

Riku swallowed heavily, knowing his own expression mirrored that of Sora's. It wasn't something he could control. Sora had found The Spot. Riku was a slave to his sex drive now – be it a boy or girl in front of him.

Sora put the phone back to his ear and turned around, much to Riku's libido's severe disappointment.

"Just so I don't get extremely disturbed, how did you know that?" He said into the phone, seemingly unconcerned that he'd just made Riku aroused beyond belief. "You bullied it out of her? I didn't think that was something you wanted to know about your own son."

Sora glanced over his shoulder and smirked at the hungry expression on Riku's face before turning away. "Well, yes, I suppose that would come in useful to a future spouse, but…"

Riku stopped keeping track of the conversation. His hands were itching for a hot ass to ravage and, coincidentally, there happened to be one right in front of him. His eyes turned an even darker shade of aquamarine.

Sora turned around to face him once again, the phone still by his ear and an amused smile teasing his lips. Riku watched him with all the alertness of a predator on the hunt. Just a few steps closer…

Suddenly, Sora found himself pinned to the bed, under one very horny Riku. The phone fell from his hand.

"R-Riku, your mother—" Sora protested, bucking his hips to get Riku off him. This small action brought about a deliciously pleasurable friction. Sora hissed and settled down. "Y… Your mother…"

"She's the one paying the long distance bill, not me," Riku muttered, leaning down and capturing Sora's lips in a fierce, bruising kiss. Sora moaned at the back of his throat and responded enthusiastically, tangling his fingers in Riku's hair.

The white-haired boy pulled back from the kiss to roughly nip and suck at Sora's neck, causing the brunette to whimper and tighten his grip on those silky locks. Riku took no notice of it as he continued showering Sora's neck with attention.

All the way back in Osaka, Ayumi Masaki set down the phone, a satisfied smile on her face. "Don't rub the lamp if you don't want the genie to come out."

Frustrated because I can't tell if its real
Mad because I don't know how you feel
Upset because we can't make it right
Sad because I need you day and night
Angry because you won't take my hand
Aggravated because you don't understand
Disappointed because we can't be together
But still I'll love you FOREVER

Saturday, April 24, 2004
It was extremely warm when he awoke. He was reluctant to open his eyes, much preferring to stay in this comfortable warmth than to return to his empty flat where nothing but his camera and the pictures he'd taken would keep him company.

So, rather than facing that world, he merely snuggled closer to this source of warmth, his arms instinctively tightening around something.

When that something moved, however, Riku's eyes snapped open. His heart began pounding rapidly as he sat up, putting a hand to his forehead and he trying to collect his wits. He closed his eyes and groaned.

He didn't even need to look down to remember who was in his bed next to him. And naked, no doubt.

"Shit," He muttered, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed and standing. He took a deep breath to calm his racing heart, trying not to look behind him at the slumbering brunette. Instead, he collected his clothes and slipped into them quietly.

Only then did he allow himself to look.

Sora was curled up against the pillow, using it as a replacement for Riku, the blanket covering everything from the waist-down. He looked so peaceful…

Riku felt something in his heart clench painfully and he reached for his camera, capturing the moment with a quiet click.

This was enough to wake the slumbering brunette. His eyelids fluttered for a moment as his mouth opened in a quiet yawn. Sora, then blinked open his eyes and sat up, obviously disoriented.

His eyes traveled around the apartment until they landed on Riku and a sleepy smile spread on his face.

"Hey." Sora said, his voice laced with exhaustion. "Wild night, huh?"

Riku swallowed and didn't dare respond.

Sora stared sleepily down at his pillow, his brown hair sticking up on one side of his head and smushed against his face on the other. He then looked over at Riku, the scared expression on the other boy's face finally registering in his mind.

Sora's eyes were suddenly filled with a sad sort of understanding. "Right. You're not gay. I'll just… leave then."

Riku swallowed and stared down at his camera rather than looking at the hurt expression Sora was desperately trying to suppress. He felt… numb to anything but his own fear and insecurities.

A boy in his bed. Fuck.

Granted, he was terribly fond of Sora, but he'd only known the boy for, what, seven days and how the hell had he ended up in bed with him. He got the distinct feeling that his mother was to blame for this.

Then again, his mother hadn't been the one to make him kiss a slow trail up Sora's body and back to his lips while reaching for the lotion and whispering that it would be okay. Nor had she forced him to enter Sora slowly and kiss away every single tear that leaked from the brunette's eyes before waiting for Sora to adjust to the intrusion and pounding him until they both came screaming.

Oh, no, Riku had done all that on his own.

And the scariest part was… he'd wanted to. Riku swallowed, daring himself to look up again and say something—anything.

The only sight that met his eyes was the empty apartment. Sora was gone.

One day you will come to me and ask "What's more important: your life or mine?"
I will say "mine" and you will walk away never knowing you are my life...

Sunday, April 25, 2004
A loud pounding on the door broke into the silence of Riku's self-pity. He hadn't moved from his bed since Sora had left the day before. It smelled of sweat and sex, but it also smelled like Sora and that alone was enough to comfort him.

He was starving, but he didn't feel like eating. He was tired, but he didn't feel like sleeping. He should have called his mother, but he got the distinct feeling that if he did, he'd either end of screaming or crying.

He didn't feel like doing either.

Hoping that whoever was at the door would go away if he ignored them, Riku wrapped himself tighter in his blanket and buried his face in his pillow, inhaling deeply.

The pounding didn't let up. He could hear the neighbors starting to complain.

Sighing, Riku sat up, still wearing the same clothes he'd slipped into after crawling out of bed with his 'one-night stand'. He walked over to the door and opened it.

Instantly, his head snapped backwards and his eye swelled shut.

Riku grit his teeth and used his good eye to see through, not surprised to see an enraged Kairi standing in his doorway, rubbing the fist she'd used to hit him.

"You bastard!" She screamed, kicking the door shut and ignoring the loud slam it made. "You better tell me where Sora is or the other eye will look the same!"

Riku frowned, but otherwise remained expressionless. He didn't make any moves to relieve the pain he was getting from his eye. He did deserve it, after all.

"What are you talking about?" He asked calmly.

"Don't give me that! Sora came over to your house yesterday and nobody's seen him since! He didn't show up yesterday or for work today! That's never happened before!" Kairi raved, now looking even more infuriated. "What did you do to him! Where is he! START TALKING!"

Riku's frown deepened. "Sora's missing?"


"I didn't. He left yesterday morning. I haven't seen him since."

Kairi's eyes narrowed as she sniffed. Her eyes widened. "Why does it smell like sex in here?"

Riku's shoulders slumped and he looked away. That was a mistake. He suddenly found himself on the ground with the wind knocked out of him. He couldn't believe such a petite girl could punch so hard.


Riku closed his eyes and pressed a hand to his forehead. "Kairi, look, I know I'm an asshole, okay? But would you please—"

"No," Kairi hissed. "I don't think you know just how much of an asshole you are. Let me tell you."

Riku looked at her blankly.

"Did you know that, before he met you, Sora was a virgin?" Riku's eyes widened, but Kairi stopped there. "Did you know that Sora's father was killed in a car crash when he was five and he lost his mother to leukemia when he was ten? Did you know that the café is the closest thing to a family that Sora has? DID YOU KNOW THAT HE DOESN'T HAVE A HOME? THAT HE JUST SLEEPS WHEREVER IS CONVINIENT AND WHERE HE WON'T BE IN THE WAY! DID YOU KNOW?"

Riku swallowed, looking at the floor. "N-No, I… I really didn't."

"I knew it," Kairi said coldly. "That is how much of a bastard you are. That you hurt him so much that he's MIA is quite a task. No matter how he's feeling, Sora always has a smile for everybody else. You'd better go out and find him, you hear? Because if you don't… if you don't…" Her voice cracked as tears began streaming down her cheeks. She turned and headed for the door. "If you don't, you're stealing the light from a lot of people's lives. So, find him. Please."

Riku continued staring at the floor until he heard the door quietly slip closed. Only then did he pull himself to his feet, wheezing slightly and placing a hand on his stomach. He winced. Kairi certainly packed a punch.

He didn't bother to grab his coat or tend to his wounds as headed out into the hallway. There was no time for such trivialities. Instead of waiting for the elevator, which, no doubt, Kairi was on, he took the stairs and left the apartment building through the back door.

It was raining buckets outside. Riku could barely see more than two feet in front of him. His stomach sank. Sora was out in this?

"God, I'm a bastard." He muttered to himself as he started walking. The rain was freezing cold everywhere it touched his skin and he just knew he'd be sick in the morning, but the thought that Sora was somewhere in this rainstorm was enough to keep him going.

He kept going until he lost track of what part of town he was in – and, even then, he only stopped running when he slid and fell head first into a giant puddle by the side of the road. He tried to drag himself up, but he was exhausted and tired and freezing and all he wanted to do was take a nice, long rest.

He was vaguely aware of quiet voices somewhere above him before he lost consciousness and fell into a fitful sleep.

People need loving the most when they deserve it the least.

Monday, April 26, 2004
"Don't you think he should have woken up by now?"

"Well, maybe, you should stop poking him, Cloud."

"What harm could it do? Maybe it'll help him wake up faster."

"Would both of you get away from him? Help me out and set the table if you're so restless."

It was the sound of the last voice that snapped Riku from his slumber. His eyes opened slowly as he absorbed his surroundings. He was in a dingy room, with a table a few feet away from the cot he was laying on. Behind the table was the same stove/over/counter/sink/microwave setup he had at home.

Around the table was a spiky-haired blond who was arguing quietly with a stoic brunette. That wasn't the brunette Riku was interested in. Standing between the two with a ladle and a giant pot in his hands was Sora.

A wave of relief washed over him as he sat up.

"Sora?" His voice sounded hoarse even to his own ears. He felt like shit. But Sora was alright, and that was all that mattered.

The brunette's eyes flicked over to him in shock before he set down the pot and walked over to the bed. He gently pushed Riku back down. "Get some rest, Riku. What were you doing out in the rain anyway, you madman?"

"Looking for you." Riku muttered, his hands wrapping around Sora's wrist. The brunette blushed, but didn't pull his hand away.

"Well, you've found me." He gestured behind him with his free hand. "These are two of my friends. The blond one is Cloud and the other one is Leon. They found me at the park and brought me home with them."

Riku rubbed his arm. "Why didn't you just go stay with your relatives?"

"What relatives?" Sora muttered, not loud enough for the white-haired boy to hear. Riku did hear it however, falling silent and deciding not to press it.

Leon walked to Sora's side and narrowed his eyes at Riku for a moment. Then he looked at Sora. "This is… him?"

"Mhm." Sora replied, gently tugging his hand away and getting up. "If you're up to it, Riku, we're about to have soup. It might do you some good."

Riku stared up at Leon. The brunette did not look happy to see him. He closed his eyes and sighed. "I didn't mean to hurt him."

"Of course you didn't. Then I'd really need to kick your ass." Leon growled. Cloud walked over and placed a hand on Leon's shoulder.

"Leave him alone. He's not well enough to do much but sit there while you hit him." Cloud looked down at Riku and sniffed. "Besides, it looks like somebody beat you to it."

Riku couldn't help but smile. "Sora's really lucky to have friends like all of you."

"What, don't you have any friends?" Leon asked coolly. When Riku didn't reply, he raised an eyebrow. "Wow, you are sad."

"Dinner is ready!" Sora called from the table. Riku pushed himself up and blinked, his hand going to his eye. The swelling had gone down, as if someone had put ice on it.

He looked at Leon and Cloud. "Sora?"

"Sora." Cloud confirmed, turning and walking over to the table. Leon glared at Riku for a moment more before walking over there as well.

Riku sat on the bed, watching as Sora poured dinner for the both of them, then poured an extra bowl. Sora set the bowl on a tray and walked over to the cot, a small smile on his face.

"Are you hungry?" He asked, sitting on the bed next to Riku. "Can you feed yourself, or do you want me to do it for you?"

Riku simply stared at him. "Why are you—"

"Hey, no hard feelings, okay? I did provoke you, after all." Sora replied, his smile slightly strained. He held up a spoonful of the steaming liquid in the bowl. "Anyway, soup?"

Riku stared at him for a moment longer before sighing. "Okay."

Everyday the goes by it seems like
I discover something new about you to love
It's incredible to me how one person
Can make such a big different in my life
You touch me in a way no one else ever has
And give me so many reasons to love you

Tuesday, April 27, 2004
The more time he spent around Sora, the guiltier Riku felt. The brunette carried on as if nothing unusual had happened between them, as if they'd never slept together, as if Riku had never thrown him out.

Sora always had a smile for him, always kept Leon and Cloud from yelling at him, always treated him as though he were some kind of hero.

It was absolutely killing Riku inside. But it wasn't only that. What was really killing him was how he felt.

Running all the way across town without a coat or umbrella was not something he would do for just anyone. But he'd freely done it for Sora and without thinking about it first.

He'd done it for Sora and only Sora.

God, how blind could one person be?

Riku set the last plate into the sink and brushed his hair out of his face. Leon and Cloud had gone grocery shopping and Sora had said something about checking on someone before disappearing after them.

Riku had spent half the morning cleaning the entire apartment. It was much dirtier than his flat, but, then again, Riku was a neat freak.

He hadn't stopped cleaning until the entire apartment sparkled. And now that he did and had nothing else to do he felt strangely empty. He eyed the single window, half-tempted to scrub it again, just to have something to do, when the door opened.

Sora looked around the apartment in surprise, then looked at Riku, closing the door behind him. "Too dirty for you, huh?"

"Yeah," Riku murmured, taking note of the bag in Sora's hand. "What have you got there?"

Sora tossed it in his direction, not surprised when Riku caught it expertly. The brunette smiled. "It's a present for you. I noticed that you were out of film last time I was at your flat, so I picked some of that up, too."

Riku peered into the bag, his eyes widening slightly as he pulled out his camera, plus the film Sora had bought.

He looked at Sora. "Where have you been all day?"

"I went to go see Kairi," Sora answered with a shrug as he straightened the sheets on Riku's cot. "She was practically hysterical. And I figured you'd want your camera, so I went to your flat and brought it over. Are you angry?"

Riku was overcome by emotion. He set the camera down on the table and took a moment to collect himself.

Sora's concerned voice was drawing closer until he felt a hand on his shoulder. "Riku? Did I do something wrong?"

"Sora…" Before he could stop himself, he had whirled around and pressed Sora against him in a tight hug. He buried his head against Sora's neck and took a deep breath. "Sora…"

The younger boy slumped against him, hesitating a moment before resting his hands on Riku's waist. "R-Riku, why are you… what are you trying to… why—"

"Shh. Please. Just…" Riku held him tighter. "Just let me hold you."

Sora didn't respond.

Riku held him for awhile longer before slowly letting him go and running his fingers through his hair, not meeting Sora's eyes. "Sorry."

"Don't you dare." Riku blinked, turning to look at the brunette only to see that Sora was shaking. "Don't you dare apologize."


"No, I mean it." Sora continued, rubbing his arm and glaring at the floor. "Don't apologize. I-I like you, Riku and I know you're not… not gay, but I just wish you wouldn't…" He sighed and shook his head. "Nevermind. I'm glad you like your gift."

Riku opened his mouth to argue, to tell Sora the truth, but then the door opened for a second time and Leon walked through it, his arms full of bags.

"Don't just stand there, morons. Help us with these bags," Leon's voice said from somewhere behind the mountain of bags he was carrying.

Sora avoided Riku's eyes and grabbed some of the bags from Leon's hands.

Tomorrow, Riku thought with a sigh. I'll tell him tomorrow.

Love is when all you care about is that one person,
No one could hurt you more and yet no one can make you happier

Wednesday, April 28, 2004
It was on Wednesday that Riku finally decided to venture out of the apartment. As soon as he stepped outside, he was shocked by the fields and mountains he could see in the distance. Just how far had he ran on Sunday, anyway?

Then again, that seemed like a while ago and even longer since he'd met Sora. How time flies.

Riku turned back into the apartment to get his camera, then decided to take a walk. He headed out across the meadow until he could no longer see the house and sat down under a tree as a light drizzle started up.

He sighed. Once again, he'd forgotten to carry an umbrella. He slid his camera under his coat to keep it from getting wet and stared up at the gathering clouds.

His situation with Sora was driving him mad. Sora had been avoiding him steadily since yesterday afternoon, constantly making sure he was never left alone with Riku long enough for the older boy to talk to him.

Riku brushed his hair out of his face and frowned. How did he always manage to screw up every good thing he had going for him? It had to be some kind of talent. Or curse.

The steady dripping on his head dropped and Riku looked up to see that he was being covered by a black umbrella. He was surprised to see who was holding it.

"Do you like being out in the rain?" Sora asked in amusement, tilting his head to the side.

"Not really," Riku replied, sliding over so that Sora could sit down next to him. "I just needed to think for awhile."

Sora accepted this as an answer and closed the umbrella, letting the rain fall on him. "You're going to get sick again."

"Good thing I have you to nurse me back to health then, huh?"


Riku glanced at Sora out of the corner of his eye and saw the younger boy toy with the umbrella handle and stare moodily out at the meadow.

He sighed. "Listen, Sora—"

"Don't." Sora said, his bangs hiding his eyes. "Please."

Riku frowned and didn't.

A long silence stretched between them, during which Riku longed to open his mouth and tell Sora all of what he'd been feeling for the past few days, but he had no idea where to begin. All he could do was watch Sora fidget and look at the sky.

Riku sighed again, staring at his feet. "Are you ever going back to the café?"

"I am going back. Tomorrow. I have to." Sora answered immediately, his eyes on the clouds. "They're like a family to me, all of them."

"Yeah, I know." Riku murmured. "Kairi told me."

Sora's head whipped around as the younger boy stared at him wide-eyed. "How much did Kairi tell you!"

"Enough for me to know that I hurt you, that I suck, and that I'm sorry." Riku answered, meeting Sora's gaze. The brunette swallowed and looked away, muttering something about murdering Kairi.

The rain came down on them harder. Riku checked his watch.

"We should get back. I might as well go back home tomorrow, too." He said, getting up and holding out a hand to help Sora up.

Sora stared at the hand dubiously.

"It won't bite." Riku stated, amused. Sora grabbed his hand and let Riku help him to his feet, opening up the umbrella and shielding the two of them from the rain.

They began walking back to the apartment in a semi-comfortable silence. Riku reached over and took Sora's hand, looking forward. He could feel Sora's eyes on him, but he didn't dare turn his head.

When he finally did, he saw Sora looking at the ground, a small smile on his face.

Riku couldn't help but smile in return.

Life is not waiting for the storm to pass,
But learning to dance in the rain

Thursday, April 29, 2004
Riku looked around his apartment, surprised to see that someone had come by and cleaned the place while he was gone. It no longer smelled of sweat, sex and tears. Now, it smelled like lavender.

He twitched. Lavender? Dear, god, no…

His worst fears were confirmed as Ayumi Masaki appeared in the bathroom doorway, her hands on her hips and a smirk on her face. "You slept with him, didn't you?"

"Mom, what in the name of all things holy are you doing here!" Riku exclaimed, clapping a hand to his face.

His mother was unfazed. "You slept with him!"

"That's not what's important! What's important is that I want you out of my flat, immediately! When did you get here! How did you get here!"

"Oh, so your boyfriend can pop into your apartment whenever he wants, but I can't, huh?" Ayumi teased. "Where have you been for the last two days, anyway? I arrive in Hokkaido just to see you and you have the nerve to be gone?"

"I was… busy…" Riku said vaguely, frowning. "Why are you here?"

"Oh, you know, just to check up. See how you are. See if Sora is as cute as he sounded on the phone." His mother's voice radiated innocence. "Look, I even cleaned up the place for you."

Riku twitched again. "I hate lavender."

Ayumi smiled angelically in return.

"You know," She said sweetly. "I think I'm in the mood for a French vanilla latte. Where's the closest café?"

Riku's eyes widened.

"Oh, no, Mom—"

"Oh, yes, dear. Come on, now, let's go." Ayumi didn't even give him a chance to respond as she shoved Riku back out the door. She didn't stop shoving him until they were out on the street and Riku had given up all hopes of escape.

Resigned, he showed her the way to the café, hoping Sora wouldn't be there. It was his day off, after all.

Ayumi's eyes lit up in delight as they entered and she looked around. "It's so cozy! This Sora of yours must be a real sweetheart!"

"Must be." Riku muttered, not even bothering to fake enthusiasm.

"Which one of you is Sora?" Ayumi called loud enough for the entire café to hear her. Immediately, everyone pointed to the confused brunette behind the counter, busy drinking the cup of coffee Kairi had just handed him. He took one look at Riku and raised an eyebrow.

"Sora, meet my mom." Riku said as soon as he was close enough for Sora to hear. A wide-smile spread on Sora's face.

"Mrs. Masaki! It's so nice to finally meet you!" The brunette said, setting down the coffee and hopping over the counter to sit between the mother and son.

Ayumi beamed. "Riku, he's adorable! You sure know how to pick 'em."

Riku covered his face with his hands.

Sora was unfazed. "He sure does. But who could resist his rugged good-looks. I was doomed from the very first time I laid eyes on him."

Riku got the hidden message loud and clear. He looked up, but Sora wasn't facing him.

"That's a very accurate way of putting it. Riku doesn't have very much luck with relationships." Ayumi tottered with a sigh. "Every single one he's been in has ended disastrously."

"I wonder why."

"I don't. Nine times out of ten, it's Riku's fault. He just can't seem to figure out what he wants." Ayumi sighed once again, then smiled. "Oh, but he does seem to like you, Sora."

The brunette didn't skip a beat. "It would seem that way, wouldn't it."

"Oh, yes. I do believe you're the first person he's ever slept with, unless he's been with anyone over the last two years. I doubt it. Riku's a one-man show."

Both turned to look at the boy in question, who had taken to forlornly playing with the sugar packets until this torture was over. He felt eyes on him and glanced over at Sora and Ayumi, who immediately turned away.

"I've figured that out already." Sora muttered.

Ayumi either didn't notice, or didn't care. "I'll be in town until Saturday. You should come over for tea tomorrow!"

"Mom…" Riku said, warningly. He was blatantly ignored.

"Oh, it'll be fun! Just you and me, Sora. How about it?" Ayumi asked, her smile widening. Sora glanced back at Riku, then looked at Ayumi and smiled weakly.

"Sure," He replied. "Why not?"

Love is being able to walk arm in arm
Even when you don't see eye to eye

Friday, April 30, 2004
Friday afternoon, Riku was kicked out of his own apartment the minute Sora showed up. He barely had time to say hi before Ayumi had pulled Sora inside and shut the door on her own son.

Now, Riku was sitting in the café, bitterly stirring a cup of coffee he could barely taste and wonder what in the hell they were in his flat talking about.

He groaned and rested his head on the table, praying Ayumi wasn't sharing any embarrassing stories or talking to Sora about his sex life, or lack there of, or, even worse, giving him tip-offs like she'd done before.

What a mess that had led to.

He heard more than saw someone slide into the seat across from him and lifted his head to see Selphie sitting there. She looked wary.

"I'm guessing everyone else has yelled at you, so I'm not going to." She said thoughtfully. "I just wanted to ask you something."

Riku blew his hair out of his face and sat up. "What?"

"When are you going to tell him how you feel?" At his surprised look, she giggled. "I'm very perceptive when it comes to matters of the heart."

Riku rested his head on the table again. "I don't know. Every time I try to tell him, he won't let me."

"He probably doesn't want to give you the chance to hurt him again," Selphie mused, taking Riku's coffee and drinking all of it. She raised an eyebrow at him. "What? It's not like you were making any progress in drinking it."

Riku groaned.

"Maybe you should try and show him that you're not going to hurt him anymore. I'm not sure how, but actions speak louder than words, y'know." Selphie continued, pouring packets of sugar into the now-empty cup.

Riku opened his mouth to reply when the door of the café opened. He turned to see Sora running towards him and a few seconds later, his arms were full and his lips were occupied.

The café patrons whispered their approval.

Riku was just getting into the kiss when Sora pulled away to sit calmly beside him, Ayumi sliding in next to Selphie. Sora beamed. "Hi, boyfriend."

"Um… hi…" Riku replied, dazed.

Ayumi snickered. "You two are so cute. Riku, you hang on to this one. He's an absolute miracle."

Riku blinked himself out of his stupor, clearing his throat and looking at the brunette next to him. "Yeah, I know."

I will forever love you
I will forever care
I will forever live my life
Wishing you were there
And as for long as I live
I will never walk away
As long as you
Promise me one thing
If you come to me
You will stay

Saturday, May 1, 2004
"Mom, I'm twenty-one, for Pete's sake. I'm not going to some stupid fair with you!" Riku protested, turning a page in his magazine and sulking. Sora was seated beside him, having been given a vacation from work to entertain Riku's mother until she left that night.

"I think it would be fun." The brunette piped up, pulling the magazine from Riku's grasp and giving him a pleading look. "We missed the Hanami, so this is the least we could do."

Riku sighed, unable to deny Sora anything. "Fine, we'll go. But if she does anything to embarrass me—"

"Don't worry!" Sora reassured, getting to his feet and winking. "I'll make it up to you tonight."

Riku choked on his own spit.

Ayumi clapped her hands together in delight. "Rawr, Sora, you little sex kitten! I see Riku has passed on his insatiable libido."

"You know it, Mrs. Masaki!" Sora said with a laugh, bumping hips with Riku's mother. The white-haired boy took one look at them and crawled onto the bed, wrapping himself up in the blanket and trying to smother himself to death.

"Riku no fun! Riku no fun!" Ayumi and Sora chanted together amidst their uproarious laughter. Riku redoubled his efforts.

It took a full hour for them to finally drag him out of the bed and push him in the direction of the park where the festival was being held.

Sora and Ayumi walked ahead of him, chatting animatedly, while Riku hung behind, his hands in his pockets, wishing he was anywhere but here. Well, no. Wishing his mother were anywhere but here so that he could be alone with Sora and make things right.

Riku fingered the item in his pocket with a sigh. He'd thought about Selphie's words all of yesterday and had waited patiently for Sora and Ayumi to fall asleep on the floor in front of the TV before sneaking out to the jewelry store, one hour before it was due to close.

He'd searched through rows upon rows of gold, silver, and bronze with no avail until one particular item had caught his eye.

"That one's got a legend attached to it," Old man Sagami said as he pulled the golden chain out from the glass case. Dangling on the end of the chain was a star-shaped pendant with a little golden leaf attached, making it look almost like some weird kind of fruit.

Riku fingered the pendant, smiling slightly. "It's cute."

"It's from DestinyIslands," Sagami continued. "One of them Paopu fruits."

Riku looked at him blankly. Destiny what? And what the heck was a Paopu? He'd never heard of either thing, but it sounded like something Sora would love.

"According to the legend, if two people share a Paopu fruit, their destinies become intertwined and they'll remain a part of each other's lives no matter what." Sagami said, smiling warmly. "That one you've got there is one of a pair. Want the other one, too?"

Riku didn't even need to think about it. "Yes."

He'd put his on immediately, but he had yet to give Sora his. Riku wanted to wait for the exact right moment. He wanted to sit Sora down and tell him everything, make him understand.

"We're here!" Ayumi announced, bringing Riku out of his thoughts. He could smell the sweet scent of food – oden, yakitori, okonomiyaki, takoyaki, donburi, and others he couldn't identify. His stomach growled.

Sora's hand slid into his, surprising him. "Come on, Riku. Let's get something to eat!"

Riku let Sora drag him over to the sushi bar and watched the brunette order four packs of sushi. Riku blinked. "Sora, there are only three of us."

"I know that!" Sora said as he collected the food. "One for you and Ayumi, and two for me."

Riku couldn't help but laugh.

The consumption of the sushi was followed by walking to each and every carnival booth, regardless of whether or not they wanted anything there, to see what they had. By the time it was near sunset, Riku was exhausted.

He collapsed on a bench, tilting his head backwards to look at the sky and noticing the stars slowly starting to pepper the sky. Sighing, he pulled the Paopu fruit necklace from his pocket and stared at it.

"What's that?" Sora asked, sitting down next to him and tilting his head to the side. It took all of Riku's self-control not to jump.

Instead of answering the question, he looked around. "Where's Mom?"

"She went to go get some more sushi from that cart out front." Sora replied, poking the necklace. "But, seriously, what is that? Some kind of fruit?"

Riku hesitated for a moment. He'd wanted to save this until later, but…

Sighing, he opened Sora's hand and dropped the necklace into it, not meeting the brunette's confused gaze. "It's a Paopu fruit necklace. Sagami said that, if two people share one—"

"—their destinies become intertwined." Sora murmured, his hand closing around the necklace shakily. "Why are you giving this to me now?"

"I didn't want to give it to you now, but somebody was nosey." Riku answered, pulling his own necklace out from under his shirt. Sora's gaze was burning a hole into him. He swallowed and stared down. "Sora… I know I hurt you, but I also know it was the biggest mistake I've ever made in my life, including that time I ate those heart shaped bath soaps because I thought they were candy and got sick for a week and a half."

Sora raised an eyebrow. "You ate those? Not even I ate those!"

"The point is," Riku muttered, getting them back on track. He turned to look at Sora, taking a deep breath. "I was… I was very lonely before I met you, Sora. And I… I never want to be that lonely again. So, will… will you stay with me?"

Sora stood, holding the necklace tightly and looking at the floor. "How can you ask me that?" He said, looking at Riku through tear-filled eyes. "How can you?"


Riku watched as Sora turned and ran as fast as he could out of the park, a sinking feeling in his stomach. He didn't even flinch when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"What happened?" Ayumi asked, setting the oden down on the bench.

Riku covered his eyes with his bangs. "I just screwed everything up. Again."

Love is giving him the ability to break your heart
But trusting him enough to know that he won't...

Sunday, May 2, 2004
Ayumi had gone home. Riku had all-but shoved her into the cab despite her pleas to stay and keep him company. And, as soon as she left, he'd been restless.

He re-cleaned the apartment. He developed all the photographs in his camera, including the one he'd taken of Sora sleeping in his bed. That one, he'd framed and put on the wall. He'd taken long walks, avoiding the café like the plague, and cooked big, elaborate dishes he had no intention of eating.

His table was decorated with as many different kinds of foods as he'd had the materials to make and his counter top was a mess, but Riku no longer felt like cleaning anymore.

He just felt… dead.

Riku fingered the necklace that still hung around his neck and sighed. He didn't have the courage to take it off. He didn't even want to. His only small comfort was that maybe Sora hadn't thrown his away.

If he hadn't, then this necklace still connected them and that was good enough.

He raised his head slightly when he heard someone knocking on the door and frowned, not in the mood for visitors, no matter how rarely he got them. He wiped his hands with a dish cloth.

"I'm coming, I'm coming," Riku said, opening the door. Sora beamed at him from the hallway, a rucksack slung over his shoulder.

"Funny… that's the same thing you said when we slept together." The brunette taunted as he stepped into the apartment and tossed his sack to the ground.

Riku eyed the bag carefully, then stared at Sora, closing the door behind him. "What… what are you doing here?"

"I…" Sora paused, his eyes reflecting how scared he felt. "Didn't you want me to stay with you? I-I didn't know it was a one time offer…"

Sora turned to leave, but Riku grabbed his wrist and stopped the brunette from going anywhere. Gently, he tugged on Sora's wrist until he was in arm's reach, and pulled Sora into a tight hug.

"Where did you run off to yesterday? I thought you hated me," Riku murmured, kissing the skin of Sora's neck.

The younger boy sighed in relief, hugging Riku back. "I don't think I ever could." Sora leaned his head on Riku's shoulder and took a deep breath. "Yesterday… I guess you kind of… scared me a little. I didn't want to get hurt anymore, so I ran. Selphie let me stay at her house for awhile."

Riku hummed to show he was listening, tracing Sora's spine with his hand.

"I was still afraid, so I didn't show Selphie the necklace, but when I got out of the shower, she started screaming at me. Tidus and his nosey self found the necklace in my pocket."

"Tidus? That blonde?"

"Yeah. He and Selphie are engaged, so they're trying the 'live together' thing, which is why I don't stay with them very often." Sora explained, reluctantly pulling back from the hug and running his fingers through his hair. "Anyway, Selphie started screaming at me and asking me who'd given that to me and why I wasn't with them instead of with her and I… well, that was a really good question. So, this morning, I packed up my stuff and came here."

He shuffled his feet and looked at Riku nervously. "So, can I stay with you? I mean, live here? I haven't really had one place to go home to in a long time."

Riku smiled, stepping forward and kissing Sora chastely, barely moving his lips. He pulled away. "Of course you can. I wouldn't want it any other way."

Sora beamed, picking up his bag and tossing it on the couch as he looked around the apartment. Riku took a deep breath, unable to stop smiling. Finally, he thought. Finally.

"Hey, Sora?"


"I think it's time I told you... I'm gay."

Sora laughed, long and hard, and Riku grinned, feeling like maybe everything would be okay after all.

Real love stories never have an ending.