Author Note:

Author Note:

I'm thinking about re-submitting this so it doesn't look so…er…lazily written. The time space between when it was started and that late update makes Saku-chan and me look a little lazy. Ah well, anwyay. A bit of advertising for passing people; if you like Yu-Gi-Oh! (Yuugiou), and you like to see certain characters doing stupid yet gay things then please read our Christmas Cheers and Beers for amusing renditions on some popular songs and then keep an eye out for the sequel to it Beach Balls and Left Turns.

Chapter Seven

"We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey."

(Sora PoV)

"'Cause jersey just got colder and
I'll have you know I'm scared to death;
That everything that you had said to me was just
A lie until you left


Now I'm hoping just a little bit stronger
Hold me up just a little bit longer
I'll be fine, I swear
I'm just gone beyond repair…"

The music played from the speakers of a car passing by. As everyone around us began to disperse and move away. The only people that didn't move, the people that refused to move, or that couldn't, were Squall, Cloud, Roxas, Laguna me and…Riku. No one blamed Riku for not moving, no one would blame him for anything he did right now weather it was manly or weak. It was times like this that no matter how you acted, except for maybe completely blissful, no one would blame you for acting that way.

Most of the time I would see Riku with this strangely confident aura around him and it made me think that he couldn't be shaken by anything. I guess I was wrong. As strong as Riku is not even he can be immune to something this severe. Sephiroth was his brother, and the only one I considered a real brother.

I didn't see what happened. All I saw was Riku reaching out to Sephiroth before he started to run. I didn't understand why he ran until I spotted Sephiroth on the ground. Then everything seemed to happen so fast that I was trapped in slow motion as everything around me sped up so quickly that colors and sounds blurred together.

Once the ambulance left I was brought back to reality. Riku was on the ground before me Cloud, Roxas, Squall, and Laguna were behind me. I didn't understand, what just happened? I reached up to my face to wipe away tears; I didn't even know I was crying, I didn't even know that I had fallen to my knees no less.

"Riku?" Roxas was the first to talk.

The sliver haired teen didn't seem to notice that Roxas had spoken to him.

"Hey, Riku." Squall said as he stepped toward him.

"I wouldn't." Laguna stated as he stopped his brother. Cloud was stopping Roxas from approaching Riku. No one could stop me, or was it that no one wanted to stop me? I stood up with shaky legs before I walked over to Riku. For a moment I thought about saying nothing, I thought about just standing there so he wouldn't be alone. I could not do that though. Every time I wanted to cry every time I needed someone Riku was there not just standing by me but holding me through the most difficult times and just when I felt bad.

Riku never just stood there, he actually did things.

"Ri…" I said as I kneeled down to him and touched his shoulder. I was going to start crying again, I could feel it.

Riku looked up to me with sad watery eyes. He was close to crying and I think I was the breaking point. One look at my face and he broke. It must have felt like his soul shattered on the inside as he hugged me tightly. I'd never been on this side of comforting someone so I felt nervous but I had to help him no matter what. "Riku." I sighed as I held onto him in return. Nothing would be the same after this.

Nothing.

--

"Well, the good thing is that he's still alive, right?" Roxas' voice said as I closed the door to Riku's room. After Riku had calmed down we decided to just take him home which lead to the six of us to Ri's home. His mom had been called about Sephiroth and went to the hospital and Riku's dad, who had gone to the main land for the day, was on his way back now.

It was just the six of us in the Kai household and Riku had fallen into an uneasy sleep after I took him to his room. Just before I took Ri to his room the phone rang with his mother on the other line telling us that Sephi was alive but in critical condition.

"Alive yes, but we don't know for how long." Laguna hummed folding his arms from his seat on the couch next to Roxas.

"Don't say things like that brother. There's a chance of recovery." Squall tried to argue but his voice sounded like he didn't even believe himself.

"I think it'll take a little more then a knife to kill Sephiroth." Cloud said leaning forward from the single chair that he sat in alone.

"I'm with Cloud." Roxas nodded with determined eyes.

"So am I." I spoke as I walked into the room from the hall. "Sephiroth is too strong to die just like that, so what we need to do for now is find out who did this."

Everyone stared at me for about three minutes speechless with wide eyes. I would have asked a stupid question like if they thought my head was deformed but that wasn't like me.

Oh…I think I get it now. I said something I wouldn't normally say. I said something that would suggest that I want involvement in the situation, which I never want to be involved in things so I guess you, would call this a first.

Cloud was the first to move. He stood up before turning to me with a smile on is face. The blonde then walked over to me and put a hand on my shoulder. "That's right Sora. We need to find out who hurt Sephi, and I think we all know who the first suspect is." The blue eyed teen said turning to look at everyone else.

"Ansem." I spoke with a growing pit of anger in my voice.

"Let's go find out." Laguna nodded his head.

I looked around to the stairs before I sighed. "I'm going, Roxas, this might sound weird but do me a favor, watch Riku." I asked the younger blonde.

"You sure?" Roxas asked me with worry in his eyes.

"Yes." I nodded. "When Riku wakes up there needs to be someone here, but I want to face Ansem so you're the next best thing. Just don't get to close to him when he's sleeping."

"Eh, why?" Roxas questioned with confusion clear in his voice.

"He's violent when he's sleeping." I lied. Telling Roxas that Riku had a habit of pulling people my size into bed with him would make Riku sound like a weirdo. "Just don't get too close."

"Right…" Roxas shivered. "Leave it to me, I'll make sure to watch him. Just make sure that you find out who hurt Sephiroth."

"Leave it to us. We'll get the job done." Squall said with confidence clear in his voice. "Let's go school lets out in five so we'll have to look for Ansem."

"Right." Cloud, Laguna, and I nodded before we all left quickly with a sprint.

--

At some point or another after we actually got to the school Squall and I got separated from Laguna and Cloud. The mass of people seemed to want to leave faster then normal. If I had to guess it would be because of the lunch fiasco. "Where the hell would he be?" I heard Squall ask as he tried looking over the heads of the people.

"No clue." I said stuck seeing the people coming at me.

"I've got an idea. Get on my shoulders." Squall said kneeling down. "You might be able to spot him better this way."

I stared at Squall like he was dumb for a minute but climbed on him regardless. After he stood back up I was surprised how much I could see now. Since Sephiroth, Riku, and Ansem were the only people in the school with sliver hair and since two out of three weren't at the school Ansem shouldn't be that hard to find.

"Sora! He went over there!" Cloud called from the stairs leading into the school. I looked over at the blonde to see Ansem sneaking off around the back of the school.

"Got 'em!" I shouted back before jumping down off of Squall before I told him we were heading to the back of the school then took off crashing into people as I forced my way toward where I saw Ansem go last. "ANSEM STOP RIGHT THERE!" I shouted as I rounded the corner with Squall behind me. Cloud and Laguna followed closely and soon Ansem was standing on a four against one battle and he was on the losing side. "You…you hurt Sephi didn't you?"

"Rotty? Why would you think I did it?" Ansem asked with a slight bow.

"You threatened him." Squall hissed.

"So? Ninety-five percent of all threats are empty."

"You're that five percent that would do what they say. I know that for a fact." I growled as I began to get angrier.

"Oh, you're really talkative now aren't you little brother?" Ansem laughed adjusting his back pack. "Rather then asking me if I did it, because I'd never admit I did, why don't you find someone that might have seen it, or maybe some evidence? You have nothing on me but a grudge."

"You dirty…." Cloud started but Laguna stepped in front of us all.

"Any evidence they find on him would point to so many people because he's friendly, prints from different people will be on him and Riku might have corrupted the prints on the weapon or the blood washed it off. You're just counting on that aren't you?" Laguna questioned with anger in his normally calm eyes.

"If I did it I would say that's right." Ansem said with a smug face. The grin only grew when Laguna lowered his head. "If you'll excuse me I need to be on my way."

"You bastard." Laguna spoke reaching to grab Ansem.

"No!" Cloud shouted, "You'll get kicked off the team and then you'll lose the scholarship!" the blonde explained as he held the older brunette back.

"Let us deal with this." Squall said as he darted past Cloud and Laguna toward Ansem. I only took a second to think before I was right behind him about to beat the living hell out of Ansem for what he did. For what I know he did.

"Two on one is it? Bring it." Ansem said before he let Squall fall past him. The younger Lionheart fell to the floor with a rough groan before Ansem turned and grabbed me around my neck, lifting me off of the ground.

"Sora!" I heard Cloud shout before Ansem was sent flying backwards and I fell into Lanuga's hands. "You okay?"

"I'm fine thanks." I nodded as I was let to the floor. I turned around to look for Ansem but he was already gone. "Damn it."

"We need to get a confession." Squall said standing up.

"He won't give in so easily." Laguna explained as he scratched the back of his neck.

"Let's head back for now." Cloud commented. "We'll have to plan a way of getting that confession."

"I'll help." An unmistakable voice said from around the corner.

"Seifer?" Squall asked looking at the blonde teen behind them with a scar matching the one Squall had but just mirrored. "What do you mean you'll help?"

"Ansem's gone too far." Seifer said simply. "Messing with people or beating people up is as far I'll go."

"Wow, actually doing something that's not self-serving I'm stunned." Squall sounded cautious of Seifer and with good reason. The scar on Squall's face came form Seifer just like the one on Seifer's face was a gift from Squall. Apparently the two go back real far, kind of like Cloud and Riku's families but I never really learned about it.

"Hey, I don't have a grudge against Sephiroth or his little brother, never met Sora either; I always stuck out of it if Ansem was talking about hurtin' him." Seifer said as he shrugged. "So you just leave this to me. Okay?"

Squall glared at Seifer for a good five minutes before he sighed and shook his head. "We don't have much a choice. Guys?" Cloud and Laguna nodded both with sour and faces of contempt for Seifer. I simply sighed before giving a shrug. "Just get him to confess."

"No problem." Seifer said walking past. "Catch ya later, Squally." Seifer laughed before he vanished into the bushes assumingly in the direction that Ansem went.

"Let's go home now." I spoke to the others who all looked frustrated and tired.

"Yeah."

--

Walking down the street all I could think of was what we were going to do. Everything that seemed to be going right was now falling apart. I'm starting to think that now maybe everything was a mistake. I shouldn't have ever met Riku in the park that day. I should have never made friends with Cloud, Roxas, Squall, Laguna, or Sephiroth. Right now I'm scared I'll lose them.

Holding something close to my heart, holding people close, may be nothing but a big mistake. This might….Sephiroth getting hurt, might be a sign.

I think… I should leave before something worse happens. I think I should leave before someone else gets hurt.

I was torn from my train of thought by Roxas who jumped us the minute the front door opened; as if he had been waiting for us to come back. "Did you get him!?"

"Sorry." Cloud spoke as he placed a hand atop Roxas' head. He gave a pleading look from the Lionheart brothers to me before he sighed letting his head drop. "We've got an inside man though. Don't worry, we'll catch him."

"I hope you're right." Riku's voice said from the stairs. I looked up to see a broken soul. I looked up to Riku whose eyes looked as if he had lost absolutely everything. "I saw it. I saw everything."

"You…you did!?" Squall asked quickly balling his fists. "Then we can get him!"

A knock issued from the door. Not with a kind tone but a thundering pound that would make you think that the person on the other side was hostile. The six of us stared at the oak wood for a minute before the knock came again thunderous and demanding. "Open up!" the voice shouted with a demanding howl.

Riku came down the stairs quickly then motioned for the rest of us to step back. After a look to me he slowly opened the door and peered at the man standing outside. It was a police officer and he looked set on a mission.

"Are you one of the Kai's?" he asked with a ruff tone.

"Riku, yes, can I help you sir?" Riku asked with a confused face.

"Where is the rest of your family?"

"Why does it matter?" Riku questioned before he was roughly turned around then slammed into a wall. "What are you doing!?"

"You and your family are under arrest for the kidnapping of an Aoi Sora." The officer shouted as he placed cuffs on Riku. Without any thought behind what I was doing I forced the man off of Riku and all but threw the sliver haired teen to the floor.

"That's not true! I ran away!" I shouted as I tried my best to defend Riku. "I ran away here, Riku was just telling me to go home. He said it was against the law to harbor a runaway!"

"Sora!" Riku shouted at me as Cloud and Roxas helped him to his feet. "Don't lie like that!" After his words Cloud, Roxas, Squall, and Laguna joined in.

"It's the truth!" I screamed getting everyone to shut up. "My…father sent you. Didn't he?" I asked looking at the cop who I had seen at our house many times. With money comes the ability to buy authority, and my "father" was not shy about buying it either.

"You gonna come along quietly?" the officer asked with a gruff voice as he sneered at me.

"Just let the Kai family go, they've got enough issues to deal with, I'll come with you as long as you leave them in peace." My words would probably have little to know effect on the current situation but I had to try. I couldn't let Riku and his family get hurt anymore, I couldn't drag Squall or the others in either. This was my burden to bear.

"Alright, come on then." The man said with a kind of understanding confusion behind his eyes.

I looked back at Riku with a kind of empty expression before I spoke. "I can't let you get hurt. I won't let anything else happen to you. Riku, Roxas, Cloud, Squall, Laguna, thanks you for everything, I…won't forget about you." As if I was bidding farewell forever I turned to the door and began to walk out. I was stopped however by a strong hand that I was familiar with. "Let go Riku."

"You can't go. Sora, if you go you, don't know what will happen to you!" Riku shouted holding on tightly to my wrist.

"I know what will happen, but I don't know what will happen to you if I stay. It could never be good. I don't want to see you get hurt, nor do I want you to hide scars that you got from protecting me. Don't stop me. I…I need to do this so that I feel like, for once in my life, I'm protecting someone rather then being protected!" my voice rose with the last sentence as I ripped my arm away from Riku and paced quickly to the black and white car waiting at the front steps.

"Sora!" Riku shouted but before he could follow he was stopped by Roxas. I looked back up to see Roxas holding Riku back the best he could before Laguna effectively took hold of the Kai and held him tightly. Cloud just watched as if he was waiting for me to say that I changed my mind; that I wanted his help out of this situation. I never said I thing, I never nodded or shook my head. I just stared before I got into the back seat willingly, so that I could protect those who I had come to care about. So I could protect the ones that I had come to love.

"SORA!!" Riku's shout of pain was the last thing I heart before the officer started up the car and began to drive away.

"What does my "father" want me for?" I asked looking to the eyes of the officer through the rear-view mirror.

"He just wants his son back. No since celebrating the new CEO of Valentine Corporation without the whole family there." The dirty pig laughed along with his words.

"So, he got away with killing my uncle, and he got the company, he doesn't need me." I shot as I shook my head.

"You know corporate recognition, if you've got a family it had better not be dysfunctional." The dirty cop hummed before we got on the main road leading back to the Aoi house. I never wanted to go there, I started to think about running as soon as I could but I remembered, my friends needed protection, and I would be the one to protect them now.

--

"Now that we're all gathered here, let's talk. Sora, my son, how was your stay with the dirt of the Islands?" father, Nizuri, asked with a gleeful tone.

I sat on one of the white couches that I had been forbidden to even touch unless I was instructed to do otherwise. "They're not dirt." I said in a calm tone not showing any emotion but annoyance.

"Right." Nizuri hummed a light chuckle. "Well, no bother, you're home now and that's all that matters. I'm happy to tell you that you can have your bedroom again; you can do almost anything you want again. Showers, eating meals with us at the table, telling us about your day, we can be a family again."

"Because you got everything you wanted." I said in almost a whisper. "Uncle Vincent passed on before he could officially name me successor, you've got enough money to buy off any cop that would try to arrest you, you tried to make the Kai's look like kidnappers, and you've got me here. Everything worked out for you in the end didn't it?"

"I would say you hit the nail on the head, but that wouldn't be very fun now would it. Here, keys. We're moving, I'll give you the option of staying here however, changing schools so suddenly could cause you to lose out on your grades." Nizuri chuckled again before he tossed me a set of keys then dusted off his suit.

"That's all? After everything that's all you've got to say?" I asked as I stood up and glared. "After the abuse, the hate, the pain…THAT'S ALL YOU HAVE TO SAY TO ME!? WHAT WAS THE POINT OF REALLY BRINGING ME HERE!?" I shouted. I didn't care what happened to me. They could do their worst and it would make no difference to me.

"After everything is said and done, you are still my son; I could show at least a little empathy to you. Besides, a dysfunctional son would look bad." Nizuri said with a cold voice.

"Dysfunctional would look bad? What about a murder?" I asked causing Nizuri's face to become twisted with confusion. "You don't know? Well maybe I should tell you, Ansem assaulted Kai Sephiroth at lunch today with a knife." After I spoke Nizuri looked confused and lost. "Sephiroth is in the hospital in a sever critical condition, and the doctors don't expect him to live. So I'll ask you, was treating me like a monster, like a stranger, really worth it? I became friends with Riku because of you guys, I became part of the Kai family all because of you, and because I was their family they protected me. While they protected me Ansem began to hate them and that made him injure someone.

"Did you want your older son to be just like you? A lying, cheating, murder? I hope so because that's what you got." I finished my attack of words feeling the best I had ever felt in years.

"Did anyone actually see him do it?" Nizuri asked figuring that if Ansem had been caught he would have gotten a call by now. Telling him that Riku saw it would only put Riku's life in danger, so I did the only thing I could think of.

"I did, so the question is, what can you offer me that will keep me quiet?"

Those words made Nizuri do nothing but grin. He believed me, he believed that I had been the only one to see Sephiroth get hurt. He though that I had been the one that saw everything, and because of this, I would face the hardest time of my life. Because I protected the people I loved from him I would risk my life so that they could live.

-+--+-

Ah dear, I wonder if I ranted on too much about protecting and other such crap. Meh, if you don't like it go eat a fork, but that was a fun chapter to write. Thanks for reading, hope you stick around for enough time to see this to the end. We all know how slow Sakura can be when she writes.

Yoi ichinichi o.

Akari Kaiku