Author's Note: This was going to be a one-shot, but I'm not even half way done with it and it's about 8 pages long, not including the author's note and disclaimer. So, I'm going to make it an arc. Which means that when you get to the end and see how mean it is, you're going to have to wait for an update! Because, yes, I am that evil! Anyway, I hope you enjoy this!
Disclaimer: I do not own Kingdom Hearts. Not in the least. I do however own a Chocobo plushie. His name is Magnificent the Marvin the Chocobo. He says hello!
Part One: Once Upon A Time
There comes a time in all long-lasting, romantic relationships when everything becomes habitual. What you talk about, what you don't talk about, what types of movies you watch together, everything. At one point you stop thinking about it all and everything just happens. Most of the time it's okay, nothing to worry about, no big deal. It's when saying "I love you" becomes habit that you need to worry. When those three words just slip out because the speaker is so used to saying them that it just happens, it's usually a sign that those words have begun to lose actual meaning.
Sora and I have been together forever, since the day we met. We were barely out of diapers then. But it was obvious to both of us that we were different from the other friends. Our friendship was something stronger than theirs, something a little more like love. Something which we later called love, when we were finally old enough to understand that that's exactly what it was.
I guess you could say it was one of those fairy-tale romance things. Love at first sight, happily ever after, the works. But not all fairy tales had happy endings, and that's something I'm constantly being reminded of, something that haunts me, causes me to lock myself in my room with only the light of the TV screen whenever Sora isn't home.
It used to be that we did everything together. It used to be that we didn't need to speak when we were together. Words were useless when we were spending the day lying about the house, just content to be together. But now those silent days are filled with anxiety. Now, Sora avoids my gaze, and answers me with one-syllable words or nods of the head. Nothing more than is needed. But it used to be that he'd ramble on for what seemed hours and I'd laugh to myself and attempt to discern some meaning from his rushed and excited words. But he hasn't done that in a long time. He hasn't rambled in months, and I haven't smiled in just about that long.
It used to be that late at night he would creep into my room and start a pillow fight, which would swiftly become a tumble between the sheets. It used to be that his room was more like a formality, that every morning I would wake up cold and shivering as he hogged the covers, and I would press close to him and the covers wouldn't matter anymore, because he'd be warmth enough for me. I haven't woken up next to him since he stopped rambling and I stopped smiling.
Sora used to be so full of life, so vibrant. Every day was a new adventure. He'd start something new and I'd go along with it, eager to please him and ready to do anything that would keep him in my arms. But now. . .
Well, now, everything just happens. And it scares the hell out of me. I need him. I always have. I always will.
Sora's eyeing me. Not in any particular way, just watching. He does that. He watches me think. Trying to figure out what I'm thinking about has been a past-time of his for a while now. He's never succeeded.
"Game over." I whisper, staring at him. He blushes and lowers his head to concentrate on the cereal he's eating. He always does that. No matter how many times I tell him that I think it's adorable when he watches me, and no matter how many times I tell him that it's nothing new, it will always embarrass him when he gets caught. And once he recovers from that small embarrassment he'll say something about inserting coins. That's just how it is. I think. He watches. Game over. Insert coins. That's what always happens.
There's that word again. 'Happens.' I hate that word.
"Please insert fifty cents to continue." Sora mumbles, grinning up at me. He knows I was expecting the comment, he knows it's what always. . .happens. Yet, somehow, he still finds it clever.
Sora's done eating now. After a soft, content sigh he'll rush into the hall, leaving the bowl on the table. Remembering that I hate it when he does that he'll return in 3. . .
2. . .
"Heh, sorry." Sora chuckles as he skids into the kitchen. He grabs the bowl and moves to place it in the sink. When he's done with that he'll walk over and give me a quick kiss goodbye before hurrying to class.
The clink of ceramic against metal sounds from his direction. He turns around and I gaze expectantly at him. And then. . .
Well, that was. . .
Part of me is glad for the change. But 99.99 of me is cold with fear. This change is a confirmation. This is it. The beginning of the end. Soon, Sora's confessions of love will be hollow, and soon after that they will cease. And then he'll tell me that he doesn't love me anymore. That he doesn't need me. That it's over.
I glance at the clock. It's just after ten, and if memory serves me, it's a Thursday. Which means I don't have any classes today. I don't have anything to do today, nothing to distract me and keep my mind from churning with thoughts of Sora, and the memory of how, for the first time in the three years we've been living together, I didn't feel his lips pressed against my own before he left.
The phone rings, startling me out of my fretful daydreams, and I jump up to answer it. Maybe it's Sora. Maybe he's calling because the missed kiss is bothering him too. Maybe he'll tell me he loves me, and maybe those words will have meaning.
"Sora?" I ask, unable to conceal the desperation in my voice, as I pick up the phone.
"So you're still with him?" the voice at the other end asks with an exasperated sigh. It isn't Sora. It's my father.
"Yes." I growl. "What do you want?"
"I don't want anything. Your step-mother wants to see you."
This comes as even more of a shock than my father's call. Five years ago he and my step-mother, Anya, walked in on Sora and I when things were getting a little frisky. When that happened, my father insisted it was just a phase, that I'd get over it soon. He still does. But Anya? She flipped out. She hasn't spoken to me since. Not a single word. To tell the truth, I prefer it that way. I never liked her much anyway.
"Oh?" I drawl. "I thought she disapproved of my sinful lifestyle and refused to associate with heathens such as myself."
"It's not a lifestyle," my father so kindly points out, "it's a phase."
"It isn't a phase." I'm tempted to call him 'Dad' just because I know it will annoy him, but I can't bring myself to. Not after 'It's just a phase' is all he's been able to say to me for the past five years. Besides, what I'm about to say will piss him off enough anyway. "I love him."
My father is silent, and in this silence I mentally cringe at the note of sorrow that sounded with those words.
"Just stop by around lunchtime." He says angrily before hanging up.
Well, this day just keeps getting better and better now doesn't it? Sora left without a goody-bye kiss and now my wretched step-mother wants to talk to me for the first time in half a decade. That conversation promises to be enjoyable.
It's just before noon as I walk into my father's house. The place is silent, and when I arrived, I noticed that my father's car was missing. It doesn't surprise me. I expected him to come up with some excuse not to be there when I came.
"Riku?" Anya calls from the kitchen. I don't bother answering, instead I just walk down the hall to the room she's in. The first thing I see there is a crucifix hanging on the wall above the breakfast table. Anya watches me step into the kitchen as if expecting me to crumble into dust upon entering a room sanctified by the crucifix's presence.
"Please, sit down." She says calmly. That's all that woman ever is. Calm. Calm face, serene maple eyes, soft words, shoulder length, mousy brown hair that falls calmly and neatly in to place. In short, she's bland. Nothing compared to my real mother. She was beautiful, unique, and vibrant. In a way, Sora reminds me of her. That's part of why I'm so afraid right now. I don't want to lose him like I lost her. I don't want to lose my light again and be cast into cold darkness to grope blindly for something warm to hold on to.
And so I find myself resenting Anya even more. Because I can't help but compare her to my mother, and I can't help but think of the times when Sora will say something in a certain tone and it will remind me of her, and how very, very scared I am because he hasn't said something like that since he stopped rambling. Since I stopped smiling.
And so I narrow my eyes at her as I sit in the chair closest to the crucifix, just to prove that it's not effecting me, that I won't turn into a puff of smoke and return to the depths of hell from whence I came.
But she's still calm. "Please don't look at me like that, Riku," she says as she takes the seat across from me. The room is silent as she looks at me with those calm eyes, her gaze occasionally flickering heavenward. When it returns to me I raise an eyebrow questioningly, and she speaks again.
"I know it's been a while since we've talked."
"Five years." I inform her.
"Yes, five years." Her words are wispy, as if she is trying to get rid of them before they can bring forth any memories. She clears her throat softly before continuing. "I spoke to Father Lombard yesterday, about your . . .decisions." The last word is spoken delicately.
"Yes. He brought to light something I should have noticed years ago, dear."
I glare at her and scowl. She has no right to call me 'dear'. She dismisses it easily, acting as if it never happened.
"Riku, I should have been more tolerant of your decisions. My reaction was un-necessary. You are obviously confused. You need someone to guide you back to the path of Christ, Riku!" Her eyes are sparkling now, dancing with passion and hope. It's the first time I've seen her express any emotion, and it's disarming.
"You've gone astray and you're lost and confused," she continues, "and you don't need people scorning you and hating you. You need someone to show you the way. You need a guiding light, and I am ready to help you find God!" She jumps up and crosses over to a drawer beside the dishwasher. When she returns she presses a bible into my hands, with a small silk pouch, which I assume contains rosary beads. "Let me help you, Riku. I will be your shepherd."
I narrow my eyes at her, unsure of what to make of this sudden display of such fervent determination after nearly fifteen years of her rag-doll persona.
And what's this about me being lost? Well, yes, it's true. I'm lost, I'm confused. But not in the way she thinks I am. I need a guiding light?
"I already have a guiding light." I say coldly, fixing her with a hard stare and placing the bible and rosary on the table. It's not a lie, I do have a guiding light. It's just. . .fading. Fading like the small printed letters of the volumes of fairy tales our love had once mimicked. But she doesn't need to know that.
"That's wonderful!" she cries excitedly. "I was so hoping I could help you, to atone for my neglect, but if you already have someone to help you then you're already well on your way to salvation!"
I shake my head at her. She just doesn't get it.
"I don't need salvation. I just need. . ." I trail off. I refuse to talk about this, especially not with her. In the silence that my words have left behind I rise to leave, but Anya places a hand on my shoulder.
"You need Sora." She says softly, reluctantly. "Perhaps you do, Riku. I am not the one to judge this. But your views on why you need him will lead you to a place far from the embrace of Christ."
I scoff and shrug her hand away, but find I am unable to move just now.
"Invite him to dinner next week." Anya whispers.
"What?" I cry, whirling around to face her.
"It's been too long since I have seen him. Sora is a good boy, he is just mislead, as are you. But I am confident that the two of you will return to the herd one day, and until then I wish to encourage you, help you find your way."
I feel my expression soften. Anya is so different from what I remember. She's shown me a passion I never thought she could harbor. She's spoken to me for the first time in five years. Though her reasons for speaking to me again are not what I'd hoped they would be, she's still making an effort, and her intentions are nothing but kind. But I won't invite Sora to come to dinner next week, because. . .
"He won't come." I whisper as I turn to walk out of the house, leaving my step-mother behind, and I'm sure bewildered.
When I return home, Sora is there. I can't tell if I am relieved or anxious. I'd been thinking about him all day, and so it's good to see him finally, but I don't want to sit with him in a silence that wouldn't have been awkward a year ago, but was now so uncomfortable it made me want to bash my skull in.
I sit next to him anyway, close enough so that anyone looking would know we were together, but not as close as I would once sit. He looks up as the cushions sink under my weight. His sapphire eyes meet mine briefly before they flit away. Some part of me is glad he didn't keep hold of my gaze, because that way I cannot find what fear may be hiding behind his oceanic eyes. But the other part of me wants to search, wants to know if he still loves me, needs to know if he still loves me.
And that part of me is much stronger and more determined than the scared child cowering inside of me, afraid of the darkness he dwells in as he hopes for the light and clutches a tear-stained book filled with silly things people like to call fairy tales, which is really another word for lies.
"Where were you?" Sora asks softly, the almost inaudible words tearing through the delicate web of anxiety Silence has trapped me in. His voice is void of emotion, which is so very unusual, even for the quiet, aloof Sora of the past month or so - the Sora that my Sora turned into after he stopped rambling. After I stopped smiling.
"I was at my father's. Anya wanted to talk to me." I answer equally as softly. I haven't been this close to Sora in over a week. It hurts being this close to him and not holding him. It hurts being close to him and knowing that if I were to hold him he would probably push me away.
"Oh." He replies.
That's it? 'Oh?' My step-mother doesn't talk to me for five years after she catches Sora and I in the middle of a rather passionate round between the sheets and then when she finally speaks to me again all he has to say is 'oh'? I was expecting something much different. Something more surprised, something that might lead into a conversation.
God, when was the last time Sora and I had a conversation, a real conversation? It was after Sora stopped rambling, but before I stopped smiling.
"Yeah." I say, unable to think of any other way to respond to him, as I lean back onto the couch. Sora has the TV on some show I don't recognize, and his sapphire eyes are not fixed on it. They're shining in that way they do when he's thinking about something important, something he's been thinking about for a while. I idly wonder what it is he's thinking about, and am almost tempted to laugh at myself. Wondering what someone's thinking is Sora's job. But I won't laugh, because this is just another sign that things are going downhill. It used to be I could always tell what was on his mind.
Sora sighs and flops down, now lying on the couch, legs curled carefully, so as not to make contact with me, and face buried in a throw pillow.
He turned away from me. This action wasn't uncommon, the sigh and the flop down onto the couch, but it used to be that he would fall towards me and bury his face in my thigh, wrapping his arms about my waist and cooing words I haven't heard in a long time.
"Sora." I say, not sure if I'm calling out to him, or merely saying his name because I haven't said it aloud in about a week.
"Hmmm?" he hums, rolling on to his back to stare at the ceiling. His eyes land briefly on me, and I frown as they dart away. I sigh and turn to him, that part of me that had longed to search his eyes earlier winning me over, egging me on. I need to know, and I need to know now.
I lean forward and wrap my hands around Sora's hips and pull him into a sitting position. His brows knit together in a puzzled expression as he searches my eyes, before realizing that I am beginning to search his own and he lowers his head, spiky bangs falling in his face to hide his eyes from my own.
"Sora." I say again, this time whispered carefully, as though using his name were a sin.
He is quiet. And I don't like it. It used to be that when I called his name he would answer with my own, speaking brightly and drawing out the last syllable as if he were afraid to end it. It used to be that we would sit for long moments, just speaking each other's names before we laughed softly and fell together. It used to be that we would come in contact with each other at all times, that my hands would fit perfectly against his smooth, tan skin. But now it felt awkward, as though someone had forced two unfitting puzzle pieces together. It had felt like that the last time I'd touched him as well, weeks ago, some time after he'd stopped rambling and I'd stopped smiling.
In this silence, which is even more uncomfortable than the silence that had previously ensnared me in my own, miserable thoughts, I can find only one thing I want to do, only one thing I can do.
I lean forward until my face is a mere inch away from Sora's and hesitate, my eyes tracing the outline of Sora's soft pout, my breath ghosting over his cheeks.
"No." he whispers, and the word is strangled.
I can swear I've stopped breathing. I can swear that the blood is pumping through my veins so violently that they will soon burst and I will shower the world with it, drowning it in the crimson sorrow that has been consuming me since the last time Sora rambled.
I pull away from him slowly, breathing finally returning, but in uneven, frightened intervals. He slides slowly to the end of the couch, moving as far away from me as possible.
I attempt to regulate my breathing, but I fail. I try to keep it from being so jagged, so loud, but I fail. I try to stop my heart from thundering in my ears like the retreating, pounding hooves of shying horses, but I fail. I try to ignore the fact that Sora has denied me for the first time in. . .for the first time ever, but I fail. And I try to ignore the burning sting at the back of my eyes that threatens to explode into hot, searing, salty tears, but I fail.
As my mouth forms the words I've been afraid to speak for so long I refuse to look at the boy who was once vibrant and who used to ramble, the boy who used to make me smile, the boy who had been the one I loved, and had somehow turned into the one I fear most of all.
"Sora, do you still love me?"