Author's Notes: Okay, so here goes! Here's my first completed fanfiction EVER and I hope it's okay! Oddly enough, it's not anything like what I usually read or write, but I really felt compelled to write this for some reason… It's based on a story my friend told me that her mother told her, and we decided it'd make an excellent, if not slightly depressing, fanfic. So my point in saying that is to get it out there that if this plot sounds familiar, maybe that's why. I don't know who wrote/told the original story but whoever it is/was, I give them full credit for coming up with it. Which leads me to…
The disclaimer! Contrary to popular belief, I do not own the amazingly amazing Sora and Riku. They are owned by the wonderful world of the Disney Company as well as the masterminds of amazingness, Square Enix. Heck, I don't even own this plot! (see above summary) I just like to mess with things and make them full of slashy, fanfiction-y goodness. So you no sue me, please and thank you.
Pairings: very vague Sora/Riku. Even vaguer hints of others.
Summary: AU. Riku suddenly finds himself in a hospital, where Sora is the only light in his sudden world of darkness. (ZOMG, cheesy. XD) Featuring angsty!sightless!Riku and helpful!optimistic!Sora! Guest appearances by other characters as needed, who may be a tidily-tad OOC because of the circumstances they are used in.
Warnings: bittersweet beginning, but it actually gets quite depressing by the end.… Good, I think, but depressing. So feel free to read it, but don't expect a happy ending. Also, a teeny-tiny bit of language scattered about.
Other stuff: Um… Read and enjoy!
Outside The Window
"Imagination disposes of everything; it creates beauty, justice, and happiness, which is everything in this world"
– Blaise Pascal
Sharp, aqua eyes hazily blinked open as two slender silver eyebrows furrowed in confusion.
'Where am I?'
Opening and closing his eyes a few more times the young male tried to blink out whatever was blocking them and causing his vision to be nothing but a dark expanse of greyish-black. After a few attempts with no success, he reached up to his face in frustration, concluding that he must have some sort of blindfold on even though he was unable to feel one. However, his hands only found the smooth, pale skin of his face, uninhibited by any wrap of cloth or other means of eyesight impairing devices. "What the hell!" he hissed in frustration.
"I see you're finally up"
The silver haired teen sat up with a start, the realization that he was not alone in the… well… wherever he was…. as he had imagined coming as a bit of a shock.
A giggle. "I'm your roommate, who else?"
"…roommate?" The silver haired teen echoed slowly, his mind a bit hazy as he tried to piece everything together.
"Of course your roommate! My name's Sora! What's yours?"
"I'm…Riku." Came the vague response as he massaged his temples, only just realizing that his head was a bit sore. "Where am I?"
It took a little longer for the other voice to give a response this time and when it finally came the tone was slightly hesitant, the speaker obviously picking his words very carefully. "You mean you… don't know where you are? … At all?"
"No. I don't." Riku quickly replied, rubbing his eyes and attempting to look around. He still couldn't see anything but as far as he could tell he was in a somewhat uncomfortable bed in some sort of room. There was a faint beeping and hum in the background as if there were some kind of machines around, somewhere fairly close to where he was situated. "Is this some kind of… what is this place?"
"It's a hospital." The other male informed him, and Riku could hear him shift slightly over where he was, presumably to get a better look at the silver haired teen. "You've been here a couple days but you've been asleep."
"What?" Came the slightly panicked voice as Riku propped himself up on his elbows, desperately rubbing at his eyes as he turned towards Sora's voice. "Why? Why am I here? What happened?"
Across the room the other boy shrugged, a gesture that was lost on the other male. "I dunno for sure. The doctors and nurses have been in and out, looking over you, but I only caught bits and pieces of what they were saying."
"Well I've gotta find somebody then, because I want to know what's going on." Riku stated stubbornly, attempting to feel for the edge of the bed and slip out, feeling a bit lightheaded as he sat up.
"No! Riku, you can't get out of bed!" the boys voice jumped an octave, pleading.
"Says who? I wake up to find I'm in some hospital with no idea how I got here and –"
"No, I mean there's an IV in your arm, see!" Sora hurriedly explained, pointing across the room. "If you try to go anywhere you'll tug it out and hurt yourself!"
This caused Riku to pause in his actions and he looked to his arm. When this proved uselessly to affirming the boy's statement he went a step further and felt up and down his arms with his hands, only to find that it was true; a thin tube attached to a needle was sticking into his forearm, leading off to where he assumed it was hooked up to one of the machines he could hear whirring next to his bed.
"Shit" he muttered under his breath, settling back down on the bad and laying out on his back. "What the hell am I here for, anyways? What's wrong with me?"
"Do you feel sick at all?" the voice from across the room piped in again. Riku considered this as he stared off into the greyish nothingness.
"No." he decided after a moment of thought. "Well… actually my head hurts a little and there's something wrong with my eyes."
"What?" Sora politely inquired.
"I dunno… It's like… I can't… see."
"Not really, no."
No immediate reply followed this and Riku took this to mean that the other boy either didn't know what to say in response to that or was thinking it over. Obviously his sight, or lackthereof as the case may be, was part of the reason he was in the hospital to begin with, but for the life of him he couldn't come up with anything beyond that. Letting out a growl of frustration he rolled over, pressing his palms to his eyes. Why couldn't he remember!
"Well, I'm sure someone will come by soon and you'll be able to ask them about it." The other boy finally responded matter-of-factly.
"Sure." Riku grumbled irritably. The haze that had been engulfing his mind slightly was starting to fade, making him more aware of the throbbing in his head that seemed to be getting worse.
"And I'm sure they'll be able to tell you why you're here." Sora added reassuringly. "So you really can't remember anyth –"
"Sorry." The silver haired teen cut in wearily. "I don't mean to be rude but I'd really rather not talk anymore right now."
"Oh…" came the slightly disappointed sounding reply. Riku could practically see the pout gracing the other boy's lower lip. "Okay, then."
They lapsed back into silence, the only sounds filling the room and breaking it were the occasional rustle of sheets from Sora's bed as he shifted around and various irritated groans from Riku and he tried to figure out his situation. A few minutes endless later the sound of a doorknob being unlatched and turned, followed shortly by the steady fall of footsteps, reached his ears and he sat up, blindly glancing around the room, hoping it was someone who could fill him in.
"Well hello there." A deep, pleasant male voice called out. "Look who's finally woken up." Before Riku could even say anything a clattering of high-heeled steps approached and a second person, this one obviously female joined them in the small hospital room.
"Doctor Ansem, sir, I've brought those antibiotics you asked for." A light, airy female voice informed the first new arrival as she entered.
"Aerith, it seems as though Sora's new roommate has finally woken up." The man, Dr. Ansem, informed her.
"His name's Riku!" Sora happily chimed in from across the room.
"Thank you, Sora." The doctor chuckled.
"Well hello there, Riku!" the woman greeted as she moved to the side of the silver haired boy's bed. "How are you feeling?"
Riku immediately disliked the overly cheerful, almost patronizing way she spoke to him, as most hospital nurses tend to do, but he pushed that aside to instead focus on the more pressing matter at hand. "Why am I here? What's wrong with me?" he asked, for what felt like the thousandth time since he had woken up. "I can't remember how or why I got here and my eyes –"
"Slow down, son, slow down" the doctor cut in, moving to join Aerith by Riku's bed. We're perfectly willing to explain everything to you, you've just got to calm down – don't overwork yourself." Riku reluctantly closed his mouth and turned his face towards where he judged Dr. Ansem to be by his voice, nodding to confirm that he was willing and ready to listen. "Now, Riku bear in mind that while what I'm going to tell you certainly isn't good news, it isn't the end of the world, either… A few days ago you suffered a serious injury to your head, you fell down an expansive flight of stairs, as I understand; knocked unconscious. Someone called you in as an emergency and we rushed you straight over here to check for any head injuries and luckily you only suffered a slight concussion to the back of your skull, something that should heal on it's own in time. However, it may take a while, and we'll need to keep you here under observation until we can be sure it is completely healed."
"But that doesn't explain why I can't –"
"Riku, calm down, let me finish." The doctor continued, placing a reassuring hand on the boy's shoulder, the contact slightly startling Riku, as he hadn't seen it coming. "It seems as though the contact from when your skull hit the ground was jarring enough that it somewhat dislodged your retinas… I assure you we're working on it as best we can, trying to think of a procedure that might correct the damage, but it's a delicate business and we don't want to risk worsening your situation."
"Wait…" The silver haired teen shakily breathed, mind going numb with shock and barely believing what he was hearing. "Are… are you saying that if you don't come up with some way to fix this that I might… that it might stay like this… forever?" When no one answered his question his mind started panicking, assuming the worst. 'No…no this can't be happening. This ISN'T happening… I couldn't… I am NOT going to be like this for the rest of my life. It'll get fixed… I cannot be… blind…'
"Riku, I assure you, we're doing the very best we can, but I'm not going to lie to you and give you false hope: things are not looking good and it's better you know sooner than later. But you're young and you have your whole life ahead of you, don't give up just because of a minor setback –"
" 'Minor Setback'!" the silver haired teen burst, unable to hold back. "How can you say that?" he hissed. "This isn't a 'minor setback' in my life, this is a major, abrupt HALT!"
"Riku, please, calm down –"
"NO! I am not going to calm down! This – this is insane! This can't happen to me! I… how can I possibly deal with all this and 'stay calm'! I wake up in some hospital, no idea where I am, how I got here, or what happened to me that I would need to be here in the first place and then this is all just … just… thrust at me all at once! This is the worst thing that could possibly happen to me and you're telling me to 'calm down'!" Riku cut off, choking for air, having overexerted himself a bit in his outburst. Silence reined for another or minute or two as he sat there fuming before Aerith broke the still, leaning towards him and saying in a soothing voice.
"Alright, we'll leave you alone for now, Riku – I know this is a lot to deal with all at once." She said, running her hand over his head in what he assumed was meant to be a comforting gesture, but which Riku found more startling than anything and he flinched slightly at the sudden, unannounced physical contact. "Just... call for us if you need anything. And Sora's here to talk to if you feel like it." Here she leaned in a little closer to whisper one last word of advice into the ear of the silver haired boy. "I suggest you do talk to him – he has a way of making things seem a little better, no matter how bad they may seem."
That said, she turned to leave, her high-heeled clacking followed out by the steady beat of Dr. Ansem's footsteps, leaving Sora and Riku as the only ones in the room. For a while neither male said a word to eachother, but after a few minutes or so Sora's small voice drifted over to Riku's ears.
"I'm sorry to hear about … you know… your eyes."
Riku let out an indignant huff and turned on his side facing away from Sora, intent on ignoring the other boy's attempts at making conversation. He didn't need anyone feeling sorry for him, especially some kid in a hospital that he didn't even know.
"I could maybe help you, you know? I could –"
"Look, I don't need your help, I just…" Riku trailed off, not sure what he wanted. Certainly there was no way this kid could directly do anything about his problem, but he was just trying to help, after all. Sighing, Riku decided not to shut himself off from the world just yet and responded to the boy's offer. "Thanks. But I really don't know what you could do to help."
Riku thought this would throw the other boy off a bit but without missing a beat Sora happily replied, "I could talk to you – describe things, you know? So that way… even if you can't see them maybe you could still imagine them!"
The innocent enthusiasm and helpfulness the other boy exuded made Riku's heart wrench in a painfully sad yet endearing way. Briefly, he wondered if Sora was this nice to everyone or whether he was doing it out of sympathy, but the thought was fleeting and was quickly replaced by the silver haired boy's barely-contained eagerness to go along with it, no matter what the motives. Surely being given at least descriptions of his surroundings, people and objects would be better than this dark empty void.
Suddenly Riku was very afraid. If the doctors weren't able to do anything about his eyes than this was how it was going to be forever. Just him, all alone in the darkness. For now there was at least this friendly boy willingly offering him help at interpreting his surroundings, but after he was released from this place he wouldn't even have that… "Alright…" he murmured, feeling a little helpless all of a sudden.
"Okay!" Sora eagerly replied, obviously about to launch into an explanation of some sort. "Well, so… How about if I tell you where we are?" Riku nodded. "Okay! So… we're in a room, it's not very big and the walls are white. There's a few paintings hung on the walls, mostly just those annoying watery looking painted flowers that are supposed to make you feel a little better when you're stuck in a place like this. The beds have a silver metal frame and railings on the side and the blankets are white and there's a light blue top cover that matches the hospital robes that you're wearing. Oh, the pillow cases are white too…"
Riku couldn't help but be slightly impressed at all the descriptions the other boy was rattling off, it was as if he had either very fine-tuned observational skills or he had been here a very long time. Or possibly both. His voice was quintessentially boyish, and matched his slightly over-eager way of talking. Riku found it rather pleasant to listen to as the other male expertly described the surroundings with detailed familiarity and let his ears pick up on all the details being supplied and let his mind fill them in, as if he were actually seeing them for himself.
"…and that's the beeping you hear, cause the machine has this black display screen with all these number and stuff, and a glowing green line that maps out your heart rate and all that stuff. The line looks kind of like those readings they get from those earthquake measuring things."
"Seismograph." Riku felt inclined to point out.
"Right" Sora said before he continued, and the silver haired teen could hear in his voice that he was amused by Riku's correction rather than offended. "And then there's a window in the far corner of the room with these really weird salmony coloured curtains – don't ask me who picked those out – and the door is over on the other side and it's off-white with a silver door handle. Not like a nice doorknob like doors are supposed to have, one of those weird ones that you pull down and turn to get the door open. Aaaaaannnd… that's about it on the room." He finished, and Riku could practically see the wide grin on his face at completing his description of their surroundings. The details stuck in Riku's mind, and he felt that he really could picture the room if he put them all together and imagined hard enough. "Is there anything else you want me to tell you about?"
Riku though about it for a moment but couldn't think of anything that had been left out. "No, I think you got everything I guess. Thanks. I don't feel so… unfamiliar with where I am now."
They lapsed back into silence. Riku looked around the room, imagining where everything was, just as Sora had told him and tried not to just imagine it there, but to really, truly see it. He tried so hard, but no matter how much he endeavored the struggle was in vain – there was just no way he could truly see anything. Frustrated, he turned on his side again, facing away from Sora and sighed, feeling utterly exhausted and hopeless, still refusing to accept that this was permanent. "I think I'm going to go to sleep." Riku murmured. "Thanks… for talking to me."
"Okay." The other male replied. "You're welcome, Riku. Sleep well – maybe you'll feel better when you wake up."
"Yeah…" the silver haired teen breathed as he drifted off into an uncomfortable sleep. 'Maybe I'll wake up and everything will be okay… everything will be back to normal...'
A faint beeping in the background drifted into Riku's subconscious, slowly rousing him from his sleep. Sitting up slowly he stretched and rubbed his eyes before opening them to look around the room.
Except he couldn't.
As everything came flooding back to him, he lay back down with a groan, covering his eyes with the palms of his hands, as if by doing so he could fool himself into believing that was the only thing keeping him from seeing what was around him, and that he could remove them and see things as normally anytime he wanted.
Riku jerked to the sound of Sora's voice, slightly startled by his sudden greeting, having forgotten he was in the room. "Oh. Hi."
"You sure did sleep a while." The other male informed him, sounding cheery as ever. "When you said you were going to go to sleep I thought you meant like a nap or something."
"How long was I out?" Riku asked, slightly confused.
"About… well, you fell asleep yesterday afternoon… and right now it's…" Here Sora paused and the silver haired teen assumed he was looking to a clock. "Two o'clock."
"In the afternoon?" Riku asked, although the answer was pretty obvious. "I really slept that long?"
"Heh, heh, yep!" Came the response, along with a rather cutely amused giggle.
Riku thought this over, having nothing better to occupy his mind with. The beeping in the background gathered his attention once more, but he noticed it was fainter than it has been before, and sounded farther away. Experimentally, he tugged his arm only to find it not met by the restraint of his IVs holding it back. Hn, that was interesting, they must have done that while he was asleep. 'I must have really been out', he thought 'for them to have done that without waking me up.'
Riku lay back down on his back with a sigh. Well now what? What more was there to do? He didn't really want to talk even though he could feel Sora's eyes on him from across the room, probably waiting for him to give some kind of indication that he wanted to converse. He wished that there was something for the other boy to describe to him, just as he had with the room yesterday. Hearing the other male's voice was a comfort of sorts, it was nice to just sit there and have him ramble away about something, especially descriptions of things. It gave his mind something to focus on and helped him feel not so uncomfortable with not being able to see anything for himself.
The dreadful feeling of helplessness and isolation gripped him again suddenly and Riku found himself desperately wracking his brain for something else to concentrate on. If only there were some other stupid thing for Sora to describe to him, heck he'd even settle for details on the window curtains at this point but yesterday's account had been so vivid in its detail that it would have been practically redundant. If only there were something else, just one more interesting thing to hear about that the other boy had left out…
And then suddenly it hit him. There was one major part of Riku's surroundings that had been left out.
"Sora, what do you look like?"
For a moment the other occupant of the room didn't reply, seeming to be a bit taken aback by the sudden question, seemingly out of nowhere. "Well…" he began after a moment "Um, okay! I have light brownish hair that sticks up and spikes out all over the place no matter how much I try to come it out or whatever." Riku gave a small, fond smile at the description. "My eyes are blue, kind of like… the same colour of the sky on a really clear day. That kind of blue. I've also been told they're a little big and make me look a lot younger than I really am, but oh well. Um, what else… Well, it's kinda hard to tell from where we are but I'd say I'm a considerable bit smaller than you, and definitely not as strong looking. I'm actually a bit scrawny, heh heh. And I'm wearing one of the same hospital gown things as you but it's a little big on me and so it looks kind of like some weird sundress or something."
"You sound cute." Riku said with a friendly smirk, unable to help himself.
"Che, if you say so." The other boy replied modestly, but Riku could tell he was flattered by the compliment nonetheless. "I don't know if it's being in this place for so long or what, but I still look like a kid, I think."
"How…" Riku began, not sure how to phrase his question, not wanting to pry. "How long have you been here?"
"A couple years." Sora responded easily.
"Years?" Riku questioned incredulously. He'd only been there a few days and he was already sick of it.
"Yep." Sora affirmed. "Sucks, huh?"
Riku was absolutely astonished that the other boy could talk so freely about his awful predicament. Honestly, the silver haired boy thought to himself, if he'd had to be stuck in here that long he just might go crazy. Sora really must have had some spirit to keep him this optimistic after so long in a place like this. "Do you… do you mind if I ask you why you're here?" Riku asked hesitantly.
"No, it's okay." The brunette replied. "I don't mind. Yeah, well I've been in here because a couple years ago I got really sick. Like… sicker than I'd ever been before. It hurt so much, and it was so scary – I actually thought I was gonna die. But the hospital people tried treating me and I was actually doing better for a while." Here Sora paused for a second, and when he resumed speaking Riku couldn't help but notice that his voice sounded a bit distant, not quite sad exactly, but much more distant than the silver haired boy had heard him so far.
"But then it got worse. No one could really figure out what was wrong, exactly. But then finally, one day, they were doing these weird tests and they found something. Some weird sort of darkness stuff that was messing with me, they still don't quite know what it is… I mean, they've got me pretty much stabilized and everything, but you never really know what's gonna happen from day to day. But hey, it's not contagious or anything so I'm not going to spread it to anyone else."
Shock waves ran through the silver haired teen as what the other male had just revealed to him. The way he talked about it so casually, as if it was just another fact of life, or one of his vivid descriptions to tell Riku to pass the time… And then suddenly Riku's words from the previous day came flooding back to him…'This can't happen to me!'…
'NO! I am not going to calm down!'…'This is the worst thing that could possibly happen to me…'
Guilt washed over the silver haired teen as he recalled his statements made in frustration and shock. Suddenly he felt horrible having said them in Sora's presence – although his situation had come as an unfortunate and upsetting shock it was nothing compared to what the brunette was going through… Years. He'd been in the hospital for years. Not only that, but the doctors didn't even have a sure handle on his situation. While Riku's sight impairment may have been a life altering inconvenience, Sora's was life threatening. And yet he still somehow managed to keep his upbeat and optimistic attitude…
"I'm sorry…" he muttered under his breath, turning his face slightly to let his long silver hair fall into his face and hide his embarrassed blush.
"Hey now, don't you go feeling sorry for me!" Sora declared in mock sternness. Riku snapped his attention back to the brunette, unseeing eyes widening at the statement.
"But… yesterday… I freaked out and said all sorts of stupid, overexaggerated things and compared to you … I mean… I had no right to –"
"Hey, it's fine, seriously." Sora intervened. "Like you said, you were freaked out – I don't blame you. It must have come as quite a shock and all. And anyways, I don't want people pitying me or doting all over me and being all annoying, acting like I'm gonna drop dead any second. That's no way to live, right?"
Admiration filled the silver haired teen and he nodded. "Yeah… I guess you're –"
"Lunch time!" a very loud, cheerful voice suddenly called out as the door slammed open, causing Riku jump a bit, whirling around to see what on earth was going on. He couldn't, of course, so settled for waiting until whoever it was introduced themselves, placing a slender hand over his rapidly beating heart.
"Yuffie, you shouldn't do that!" Sora giggled. "We could have been sleeping or something! And besides, this is a hospital – you could have given someone a heart attack!"
"Oh come on, you know I'm the most excitement anybody gets around here. You're lucky to have me around to brighten up your day! And who do we have here?"
The girl, Yuffie's, voice sounded like it was directed towards Riku but the silver haired teen just sat there in shock, unresponsive. Whoever this girl was, she was the last kind of person he'd have expected in a hospital.
"That's Riku!" Sora enthusiastically informed her.
"Well he sure is cute, but does he talk?" Yuffie responded, and Riku could swear he sensed her wink conspiratorially at the brunette across the small room.
"Of course he talks! I think you just scared him!" Sora told her around another fit of giggles.
"Sorry about that!" she said, and Riku assumed she was talking to him.
Taking advantage of the fact that her attention seemed to be on him, Riku decided to speak up. "Who are you?" he asked, not meaning to sound rude.
"I'm Yuffie!" the girl informed him, not adding anything to what he already knew. Riku remained silent. Still fixing his unseeing gaze at her, she finally broke down and filled him in through a burst of laughter. "I'm in training here so they get me to do whatever random task they think of which means I'm in charge of bringing you guys your lunch! So here you go!"
A tray full of food was unceremoniously dumped into Riku's lap and he jumped up in surprise, cursing and nearly knocking it over and sending its contents to the floor.
"Hey, don't do that!" Sora called out, sounding as if he had a pout on his lips.
"What did I do?" Yuffie asked, slightly puzzled and more than a little distressed about Riku's reaction to her giving him his food.
"Don't just drop things on him like that or suddenly touch him or anything, he – " Sora was about to clarify, but he stopped himself. Riku's cheeks flushed. Obviously the brunette was trying to be considerate and try to tell Yuffie what the situation was, but at the same time didn't want to upset or embarrass Riku, judging that his lack of sight was still a touchy subject.
"I … I can't really see." Riku finished for him. "So doing that kind of stuff comes as a bit of an unpleasant shock to me."
"Oh!" Yuffie gasped as realization hit her. "Oh, I'm so sorry! I… I didn't know!"
"It's fine" Riku mumbled, scooting down in his sitting position in his bed in embarrassment.
"Well, here, I'll just leave you two to your lunched then." Yuffie decided, and Riku could hear her cross the room to set Sora's down. "Just set the trays down when you're done and I'll come back and get them later."
"Thanks, Yuffie." Sora chirruped from across the room.
"You're welcome." Yuffie responded. "I'll see you guys later. Sorry, Riku, about –"
"It's fine." The silver haired teen cut her off, wanting to put the embarrassing situation behind him.
The sound of footsteps crossing the room and the gentle 'click' of the door being shut confirmed Yuffie's departure and Riku sat up with a sigh, adjusting the tray in his lap.
"So what is this, exactly?" he asked, tentatively reaching out and prodding at the food. "Some sort of sandwich?"
"Yup." Came the reply, and it sounded like Sora's mouth was half full of food. "Yours is probably different from mine, seeing as I gotta have my 'special diet and all, but yeah, they're both vaguely sandwich like."
"Vaguely?" came the cautious response as Riku gave his food another experimental prod with a finger.
"Heh heh, yeah. You know… Hospital food."
"Ah." Riku responded, hesitantly working out how to pick up the food and guiding it to his mouth. In true, mass-produced, hospital-food form, the sandwich was far from the best thing Riku had ever eaten. On the other hand, it wasn't absolutely terrible, and it was the first solid food he had eaten in a while.
Both Sora and Riku ate their late lunch in relative silence, lost in their own thoughts. Afterwards they talked a bit before Riku got tired again. Reluctantly, he told Sora that he thought he was going to sleep again, that he didn't know why he was so tired.
"That's okay." Sora replied brightly. "All this hospital stuff can really take a lot out of you at first."
"Yeah." Riku agreed, as he lay back down, pulling the covers over himself and snuggling down into them.
"Have a nice nap." Sora's words drifted into Riku's consciousness as he was swept away into sleep. "I'll be here when you wake up."
Everything was black. Too black.
"Hello?" Riku called out into the empty void. "Hello? Is anybody there?"
No answer. He couldn't see anything as he blindly stumbled forward, hands held out in front of him to keep from running into anything. He had the sense that it wasn't just his eyes deceiving him this time, there really was nothing and no one out there. Just blackness and emptiness all around him. It was almost smothering.
"Hello?" he called out again, a desperate note to the word. "Hello? Please! Someone! Isn't anybody there?"
Slowly Riku became aware of… something in the darkness. Nothing he could really see or hear; nothing that was tangible in any way… but he could sense it.
"He – hello?" he stuttered, although this time he didn't yell the word, not sure if he wanted his presence known anymore, wherever he was. Something was moving about, near him, surrounding him from all sides, growing closer. No footsteps or a swish of air, but there was no doubt something was there, just beyond his senses. "Who are you?" he questioned the air in a strangled whisper.
Suddenly it was all around him, seizing him, smoke-like tendrils wrapping themselves around him, caressing him with a deadly power he found he was incapable of resisting, forcibly frozen in place. He could feel it creeping around his legs, slowly winding around them, making it's way silently up to his waist, his arms, biding his chest, wrapping around his throat… but try as he might he could not escape it's hold.
"HELP!" he shouted, panicking, struggling futilely against his binds. "Help, please! I – I can't –"
The darkness was wrapped all around him now, completely controlling him, and it began to smother him, making him incapable for shouting for help.
"Please!" he managed, coughing as the delicately deadly tendrils tightened their hold, dragging him down to their unknown depths. "I …need help! I… I need… SORA!"
Riku shot bolt upright in bed, covered in a cold sweat. Panting heavily, he tried to look around to see where he was, but of course found himself incapable of doing so. A frightened, pathetic whimper escaped his throat and he wrapped his arms tightly around himself pulling his knees up to his chest and shivering in fear.
Gasping, Riku jerked his head wildly to the direction of the voice, unable to identify it in his fear.
"Riku, it's okay – It's me… Sora."
"Sora!" the silver haired teen gasped. "Where am I?"
"It's okay…" the other male hushed gently. "You're still in the hospital, but it's okay. I'm here. You just had a bad dream."
Riku lay back down again, squeezing his eyes shut and trying to will the lingering images of his nightmare out of his mind, a slightly hard task to accomplish when the only thing before his eyes was the hazy blackness that was now a part of his life. As his slightly erratic breathing calmed, Riku sat back up, turning to face Sora across the room, who he was pretty sure was still looking over at him.
"How long was I asleep this time?" he asked in a subdued voice.
"Hours." Sora informed him. "It's the middle of the night."
"Did I wake you up?" Riku asked, feeling guilty.
"Yeah, but it's okay." Sora assured him, and from the sound of his voice Riku could tell he meant it. "You called out my name." He quietly added after a moment.
A flush tinted Riku's cheeks, lost to the darkness, for which he was grateful. "Sorry about that."
"That's okay." Sora reassured him in a soothing, low voice. "Did you need me? I mean, in your dream?"
Riku's blush deepened, and he suddenly found himself very embarrassed. "Yeah." He finally admitted. "I did."
"What was happening to you?" the brunette across the room asked in a reverent whisper. Riku hesitated before answering, finding that his dream would seem so silly to relate to someone who hadn't actually been there, actually experienced the terrifying grip of the darkness. But Riku found that he needed to tell someone, and Sora had been very open and supportive thus far, so it was reasonable to assume he wouldn't choose now of all times to start judging or ridiculing his silver haired roommate.
"There was this… just this dark… empty… space." Riku began, wringing his hands in his lap, shuddering a bit at reliving the nightmare. "And… at first I was just lost… trying to find someone to help me or something… But then it changed… there was… something was out there, but I didn't know what it was… And then… and then it was just… it was all over me, Sora! I tried to get away, but I couldn't even move, and it just kept winding around me and smothering me and I was calling out for help but… nobody could hear me… and then right as it was about to get me completely the last thing I could think to do was…" Here Riku trailed off, overcome with embarrassment and shame, choking around a strangled sob. "All I could think to do was call out your name. And then I woke up… But, Sora, it was still so dark and for a minute… for a minute it still felt so real…"
"It's okay, Riku, it wasn't real…" Sora shushed from across the room, so comforting and assuring. Riku nodded, knowing what Sora said to be true, but he still found himself unable to shake the images. He still felt so isolated, all alone in the dark in his tiny little bed, cold and afraid. He knew that it was going to be impossible to go back to sleep like this if Sora decided to stop talking to him and go back to sleep himself, leaving Riku feeling even more alone without the comfort of his friend's voice – he needed some kind of tangible reassurance that he wasn't alone. But at the same time he didn't want to keep the smaller male up on his account – he would feel too guilty; even if Sora would tell him it was perfectly all right.
"Sora…?" Riku whispered, the flush on his cheeks deepening once again.
"Is… is there anything in the way between our beds?"
"N…no?" came the vaguely confused reply. "I don't think so – I mean, it's dark, but there's nothing that I can see…Why?"
Without any sort of a verbal answer, Riku carefully reached out to the side of his bed, holding onto the railing and dangling his feet over the side. Slowly sliding them down to meet the cold, tiled floor, he slipped off the edge of the bed, swaying slightly from the headrush as a result of not having been properly on his feet in days.
"Riku, what are you doing!"
Slowly, and very, very carefully, the silver haired teen took one tentative step forward, nearly losing his balance. Reaching his hands out in front of him to keep from crashing into anything he cautiously took another few steps, heading towards where he judged Sora's bed to be.
"Riku, stop!" Sora called out in a stage whisper. "You're going to hurt yourself! You're not supposed to be out of bed and you can't see where you're going!"
'That's it, Sora, keep talking…' Riku thought to himself, using the distressed brunette's voice as a guide. Suddenly his hand bumped into a low corner of something and he quickly pulled it back, surprised and once again nearly throwing off his precious balance.
"Riku, what are you doing?" Sora asked quietly, his voice coming from just a foot or so away, coming as a bit of a surprise to the silver haired teen. 'That must have been his bedside table that I hit' he reasoned.
Cautiously, Riku reached out and felt his way to the edge of Sora's bed. Suddenly, just as he found the railing along the side of the mattress, a warm hand descended upon his own, bringing his movements to a complete stop. "Riku…" Sora breathed, giving his hand a gentle squeeze. "If you wanted to come sleep with me you could have just said so."
Riku's heart lept at the invitation, and he found his way onto the mattress as quickly as he could, careful not to jostle Sora or accidentally hurt him in any way, not sure how fragile his condition had rendered him. Sora pulled back the covers to allow him under them as the silver haired teen climbed in and promptly curled up against his side.
"Everything's going to be alright, Riku." The brunette hushed as he gently brushed back the other male's hair. The touch didn't startle him as all others had since he lost his eyesight, rather, it felt so right that it seemed like it belonged there and he wouldn't have had it any other way. Gently laying his head on the smaller boy's chest, Riku listened to Sora's steady heartbeat, surprisingly strong for someone in his condition. The fear of the darkness slowly left Riku's own heart and mind as he lay there, and within a few minutes sleep was able to claim him once again, this one free of unwelcome dreams as Sora continued to gently stroke his hair and whisper comforting nothings as he drifted off to sleep.
"Well what do we have here?"
Riku sleepily blinked his eyes open at the amused query, looking around to see who had spoken. He wasn't quite sure where he was at the moment, his internal sense of direction was telling him he wasn't in the same place he had been for the past few days. Slowly, he became aware of a warm body next to his own, the steady rise and fall of a chest beneath him. Oh, that's right… last night… the nightmare… and then afterwards… making his way over to Sora's bed…
"So then, you two, you get any sleep last night?"
Riku was startled out of his thoughts and looked up to the voice, furrowing his brows in confusion as he tried to place it. "Yuffie?"
"The one and only!" came the enthusiastic reply, and Riku was surprised that she hadn't woken Sora up yet. "I was sent up here to check on you guys and give you your breakfast. The doctors are going to be by later to see how your doing, Riku."
"Thanks." Riku replied sleepily as he rested his head back down.
"Oh, you two are just too cute for words!" Yuffie squealed, and Riku finally felt Sora stir beneath him.
"Whazgoingon?" he mumbled incoherently as he sat up a little, raising an arm to rub at his eyes. "Riku?"
"Hey." The silver haired teen mumbled sheepishly, hoping he didn't embarrass the brunette by being there when he woke up, not that he really could have done anything about it.
"Hey!" Sora greeted back brightly, seeming to be much more awake than he had been just a second ago. "Did you sleep okay?" Riku nodded, fighting back a blush as he realized that Yuffie was still there and watching the whole thing. "Oh, good!" Sora continued, giving Riku a quick hug. "I'm glad." Yuffie squealed all of a sudden and Riku snapped his attention back to her, eyes wide.
"Oh my gosh, you two! I just can't take it! Here, I'll leave you to your breakfast but I'll be back later, kay?"
"Okay, thanks Yuffie!" Sora replied happily as the girl set down two trays and exited the room, pausing at the door to look back at the two boys once more before she left.
"So what's for breakfast?" Riku asked, both out of curiosity and to avoid Sora bringing up the topic of last night. Like most bad dreams, one you thought them over the next day they seemed almost silly and often a little bit embarrassing.
"Looks like some kind of porridge or oatmeal or something." Sora informed him.
Riku frowned at his tray skeptically. "Or something?"
"Haha, yeah. Just eat it, Riku, it won't kill you." Sora laughed, and Riku couldn't help but smile and take a small bite. They talked a bit as they ate their food, Riku carefully steering them away from the topic of last night. After they finished, they set their trays aside and Sora tried to teach Riku a hand game to amuse themselves. Most of the amusement went to Sora, however, as Riku had a hard time making contact with his hands, seeing as he had only half of his hand-eye-coordination.
"No, haha, no Riku, you have to put it here!" Sora giggled as he grabbed Riku's hand, placing it in front of him in the air where it was meant to be. "And then I hit it – like this – and then you get to move it to the side."
"Look, Sora, this is useless. I just can't do it!" Riku sighed in mock frustration. Honestly, while the game was slightly impossible for him, he rather enjoyed the interaction.
Suddenly a knock came on the door and it swung open as brisk, heavy footsteps entered.
"Hello Doctor Ansem!" Sora greeted brightly, cluing Riku in to who had entered the room.
"Hello, Sora." The doctor greeted in his deep voice, vague confusion at seeing Riku with him entering his tone. "And Riku, I see you found your way out of bed. You're feeling somewhat better, I expect?"
"Somewhat." The silver haired teen affirmed, a little nervous under the doctor's scrutiny.
"Very good." Dr. Ansem nodded, pleased to hear it. "But if you don't mind, we'd like to do a few simple tests, try and get a gage on your situation and see if it had either improved, worsened, or stayed the same."
Riku nodded, albeit hesitantly. He wasn't quite sure if he wanted to know, as there was a possibility that things could have gotten worse. A clicking of heels announced Aerith's arrival and with a polite greeting she helped Riku back to his own bed. Riku allowed it, but he would have much preferred being allowed to do it on his own, however embarrassingly uncoordinated as it would have undoubtedly been. He didn't like other people guiding him around, it made him feel out of control of the situation, a helpless dependant.
The tests turned out to be relatively simple and painless. His eyes were dilated, lights were shone into them, various vision tests were preformed to gage what he was able to see, if anything. A few needles were even stuck in him for good measure. All the while Sora sat by wordlessly, but Riku could feel the brunette's eyes on him the whole time.
Finally everything that needed to be done was completed, and Riku anxiously awaited the results.
"Well, Riku…" the doctor began, and Riku was on the edge of his mattress in anticipation, half hopeful for the best, half dreading the worst. "The good news is, I'm not seeing any worsening of your condition."
Riku's heart plummeted. "But…?" he prompted.
"But… I'm afraid I'm not seeing any improvement either. However, we have determined that your condition is stabilized, and we can now discuss options of possible reconstructive measures."
"Is that… good?" Riku dared to ask, his heart catching hi hiss throat.
"It's a step in the right direction, Riku." Dr. Ansem informed him, and it almost sounded as if he were smiling, giving Riku a bit of hope and he smiled weakly himself.
"Thank you, sir."
"You're very welcome." The doctor replied, placing a heavy hand on Riku's shoulder. Riku resisted the urge to flinch. "We'll check back in with you if anything new develops. Until then, just stay relaxed, try not to over exert yourself in any manner, and we'll see where things go from there."
"Alright, thanks." Riku responded as Dr. Ansem drew back his hand and headed for the door. Aerith patted his head fondly before following after him, closing the door behind herself with a soft 'click'.
"Well that's good news." Sora chirruped, the first thing he had said since Riku left his bed earlier.
"Yeah, I guess." Riku responded with a shrug. "It all sounds so up in the air, though. I just… I can't help but think I might have to stay like this… forever…"
Sora didn't seem to have a response to that and they lapsed into a reasonably comfortable silence. Riku was in the middle of thinking about how he would get by out on his own if the doctors couldn't do anything when Sora interrupted his thoughts.
"Are you still scared?"
Riku turned his attention back to his friend across the room, furrowing his brow slightly, not quite sure how to respond. "Well… yeah, I guess. More like just… lost. I mean, I don't know how I'm going to –"
"I mean about your dream."
Riku stopped in mid sentence as Sora clarified, completely thrown off by the sudden question, and he could feel Sora's wide blue eyes fixed on him, patiently awaiting a response. It took him a while to figure out how to answer Sora's question from that angle, but eventually he replied, a little nervously. "Yeah. A little. I just… it seemed so real at the time, you know? But I mean… it was just a dream, right?"
"Yeeeeeah…" Sora said, stretching out the word as he thought it over. "But… it seems like it was kind of like… symbolic, you know? Like maybe that's how you feel about your situation…"
Riku knew it was true, but had been trying to keep those thoughts in the back of his mind, unwilling to confront them. Truthfully, the dream was exactly how he felt about his situation, even if he did try to push those thoughts aside. Nevertheless, they had a way of forcing themselves back to the forefront of his mind when he would sit and dwell on nothing for long enough as he tried to fill the time not spent with talking to Sora.
"You're right, Sora." He admitted, hanging his head. "That's exactly how I feel. But… there's nothing I can do about it now is there? I'm just going to have to get used to it."
"I can still tell you stuff…" Sora said quietly.
"I know. I know, of course you can." Riku said quickly. "But… it's not the same, you know? I want to know about more than what's crammed into this little room."
Silence reined for a few uncomfortable minutes, Riku lost in his own self-angst for the most part. Curiously enough, he couldn't feel Sora's bright blue eyes on him, leading him to wonder what the younger boy was thinking about. The thought was almost immediately answered, however, as the brunette spoke up once again, in a quiet voice, almost as if he wasn't sure how Riku was going to react.
"I could tell you what's out the window…"
Riku turned his attention back to Sora, a half skeptical, half hopeful expression on his features. "You can see what's out the window?"
"Uh huh!" Sora replied brightly while nodding furiously.
Riku considered this. On the one hand, hearing Sora telling him about things he may never be able to experience for himself again could be a painful reminder of what he had lost, of the constant darkness that was now a part of him. But then again, it was possible that Sora was… almost like a light, in a way. His light. The one way he could try to pretend that everything was still like it was before, that there was a beautiful world out there, even if he couldn't see it with his own eyes.
"Okay." He whispered, settling back into his bed and waiting for Sora to begin.
"Outside the window is a park." Sora told him. "It's a really nice one, there are a lot of trees and bushes and nice paths to walk on. The trees are all really big, and I bet if it were spring they would be full of bright green leaves and bird nests and maybe even some flowers, depending on what kind they are. But right now since pretty much winter most of the leaves have all fallen off, everything is all brown and red and orange and a little yellow, but the trees still look really nice. They stand out against the rest of the park because they're the tallest things in it, all dark and the branches are all over the place – they'd be great to climb in, I bet.
There's a lake, you know, right in the very middle of the park. It's probably freezing cold and half frozen solid, but there's still a few ducks swimming around in it. There's some girl running around, throwing bread to them, but I think she's actually scaring them away more than anything." Riku smiled, imagining this. "She's got a tiny little yellow jumper and sandals on, I can't imagine how she isn't freezing out there." Sora continued. "Her hair is brown, maybe only a little darker than mine, and it flips up on the ends. She's dragging something around, I think it's like a jump-rope, and anyways, she's not having too much luck getting to the ducks."
Riku actually chuckled out loud at this. The way Sora told things was just so… cute. It sounded so awfully sugary-sweet and cliché to say, but there was no other way to describe it.
"What's so funny?" Sora asked, smiling himself at Riku's apparent amusement.
"Nothing." Riku replied quickly, waving a hand idly. "Just keep going."
"Okay." Sora agreed, and Riku could hear by his tone that the brunette was pleased he could be entertaining the other male so well. "Well… I don't think there's too much else right now… Not too many people probably want to be out in this weather – it looks like it's going to snow pretty soon… There's all these really crazy clouds whirling around up in the sky."
"I bet that'd look really pretty…" Riku murmured to himself sadly. Sora didn't immediately respond, knowing that Riku was mourning the loss of his eyesight and wanting to be a little respectful. After a moment, however, he quietly replied.
"Yeah… I bet it would. And you know what? When it does happen, I'll be here to tell you all about it."
Sora and Riku fell into a pattern.
Every night they would talk quietly until Riku fell asleep so that he wouldn't spend the fretful time beforehand in silence, letting his dark thoughts get to him and send him off into a fitful state of nightmares and darkness. On the occasions he did have a restless nights sleep, he would make his way over to Sora's bed, climbing in with the smaller boy and relishing in the comfort of his voice and warmth.
In the morning Yuffie would drop by to give them their breakfast, and on the mornings she found them together in the same bed, let out a high pitched squeal, regardless of whether or not they were still asleep.
After breakfast they would talk some more, and occasionally one or more of the doctors would stop in for one or another or both of them, doing tests or giving medication. When lunch rolled around they would companionably eat it together, talking some more, because, really, what else was there to do?
After lunch was Riku's favourite part of the day. Sora had taken to telling him in detail about the goings on in the park outside, and while nothing drastically changed from day to day, it was nice to hear about the little things that were happening, and even nicer to sit back and listen to Sora's voice for hours on end.
"It's fairly windy today…" Sora was telling him. "And it's even snowing a little bit, just tiny little snowflakes, they're not really even making it all the way to the ground. There's a girl on the far end of the park, it looks like she's walking her dog or something. She's got shortish reddish hair and she's wearing a little white shirt and a lavender mini-skirt – Geeze, what is it with girls wearing their cute little outfits out in the freezing cold!"
Riku snickered at that. Half the fun of listening to Sora tell him about what was going on in the park was his random editorials of it's occupants.
"Anyways, she's got a cute little dog and it's sniffing around and stuff. It looks really furry and – Oh my gosh!" Sora cut off with a funny gasp, before breaking out into laughter.
"What! What is it!" Riku quickly demanded, sitting bolt upright.
"It's… Don't worry – it's just –" Sora's words were interrupted by an uncontrollable snort of laughter, and Riku waited impatiently for Sora to get control of himself long enough to relate just what was so funny.
"Okay… okay… Whoo! Okay, I'm good." Sora finally announced, calming himself down. "Okay, well in the middle of when I was telling you about the girl's dog these two guys – they just came out of nowhere! – ran past her really, really fast, headed towards the lake. The dog started freaking out and barking at them and the girl looked all irritated and was like… pulling at the leash and stuff. And so then –" Sora stopped and took another calming breath, slight laughter escaping his lips. "And so then they're just running towards the lake and they get to the edge of it and rip off their shirts and just jump on in! Riku, you should have seen it! The moment they hit the water they just – I mean I couldn't hear them obviously, but I could see they just let out this simultaneous 'whoop!'– the water must be so freezing! It was so funny Riku, the girl was just staring at them by this point, I mean she must have thought they were crazy!"
Riku's smile had wavered at Sora's comment of 'you should have seen it' but the brunette had obviously even known he'd said it in his excitement, and Riku couldn't help but slowly regain his smile full force as Sora told him all about it. He was just so excited and enthusiastic and just so… Sora. Life was just so full of laughter and wonder for him, and one couldn't help but catch it as he exuded it so freely.
"Oh, they're coming out now – that was quick." Sora was informing him. "But I mean, I can't really blame there, you'd freeze to death if you stayed in there for too long. Okay, so now I can kinda see what they look like – it was kinda hard to tell before when they were running. One of them, the taller one, has really cool orangish-red hair that sticks up in this funny flip at the top, and he's got a blue bandana tied around his forehead and yellow pants. The other guy has darkish blonde hair and his shorts are really funny… they're blue and one of the legs is cut a lot shorter than the other one… Oh, haha, the girl's giving them this really dirty look as they're walking past her…"
Riku smiled and closed his tired eyes, enjoying the sound of Sora's voice. Today had been a long day – the doctors had tried out some more eye tests on him, and while they hadn't gotten much of anywhere they had taken a lot out of him. They'd also checked up on his still-healing concussion, which had been slightly painful and left him with a throbbing headache. He'd been given some medicine afterwards to help with the pain, but apparently it wasn't the non-drowsy kind.
"Well, that was certainly one of the more interesting things that's happened in the park, wouldn't you say, Riku? …Riku, are you falling asleep?"
"Mmmmnn… no…" the silver haired teem murmured vaguely, not even opening his eyes.
"Yes you are." Sora giggled from across the room. "But that's okay. You take a nap. I'll still be here when you wake up and maybe we can talk some more then."
"Mnnn." Riku murmured in response as he rolled on his side, unable to note the lingering, clear blue gaze that remained on his figure, long after he had fallen asleep.
The next time Riku woke up, he could hear voices on the other side of the room, none of which he immediately recognized.
"His pulse and heart rate seems regular enough… How's his blood pressure looking?"
"A little low at this point, but nothing I think we should be too worried about yet. Do we have a reading on his immune system yet?"
"That's what I'm working on right now."
What are they talking about?
Riku cautiously opened his eyes, not wanting to be caught awake, and risked a glance over to the other side of the room. 'Oh wait, duh…' he chided himself, mentally smacking his forehead at the irritating lingering habit of trying to look at things. It had been lessening and lessening, the more he adapted to it, but every once in a while he would still catch himself trying to take a closer look at something, only to be reminded that he couldn't.
"Sephiroth, I think you'd better take a look at this."
Riku was pulled back out of his thoughts and re-focused his attention back on the other side of the room, still trying to appear asleep; not sure why he felt guilty for listening in on whatever was taking place seeing as it was in his own room, but not wanting to be caught eavesdropping nonetheless. It sounded like they were over by Sora – possibly examining him? – but he had yet to hear a single word out of the brunette.
"Yes, Demyx? What are these?"
"That's what I'm asking you, sir."
There was silence for a moment, and Riku assumed they were looking at a reading or x-ray of some sort. For some reason his stomach was twisting into an uncomfortable knot. What was going on?
"Well, these are definitely interesting." The same man as before, Sephiroth, if Riku had heard correctly, proclaimed.
"But what does it mean, sir?" The other male, Demyx, queried.
"At this point, I'm not certain. But we'll have to be keeping a close watch on these readings."
"Sir, should I remove the sensors?" a third voice chimed in. "I think we're done with the readings."
"Very well, Zexion." Sephiroth affirmed. "I believe we're done for today. Sora – be sure to rest today, no overexerting yourself whatsoever, do you understand?"
"Yes, sir." Came the small reply. So Sora was awake.
"Very good. We'll be sure to inform you of any results we find that we believe you should know of."
"Thank you, sir."
The mismatched sound of three separate sets of footsteps indicated the departure of the men, and Riku could hear Sora sigh audibly in relief. Riku still wasn't completely sure what had been going on, but decided not to let on that he was awake to Sora just yet.
"Riku, it's okay, you can talk now – I know that you're awake."
The silver haired teen's eyebrows shot up in surprise as Sora practically read his mind. "How'd you know I was awake?"
"Oh please." Came the amused response, and Riku could tell the brunette was wearing a Sora version of a smirk. "How long have you been awake?"
Riku shifted nervously. "Um… maybe a couple of minutes?"
"Liar." Sora laughed, and Riku had the decency to blush at being caught in his lie. "You heard the whole thing, didn't you?"
"Uh… kinda. Yeah."
"Heh, heh, Riku, it's fine. Why are you acting so weird? It's not like you just infiltrated some huge enemy secret or something."
Riku laughed weakly at this, still a little uncomfortable with the whole situation. "Yeah… sorry. It just seemed like maybe I wasn't supposed to overhear… I mean… it was kind of…personal."
"Psssht, 'personal'…" Sora scoffed. "It was about my medical condition and it was in your room. If it really was some huge secret that you weren't supposed to know about, then the security in this place sucks." The brunette sent Riku a reassuring grin that the silver haired teen couldn't see, but felt nonetheless.
"So then…" he prompted, not sure how far Sora's levels of comfort with the subject stretched, but curious nonetheless. "What was that all about? Who were those guys?"
"Oh, those were some special doctors that have been working on figuring out what's wrong with me." Sora explained. "Sephiroth's the head doctor, he's kind of curt, you know, not very sociable, but he's good at what he does. He's tall and he's got long hair almost the same colour as yours and –"
"No, Sora, I don't care about what he looks like, I don't want descriptions right now, all I want to know what is what was going on – what they were talking about and if you're okay."
"Oh…" Sora's voice faltered a bit at Riku's brusqueness. "Well, okay… So… yeah, they're my special doctors, they check in on me every once in a while to keep up with my condition and everything. Today was just kind of like a check-up."
"And… well, you heard them. Everything's pretty much normal, you know – my heart rate and all that."
"I heard one of them say something was 'interesting'." Riku pressed.
"Oh… yeah." Sora reluctantly admitted. "Well… so yeah… the one assistant, Demyx, he was taking some readings and came up with something. I mean, I pretty much know as much as you, really. I saw what he handed Sephiroth real quick, but I couldn't really tell what it was all about."
"Is something wrong?" Riku quickly asked, sitting up. "I mean, was it something bad, are you okay?"
Sora shrugged. "I dunno, you heard as much as I did. I'm sure if it was something really bad they would have told me right away, cause they'd have needed to do something about it really fast. It's happened one or twice before, but each time they did whatever they needed to do and I came out of it okay."
Riku suddenly found his heart at his throat at Sora's words. He'd come to care so much for the boy across the room, and suddenly realized just how much he meant to him and that he didn't know what he would ever do if Sora was taken away from him.
"Sora…" he whispered, letting his bangs fall in front of his face. "You're so brave…"
"No I'm not." Sora gently insisted. "I just try to be happy. I mean, your attitude pretty much dictates how your life is gonna be, so I might as well put a good face on things, you know? I mean… things could always be worse, right?"
Without replying, Riku slid out of bed, making his way over to Sora's – he'd quickly gotten much better at navigating his way across the small space separating them since the first time, and now was able to make the short trip relatively smoothly. Carefully climbing in he settled down against the smaller boy, tentatively wrapping and arm around the brunette's slender waist.
"What's this for?" Sora asked with a smile, moving his hand to run it through Riku's silver locks.
"Nothing." Riku replied, giving Sora a gentle squeeze.
"Do you want me to tell you what's out the window?"
"Not today, Sora." Riku replied. "You're supposed to take it easy. We can just stay like this for a while, okay?"
Sora didn't answer right away, but his silence was a content, comfortable one, and Riku could tell he was happy that the silver haired male just wanted to spend time with him.
"Okay, Riku." He finally, quietly, replied. "That sounds just fine to me."
The next morning started out, predictably, with Yuffie's high-pitched squeal at finding them curled up together.
"God, Yuffie! Do you have any idea how annoying that is to wake up to?" Riku grumbled sleepily before turning back over and burying his face in Sora's neck. The brunette, for his part, only stirred slightly in his sleep, leaving Riku to wonder at what an amazingly deep sleeper he was, even more so than usual today what with all the medication he had been given the previous day.
"Oh come on, Mr. Grouchy Pants!" Yuffie protested happily. "Rise and shine! I've brought you food!"
"Thanks, Yuffie, but right now I'd rather sleep than eat." Riku mumbled against Sora's neck, causing the boy to stir again, a light laugh escaping his lips.
"Heh heh… tickles…" he vaguely murmured.
"Isn't he just the most precious thing?" Yuffie cooed.
"Yes." Riku bluntly affirmed, wondering why she hadn't just set down the food and left yet.
"I'm so glad he finally has a friend." She commented. "He was all alone until you showed up."
Riku's heart gave a painful wrench at this, and he pulled Sora a little tighter to himself. The brunette sighed pleasantly in his dreams.
"But he's got a big imagination, you know." Yuffie was continuing, apparently needed to inform Riku of what an amazing person Sora was, despite the fact that the silver haired male was already well aware of this fact. "He's always thinking up stories in his head and making up little games to amuse himself… I'm really glad he has you to share that with now, Riku. He's always been a favourite around here … All of us really care about him a lot."
"I know." Riku replied wholeheartedly. "I do too."
Yuffie didn't say anything more for a minute and Riku assumed she was either gazing down adoringly at the two of them or spacing out, each of which seemed likely, knowing her. "Anyways!" she finally continued. "I'll just leave your food here beside the bed, but you should probably eat it soon or it's gonna get cold!"
"Alright." Riku responded, making no move to actually get up and do so. But apparently satisfied that she had done what she had come to do, Yuffie left after this, leaving Riku and the still slumbering Sora alone again. Riku was content to simply lie there for a while longer, but minding Yuffie's parting words he sat up and stretched, not intending on eating a cold breakfast.
Feeling out for the tray, he found it on the bedside table and gently moved it to the bed, balancing it on his lap. Gently doing inventory of the tray's contents, he found it held two bowls and spoons, along with some glasses of juice, which he was careful not to spill. Pulling aside his share of the meal, he picked up his spoon and gathered some of his hot cereal onto it, lifting it carefully to his lips.
"Muu… Riku. You're awake."
Riku turned to Sora, who had just woken up, propping himself up onto one elbow.
"Shouldn't I be saying that to you? You're the one who slept in." he teased.
"Nyeah." Sora retorted, sticking out his tongue and smacking Riku lightly. "No teasing."
Riku chuckled as Sora sat up, pulling his bowl onto his lap and picking up a spoon, promptly shoveling a generous spoonful of the food into his mouth. "So." He began, and it sounded like he hadn't quite finished swallowing yet. "What are we going to do today?"
"Same thing we do every day, what else?" Riku replied.
"I dunno." Sora shrugged. "I just felt like asking."
"Haha, okay." Riku went along with it, amused by Sora's reasoning. "Hey, um could you pass me the –"
"Riku, it's snowing!" Sora suddenly cried out. "I mean, really snowing!"
Riku smiled, more captured by Sora's enthrallment than the actual event he was informing the silver haired male of.
"Wouldn't it be nice to go out there and play in it?"
"Yeah, it would." Riku replied, a bit sadly for the knowledge that to do so was not possible.
"Hey look, that's what those kids are doing!" Sora continued, abandoning his meal in lieu of staring out at the park. "There's three of them, two boys and a girl." He told Riku, who set down his own food, sending that Sora was about to launch into one of his descriptions that were almost more like stories. "One of the boys has dark blonde hair that spikes up all over the top and he's wearing a green vest over a black shirt and some really baggy camo pants. The second boy is a little chubby, and he's got brown hair that's sticking up all over the place out the top of his bandana. Haha, he's wearing jeans and a red shirt with this really funny picture of this freaky lookin' dog on it. The girl has dark brown hair and a pretty orange Hawaiian-print shirt over some Capri pants. They're hauling around this bright red sled and it looks like they're going to take it to the top of that big hill on the far side of the park and go down it…"Here Sora paused and turned back to Riku, his face glowing. "Wouldn't it be fun to go sledding?"
"I guess." Riku replied. "It'd be really cold and I'd probably fall off face first into the snow."
"Oh you're no fun!" Sora chided him, turning back to look out the window at the kids. "Oh hey, there's some more kids out there too… another set of two guys and a girl, how funny. One guy's blonde but he's got a beanie on so you can only see a little bit of his hair sticking out and he's got on an open trench coat thing and brown pants. The second guy is really buff and he's got a bright orange shirt and black sports pants. The girl has silvery blueish hair and she's wearing a blue shirt and tan cargo shorts. I don't get what they're doing… they look like they're sneaking around or something… they're following after the other kids… Ohmigosh, wait! I think they're gonna ambush them or something!"
Sora stopped for a minute, and Riku assumed he was absorbed in watching the drama unfolding outside in the park. Riku had to admit, he was actually rather interested in what was going on, himself, even if he was only experiencing it second hand.
"Okay, yeah, they're definitely gonna ambush them." Sora abruptly affirmed after a minute. Riku could tell by the way he rushed his words, almost speaking in a whisper, as if he were actually out there participating himself, that he was excited. "They're sneaking up behind that snowdrift and they've all got a couple snowballs ready to throw at them…Okay, now they're all whispering to eachother and pointing and stuff… I think… I think… There! The blonde in the hat just totally nailed the blonde in the camo pants! Haha, aw man, he didn't even see it coming! The other kids are all firing their snowballs now and the first three kids are trying to retaliate but I don't think they have time – they were caught off guard. Oh, Riku! Oh man, the camo pants kid totally just decided to forego the whole snowball thing and just full-on tackled the other blonde into the ground!"
Sora continued for a while longer, as long as the snow fight lasted. From the sound of it, it was more than just a friendly game, as demonstrated by the outward hostility between the two opposing groups of friends. Riku contentedly sat back, closing his eyes as he listened to Sora describe the snow fight to him, making sure he included each and every exciting detail. The way Sora told things… it was almost as if he was right there experiencing them from himself. If something was especially cool or amazing, he would get really into it, talking fast and loudly, practically bouncing up and down. If things were going smoothly and calm, he practically radiated that aura, and on more than one occasion Riku had found himself drifting off as Sora described a particularly peaceful scene. If something was shocking or scary Riku often found himself riveted to the spot, tense, practically gripping his bed railing or Sora's arm off in suspense.
Sora continued describing the snow fight all the way up until the two participating parties saw fit to hold a truce. However it was a short lived one, as while they were going their separate, respective ways, the hatted blonde couldn't resist chucking one last, hefty snowball right at the back of the other blonde's head.
"Aw man!" Sora exclaimed brightly. "Now he's running away so fast, Riku! I don't think he's afraid, though. It looks like he's laughing!"
Riku chuckled. It actually sounded rather like something he would have done, had he been able to go run around in the snow like that.
"Well, it looks like that's that." Sora concluded. "They've all kinda dispersed. But it sure was fun while it lasted, huh?"
"It sure was." Riku agreed, settling himself more comfortably against Sora's side.
The two talked for the rest of the afternoon, and as time passed Riku noticed something was… off … about Sora. Once he consciously registered the fact, he tried to identify it, but it was hard seeing as it wasn't something completely obvious… it was very subtle. After casually chatting for a few more minutes he finally pinpointed it.
"Sora, are you feeling okay?" he abruptly but gently asked.
"Sure, Riku, I'm fine. Why?"
"Just… you sound… a little out of breath. You have for a while now. I didn't notice right away but…"
"Oh. Right, don't worry about it." Sora replied, waving it off. "Sometimes I just get out of breath, especially after I get really excited and worked up over something. And after –"
"Yesterday's examination." Riku cut in, anticipating what Sora was tracing it back to. "Sora, if you're not supposed to overwork yourself you should have calmed down. I don't want you getting worse on account of –"
"I'm fine, Riku, really." The brunette insisted, placing his hand lightly on Riku's forearm and resting it there reassuringly. "Don't worry about me, kay? I'll just need to rest up a little more than usual later, that's all."
"Alright…" Riku replied, but wasn't quite willing to let it go that easily. "You know, now that I think about it, I'm actually a little tired right now myself…" In truth, he was nothing of the sort, but he figured that if he could convince Sora that he was, he might be able to get the brunette to rest up a little himself. The silver haired teen certainly didn't want to be nagging after Sora like a mother after her sick child because he knew Sora wouldn't have it. But sometimes he couldn't fight the urge to look after Sora, especially when it seemed like Sora was shrugging off doing it himself.
"Okay." Sora agreed amiably, and Riku felt a little guilty for fooling Sora so easily, even if it was in the brunette's own best interest. "You can stay here if you want, I wont keep you up. Maybe I'll even take a nap myself, that way we can talk more later."
"That sounds good." Riku affirmed, laying his head down to the brunette's chest and listening to his slightly racing heart. 'Geeze, when that kid gets worked up, he STAYS worked up…'
"Alright then, Riku. Have a nice nap. We can talk more later, I'll still be here."
Riku gave a low murmur of approval. It wasn't long until the fluttering of Sora's heart in his fragile rib cage had slowed down a little, and his breathing had evened out, assuring the silver haired boy that he was asleep. Riku sighed. Like his own condition, he didn't like to think about Sora's. Truthfully, the thought of losing his newfound friend was one of the most terrifying thoughts his mind could wrap itself around. But for now, he assured himself, Sora was right there next to him, and that was all that mattered.
It took him a little longer than it had his companion, but eventually sleep found Riku as well.
"Riku… hey Riku…"
The silver haired teen sleepily sat up, rubbing at his eyes. Sora's warmth had moved out from under him, and from the sound of it the brunette was sitting up. Shivering lightly, Riku pulled the covers up around him from where they had slipped of sometime earlier. Sitting up himself, he scooted closer to Sora, attempting to cuddle up and regain some body heat.
"Sora, what is it?" he asked sleepily. "And why is it so cold?"
"Oh, yeah." The brunette answered, sounding amused. "Well it's kind of only about five fifteen."
Riku's eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "In the morning?" What on earth was Sora waking him up for this early?
"Heh heh… yeah… Sorry."
"Nnn… it's okay." Riku mumbled as he rubbed his palms over his eyes yet again. "But why are you waking me up this early?"
"Oh! Right." Sora quickly said, getting back to the task at hand. "Well, I woke up a little while ago and the sun had just come up and it was snowing."
Oh, Riku realized, he wants to tell me one of his description stories. Settling himself more comfortably against the brunette, Riku closed his eyes, listening to his friend's voice.
"Everything was all golden from the first rays of sunlight and there were all these long, dark shadows of the trees across the snow." Sora continued, and Riku gave a low murmur in his throat, conveying that he was enjoying the story and urging Sora to keep going. "It was really beautiful. The snow was sparkling and there weren't any messy footprints or anything to mess it up because they had all been covered up overnight. That's still what it looks like right now. But I wasn't going to wake you up just for that, even though it was so nice, because I figured I could always remember it for later and tell you then."
"What did you wake me up for, then?" Riku murmured, nuzzling along the underside of Sora's throat in an affectionate manner.
"Well, a little while ago – hee hee, stop that, Riku, it tickles!" Sora suddenly giggled. Riku obliged with a self-satisfied smirk and let Sora continue. "Anyways, so a little while ago these two guys came into the park, carrying something slung over their shoulders, I couldn't quite tell what. One of them was a lot taller than the other one. His hair was really dark, crimson red and slicked back in huge spikes. He was wearing a really long, dark trench coat and black pants so he really stood out against the snow. The other one, the shorter one, was blonde and his hair was all messy and spiky and sticks up all over the place, just like mine. His outfit didn't stand out as much at all because his shirt was a kind of creamy colour, the brightest part was the red hood. He had a black shirt on under that, and his pants were dark grey, but they had a light grey covering over them starting just above the knee.
Anyways, so these two guys came into the park and sat down on the bench by the lake. I couldn't really tell what they were doing at first, but they grabbed the weird things over their shoulders and started messing with them near the ground, it was kinda hard to see, because they had their backs to me. But a minute later they stood up, the taller one was really wobbly, and then I could tell what they were doing – they were putting on ice skates! That's what the weird things were; I don't know why I hadn't figured it out sooner.
So the little blonde one helped the taller redhead out onto the lake, I guess it's frozen over solid by now. At first they were both really shaky. Actually, the blonde was pretty good, but he had the redhead holding onto him so tight that it was throwing him off, I think. I'm pretty sure the taller guy had never ice skated before, and the little guy was showing him how. They kinda just went around in really slow circles at first with the little blonde holding the redhead up around his waist. But after a while the blonde would get in front of the other guy and skate backwards while he held onto his hands, to kinda guide him along, you know? The red haired guy was kind of getting the hang of it by then, but he still fell down a couple times, sometimes he even drag the blonde down with him accidentally.
But you wanna know the best part, Riku? Every time they'd fall down the littler guy would just laugh it off and help the other guy up. He wasn't laughing at him; he was just helping make it seem like not such a big deal. And I thought, isn't that nice? For him to do that for the other guy?"
Sora trailed off at that point, and Riku slipped his arm around the brunette's waist, pulling him closer. "Yeah, it sure is." He breathed, resting his chin on Sora's shoulder.
"They're still out there, you know." Sora whispered. "And they can both skate on their own now. The red haired guy still isn't as good as the blonde, but he's so much better than when he first started… I mean he doesn't even have to have the blonde holding onto him anymore. He learned how to do it on his own. I'm happy for him."
"Me too." Riku agreed "But I bet it's a lot nicer to skate together."
"Probably." Sora supposed. "But think of it this way, now he can skate on his own even if he doesn't have his friend there with him."
"Yeah… that's true…" Riku admitted, but his heart felt a pang of sadness at the thought.
The two sat for a while in silence, each lost in their own thoughts, but after a few minutes, Riku felt himself starting to nod off again because of the early hour.
"Sora?" he whispered.
"I think I'm going to go back to sleep for a bit."
"That's okay Riku. I'm not tired right now, so I'm going to stay up a bit longer and look out the window."
"Alright." Riku assented. "Sorry for falling asleep on you, but it's still kinda early by my schedule."
"Riku, it's really fine." Sora insisted with a smile.
"Okay." Riku conceded. "And thanks." He added in a whisper.
"For waking me up to tell me about this." And for everything.
"Of course. Riku." Sora warmly replied. "Now go back to sleep. I'll still be here when you wake up."
When Riku woke up he was cold again. He knew it must have been later in the morning because he now felt fully rested, but something was off. Reaching out beside him to wrap his arm around Sora, he suddenly discovered he was alone in the bed. HIS bed, he suddenly realized, as there was no lingering warmth to suggest there had ever even been another person in the bed beside him, no lingering sent that was so uniquely Sora in the sheets. Had someone moved him while he was asleep? And more importantly, why?
"Sora?" Riku called out, sitting up. No response. "Sora?" he called out, louder this time, a hint of panic in his voice. "SORA?"
A distant sound of footsteps heading towards the room reached his ears, and he anxiously waited for whoever was approaching to enter. The doorknob turned and the click of high heels made it's way into the room.
"Aerith?" the silver haired teen asked, hoping he had correctly identified the person who had just entered the room.
"Yes, Riku, it's Aerith." she replied, confirming his guess. But there was something strained about her tone, something that only added to Riku's fears of the moment, that caused his heart to race.
"Where's Sora?" he demanded.
"Dr. Ansem is on his way, Riku; once he's here we'll try to explain to you what happ–"
"Where. Is. SORA!"
"Riku, if you could just calm down for one minute –"
"AERITH! Don't you tell me to 'calm down'! Don't you dare! I swear, if somebody doesn't tell me wherethe hell Sora is right this minute – "
"Sora's not here, Riku."
Riku looked up in surprise at the deep, booming voice at the door. He had been so caught up in yelling at Aerith that he hadn't even noticed the doctor's arrival.
"I know that." Riku snapped, turning on the doctor. "What I want to know is where he is, not where he's not."
"Riku, if you will just calm down for a minute and let us explain –"
"GOD!" Riku burst in frustration. "Will you people stop telling me to freaking 'calm down'? I'm not a little kid, you know, I just –"
"Then I suggest you stop acting like one. Getting this worked up and demanding is not only out of line, it is hazardous to your health, as your concussion is still in the healing process." Dr. Ansem reprimanded, gently but sternly. Riku glared at him, but closed his mouth, knowing that if he kept yelling it would get him nowhere. And really, all his anger really was was his way of expressing his fear. "Thank you, Riku." the doctor said before he continued, and his voice was much gentler, even a little sad.
"Now, Riku… there is no easy way to tell you this… But this morning Sora's specialized doctors found a drastic spreading chemical in his readings, I believe you were in the room when they took them?" Riku could only nod numbly, terrified of what the doctor was telling him, and dreading what was unfolding with each word as it came. "Well this morning that were doing some more extensive tests on the culture they took, and discovered that whatever it was Sora had in him, it was spreading fast. Too fast. And it was irregular in that it wasn't showing any outward symptoms on Sora's health. They needed to immediately take him into the ICU and perform a series of procedures and put him on various fast-acting antibiotics if there was to be any chance of him pulling through it."
"…and… and where is he now?" Riku choked out, as it seemed the Doctor had come to a stopping point but not filled him in on everything he was scared to hear, but needed to know. "Why didn't anyone wake me up and tell me what was going on? Why did you just take him away?"
"When we all came into the room this morning to explain the situation to him and get him out of there as fast as possible the two of you were in the same bed." Aerith explained, and Riku blushed a little in embarrassment on all the doctors walking in and finding them like that. "We needed to move you to get him out of there. Sora made sure to tell us not to wake you, he –" Here Aerith paused and it sounded to Riku as though she was collecting herself, a sign that made his stomach squirm in a nauseatingly uncomfortable, foreboding way. "He didn't want you to worry about him."
Sora… Riku thought, as his mind raced in a million different directions. You never do want other people worrying about you… Never want to inconvenience a single person for your on sake… "So… so where is he now?" Riku managed to choke out again against the constricting sensation of his throat. Neither the doctor or Aerith answered him, and Riku's heart lodged itself in his throat, choking him and suffocating his chest, making it difficult to breathe. "Wh-where's Sora?"
Suddenly Riku was being gathered into Aerith's arms, cradled against her breast, and he felt a light tear drop onto his hair as she stroked it.
"I'm sorry Riku." came the doctor's deep, gentle voice, edged with forced calm. "But Sora didn't make it."
Riku's hazy aqua eyes slowly blinked open, and he was extremely disoriented. His head hurt more than he could ever remember it hurting before and there were pricks of pain up and down his arms. Lifting an arm, heavy with his weariness and whatever sedative and painkillers that were running through his system, he brushed his hand along his forearm, finding various IV's and bandages covering needle pricks. Silver eyebrows furrowing in hazy confusion, added to by his throbbing skull, Riku lay his head back down, trying to sort things out in his head.
Slowly, thoughts and memories began to filter back into his hazy, clouded mind. Waking up… finding Sora gone… panicking… the doctor and Aerith explaining to him what had happened… that Sora was… gone.
Riku had freaked out. Yelling at the Dr. Ansem and Aerith; hitting anyone who came close to him, tried to touch him; attempting to get out of bed and go find Sora himself, because they just couldn't be right, they couldn't be telling the truth… Sora couldn't be… gone… He'd ended up hurting himself unintentionally, running into the door and jarring his already injured head; added to that, his panic and anger and fear all became so overwhelming that a minute later his body couldn't handle it anymore and he had passed out right in the middle of the room…
"NO! No, I don't believe you!"
"Riku! Riku, please, you're going to hurt yourself!"
"I don't care! I have to find Sora!"
"Riku, please – calm down, you need to calm down. You're not going to find Sora… I'm sorry, but he's gone…"
He was sobbing now. "NO! You're lying! He can't be gone! I was just talking to him a few hours ago!"
"Riku, please, you need to – "
"STOP IT! You're lying! He promised me – he promised me that he'd be there when I woke up! He promised…"
Riku sobbed into his pillow. Sora had told him he'd be there, just like he always did… it was an assurance… an assurance to Riku's subconscious fears that he'd lose Sora. How Sora had picked up on them, the silver haired teen would never know, but he'd always done his best to reassure Riku, telling him that everything would be okay… that he would be there for him… And now he was gone… And Riku was still here, alone in this terrible, isolated world of his, with nothing and no one to help him get by…
Suddenly Riku thought back to that morning – the last time he had talked to Sora – and what he had described to him. Suddenly a wave of comfort washed over Riku, and although his tears didn't stop, he suddenly didn't feel so alone. Sora had stood by him in his time of need, letting him know that it wasn't the end of the world, all he needed was a little help to get by at first. He'd held his hand and guided him through the darkness, and shown Riku that life would go on, and that was something the silver haired boy would never forget.
It looked like now it was time for Riku to skate on his own.
Riku had stopped reaching out to people, preferring to sit in his bed and stare out into his vague, greyish world. He would speak if spoken to, but never attempt to initiate interaction, or prolong it once it was initiated by someone else. Whatever thoughts or memories he was caught up in off in his own little world, it seemed as though they were his main focus and were for him and him alone. He had come to acceptance of the loss of his friend, but it seemed as though he was not ready to move on just yet and bother himself with the rest of the world.
"Hey, Riku, here's your lunch." Yuffie gently told him, setting a tray carefully down on his lap.
"Thanks, Yuffie." He sighed, not making any attempt to pick up his lunch, or ever shift his forward gaze.
"Well… okay then." Yuffie replied to his indifference to her presence and the food she had brought. "I'll… come back later." Backing towards the door, she carefully opened it, stepping out with a last look to the boy on the bed, shaking her head sadly. It was true, everyone else who had had Sora as a part of their daily lives had been affected, distraught even, but no one as much as Riku.
A little later in the day there was a loud disruption in the hall, people shouting and it sounded as if a fair amount of crashing around was happening as well. Riku ignored it for as long as he could, but as it neared his room more and more with each passing second that became next to impossible and he turned his attention to the hallway right outside his room.
Suddenly and with a great crash the door to his room was thrown open, and everything was suddenly happening right there in the room.
"Damn it, I said I could do this on my own." A resounding crash.
"Sir, we're just trying to help and all we ask is that you be a little more careful while –"
"While what? Navigating with these fucking sticks you guys handed me?"
"Leon, they're only trying to help…"
"Shut it, Cloud, and get out of my face. This is all your fault."
"My fault? How is this my fault, you're the one who had to go and…"
Suddenly Aerith was by Riku's side, placing a gentle hand on his arm. "I'm so sorry, Riku, but this man has just come in with a badly broken leg from a snowboarding accident – the doctors have managed to put in a cast but he has to stay completely off it for the next few days… We'd put him in another room, but I'm afraid right now this is the only one available…"
"Alright." Riku agreed, not really caring all that much.
"Thank you, Riku." Aerith said, stroking back his hair. "I promise he won't bother you and it'll only be for a couple days." Riku nodded.
It took a while for everything to calm down, and eventually the only ones left in the room were Riku, his new roommate, and his new roommates friend, who it seemed was still trying to amend himself to the aforementioned injured male.
"Look, Leon, I'm sorry you broke your leg, okay? Just don't blame it on me."
"You're the one who dragged me to that stupid ski resort." The injured male grumbled in protest.
"Oh, and I suppose I just pushed you and your snowboard down that steep, tree ridden slope I told you was too dangerous?" the other male countered. Leon didn't seem to have a reply to this. "I thought so." Cloud responded, sounding smug at having won the argument.
"Shut up." Came the indignant reply.
"Anyways, I think they're about to kick me out – it's getting late." Cloud continued. I'll come back and visit you sometime, okay?"
"Whatever." Leon replied gruffly.
"Love you too." Cloud replied mockingly as he headed for the door.
Judging from the way neither occupant of the room said another word to one another the two were content to just let the other be. The only conversation for the next few days consisted of either Cloud coming back to visit Leon as he promised or Yuffie trying to be nice when she came to deliver their food.
But slowly Riku's curiosity began to get the better of him – it had been so long since he had had a real conversation with anyone, and now there was someone else around him all the time again, bringing out his need to interact with someone. Anything to let him know there was still an outside world out there to experience. Finally, on the third day or so, when it seemed as though Leon had no intention on initiating a conversation with his roommate, Riku took a deep breath and prepared to make the first step himself.
Leon stopped in the middle of turning the page of a magazine he had been reading and redirected his attention to the silver haired teen across the room for a minute. "Hey." He replied, finishing turning the page and returning to reading.
With a heavy sigh, Leon turned his attention back to his roommate once again. "Leon." He replied by way of an introduction. If the little brat was going to continue pestering, he might as well just make idle chit-chat for a minute and let the kid get it out of his system.
"I… uh… so you broke your leg?" Riku implored lamely, not knowing what else to say. Leon grunted in reply.
"My friend dragged me snowboarding and a tree hit me."
Riku wondered for a minute of his choice of words – 'a tree hit me' rather than 'I hit a tree' – before writing it off as a matter of pride or ego that made him change the syntax. The silver haired boy didn't know where else to go with that, so decided to cut to the chase.
"That's… too bad. Um, listen… I'm really sorry to bother you, but see, I lost my vision – that's why I'm here in the first place – and… and well my old roommate used to… he would tell me what was out the window, you know, so I could still kinda imagine what was going on outside even though I couldn't see it…" Riku blushed, aware that he was babbling, realizing he must sound very stupid and silly for what he was babbling about, and finding it painful to allude to Sora, especially to a stranger. However Leon hadn't directly shut him up or laughed at him, and Riku was pretty sure he was still listening, so he kept talking. "And… and I was just wondering… could you… I mean, I know maybe it's a lot to ask, but could you just tell me what's out the window?"
Because he needed to know. Long ago, even while Sora was still with him, he'd admitted the reason he liked hearing what was out the window so much was more about Sora telling him than what he was actually telling him about – his voice his words, his way of speaking – but whatever was out that window was his last remaining connection with his friend, and even just a hasty, gruff explanation would give him just a tiny glimmer back into that world, just enough that he could get by with it.
The man on the other side of the room didn't immediately answer, and Riku began to wonder if he intended on answering at all. Finally, he chose to respond, but what he said didn't quite make sense. "What the hell are you babbling about? Why would he do a damn thing like that?"
Silver eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "What do you mean? – he'd just tell me what was outside and I'd sit and listen."
"Kid, your friend must have been one hell of a storyteller, because I can't see what he got you so excited about." Leon responded, sounding halfway between disgusted and amused. "The only thing that's out that window is a brick wall."
And suddenly Riku realized that it never really was about what was out the window. It was all about how you chose to look at it.