no, the ending was not rushed. this was what i wanted, and therefore here's the end product. all loose ends are tied up, promise. re-read carefully if something doesn't fit. it should. glad you all enjoyed the story? Yes, horror in this chapter and angst and all that good stuff. Dramatic ending? I think so!

warning: you may /hate/ me for the ending...

Finished Puzzle

He tried desperately to grip onto reality, but it was slowly fading. Everything was getting so cold, so fast. Even the warmth in his heart from what he could only suspect was love, could not be felt. His blue eyes lidded, and he felt limp. Entirely useless; weak. And yet he could see everything that was going on. He could /see/, and oh god he could /feel/ the terror emitting from Riku, and drenched in the taller's eyes. He could feel his hands, lifted by strings of a master other than himself, lashing out at the other.

In his head he screamed in anguish, guilt wrenching at his heart in the cold. He couldn't feel his heart being torn to shreds because hey, the cold had already numbed him to begin with. All he could feel was that earth shattering cold … and the feeling of regret.

God, Riku. I'm so sorry …

x x x

Riku's eyes weakly snapped open once again. His mind was clouded a bit as he stared around the dim room, trying to make sense of the blurred shapes. His whole body felt weak and bruised, like someone had taken a hot rod of steel and whacked him with it. He rose his right arm, wincing from the pain, only to watch the arm come flying back against his side. He hissed from the reaction of the metal chained from the wall to his wrists. But that was only half of it. Upon his feet was a fetter, and he only could vaguely guess how badly the metal was cutting into the tender flesh of his ankle. God, he didn't want to think abut that.

He felt the stinging sensation of an infected scrape on his right cheek, making his body feeling that much more in pain. Teeth gritted together in some pathetic attempt to keep his cool and figure out just what was going on. The last thing he remembered was the cold and almost lifeless body of Sora and-

"Sora?" He cried out in a shaky voice.

The strain of his own voice frightened him. He sounded different, like a pathetic caged animal begging to be released. He didn't speak after that, disgusted by his own weakness. His enervated body clung lifelessly to the dirty, decaying wall behind him, as if to prove that even in its decomposing state, it was in fact stronger than him.

"Riku?" Came the challenging voice. It seemed so damn far away that Riku had to crane his neck forward to figure out where the speaker was. When he did realize who it was, and where they were, he wished he would have never looked.

A lanky hand reached outward to trail across the teen's now roughened cheek, tracing the scratches and slowly appearing scars. A look of utter repugnance spread through Riku as he snapped his face to the side, refusing to be touched by the monstrosity that mocked the brunette who he was willing to /die/ for.

"Get away from me," Riku scoffed, this time finding just the smallest fragment of strength left.

Something incomprehensible passed through the brunette's lips as he paused, staring at the pools of green hatred. Something deep down in the figment of the teen clicked and churned, making the mirage's mask slip, revealing a weakened and sobbing Sora. The boy stood numbly on the cold, dark ground, staring at Riku through the musky darkness. Riku's breaths were heavy, unaware of the fact that Sora had his consciousness, and that he was indeed crying.

"R-r-riku?" Sora stammered, voice cracking on the first syllable.

"Sora?..." Riku countered, wanting to reach out and confirm that it was indeed the broken down Sora, but couldn't. Dejected eyes glimpsed away from pure blue eyes, incapable of staring into them any longer.

"Riku, oh g-god," Sora stammered, reaching out whilst trembling, holding Riku's warm body close to his own. Even if the other was bounded with rusty shackles, he could still hold him. After a moment of just having his arms tightly knitted around Riku's did, Sora had managed to dig through his jacket pocket for the small key. His fumbled with it, undoing the locks of the shackles and allowing Riku to fall into his arms.

Sora almost collapsed from Riku's weight, but felt better when the comforting arms of the other wrapped around him, shifting his own weight on both their knees. "Sora," Riku whispered in a slur, fingers raking through the other's hair sweetly as he leaned his chin into the brunette's shoulder, drained of all energy.

"I'm s-s-so sorry, Riku." Sora stammered, unable to process the realization that his other being, his other form, what ever /it/ was, had done this to Riku. And he had been forced to watch it all. God, it made the boy sick.

The scars and bleeding wounds on Riku's body were unmistakable, and it just made Sora shiver and hold the limp teen closer.

x x x

"You see … those words, Riku. They mean a lot." His hands came harshly down onto the tender flesh of the silver-haired teen, striking like fiery darts. The wounds that appeared there caused the other to yelp in a series of pants of pain. His eyes rolled shut, unable to look his attacker straight in the eye. Knowing it was the same face of the one he loved. It just hurt way too much to do that. "Mostly that no matter how hard Sora tries, I'm never going to listen to him and what he wants. He can't suppress his own darkness. This town won't abide by you and Sora. So stop acting like it."

Riku winced.

"You do know I lied to you earlier, Riku."

"I know," Riku breathed back, the fiery inflictions coming once again, making him want to rip out his heart, just so he could stop the pain. If it wasn't Sora doing this to him, maybe he would have been able to withstand it. Maybe…

"It wasn't you entirely that made me…"

"I know …" The other breathed back, feeling the fire of pain spiraling up his spine, making him arch in pain as hot tears prickled at the corner of his eyes. They fell, unable to remain enclosed. It just hurt too much.

"You know it was Sora's fear. Oh you and him being killed when he was younger. He had such an imaginative mind … to think of something so frightening and deadly …. That the only way to not be afraid of it entirely was to make it look like himself. Stupid boy…"

"Please … don't do this," Riku wasn't one for begging, really he wasn't, but god it just hurt so much.

"I just wanted you. He didn't deserve you. He was too selfish, naïve, and innocent for you." Seethed the other, the fire continuing. It wasn't real fire, no, but it sure did feel like it. The small embers dancing their scorching dance on his sensitive arms and body.

"I just want Sora…" Riku whimpered into the air, silver hair falling down, sticking to the bleeding wounds.

"You and him built this place. You both had a part in it. Subconsciously and consciously. You both won't own up to the fact that you /did/ imagine the torturing and the deaths. But you'll admit to the good memories with old Leon and Cloud. The photos, the dinners, everything. But you won't own up to the lives you both have slaughtered. Xemnas brought Sora here. We all did. We want you both dead. Only way /we/ can be alive, you know? You built this town, and you'll die in it."

"God, stop …" He didn't want to hear anymore. He wanted to go home.

"You both disgust me… It makes me sick to think I'm part of Sora…" Mumbled the other in utter distaste.

"I just want to go home …"

"Sometimes you get what you wish for, and its not what you expected." Sneered the other, fingers digging against the other's skin once again in a twisted sort of fairy tale.

He never wanted this.

He was slipping away.

x x x

"Tell me… Riku, why are we here."

Sora leaned his head against Riku's chest, no longer frightened by the darkness. His hand was laced tightly in the other's, blood transferring onto his fingers from the wounds of his boyfriend, remaining in their cold position in the basement. All that Sora needed was the pulse of the other and the other's hot breath on his neck to reassure him that everything was still okay. Okay to what degree, he wasn't sure. But it didn't really matter.

"We made this place, Sora." Riku breathed out, bombarded by the sickening thoughts he had blocked out of his mind only to return in a sickening parade. "And the only way for it to be real … for this town and everything in it to be really real, is for us to be dead."

"N-no." Sora stammered, hand tightening against Riku's. "They're not going to …"

"I want you to be safe," Riku whispered gently, lips grazing the other's neck.

"But I am safe… with you." Sora reassured Riku, only for Riku to shake his head.

"Yeah, I promised to never let you fall." He pulled the brunette closer, burying his face into his neck in a silent sob.

x x x

"So Leon, Cloud, Xemnas, and Aerith are the heroes, right?"

Sora sat on the couch, arms crossed to his chest, listening intently to Riku's retelling of the current events in their world. This question was followed by a sharp nod from Riku as he sat back down on the couch, smiling faintly at the brunette beside him.


"So… who's the bad guy?" Sora dared.

"Does there have to be?" Riku refuted, grumbling in Sora's obsession with good versus evil.

"There /has/ to be! If someone doesn't get put into danger or dies nothing will happen and the heroes will never emerge!" Sora went on, throwing his arms up to defend his case.

"No, there doesn't." Riku retorted with a sigh.

"…Then what's the whole point? What are we trying to do?" Sora wondered, tilting his head casually.

"Trying to have fun." Riku corrected, poking Sora's nose lightly.

"Is that all?"

"And to make sure that no matter what happens, we won't lose against the darkness." Riku smirked.

For once Sora grinned and nodded. "Brilliant!" The young boy exclaimed, throwing his arms around Riku's neck. "You're so smart!"

"I know." A blush seeped onto the other's face as he stole his cowboy hat back from Sora, fingering the rainbow bandana, the blush never once leaving his face as he sat there beside the brunette.

x x x

"So … this place … we made it up after all?" Sora breathed, lips trailing softly against Riku's cheek, trying to calm the other down.

"Yeah …" Riku answered, heart shattering, aching, breaking, but it would heal because he had Sora there. It would heal. "It's all our fault … we put ourselves in danger."

"But we beat it." Sora corrected lightly. "We beat our past. That's a lot to say," Sora reassured Riku, lacing their hands together once more. "Both yours and mine." The brunette leaned forward to kiss Riku sweetly.

"They wanted us dead, Sora." Riku murmured, forehead leaning to the others. The basement wasn't so frightening any longer. Just a dead figment of a old nightmare that never really /was/ that scary after all.

"They just wanted to live. We gave them existence, but not life." Sora replied, sighing as he brushed his nose against the other's.

"Everything we ever did made this happen," Riku continued, his head hurting.

"Yeah," Sora replied, shaking his head in disbelief, "If we had just believed it in the first place and admitted to everything," He felt guilt and grief in his body, "we could have went home along time ago."

"What do you mean?" Riku dared, body numbing.

Sora laughed nervously, "Don't you see it over there? The gas?" Sora nudged his head, "It was down here… if we hadn't been so afraid of everything we would have checked." Sora informed dully and then leaned against Riku once again. "I feel so tired…"

"Same, love." Riku let his arms weakly encircle the other. "But we're going home … we'll never have to come back here again. It's over. We beat it, somehow."

"And it was all a mind game.." Sora whispered before claiming Riku's lips within his own. The silver-haired male eagerly complied, arms pulling Sora closer to him to run his tongue lovingly against the soft lips of the brunette. He never wanted to let him go. Never. "I love you, Riku…" Sora whispered, tears slightly pouring from his eyes. "I've loved you all along," He whispered, lips meshing with the other over and over.

The ringing of Riku's cell phone broke off their embrace.

And perhaps it would have been better to have destroyed the thing when he had the chance.

x x x

Sora sprung upwards, head hitting an opened drawer of his filing system. A pout formed onto the brunette's lips as he dismally opened his eyes. Blue eyes glimpsed around slowly. Cubicl..e? The teen rose his hand to swipe brown locks out of his eyes as he leaned back, back hitting a comfy chair in the process. His heart dropped as he looked around, meeting the dull faces of his co-workers. What day was it?

November 2nd.

That was … the day he had left for the Riso House in Traverse Town … no.


It was /not/ just a dream.

Fuck, it wasn't.

"N-no…" Sora stammered, something empty in his heart as he scrambled out of his seat to rummage through his paperwork. Desperately looking for something regarding his college paper about the house. It was /here/. God damnit he /swore/ it was here!

It never existed, did it?

"Wh-here," Sora's voice cracked as he slipped back into his chair, burying his face into his hands. His body shook violently, reaching for his phone as his trembling fingers dialed the number he had memorized over the past few days. The number he had stared at while the other risked his life. Riku's cell.

One ring … Two ring … Three ring…


Sora's stomach fell.

"R-r-iku?" Sora stammered, throat dry.

"Who's this?"

"S-sora!" Sora stammered, this time a bit louder as his mind spun around and around. God. Why had he ended up back here. Of all places. Why couldn't he still be in that dusky basement with Riku. Oh god. Why had he said that he wanted to go home?!

"Sora?... Rait?..."

"Riku…" Sora whimpered into the phone, desperately wishing the other to be holding him again. It couldn't be a dream. It wasn't a dream. The scars on his hands. They were there! This wasn't a dream! The… the locket was still in his pocket!

"Is there a … reason you're calling?" he didn't seem upset, just a bit shocked.

Why didn't Riku remember?!

And then it hit him. Hard and fast.

"Riku…I think it's time that we met up and talked… actually talked."

He was being given a second chance. A second chance from where he had messed up in his past, and redeemed himself in that twisted house. Now he got a chance to live again, and by god he wasn't going to mess this up any more. He. Loved. Riku.