i'd write a huge long author note seeing this is the last chapter, but i seriously have to go. i'm going shopping for the day and figured i'd post this as a treat? Yes. anyhow, enjoy : D and the ending is meant to be a bit open ended... i suppose. forever thanks to my beta!


xXx deprive through death: to deprive somebody of a beloved person or a treasured thing, especially through death xXx

Sora never realized that rain could be so shrill. The rain continued to plunder from the heavens above, dive-bombing the world beneath the clouds mercilessly. Before this, Sora had always loved the rain. He would dance in it, sing in it, play in it, and even nap in it. The cold beads of water always seemed to lull the brunet into repose. Now, the rain seemed like tears from the heavens above- from the angels with sad expressions on their little faces. The rain seemed like a frigid, constant reminder of his loss. Of his bereavement.

Sora leaned his head against the foggy windowpane of his apartment. The teenager's tanned hands pressed up against the glass, making small imprints onto the glass. A sigh elicited from the youth's lip soon afterwards as blue eyes lidded at half mast. Things were not supposed to go this way at all.

How the brunet convinced himself that he'd be okay living by himself after what happened was beyond understanding. Sora thought that after being tortured and kidnapped he could return to his normal life without any side effects. Oh how wrong he was. So naïve. So foolish. So damn terrified.

The brunet couldn't count the times he had looked over his shoulder, thinking that perhaps the towering abusive man would be there. In the darkness of the night, he sometimes heard the man's grunts, felt his harsh slaps, and even felt blood trickle down his unscathed arms. The bruises faded, and little scars remained. But the memory remained.

And sometimes he imagined the softest of touches. A pair of ghost-like lips gliding over his tanned skin, pressing sweet kisses onto the area. Sometimes he heard sweet nothings whispered into his ear along with promises of eternity that dulled with the morning light. Sometimes he felt a pair of strong, warm, and secure arms wrap around him, only for them to vanish when he opened his eyes. And sometimes, he just cried.

It had been eight months, eight long tiresome months since the incident, and it still felt like yesterday. Sora had returned to his apartment after having brought Aerith to the hospital. The brunet said to keep quiet about anything that would result in federal investigation. Sora didn't want to go back to that place. He wanted to stay at his apartment- his home- all alone.

Sora figured that, perhaps, if he forced himself to forget what happened, he could return to his normal life. His alibi to Tidus and Selphie was that he got stuck in traffic and decided last minute to go visit his parents instead. They bought it. At one point, even Sora convinced himself of the carefully constructed lie. Anything to get that place off his mind.

Anything to get Riku off his mind.

The brunet slid his hand down the cold expanse of the window, tears clouding his beautiful blue eyes. A whimper fled from those lips, sounding oddly akin to that of his deceased friend's name. Something stung deep inside of him. Something tore away at him. No matter what he did, he couldn't forget him. He could forget the torture, the beatings, the sleepless nights, but not Riku.

Tidus was the first to notice the odd change in Sora over the past eight months. The brunet refused to leave his apartment after sunset, refused to take any form of public transportation, and he downright refused to date anyone. Or even go out on a date.

Selphie was the one to notice Sora's other behavioral changes. The brunet teen seemed constantly melancholy, jittery, and just downright nervous. It was as if Sora expected someone to jump out and wring his neck at any given moment. Selphie didn't bother asking what was wrong- she figured it was just a phase.

Cloud and Leon noticed the change also. At work, there no longer was a peppy and jovial Sora; there was a quiet, reserved, and polite brunet boy. It was like Sora wasn't even Sora anymore. Though, with every day that passed, the brunet slowly became more accepting of fate and began to regain his composure. He began to smile again.

Eight months was a long time to be stuck in denial, right?

So Sora forced himself to continue on with his life, putting the past behind him. But it was rainy days like this, in December (which really should have been snow), that he was reminded of the past that was forever carved into his heart.


"Sora, I'm sure he-"

Sora had reached the breaking point the minute they parked the taxi in the hospital parking lot. The brunet had endured an hour of silent driving. Now, he needed to let it all out. Tears streamed from the brunet's face as pathetic sobs proceeded. Moans of despair intermingled with wails filled the car soon after.

Tears leaked from Aerith's eyes as she hugged her arms close to her body, giving Sora a hopeful look. She wanted to tell him that everything was going to be okay. She wanted to pretend that, for a moment, she was his mother and that she would make everything better. She wanted to hold him and lull him to sleep with sweet lullabies. She wanted to pretend that Riku had really made it out alive. She wanted her family back. Alive.

"Riku!" Sora cried as his fingers dug into the steering wheel. The brunet's whole body ached and he was completely numbed to the core. And yet he could still feel pain. What a twisted logic. "I should have went back! I should have! I should have! He should have been here!" The mantra never ceased.

Letting go was the hardest part. Sora wasn't capable of doing that.


Sora sighed miserably and leaned his forehead back against the window. A frown appeared on the silently crying boy's face. "I miss you," he whispered in a strained tone.

Sora's hands clenched into fists, now by his sides. What was the point of keeping it all in? "I forgive you," repeated Sora, staring out at the world through tear-stained eyes. "I forgive you, Riku. I'm sorry I couldn't… save you. I'm sorry I couldn't be a better friend…"

Sora knew that he was keeping something from himself, and honestly, there was no point anymore. "I really, really, really did like you, too … I was just… blinded…. I mean," Sora murmured and felt the tears falling again. Why did he even have to explain? It wasn't like anyone was listening. Just the walls of his apartment and the raindrops outside that shrouded the area. That was all. Nothing more. Nothing less. He had become inured to these tragedies by now.

Sora was jerked out of his reminiscing by the familiar ringing of his cell phone. Dejectedly, the brunet answered it, forcing his sobbing to cease, even if it was momentarily. "Hello?" asked Sora, trying to sound together when he was really shattered.

"Sora!" chimed Selphie from the other end. Her happiness was contagious, because the smallest of smiles leaked onto Sora's tear-soaked face. "I'm so glad I got a hold of you, Sora! Tidus wanted me to ask you if you were up for a movie tonight! You know, that awesome new movie coming out?!"

Sora did love Selphie's enthusiasm. "What time?" the brunet wondered, tilting his head to the side curiously. And just for this moment, Riku was pushed to the back of his mind. Not forgotten, just temporarily on hold.

"Seven? Tidus can give you a ride there and back, if you want. He's so excited for us to finally have a night out with each other!" Selphie explained in that cheery tone that radiated through the phone.

"Sure thing. I'll come," agreed Sora, figuring that getting out of his apartment for something other than work would do him some good. "Tell him it's fine with me and I'll be ready when he comes."

"Right!" Selphie answered. "See you there, Sora!" she sang and then hung up.

Sora smiled lightly and closed his phone, setting it onto the table beside him. Weakly, the teen arose to his feet, giving the window one last stare. As if to respect his memories, Sora placed his hand over his heart and murmured tearfully, "I really miss you, Riku."


"Isn't it beautiful, Sora?"

Aerith stood beside the kneeling brunet, observing the marble headstone before them. Her face was mixed with joy and sadness. Joy that they had been able to purchase such a thing, and depression due to the reason for the headstone. Sora shakily nodded to agree with the woman. The brunet extended his hand and placed it onto the cold marble, running his fingers over it with a few tears dripping from the corner of his eyes.

How he managed to live through that hell he never would know.

"Hey um… Aerith, can I have… some time alone?" he requested, looking meekly up at the brunette. At once, she nodded and stalked off to another part of the cemetery, as if to remember another who had passed away. Sora sighed and turned his attention back to the white stone, knowing he had to do it some time.

"H-hey, Riku," Sora stammered nervously, hand still upon the stone, tracing Riku's name with his index finger. "I-I … It's been awhile, huh?"

And this was where the tears began to fall like a waterfall. "I'm so sorry. So, so sorry. I know you're probably tired of hearing me apologize. But I really am sorry. I … I don't know what to say. Y-you… you brought me there, but you saved me… you saved me and your mom. S-she's doing well, by the way. They started her on some treatment. I-it won't cure her disease, but it'll prolong her life. S-she won't be in pain, don't worry. It'll be… a happy life."

Sora whimpered as he felt a shudder go through his body. "Riku," he whispered in despair. "I can't get you off my mind. Everyday, somehow, I think about you. I think about what we went through … how messed up my life is now… how lucky I am to have survived, all because of you. I can't get your touch off my mind. It's all I feel. It's all I think about," he confessed.

"I really hope you're doing well up there… I wish I could have gotten to know you longer than I did. You were such an amazing person… Loyal, honest, beautiful… I could go on for hours. You know I would if I could," Sora said weakly.

"What I'm trying to say is, is that I think I might have started to f-fall in love with you. I mean, that's pathetic, I know. Who falls in love with their kidnapper? But Riku, it was… more than that. I just wish I could have had time to figure out what it was. To feel what it was," Sora said and then sighed. "And I need to say good-bye. I need to tell you that I need to live my life out. Maybe not move on…. I'm not ready for that yet."

Sora reached behind him and took out a single red rose, placing it gingerly onto the cold ground beneath the head stone.

"They say love is blind, right, Riku?" Sora whispered, his words being unheard by the gentle blowing of the wind.


"Oh Sora, you and your stupid jokes!" Selphie swooned as the trio made their way down the bustling streets of Boston. Selphie, of course, was in the middle of Sora and Tidus. She liked it that way. That way, she could see both boys at once.

"They aren't stupid!" pouted Sora and crossed his arms to his chest. "Right, Tidus? They aren't stupid! They're brilliant!"

"I dunno, Sora. They sounded pretty dumb," Tidus teased and stuck his tongue out at his brunet friend from Selphie's other side. The girl giggled and grinned triumphantly at their shorter friend. Tidus and Selphie : 1000. Sora : 0.

"Oh, shut up," grumbled Sora and rolled his eyes. "You guys are so mean."

"Thank you!" Selphie said happily and then glanced down at her watch. "Kairi should be meeting me down at the café any minute now! I better go! Catch you two later!" Selphie said and ran off, not allowing the pair of males any time for a proper goodbye.

"Spaz," Tidus shouted after her and then laughed, followed by a chuckle from Sora. "I love that girl to death."

"I bet you do," Sora answered,.

"I better head off to work now. I don't want to be late and docked another pay-check," Tidus informed Sora with a weak laugh and pointed over his shoulder at the office building across the street. "We're still on for dinner tonight, right?"

"Of course!" Sora concurred with a prodigious grin.

Tidus nodded swiftly and made his way across the street. Sora watched him depart peacefully, his hands nestled into his pockets. January was such a cold month. Sora yawned a bit and glanced up and down the streets of Boston, figuring that he would just return to his apartment and study for his test. His life was finally falling back into order. He was finally getting things back to normal. It still hurt, but it was tolerable.

And the best part was, Sora had overcome his fear of taxis. In fact, the brunet was currently waving one down. The brunet shouted and eagerly awaited one to make its way over. When one did, the brunet cheerfully plopped inside and told the driver the instructions to his apartment.

Sora's eyes glued to the window, his mind taking a trip back down memory lane. Back to Kairi. Back to that shack. Back to living with his parents. Back to daytrips with Aerith. Back to Riku. Sora leaned his cheek against the window, sighing peacefully. It didn't hurt that much anymore. As long as he remembered, everything would be okay.

When Sora arrived back at his apartment, he dug into his pocket for the money to pay the cab driver. "Er… twenty, right? I should have that somewhere," Sora mumbled as he began to dig for the twenty dollar bill. Where was that stupid thing?

Sora ignored the driver getting out of the cab momentarily and continued his search for his money. "I'm sorry! I have it in here somewhere! I'm so forgetful and unorganized," Sora complained as he continued his search. When the driver opened his door for him, he murmured a thanks and continued looking.

"Where is it?!" Sora hollered in despair.

"You already paid at the beginning," the driver reminded him.

"Oh… that's right," Sora drawled and then paled. He laughed embarrassedly and was about to slide out of the cab when he felt extra weight added to his body, and a hand cover over his eyes. And the first thing to come to mind was. Selphie, what are you doing here?! Then that was followed by, Kairi?… and then, N-not this again… Oh god…

Sora tensed as he felt the taxi door shut, the stranger somewhat straddling him. Was he going to die?

"Kairi… Selphie, whoever you are, getoffme!" Sora demanded, twitching uncomfortably. It had to be one of the girls. Only they had such beautiful hands and would pull a stunt like this. Only them.

Sora froze when he felt a pair of soft lips glide over his. Blood rushed through his body, stirring all the while. His heart skipped a beat and he just sat there, uncertain if he should be happy by the female's kiss or not. It felt oddly nice. So good… maybe he wasn't gay after all. Hm.

"I finally found you," whispered the stranger into Sora's ear.

Sora numbed and then shouted despite the hand covering his eyes. He recognized that voice. The voice of the cab driver. The voice…. But, how the hell was that possible? How… How… How?! Sora couldn't even think logically at his moment so settled on sitting there in a state of shock and uncertainty.

"What? No warm welcome?" the other asked as the hand slipped away.

No way...

Beautiful blue eyes met gorgeous aquamarine ones and it took all Sora had not to have a heart attack right there in the taxi. A sudden wave of warmth covered the brunet as he stared, wide-eyed, at the insanely beautiful silver haired male who had him currently pinned against the seat. Sora grinned from ear to ear soon after. Unable to control himself, Sora lurched forward, his lips at once meeting a pair of parted ones.

"Rikuuu," he sang into the kiss, his arms tangling around the silveret, holding him impossibly close. "RikuRikuRiku," he repeated and obediently melted into the other's touch, allowing Riku to take control of the kiss and whatnot.

Riku paused, though, breaking the deep kiss. "You didn't… get a boyfriend, did you?" he wondered, purposely remaining only a few inches from Sora's face.

"And replace you?" Sora replied with a grin nuzzling his face against Riku's shoulder at once. "Riku…" And then the tears began to fall onto Riku's grey shirt. "Where were you… Why didn't you call … I missed you… I thought you were dead. Your mom and I… thought you were dead," Sora rambled in a sob.

"I got out but you guys had already left… I hitched a ride here, but spent a few months trying to find you. Let me tell you, riding around in a taxi all day, hoping that your long lost love will enter it is not fun."

"Love?" Sora echoed, staring quizzically at his savior with a smile.

"Uh…" Riku blinked and turned the slightest hue of pink. "… I…"

"I forgive you, Riku," Sora suddenly blurted out, cheek pressing firmly against the other's shoulder. "I forgive you and I want to be your friend and I really like you and I… I'm not making any sense, and I just…."

"I suggest you shut up and kiss me before you ruin the moment. We'll talk later."

Riku leaned forward and captured Sora's pouty lips once more. And for some reason, all the torture and all the tears seemed to be worth it. Riku finally had a normal life… Aerith was safe, Sora had Riku again … and things just seemed so oddly perfect. And the best part was, they were safe. Safe, and without worry that something from the shadows would leap out at them. Yes, it was definitely worth the wait.

So for now they indulged in each other's presence, the troubles of the past bothering them no longer.