Right now, at this very moment, I am hating two things: Axel, for staring at me and not eating and fixing me with this horrific look that screams "I will smother you in your sleep the next chance I get if you don't tell me what you know"; and Sora for every tiny touch between us that sends chills sprinting up and down my spine in the worst/best way possible. I can't really focus on one other the other, and it's beginning to drive me mad. Roxas just sits there, next to Axel and across from Sora—who's to my right—and acts like nothing's wrong. Aside from encouraging Axel to attempt to eat some of his chicken noddle soup, the guy hasn't said a word.
I twitch then freeze as Sora's fingers brush against my leg when he turns in toward me to whisper, "Axel looks kind of sick, doesn't he? He's really pale, even for Axel."
Sora has a point, but I'm not about to pry into whatever weird shit him and Roxas might have been up to in our room. Ah, there I go again with my shit jealousy and overactive imagination that normally remains at bay. Sora shoves another piece of pizza down his throat and I think it might be his third or fourth slice, which means he's really just eating because he's nervous and doesn't want to talk.
Poor guy, watching his brother like a hawk and freaking out in that odd little mind of his. It's kind of cute.
And. And I need to quit with that kind of thinking. He is not gay, he was not going to kiss me. That's just absurd. So is talking to myself, and even Axel's curious because his eyebrow is now arched and his spoon's lifted halfway to his mouth but frozen midair.
"I really need a shower," I blurt and really, really wish I hadn't. Axel's spoon drops into his bowl and splashes soup all over himself and me. His hand just hangs in the air, eyes wide and fixated on me as half a million things run through his head and he and I both know we don't want to talk about it. Or us. Or anything, because it's too awkward and neither of us can handle it at the moment.
"Yeah, I guess you do. You're covered in soup," he notes numbly. He trains his eyes on his sloshy bowl of soup as Roxas cleans him up with a napkin being all motherly and sweet and cute and—ugh, I feel sick. I feel more sick than Axel currently looks.
I grab Sora's hand and stand up, dragging him out of the cafeteria and to his room. Not my room, because I'm not welcome for the time being. Or won't be, at least. Nope, this is me time, me and Sora time I guess; it's time away from Axel and Roxas, and time for me to clear my damn head. Which really isn't going to work so well, since now I'm stuck with Sora for the rest of the night.
"Riku, what's wrong with you?" Sora demands after I make a detour to the bathroom and lock the door behind us. I loom over the sink, hands gripping the edge until my knuckles turn white, and let my head hang. I do not feel good, but I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be sick. The only plus side of the current situation.
Sora repeats himself, a hint of anger in his voice. "Seriously Riku, what's going on? The plan worked, right? I mean, I guess I didn't think we would run into them on our way to getting dinner but still. They're together! And they're happy, even if Axel does look like he's kind of dying."
Dying. Sick. Lovesick, maybe. I know that look, I know him way too well. We were intimate together, we shared everything. That look on Axel's face? That's not for Roxas, and it's not because of Roxas.
"Don't think about it," I whisper to myself but Sora's weirdo hearing catches the words and he's at my side, hand clamped on my wrist as he pulls it away from the sink to make me turn toward him.
"Riku!" he shouts. "Snap out of it!"
I blink, stare at him. Yeah, snap out of it. Axel's not here. I can relax for one night, deal with everything tomorrow. "I'm here, Sora. And you're really loud, yanno."
My brief comedic relief eases Sora's tension and he relaxes just enough to loosen his grip on my wrist but not enough to let me go. "I thought your eyes were going to pop out of your head! Like one of those little crash test dummy dolls—POP!" he divulges, shaking his head and letting that crazy hair bounce all over the place. "Do you want me to grab you a towel and shampoo from my room so you can shower?"
Oh, yeah. The shower part. "Um, sure Sora. I'm gonna go ahead and hop in, you can just leave it hanging outside the shower stall."
Sora releases me and hops off to find a towel while I mosey on over to the showers and ditch the clothes. I don't exactly enjoy reeking of chicken broth. The water hits me and my muscles loosen as steam rises around me. Oh, thank God for hot showers. And for indoor plumbing, and in about ten minutes, for cold showers.
Sora, Sora, Sora. I don't know what to do about you. You're not gay, but you really make me wish you were. Or at least curious. Or anything. But the world's not fair, and I'm not evil so I'll leave you be and we'll just call it a day. A day with a nice, cold shower for an ending.
I hear the bathroom door open and assume it's Sora. "Hey, I'm in the last stall. You can just dump everything on the floor I'll grab it in a sec. Just enjoying not feeling covered in dirt," I quip, soaking my hair completely and closing my eyes. Wow, it feels good.
No response. Maybe it wasn't Sora? Oh, well. I sigh and let the water rain down on me, happy for just a brief moment before the curtain slides open just enough for me to notice the sound and open my eyes.
"...Er." I am actually speechless.
Because apparently God heard my prayers. And God is gay. Very, very gay. And kind. Or he's viciously cruel and this is the worst joke ever.
"Can I take a shower with you?" Sora asks feebly, barefoot with a towel wrapped around his waist and a shower caddy of toiletries in his hand. I blink dumbly, naked and dripping wet, just staring at him. I can't think of any appropriate response. Or inappropriate one, for that. This is the kind of shit that would happen to Axel, not me. Because nothing crazy happens in my life, with the exception of Axel.
Sora is not Axel. Axel is not here. Axel is with Sora's twin Roxas, and it's just me... and Sora. And the shower.
Can't forget the shower.
And now I'm wishing the shower was turned to ice cold, Arctic cold, because I have no cover for my growing manhood and I really don't want to explain to Sora about the birds and the bees, or the bees and the bees... or the birds and the birds—whichever one is the gay one, I have no idea. Fuck, this is not cool. It's not like with Roxas where they can scrub each others' backs. I'm gay, and he turns me on. Especially standing there all cute in his little blue towel with those big blue eyes looking up at me waiting for an answer.
Oh, shit. I should be saying something.
"Sora, uh, this isn't the best time to... yanno." I shake my head, try and hide the blush and growing boy parts. Think about... girls. And farting. Old girls farting. There ya go, keep your shit in check. You're a man, this shouldn't be difficult. "I'm, yanno, gay Sora. I know you and Roxas—"
"I know you're gay. That doesn't bother me," he points out to me like I'm stupid.
Okay, let's try this another way. "Sora, uh... I'm into guys. So taking a shower with another guy is kind of... awkward, okay? It's like awkward for me the way it would be for you if I was a girl. Wouldn't that be weird for you?"
Sora arches a brow, but I can't read a single expression crossing his face. Mostly because he doesn't really have much of any expression. "I don't get it," he says starkly before stepping into the shower and closing the curtain behind him. He drops the caddy to the floor and it sprays water across my ankles.
Oh fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck me. WHO IS RUNNING THIS WORLD?
"Seriously Sora, this is weird for me," I all but plead with him. I can't hide it forever, and at this point I'm just going to have to give in and hope I don't freak him out. I like Sora, not just in that way—so I don't want him to be freaked out by the fact that I'm kind of crushing on him. I mean, I don't want him to know that I'm crushing on him. It's my big secret, my big lie for the whole reason I was mean to him to begin with, and why I ignored him and treated him terribly. I didn't want him to know, and here we are in the shower and I'm pretty much screwed. So much for lying. It was working out so well for all of us, anyway.
Sora unties his towel and hangs it outside of the shower. I drop my hands to cover myself and take in one deep, very uncomfortable breath. "Sora," I hiss, "this is not okay. I know we're friends, but we can't take showers together. Got it?"
Those pretty blue eyes just stare up at me, and then a tiny smile tugs on the corners of his mouth. "Riku, it doesn't bother me."
Oh my God how dense is this kid? "Sora, I'm gay. Seeing you without clothes is... like a porno for me!" I shout and totally fucking regret it, because that just sounds creepy and insane.
He doesn't freak out, doesn't run away or call me a name or anything like that. He just closes the distance between us, my hands still on my private parts, and wraps his arms around me and pulls me close.
It is the single weirdest moment of my life.
"Sora, are you uh, okay?" I mumble, staying very, very still.
"Are you um, sure? Maybe we should go to the infirmary to make sure you didn't break... your head." Wow, I sound mentally deficient. Great.
Sora smiles into me, I can feel his lips against my chest. "No, my head's not broken." He pulls away, then stands up on his tippy toes and leans in toward me...
"The fuck?" I shout as I sit up.
"You're okay!" Sora shouts, throwing his arms around me. I tense under his arms, unsure of what is going on. My eyes land on Axel and Roxas who are sitting on the opposite side of the hospital bed—hospital? How did I get to the hospital?
Axel looks relieved, but still ill. Roxas is holding his hand tenderly, rubbing his thumb over Axel's knuckles. I feel the need to expel the contents of my stomach, but resist. It would suck to throw up on Sora.
"I thought you were gonna die," Sora whimpers as he latches onto me like the world is ending. I send Axel a mental message about what's going on and he just shakes his head at me and words, "I have no fucking idea, dude."
A nurse pops her head in at that moment and smiles at us, then enters and closes the door behind herself. She's moderately pretty, nothing extraordinary, with mouse brown hair and topaz colored eyes. "You're awake, finally. You took quite a tumble there."
"A tumble? What's going on?"
She nods her head understandingly. "Seems that you slipped in the bathroom and cracked your head pretty good on the tile floor. Lucky your boyfriend-"
"We're not boyfriends," both Sora and I say quickly, but he remains attached to me with his head buried in my chest.
"Oh, well. Anyway, you're lucky your friend here found you quickly and we were able to get you here. A concussion, but nothing life-threatening. You should be good to go tomorrow after the doctor runs a few tests."
Ugh, tests. Hospitals. This doesn't sound like fun. "Okay. Uh, is there any way I could get something to eat while I'm here? I'm kind of starving."
She smiles, nods her head and mentions something about sending a tray of food soon and leaves us in our awkward silence. Sora hangs onto me for dear life and I'm tempted to just pick him up and put him in my lap for all it's worth. I think Roxas and Axel have the same idea because they kind of giggle as they watch Sora's tiny frame clinging to me.
Well then. "So... I went to the bathroom and you came back and I was on the floor?" I ask Sora. He finally lifts his head and I can't help but feel a pang of guilt as he stares up at me with those eyes that haunt each and every one of my dreams. Including my unconscious ones after knocking myself out in a bathroom. Wonderful, just fucking peachy.
"Yeah, you scared me!" he whines as tears well up in his eyes. Oh, great. Please don't cry, Sora. I only hit my head. You've got easy street compared to me right now, ugh. And that dream—it was a dream, right? I think it was. Otherwise... Well. Let's not think about that for now.
I gingerly put my arms around him and hug him quickly. Very quickly, so that they don't pay any attention, even though Axel's probably giving me the stink eye. Ours eyes meet and I can tell by the inquisitive gleam in his eye that there is a very long conversation coming my way later.
Not that he has any right.
And not that I want to care.
… But here I am, Sora nervously fussing over me and rambling on and on and all I can do is maintain an uncomfortably tight-lipped smile as I try to make it not obvious that Axel's almost the only thing on my mind. And I hate him for it, and I know Roxas doesn't like it one bit because Sora gets really quiet all of a sudden and it's that twin thing that connects those two so Roxas just fixes me with an uncomfortable glower while Sora damn near whimpers.
Maybe I hit my head harder than I thought. "Sora, Roxas, can you guys leave?"
Roxas opens his mouth, closes it, then stands and leaves. He rips his hand away from Axel as he does so, and Sora follows behind like a badly beaten puppy. Axel drags himself up, sighing softly, and comes to the bed. At first I think he's going to sit on the floor but he slides into bed next to me, pulls me into his chest, and whispers, "Don't."
Don't what? I have no idea what I'm doing, or what I want, but I know for sure that I don't want Sora and Roxas here I just want my best friend, and for now I have him. "I really don't know what you mean, Axel." But even as the words exit my mouth... it's a load of bull.
"Is it always going to be like this?" he asks me as he speaks the words into my hair. I tense against his body, against the familiar feel of him and wonder how we got to be this way—so entwined in each others' lives and reprehensibly fickle about... well, about everything. Why can't I just let it go? Why can't I move on? Why him, why Axel of all people?
And the pain is there again, that same pang of frustration and guilt and love and hate that I had when he screwed me over the first time; I don't want this, I don't want him. But I need him, and I love him, and it's killing me. It's killing him, because he feels it too and he can't lie about it, as much as he wants to tell me it's not there? It's a lie.
Oh, the lovely lies we tell each other to spare each other.
A.N. So, this is awkwardly split up between the last chapter from Axel's POV and this chapter from Riku's POV. To be honest, I accidentally published Chapter 7 without finishing it and realized it so late that I thought I'd just split it up from both their POVs. I think it works out well enough, the questions is: NOW WHAT? Well, the next chapter is in the works, it shouldn't be too terribly long before I get it out. I have the free time to dawdle in finishing all of my stories—yes, I actually intend on finishing almost all of them that are posted. So feel free to read and review, I love the feedback. Let me know if anything sounds off or weird, too. I had to re-read the whole thing just to get back into their characters!
Another thing—if you're a fan, and you're a fantastic beta and would like to assist me on these stories—please let me know! I am currently in search of a new beta to read chapters before I post them and I could use all the help I can get. This chapter is going up on pretty much it's first run without a beta to catch my mistakes, but I'm fairly sure I got all the typos out.
Much luffs to all of you readers and reviewers, thanks for the support!