Soldier's Shadow

Disclaimer: Kingdom Hearts does not belong to me. It belongs to the people who own it: Disney, Square Soft, etc.


Although his eyes were trained on the paper he held, he did not see it. He looked and looked before closing his eyes and crumpling the paper. He wouldn't show Sora. He threw the paper into the trash. Placing the rest of the mail on the coffee table, Riku sank into the couch, preparing to watch some mind numbing TV.

He flipped through the channels. There's nothing on, he complained mentally. It was only five, Sora wouldn't be home for another half hour. Riku sighed and thought back to that letter. He knew he couldn't keep it from Sora but he didn't know how to break the news.

o-o-O-o-o

Two weeks later, Sora hummed as he washed up a few dishes. A large pot of chili sat happily simmering on the stove, and Riku was due home any minute. His humming had progressed into singing now, "When you walk away, you don't hear me say; Please, oh Baby, don't go..."

He didn't hear Riku come in. He didn't hear the sigh. He didn't hear the heavy boots or the new duffle bag hit the floor. He was deaf to the pain in Riku's voice.

"Sora, Sora... I have to..."

"Hmm, Riku? I... What... No."

"Sora, I have to. I can't not..."

"No." He dropped a knife into the sink of water. "You can't. They can't. They just can't."

Riku took hold of his soapy hands and pulled him close. "I'm sorry."

Sora sighed, inhaling Riku's scent at the same time. "I know. Really, I know. But it's still unfair."

The silver-haired man held the younger close. Held him against his new military fatigues. Held him softly, his hands trembling, or perhaps Sora was trembling.

"I was drafted Sora. I got the notice almost two weeks ago. I... I didn't know how to tell you."

The chili bubbled once, twice.

Sora wiped his eyes. "When do you leave?"

"Monday."

"So we have till then?" Riku nodded. "Then I'll tell you now," Sora continued, "I'll miss you."

He laughed. He laughed sadly and miserably. "I know. I'll miss you too. I almost wish you were coming with me.

"Same here." Sora said, pulling away. He stirred the contents of the pot. "Only I can't because, alas, I'm flat-footed." He filled a bowl with the spicy chili and placed it before Riku. "Should we throw a party tomorrow?"

"Only if I can get drunk."

"That can be arranged" Sora grinned for a moment before his face fell. "It'll be Axel and Roxas next, won't it?"

Riku nodded, "More than likely."

"I'll be left here, won't I? Axel and Roxas will leave, and Kairi's abroad studying medicine. I'll be left alone. In your shadow. In everyone's shadow. You all will be off doing great things and I'll still be here working at the café." Sora prodded his chili with a spoon. "I'm being selfish, aren't I?"

Riku was silent.

"I'm scared though. Scared of that letter. I'll get one, won't I? The one that says you're not coming home."

"Sora, come on," Riku chided, "This isn't like you. We fought as kids remember? The swords? No one can beat me."

"Heh... You're right." He pushed his bowl away. "I'll wait for you."

o-o-O-o-o

Three months had passed since Riku left. Went away with the military to some foreign country to fight some foreign war. True, Riku had only seen combat for less than a month. His previous time spent training. True, Sora had received a letter saying that Riku would be coming home. He had been injured. Shot in the shin, of all things.

Yet these things didn't comfort him. Didn't bring relief or joy. They didn't help at all when Sora answered the door to see a man in uniform standing there, a manilla envelope clutched in his hands.

Sora peered at the dogtags and sighed. He had destroyed the letter. Lost, it had said. Missing In Action, it had said. That wasn't right, he was coming home, thought Sora. How was he MIA if he had been on his way home? He sighed again and placed a small white lily in a clear vase near the dogtags. His memorial. The only bit of comfort Sora had now.


A/N: Ok, I admit it, it's not my best, and in fact, I don't even like it. Not surprising considering I wrote it in about 30 minutes a little over two weeks ago. Oh well. I hope everyone else liked it. ...I maaay write a companion piece from Riku's p.o.v. In all honesty, the true tale hasn't been told.. hmm... (Not beta'd. Forgive any typos or mistakes.)