Disclaimer: If I owned Kingdom Hearts, Disney would be kicked out faster than the in-laws after Thanksgiving. And Kairi would sure be a hell of a lot more kick-ass. Since she isn't, we're just going to assume that I own nothing but the writing here.
Author's Notes: For pairings, I know for sure there's RikuSora, AkuRoku and Zemyx. There may or may not be Yuffie/Kairi in later chapters. If Kairi (or Yuffie) shows up at all, you can be sure that's what the pairing will be.Anyway, I'm not sure what brought this fic on... I'm not usually a fanfic writer (I'm too into my original characters) so this is my first attempt. I can take criticism pretty well, but please... I rather enjoy my head attached to my neck, so please don't bite it off. Thanks, and hope you enjoy (as cheesy as that sounds)
Warnings: I'm rating it mature just in case. Could possibly have yaoi in later chapters if I let myself get out of hand. I drop a few F bombs too, so watch out.
"--Authorities are still debating this likelihood, but most agree that the fires are much too specific to be natural. Police have yet to find this alleged arsonist, however, and investigations are promised to continue throughout--"
"Hey, Riku! Why'd you ditch me after Calculus? And whatcha reading?"
Said silver-haired ditcher internally smiled to himself and pushed the paper in front of his face down with a crinkle to reveal and eager brunette with impossible spikes for hair leaning on his knees. Swarms of students milled around in the background, idly munching on their lunches or adding to the steady thrum of noise made by their conversations. Yep, a normal lunchtime at Sunset Hills High.
"I ditched you, Sora, because I was hungry." Riku waved the sandwich in his hand in front of Sora's face for emphasis. "Calculus is tiring, and I didn't have any breakfast. And I'm reading the newspaper. You should try it sometime."
"But the newspaper is boring." Sora puffed out his lower lip and frowned at the newspaper as if it had been taunting him about his lack of an adequate attention span. "All fancy words and confusing articles."
"But it's informative." Riku corrected, flipping his luscious, envy-of-all-the-girls hair behind his shoulders a little condescendingly. "How else would you find out about all the fires around town?"
"From the smell." Sora wrinkled his nose, and Riku nodded in sympathetic assent. The smoke from all the fires had been irritating to the lungs and the cause of many an ominous, blood-red sunrise recently. "Besides, I could always get the info from you." Sora was so confident in this assumption that Riku snorted at him. Sora's smile morphed slightly with playful irritation that his best friend was laughing at him, but they were conveniently interrupted by the arrival of Roxas, Demyx and Axel.
"Heeey, I'm starved!" Demyx complained as soon as Sora and Riku were within earshot, flopping down on the bench the two were currently sitting on, his tongue hanging out without shame like a dog. "And I still have to write and essay for English next period... I hate English."
"You're a liar." Riku grinned at the upside down blond, who looked dumbfounded. "You like staring at Zexion all period, don't you?" Demyx yelped like a kicked puppy, flipped over and tackled Riku.
"Not so loud!" he hissed, casting paranoid glances at the other kids watching their antics with mildly interested expressions. Riku shoved him off, laughing.
"Don't worry, I won't reveal your big crush." Riku assured, patting his blond faux-hawk.
"Dem, you can copy my essay, if you want." Roxas suggested, pulling his binder and lunch out of his bag. Demyx took the essay with starry eyes.
"You are an angel!"Demyx crowed to the nonchalant Roxas. "I owe you for the rest of my life!"
"You say that every time I lend you my homework." Roxas rolled his eyes, but grinned nonetheless.
"So, what's up in the wide world of Twilight Town today?" Axel directed at Riku, who was pulling up the newspaper again (much to Sora's disappointment). The redhead sat himself down on the bench next to the two blonds and tried to snatch Roxas's chips out from under his nose. Unfortunately, Roxas's nose (and his eyes, ears and hands) were rather keen, so he immediately engaged Axel in a silent tug-of-war over the chips.
"They figured the fires around town were started by an arsonist." said Riku, flipping some wrinkles out of the paper. Axel froze, and the chips were ripped from his hands. Riku, being oblivious to the outside world, did not notice this and continued. "They haven't found him yet, though."
The rest of the lunchtime passed without any more unusual incidents. Sora only ripped half of Riku's newspaper while trying to catch his attention, Roxas only threatened Axel with a fork twice, and Demyx managed to finish the assignment and eat a cup of pudding ("Eat healthier, Dem, or you're going to get fat someday!") without pining after Zexion (which was greatly helped by the fact that Zexion had decided to stay in his classroom for lunch instead of walking past them to the library. The sight usually made Demyx abandon his lunch and dither around like the moon itself smacked him in the face). When the bell of the Apocalypse, as Demyx so fondly called it, sealed the student's doom with an earsplitting ringing, signaling the end of lunch, Riku binned what was left of his newspaper with the rest of the group's garbage. Axel lingered for a moment, throwing the helpless paper a distrustful glar before following Roxas's call to his next class.
Sora sighed happily and snuggled into Riku's shoulder. He wasn't sure how their traditional after-school hanging-out time had transformed into something so... personal, but hell. He didn't mind in the least. Just a few weeks ago, he'd been prancing along with Riku to his house every day after school as usual, joking and arguing over what video game they were going to play or what movie they wanted to watch. Things had been so uncomplicated back then, as straight as the street they were walking down. They settled down on Riku's bed in front of his TV, duking it out in an epic round of Super Smash Bros, or laughing as cars exploded on the screen, same as always. Neither of them noticed the gap on the bed between them slowly shrinking with each passing day. They found themselves toe to toe, then hip to hip, then shoulder to shoulder, until finally, on some unspoken agreement, Riku finished the job and pulled Sora into a warm cuddle, which they'd maintained ever since then. They'd even kissed a few blissful times, but neither of them mentioned that. In fact, they never really mentioned this strange affair at all. It just was, and neither of them were willing to endanger the situation by pressing for more. They were content.
Or, at least, Riku was. And Sora had been. But he was growing more and more uncomfortable hiding something like that from their friends, Riku could tell. So when Sora sighed again, a definite note of gloom marring it, and shifted into a better position to stare seriously into Riku's eyes, it was not entirely unexpected.
"What are we going to do about this?" Sora murmured, playing idly with a loose strand of Riku's hair.
"Why do we need to do anything?" Riku replied calmly. "Why should anyone else need to know?"
"They'd understand." Sora said restlessly. He hated hiding anything from his friends... It was dishonest, and that ate away at his conscience. Besides, he was a liar worthy of a medal. And that medal would say 'Worst Liar EVER'. "All of them are gay, too..."
"Roxas?" Riku's eyebrows disappeared into the fringe of his hair. "He's shown that he's nothing but straight."
"He's my brother, Riku, I think I'd know him pretty well." Sora smiled slightly, but the look came out a little strained. "He's just in denial. I can tell these things."
"And it's obvious Axel has the hots for him." Riku grinned at Sora, whose face relaxed into a more comfortable expression. That was the magic power of Riku's smile. "I hope those two get together soon."
"Speaking of getting together soon..." Thus we come full circle. Riku thought grimly, shaking his head slightly. This did not escape Sora. "Hey now, don't be like that. It's not like I don't treasure this time to ourselves," Riku smirked a little conceitedly. Of course, why wouldn't he enjoy this time? "But I just..." Sora bit his lip cutely, and Riku felt all of his perfectly formed walls of inhibitions melting away like warm fudge. "I... kind of want more, you know? I want to be a real couple. We hang out all the time, but I want to be able to call them dates from now on. Is... Isn't that what you want, too?"
Riku was silent for a longer moment than Sora liked. Then he brushed his lips against Sora's cheek tenderly and hugged him a bit tighter. "Yeah, I do want that. But we don't need to announce to the world that we're going out, okay?"
"Show, not tell?" Sora smiled, leaning into Riku's delicious lips. Riku smirked and kept himself just out of reach, and in response Sora puckered his trademark pout (damn, but Riku was a sucker for that pout).
"Yeah. No need to go out of our way." Riku finally broke down and relinquished his lips to his friend- No, his boyfriend.
On the TV, Brokeback Mountain continued to plough on, Ennis and Jack kissing passionately in the stairwell.
In the dim aura the lighter was giving off, Axel looked like the Devil on earth. Really, his hedgehog-like, flame-red hair did nothing to make matters any better. Nor did his facial tattoos of teardrops under his eyes (though even Roxas had to admit they were pretty sexy). Or his love of fire. Which he happened to be feeding at the moment, locked away in his room with the door locked and all the lights off.
Not in the crazy, 'whip-out-a-lighter-and-giggle-like-a-maniac' kind of way. More like the 'whip-out-a-lighter-and-watch-it-silently' kind of way. He was never one to laugh when it was unnecessary. Fire was just... pretty. And addictive to watch.
Axel sighed. Damn his fucking pyromania. Lighters were good and all, but they just couldn't compare to watching actual things burn and shrivel underneath the dancing orange pillars, unable to move or breathe-
Fuck. Not like wood could breathe anyway.
Besides, once Axel's considerable logic kicked in, he was forced to conclude to himself that pyromania like his was unhealthy and was going to get him into a hell of a lot of trouble someday. And somehow, ominously, Axel felt like that someday was sneaking up on him, and would pounce very, very soon. So all he could do was sit like the trapped mouse he was, under the paws of that evil cat, Time, and wait for the claws of Death to slit him open and burn his guts.
Well, if he had to go out, he was going to go out burning.
Which brought him full circle one again to the tiny flame in front of his face. It was pretty... for the first hour. Then it got boring fairly quickly. Which left Axel rather moody and on the prowl for some new entertainment. That blessed, blessed new entertainment came in the form of a twin of the newspaper that Riku had been reading earlier that day.
Fucking thing was taunting him.
How close were the police to finding the arsonist, anyway? It's not like Axel had anyone to vouch for him if he got accused... And all the evidence was pretty damaging. Considering it actually was him starting all those fires and all. But it wasn't his fault, dammit! He didn't mean to cause any harm... It just sort of happened. He'd leave the house, and somehow a building would end up on fire. And Axel would watch it like the pyro he was. He hated this town, anyway. Not his fault if the entire thing burned to the ground.
So these thoughts passed dully through Axel's head as he watched the paper in his hands disappear to the mountain of hot orange flames engulfing it. The same every night. Soon enough the paper would be gone and leave him with an unsatisfied, bitter taste in his mouth. Sure, maybe he was running away from the truth, but he'd become pretty good at that over the course of his life. It was so much more comfortable than accepting the truth, the truth that stung like salt in an open wound.
The truth that he hated his life.
Axel clamped his teeth unconsciously down on his tongue.
Ouch, that one hurt. But it certainly broke that depressing train of
thought, which was all that mattered at the moment. The paper had
long since shriveled to ash in his (slightly burnt) palm, so he wiped
the ash on his bedspread, pocketed the lighter, and hopped out of his
Maybe tomorrow, if the newspaper talked about the arsonist again, he'd actually listen to Riku, just to see if the stupid police were on to him. He was not about to spend the rest of his young life in jail, thank you very much.
"The mysterious arsonist hit again."
Sora's mouth dropped open in fake astonishment. "Really? I couldn't tell, you know. I thought I was coughing up my lungs yesterday because dust and I seem to have a magnetic attraction to each other."
"Oh yeah, that fire last night was pretty close to your house, wasn't it?" Riku frowned. That was a very worrying thought. What if Sora's house had burned down, with Sora still trapped inside- Okay, that was not leading down a happy trail of images. Riku decided to turn off that path at a fork in the road of his mind and assure himself that nothing had happened to
Sora, therefore he didn't need to imagine what could have happened. No time like the present. "Sorry about that. The smoke must have been a bitch."
"Nah, seemed more masculine to me." said Sora conversationally, smiling at his boyfriend (and damn was he loving this new "item" status so far).
"A bastard, then." Riku relented, ruffling Sora's spikes fondly and scanning the story in the paper briefly. Demyx, Roxas and Axel once again converged on them and started off the usual mayhem that was their lunchtime interactions.
Ten minutes into their break, Riku and Sora were cuddled up together in a corner of their bench, dodging the occasional flying canned fruit bits that managed to not hit Axel (it was kind of a shame that Roxas was throwing them instead of eating them, but when could he ever be satisfied with threatening Axel with the sharpest object he could lay his hands on?) and Demyx was staring at Zexion, who was lounging across the campus, looking for all the world like he wouldn't be there if it was his choice (and it probably wasn't his choice, Riku guessed shrewdly, judging from the way his friends keep trying to engage him in a conversation that might actually hold his interest for more than three sentences). Honestly, if Demyx stared any harder, he'd be drooling. Oh, wait, he might already be doing that. Whoops. Interesting how nobody noticed Sora and Riku yet...
"Woah! Sora, Riku, what's up with you two?" Or not. At least the hostile fruit had stopped flying for the time being as Roxas finally spotted his brother and his boyfriend snuggled cozily away in their own little corner of the world. Demyx and Axel glanced around at their savior.
"So, you two finally come out of the closet?" Axel brightened when he saw the sight and nudged Riku's ankle playfully. Riku batted it away, a grin breaking his face. "'Bout time, too. I mean, how long have you two been going out now?"
"Uh..." Sora and Riku exchanged a similar look of confusion. "A day or two?"
"What?! You're kidding me!" Axel jumped dramatically and clutched his heart. Roxas rolled his eyes, trying as hard as he could (and failing) to suppress a warm smile. Show-off. "Haven't you two been dating since, what, middle school?"
"No!" Riku and Sora both jumped at this assumption, much like Axel had just done. "That... We were hanging out as friends! Nothing more!"
Axel rolled his eyes. "Yeah, because it's totally natural for friends to have that much unresolved sexual tension. Honestly, I never saw any two more joined at the hip than you two, and I've seen Siamese twins." he nodded as if that settled the matter.
"I bet they were joined at the finger or something." Demyx rolled his eyes, but smiled at the new couple nonetheless. "Good for you, guys, I'm glad you finally grew some balls and came out of the closet." Before Sora and Riku could murder him for that comment, he sighed sadly and his eyes fluttered back to that slate-haired dreamboat across campus. "Wish I could do that, too..."
Riku rolled his eyes, pity taking over his previous rage and staying his hand, which had been so close to ripping that stupid blond faux-hawk right off... Of course Riku was not sensitive about his male parts. But really, what self-respecting man wasn't?
"I can't believe you." Roxas's eyes were still popping at his brother. His now revealed to be gay brother. How could he not have seen this coming? "Since, I mean... Since when?"
"Since when have I liked boys?" Sora rolled his eyes and poked his brother's nose, snickering. "Put your eyes back in your head, Roxas, you look like an idiot. I probably was always gay, deep down... Somewhere in my heart, where I couldn't find it and change it." he smiled sheepishly and melted into Riku's arms. "Not that I'd want to, or anything. I just recently figured it out, though."
"You're such a cheeseball sometimes, Sora..." Riku laughed and kissed his neck fleetingly. Roxas really hoped to high heaven that his face was not going to turn red.
"Still, I'm surprised you haven't come out of the closet too yet, Roxas." Sora nuzzled under Riku's chin contentedly and shook his head perplexedly at his brother. "I mean, since I'm gay and all, you probably are too."
It took a few moments of nonstop facial color changes and useless spluttering for Roxas to finally force out a reply. "I am NOT gay!" he cried angrily, attracting an odd stare or two from their surrounding schoolmates. All of the rest of his friends' eyebrows arched so high they might have been pulled off their faces.
"Sure. That's why you hang around the only gay guys at school." Riku smirked with superiority down at him, as if he'd just nailed a weak spot.
"I hang around you because I like hanging out with Sora, who is my brother, by the way, so it doesn't matter to me if he's gay or not." Roxas replied coldly. Behind him, Axel bit his lip and averted his eyes to avoid showing Roxas the hurt mirrored there. It's not like the blond was paying any attention to him, anyway, but he didn't want to give him the chance. Roxas seemed to sense his reaction, though, and regretted it as soon as he'd said it. Because he really, really did like spending time with Axel. Demyx too... But mostly Axel. Damn his pride... It wouldn't unbend enough for him to apologize to the injured redhead behind him.
Riku frowned with pity at Axel, and was about to open his mouth to demand that Roxas apologize, but something snapped his attention away. There were burns on Axel's hands. Huh. That wasn't entirely unusual... They were all used to Axel's pyromania. Even so... That wasn't healthy, and Axel knew it. But it just as much of a drug as marijuana, short of being tangible. He was hooked, and it was going to lead him into trouble. Extreme pyromania could lead to arson.
Wait a second... Arson? Riku's narrowed eyes darted to the newspaper lying forgotten by his side, lying with the arson story face up.
"-Fires much too specific to be natural- Police
have yet to find this alleged arsonist-"
Arsonist. It couldn't be... could it?