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Kingdom Hearts does not belong to me. Square-Enix and Disney have that honor. I am merely borrowing without permission. I am making no money from the writing of this fic.

Also, all of the characters depicted in sexual situations within this fic are of legal age. In the case that I erroneously state otherwise, please consider it an error that I will work to find and correct.

Therefore, in most cases, this will make the fanfiction presented AU.

a/n: This was a request piece for one of my loyal readers. She was the 10000 hit on my site! I hope you enjoy! It's not quite what she asked for but I hope she likes it.

I"m sorry that this one-shot is so confusing. Riku refused to make sense as he whispered in my ear so this is what emerged. Nevertheless, I hope you liked it.

Warnings for Angst, Language, some OOC, Limeish stuff, Yaoi


A Cloud/Riku OneShot

The world wasn't much different than the many others he had stumbled into and out of just as quickly as he had arrived. Even the town he'd somehow found in wandering held much the same darkness and despair as any other city. Riku didn't mind so much. It fit in with his current mood, a stormy rain cloud drizzling cold water down the back of his spine. The glower on his face was enough to send any person eying him as easy prey scurrying back into the dank alley.

Most of the city was in ruins, the victim of some large battle it seemed. He could see the signs of reconstruction, abandoned long before his arrival and he had caught a glimpse of new structures on the edges. But otherwise, the city looked as if it were dying, little by little, slowly rotting away in its desperation.

The keyblader shoved his hands in his pockets and hunched his shoulders against the light film of cold rain falling down on him, peering through the fog for some sort of shelter. He didn't relish camping out or trying to find security in one of the shattered buildings. And he had been traveling for the past week, cramped in the tiny cockpit of his borrowed gummi ship. He longed for a bed, more than anything. Spending the majority of his life on a tropical island had ruined him for harsher conditions.

A burst of raucous laughter grabbed his attention. Swiping a hand over silver locks dampened by the rain, Riku turned his head to the side, catching sight of a building that seemed to actually be inhabited. He could make out some music and lights glowing from the windows. It was a bar, he guessed, and the name Seventh Heaven was proudly displayed in the front.

It was better than nothing, he supposed. And at least it would be a place to warm up. He wondered what the drinking age on this world was, or if they would accept his munny. He didn't want to be stuck fighting the local bestiary for the proper currency. Checking both ways before crossing an otherwise empty street, Riku headed for the bar, already contemplating just what alcohol would sate his hunger.

He had left Destiny Islands two years after successfully fending off Organization XIII with Sora and a month after graduating from High School. Sora couldn't understand the reasons he left and frankly, Riku couldn't explain it to him in words the ever-cheerful boy would understand. It was simply something he had to do, knowing he couldn't remain on the islands with all the heaviness on his heart.

Truthfully, a part of Riku didn't really understand either. He felt this incessant need to distance himself from his friends, an unnatural pull of something inside. He had learned, thanks to Mickey, how to reconcile himself with the darkness and the light within. But that didn't mean he had accepted it. Learning to control it, learning to live with it, learning to combine the two to his advantage... they were entirely different than bearing with the truth of all of his deeds.

He had been to five different worlds since leaving, each one more different than the last. He was certain, that if he kept searching he would find the answers. Even if he didn't know the questions in the first place. It was out there, that tangible something. He just had to keep searching.

Riku deftly avoided the stumbling gait of a drunken woman as she tittered and staggered past him, loudly singing in an off-key tone. This world is just ever so charming, he remarked sarcastically to himself as he finally arrived at the door, swung open to admit any and all, and stepped inside.

He first registered sound and smell, nose twitching at the evident aroma of alcohol mixed with some kind of home-cooked meal. Conversation fought in vain with the music to be heard and from all corners, laughter assaulted his senses. He felt many pairs of eyes turn towards the doorway as he entered, shaking his head to disperse the water that had soaked his hair. A firm glare had most turning back to their original behavior.

All except one that was.

Aquamarine's eyes narrowed in recognition of the spiky-headed blond at the bar, an overly large sword leaning up against the counter at his side. Funny, he had thought Cloud was currently off chasing his arch-nemesis across the universe. He certainly didn't expect to the see the Radiant Garden resident sucking down shots of scotch in a bar in some shady world galaxies away. And not staring him down with penetrating blue eyes that could have been Sora's but for a shade of color.

Not for the first time, Riku wondered if they were related in some distant way.

He and Cloud communicated silently for all of a second before the blond turned back towards the bar, silently lifting another shot of the amber liquid to his lips. Unable to decide whether it was invitation or dismissal, Riku shrugged and raked a hand through his hair, trying to order the disheveled strands into something more orderly.

Ignoring appreciative leers, he threaded his way through the maze of tables, chairs, and drunken idiots, until he found himself climbing into a stool next to Cloud but on the opposite side from where the blond's sword rested. Thoughts of drinking faded from Riku's mind as he contemplated the man on the stool beside him.

"Everyone's looking for you," he finally stated quietly, treading carefully into a conversation with a man who might as well have been a stranger to him.

He knew of Cloud, had met the blond on perhaps two occasions before, but he wasn't exactly friends with the swordsman. He had heard stories of the man's strength and skill, had watched as Leon and Aeris and the rest waited in vain for Cloud to return from chasing after Sephiroth. He wasn't quite sure why he felt it necessary to strike up a conversation, he just did.

Cloud shifted in his seat, craning his neck to the side in a quick jerk, the motion accompanied by a sharp cracking noise. "And what are you looking for?" he asked without turning to look at the keyblader.

"..." Riku was silent. He didn't have an answer to that. Nor was he sure he would even tell Cloud if he did know.

The bartender approached, prepared to take Riku's order, but the silver-haired man waved him aside. For the moment, his only interest lay in Cloud. And the query the man had put forth. It wasn't as if he hadn't asked himself often enough. But the answers were slow in coming. As slow as his journey without a destination.

The blond fiddled with his shot glass before downing the burning liquid and signaling for another. "You're searching, aren't you?" Cloud continued without waiting for Riku's response, his gaze locked on something invisible, as if he were peering through some invisible fabric in space. "Isn't that why you're here?"

Riku didn't have an answer for that. He leaned on the counter, folding his arms across the bar top. "Why are you here?" he redirected.

"Sometimes," Cloud began, almost hesitantly. "Sometimes, I feel I know this place. Like a distant memory, out of my reach."

The keyblader curled his lips into a smirk at the familiar words. "Or a far off dream?"

Cloud shifted, turning towards him with those eyes that were so similar to Sora's yet couldn't have been more different if they were another color. They were the same brightness, the same intensity, but they were ten times more knowledgeable. Ten times more mature. Ten times more broken. They were eyes that Riku was becoming all too familiar with every time he looked in the mirror.

"A what?"

Riku shook his head. "Nothing." He shifted his eyes away, looking at something in the distance only he could see beyond the lines and lines of bottles behind the bar. "Just something Sora once said."

"Sora, huh?" Cloud repeated, and just the way he said it made Riku believe he wasn't thinking of Sora at all, but something else. Something from his own memories. His own inner darkness, or laughing broken heart.

They sat in silence for a moment, a sense of dark camaraderie developing between them, binding them by the words not being said. This silent, blond man whom Riku had only met a few times in his life was now suddenly so familiar. He had never really been comfortable around Cloud, something about the man being unapproachable and dangerous. But now... he couldn't explain the sensation. It was strange.

"You never answered me," Cloud said after a moment, his shot glass making an audible sound as he pushed it across the counter, just watching the liquid slosh around.

Riku frowned. "About what?"

"That thing you're looking for."

The keyblader sighed. "I think if I knew, I would have already found it."

"Is that so?" Cloud paused, behind them a great burst of raucous laughter washing over their silent corner of the bar and making him wince. One finger drew a nonsensical line through a water ring left on the counter. "Even knowing, sometimes it's impossible to find it."

"So says you," Riku inserted testily, disliking the feel of worry and truth and uncertainty that wormed its way into his heart, "But I'll find it."

The blond watched him for a moment, that same piercing glare of knowledge. He fiddled with his drink until he finally swallowed down the burning liquor in one fell swoop and slid from the stool. His boots didn't make a sound on the bar floor.

Riku furrowed his brow. "What are you doing?"

Digging into his pocket, Cloud produced a few coins that Riku didn't recognize. They weren't munny. "Leaving," he answered, laying them on the counter with audible clinks.

Aquamarine eyes gave Cloud a wary look, wondering if he had offended the man then wondering why he cared if he did. "Returning home?"

Something that wasn't quite a smirk as much as it was a bitter smile curled up the corner of Cloud's mouth. "Home has no meaning to me," he responded, reaching to pick up his overly large sword and strapping it to his back.

That strange something clenched in Riku's chest again. "What do you mean? You have Radiant Garden and Leon, Aeris, and the others."

Cloud flinched at the familiar names and turned away, one hand subtly clenching into a fist. "I think you know exactly what I mean by that, Riku," he said, so softly the keyblader almost didn't catch it.

His name was said with a mysterious lilt that the other boy couldn't identify, but made him squirm nonetheless. He watched as Cloud waved a hand at someone on the other end of the bar, a woman Riku thought, and then departed, his exit bringing in a new wave of bitterly cold and stale air.

Riku swallowed thickly, his gaze flickering to Cloud's abandoned drink, the glass turned upside down on the counter where the blond had been sitting. Something began to squirm and churn inside of him, a darkness curling and twisting for something to feed it.

He wanted to ask Cloud what he meant, a hitch in the man's words making him believe that he had the answers, the way to fix what was broken inside of Riku. The way to ease the feelings he was barely able to hide from his best friend, the restlessness and the guilt, a tainted poison seeping into his soul.

Riku abruptly slipped from the bar stool, causing it to screech loudly. Many of the patrons turned to look at him, drunken stares drooling as they gaped. But Riku paid them no attention, pushing his way through the increasingly larger crowd and bursting out of the front door. He jerked his head from left to right, trying to find Cloud and hoping that the other man hadn't already disappeared into the darkness.

"Dammit," Riku cursed under his breath, fingers clenching into a fist when he realized the blond was nowhere in sight. To make matters worse, it was raining and he could feel the water dripping down the back of his neck. He had lost his chance though he still wasn't sure exactly what for.

"Why aren't you at home with your light?"

At the sound of Cloud's voice, Riku whirled, finding the blond leaning against the outside of the building, arms crossed over his chest. Those knifelike blue eyes were focused on the ground, staring at a puddle as water dripped from the sky.

Cloud had been waiting for him, as if he had known exactly what Riku would do.

The keyblader blinked. "You...?"

Lifting his head, Cloud continued as if he hadn't even heard Riku speak. "You searched so hard, didn't you?" he inquired, eyes unnaturally bright under the dim light of the street and looking faintly tainted with green. "Fighting your way out of the black that still resided inside of you."

Growing defensive, Riku bristled, squaring his shoulders. "What would you know?" he demanded hotly, blinking to clear the rain from his eyes as his fingers curled into fists.

Cloud pushed off the building with an elegant movement, his hands falling to his side as he approached Riku, stepping into the corona of the street lamp. "You think that you're the only one who succumbed?" he asked, voice almost mocking as his boots squelched on the badly cracked cobblestones. "How naïve."

The teenager felt indignant, something inside of him incensed. But he also felt trapped by those eyes, as if caught in the gaze of a predator. He found himself backing up without realizing it, his back colliding with the street lamp behind him and causing a low dong to echo through the silent streets. In the bar, he heard rousing laughter but no one emerged to bear witness to the two men. They might as well have been alone in the fog-covered street.

"Tell me," Riku rasped, wondering why his breath felt so short and his voice so hoarse. "Tell me what I can do."

Cloud drew closer. "The darkness is tempting, isn't it?" he asked, his voice barely loud enough to break the sound of the constant patter of rain. He lifted one hand and cupped the side of Riku's face, a surprisingly tender gesture.

Too stunned to move, Riku could only gape in surprise. There was a flash in the back of his eyes, a remembrance in his mind. There were faces, all those whose trust he had broken and their blood he had spilled. It was the ways he was used and his own naivete in thinking he could bend the darkness to his will so easily.

He had been so, so foolish and the knowledge of that was suffocating. The guilt had never felt so consuming, so suffocating. And all it had taken was for Cloud to whisper one word, to give him one gentle touch.

"Is that what you did?" Riku asked, somehow finding the breath. It felt as if Cloud's touch was burning him, a fire against the chill of the night.

Blue eyes clouded over for just a moment with some remembered emotion or event before the blond stepped closer, crowding Riku's space. He didn't seem that much larger or stronger until he was that close, sharing the same breath, his mere presence overbearing. Without his understanding. Riku's heart picked up a beat, the power of the darkness banking behind Cloud's eyes nearly suffocating, just as much as the iron will the man has over it.

"Is that why you can't go home?" Riku whispered.

Cloud tilted his head to the side, fingers curling in long strands of silver hair. "You would know, wouldn't you, Riku?"

There it was, the way he said his name. The keyblader swallowed thickly. "How do you do it?"

A thumb brushed across Riku's cheek. It should have been tender, but it burned with truth. "You want to know?" Cloud's breath washed over him, enough that Riku could scent the whiskey on his breath, the faint sweetness.

Anticipation curled in Riku's belly, both burning cold and freezing hot as he slumped against the pole. The best he could manage was a faint nod, barely noticeable.

"Then come with me."

Cloud abruptly dropped his hand and turned, crossing the empty street and disappearing into the darkness of the alley alongside the bar. Riku sucked in a breath, his hands feeling slightly shaky as he fought to regain his lost sense of equilibrium. It was so surreal, and yet, it felt like the most real thing that had happened to him in the past three years.

A raucous noise from the bar made him start, realizing that he was nearly missing his chance yet again. It threw him from his stupor and Riku shot forward, hurriedly stepping into the alley and absentmindedly wiping rain from his face.

He found Cloud hovering around a rather large bike, coaxing a compartment to pop out so that he could slide his blade within it. The ride looked both powerful and fast, a sheer luxury that Riku was surprised the man could afford in a world that wasn't his own.

"How long have you been here?" Riku queried in surprise, walking up to the bike and tentatively sliding a hand over one of the leather covered seats, spattered with rain. It looked so expensive; his fingers itched to drive it.

"Someone I know lives here," Cloud responded tonelessly, almost distracted as he popped the compartment back in place, sword safely secured. "Someone who used to be just a memory."

Riku furrowed his brow but recognizing the note in Cloud's voice, he didn't push for answers. It was something that the blond obviously didn't want to discuss. He understood that entirely. Aquamarine eyes watched as Cloud straddled his cycle, flicking the engine to life with a rumbling roar.

Both hands on the handlebars, Cloud tossed Riku a silent request as he revved the engine a bit, causing the cycle to purr. The keyblader nodded and climbed up behind Cloud, tentatively wrapping his arms around the man's waist.

The silence that fell was both comforting and awkward. Cloud didn't say anything more as he gunned the engine and roared out of the alley, directly into the street. The rain whipped at their bodies as they shot through side streets and whizzed down the road, Riku hanging on for dear life.

Not that he minded so terribly. He could feel the warmth of the man's back, making his gut stir and leap with familiarity.

'What am I doing?' he asked himself but he knew that he didn't have the answers.

Only the drive inside, the increasing sense that Cloud knew the answers, or at least something that would ease the bleeding of his soul. Perhaps not heal him, but put a band-aid on the wound until he could find the real cure.

He remembered leaving Destiny Islands without telling anyone. The night before his solitary morning, he had been playing games with Sora, kicking his ass at Mortal Kombat like always because they never could get enough of that old game. He had smiled and laughed like normal, watched Sora make a face as they joked about Kairi.

He had listened and he had grieved and he had said his goodbyes for the evening, Sora none the wiser that it was actually farewell. Riku hadn't known where he was going at the time, or why, he just knew leaving was something he had to do.

He had walked out the door, resisting the urge to look back. He had nimbly bypassed getting caught up in a conversation with Tidus and even more deftly avoided Selphie. And then he was gone, disappearing into the dark of the night. He had left a note behind of course, just so they wouldn't worry. But he didn't tell them where he was going, why he left, or if he was coming back.

Honestly, he couldn't answer those questions even if he wanted to.

They stopped in front of a small, squat apartment building, Cloud parking his bike in the garage before leading Riku to an apartment. He unlocked the door, gesturing Riku inside first, the keyblader unable to help his curiosity as Cloud flipped on the hall light, bathing the narrow passage in yellow light.

The teenager caught sight of a few pictures, most depicting the same dark-haired, crystalline-eyed man that bore a faint resemblance to Cloud. A brother, perhaps? Riku couldn't even begin to guess. He knew next to nothing about Cloud's past.

He turned and suddenly found Cloud there, his spikes sagging against his skull and managing to take away some of the intimidation he usually exuded.

"Isn't your friend here?" Riku asked, feeling corralled against the wall.

Cloud shook his head, water droplets dispelling from his hair. "He's on night patrol and won't be back until the morning." A hand, seeming too dainty to wield such a large sword, reached up and fingered Riku's hair. He had noticed that Cloud seemed to have a fascination with it. "Are you changing your mind, Riku?"

The teen could feel his heart thundering in his ears. "No, I'm not."


And then Cloud was kissing him. No, ravaging his mouth with his tongue, hungry and insistent. Riku was trapped against the wall with the aid of the weight of Cloud's body.

Letting loose a sound of surprise, Riku opened his mouth beneath the onslaught, allowing the man to devour him with his tongue. A sword-calloused hand cupped the back of the teen's head, directing the forceful kiss and the other wrapped around Riku's waist, jerking him forward.

A low sound of need echoed in the keyblader's throat, heat pooling in his belly. Somewhere beyond his sight, he knew the rain was falling. He knew they were dripping on the carpet, their clothes soaked from the weather. Yet, the chill from being wet faded in the face of the pressing heat from Cloud's body. He wanted more, to drown himself in the blazing fire. Riku reached up, gripping Cloud's shirt at the man's hips and silently begging for the answers.

He lost himself in Cloud's warmth and intensity, in the hands dragging up and down his body and the mouth devouring his. He could feel his lips, bruised and ravaged and still, he wanted more.

Everything became a blur after that. A blur of touch and sound and smell and lips on his body, his skin. They stumbled down the hall, making their way blindly through the dark to a bedroom, tripping over their own clothes as they fell to the ground in dripping piles, soaked by the rain.

Outside, Riku could hear the storm picking up in force, hear the rain beating hard at the windows, but inside it was heated mouths and the noisy smack of lips.

He should have known that Cloud wasn't entirely straight. He had known it for himself, probably a long time ago. The questions before the darkness come, the understanding during the dawn, the realization in the brightness of morning. Things were never the same after that.

And then they were falling on the bed and Riku's thoughts scattered to the four winds. He sprawled against cool covers and shivered, up until those hands were back on his body, roaming along his sides and leaving burning trails in their wake.

He could do nothing but moan thickly and surrender, that painful twisting still present and even more agonizing than before. But it seemed more bearable than the slow decay, more bearable than the tears on his fake smile, bitter and enclosing.

Riku felt warmth and cold, felt the cool slide of oil across his flesh. He heard Cloud's quiet panting and the pleasure skimming down his spine as he was touched. Fingers probing him and seeking, gentle and yet determined. An edge of haste and eagerness, proving that even Cloud was losing himself a bit as well.

And then Cloud was there, lips pressed to his, hand on the underside of his right knee. A warm body blanketed his and there was pressure and heat and pain and blinding pleasure, his cries swallowed by a questing tongue. Deft fingers groped for Riku, stroking with skill that made him feel just a bit jealous for reasons beyond his knowledge.

The kiss ended, allowing Riku to breathe as Cloud worked his hips, slowly rocking and filling, deeper and deeper.

Riku found himself opening beneath Cloud's skilled hands, giving into what the man had to offer him. Not redemption or forgiveness. Not darkness or light. Not regret or joy. But a little bit of something he needed.

It was a fog of desire and it filled him, momentarily clouding the emptiness. It was nearly overwhelming.

Riku threw his arm over his face to cover the emotion and truth daring to leak out. He wanted to hide from facing it, all those nasty little things he thought he could forget because it hurt too much.

"Don't," Cloud rasped, the first he had something since the whole affair began. He watched Riku with those penetrating blue eyes, seeking something in the teen's gaze.

Riku chewed on his bottom lip. "I can't."

"You're not allowed to hide," the blond insisted in a raspy, determined tone. His hips surged forward, stroking Riku from the inside and the keyblader moaned, chewing frantically on his lips as Cloud rocked, seeking to touch deeper.

The keyblader tightened his fingers on the covers, gripping unnaturally tight. "Why not?" he demanded, half-feeling as if it were more of a plea for leniency than a desire for answers.

"Because you betrayed him."

Aquamarine eyes flew open behind the cover of his arm and Riku fell silent, Cloud's voice becoming a hypnotic litany.

"You betrayed all of them, didn't you? Your family? Your friends?"

He couldn't think, not through the fire burning in his thoughts. The pain, it was overwhelming, a mental explosion of agony in perfect counterpart to the pleasure flooding his veins and igniting his body.

"Y... you..." Riku trailed off, not knowing what he wanted to say. He just felt he was supposed to say something. A denial, perhaps. Or maybe even a confirmation.

Cloud's fingers tightened briefly on his knee. "You think you're seeking redemption, maybe forgiveness," he murmured, breath coming in sharp pants. "But that's not it, is it?"

He arched into each touch, each surge into his body. A want burned in Riku's belly and he moaned, his hips picking up an increasing pace, need growing. He uncovered his eyes though he kept them closed, blindly groping for something and finding nothing. It reminded him of a day two years ago, when he stood in the gripping black and reached out for a something he didn't understand.

"Riku." There was command in that tone, a repeat of the question Cloud had already put forth.

Choking back something he didn't dare call tears, Riku forced himself to open his eyes. "No," the teen whispered, the admission torn from his throat. "No, it's not," he added.

There was a brief softening of Cloud's gaze before the blond leaned forward and kissed him, a bit more brutally than before. Riku moaned, wrapping his arms around Cloud and arching up to meet each frantic thrust.

And it burned, searing through his flesh on a burst of ecstasy. He could hear the low rumble of Cloud's satisfaction but it fades away to the light bursting behind his eyes as his fingers nearly tore a hole in the comforter.

Then there was silence, breaths a mere pant on the darkness and rain dripping steadily down a silver-paned window.

Riku tried to breathe slowly as his body cooled and Cloud's warmth and weight settled over him, familiar and yet strange all the same. The blond slipped out of him with startling ease, a sound that dangerously resembled content escaping from his lips. Still, Riku was left wondering what he had just admitted to.

'What am I searching for?' he asked himself again.

The answers suddenly didn't seem as far from his reach as before.

Cloud looked at him, and even in the dark, Riku could see those strangely glowing eyes. One sword-calloused hand brushed across his stomach.

"Did you love your light, Riku?"

The teen stirred from his thoughtful stupor, body still tingling. "Hmm?"

"Your light? Did you love him?" There was curiosity in Cloud's voice but also... sadness, as if recalling his own painful memory.

Riku frowned, a vision of cinnamon-brown hair and smiling laughs flashing briefly through his mind. "I don't know," he replied honestly. "I thought I did but, maybe I was confusing love for something else."

"Something else?"

The keyblader nodded. "Acceptance. Belonging. Friendship. Take your pick." Riku sighed, raking a hand through his hair, wondering why it felt so easy to just lay there nude next to Cloud Strife. "Maybe that was why it was so easy for the darkness to find its way inside."

"No one has a pure heart. Everyone's susceptible."

Riku snorted. "You don't even believe that yourself."

"Maybe. Maybe not." Cloud leaned over, cupping Riku's cheek with his hand and kissed the silver-haired teen again. It was a slow kiss this time, more probing but full of equal fire. "But that's for you to decide."

He pulled back and slid from the bed, padding naked across the carpet. He didn't bother to turn on a light, the street lamp outside and his own enhanced vision enough. He paused only once to look at the younger man lying on his bed before he disappeared into the bathroom to grab a washcloth.

On the bed, Riku allowed himself a moment more to wallow in the aftermath and the tingling of his body before he shoved himself to his feet. That need to wander, the push to continue searching was rearing its ugly head. He hunted around for wet clothes, managing to find both his pants and his shirt. He gave up his socks as a loss and was in the process of wrangling himself into his pants when Cloud returned.

He didn't even seem surprised that Riku was getting ready to leave.

"It's part of it, you know," Cloud began, a wet cloth in one hand.

Riku tilted his head to the side. "What? Leaving?"

"No, staying."

"You know why I can't."

Cloud made a noncommittal noise in his throat as he tossed the rag to Riku. "Did you find what you were looking for?" he asked, watching as the silver-haired teen wiped his belly of the evidence of his release.

There was a moment of silence before Riku looked up, aquamarine eyes a bit clearer than the darkened haunt when he had stumbled into the bar just seeking escape. "I can't have my light, but maybe, that's okay."

"Yeah, maybe."

They shared a look of mutual understanding as Riku dropped the dirtied rag to the floor, shrugging into his rain-soaked shirt. He raked a hand through his wet hair, before giving up on fixing it.

He knew Cloud was still watching him.

"You should return to Radiant Garden," Riku said quietly, gathering up the rest of his scattered clothing and accessories. "They're worried about you."

Cloud smirked, crossing his arms over his chest. "I could say the same for you."

"Touche." The small on Riku's face was smile, and it didn't reach his eyes, but it was a start. He paused, took a deep breath, but couldn't think of anything to say. The words failed him when he knew they simply couldn't convey what he intended.

With a final glance towards the blond who was a stranger and yet, a person he knew almost better than his best friend, Riku slipped out into the silent hallway. He knew he wasn't that far from where he had left his gummi ship, thank goodness. It would be a simple matter to return to the ship and take off again, searching for parts unknown.

And still, despite his burdens, he felt lighter.

Left behind, Cloud flopped down on the empty bed, still carrying with it the faint scent of Riku and his wet hair. It was mildly chilly but he didn't feel like getting back up to turn on the heat, or pick up the results of his mad rush to rip off clothing.

He never said thank you. Ungrateful brat.

Cloud threw his arm over his eyes, feeling just a bit insane as he chuckled lightly. "Pervert," he teased the voice in his head, a near mirror to the stranger whose house he was sharing.

Pfft. There was a moment of thought. He's a good kid.


A lot like you were. Those same lost eyes. Almost made a guy wanna cuddle ya, I swear.

"Too good for me," Cloud agreed with a faint, mirthless laugh. "Too good for me."

You underestimate yourself, Spike.

"And you overestimate me. You always have." A fond smile flitted on the blond's face before it was gone, replaced by the grim reminder that he had failed.

The voice in his head took on a disapproving tone. Spike.

"But that's okay," Cloud assured him. "Just... don't leave."

I wouldn't. I think I'm stuck with you, though there's not much space between brood and brood-some-more.

Another one of those faint smiles attacked Cloud. He uncovered his eyes and turned his head, gaze falling on the window.

"It's stopped raining," he commented to no one in particular.

There wasn't a response but then again, it wasn't as if he had expected one.

a/n: I know it probably doesn't make sense but I assure you, every word was carefully picked and plotted. Thanks for reading! Let me know how I did. It's hard writing these characters!