..…..

Be My Last

-Chapter 10-

..…..


Show me what it's like
to dream in black and white

So I can leave this world
Tonight

Holding on too tight
Breathe the breath of life

So I can leave this world
Behind


(Riku's P.O.V)
-

If cold days would somehow just cease to exist…overall, life would be worth living.

I'd be happy.

"Holy shit, I can't even feel my feet anymore."

That said, going for a walk in negative degree weather should not have even crossed my mind. But it did. Definitely not one of the smartest things I admit to doing, but I really needed this time to think by myself.

I tried to hold in a cough as I zipped my jacket up higher, quickly breathing hot air onto my hands before slipping them into my pockets. Even the gravel beneath my crappy, old converse was just as freezing as the wind I was walking against. In all honesty, locking myself in the bedroom would have been a hell of a lot smarter than this, because now all I could focus on was not catching pneumonia.

But I need to get back to the matter at hand.

And that is Sora.

It's kind of funny now that I really think about it. Not once had a thought to spare a moment and entertain the people who'd grown the nerve to ask me out. While that really wasn't fair on my part, I still justified it by telling myself they only cared about what I looked like and I wasn't looking for someone like that. I didn't know any of them at all, and overall I was tired of it.

This time it's so different and I'm not sure what I should do, because there's no turning around now that my feelings are now practically rooted to Sora.

Relationships in general make me jumpy and I've never been too affectionate with anyone, but I also know that I don't want to drift away from Sora; especially because of these feelings. There's also no way I can stop being attracted to him now. This little fact scares the living hell out of me, because I haven't ever thought about anyone in this way. It's definitely unusual to find someone who is as kind and positive as Sora. He had the balance that people who were too happy and people who were too sad, didn't have—he had an ideal mixture of both those emotion along with everything else he felt.

He's unprejudiced. Genuine. Beautiful.

He cared for people—and when I say people, I mean everyone. He trusted and gave every bit of his heart to those in need and cared for them, perhaps on a deeper level than they deserved from him. I want to be able to make him experience this same weird, but beautiful jumble of feelings that wriggles into my heart just by glancing at him.

Sometimes I want to tell him how I feel—just to see what his reaction would be.

"This is going nowhere…" I sighed, kicking at the ground. Rearing myself out of this profound contemplation, I shifted my eyes to the darkening sky and flicked at the chain that hung from my belt. I had walked a good distance into town and I hadn't really thought of anything besides Sora. Speaking of, it was getting late and I hadn't even left a note for him or anything. This was just another reason added to the list of why I wanted to get him a damn mobile phone.

I kept moving until I turned around the block, the café immediately coming into my sight. So I sped towards the building, since the wind was making my eyes water painfully. There were still a few things I had to ask Kairi and now would be a great time to talk to her if she was still there.

When I opened the doors and reached up towards my coat zipper, I was met with a few of the customers' gazes as I shrugged it off and hung it up.

"Hello, friend!" I saw Kairi wipe her hands on her little apron and motion for me to follow as she stopped cleaning tables. Selphie was lounging against the cash register, but smiled when I get her a little wave. Selphie glanced around the place and I followed suit, not seeing anything but the few remaining patrons, wondering what she was looking for.

"Where's your butt-buddy?"

Oh.

She grinned as I shook my head and I tipped over the stack of menus she started playing with, enjoying her annoyed squeak.

"He's crashed on the sofa at home. Wait, why 'butt-buddy' of all things?" I paused a moment and tried to keep my face as serious as possible when Selphie laughed oddly. I was here for some answers, not whatever the hell Selphie was hinting at. "No, never mind, forget that. I need to talk about him." The flashing image of Sora crying and draining out his emotions immediately popped up in my mind and I felt a frown tug at my lips.

"How much did he tell you?" I shrugged after Kairi and Selphie glanced at each other—a small, silent exchange going on between the two women. Something I knew not to ask about by now even if it did annoy me a bit.

"Almost everything, I'd guess." Or at least, I had assumed that was all there was. "It's a little frustrating that I can't do anything but wait for him. I hate sitting around." I situated myself on one of the chairs and tiredly rubbed my face before propping my head up with my hands. "There must be something else for me to do."

"There is." Selphie ambled around the counter to stand across from me and leaned forward.

"What?" Curious now, I watched Kairi grab a mug off of the shelf behind her and pour the black liquid in, handing it to me along with a few sugar and cream packets.

"I'm no expert, but I think that just spending time with him will help." Her eyes lit up and she touched my hand gently. It figures that they would say something like that—something so glaringly obvious that I should've realized the significance of it before. It was just hard and embarrassing to admit to myself. "You two are close. Anyone with eyes can see that. Besides, Sora told us before how much it means to him to be able spend time with you, whether you guys are talking or messing around. I haven't seen that very often with two guys your age." With another smile, the redhead handed me some more sugar packets when she noticed Selphie eyeing the ones I already had.

"O-Oh," I muttered as Selphie snagged a sugar packet and emptied it into her mouth. Then another, and then a few more different coloured packages. I looked at Kairi's scrunched up face, which matched my own, and chuckled as we watched Selphie indulge herself with the granulated powders for a few moments.

"It's nice because we only have a few more weeks before we get off for Christmas. We can do a crap-ton of stuff then. Parties all over the place." The brunette suggested, with another mouthful of various sugars. Kairi nodded happily and smacked Selphie's hand when she reached for yet another pink package. She patted the other girl's cheek after she started pouting and tossed her one last packet.

I smiled and sipped my coffee before speaking, "Hey, whatever keeps you all happy. And quiet."

"Oh, and while we're on this subject, you can take Sora to some secluded little romantic alley and finally profess your burning, passionate man-love for him." Kairi made no efforts to keep the statement between the two of us as she walked to the back room, grinning when all eyes turned my way.

I could have died. If not from chocking on my coffee, then from embarrassment.

It must have been rather fun to watch my reaction, judging by the way Selphie and a few others started snorting – because hot coffee shooting out of my nose which made my face heat up, quite literally, must have been so hilarious to watch. Bastards.

"S-Secluded alley isn't exactly on my list of romantic places, though." I coughed and sputtered—which I will be upset about later, for the reaction was only slightly unmanly. How the hell could she say that so loudly? Some of these people obviously knew Sora! I don't know what I would do if he heard something like that from one of them. Oh, god, my dignity was flying out the window.

"You really think we alldon't know?" Kairi popped her head out of the doorway and smiled. Selphie nodded and clapped her hands together, folding them under the chin as she slipped her elbows onto the counter.

"You guys are so cute and lovey-dovey," Selphie cooed. I wiped my nose and choked again while Selphie waited on a customer behind the counter and Kairi took an order to a table.

"It's…not love, per say. Not exactly." I protested when it was just us again, but when I saw their smirking faces I knew there was no point in trying to hide it. Who was I kidding, anyway? I worshiped the fucking ground Sora walked on.

"Yeah, sure." After she motioned to one of the other employees, Kairi walked over to me and leaned on the counter.

"Are you afraid?"

I sobered at her expression and swallowed the lump that formed in my throat and quietly admitted, "I…I am. How could I not be? I've never felt like this. Not to mention it's not exactly normal to fall for your best friend—who's also a guy." I bit the inside of my cheek and looked away. I hated the way they could see right through me in a matter of seconds.

"That doesn't mean a damn thing and you know it. And just think about your situation. Really think. You two aren't exactly "ordinary" now, are you? Why would you even want to be? Some people nowadays are so boring and by the book. I hate it." Selphie chuckled at my fierce expression and smoothed out my creased brow with her finger.

"What do you mean by 'not ordinary,' exactly?"

I watched Kairi smile as she wiped up the remainder of the mess I'd made earlier, which made me feel guilty. It wasn't like I had much room to argue, seeing as how they already knew I loved him, and how I'd rather die that admit to being normal. (Where was the creativity in that?)

"Well. For one, you guys sleep in the same bed." She lifted her finger to keep count and I looked away as I felt my face flush. Oh, god, they'd been keeping count. Somehow I should've known they'd bring the bed subject up. I'm more surprised they waited this long.

"So? I bet lots of people do that. It's a financial and space issue."

Kairi's unimpressed look at my reasoning silenced me and I watched her lift a second finger as she spoke. "You tell yourself that. Now for number two, Sora is always hovering around you. He's as attached to you as you are to him, in case you hadn't noticed. Why don't you just admit it? I have many more reasons, but I think you'd much rather skip them." I looked at Kairi and groaned. Not wanting to be subjected to her torture for any longer, I dropped my head in my hands.

"Fine, I love him. I—I do. For God's sake, you lot know I do!" I crumbled. Somehow, it should have been easier just knowing that they were aware of my feelings, but I still felt anxious. Kairi nodded and her eyes softened, and I could've sworn I saw a few tears gather.

"That's perfect, darling, but I'm not the one you should be confessing it to."

Selphie slowly reached for my cup and nodded, her eyes, I noticed, also seemed to well up. I felt something in my throat tighten—this was the first time I could clearly see just how much they cared for Sora, and for me, too.

"Listen to Kairi, and honestly tell him what you're feeling." She paused, face blank. "A little seducing wouldn't hurt either. You've got a damn fine body. And face. And arse, too, by the way. Use them." Selphie added as an afterthought and I coughed, looking away to hide the shocked/flustered look on my face.

"Selphie, dear, that's horrible! But nonetheless true. Sora's also got a soft spot for hugs, so don't forget that either." Kairi folded her arm and tapped her chin thoughtfully while I simply pinched the bridge of my nose. Even if they drove me up the wall, I really was glad I decided to talk to them.

"Thank you," I pulled Kairi into a hug and reached for Selphie, kissing her forehead when she couldn't quite return the hug from her position across the counter. "Seriously, you girls are angels." I grinned when both of them were fighting goofy smiles after I pulled back. If I didn't already have a sister, I'd put them into that position—even though I already considered them family.

"You're welcome, Riku." Kairi laughed and Selphie folded her arms, slightly red in the face after I messed up her hair.

"Get out of here, woman! Getting all sentimental on me… For shame," Selphie laughed, as she fixed her hair. "I'm sure you've got more important things you could be doing, anyway." With a suggestive grin, Selphie shooed me away from the counter after I handed her my money, rolling my eyes.

"I'm sure I could." I winked back, seeing Selphie make a face. "Later." I disregarded Selphie's last gesture and waved to Kairi as I grabbed my jacket off the coat rack by the door and strode out of the café. I'm sure the smile on my face made me look like an idiot, but I couldn't find a fuck to give.

Not when I'd found the motivation to at least try to tell Sora everything.

It was admittedly dark now, so I hurried down the block and ducked through a few alleys on the way back—laughing to myself as I remembered Kairi's words. The cold wind against my bare face didn't even faze me this time, as I crossed the street to the flat and wobbled up the stairs to the door and turned the knob. Locked.

"Ah."

I scowled and sifted through each of my pockets and my eyes narrowed further at the lack of keys within them. "Shit! Of course." I would forget my—oh wait… I knocked on the door and shivered, stuffing my hands inside my jacket.

"Hey Sor, open up! It's freezing out here." I waited a few moments before I heard a loud thud and a groan shortly following. I knocked again hesitantly.

"…Sora?"I shifted from foot to foot when there was nothing but silence. "Dude, my nuts are going to freeze off out here!"

I finally heard the shuffling on the other side of the door getting closer until the door was quickly swung open, revealing the half-awake brunet behind it. I couldn't hold back a laugh when I looked at his hair, which was slightly wilder than usual. But the fact that he was in those white sweats with the blue stripes down the sides, and his black turtle neck—which only brought out all the shades of blue in his eyes—made my fingers ache for my camera.

"Riku? What are you doing out there?" He blinked sleepily and rubbed his face before trying to focus his disoriented gaze on me. I reached out and ran a hand through his hair, grinning when he yawned.

"Just went for a little walk. Sorry, I forgot my keys." Sora made and "o" shape with his mouth and slowly waddled back into the room and just barely managed to not trip over the blanket swaddling his shoulders. He rubbed at his eyes again and looked at the clock a small chuckle slipping past his lips.

"I've been asleep for almost three hours, yet I'm still tired. Someone stop me before I hibernate." He groaned and flopped over the sofa armrest onto the cushions while I threw my coat on the rack by the door. He moved once I walked over to sit beside him.

"There's no way you'd be able to stay in one place for that long. But really, you can go back to sleep if you want. It's been a long day." He leaned on me as I took the empty space next to him and he sighed, missing my expression soften.

"You're oddly warm from having just come back from a walk in subzero hypothermia weather." He smiled and leaned against my chest as another small, pleased sigh slipping past those peach lips. The strength of the urge I had to just slip my arms around him and press kisses all over him was almost painful. Instead, I chuckled and picked him up and held him against my chest.

"Whoa—hey! Hey, what are you doing?" He wrapped his blanketed arms around my neck and I laughed at his surprise. A few seconds after he got comfortable, Sora laughed and placed his head on my shoulder, letting out another yawn while I took a few steps forward.

"To the bed, chauffeur." I laughed at this, especially because of the drowsy way he said it.

"Oi, I'm not your chauffeur. Or pillow… Jeez, for the amount of food you eat, you're really light." I carried him to the bedroom and dumped him on the bed, where he quickly shed his blanket in favor of shimmying under the covers. Once he was content, he flashed me a smile.

"A few months of sleep doesn't sound all that bad."I returned the expression before I sat down on the edge of the bed and stripped off my pants and socks.

"You're going to be cold just wearing your boxers and t-shirt." I watched him sink deeper into the covers and sigh, "Ah, warmth." The pleased look on his face made me snort in amusement before I flicked off the light and the room was immediately cast into darkness, save for the light from the windows.

"Riku, where'd you go?"

I slid under the sheets and wrapped my arms around him, the corners of my mouth quirking up at his noise of surprise before I whispered, "Ah, warmth."

"H-Hey!" I chuckled as I imagined the pout on his face right now, since it was obvious through his voice. Sora gave an embarrassing little squeak as I wrapped him up tighter, and my grin widened when he shivered.

"Y-You're freezing!" The brunet half-heartedly attempted to scoot away but I wouldn't let him. He stopped after a moment and I wondered what was going through his head as I stared at him. Because my eyes adjusted to the dark, I could see him pretty clearly, and I flinched slightly when I realized he was close enough to feel me breathing and vice versa.

"I thought I was oddly warm?" Though I sounded calm, I couldn't suppress the erratic beating of my heart as I held him close—his hair tickling my face when he moved and I inhaled. Clearly, I was enjoying myself, but I highly prayed that he didn't notice this. He was so warm and his body fit perfectly against mine, like he was made to be held in my arms like this.

I listened to his small sigh as he draped an arm over my side.

"Hey, Riku. I-Is this… I mean—are you…" Sora sighed and I took the silence to mean that he was struggling to form a question, so I urged him by running my hand over his arm reassuringly. He shivered, but moved closer to me and my eyebrows rose at the action—his conscious action. I felt a little panicked because now he was close enough that surely he could feel my heart beating.

"N-Never mind," he yawned again and I felt his body relax against my chest. "Anyway… I wanted to thank you." His voice came out in a small mumble.

"What for?"

"For earlier, you arse, what else?" He laughed at my grunt of protest before growing serious. "You listened and you honestly didn't blame or call me out for being such a coward. You've done so much for me without even asking for anything in return… Why wouldn't I thank you?" I locked eyes with him and tried to show him that I was smiling and that his words were everything to me, just in case he thought otherwise.

"Of course. And for the record, I never thought you were weak or a coward. I'd never think less of you for something like that. You know that I'm doing this of my own will, I'd never ask anything of you." Sora sighed and I watched his eyes shut.

"Riku. I'm grateful for that—for you. Don't tell Kairi and Selphie," Sora paused and laughed again, if a little nervously. "But you're my best friend." I felt his arms slide around to my back to clutch the fabric of my t-shirt. Though the word 'friend' stung a little bit, I still embraced him back. A part of me wanted to hit him for not realizing just how intimate we probably looked and how it was affecting me, but the other part just fell in love with him even more.

"Likewise, dork." I smiled again and heard Sora's snort turn into a yawn.

"Goodnight, Riku," he mumbled quietly. "Bigger dork."

"'Night…" That urge to kiss him returned full force as he leaned his head down so that he was almost touching my neck. It hurt. So much that the ache in my chest was burning and making it hard for me to simply breathe. So instead of an unwarranted surprise attack, I buried my face into his soft hair and brought him closer to my own body, my arms sliding around his waist.

Nothing was worth compromising this… What we had right here.

Nothing.

With thoughts like that, and the soft sound of Sora's breathing, it wasn't long at all before sleep took over.


(Sora's P.O.V)
-

Being in his arms like this really causes havoc within my poor, poor abused heart.

I'm not sure how long I've been awake—just staring at his sleeping face—but I know that it's well past midnight. And I also know that this is slightly creepy.

But I couldn't sleep, and I didn't want to move and risk waking him up.

With a small sigh, I continued to take in my friend's facial features with great detail. He has such a peaceful expression while he's asleep, I've noticed. Though this isn't the first time I've stared at him like this, it is the first time I've done so with the intent of memorizing every detail.

I have to wonder if he ever does the same… Well, he had to—if he painted that picture—though it was really for artistic purposes only.

Just thinking about the painting made my face heat up. It was so…so perfect. And not because it was me on that canvas—that definitely sounded a bit conceited—but just because of the colours and the detail and just that fact that it was drawn by Riku.

I know I probably shouldn't be doing this. He'd probably be freaked out if he knew I stared at him while he slept, for the love of Christ.

Regardless of that fact, I smiled and moved his bangs aside to get the full view of his face. I blinked and ran my fingers delicately across his features and soon feel his breath ghost over my skin. I was so close; all I had to do was lift my head up and…

It's incredible. To want to kiss him this badly—something that's new to me—which admittedly feels a little awkward because I never really wanted anything like this for myself. But even knowing that, having him hold me like this was more than enough for me. I simply moved closer against him and thought about the earlier events.

Does he think differently about me now that he knows a good portion of my past? I can't guess what he feels now. I don't want pity and unnecessary worry over my problems but, unlike everyone else, Riku is one of the few people who make an effort to comfort me instead of remaining quiet or awkwardly trying to tell me everything's okay. And lately…he's been there for me when I do have a good cry. Which isn't that often, but still enough that I know he has to be annoyed by it.

It's been a while since I've been this serious. Sometimes it's tough to keep up a positive front when I'm depressed.

However, it's not like I'm miserable—I don't have any reason to be. Just knowing that I'm this close with Riku is proof that I'm just being a selfish brat. Wanting him to love me… To touch me… I have no reason to want more than this.

But that will not get to me. Trying to find something I can do to be of use to him, after he's going through all the trouble of letting me stay here, can't be that hard…but it still is. I don't know what I'm supposed to do now. It was the same with Kairi. I felt so useless. I still feel that way even though I've been told I shouldn't.

"Hm."

While I was spacing out I failed to notice Riku open his eyes and while I contemplated the ways to repay him for his kindness, I heard a faint chuckle. I also failed to notice I had been absentmindedly running my hand through his soft, layered hair.

Oh, sweet baby Christ, how embarrassing.

"Ah—g-good morning!" I squiggled out of his arms and moved to sit up. He chuckled again and sluggishly rolled out of the bed, stretching and yawning.

"Morning," he mumbled as he discarded his shirt and glanced back at me, a slow smile braking across his stunning and tired face. "My classes today don't start 'till noon, so I'll just get a shower now and then I'll make something to eat. Let me know if you need anything from the bathroom while I'm in there." He sleepily trudged into the other room while I nodded—even though he had not been able to see the weak action.

That show-off. I had to fight to control the composed expression on my face when I had glanced over the smooth, tight contours of his stupidly fit body. It should be illegal to have that sort of body without working to maintain it. Genetics just weren't fair—mine can't even begin to bloody compete with that.

I swear he was mocking me.

"For the love of…"

I blew out a loud sigh as I fell back against the mattress and latched onto the pillow Riku had been using, inhaling the scent I was beginning to get accustomed to. I sighed when I remembered that I didn't really have the time to be squishing my face into Riku's pillow—no, again, that was just creepy—but I did nothing other than shift around lazily. I groaned at the thought of leaving the flat.

I eventually slinked out of bed, put some clean clothes on—after deciding to get a shower a little later—and glanced at the clock, watching the little hand tick past the miniature numbers. It was only ten o' clock.

Wholeheartedly wishing for the days to speed up until Christmas break, I sighed as I went through my drawers for some clothes. The hunt for my necklace not going as well, I trotted towards the other door, stopping when I heard the water shut off.

"You done, Riku?" I called and after a few moments I saw the door knob twist.

"Yeah."

Riku opened the door before I could exit the bedroom and I stared at him. He had a towel around his waist and his damp hair was clinging to his skin, especially his face. All I could do was watch as the water droplets rolled from his hair down over his defined chest and were absorbed into his towel. His lowly placed towel. Oh, he hadto be doing this on purpose. There's no way he hadn't noticed my stumbling around like a fool.

"Your turn." I snapped out of my daze to look at his face.

"No, I-I'm good. Got a shower last night after one of my naps." I watched him walk to the dresser before I turned around and hurried out. "I'll make some breakfast this time!" I scurried out to the kitchen and fumbled around for some pans.

That damn tease. If I didn't know any better, I'd say he was trying to give me a heart attack. The way he was standing there with only a stupid towel clinging to him. I'm just glad I was able to give a proper response—any other guy in my position probably would have—so that he didn't get suspicious. The only problem was that I still felt the heat on my cheeks as I prepared our food.

"Get a hold of yourself…" I inhaled deeply and placed a shaky hand over my mouth.

I've definitely never felt this attracted to anyone before in my life.

My heart was still racing when we exchanged smiles as he walked into the kitchen after he was fully dressed—thank god—in another one of his perfectly fitted band t-shirts that I rather liked, and a simple pair of jeans.

"Mmm. Smells good," he leaned over me to peek into the skillet, his hand warm at the base of my lower back. I tried not to react too strongly to that and gave him a smile.

"I just hope it tastes all right. Don't want to poison you until you least suspect it." I grinned and wiped my hands on the dishtowel before I handed him the plate of messy eggs and toast. I also tried not to look to eager as I waited for his reaction after I set the plate down. The look he gave me was priceless.

"Just as long as it's edible and keeps me alive or a few hours, I don't care if it's poisoned. I'm starving."

My heart flipped again as a smile stretched across his pale lips after he shoveled a fork-full of the food into his mouth. "But thank you. It's delicious. At least one of us can cook," he laughed. Something as small as what he says about my cooking shouldn't be that big of a deal but, I just can't help but get excited and smile like an idiot when it involves getting too see his big smile.

"You're welcome. Glad you like it," I fumbled with my words and tapped my fingers together as I tried to focus on my own breakfast. I don't know how he manages to stir me up like this. If he saw my nervousness, he didn't say or do anything about it, so I was glad for that.

It's ridiculous. He smiles and I feel like my heart is going to explode. I'm starting to think I should ask Kairi what to do about this… She's a girly girl. She's good with these sorts of things.

"Hey, Sora?" Riku's hand snapped in front of my face and I stared at the few silver rings adorned on his long fingers a moment too long.

"Huh? What?" I noticed at his amused expression as he rose to his feet and discarded his empty plate. He glanced at me from over his shoulder and smiled, "We don't have much time left. Your classes start at ten-thirty, right? Do you have everything ready? I'll drive you, then I'll head to the market to get a few things, since I know we're out of milk and some other stuff." He rambled for a bit, so I took the time to glance at the clock. Oh man.

"Thanks! Be right back." I hurried to the bedroom and checked over myself and tried to at least tame my hair. As I was putting my shoes on I felt Riku's gaze on me and when I looked back, he smoothed out the dark jacket he just slipped over his other shirt and quickly looked away.

"Ready?" He opened the door for me as I grabbed my bag and dusted off my pants.

"Ready to sleep through statistics…? Check. Let's go." I sighed and walked with him to the car, talking about a few things as we hustled through the brisk, cool air.

"It's been a while since I've actually driven anywhere, hasn't it? Everything basically within walking distance. Now it's too cold for that." He grimaced before he took in the platinum car's exterior with a grin, and I watched as he walked over to open the passenger door.

"Ladies first." He mentioned to the car, bowing chivalrously.

"I'm not getting in until you do, then." I elbowed him, laughing. He made a noise and stumbled, but started laughed as he rolled his eyes and went around the other side.

"I should just get a moped. Save a fortune in gas. Everything's basically a block from here, anyway." He mumbled, looking like he was seriously thinking about it until I laughed.

"Can I get one of those side-cars then?" Riku choked on his laughter as he pulled the vehicle out of the flat and turned down the street. I turned towards him and tried not to let myself get too caught up in the way he looked so free when he really laughed at something—especially something I said.

"Oh god, I would loveto see you in one of those." He snickered and I just leaned back and smiled.

I felt his gaze occasionally linger on me as we drove to the college. It wasn't a far drive, but because it was getting colder I don't think I'd want to walk the whole ten minutes in that weather. Thinking idly about what I wanted to do today, I finally sighed and slumped farther into the seat.

"I hope it snows soon." I ran my finger in circles along the window and Riku snorted.

"You like snow?" I looked at him to find his eyes on the road, although I was sure they were resting on me half-a-second ago. I grinned and tapped against the window before I turned to him.

"Of course! You can't tell me you didn't adore snow days when you were younger! Going out and building igloos and sled riding. And of course, the hot chocolate always warms me up afterwards." Oh, crap, I never could talk about these things without getting really excited.

"Somehow I figured you'd say that." His amused smile made my own lips twitch until I had a large smile plastered on my face. "Personally I hate the cold, but I guess the snow is nice to look at, if anything." He stared at me for a moment—which wasn't safe because he was driving—and I chuckled.

"What is it?" I turned my head to the side. Why was he staring like that? Before I could ask him again, he quickly averted his gaze to the road.

"Nothin'..." He shrugged and I took to absentmindedly fiddling with my bag as a long silence encircled the two of us. A few moments after I saw the good ol' college billboard on the campus approaching, and tried not to feel slightly disappointed. Riku slowly rolled the car to a stop at the main entrance and I finally sighed.

"Well, I'll see you later," I heard his soft murmur and I turned back to smile at him.

"Yep. I'll see you at home." I flashed him a bigger grin as I reached out for the small handle and opened the door.

"…Wait." I felt Riku's hand seize my arm and he hesitantly pulled me back. I blinked in confusion as I fell into my seat again. I had briefly closed my eyes upon impact and when I opened them, I was gazing directly into Riku's eyes.

"W—Huh?"

Riku stared at me with such a broad range of emotions in his eyes that my heart accelerated as he moved closer and softly spoke, "C…Can I…"

My own eyes widened as he moved closer still, and I noticed a conflicted expression spread over his face. He stopped and closed his eyes, pulling away too fast for my liking—although I was still confused.

"R-Riku?" I saw a small twinge of redness on his cheeks, but the emotion in his eyes made me chew on my lower lip.

"I just… No, nothing. I forgot to tell you to have a good day." He smiled at me and I nodded; still, the hesitance in his actions alerted me.

"O-Okay. You too," I smiled, trying not to hurry out of the car and into the school. Not once looking back until I had slipped past a corner. When I did peer around the wall, I noticed that through the front doors, I could still see the car in its former position for a few more moments before it pulled away.

'What the hell was that…?' I clutched a hand against my convulsing chest and leaned against the wall. The look in Riku's eyes as he held onto my arm was already imprinted into my brain and probably would be for some time. What was he trying to say? What was he trying to do?

"Ugh! I'm so confused!" I covered my face with my hands and groaned.

"Oh, Sora. When are you not?" I shrieked and jumped off the wall to glance around the hallway. "I've been waiting for you. What's got you so worked up? " I turned towards the laughter to see my redheaded friend standing with one hand on her bag strap, the other on her hip, and an amused expression lighting her face.

"Kairi… Hey." I waved and scampered over to her, ignoring the other students in the hall.

"Hey. So any particular reason why were you talking to yourself a few moments ago?" She smiled at me and poked my arm as we walked. I internally groaned when I couldn't come up with a good enough excuse. Nothing was more frustrating than Kairi when she wanted information. I mean, I could barely think straight right now after what just occurred. I had no clue what to say.

"It's Riku," I admitted to her as I walked ahead a few steps. Well, nothing was better than the truth…

"Hmm?" She obviously sounded amused at something. I looked at her questioningly. "What about Riku?" The way she articulated his name made me nervous and I took a step away.

"I… He— He was…" Oh, boy. What is wrong with me lately? The words I want to say just get clogged in my throat, disabling me from speaking. I groaned and dropped my shoulders, bag almost falling off, in defeat when I heard Kairi chuckle.

"You won't be able to focus on anything if he's the only thing on your mind." I felt my cheeks heat up, not as much as before, but enough for her to see and she took the opportunity to tease me with an, "Aww, you're so cute." She patted my cheek and I made another noise of frustration, hoping the people bustling by hadn't noticed the embarrassing display.

"I don't have time for this, Kai!" I whispered and batted her hand away, "I have to get to class… See you later." A pout darkened her features when she heard the reluctance in my voice. She was doing it on purpose, but it didn't make me feel any better about rushing off.

"All right, tons of fun. Try to focus on your actual schoolwork today." I chuckled at this and the wink she followed up with. Somehow it amazed me to think about just how well she knew me. Still, I wasn't used to being teased over another person.

"What makes you so sure I'm always thinking about him?" Her violet eyes locked with mine and she smiled as she moved closer. "I can tell by the look on your face. I have to wonder what thoughts go on in your innocent little head while thinking about someone as sexy as him," she may have whispered the last part, but she may as well shouted them because they startled me just the same. I choked on my own spit as she calmly smiled.

"W-What?" How could she be so straightforward with an innocent expression like that? I knew her personality

"You like him," she stated simply and I grabbed my chest.

"I…I'm not. No, he doesn't…" I tried to protest, but it clearly wasn't working. Somehow denying what I felt for my friend didn't seem like the right thing to do. I am pretty sure that I have fallen in love with him over the course of a few simple months. That in and of itself made something inside my chest warm up pleasantly. Why would I deny this?

"You don't have to hide it. The look on your face after you got out of the car proves that something has been going on between you two." I silently cursed and folded my arms. So, she saw me get out of the car. I looked at the redhead before me and bit my lip. Today, however, I just felt like being difficult with her.

"Y-You always get carried away like this. It's just your imagination." I sucked in a breath and started to walk in the opposite direction.

"Is it?"

I stopped short.

After I turned to her face, remaining silent at the seriousness I was able to see in her expression, she didn't say another word.

"I—" What if I'd misinterpreted her reactions? Would she mock me for liking Riku—perhaps more than I should—or would she hate me? Was I jumping to conclusions?

"Don't look at me like that, Sora. There isn't any reason for you to deny it—in fact; I think you should go after this. You never know if he might feel the same." She winked at me and headed for her class, leaving me to stand in the middle of the hall, staring at the floor with my face lit up. I'm starting to think I haven't been giving my auburn-haired friend enough credit.

"I…"

She was right. No matter how much I thought about it, Kairi was absolutely right. But, I don't think I'll ever have the strength to admit it to him. If he were to reject me… What if he's disgusted that his best male friend had a little bit more than a crush on him? If he were to find that out, I'm not sure how I would be able to deal with him leaving.

I wouldn't be able to handle that. It could create unnecessary awkwardness for my best friend. I don't know if I could handle losing the friendship we have now.

I shook my head. No, I can't let this get me down. Something like this… No way I'd let turn it into something to be sad about.

"Riku would never react like that." I smiled as I walked to my classroom, feeling a bit lighter. I want to become the most important person in his life. It's a selfish thing to wish for, I know. At the same time, I know already that he has an irreplaceable spot in my heart and that will never change.

It's just terrifying.

Not knowing if I hold that same importance to him…

"What am I doing?" Clearing my head, I walked to an empty seat and took it, dropping my head on the table.

It was going to take a miracle to get through this day with my sanity intact.


(Riku's P.O.V)
-

Dear God. What am I doing?

What did I almost do?

I've been out here in the flat parking lot for ten minutes—just sitting here in my car—staring out the windshield and clutching my head. Never mind that I was a mindless husk walking through the supermarket. God knows how I managed to get anything done before I have to leave for class.

"Damn it." I'm getting nowhere fast and I'm in a losing battle with him. A battle he doesn't even know he's taking part in.

That innocent smile and those sky blue eyes – they're so fervent that my heart beats out of synch if he just glances at me. I have to wonder, if I had moved and inch closer, what would he have done? I really think I would have kissed him. My self-control was barely with me after I grabbed his arm and pulled him back. I saw the look on his face as I leaned towards him. His flushed face. His wide eyes. His scent.

It drove me crazy.

It's a wonder I haven't already blurted out my feelings in my recent state of disorder.

I sighed and turned my car keys. What if I can't do it when I find the right moment? I could just back out at any time, running like a child from my own feelings. There's also the issue of him liking someone else. Though, I'd imagine he would have told me if he did.

'How hard it is to plan all this out.' Even driving around for a while didn't help to clear my thoughts. Jesus, there's barely a single minute when this guy isn't on my mind. I grumbled to myself as I staggered up the stairs, grocery bags slowing me down slightly. It didn't take long to put everything away and realize I had less than thirty minutes until my first class.

I turned around and went into the bedroom, dropping face first into the mattress.

"I'm so pathetic." I laughed humorlessly, the sound absorbed by the sheets my face was buried into. I don't even know where to start with him. It was hard to put these kinds of feelings into actual words—especially when the feelings are even harder to comprehend mentally. But it's really only a matter of time until it gets to the point where I won't be able to hide my love for him.

My mind flicked to the thought of what my friend was doing right now. What did he think of my little action?

I decided to let it all go for a little while and dug my mobile out of my pocket, turning it on. I still had some time to kill, so I started playing the songs I kept on it.

"-All this feels strange and untrue
And I won't waste a minute, without you—"

No. Next. This still was not helping to get my mind off the brunet. In fact, it seems to be making me think about him even more. I love you, randomized playlist. 'You know me so well,' I thought, irritated.

"-I wanted you to know I love the way you laugh.
I wanna hold you high and steal your pain…away—"

Next.

"G-G-Girl I gotta know, how you dance like that,
D-D-Dance like that, Ya dance like—"

…Skip. Fucking Axel needs to stop touching my phone.

"If you only knew
I'm hanging by a thread, the web I spin for you
—"

No.

"Oh, how I've tried to get you out of my head.
And I lied, broken words I said. Never thought—"

"Oh, this is just ridiculous." I impatiently flicked at the button, turning the song again—not particularly caring where it ended up this time. Wasn't there anything better to listen to that angsty love songs when you're…angsty and in love? Jesus, that sounds terrible.

"-And I´d give up forever to touch you
´Cause I know that you feel me somehow
You´re the closest to heaven that I´ll ever—"

That last song was just too much. I turned the music off. Seriously, what the hell? Nothing like listening to the first song that reminded me of my situation with Sora. I'd almost managed to kill enough time by just being depressed, so that was good enough. Maybe I can focus on my artwork to get my mind off all of these stressful things.

I didn't take long to get back towards the university. Hopefully by now, Sora's forgotten all about my little display from earlier. Although I wasn't as upset as I thought that I wouldn't get to see him much today, so maybe he'd get some time to himself to think. I know I needed time.

Either way, I'm just going to try to get though the day without further embarrassing myself.

Yeah.

That wasn't going to happen.


(Normal P.O.V)
-

Time flows on.

If you're not careful, it can pass by faster and faster and before you know it…things have changed.

"Oh, hey! Riku, dude, look at all the snow!"

A month can pass in the blink of an eye, Riku was aware of this now more than ever. The groaning male rolled over to see his brunet friend standing by the window—nose undoubtedly pressed to the glass—and smiling at how much more of the frozen flakes that had piled up over the night. He rolled his eyes but still smiled, because no one had the capacity to be so awake at the unholy hour of nine in the morning like Sora did.

"Snow~! OH, HELL YES." The over-eager brunet grinned and jumped on the bed, bouncing his friend up and down slightly. "Come on, let's go outside!" Riku groaned and pulled the covers over Sora when the brunet got close enough and pulled him into a tight hold.

"It's extremely early; why are you not sleeping? You're always sleeping…" Sora laughed into his friend's embrace, but quickly escaped and got to his feet.

"Sleep when it's snowing? Impossible. I'm going to go call Kai. Last night she told me she wanted to do something today." Riku sighed and ran a hand through his disheveled hair as soon as Sora left for the living room.

"It's already a week until Christmas," he sighed. Speaking of Kairi, so much time had passed since he last talked with her about his situation.

'At least I've made a little bit of progress…' At least they were able to touch or embrace each other without being asked questions. It had become so natural that they sometimes even did it subconsciously.

Riku rolled onto his stomach as he heard the brunet talking excitedly in the other room, the lilt in his voice rising at some parts of the conversation.

"Wake up, it's snowing—! I—huh? Yeah, I know what time it is. But… I know, but we can go—I know! Hey, I am not! No. No, Riku's already awake—Jesus, don't sound so miserable!" Riku's entire body shook with his laughter as his friend's annoyed protests echoed into the room. While the other remained on the phone, Riku drew in a breath and tried to fall back asleep. But he then opened an eye as his friend came back into the room.

"Is everyone but me pissed off today?" The brunet eased onto the bed and his sky-blue eyes searched for his friend's face. Riku twisted his head to get a better look at the brunet, and grinned.

"Only when you wake them up at eight in the morning."

"You're all lazy." Sora pouted and took the opportunity to throw himself on Riku and steal back his pillow, "Get up, get up! It is snowing and life is great and I am so awake right now." He laughed and poked Riku's cheeks before Riku grabbed his arms and opened his eyes to look at his friend. Sora was sitting directly on top of him. This caused him to inhale, looking up into Sora's clear irises as the brunet leaned closer. He didn't move an inch, he didn't even blink, as Sora cupped the sides of his face when he noticed this and asked, worried, "Is something wrong, Riku? You look pale."

Riku's breath hitched as his eyes widened and he pushed Sora off of him. The brunet bounced slightly as he landed off to the side, and he immediately sent his friend a questioning glance.

"I—"

"No, sorry, Sora."

"Riku, wh—" Riku's made sure his bangs covered any view of his face as he interrupted his friend. One look at him and it would all be over.

"So what did Kairi say? Other than probably a few choice words about how you woke her up." Riku didn't look back. He was already standing and looking for a heavier shirt to put on, mumbling that it was ridiculously cold. As least that was a decent cover up of why he really had goose bumps.

Sora remained silent for a few moments and tapped his fingers over the comforter he was sitting on—a smile hesitantly tugging at his lips when he finally caught Riku glancing at him. "She said that we could go to Selphie's house for some food and stuff. There's a park with a decent hill not too far from there, if you're up for some sled riding action." Riku looked at Sora again and offered him a grin.

"If you're up for it, I am."

It was already a good ways into winter break, and Riku still felt uneasy about telling the brunet about his feelings. He had gotten so caught up in spending time with his friend that he hadn't even thought of how to approach the subject.

"Ugh. I still don't want to be awake right now." Riku settled back into the bed and buried himself in the covers when he couldn't find his sweatshirt.

Sora chuckled at the large heap and he crawled closer to his friend. "Hmmyeah, but there's always body heat." The brunet let a bit of pink slip onto his cheeks as he sat down, folding his legs and fiddling with the drawstring on his sweatpants. Riku blinked. Was Sora…flirting? Regardless, he couldn't help but chuckle as he held up the covers for Sora when the brunet nudged him.

"If we're going to be running up and down that big hill all day, we're going to need rest, aren't we? Well, I don't know about you. I will." Riku yawned and moved over for Sora to lie down. After his friend's yawn, the brunet's mouth opened wide and then settled into a content smile.

"It is still kind of early…" Sora coughed before snuggling into his pillow.

'Maintain a safe distance and you'll be fine, Maintain a safe distance… Maintain it, Riku.'

Riku was brought out of his thoughts by Sora's tiny snores.

"Wha? Really?" His bemused expression eased and he laughed softly, because it really wasn't all that surprising.

"So you weren't as awake as you thought. Such a weirdo," he ran his hand through Sora's hair and then down his cheek. "But that's why I…" The silver-haired male chose not to finish his sentence and stuffed his hands under the sheets to search for the brunet's, intertwining their fingers when he finally felt the other's skin against his palm.

...

"Guys… Guys~"

When the silver haired teen struggled to open his annoyingly heavy eyelids, two blurred figures appeared above him. He was pretty sure those weren't there before…

"Do we really have to wake them? They look so funny squished together like that! Plus, you know, this could be good blackmail material."

Riku rubbed his eyes and focused on the two women at his bedside. Definitely not supposed to be there. He probably should have been more surprised to see the two intruders than he actually was. (Which actually wasn't a whole lot, but it was still early and he was still technically asleep.)

"Do I really want to know why you're in here standing over me like this?"

Riku moved to sit up but was stopped by the sleeping brunet latched onto his stomach.

Oh.

That's why.

From the way Kairi was looking at him, he knew that sheknew what he was feeling and thinking. He also silently thought about changing the locks on the front door.

"Oh, I wish I brought my camera." Selphie whined while Kairi pretended to snap an imaginary picture before she gave Riku another knowing look. This one, however, Riku was actually worried about.

"Have you told him yet?" She asked quietly and Selphie's focus returned in order to intently stare at him expectantly, awaiting his answer. Riku bit his lip as he shook his head and was met with their disappointed sighs.

"Well tonight's going to be the perfect opportunity then," Selphie had a bit of trouble concealing her excitement and Kairi gave him a simple thumbs up.

"What do you mean?" One of Riku's delicate silver brows arched as he questioned the women.

"You're really slow. We're going to spend all day together doing friend bonding stuff." Kairi let her grin widen. "Which I imagine you're already quite good at."

"Well, I do live with him," Riku deadpanned.

"Touché. But we can do some stuff outside and then head back to my place." It was Selphie's turn to grin down at him. "Then, when we go back for hot chocolate and food and then… You can pull spiky aside and put the moves on him before he even knows what's going on. It's brilliant." Riku wasn't sure if he should be flattered or worried that Selphie had already planned this out for him. God, he hoped they weren't planning on trying to follow him or lurk in the shadows somewhere. That was if he even wanted to try it like she had just explained.

"You are really bad at this romance thing, you know." Riku looked up at the two with a smile that contradicted the exasperation in his voice.

"It's not like you'd know the difference, what with all the shit-load of experience you have," her sarcasm came in waves, "Now wake up your soon-to-be lover." Selphie smiled and poked Riku's cheek as he shot her a humorless look. But he obeyed and shifted, leaning himself closer to the brunet. Kairi bit her finger while Selphie grinned widely as they watched Riku lean towards Sora's neck.

"Sora," he whispered into the brunet's ear, "Get up." His lips lightly brushed Sora's ear as he spoke, which he hadn't meant to do initially, but watching Kairi and Selphie look at each other made him laugh lowly. Sora also stirred at this.

"Wow, he's got such a sexy voice." Selphie dramatically placed her arm over her forehead and fell against Kairi, who made an amused noise as she pushed her away.

"Riku…"

When his name was called, he glanced down at the brunet to see him breathing softly.

"Hm?" Riku tapped his friend and tilted his head. "What is it, Sora?" His viridian eyes widened slightly when he realized that the brunet was still asleep.

"Riku," Sora clutched Riku's shirt and his lips parted.

"Hey… I think he's dreaming about you." Kairi leaned forward, hovering over the bed curiously. "Sora. Wake up," she whispered closely to his ear, just as Riku had done but the brunet barely stirred, so she tickled his side gently and he groaned.

"No." Sora squirmed and his eyes fluttered open. There was a brief moment where he almost fell back down into Riku's arms, but a familiar glimpse of red hair caught his attention. "Kai… Kairi? What are you doing here?" He struggled to sit up and was once again almost on top of Riku, staring down at him innocently when the taller boy coughed and held himself up with his elbows.

"Is it time to go?"

Sora looked his friend's eagerly and both girls nodded, suppressing more noises of their obvious amusement while Riku fell backwards into the mattress – defeated. Selphie smirked at Sora's obvious contentment with where he was still leaning on his friend.

"Yeah. But you look more than happy to stay here, though." Selphie laughed when Sora shifted, looking confused as he glanced at Riku's bluish face.

"I… I'd like to…breathe sometime soon." Riku gasped out and Sora made a surprised noise, realizing he was suffocating his friend.

"Sh-Shit! Sorry, sorry! Are you okay?" Sora shuffled off of his friend to instead to hover over him, with his hand on the silver-haired male's chest.

"I'm fine. But, I think we should get ready. Bring an extra set of clothes also, since everyone seems to want to do stuff outside." Riku grimaced at the thought of the cold while Sora hopped off the bed and quickly rummaged through the drawers.

"This is so great; it didn't snow like this last year." Sora whistled as he dug through his clothes, and his friend's all glanced at each other with amused smiles on their faces. "Wait right here!" In a frenzy, Sora hurried around the room—gathering whatever clothes he could before scampering through the bathroom door and shutting it behind him. Riku already felt exhausted just from seeing all the energy Sora was burning up.

"Oh, man. You're gonna be feeling pain tomorrow," Selphie explained as she hopped on the bed and folded her legs.

"Why do you say that?" Riku slipped off the bed after Selphie made herself comfortable, and headed for the closet.

"With the way Sora's all hyper now, just think about how many times he'll have you running up and down that hill." She fell back onto the bed. Riku grabbed his chain necklaces and also picked a pair of jeans and a tight, long-sleeved shirt while the girls looked at the door that had just been opened.

"Oh, I can't wait," he muttered to himself.

"Wow, Sor. That was a quick shower." Kairi giggled as her friend rubbed his towel over his head furiously, looking somewhat of some type of windblown porcupine when he was done. Riku laughed loudly at his hairdo and swiveled around him to get to the bathroom, but not before messing up his friend's hair even more.

"It's a good look for you," he teased before he shut the door. Taking a little longer than his friend to get ready, Riku exited the bathroom when he was done to find Sora sitting on the bed next to Kairi, now covered in all sorts of winter apparel—from a large jacket to a hat and matching gloves. Riku eyed the fuzzy pompom dangling from the hat and barely repressed a laugh.

"Not surprised." He walked over to flick the pompom that was attached to the hat and the brunet pulled at the strings that covered his ears. "You sure go all out, don't you?" The taller male smirked at the pout he received.

"Don't come crying to me when you are sneezing all over the place and stuck in bed with pneumonia. Or if your ears fall off." Riku laughed at the brunet's warning and pulled his heaviest coat and scarf out of the closet before shutting it.

"I'll remember that. Okay, I think we're ready to go." He slipped on the coat and scarf and a pair of boots while he waited for the girls to put their coat's back on.

"Finally!" Sora joyfully twirled around to the front door and paused for a moment, watching his friend stare at him in silence. Once their growing smiles started to freak him out, he backed up a bit. "W-What?" He asked, flushing. Riku almost tackled him then and there, but simply moved closer and turned him around with a laugh. Sora looked back at him even after Riku began pushing him, but the taller only smiled.

"Nothing. Let's go make the most of it. Snow only lasts for so long."

Sora wasn't going to argue there.

...

The drive to Selphie's didn't take as long as Riku had originally thought.

"So, where is this hill?" Riku asked as he walked alongside his bundled friends. He glanced behind them, sighing when he could no longer see his friend's house.

"Not too much further. See the park entrance? A little past that." Kairi's muffled voice called out. Riku around Sora towards his two female friends, laughing and shaking his head at the way they had their scarves up around their noses. His eyes eventually returned to Sora, who was already hurrying through the snow.

"Come on; pick up the pace, guys!" He called as he ran ahead of them. The three left behind looked at each other before trying to catch up.

"E-Easy for you to say—you're not carrying anything, Sora!" Selphie yelled back to her friend as she dragged her sled behind her. She was kept cursing at it for getting stuck and almost flying away with the wind—being a small, circular pink sled made of some kind of plastic, the wind seemed to like knocking it against the back of her legs. Kairi had one of Selphie's large inner tubes and was faring better than her other friend. Riku himself had pulled along his assigned sled, being given the biggest one so he and Sora could share. Of course Selphie and Kairi had been smiling when she gave it to him.

"Look at him! He's running like there's not a billion feet of snow in his way." Kairi said, smiling at the brunet who had now stopped to trying to catch snowflakes on his tongue. Ignoring the small conversation going on next him, Riku located the hill just past the fence around the park—the hill Sora was heading towards—and groaned. Just looking at the steepness of it made him sore.

"Oh, hell."

Riku looked back at the two women nervously, hoping they'd have some pity on him. The brunette was sporting a large grin as she patted Riku's shoulder and Kairi just shrugged.

"Told you so. Oh, don't look so scared. I'm sure your big muscle-man body can handle that little mound now, can't it?" Selphie laughed and ran towards Sora, throwing her arms in the air as she shouted, "Chaaaaarge!" Sora's mockingly maniacal laugh resounded as he tackled her into the snow when she got close enough, sending the sled and snow flying.

"Ah, holy shit! It's cold!" Selphie yelled as she sat up. The two snow-covered brunets laughed even as they stood and brushed themselves off.

"You carry this stuff, I wanna sled ride!" She took off towards the hill leaving the other brunet sitting in the snow.

"Hey!" Sora laughed and followed after her, with Kairi trailing behind. Riku smiled and grabbed the sled with his free hand.

"Wait up!" He called and Sora watched his silver-haired friend trudge up the hill.

"Come on, Riku," after the brunet yelled, Selphie turned around to see Riku struggling to the top and laughed at him. "Haul some ass! We're waiting!"

Riku grumbled to himself as he towed the sleds up with him and blew out a breath, "I…am not…looking forward to walking back up." Sora propped himself on the sled and smiled and Riku watched as the brunet patted the space behind him. He wasn't sure if he should look as happy as he felt, so he coughed and nodded.

"Don't worry; you'll be too busy having fun to notice the excruciating pain, now get on!"

"…Somehow that doesn't reassure—"

"HELL YE-HE-HEEEES!"

Riku turned as Selphie's loud wail cut him off. He watched his other friends shoot down the hill on their sled and his insides twisted in an excitement that he was sure he was far too old for, but didn't care. It had been years since the last time he had done something like this, after all. He stopped watching the girls after they hit a mound of snow and flipped off into the snow. Laughing, he situated onto the sled behind Sora and wrapped his arms around the slender waist, placing his legs on the side of it. It was sort of like Selphie's pink one, except it was green and rectangular instead of circular.

It had taken him a moment to fight off the tingling sensation that shot up his spine—this was the result of folding his arms over Sora's stomach and the feeling of the other male's back resting against his chest. Honestly, he was more content to just sit like this than to actually go down the hill.

"Are you ready?" Riku spoke softly next to the Sora's ear so that he could hear him, blinking when the younger male only shivered and nodded in reply. With a grin, Riku shifted and pushed off the ground in order to gain enough traction to guide them down the hill as well. The sound of Sora's laughter immediately filled his ears and soon he felt himself joining in. They had gotten about half-way down the hill when a ton of snow shot back into their faces as the sled hit a bump and sent them through the air and to the ground again just as Kairi and Selphie had; though they were sent rolling off the sled in the process.

Riku had never felt such enjoyment from sled riding—and getting potentially bruising injuries.

"I'm going to be feeling that tomorrow," Sora finally said from somewhere to his left. Sitting up and glaring at the snow he spit out, Riku turned towards his friend the moment he heard his bright laughter. Riku watched him rise to his knees and dust off the clinging snow and then look towards the top of the hill, where Kairi and Selphie were laughing at them.

"Try not to wipeout so hard next time, ladies!" They heard Selphie's shout and then turned to look at each other.

"Like you did?" With a delighted laugh, Sora took hold of Riku's hand and the sled and started for the hill again. In the middle of their upwards trek, a sudden smile broke across Riku's face when he realized that he wasn't the least bit cold. Sora had been right. It might just have been the hand still wrapped around his, but Riku was sure that whatever was keeping him warm was caused by his friend.

And about a good twenty minutes later, he also noted that Sora was right about not feeling the pain of walking up the stupid hill repeatedly.

But his comrades could.

"I can't…go on anymore." Selphie collapsed and rolled around on the ground, collecting white clumps of snow all over her heavily bundled up body. Her hat had fallen off and her hair was almost completely covered with snow, making the poor girl very, uncomfortably cold.

"I know what you mean," Kairi fell to her knees and rested next to Selphie while fixing her damp gloves.

"What? Don't quit now!" Sora ran towards them and held his hands out to his sides. He was smiling, but his brows creased slightly as he asked, "Are you sure you want to go back? We've been having so much fun."

Sora was right. Every trip up and down the hill, with the occasional snowball thrown in between had been every bit as entertaining as they thought it'd be. And it had been extremely amusing to watch Selphie turn her sled into a makeshift snowboard—making it nearly three feet before falling—and making an full-body indent in the snow.

"I know, but we want to go back and make some hot chocolate before our hands fall off. Besides," she sniffled, "Runny noses aren't attractive at all, Sora." Selphie watched Sora pout and throw snow at her for using his weakness for hot chocolate to get her way.

"We haven't even been out here that long, you babies." Sora bent down to smile at them, helping them both up.

"Why don't you and Riku hang out here a little more. Make a snowman or something." Kairi brushed herself off before sending a quick, almost subtle wink to Riku. He glared at her futilely to which she only smiled at.

"Okay. That sound all right to you?" The brunet glanced at his tired friend, who moved his bangs out of the way and sighed. He did nod, however, because watching Sora's face light up afterwards made all of the soreness to come worth it.

"Only if I get to name it," Riku smiled and Sora nudged him.

"All right then." Selphie linked arms with Kairi and the two giggled as they turned around. "We'll meet you back at my house. Don't get lost or anything." She grinned. Sora didn't catch the look she sent to Riku, and waved as his two friends walked down the hill.

"Come on, Riku." Sora dropped to his knees and gathered the snow.

Riku laughed softly at the brunet's expression. He was trying so hard to keep the snow together, and with a look of utmost concentration on his face. There was a nice silence as Riku sat in the snow, pushing it together idly, letting Sora do most of the work.

"You know… I used to do this all the time when I was a kid." Riku spoke, turning his head as Sora began to pack snow into a large heap. "As I got older I grew out of it, naturally, but I'd still watch my sister build them with my mom and dad." Sora quietly rolled the large snowball along the ground and listened to his friend before responding.

"Really?" Riku nodded, blinking when a few snowflakes stuck to his eyelashes.

"Yeah. Here, I think this is big enough." Riku placed the snowman's middle together as he spoke. "Did you do this sort of thing with your family?" It was a careless question, really. But with the cheerful manner that Sora kept up, sometimes Riku wondered if Sora wouldn't mind talking about some of the happier times in his past.

"All the time," Sora laughed in response, "Mom would always name them something weird, too." Sora smiled as he started rolling the head. Riku couldn't help but laugh.

"Oh, you have to tell me what she named them. Don't just leave me hanging." Riku took off his scarf and draped it around the body after Sora place the head upon the newly formed snowman's icy shoulders. The brunet's eyes lit up and Riku silently watched as the snow stuck and clung to his hair and even his eyelashes.

"Dear Lord, you don't know the half of it. Silly things like Frost-Buns and Puffballs. I was really young then, so I thought they were funny." Sora smiled and placed his hat on the snowman's lumpy head.

"Well, then I guess we need to give this one a name." Riku spoke as he drew a face with his fingers. "I think he looks like a Eugene. Or maybe a Virgil." Riku laughed and glanced at the brunet.

"Please tell me you'd have better names if this were your child…" Sora looked at him in a way that Riku couldn't handle, so he turned and laughed, hunching over slightly as he grabbed at his stomach. After that, Riku prodded Sora's red nose.

"Oh, and you can do better? Fine. What names have you got?" He placed a hand on his hip, rolling his eyes and smiling playfully as he awaited his friend's answer. Sora thought about it for a moment and smiled.

"At least something a little more dignified. That is an expensive scarf…and hat. How about Reginald?" Riku stared at him for a while, trying to figure out what he was thinking.

"Reginald." Riku snorted again, watching Sora hide his own laughter behind his gloved hand. "And you really made fun of my names?" Riku elbowed him.

"I say we just keep simple… Bob could work." Sora's hands remained on his hips as he looked at the snowman.

"Bob it is. Very dignified." Sora brushed the imaginary dirt off of their new creation when his friend agreed. "Now our buddy is finally complete," Sora took a small moment to smile up at Riku, his grin revealing white teeth when the other male returned the gesture.

"He's gorgeous," Riku teased and earned a laugh from Sora as they viewed Bob the Snowman in all of his frozen glory. They both felt proud of their creation, though when the wind started to pick up, the two decided that it was time to bid Bob farewell. But not before taking back their clothes.

"Ah. I really could use some hot chocolate right about now." A shiver wracked through the brunet's body and he hugged himself.

"If Selphie actually has enough to keep you satisfied, I'll eat my scarf." Riku smiled when Sora's arm shot out sideways and pushed him before the two quickly scurried down the hill and into the small park.

"You know. It really is nice tonight. I almost feel kind of bad we left so many tracks and all that back there." At the brunet's quiet observation, Riku nodded and glanced around to see for himself—catching sight of the slides and swings that were covered with snow, along with the trees and the small benches that lined the small area. It didn't take long to find the road that led back to Selphie's.

Taking the time to stop and simply bask in the blissful emotions inside of him, Sora looked up to the gray sky and stretched his arms upward as if he could touch the fluffy-looking clouds. Even though it was dark, the snow light up the entire park.

"Speaking of…do you think we could rest a bit?" Sora asked and pointed to the very last bench near the park's exit. Because Riku only smiled in reply, Sora took that to mean it was okay and walked on. He tried to keep his body from shaking too much as he and Riku continued to the bench under a dimly light lantern post. Once he had gotten excited from the bright scenery and he stopped for a moment, there was no way to stop the heat from lighting up his cheeks.

"It's so relaxing out here." Sora caught snowflakes in his glove before he turned to look at Riku. He could only stare at his friend's content smile for so long before he turned his head down. There he caught sight of their footprints in the snow and turned back around as an idea popped into his head.

"Hey Riku, snow angel!" The brunet spread his arms out and fell back into the snow, flailing his arms and legs to create the holy snow indent. Riku blinked in surprise a moment before he walked over to him, looking down at the brunet who began to chuckle. "Your turn," he grabbed Riku's hand and pulled the teen down to his side.

"Wah—" Riku laughed and did so and even if he felt rather silly, the pleased look Sora had focused on him made it better. When Sora laughed and rose to his feet, Riku followed and gazed down at their creations—the angelic shapes side by side. Riku watched as the brunet drew two neat halos above the heads on the indents before standing up to gave Riku the victory sign.

"Now, my night is complete."

Riku couldn't help but laugh, what with snow clinging to every part of the back of Sora's body. After he helped brush him off, they had finally made it to the bench and sat down, content to sit in silence for a few moments. Sora took in their surroundings from his place on the bench and sighed. It was a clear night, at best. The snow wasn't falling hard, and he was glad for that.

"You cold?" Riku turned to the brunet and opened his mouth to speak, but closed it and simply gazed over his friend. Sora sniffled and gave his friend his usual grin. Riku couldn't help but think he was similar to those angels they'd just modeled the shapes after in the snow.

"Nope."

Riku chuckled at his thoughts and removed his gloves to stretch his fingers.

"Don't you just love being outside on nights like this?" Sora smiled and leaned back so that he had a clear view of the sky.

"When it's not cold as balls, yes." Riku grinned as Sora snickered. But when the brunet's hand found his, he let out a startled breath.

"Really. I'm happy. Happier than I've been in a long time." Riku turned to stare at his friend, though Sora's gaze was still fixated on the stars.

"Hm," Riku made a happy noise, "It's funny. I'm definitely not one for the cold in any case, but tonight…I'd do it all over even if it were a million degrees colder than it is right now. So yeah, in short, I'm happy too."

"Happy that you didn't get hypothermia?" Sora asked, smiling.

"Happy that I didn't get hypothermia, yes." Riku agreed with a laugh. It took several minutes before Riku finally looked over at Sora. He was still staring upwards, but there was something vacant about his gaze that made Riku reach out to touch his shoulder.

"I really did have fun tonight, Sora. Thank you," He smiled widely and Sora blinked, looking away.

"…Me too." At Sora's lack of a substantial response, Riku continued.

"Really. Earlier you said happier than you've been in a while, I want you to know how much I agree with that. Spending time with you guys is something I've gotten used to and now I don't think I could ever live without it. I don't think I've ever had friends as close as you all. It's… It's something I can't find the words to tell you how much you mean to me. Is that hard to understand? I'm not good at this stuff…"

Sora smiled but nodded his head, taking his hat off his head and looking down at it, playing idly with the pompom.

"Even knowing about my past…you'd still say that?" Sora asked, refusing to look away from his hat. Riku'd be lying if he said the question didn't surprise him.

"What does your past have to do with anything?" Riku asked slowly, trying to gauge the look that Sora suddenly flung towards him. "I didn't make friends with your past. I made friends with you and nothing will ever change my feelings for you," he inhaled as he wondered if Sora realized just which feelings he was talking about.

"Riku—"

"Nothing ever happens by dwelling on the old stuff, anyway. So don't worry, I'm with you now because you make me laugh and I can talk with you about anything. You make me happy. Why would I want anything more?" Riku asked, try not to let the contradicting words to that last statement bubble up.

Sora just sat in a silence that Riku could clearly see was drawn out by his astonishment.

"I-I just…" The hitch in Sora's breath made Riku lean forward in order to see him better. He really wished he hadn't, because Sora was clearly struggling with his emotions—and the water clinging to his bottom lashes wasn't helping.

"Sora—"

"Don't look!" Sora stood up, wiping at his eyes. "You always…always…see this side of me. I can't stand it," he suppressed a sob and started walking away. Riku stood and followed him.

"Wait. Sora, listen," Riku reached for his arm but Sora pulled away. When he did, Riku saw his brows creasing and his eyes still so sad.

"No. Just stop it! You say these things that make me feel so…so damn confused and I can't," he paused and turned back around, "I don't know what to do anymore! I just feel like I'm bothering you all the time with this—with everything I do and I have no clue why. I don't want to feel like this, but I can't stop! I can't. I can't stand making you look like that, either. Because you do look worried and tired, you know." Sora laughed, wiping at his face again and Riku's heart hurt at the forced smile in contrast with his pained expression.

"Sora… You can talk to me about anything, you know that. Don't hold all these things in. Of course I'm going to be worried when something upsets you. But that's why I need you to tell me what's wrong." Riku stood still, staring at the ground. If Sora thought he couldn't share these things, then Riku realized that he'd been doing a piss poor job as a friend. Harsh blow, that was.

"I can't! Don't you get it?"

"Why can't you?" Riku asked. Sora pulled away and started walking further, seeing Selphie's house coming into view.

"I don't like making people worry. I don't want anyone to get involved with my problems, surely you get that. Let's just go. Forget about this. I'm fine."

Riku gritted his teeth together and moved in front of the smaller male. Enough was enough.

"No."

"Riku, please." Sora closed his eyes and started to walk around him.

"Sora—"

"Just drop it!" The brunet shouted, startling himself more than Riku and he inhaled, eyes welling up again. "…Just leave me alone." Sora choked, moving on ahead while Riku balled his hands into fists. He grabbed Sora's shoulder and turned him around.

"Why won't you let me in?" He asked lowly, trying not to sound betrayed. Sora still didn't look at him and pulled away.

"It's none of your business." Sora spoke, his voice careful and soft—every bit as tired as he had claimed Riku was. Riku's hand fell from his shoulder and he didn't say anything. Sora continued forward and Riku waited a few moments before following. It was the first time he'd ever heard Sora shout, or the first time they'd ever acted so distant towards each other.

It had taken Riku a few moments to realize that Sora had been crying silently, and as his gloved hands went to his face Riku felt himself lose control.

"Stop running!" He shouted, watching Sora jump and turn his head to look back. Confused, but startled, Sora blinked rapidly.

"But I'm not—"

"You say you can't tell me anything, but you already have. And I told you that I didn't care what your father did—his actions aren't yours and he's not you, so stop running from this. Do you think I like seeing you hurt and hide your problems from me? Don't you trust me at all? I want to fucking help you, Sora! You say it's none of my business, but it became so when I started to care about you and you let me become your friend." Riku stopped, inhaling and calming himself down before he pushed Sora away. He hadn't even realized that he'd been yelling, but the look on Sora's face was enough proof.

"Don't hide yourself from me," Riku whispered when he was close enough to grab Sora's wrists and get a better look into his eyes.

Sora's brows furrowed and Riku's heart clenched when a few tears fell down his face. Riku moved his thumb up to brush away the stray tears until Sora batted his hand away, sobbing now.

"Just stop!" He shouted before he turned and broke into a run for Selphie's house. Riku didn't even have time to be surprised before his feet were already taking him after his friend.

"Sora! Wait!"

This wasn't what he wanted.

"Sora!"

This was far from what he wanted.

Seeing Sora run from him made his chest ache, but it only made his legs work faster until he caught up and grabbed Sora's arm. By now, they'd made it close enough that they were just at the back porch on Selphie's house. He jerked Sora towards him and pushed him back against the porch, the brunet's back pressed flat up against a pillar.

Waiting for their breathing to calm down, Riku gritted his teeth and searched his friend's clear, watery eyes.

"Why…did you run?" He asked quietly, watching the conflict run through his friend's expression.

"Riku." Sora sagged against the wall, his chest heaving.

"I'm not going to force you to tell me anything. Just don't run from me. What's going on with you, Sora? Is it my fault? I didn't mean to push you… I'm sor—"

The sudden weight of Sora's body falling against his cut him off, and he exhaled when he felt Sora's arms wrap around him. Sora was still crying, just a little less than before.

"It's okay," Riku soothed as he wrapped his arms around his shaking friend and embraced him tightly. "I'm sorry. Don't cry, please." Riku closed his eyes and pulled Sora closer, running a comforting hand through the other's hair.

"Don't apologize. I'm the idiot, here." Sora spoke, thought it was muffled by Riku's jacket. "I'm scared, Riku. I've never talked about this with anyone—but I want you to know. You deserve a reason, after everything, but…I don't want you to leave me."

Riku pulled back and stared down at his friend.

"Don't. I'd never leave you because of something like this. Or because of your past. I already told you that." Riku smiled down at him, petting his hair softly. "Come on, dorkface, let's get you inside. They'll kill me if you catch a—"

"No." Sora pulled back, but slid his hand down into Riku's and pulled him up the back stairs onto the porch. Riku was surprised, but still let himself be led to the small wicker sofa that was placed near the back door. He glanced through the window above the seat and was slightly relived that he could see Kairi and Selphie in the other room, talking amongst themselves.

But his attention returned to Sora when the brunet pulled him down to sit.

"No more running," Sora said around a small smile and Riku sighed as he reached a hand up to wipe away his friend's tears. He nodded however, and waited patiently for his friend to start.

"I'm so tired of keeping everything in like this… I trust you, I do, so please…"

"You can tell me whatever you feel you need to," Riku touched his hand in what he hoped to be a reassuring way. It seemed to work, because Sora finally gave him a smile.

"Do you remember? I told you we had tried to move away. We went wherever we could. Mom, Ven, and I. Oh, Ventus was my brother. I don't think I ever told you that…" He paused and Riku shook his head, letting him continue. "We stayed with a friend of my mom's for a while. Everything was so great then, staying together in a nice little house in the middle of nowhere. Ven liked it because there was so much open space to run. He loved running," Sora laughed at wiped at his eyes. "I think that's why I felt that name was perfect for him. He could run like the wind, you know?"

Sora took a moment and sighed, leaning forward so that his arms were resting on his knees.

"We were seven at the time, not really knowing or caring what went on around us. Then one day, everything just went downhill. I knew that my father abused her, I knew. That was why we had moved around, leaving him no warning or notice. So when he showed up that day…"

"Sora, it's all right," Riku shifted the slightest bit closer and Sora flashed him the most grateful smile he'd ever seen in his life.

"I know it is. You're wonderful, Riku. That's why I can tell you this." Sora smiled, fighting to stay strong as Riku's arm snaked around him and pulled him into a hug, which he returned.

"I'm here." Riku whispered, feeling Sora shake slightly against him.

"I know," Sora cursed his voice for cracking and his eyes for watering, but he forced himself to pull back a bit to continue. "I was in the living room with my mother when Ventus had rushed in. He was white as a sheet, and I'll never forget looking over his head to see him standing in the open front door. My father didn't say anything for so long, but I think that made me even more terrified. Mom was already up and shouting at him to leave. But he wouldn't budge. He didn't say or do anything, but stare at us all. There was so much hatred in his eyes, Riku. I remember everything so vividly."

Riku didn't say a thing as Sora placed his head in his hands, voice oddly calm.

"He had a gun. I saw it in his coat pocket, but I don't think anyone else did. That's what made it even harder to react to. So when he reached for it, I stopped breathing. I froze. Choked up. I knew what was going to happen and I… I was so goddamned scared that I couldn't even warn anyone!" Sora finally choked, continuing when he felt Riku's arm around him.

"He shot her in the head. And Ven in the stomach." Sora sobbed, wiping at his face as he searched blindly for Riku's hand. The silver-haired male was shocked, to say the least. Learning of Sora's mother's—and also brother's—deaths so suddenly. He kept his face calm and pulled Sora closer than before so that he was almost sitting on him, not wanting him to continue. He was clearly hurt.

"That's enough. Shh, Sora, it's going to be all right."

"N-No, it's okay. I'm fine, I can continue… I already feel lighter. I need this." He sniffed, but didn't pull back this time, holding Riku back tightly. "My mother's friend, Lauria, had been there too, having already called the police while my father had…shot Ven and my mother. I remember Lauria running up to my father and reaching for his gun, struggling for a good while. I blacked out after the third gunshot. It wasn't until after I woke up in the hospital that I realized he'd shot Lauria in her hip and…that I had lost my family. I was only seven, yet I felt so tired and alone that night. So tired of everything. It was terrifying."

Riku closed his eyes and tucked Sora's head under his chin and allowed the brunet to steady his heaving chest. They sat in silence for a while before he heard Sora sigh.

"After that, Lauria healed up and took me in. I moved here with her and she sent me to school, where I met Kairi. Long story short, Kairi and I became inseparable. And then, in junior year of high school, Lauria got really sick. She became ill frequently, but I knew that it was different this time. I stayed with Kairi for a long while, not wanting to slow down her recovery in any way… But it wasn't something she could fight. I think, looking back, I should have stayed with her. Maybe she could've… Maybe she wouldn't have felt so tired. I knew she was—we both were. After she died, I moved in with Kairi and her parents. I owe them so much. They gave me a job at the café and then…" Sora laughed through his tears, though he'd been just letting them fall as he spoke, and Riku felt him shift so that their eyes met.

"I met you."

Sora inhaled, turning his head away when he realized that he'd spoken with such clear-cut emotion.

Riku felt his throat tighten. He couldn't even imagine the pain that his best friend had kept to himself for so long. No one would ever be able to tell by first glance, that such a person would have such a torn and painful past. To think that underneath that beautiful, innocent smile so much hurt had been masked for the sake of others… If this was torture for Riku…how did Sora manage to conceal away such a level of agony behind that smile of his?

"That's right." Riku gently rubbed his hands along Sora's back, and although he could find no words to console the brunet—no matter what he would say, there wasn't anything that would take away all the pain that had etched itself into the brunet's heart—the only thing he could do was hold his friend tightly in his arms.

"Sora…" Riku pressed his lips to Sora's eyes, softly brushing over each eyelash as he rubbed his thumb in small circles along the brunet's cheek. "Listen to me," At those words, Sora looked at his friend with those deep, emotional eyes and it took all of Riku's resolve not to press sweet kisses to that equally sweet mouth.

"Y-Yes?" Sora leaned into the older male's touch.

"I can't tell you not to feel sad or that everything is all okay, because we both know that it's not. What happened to you, I wish I could do something to change it, but I can't. And for that, I'm sorry. But I can help you move on. Whenever you feel sad…or whenever you want to talk about anything—everything—you know I'll be there. I'll listen. I won't ever let you feel tired and alone. Got it?" Riku smiled and ruffled his friend's hair. "You're strong, Sora; I know you'll get through this." Riku once again kissed Sora's eyelashes—ridding them of the icy tears.

The brunet was amazed at how his friend was so good at telling him exactly what he wanted to hear. Sora shivered and bit his lip as his hands twisted in the front of Riku's jacket. He couldn't help but feel that his friend had spoke those cajoling words from the depths of his heart. No lies and no pity. For that, he couldn't be more grateful.

"Thank you, R-Riku. I didn't mean to turn you into my therapist," Sora laughed, warmth shooting through him when Riku joined in. "But I'm glad it was you. I trust you more than anyone in this world, Riku."

"I'll be your therapist if you want me to. I just want all of this pressure off your chest. And you know I trust you just as much." Riku closed his eyes and nodded, his ungloved hand stroking the brunet's cheek as he connected their foreheads. "You've no idea how much I care for you."

When they both pulled back, Sora stared into Riku's eyes and smiled. They didn't move for a while, doing nothing more than staring at each other, until Sora realized that he was half in Riku's lap. Coughing, he untangled himself and stood up, wiping at his eyes.

"W-Well, that was nice." He blurted out, flushing deeply as he gathered the courage to look back down at his friend. Riku was staring at him oddly, serious and curios and something else taking over his features. Sora wasn't sure what he was thinking.

He coughed again and started walking off the porch, staring resolutely at the ground while he failed to calm himself down. Riku's soft footsteps behind him didn't help either. And the sudden hand around his wrist definitely made it worse.

"Sora…"

"What is it?" Sora asked slowly. He blinked when he turned to find Riku staring down at him, leaving only an inch of space between their bodies. Sora hadn't pulled away either, though, his heart beating mile a minute.

"Sora, I…" The silence was deafening. Only the sounds of their two erratically beating hearts could be heard. "There's something I've been wanting to tell you." Riku wet his lips and tried to draw a steady breath. Wasn't this the perfect time to tell him? Everything Sora was holding in had just come rushing out, so should he do the same? It was only fair. Something in the back of Riku's mind just wouldn't stop urging him to take this chance.

"I… Okay." Sora's idly rubbed a gloved hand over his flushed cheek until Riku's hand found his. Beneath his friend's trembling fingers, he wondered how Riku's shaky touch could make him feel so alive—so wonderful yet nearly collapsing with anticipation. The light from the porch lamp allowed him to see Riku clearly, watching his eyes carefully. Riku's eyes were bright, yet nervous. What did he have to be nervous about.

"Riku?" He called his friend's name softly and reached up to touch his face, wishing he'd taken his glove off so that he'd have been able to feel his skin. Riku couldn't handle it anymore.

Feeling the distance between them was too unbearably far, Riku's inhaled shakily and leaned forward.

Riku kissed him softly.

His heart hammered in his chest as his lips gently slid against the brunet's. After hearing the tiny gasp he shakily pushed Sora back, but kept his other hand on the brunet's cheek. He reluctantly made himself to look into the other's bewildered eyes. When Sora said nothing and continued to gape, Riku pushed back the guilt for the forced kiss because he needed to explain himself at this moment.

"I love you."

The older male buried his face in Sora's hair and held him close, almost impossibly so.

"I'm sorry for forcing that on you. I couldn't… I just love you so fucking much and it's making me crazy."

Sora was taken aback at his friend's shakily heartfelt words. His knees suddenly feeling weak—and also his heart and his face felt like they were on fire, but it didn't hurt—oh, no, it felt amazing. Beyond words. He was pretty sure that the reason for that being Riku hadkissed him.

"If… If you don't return my feelings it's all right. I know it's strange to have your best friend confess like this, but I don't want to lose you. And I just didn't think I should hide it from you any longer." Riku's grip on the younger male tightened and Sora's eyes watered again as their bodies were pressed together. "I just want you to know this; I've fallen in love with you. So much that it hurts when I'm not with you, and I know that I would probably die if—"

Sora placed his hands on Riku's face and brought the taller's panicked, wandering eyes back towards his own. At the sight of Sora's shocked expression, Riku opened his mouth but closed it, repeating the cycle before he closed his eyes.

"I'm sor—" Riku was silenced when the brunet leaned up, pressing their lips together again.

Now it was Riku's turn to stumble around for air. He blinked his widening eyes and felt the brunet apply the smallest amount of pressure against his lips. That small action alone ensured Riku that his life was complete. Good Lord—Sora was all he needed, and far more than he could ever ask for. If he could just keep breathing, even for this moment, then everything would be perfect. He was sure that his heart would collapse, that's how quickly it was beating.

After a few moments of pressing short and sweet kisses to Riku's lips, Sora pulled back to catch his breath and steady his heart while his friend did the same.

"Riku," He leaned up to gently peck Riku on the lips once more. "Say it once more… Just so I know I'm not crazy. Please," Sora lowered his crimson-hued face a moment before Riku tilted his chin up and caused their eyes to meet.

"I love you, Sora." The brunet cursed silently and wondered how many times Riku could stop his heart with a simple smile and three simple—but powerful—words. "I'll say it as many times as it takes; as many times and as many ways as you want… I love you. I'm crazy about you. I've fallen for you."

Riku kissed Sora on his forehead and moved his hands up to take off the brunet's hat so he could run his fingers through his hair.

"Oh, God. I love you, too, Riku." Sora wrapped his arms around Riku's neck and shivered. "I was so afraid to tell you." Sora whispered into Riku's shoulder while the older gently hummed and continued to comb his fingers through his love's hair.

"It looks like we both had been worrying about losing each other. So worried that we missed the obvious signs." Riku almost wanted to laugh at the irony, cupping the brunet's cheek in his hand before he kissed him soundly. He wasn't shocked that he found kissing Sora so addicting.

"I'm sorry. This must be a little much, especially after what you just told me. I never intended on telling you this right after you let everything out. But, I just couldn't wait. I don't ever want to see you cry like that again." Riku's arms tightened around Sora's waist and he inhaled. He didn't regret taking action, but he did feel guilty that his timing could have been better.

"No, thank you. It's because I've been able to get all that off my chest that I don't feel as weighed down as I did before. I don't have a reason to cry over this anymore." Sora smiled and Riku once again thought the expression was utterly beautiful.

"Good. I'm glad, then." Sora shivered in his now boyfriend's arms and burrowed into Riku's shoulder when the wind tickled his neck. Now that he noticed, his coat had been unzipped a little bit…

"Are you cold? Let's get back before we actually do get hypothermia." Riku smiled, but dragged Sora back into his arms and picked him up by the waist. He kissed him again before laughing and gently setting him down.

"Sorry. I guess I just love you," Riku restated as he looked down at the brunet and smiled, once again feeling like the luckiest human being that ever existed. The simple fact that his brunet returned the feelings he harbored so deeply was enough for him. He hoped that it would always be this way—and if Sora wanted him to, he'd be there forever. Just a moment in the brunet's radiant light was all that he needed before, and the simple fact that he was allowed to convey his longing—with a touch, with a kiss, or even with a look—was enough of a reason for Riku to keep breathing.

The beating of their hearts still hadn't quite returned to normal even as they left the park. They knew it wasn't the affects of being in the cold and in fact, neither of them felt the slightest chill.

There wasn't anything that could wipe the content smiles off their faces, because their hearts had been swept away, never wanting to return from where they had taken each other. The precious moments they spent together would only continue to increase and hold a significant part of them.

Because a sentence, one single sentence rang true to both as they gazed at each other.

No one is perfect until you fall in love with them.

Everything had worked out—not quite in the way they had planned, but much better than either could have imagined.

So once the cold had finally gotten to the slender brunet, Riku laughed and led him around to the front of the house.

Now that they had each other, they had all the time in the world.

Everything was perfect.

End - Chapter 10


I almost died from all the sap and angst and shit in this long-ass chapter. Blaargharghargh. It's also really late, so my apologies! OTL

BLAH BLAH BLAH AUTHOR'S LAST COMMENTS N' SHIT.

Also: opening lyrics are from Unknown Soldier, by Breaking Benjamin ;3; Other random snippets of songs (Which I love to bitty pieces, but clearly do not own) are Open Your Eyes by Snow Patrol, Broken by Seether, Touchin' on My by 3Oh!3, If You Only Knew by Shinedown, Retrace by Anberlin, and Iris by The Goo Goo Dolls. (lol)

Funny story about the 3Oh!3 song, because I don't normally like music like that…my friend showed me this Merlin video with that song and I lost it. I'll give anyone the link who is curious, but it's Arthur/Merlin from the BBC show sexiness, so… I think it's funny XD It's a catchy song…

TO-TO-TO-TOUCHIN' ON MY —, WHILE I'M TOUCHIN' ON YOUR—sorry.

ANYWAY, PEACE OFF(SPONSOR)! Oh btdubs, I DO NOT OWN THE CHARACTERS. Riku, Sora, Kairi, Selphie, etc are © Square Enix & Tetsuya Nomura.

I'm going to watch some Sherlock now…