Oh my goodness, final Bonus Chapter! *sigh* What am I going to do with myself after this? Oh, wait, it's November, which means it's NaNoWriMo time. Guess I'll still be busy for a while after all. ^^; This is however the last you'll probably hear of "The City is at War" Universe. Parting is such sweet sorrow *sniff*. Some of you have been asking if I plan to write another story and the answer is both yes and no. I have ideas but none of them are concrete enough to promote here. I did however write a Halloween one-shot special for the "Haunted by an Angel" series called "Memories of the Forgotten" if you want to read that to help tide you over.
Huge, big thanks to all the awesome dudes who reviewed for the last chapter: shrouded-obsession, kingdomheartslover13, Composer Gizmo-chan, TruancyCity, Aindel S. Druida, Dee, RkM4U, LizzyAlmasy, Shinimegami7, Kitty Neko, Lady Chicobo, Stellar Eclipse, ramen-is-my-goddess, doomshuriken, PhotoKitty, Pyro. Ahlex, Becca86, Shukakku the adorable raccoon, ChaosGarden, Krad, xacilia, and Kikurukina Bal Des'cagel! You guys are awesome! This chapter is a little calmer than the others, but I thought it might be appropriate since it's more of a conclusion. I hope you enjoy it! ^_^
Bonus Chapter #3: Riku and Sora's chapter
Riku closed his eyes from behind his mirrored sunglasses, just taking a moment to enjoy the feel of the sun on his pale skin and the ocean breeze brushing against his face. From where he was sitting, on a wooden bench along one of the main roads that ran along the shoreline, he could easily hear the sound of the waves rolling up onto the sandy beach. It was so different from anything he was used to, the tranquil noise, the warm, humid air. For the first time since he had lost his sight he genuinely had no idea of what the landscape looked like. He was more out of his element than ever. But it was worth it.
A month ago, Sora had moved out to Destiny Islands for college and Riku, of course, had followed. He had told Sora about the plan a while ago so that he would have the time to look for an apartment, since he couldn't very well live in the dorms with Riku tagging along, but Leon had been kept in the dark about it until about three days before Sora got on the plane to leave. Riku would've almost felt bad about that except for the fact that Leon had flipped out and probably would've found a way to kill Riku if he had stayed in town one more night.
By the end of the week Leon had forgiven them—well, forgiven Sora—and was calling every night to make sure that his baby brother was settling in without any problems. Meanwhile, Riku and Sora had moved into a small one-bedroom apartment a ten-minute's walk from Sora's new university. Sora assured Riku that it had an amazing view of the ocean, just like nearly every other apartment on the small island, and Riku took his word for it, able to smell the saltwater from the window.
Although they had only been here for a month, it hadn't taken either of them long to fall into a new routine. Sora adapted a little faster than Riku though, the brunette taking every change in life with a smile on his face. He had been kept busy now that school had started, the younger Leonhart already working hard to earn a degree in psychology. From what he had told Riku, Sora wanted to become a psychotherapist, specializing in child or family counseling to help them through traumatic situations. Riku thought the job would suit Sora well; he was always positive, could be patient when he wanted to be, and most of all already had had plenty of experience of his own in traumatic family experiences.
At first, Riku had stayed in their apartment, venturing out only when Sora wanted to explore the small city about a half-hour's walk in the opposite direction from campus. But then boredom had overridden any anxieties Riku had about stumbling around alone and he had gradually started to explore on his own during the hours Sora was in class. Walking down the sidewalks, depending solely on that damn cane to keep from wandering into the streets, Riku had slowly but surely been developing a mental map of their neighborhood.
Now he was proud to say that he was able to find his way not only to the college campus but also all the way down to the city on the days he felt particularly stir-crazy. And one of his first priorities had been to get a feel for the local criminal scene.
Old habits died hard and after his third trip into the beach-side city by himself, Riku had deliberately searched out the seedier parts of town. If there was anything he knew for sure it was that even in seemingly-perfect places like Destiny Islands there was always a darker underbelly. Whether it was selling drugs to college students or stealing tourists' backpacks, there was always an incentive for lowlifes to try and make some fast cash. And Riku was, at the moment, fighting hard to resist his own lowlife instincts.
His blindness had instantly taken away any chances Riku had at earning an income doing what he did best: sniping people. Ever since then, he had been struggling to find something he could be just as good at despite his lack of eyesight. It wasn't an easy task. Especially when he was also trying at the same time to avoid falling too far back into crime, for Sora's sake. The only things he knew, the only jobs he understood, were illegal. He wasn't like Zexion, he didn't know how to translate his skills in the "real world". Whatever the "real world" was supposed to mean…
So as of right now Riku considered himself to be "exploring his options". Although he would've preferred a straight-laced job he wasn't so optimistic about his chances to find one. If he managed to scrape up a less-than-legitimate way to earn a little bit of cash first he wasn't above looking into it. Which was why he had come back into town this afternoon.
Pushing himself off the bench he had been relaxing on, Riku used his cane to feel his way back to the sidewalk. He cautiously navigated his way back to the other side of the street, double-checking his mental map with every step and trying to avoid bumping into every single pedestrian he passed by. The last time he had come to town he had successfully found the city's slums, but this time he was determined to make contact with some of the locals. Luckily, he had a plan. He had put his wallet in the back pocket of his pants, very obviously full of cash, to chum the waters. Even the most pathetic of criminals should spot it and most of them would probably take the bait, especially considering they would probably think Riku was a blind, lost tourist.
It didn't take long for Riku to be proven right. As soon as he made his way off of the main commercial streets and further back into the poorer, sketchier parts of town he immediately felt the presence of someone fall in step behind him. At first they, it was a small group by the sound of it, kept their distance but as Riku wandered further and further into what they must've considered their territory they became braver and began to close the gap between them and Riku.
Far from being nervous, Riku was fighting off the urge to tell them to hurry the hell up. Good god, were all Destiny Island street thugs this lame? At the sound of their footsteps finally drawing nearer, Riku stopped walking and, after feeling it out first, leaned up against the wall of the building he was moving along. "It's about time you guys caught up."
Riku heard their footsteps pause, shocked into silence, before a voice answered back. It was low and masculine, belonging to a kid in his late teens attempting to be suave as if Riku didn't know he had totally thrown them off guard. "Seems like you're lost. Need a hand finding your way back to the main strip?"
"Nah, I'm good." Riku smirked as he rested his cane over his shoulders. "I actually just found what I was looking for."
"And what would that be?"
Riku heard one of the of the other punks let out a small growl. Now that they had drawn closer he guessed that there were probably only three of them all together. If that little snarl was supposed to intimidate him, it wasn't working very well.
"You better watch your mouth. Anyway, why would some blind loser be looking for me? Do you even know who I am?"
"Nope, and I can't really say I care who you are. All I want to know is if there are any jobs on the market in these parts of town." Cocking his head to the side, Riku's smirk widened. "See I just got here and I'm looking for a little bit of income. Even you lowlifes must have some news about people looking for someone to do their dirty work for them."
His question brought a sharp scoff from the main thug. "Oh yeah? What can you do?"
What could Riku do? He could still kill up close, with either a gun or a knife, or anything else he could make into a weapon. He could probably plan robberies, but that sounded as boring as hell. That's why he always left it to Zexion. What else? He could crack safes, probably better than ever now. Without his sight, his other senses were beginning to compensate for the loss, so his hearing was sharper than ever. Hm…safe cracking might actually work out. Didn't the police even hire safe-crackers? He might even find some legal work down that road.
"Hey, I'm talking to you! What, are you blind and deaf? Are you stupid too?"
Interrupted from his thoughts, Riku rolled his eyes behind his sunglasses as he grudgingly returned his attention back to the street punks standing in front of him. These brats had way too much ego. However tough they thought they were they would've all been eaten alive if they had talked like that in the alleys of Dark City. And Riku would've said so if he had thought that it would've been worth the oxygen it would've taken to explain.
"I can do a hell of a lot more than you'll ever be able to. Now just answer the question: do you or do you not know about any open jobs? If you losers can't help me, I'll just ask someone else about it."
"I don't think I like your attitude." Riku didn't so much as blink when the leader of their pack of miscreants leaned in closer, the man's hand landing heavily on Riku's arm.
Batting it away, Riku turned his head so that, had he not been blind, he would've been staring the other straight in the eyes. "Well I don't like the way you smell, but you don't hear me complaining. Now that's it's out there though, you should seriously think about showering more frequently."
"Why you—you've got some kind of nerve coming into our turf and talkin' like this!"
"Hey," one of the other two kids finally spoke up, "you talk big, but let's see you back it up."
"That's right." And the loser in charge was speaking again. By the way his tone had shifted, Riku figured that he must've just thought of an idea, a small miracle in itself. "Coming in like this, you're either suicidal, stupid, or actually as good at what you do, so why don't you prove it? Me and my boys are going to be hitting up a shop on main street next week. Since I'm feeling generous, I'll let you tag along and show us what you got."
"And what would my cut of the take be?"
His question ripped a round of sharp laughs from the thugs. "Your cut? Your cut will be me not beating the shit out of you for your attitude. I would've knocked you out already except I don't want to be called a coward for going after a cripple."
Okay, whoa. Riku's eyes narrowed. This kid was seconds away of getting a beat down of his own. "First of all, I'm blind, not a cripple smart-ass. And second, if I'm not getting anything out of this, talking to you is definitely not worth my time."
Idiot number two spoke up again. "Shit, where'd this guy come from?"
Riku snorted. "A real city. I may have just moved here, but I've got more experience than you morons combined."
There was a short, tense silence before Riku heard a small growl. "Ya know, I remember you now." Their fearless leader had stepped into Riku's personal space again, his palm pressing up against the wall Riku was leaning on only about a foot from Riku's head. "You were walking around town with some brown-haired kid. I haven't seen him before; you moved here with him, right? What is he, your friend? Brother?" Riku didn't answer. It was obvious that the punk was talking about Sora, but he couldn't figure out why he had brought the brunette up. The thug didn't actually seem bothered this time by the lack of a response. "Doesn't matter. If you're really such a hot shot, how about you come and prove it or we'll pay your little friend a visit."
The young man had emphasized the end of his last sentence by pulling something from his pocket: a gun. Riku recognized it easily as the punk cocked the firearm. It was a small caliber handgun, non-automatic, one round had just been loaded into the chamber. He knew the sounds individual types of guns made better than he knew the sound of his own voice. But right now, it wasn't the pistol that had sent his blood rushing to his head. This thug had just crossed a line.
Having zeroed in with his hearing on where the punk was holding his gun, Riku's hand shot out and grabbed his opponent's wrist. The young street leader let out a short gasp of surprise, not having expected a blind man to move so fast, but before he could even shout back to his cronies Riku gave his wrist a sharp twist, forcing him to drop the handgun. Pushing off the wall, Riku used his second hand to grab the firearm before it could fall to the ground and, with one hand still keeping its tight grip on the punk's wrist, surged forward and slammed him up against the wall.
Pressing the gun up against the thug's head, Riku leaned his weight onto the man to keep him pinned and snarled down at him, Riku's voice a low, dangerous growl. "You don't know who you're messing with. If you so much as look at my lover, I will skin you alive. Literally. Got it?"
The punk choked on his own fear and surprise but gasped out a reply as Riku pressed the muzzle of the gun harder against the side of his skull. "G-got it! I got it, just, just let me go!"
It took everything Riku had not to pull the trigger and splatter the man's brains across the plastered wall. Sora was the important thing in his life, his most important person. Just hearing someone make any sort of threat against him drove Riku crazy. Every instinct Riku had was screaming at him to kill him but he resisted, if for nothing else than because he knew it was what Sora would've wanted.
Realizing that his hands were shaking, Riku grit his teeth then with a sudden jerk pushed himself away. The thug's two lackeys, who until that point had apparently been cowering as their boss got thrashed, finally hurried over to help him get back on his feet. Listening to their clumsy footsteps, Riku sent them an invisible glare as he emptied the pistol of its ammunition with a few quick flicks of his wrist.
As he slipped the unused rounds into his pocket he threw the pistol back down to the ground, having no use for such a low-end piece of equipment. By now, Riku had started to get his rage back under control and schooled his expression into a cold stare. "You losers aren't anywhere near my level. If you hear about any jobs that are actually worth my while, let me know. Otherwise, stay out of my way and we won't have any problems."
He didn't get an answer but he hadn't been expecting one. He didn't need to see to know that he had scared the crap out of them. Good. Maybe they would show him a little respect the next time he ran into them.
Turning on his heels, Riku began to head back to the main road sensing that this trip to the slums was going to be a bust. He tried not to trip, having too much pride to use his cane as he felt the street punks' eyes following him out.
But what a let down. He had been expecting that the local miscreants weren't going to be up to the caliber of criminals that Riku normally associated with but those three had just been pathetic. If that was a good example of what the rest of the criminals on Destiny Islands were like Riku was going to have to search out some legal employment for sure. There was no way he was ever going to degrade himself to the point where he would work with any of those idiots. Hopefully a little more searching on his part would reveal some classier criminal groups but for now Riku was ready to head back to the apartment. By now Sora was probably almost done with school for the day.
When Riku finally made it back to the apartment, Sora was not only home but, by the smell of it as Riku walked through the front door, was already starting to make dinner. The sound of the door opening and closing must've caught his attention though because Sora's voice echoed back at him from their small kitchen. "Riku, is that you?"
"Expecting someone else?"
A small, involuntary smile spread across Riku's face as he heard Sora let out a short laugh. "Nope! Can't be too careful though."
Wasn't that the truth…Hearing footsteps come out from the kitchen Riku stretched his hand out. Sora's palm was pressed up against his a moment later, their fingers intertwining as he drew even closer. "Where'd you go today?"
Riku's smile grew a little drier. "Just for a walk. I hate feeling cooped up." It was mostly the truth, and that was the best he could do right now. Riku knew Sora deserved better, but he had felt that way from the very start of their relationship so that was nothing new. "Were you worried?"
He could almost sense the small grin that he knew had just lit Sora's face. "Nope. Well, maybe a little, but I know you're still strong enough to watch out for yourself. And I trust you, so I knew you wouldn't get into trouble."
Good god, Sora trusted him. This wasn't the first time Riku had heard it but it never stopped amazing him. Sora definitely deserved better than him but there was no way that Riku could let the younger man go now, even if Sora wanted to escape.
Before Riku had even realized it, the little brunette had broken something down inside him and had quickly become the most important person in Riku's life. He didn't have a single other person like him; no one else had ever loved him before. Hell, the closest thing he had ever come to it was Zexion, which was absolutely pathetic.
Before he had met Sora, Zexion had been the closest thing that Riku had to a friend or family. He had met Zexion…how many years had it been? Nine years ago? Shit, nine years ago, when he had been sixteen.
It felt like yesterday, the memory scarred into Riku's mind like so many others. It had been in Dark City, in the winter. Riku remembered the season clearly because there had been pounding rain, each droplet freezing cold. Riku…he had been in a bad place then. When Zexion had found him, he had barely been alive, slouched down in a alleyway amongst the skyscrapers of the City, having forgone any attempt at finding shelter and had just been letting the raindrops stab into him and freeze him to the bone. He had just been at a job and had just sat there, covered in congealing blood splattered across his clothing and skin wherever the rain hadn't washed it off, his gun hugged to his chest.
He must've looked downright nightmarish, just sitting against the wall with dead teal eyes, smelling of gunpowder and death, but Zexion had just walked up to him. Riku still didn't know how the other had even found him, but either way Zexion had just walked right up to him. The schemer had been wearing black dress shoes, slim-fitting black slacks, and a dark-colored button-up top and tie, holding black umbrella over his head to stay dry. Looking back on it, Zexion had probably just come from either a graduate school class or from working with Vexen in the lab. He must've only been about twenty-one at the time himself, though his face had been nearly exactly the same.
When Zexion drew close enough, he had crouched down so that his eyes were nearly level with Riku's, who had been watching him all the while like a wild animal, and had locked their gazes. When he spoke, Zexion's voice was crisp and clear without any trace of fear or disgust or anything else Riku had become so accustomed to. "Are you Riku?"
Riku had barely nodded, torn between the urge to kill the stranger and his curiosity to find out who the other was.
"I have heard rumor that despite your age you are a decently proficient hitman." Riku had just nodded again but Zexion had continued on, almost as if he had expected such a reaction. "I have need of your services. I do not yet have a good deal of funds but I can offer you a small payment along with a temporary place to stay and some food. By your present state, I would assume that such things could prove to be a welcome proposition."
Normally Riku would have laughed off such an offer but he had just hit rock bottom. With nothing left, even his muddled brain had realized that if he didn't take Zexion up on it, he probably wouldn't last the week on the streets alone. So he had agreed and ever since then he and Zexion had been working together on and off. When Zexion had moved out to Traverse Town Riku had followed him there and since then they had been partners in crime.
At the time, Riku had thought Zexion was the closest thing he was ever going to get to anything like a "family". He at least knew he could go to the other if he was in trouble without worrying if Zexion was going to take the opportunity to kill him, which wasn't necessarily true for his other associates. But then…he had met Sora, and, it was so stupid, but the kid just gave off this warm feeling that Riku hadn't ever experienced before. He had been the first person Riku could ever remember wishing him "goodnight," that time when three years ago when they had all been trapped in the cabin when the police tried harboring them from the Organization. Things like that—those little things that no one else would even notice—Riku was starting to realize just how much he desperately wanted them. He had always thought Zexion had been made weaker thanks to his relationship with Demyx, but now…now he was pretty sure that the opposite was true. The feeling of being cared for, of being wanted, was more empowering—more addictive—than Riku could've ever imagined.
"Hey, Riku, are you even listening to me?"
Riku blinked as he felt a tug on his hand and realized that his thoughts had drifted off while Sora had apparently been talking to him. "What'd you say?"
He heard Sora pout. "I knew it. Here, take these off, that way I can make sure you're paying attention!" Riku blinked as Sora reached up with his free hand and deftly pulled his sunglasses off. "There!"
Riku winced as light suddenly assaulted his eyes. Though Riku was legally blind, he could still just barely manage to make out some changes in light and shadow and, if he put his mind to it, could make out images and letters if he held them up really close to his face. There was no chance in hell that he'd ever be a sniper again with his vision as it was and the shadow-play usually just confused him more than it helped him figure out what was happening around him. More than that though, he wore the sunglasses not only to make it more obvious to others that he was in fact blind, but also to hide his eyes which had developed a sort of hazy, milky film over them. They freaked people out sometimes; even Sora was occasionally still caught off guard when Riku removed his shades. But even so Sora often insisted that Riku take them off when it was just the two of them together. It was almost as if the brunette was trying to acclimatize himself to the way that Riku looked now.
A muffled chuckle escaped passed Riku's lips and he tugged Sora closer. "Don't lie. I know they're not exactly nice to look at."
And Sora was pouting again. If Riku pulled him closer still, maybe he'd be able to see the way Sora's full lips pinched together or the small crease in his brow. "I'm not lying. No matter what happens, I'll always like you, Riku, not what you try to hide behind."
Smirking, Riku reached around Sora and wrapped an arm tightly around the small of his back. "You've obviously been reading too many of your psychology books."
He was rewarded by a light laugh as Sora leaned into him. Riku could almost make out the spikes of Sora's hair and his wide blue eyes. God he wished he could still see color. "Nope. I've been procrastinating actually."
"Procrastinating? You? What have you been doing instead?"
"This…" Pushing himself up on his tiptoes, Sora closed the distance between their lips. Riku blinked in surprised then let his damaged eyes close. Separating their hands, Riku threaded his newly freed fingers through Sora's hair as he tilted head to deepen their kiss. He felt his chest tighten as the action pulled an absolutely amazing moan from Sora's throat and his grip tightened on Sora's body. No matter what he did, he could never get close enough to the lithe little brunette.
Finally Sora pulled away after the need to breathe became too great. Riku wasn't ready to relax his hold though so Sora settled on resting his cheek against Riku's shoulder. "You distract me from my homework…"
"Can't say I'm sorry for it."
Riku felt Sora smile into his shoulder, all pretenses at being upset dissolving. "I didn't say you should be. Anyway," Sora paused as he tentatively tried to shift back. Riku only let go after a minute's hesitation. "I should probably get back to dinner before I forget to finish that too."
Hands already feeling cold without Sora to hold onto, Riku crossed his arms over his chest. "Need help?"
"Ah, you can go ahead and watch some TV or something while I finish."
"I can help, you know."
"I know." Sora answered back so matter-of-factly that Riku almost felt bad for assuming Sora had been making a hidden remark about his blindness. He even heard a smile in Sora's voice as his footsteps disappeared back into the kitchen. "But you've probably had a longer day, what with going out and all, so I wanna do it. I think you deserve a little time to relax!"
"Oh….Okay." Relax? What was he supposed to do to relax? He could watch TV but nothing good was on right now. TV shows and movies had become to him what radio programs had been to earlier generations but this time of the day there would probably only be crappy network dramas on. The programs he liked didn't come on until later.
Nevertheless, Riku walked around to the other side of their small family room and sat down on the sofa. With no TV to watch and nothing to do but just stare at shifting, blurred patterns of light that were probably from a beautiful ocean sunset, Riku quickly got bored. He lasted a whole three minutes before he bounced up onto his feet. "This is stupid. Sora, I'm helping with dinner."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah I'm sure. Now, what do you need help with?"
Once Sora finally let Riku into the kitchen to help, they were able to prepare and eat dinner in almost record breaking time. It was always an interesting experiment since neither of them really knew the intricacies of cooking. Riku had never really had a reason to learn how to prepare an actual meal and Sora had only ever helped Leon prepare meals, if that, back at home. They were each getting better at it though and were slowly becoming able to not only produce food that was edible but that was actually somewhat appetizing.
After the meal was done and the dishes had been cleared away they somehow migrated over to the couch. Sora was attempting to do some homework while Riku channel-surfed, the brunette's back resting up against Riku's shoulder while tried to focus on the book he held in his lap. Once the sun had fully set, Sora had opened up some of the windows so a cool, salty breeze was blowing through the apartment, a welcome break after the warm afternoon.
The whole thing was almost a little too domesticated for Riku's taste. It wasn't that he didn't like it—he just hardly knew what to do with himself anymore. And it wasn't just that he didn't know what he was supposed to do on a day-to-day basis, he actually didn't know what he was supposed to do anymore, with anything. Everything was new to him these days and the fact that he had lost one of his senses was not making things any easier. The one thing he did know though was that being here, with Sora, was okay. It wasn't perfect—or how he imagined "perfect" to be—but it was okay, much more okay than the rest of his life had been. And it had it's moments that were particularly better than that. And Riku had a pretty good feeling that one of those moments was about to come up.
He had been watching, or listening, to TV for about two hours when he heard Sora stifle a small yawn. "Tired?"
Sora shifted against Riku's shoulder at the question. "I guess…" The eighteen-year-old yawned again and dropped his book back onto his lap so he could stretch his arms up over his head. "It's just this stupid textbook. It's putting me to sleep."
Riku chuckled and reached out, snagging Sora around the waist and pulling him onto his lap. Sora let out a small squeak of surprise but didn't protest, clearly ready to be distracted again. "What time is it? Is it too early to go to bed?"
There was a pause as Sora undoubtedly looked over at the clock on the wall. "It's a little early, but if you're tired too we could probably call it a day and get some sleep."
A sly smile stretched across Riku's lips and he nuzzled his face up against the crook of Sora's neck. "Who said anything about sleeping?"
"What?" Riku tightened his grip around Sora's waist, his fingertips slipping under the hem of Sora's shirt and he could practically feel the younger flush. "Oh. Ah-I, should probably…"
Sora's voice trailed off as Riku pressed his lips against the tanned skin of Sora's throat. "Should probably what?"
"Ah!" Sora let out a small gasp as Riku's fingers crept further up his chest. "Ah, noth-, nevermind. Um, no, wai-wait!" Riku grunted as Sora sat up, separating his skin from Riku's lips. "I should shower first. I had my soccer class this morning, I probably smell gross."
Frowning, Riku reluctantly let Sora pull away. "You smell good enough to me. Taste fine too."
He knew Sora's face must have been bright red at this point but Sora just laughed his own embarrassment off. "No way, you're just saying that. I won't take long, I promise."
"Fine. But make it fast, otherwise I'll come in after you."
"I know you would!" Detaching himself completely from Riku's grasp, Riku heard Sora pad across the carpeted floor towards their bathroom. "I'll be done before you can even change into your pajamas!"
Riku doubted it. Especially since he wasn't planning on putting any pajamas on. But he let Sora sneak off to the bathroom and didn't get up from the couch until he heard the door to the bathroom close and the shower turn on. Then he stood up, turned the TV off, and slowly strolled back into the bedroom, having no need to hurry.
When he got into the room, he carelessly stripped off his tank-top and jeans, tossing them in some random direction before making his way over to the bed. They had the room arranged so that Riku had ready and easy access to everything even without his sight. The bed itself had its headboard pushed up against the far wall, right underneath the window. That way Riku was able to tell roughly what time of day it was when he woke up just by looking at the amount of light trickling in through the blinds instead of having to wake Sora up so that he could check a clock.
Flopping down on the bed, Riku rolled onto his back and closed his eyes. When he had them closed, some times he could almost pretend when he opened them again he would be able to see again. Shaking the thought away, Riku ran his fingers through his shoulder-length silver hair and focused instead on the sound of the water running in the shower.
As promised, Sora didn't linger in the bathroom. Riku didn't know how much time had passed, five minutes, maybe ten, but he soon heard the shower shut off. A few seconds later he heard the bathroom door open down the hall and footsteps hurrying towards the bedroom.
"See, I told you I'd be fas—"
Smirking as Sora's voice caught just as his footsteps signaled that he had come into the bedroom, Riku let his eyes flicker open and glanced over to where he knew the doorway was. "About time. Are you just going to stand there or are you coming to bed?"
Riku got his response a second later as the mattress gave a sudden lurch as Sora all but launched himself onto the bed. A choked curse flew from Riku's lips as he was caught off guard by the jolt from the impact, his surprise instantly soothed away as Sora laughed. The brunette was crouched over Riku, his hands pressed into the bedding on either side of Riku's head, probably with a cheeky grin on his face if his tone was anything to go by. "Bed sounds nice."
The urge to take control surged through Riku's body and in a heartbeat he had grabbed Sora's shoulders and flipped the younger around so that he was the one being pressed to the mattress. The things he wanted to do to Sora frightened him some times. With all of his past lovers, well, to say that hadn't ended well for them would've been an understatement. But the sound of Sora's voice, the feel of his skin, the way he smiled, kept Riku's darker instincts safely at bay. And so Sora's punishment for running away was going to be light.
Riku smirked as Sora burst into a fit of some very unmanly giggles as Riku's fingers slipped down his ticklish sides. Sora tried to squirm to the other side of the bed but since it was only a double-sized mattress he didn't get too far. Squealing as Riku slipped his fingers under the towel he had wrapped around his waist, Sora tried to gasp out words in between bouts of laughter. "Ri-riku! Stop! Stop!"
Riku's smirk softened into a smaller smile as he caved to Sora's pleas and he finally stopped tickling and rolled onto his side, figuring that Sora had learned his lesson. Palms still against pressed against Sora's sides, Riku slid them around Sora's waist until they rested, one on top of the other, on Sora's flat stomach and pulled Sora back until he was resting against Riku's chest. Riku could feel just a hint of the sinewy muscle beneath his smooth skin, and once again was amazed at how different Sora's body was from his own. And he could barely wrap his mind around the fact that Sora was related to Leon. The two Leonhart brothers couldn't have been more unalike, except for a shared stubbornness, inquisitiveness, and the undying need to do what they thought was right.
As Sora's breathing calmed down, Riku pressed a kiss to the back of Sora's head, his damp hair tickling Riku's nose. "You're still wet."
"I, I toweled off." After a bit of wiggling, Sora managed to turn around in his arms. His towel had nearly fallen off in the process but Sora didn't seem to mind either way as he wrapped his arms around Riku's neck. "I was in a rush after all."
"Hn…Good." Leaning in, Riku closed the gap between their lips as his eyes fell shut. Sora melted into the embrace, his body perfectly compliant as he released a long moan. Riku quickly swallowed the sound as he pressed closer still, his heart constricting as Sora's fingers slid up to clutch at his hair.
Riku didn't know what he had done in his miserable life to deserve having something as pure as Sora. But, now that he had him, he was never going to give him up.
"Oh my god!"
Riku shot out of his seat like it had been electrified. It was the day after he had gone into town and he and Sora had been enjoying a relatively lazy morning since the brunette didn't have class until that afternoon. They had just been settling in to watch a movie when Sora had gotten a phone call. He had wandered into the kitchen to talk but the sound of Sora's shout had Riku sprinting over to him, the former assassin's heart pounding in his chest.
Racing into the other room, Riku fumbled around for Sora, clutching tightly onto his arm as he found him. "What? What is it?" Riku couldn't sense anything dangerous, but his body was tensed and ready for anything.
Sora gripped him right back, his tone still panicked as he instantly responded. "Squall's coming to visit!"
It took a second for Sora's reply to sink in but when it did, Riku had to reach out his spare hand to steady himself as all of the tension flooded from his limbs. "For shit's sake…" Sucking in a breath, Riku let it out slowly, willing his heart-rate to return to normal. "Sora, we really need to work on your reactions to different levels of emergencies—"
Riku felt Sora shake his head as he interrupted. "What are you talking about, this is an emergency!"
"I'm not following. I thought you liked your brother?"
"Of course I do, but you know how he is! He and Cloud are coming in two days and this place needs to be perfect by then!"
Riku released his grip on Sora and slowly leaned back against the counter. He could feel one of those rare arguments coming up. "Why? It's just Leon and Cloud."
"No, it needs to be perfect!" Sora's tone was as determined and focused as a young soldier going to battle. "I need to show him that I'm a responsible adult, that we're responsible adults! I need to vacuum, mop, throw out all the junk food—"
Leon wasn't even here yet and he was already giving Riku headaches. "Now wait a minute—"
"No, he'll look into everything!" There was a soft rustle as Sora probably slid his cell phone back into his pocket before the brunette reached out and grabbed Riku's shoulders. "He'll have every inch of this place inspected the first fifteen minutes he gets here! Wait, are my meds restocked? He'll flip if I'm running low!"
Riku snorted. "If he pokes his nose into our bedside table, he'll find more than just a low stash of drugs to flip over…"
"What are you talking abo—oh my god! You need to hide all that stuff! He'll kill you if he finds it!"
If what Sora was saying had actually been an exaggeration, his overreaction would've been pretty amusing. "Sora, we only have one bed. I think he'll be after me either way."
As he finally fell silent Riku heard Sora swallow and nod. "You're right."
It was like someone had just dumped a big bucket of water over the brunette's head and Riku almost felt sorry for bringing up the obvious. "Maybe I'll just happen to be on a walk when he gets here so you can break the ice."
"Yeah, that's probably a good idea."
That was how Riku found himself once again roaming the streets of Destiny Island, only this time partly against his will. Since Sora had gotten his phone call the days had passed by in a flurry of nervous activity on Sora's part and with a dull sense of trepidation on Riku's. It wasn't like Riku was afraid of Leon but he would just rather not be there when the ex-SeeD came face-to-face with the fact that Riku was having sex with his baby brother. Leon had a crazy protective streak, not that Riku really had any right to talk…
Anyway, as soon as he and Sora learned that Leon and Cloud's plane had landed on the island Riku had made himself scarce. It was annoying but he was pretty sure that he could manage to find some way to spend his time. He hadn't been back since he had had that run-in with those two-bit street thugs. Maybe this time around he could actually find some legitimate criminals to talk to. Or, you know, something legal could capture his attention. Stranger things had happened.
But as expected his feet led him not to the pleasantly sun-drenched streets of the commercial sector of the small sea-side city but back into its darker neighborhoods. It was as if his body instinctively searched out the shadows and just let himself wander. There wasn't a single thing that he was afraid of here, as far as criminals went, his confidence peaking with the realization that he was probably one of the most dangerous people on the island even in his present state.
It was a welcomed feeling, but Riku definitely should've known better than to let himself get lulled too far into a sense of security. He had been so comfortable even walking down the narrow, darkened streets that he forgot to pay attention to his surrounding and didn't hear the footsteps approaching until it was too late.
The only warning Riku got was an enraged growl and a burst of air before a metal pipe slammed against the wall he had been walking along, having missed his head by mere inches. Riku jumped back so fast he almost tripped on his own feet his eyes wide behind his sunglasses as he pressed himself back against the wall.
"Damn, you sure are fast for a blind guy."
Riku recognized that voice. It belonged to that street thug who he had challenged the other day. Apparently he had forgone his gun in favor of a more brute-force weapon. A low snarl escaped Riku as he quickly assessed the situation. By the sound of it, the punk had also come alone this time. He had probably spotted Riku on the street and decided to jump him, the pipe he was wielding proof enough that it was more a crime of convenience than anything else. "And you sure are persistent for a moron."
Hearing his opponent's feet shift on the pavement, Riku barely had time to dodge before the pipe was again swung at his head. It came even closer to him this time and Riku felt a whiff of air hit his cheek, probably only a few centimeters away. Riku stumbled back and his grip tightened on his cane, the only thing he had that was close to a weapon.
The thug must've noticed his fingers wrapping around the long metal pole because he let out a loud, dry laugh. "What, you really think you can take me? I'm going to teach you a lesson for making me look like a fool."
Riku's jaw tightened as he heard footsteps charge towards him and tucked himself into a somersault to try and avoid whatever oncoming blow was coming. Once again he managed to dodge the hit but this time his somersault rolled him right into what felt like a large wooden crate. Swearing as he slammed into it, Riku scrambled to get back up onto his feet. Unfortunately as stupid as he was, even the street thug wasn't dumb enough to let the opportunity go by.
Unable to get back up fast enough, all Riku could do was throw his hands up to block his face as his opponent swung his metal pipe down again. A dull pain erupted on Riku's side, the pipe hitting him hard right along the side of his rib-cage. A nearly instantaneous check told him that nothing had been broken, though it was certain to leave a nasty-looking bruise.
Hearing the thug pull away for another go, Riku forced himself into action. A blow like that might have knocked most into whimpering and calling for mercy, but Riku was not one of those people. He had certainly felt worse pains in his life and was not going to be put down so easily.
Swinging his own cane out, Riku smirked as he heard the punk shout as the cane swept up from behind him and knocked his legs out from underneath him. Having finally untangled himself, Riku jumped up as the thug crashed to the ground. He ignored the small twinge of pain in his ribs and went on the attack, whipping his cane down onto the form sprawled across the ground. He heard the sound of a metal pipe clattering to the ground and a very satisfying smack as the metal rod landed a blow on the thug's chest.
Riku had been hoping that he'd hit his face instead but no matter; it had winded his opponent enough so that he couldn't immediately get up. And, like his opponent, Riku knew better than to let such an opportunity go to waste. Standing over him, Riku used his cane to map his form out. Hmm. He was bigger than Riku would've guessed. Maybe five foot ten, six foot two, muscled build. No wonder he had such a hard swing. Which reminded him…
Riku smirked as he put his boot on the man's throat. "I thought I taught you a lesson the last time but apparently it wasn't enough to get through your thick skull."
The only response he got was an airy cough. The thug obviously hadn't gotten his breath back and the foot pressed up against his windpipe probably wasn't helping.
Riku's smirk grew darker. It had been a long time since he had had someone at his mercy like this. "I could kill you, you know. I could kill you so fast you wouldn't even have time to realize it, or I could kill you so slowly that you'd be aware of every single excruciating second as I peeled you apart, piece by piece."
That brought the street punk back to life and Riku could practically smell his fear as he wrestled Riku's foot off and shakily pushed himself back up. "Y-you…" The thug's breath left him and he growled and tried again. "Who, who the hell are you?"
"The name's Riku, and if you're smart you'll stay out of my way from now on. Think of this as a warning."
"You think you can just come in here and—!"
Whatever the punk was about to say next was cut off by a voice from the end of the street. "Riku!"
Immediately identifying the owner of the voice, Riku cursed under his breath and crossed his arms over his chest. Great. Of course he had to come and see Riku like this, facing off with some common wanna-be. And although Riku was winning, he had still gotten way too ruffled for his pride to be happy with.
Said wanna-be of course had no idea what sort of trouble he had just gotten into and growled over to the newcomer. "And who are you? You know this guy?"
Riku rolled his eyes behind his darkened glasses as he heard footsteps coming over to them. "Look, Leon, I got this handled, alright?"
"I'm sure you do." Riku sneered up at his former accomplice as Leon, having apparently come out of the woodwork, moved himself between the thug and Riku. As if he needed protection. Damn, Leon was an asshole.
But he must've looked intimidating, probably giving the thug one of his best glares, as he spoke because the punk didn't utter a single word. "Sorry. Is my brother causing you problems?"
Really? Leon just had to take away everything fun in his life and—wait, did he say "brother"? Riku blinked, momentarily stunned as the conversation continued on without him.
"N-No. No, sir."
"Then get out of here."
Riku heard the street thug suck in a breath, as if wanting to respond. But Leon must've been giving him some sort of look because whatever he wanted to say died on his lips and instead he turned around and ran, apparently deciding to cut his loses while he still could.
Riku knew he had left when Leon finally turned around to face him. He was expecting a number of words to come from the ex-solider but what came from Leon next was not one of them.
Tilting his head, Riku frowned up at where he knew Leon's face was. "Well, yeah. I've gone blind."
"No…" Leon shook his head as if confused himself. "No, it's more than that."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Even as Riku asked though, he thought he knew what Leon was talking about. Before, back in Traverse Town or Dark City, Riku wouldn't have hesitated a second and would have killed anyone who dared to jump him like that. Now it wasn't that he couldn't but he just didn't. He just didn't feel like it anymore, or at least it took more to get him riled up these days.
"It was a compliment. Accept it and shut up. What just happened anyway?"
"I was just taking a walk and that loser tried to jump me."
"You should be thankful I'm not beating you down myself."
"What? Oh." Right. Leon had probably just come from the apartment. Which meant that he had seen their living arrangement. Now that he mentioned it, Riku was surprised that Leon hadn't just sat back and watch him fight it out with that thug. "Which reminds me, how did you find me?"
Leon snorted. "It's not like I was out looking for you." Yeah right. "I decided to hit the streets to gather up some information. This isn't just a pleasure trip for me and Cloud, we're here on business."
Riku's brow rose. What in the hell was Leon doing here on business? Considering his business these days was hunting down criminals. "Are you kidding? They've got nothing here. Absolutely nothing. It's actually driving me crazy."
He heard Leon frown. "Are you sure?"
"Pretty damn sure. So far all I've found is punks like the ones who just tried to jump me. Why are you asking?"
"Cloud and I got a lead to one of our cases. Supposedly one of the minor crime bosses in Traverse Town said something about having a connection here on the Islands. They would be involved in smuggling contraband items into the country."
From Leon's tone, it was clear that the older man was hoping that Riku would know something about it but Riku could only shake his head. "If something's going on they're keeping it quiet enough to keep the street thugs in the dark about it. Do you have a name or are you just chasing a ghost?"
"Yeah. Tyler Allen."
Riku's brows rose again. "Well, what do you know?" He actually did recognize the name, but not in a way that he had been expecting.
"That's the local ferry captain. If your source was telling the truth it looks like he was taking more than tourists for a ride."
"Do you know where this guy is?"
Riku's smile spread. It was a rare thing for Leon to ask for help and you could bet he was going to milk it for all it was worth. "Maybe."
Leon's voice lowered to a warning rumble. "Riku."
Riku wasn't intimidated. "I want a cut of your payment."
"What? For what?"
Slowly walking over to the wall, Riku leaned against it, his smile never leaving his face. "For my consultant services. Do you want my help or not?"
"…If we weren't on a tight schedule I'd seriously beat you down."
"Aw, I love you too. You know, it's bonding moments like this that are really going to bring us closer together as brothers-in-law."
"Don't push your luck."
Riku laughed at Leon's growl. "Hey, you're the one who called me your 'brother'."
"No I didn't."
"Yes you did. Just admit it."
"How about you just shut up, we go get Cloud, and then you tell us where we need to go to find this guy?"
Pushing himself off of the wall, Riku pretended to think on it for a moment. "Hm, nope, that doesn't sound like nearly as much fun."
Leon let out a long-suffering sigh as he turned to walk back down to the main road. "I've should've known better than to bring you into this."
"Yeah, you should've of." But Riku was happy that Leon had. He could've done without the other breaking up his fight, but helping Leon with a case had the chance of being pretty amusing, and maybe he'd even be able to weasel some money out of it. For the first time in a few months, Riku felt like he was actually being useful again. Apparently he could still join in even though he had lost his vision.
Riku's cheerful mood of course didn't stop him from arguing with Leon all the way back to his and Sora's apartment. In fact, it probably made it worse. Knowing that Leon needed his help, Riku made sure to press all his buttons, though he was careful not too abuse the other too much. He knew that Leon would only stand so much before he lashed out and Riku wasn't really keen on crossing that line. After all, they were sort of family now, a thought that was still so foreign to Riku that he barely knew how to deal with it.
Still, as they finally reached the apartment, Riku was pretty sure that Leon was one word away from killing him. Luckily Sora and Cloud were both there to distract the man from his rage. The two spiky-haired males had apparently been talking on the couch when he and Leon came in, their conversation falling away as the front door opened. Cloud was the first to speak, Sora probably shocked into silence at seeing Riku and Leon come in together.
"That was fast. I thought you went out to dig up some information on our perp."
Leon grunted as he closed the door behind them. "Well I ran into someone who might be able to help us."
Judging by the way he had said "someone," Leon had motioned towards him as they both made there way over to the couch.
Cloud let out a small noise of surprise. "Really? Riku, you know the guy?"
Nodding, Riku located Sora and sat down next to him. "Yeah. Tyler Allen, right? He's a local ferry captain. I can tell you all about him."
Leon growled. "Yeah, for a price."
"Hey, a man's gotta live."
It seemed that Cloud wasn't surprised by the demand. "Right. Well, if your help pans out we can talk about some compensation."
It wasn't exactly an agreement, but it sounded like Cloud was willing to consider paying him for his information. Riku figured it was the best he was going to get from the two private detectives. "Fine. Anyway, what is it exactly that you guys want to hear?"
Leon sat down next to Cloud. "Everything you have on him."
"Sure. You have a pen or paper or something, because you're going to want to take notes."
"Just talk, Riku."
Riku scoffed but settled back against the couch and for the next half hour or so told Leon and Cloud everything he knew about their possible smuggler. Every now and again Sora would even add a small little detail but for the most part it was just Riku speaking. Once again, he was glad that he paid such close attention to the goings-on of the town. Eavesdropping had gained him an advantage more than once in the crime-rings of Dark City and Traverse Town and so had developed into a habit that Riku had never been sorry for.
By the time he was done, Riku had given Leon and Cloud more than enough to go off of and it was clear that both investigators were now ready to proceed on with their case. He heard Cloud stand up, the former cop thrumming with energy. "Good, good, we can definitely use some of that. Leon, we'd better head out before Allen gets word that we're coming after him."
Sora stood as Leon did, the younger Leonhart surprised and a little bit put out. "What? You guys are leaving already? You just got here!" He had been nervous about Leon coming to visit them for the first time, but Riku knew that Sora missed his brother, perhaps even more than he would've liked to admit, and probably wanted Leon to stay longer.
Leon seemed to sense this too and his voice softened as he turned to his brother. "Yeah. We're working a case right now. But…" Leon sighed. "You're doing better than I thought you would out here, Sor." It sounded like Leon was having to force every word from his throat. If Leon had his way, he'd probably have Sora flown back to Traverse Town the next day, but it seemed like he was trying to let his baby brother grow on his own. "I think, I think you'll do well here. Especially with Riku looking out for you." The 'now that he's not such a psycho' was implied but Riku was still shocked that Leon had said so. Was Leon actually approving of their relationship?
As if reading his mind, Leon's tone shifted again to a low rumble and Riku knew that the older brunette was looking at him. "Don't think you're off the hook though. I'll be keeping a close eye on you, Riku. And if I hear so much as a rumor that he's being mistreated—"
Riku didn't need to hear the rest of the threat to understand its general gist. "Yeah, yeah, I got it."
Leon scowled. "You'd better. If you don't keep your hands clean, I'll be back to straighten you out. As it is, Sor," his tone lightened again as he turned his attention back to his brother, "you can probably expect another visit in the next few months. I still have to see your campus after all."
Sora must've had a blinding smile on his face. "Right! Is it alright if I come home for the holidays?"
"I expect you to."
"And if I bring Riku…?"
Sora's voice had trailed off hesitantly and Leon sighed. "I won't kick him out."
Releasing a small noise of excitement, Sora launched himself at his brother, wrapping his arms around Leon in a tight hug. "Thanks, Squall!"
Riku heard Leon shift, probably hugging Sora back. "Take care of yourself." Sora let out a small, affirmative noise and the brothers separated. After a moment's pause, Leon turned back to Riku, his voice grudgingly gentle. "Take care of him."
Blinking in surprise, it was all Riku could do to nod. It looked like maybe Leon was ready to let him in. A warm feeling flooded through Riku's chest and he nodded again. He would definitely take care of Sora. "I will." Always.