Damn, kids, it's been so long since I posted anything. This year has been nuts for me, and I've been writing like mad, but never liking anything enough to post. Here's something to tide you over until I feel the love again!
Spoilers for 358/2 Days. Also, a warning for shounen-ai/BL of the delicious Riku/Sora variety. And remember, the only flames allowed here are from Axel.
Riku wasn't sure about a lot of things, his purpose being one of them, but the one thing of which he was absolutely positive was his feelings for the keybearer, his best friend, Sora.
He wasn't sure when it started. It might have started before Kairi moved to the islands, or when he first joked about sharing a paopu fruit with her to taunt the sky-eyed preteen. It might have been the moment he was locked in the realm of darkness, or the first time he saw Sora locked in that despised conservation capsule in a deep sleep, dead to the world. Maybe it was when he met his best friend's Nobody, or even when Roxas channeled Sora to talk to him in their final battle, before Roxas was sent into the simulated Twilight Town. Or it could have been when Sora made that ridiculous face in such a serious situation just to cheer him up.
But he knew, now that Sora was finally home where he belonged, how he felt.
Riku loved him. He wasn't sure when it happened, but he did.
If there was one thing Riku would say to Sora, if he could, he would apologize for ever leaving. He would apologize for being tempted by the darkness, and for ever giving in, even if it was, in the end, to save him. He would say it for making Sora search for so long, and for making him look through every piece of hay in the loft to figure out if he was the evasive needle, when he could have been taking care of business, like saving the world.
He would apologize to Roxas, for as much as he disliked him, it wasn't his fault for existing and wanting to stay his own person. It wasn't his fault for wanting Xion and Axel to stay, and for wanting a heart of his own to love them with, and one with which he could truly hate Sora for taking it all away from him.
He knew Roxas was there somewhere, probably just as angry as he had been, waiting for Sora to die so he could be reborn free and find his friends in the next life. Riku didn't blame him- if he could have been born free with Sora away from all this madness and shoved it all onto someone else, he would have done it gladly.
Riku didn't know how to spend his days in the sun anymore. That blistering ball of flame burned him easily, made him uneasy in its light, in the life it fills those under it with. It was too fragile for Riku to trust. With a single flicker, it could put out light on this world, another, or all of them. It made Riku ridiculously wary.
But, if he stayed in the shadows, it was wonderful to watch Sora in his element. Watching the sun-kissed young man under those golden rays where he belonged was probably the closest Riku would ever find to an angel, no less one that could belong solely to him.
But Sora was shared with everyone, and that was the way he liked it. Riku couldn't imagine Sora without his friends the way he couldn't imagine himself without darkness, or the Ansem Heartless without his guardian, Isa. As much as he wanted to steal away his clueless best friend, he couldn't imagine confining him to the dark, to the solitude, and ruining him.
It was too cruel to even imagine.
Riku shook his head, watching Sora and Kairi play in the sand in their bathing suits from his perch high in a tree they'd once used for a tree house. So long as the keybearer was close, maybe he could fight the darkness in silence. He didn't have to hurt Sora, or Kairi. After all the trouble the younger had gone through to save the girl, he deserved what time he had with her before the worlds called again.
Riku would not and could not interfere with that, no matter how he wished to. Sora belonged to Kairi, and Riku was destined to forever be the third wheel. And he was fine with that.
Not really, but he had to be, right?
Riku swung his legs over the railing of the tree house, retreating into its darkness for a break from the sun. he could feel the skin on the back of his shoulders peeling away to reveal the raw, baby skin underneath. He supposed it wasn't good for him, but he already spent most of his time in the shadows anyway.
"Riku!" Kairi called. "Riku, come play!"
He knew she couldn't see him, but shook his head. "No thanks," he murmured to himself. "I'm fine right where I am."
There was creaking, and he suspected the girl had come to nag him into it when he turned to find a pouty-faced Sora watching him, clad in blue trunks that were nothing compared to his eyes. "You never play with us anymore, Riku. We worked so hard to come home, and all you do is sit around."
And there it was. We. The thing Riku so despised. After all his traitorous attempts on Sora's life and his friends, Sora still regarded him as part of the damn group. Like he belonged.
Riku clenched his fists and turned away, but hid the stress in his voice. "Sorry, Sora. I'm just tired, you know…"
A step, then another. God, he was getting closer. Why would he get closer to me?
"No, Riku, I don't…" the keyblade bearer said softly. "You've been so sad ever since we got back. I want to help you, Riku… you can talk to me… I'm your best friend…"
I know. Riku thought. I know, Sora. But he merely said, "I'm sorry."
He turned, seeing anger swell up on Sora's face with an angry blush. He stepped closer, and Riku took a step back.
Sora noticed. "Why are you afraid of me?" he demanded. "You don't even look at me anymore."
Riku looked away, and Sora made a low noise in his chest, pained and sad. "Riku…"
Riku brushed past the younger, trying to make as little contact as possible. He couldn't help the shudder that passed through him as their shoulders brushed. "I can't, Sora," he whispered. "I'll see you later."
Sora was quiet for a moment, then called something indistinguishable to Kairi as Riku made haste to leave. He didn't know where to go but out to the island, where- ironically- no one but Sora knew his hidden spot. It was a secret they hadn't dared to share with Kairi.
Riku warped through a dark portal, and was engulfed in the familiar black before emerging into the sea-salty air.
What little light there was cast the room into a deep blue, the waves' reflection on the ceiling. Stalactites dripped from the stone above, and the cavern was only about ten feet high and twenty five around. It was strange and uneven, like a large wave crashed into the rock above and scooped out any rock below, evaporating over time until there was little left.
The only way in or out, other than dark portals, was a long tunnel through a quarter-mile's span of dense, sharp rock. Kairi would never brave it alone, and Riku and Sora were without her the only time they'd decided to explore it thoroughly.
He had so many memories here, of Sora falling asleep on his shoulder when he'd run away for a night and demanded Riku's company and mainly just of Sora and himself. It was here he first cried over the boy, and here where he first acknowledged the darkness in his heart.
He could only hope Sora wouldn't look for him here now. He knew Sora hated seeing him use dark portals, and the only way to get away from him now if he really wanted to see Riku, would be one.
Riku dozed against the rock wall, watching and thinking as the sun sank and the concave little room was thrown into complete oblivion. He wasn't sure now what were the sounds in his head and what was real. He heard the regular screaming of Ansem wanting to be released, but that was normal. He heard clicking, though, and a slow thumping which he had no place for.
And there was Sora's voice.
The words were blurry and unintelligible, and Riku mostly thought it was in his head, and he had finally, finally gone crazy. Until Sora dropped through the wall opposite him through the tunnel, only a dark shape, and murmured a quiet Fira to light the room in orange and red.
Riku squinted and raised his hand to shield his eyes. The light dimmed slightly, but only just, as Sora came into focus.
"Riku," he said softly. "Finally."
Riku glanced at Sora, but back down again.
The younger walked to his side and sat, uncharacteristically silent for a few long moments. Then he finally asked, "Riku?"
Riku was suddenly very awake, his heart fluttering against his ribs like a bird's wings. "Yeah?"
"Did I say something to hurt you? Are you angry at me?"
Riku's heart clenched at the sadness in Sora's voice. "No, Sora, it's not you. Never think that."
"Well I don't know what to think!" Sora exclaimed, his words echoing off the walls. "You won't look at me, you won't talk to me… when was the last time you came out of the dark to play with me and Kairi? Even Tidus, Wakka, Selphie, you ignore them like they don't even exist! I don't understand, but I want to help you, Riku, we all do!"
Riku was quiet for a moment. "I don't need help. I can't- I just don't like the sun so much. Too much time away from home."
"Bullshit." Sora said simply, but Riku couldn't help but stare. In all the fights, all the Heartless cut down, he's never heard a mean word from Sora. And this? Riku didn't know what to think.
"Sora- I… Ansem…"
"Ansem? Is this about him? Kingdom Hearts? The Organization? You have to tell me, Riku, because sitting here and watching you get paler and paler and lose weight every week… it's killing me. You're my best friend."
Riku laughed once, bitterly, and turned his eyes to Sora. "You were always so innocent, Sora."
"But I'm not, okay? I'm not a kid anymore, Riku! I've been through just as much shit as you and it's time for you to be honest with me. What is going on?"
"Fine. You know what, fine. What's wrong, Sora? Ansem. Axel. Roxas. Xion. You. Everything is wrong."
Sora's eyes widened. "Me? Roxas? What- how?"
Riku scoffed, standing and pacing the length of the room. "Ansem won't stop screaming in my head to get free and take over me to get hold of the darkness again. I can't go into the sun much, because my heart's darkness hates it, and it makes me sick and my skin blister and bleed. Xion-" Riku let out a dry sob, slamming his fist into the wall. "She only wanted to be like us, a person with a heart. She died for you, and Roxas followed. He didn't want to, but he knew it was right- even though he loved them. He loved them, Sora!"
"I don't care what DiZ said!" Riku exploded, sound waves rippling the water, darkness beginning to build. "Roxas and Xion and Axel were the same as any of us, if not something more! They died for us, Sora, us, and for what? So everyone doesn't die? They should have had a life of their own, hearts of their own, and they did nothing to deserve what they got. It was just shit luck and shit timing, and now they're dead. Xion and Axel are gone, and Roxas is locked away forever. You're here- and don't get me wrong, Sora, you- you're perfect- but it isn't fair what they had to go through!"
Sora sat in shocked silence as tears began to roll down Riku's cheeks. He'd never felt so overwhelmed or mortified or sad. He just felt so alone sometimes, like he was the only one who remembered the sacrifices given to this war that wasn't even over.
"Riku," Sora said softly, struggling to stand on uneven rock and approaching. "Riku, c'mere."
"No," Riku said softly. "Sora, you have to stay away from me. I'll hurt you."
Sora paid no heed and wrapped his surprisingly long arms around Riku, one around his waist, the other burying in the elder's hair to pull his head to rest on the shorter shoulder. "Cry, Riku. It's okay. I'm here now, I won't let you go."
So Riku did.
He cried for Axel, Roxas and Xion who all died for Sora's wellbeing. He cried for the screaming thing inside his heart that wouldn't let him go, and wouldn't let him into the warmth of the sun. Mostly, though, he cried for his brokenness and his lonliness and how right it felt being in Sora's arms, but knowing he would not be able to stay there.
Sora rubbed his back and cooed meaningless words to soothe him, but once the tears started they would not stop until they'd run their course.
The agony was so great at times that his sobs would turn to low moans, and then to screams that would leave him breathless and choking on air. He clenched his hands to the slender, toned muscles on Sora's back, soaking his shirt with sorrow and sea salts.
It took a long time, but his screams quieted into gasps and the tears slowed until there was nothing left. Sora still smoothed his hands over his spine, large and warm and comforting. His normally vibrant spikes were somewhat mussed and drooping.
"Riku," he whispered, clutching him close. "I'm sorry, Riku. I wish this war never happened so we could stay home and eat ice cream and lay on the beach and watch the sun rise and set, then watch the moon follow it. I hate to see you sad, Riku."
"For a different reason, all the same," Riku hiccupped, struggling weakly to remove himself from Sora's arms. The younger wasn't having it.
"What? Riku, you said something about me too. What have I done to you, Ru?"
Riku shook his head at the old nickname. "Nothing, Sora, nothing. I just care too much sometimes."
"There's no such thing as caring too much," Sora mumbled, giving Riku a light squeeze. "Whatever is wrong, I will never think any less of you."
Riku shook his head again. "You'll turn away from me. How it is now is fine."
Sora held tight, laying his head on Riku's shoulder, tickling his neck with his soft spikes. "Riku…"
Riku hesitated, but allowed his hands to drop to Sora's waist, one rubbing his side, the other tracing circles on the small of his back. Sora hummed softly, his slender body relaxing in strong, pale arms, his head tucking under Riku's chin.
This may be the only chance you get, Riku, he thought bitterly. Enjoy it while you can.
The moon shone through the cracks in the shallow ceiling, covering them in a smoldering orange from the dying Fira and a silver from the reflected moonlight.
Riku glanced at Sora, whose eyes were shut tight, a look of sadness on his flawless face. Pink lips tilted up, and Riku could suddenly feel Sora's sweet little sighs on his lips.
He could not resist.
It started out as a chaste press of lips until Sora gripped Riku's hair with trembling hands and let out a tiny whimper. His lips parted under Riku's, and the elder could taste sea salt and some kind of fruit, tart but sweet…
Riku broke away with a gasp. Kairi. Sora belonged to Kairi. He probably shared the paopu with her, and Riku was only messing it all up. He turned and ran.
"Riku!" Sora called softly.
He fled through a dark portal and closed it behind him, engulfed in the one true place that Sora could not follow.
Riku wasn't sure how long he stayed in the black world of darkness, for time had no indication and all other means of telling time from the outside stopped. Here was nothing, but here was forever- like purgatory, or maybe like hell. Riku wasn't sure which, but if it was anything like this, he supposed he wouldn't mind too much.
The dark was his only companion here, and here he had forever to simply think. For a while before returning to Sora as Ansem, he had truly considered just waiting here forever. There was no need for food or water- the darkness was sustenance enough for anyone.
He didn't know how long it had been, but it felt like a long time, probably a week. Enough for Sora to stop looking, maybe- but that wasn't true. Riku knew Sora, and therefore knew if the boy wanted something bad enough, he would never stop looking. He wouldn't be surprised if Sora had up and left Destiny Islands through the portal with his keyblade and was scouring each and every world, checking under every leaf, and then some.
But it was nearly time to go back. If there was one thing Riku wasn't, it was a coward- no, he didn't want to face Sora, but he'd had enough running away from him. The Destiny Islands were his home, too, and if Sora was to end up with Kairi, well… Sora would need a best man, wouldn't he? Riku had to man up now and take care of his best friend, even if it meant his broken heart would never truly heal.
And after a few years, he could truly disappear, back to this empty world. Once he knew Sora was safe and whole, Riku would never have to see the sun again.
It didn't take any effort to return, Riku simply had to feel it and open his eyes to feel the angry sun on his back, burning away his naked skin and quickly retreat to the shadows where he belonged.
That was the thing about darkness, when you truly left everything behind to embrace it, you could take nothing with you.
Riku quickly dressed in his now typical clothes, a black, long sleeved shirt and black pants. And that thing- he held it in his hands, considering. It didn't take much thought for him to tie it over his eyes and navigate the islands only on instinct. The darkness told him every stone it touched, and where it did not was nowhere Riku needed to go anyway.
He sat on his usual perch, hearing Sora and Kairi play. Perhaps he could stay for a moment, hearing their happiness and content, and maybe steal a bit of it for himself.
He knew it didn't work that way, but he hoped.
Five, then ten minutes passed without their notice. Riku wondered if this is what it would be like when he was gone, like he had never even existed, with Kairi and Sora happy, growing old together and playing in the sun until their children grew older and did the same in their place.
Then, "Look, Sora, it's Riku!"
Twenty-five minutes. Kairi had outdone herself this time.
Sora made no reply, but Riku could feel the transition as Sora's pitter-patter feet passed into the darkness. Sora was only light- he was the only blank spot Riku could not feel, but knew was in his territory.
"Take it off," Sora said.
"The blindfold. Take it off. I don't like it." Sora's voice was low and angry, aggressive. Then he was angry at Riku for what he had done- good.
Riku could never hurt him if Sora didn't let him.
He reached up and pulled it down around his neck, keeping his eyes closed. He opened them slowly to the burning light, as little of it as there was.
Sora was watching him, a scowl on his face. Riku wondered if he had already ruined his best friend.
And here it was. "How could you do that to me, Riku?"
Riku hung his head, avoiding eye contact. "I'm sorry."
"I can't believe you," Sora murmured. "You know me, Riku. You know once I have something, I want it. And what do you do? Kiss me and leave me behind? How could you do that?"
Riku's head snapped up. "What?"
Sora took a step towards him. Riku's back was against the wall. He had nowhere to go.
"You heard me, Riku. You think I did all that running after you because I wanted a friend? Kairi's my friend, Riku, and I didn't do half the stuff for her I did for you. I was just waiting for you to realize- but you didn't."
Riku's eyes widened slightly. "But you- Kairi- you can't, Sora. I'm darkness, you're light- it can't work. I can't even go into the sun!"
Only then did he realize just how pale Sora had become in such a short time.
"I'm not good with the dark, Riku, but I think we can balance each other. When I was with you, in the cave- I could stay in the dark for much longer than I ever could before, and only because I was close to you. And when we kissed, Riku… I felt more whole than I ever have."
Riku turned his head away, looking out the window to see Kairi playing with Selphie and Tidus. She looked …happy.
"I don't want to ruin you, Sora. I'm so… empty. The thought of putting some of my emptiness into you to feel whole is… terrible. I can't imagine it."
Sora shook his head, taking another step. He was barely three feet from Sora now. "I need the darkness, Riku. The light is too much for me to handle by myself, and I know the dark is too much for you."
"But you… what about the keyblade?"
Another step. Another foot gone. "You can use it too, right? I'm not worried about it."
Riku could feel the heat radiating from his skin. "Kairi?"
"Knows already. Has known since she moved here that you and I were closer."
Another step. Another argument gone. He was so close, Riku could smell the cinnamon of his hair, the dried paopu pulp on his hands.
"Stop making excuses, Riku. I need you and you need me. It's absolute."
He kissed Riku.
He tasted the same, like sea and star fruit, but was much more aggressive now than before. He gripped Riku's silvery hair tightly, unwilling to let him go, to let him run. But Riku didn't want to run anymore.
Sora was impossibly warm, radiating heat that Riku had craved for so long but was unable to enjoy from the sun. Riku wondered, though, if maybe Sora could be his personal sun- his personal light.
Kairi had once told him, when they were young, that if Sora was the sun, then Riku was the moon. Riku had told her in reply that the moon's light was nothing but a reflection of the sun, and that without the sun, the moon just wouldn't work. At this, Kairi's insistences grew stronger. Riku had rolled his eyes and ignored her.
Now he wondered. Was it possible that he couldn't exist without Sora, and even more impossible, that Sora could not exist without him?
Sora gently bit down on his lip to tell him he was thinking too much. Riku conceded, threading one of his hands into the younger's.
Sora's light was calming and refreshing, and Riku no longer felt the exhaustion he'd felt for such a long time. Sora relaxed against him, his lips pressing against Riku's, pulling away, diving in again- languidly kissing the breath from his partner.
Riku was dizzy with taste and touch and the light rushing into him- and darkness rushing out. Sora twisted- stumbled, his eyes bright, but tired.
"Sora?" Riku asked, holding him up.
"I couldn't sleep for so long," Sora mumbled. "I was just too awake- I think I can sleep now- I need to."
"Alright." Riku murmured. "I will too. I'll take you home."
Sora's eyes drooped. "Can't get that far." He collapsed in Riku's arms, there in the tree house. The exhaustion was not so deep, but the transfer had truly wiped Riku out. He could feel it coming now. Riku grabbed an old blanket, once used for a fort, to cover them both as he lay his head down. Darkness overtook him, but he didn't feel nearly as empty as before.
Riku woke with soft spikes tickling his face. A weight rested on his chest, and when he opened his eyes to figure out what was going on, Sora's head was on his chest, sound asleep. Riku smiled, wrapping one arm around the waist of his almost-lover.
Riku shook him gently, noting the setting sun. He had to get Sora home soon.
"Hey, So. Wake up. It's almost dark."
Sora groaned, batting gently at his arm. "M'sleepy."
Riku leaned over, pressing his lips to Sora's temple. "Come on, sleepy head. Wake up. Kairi's probably worried about you."
Sora sighed, but rolled obediently onto his stomach to push himself up. "What time is it?"
"Sunset," Riku replied. "I should get you home before it gets dark. You can't tolerate it, right?"
Sora looked thoughtful. "I'm not in any discomfort now. I'll check." He pushed himself to his feet and walked into the sunlight on the porch, then back into the darkness. He blinked. "I feel fine."
Riku frowned, standing as well. "I wonder…" He crossed into the path of the sun, but felt none of the familiar burning or tingling. His skin greedily absorbed the natural light. Riku glanced at Sora.
Sora made a little noise, a smile spreading across his face. "It doesn't hurt? You can go in the sun?"
Riku nodded slightly. "I think so."
Sora's smile was bright and radiant. "Walk me home, then?"
Riku nodded, holding out his hand to Sora. He smiled. Maybe life with Sora could really make him more than what he was.
Maybe life with Sora could make him really, truly whole.
Sora took his hand, giving it a light squeeze, and emerged into the sunlight. Riku smiled, and followed.