Let the hideous and angsty fluff commence!

Part II

What if it was you?
You that I needed all along.
I felt like a fool,
thinking we were completely wrong.

It seemed like a dream,
a beautiful scream,
that echoed forever
and made us not afraid to feel a thing.

And after it ends,
we'll try to be friends.
They say that what doesn't kill us makes us who we are.

In the morning, he called Roxas.

He did so with shaking fingers, one hand dialing his phone, the other clutching the piece of paper he'd found in lieu of Riku's warm body, I'm sorry, on top of long-cold sheets.

"If you woke me up because you had another fucking sex dream I swear to god I will drive all the way to Radiant Gardens just to kick your fucking ass."

"I don't think it was a dream," Sora mumbled, pulling the covers higher up over his head and cringing in anticipation.




"Idon'," he said quickly, letters and words falling out so damn fast he could hardly string them all together. "I don't…I…"


Sora winced, holding the phone slightly away from his ear as Roxas' shriek was drowned out by another, slightly groggier groan of 'shut up no he did not.'

"I didn't!" Sora whined, leaning into the mouthpiece without actually letting the top half anywhere near his ear. "I…we didn't, I mean, neither one of us…"

"I don't even…" Roxas spluttered incoherently, and Sora could practically see his brother gesticulating wildly, suddenly wide-awake and fully animated. The brunet tucked the phone between his ear and his pillow, channeling all of his rising hysteria into smoothing the scrap of paper between his fingers until Roxas calmed down or he wore holes in it, whichever came first.

There was a muffled shout, followed almost immediately by resounding laughter.

"Roxas fell off the bed."

Sora sighed. Roxas always had been the more melodramatic of the twins. "Just put him on speaker, then, Ax. We both know you're going to listen in anyway."

Axel laughed again, and Sora could suddenly hear Roxas grumbling much more vividly in the background.

"Stop being vague, moron, what the fuck happened?"

"I don't know," Sora moaned desperately. He heard Roxas take a breath, no doubt to start off on what promised to be a lengthy (and loud) diatribe, and Sora quickly cut in before he could get started. "We were hanging out. He was cooking dinner, I was quizzing him for this human phys exam he has…crap I bet he left the book here."

"That's the important part of the story," Axel grumbled. "Reek the Geek forgot his goddamn science book."

"He's gonna freak, he's got an exam Monday," Sora muttered distractedly. He was loathe to leave the safety of his comforter (and it had nothing to do with the fact that the pillow smelled like Riku. He didn't even know what Riku smelled like. Honest.), but he should really go find that textbook. And clean up the food that had been sitting out all night. And the broken glass.

As soon as he worked up the courage to move.

"He's going to freak alright."

He was starting to realize that his brother's boyfriend wasn't amused, but beyond agitated, even more so than Roxas, and there was another red flag Sora missed. He wondered if there were more, if there'd been other things he should have been paying attention to.

"And it's not going to have a damn thing to do with his fucking exam. Shit, I should…"

"Axel…" Sora begged, and he didn't even have a prayer.

"Nope," Roxas answered. "Not a chance."

"But you obviously know something," the brunet whined. The single-fold crease of the note in his hand was beginning to fray under his finger, miniscule threads disintegrating into nothing. Axel had been Riku's roommate, back in undergrad, back when Sora and Kairi were a year younger and still at home, still waiting for their chance to follow Riku to the big bad city. It had been how Roxas had met the redhead, visiting Riku with Sora one weekend and stepping off on the wrong foot almost immediately with "that freakish beanpole of a roommate."

They were dating within a month.

The rule, though, always unspoken, always adhered to, was that Axel was to Riku as Roxas was to Sora and as Naminé was to Kairi; an outside perspective from the lifelong threesome that had been Sora, Kairi, and Riku, something that belonged to each respective one alone. Anything Riku told Axel and not Sora was None of Sora's Business, and no amount of begging, whining, threatening, twin-empathy, or bribery was going to get it out of the stubbornly loyal asshole.

Sora just hadn't quite realized that there might very well actually be something that Riku wasn't telling him.

He took a deep breath, worming a little tighter under the covers and burying his face deep enough into a pillow (the spare one, the one that didn't smell like Riku) that only his mouth was left free. "Anyway, we were in the kitchen. And I guess. I don't know, it kind of felt like it used to with Kairi? Like I'd been there a thousand times before, Kairi making dinner, me grading papers, or helping her, or just hanging out, and it felt exactly the same, except it was Riku this time."

Sora heard, very distantly, from a very long way off from both reality and physical space, something that sounded vaguely like Axel muttering about "how fucking domestic," and the muffled thump of Roxas smack him in response. He ignored them, breathing in with the aggravated inhale of one trying to suck air through decently solid cotton.

"So then I guess, I don't know, I guess flirting…I mean, it feels weird saying…but we were flirting. We were. I was definitely flirting, that's for sure. And I wasn't thinking and I wasn't even paying attention, it was just the same moment I would have kissed Kairi."

"You kissed him?" Roxas interrupted. Sora nodded, not caring that his brother couldn't see. He wasn't sure where the emphasis was in that sentence; maybe on the fact that Sora had kissed Riku, or maybe on the fact that Sora had been the one to kiss Riku.

"I didn't mean to," he defended himself. "Well. No. I mean, it wasn't a pre-meditated…but I don't regret…I just…"

"Riku's not Kairi," Axel said quietly.

"I know that!" Sora snapped. He had taken an apparent leap straight from 'frustrated and pathetic' to 'infuriated and defensive' in under three words. "I know he's not Kairi, and he's obviously not a girl. I think I noticed that some time between sticking my tongue in his mouth and shoving my hand down his goddamn pants."

Silence met his outburst. He didn't blame them; it was far from within his normal character to yell at anyone, let alone yell at anyone with (for him) fairly vulgar implications.

The problem…the new problem…the most recent entry on a long list of new problems, was that he had no idea why he was so angry that his friend had accused him of mixing the two up in his head. The lurking suspicion, the one he'd had all morning, from the moment he'd been woken up by the soft but steady tug of someone trying to sneak out from under shared blankets, was that he was afraid Axel's suggestion was actually accurate.

"Okay," Roxas said gently, placating. "Riku and Kairi are definitely not the same person. Got it."

"Is now an okay time for me to be inappropriate?" Axel muttered it in the background, presumably to Roxas, but Sora heard him well enough anyway, and a snort of self-depreciating laughter was only semi-muffled by the pillow. To the untrained ear it might have sounded suspiciously like a sob. To the well-trained ear, it was undoubtedly the precursor to tears.

"Sor?" Roxas said tentatively.

Sora shook his head, burrowing further into his pillow. He'd called Roxas to talk about it, obviously, but somehow the wispy fragments of half-formed thought weren't translating properly in the synapses between his head, his heart, and his tongue.

"I could..." hushed whispering, an exasperated 'obviously, Rox, what's wrong with you?' "We could be there in maybe eight hours, if we leave now and I don't harass Axel about trivial things like speed limits."

Sora smiled despite himself. Roxas' boyfriend was a notorious demon on a motorcycle, and Roxas was forever on his case about slowing his stupid ass down. It was very Roxas, always better at actions than words, to offer to throw it all to the wind if Sora needed him.

"Nah," Sora sighed. It would, admittedly, be great to have his twin here, and Riku could probably use Axel around, but it wasn't yet such a crisis that they needed to make the trip all the way from Twilight Town. Yet.

It occurred to him, fifteen minutes later when he dragged his miserable ass out from between the sheets, shuffling over to a discarded pair of sweats and pulling them on, that Roxas had never once offered to come out in the weeks that followed Kairi's departure. It also occurred to him, another minute later, trudging down the hall towards the scene of the crime, that he'd never once, in all that time, felt like he'd needed Roxas to.

The sight that greeted him when he narrowed in on the kitchen doorway hit him worse than he'd expected it to. He'd expected shriveled and dried out remains of vegetables, charbroiled chicken seared to the pan, shards of glass littered across the counter. He'd expected flashes of reminders: Riku throwing pepper chunks at his face when Sora critiqued his chopping methods (and god, he really had been flirting, hadn't he?), stepping up to accept the forkful of chicken Riku'd fed him without hesitation, not even realizing he'd knocked the glass over in his haste to get Riku's lips back on his own.

What he found instead was a spotless kitchen. Spotless. Cleaner than the damn thing had ever been, forget about just tidying up the debris from last night's catastrophe. The bowls of vegetables were gone from both the counter and the kitchen sink, the chicken tossed and the pan meticulously scrubbed clean and back hanging from the rack, shattered glass carefully swept up and sangria stain wiped away. But even beyond that, even after every last remnant of last night had been painstakingly cleared up, Riku hadn't stopped. The entire stovetop had a fresh, just scrubbed look, and the counters smelled faintly of bleach. The sink and the faucet shone brighter than they had since the day Riku moved out. He'd even be willing to bet…and yup, when he opened up the cabinet, the hodge-podge of mismatched glasses and mugs that Sora usually just crammed willy-nilly onto the shelves had been fastidiously organized by style and size.

The problemwasn't his Martha-Stewart-status kitchen, or even that his fears/suspicions had been confirmed and Riku's human physio textbook was still wedged against the fridge. The problem was that Sora had known Riku since they were too young to stand up properly, and he knew (or at least, he thought he did, up until about 12 hours ago) the way his best friend ticked. Riku only got this neurotic when he felt hopelessly out of control, and he only felt hopelessly out of control when he was either infuriated beyond reason or cripplingly depressed.

He wasn't sure which option was worse.

The worst option, honestly, as he heaved himself back up onto the counter, right back into the spot he'd been in just before the entire world had tumbled head over heels, was the one where now Sora had to figure out what to do next. And, he frowned at the textbook against his thigh – no matter what Axel said Riku would be upset he didn't have his book and he really should return it – there was a time limit.

And thinking was hard. Really, impossibly difficult, because there was absolutely no good and safe place to start and, really there was no good way for this to go. Issue by issue. That was how he would tackle it, one at a time, starting with the ones he could do on his own.

Fact one: he'd slept with another man. This was less of an issue that it probably should have been, considering 24 hours ago he'd never so much as kissed one, but it was something he'd given a lot of thought to in the past. Roxas' coming out had sparked weeks and weeks of silent introspection, overanalyzing, and agonizing over what it said about him that his identical twin brother was gay. He'd devoted almost two months to it, second-guessing his relationship with Kairi, his relationship with Roxas, his relationship with himself, before finally deciding that Roxas' sexuality didn't change the fact that he was in love, and had been since he was 15, with Kairi. Kairi was his best friend, his better half, and he loved her unconditionally – it didn't matter what or who Roxas did, as far as Sora was concerned he was Kairi-sexual.

He had, though, in his many mini panic attacks, considered the (at the time completely abhorrent) possibility that he and Kairi wouldn't be together forever. And, if that was the case, and if he started traveling down this insanity path again and second guessing every last inch of his and his twin's sexual preferences, how he would feel about it if he did meet someone new, someone who possibly held a candle to his ex-girlfriend, and how he would feel if that someone was a guy. And he'd decided that it didn't matter. Love was love, and if he really loved someone enough then he would explore the gender issue when he got there.

So no. Sleeping with a man? Not the life-ending, or even particularly the life-altering, horror that it might have been. Besides, it wasn't like he hadn't enjoyed it, because holy fuck he had.

Fact two, though, fact two was the kicker. Fact two was the thing that made him feel like his stomach lining was being melted away by nitric acid and his brain was attempting to refold its twisted little brain matter pattern, like his heart was made of Model Magic clay and the little dried-out pieces were crumbling off and falling into his lungs.

Fact two: he'd slept with Riku. Riku, his best friend. Riku, his constant. His other half, the opposite side of the same coin, adjoining pieces to the same puzzle. He used to say (when Sora was drunk and in love with the whole wide world and could get away with that level of sappiness) that they were proof that society misinterpreted the definition of soulmate – not the love of your life, not the person of your dreams, but the person who filled in the gaps and the cracks and the crevices and melded their own soul seamlessly with your own until you were one whole, complete being.

But then what did that say about him. What did it mean, that Sora had always considered himself lucky enough to have two separate people to complete him, one for his heart and one for his soul, and now he found himself blurring the lines? Because really, hadn't that been the only thing that separated them before? He'd be the first to admit, and the first to defend, that he loved Riku just as much and just as fiercely as he did Kairi – just in a different way. And the difference, to be completely blunt about it, was the sexual attraction that changed the love from platonic to romantic.

So now what? Now he'd crossed the line with both of them, what was the difference? What, now, made the love he had for Riku any different than what he felt for Kairi?

And the answer was there. Right there hovering just under the surface of his conscious thought like it had been waiting all this time for him to need it. She'd said it to him months ago, because she'd known the answer before he'd even known the question. "One day you're going to open your eyes, and you're going to see that someone, standing in front of you, where you'd never even noticed them before. You're just going to look up and realize 'it was you that I needed all along. It had to be you.'"

He waited until almost 1:00, so it would be a perfectly reasonable 10:00 AM where she was, to take one deep, calming breath and press speed dial two on his cell phone.

"Sora," Kairi greeted him, and though it was perfectly friendly there was still definitely a note of wariness lingering in her tone. "How are you?"

"I'm…I have a really important question." There was no point in bullshitting around; they both knew Sora wasn't calling Kairi just to chat. "It shouldn't take long."

"Shoot," she prompted gently.

"When you left," he said slowly, "and you told me I'd wake up one day and realize there was someone right in front of me…were you generalizing, or did you have someone specific in mind?"

Kairi was silent, nothing more than a quiet inhale on the other side of a thousand miles away, and the hesitation was more than enough of an answer for Sora.

"Why do you ask?" she said finally, still careful, still guarded, but a different kind of wary than she'd been when she answered the phone.

"I kissed Riku last night."

This time the silence was punctured by a sharp intake of breath, a muffled 'oh' of surprise, but Sora had a sneaking suspicion it was surprise at his blunt admission more than it was at name.

"Crap," she sighed, "I totally owe Nami twenty bucks."

"Kairi!" Sora whined.

She laughed. "I'm sorry! I just thought it would take you a little longer to figure it out. No, no I'm sorry that was insensitive. Yes, Sora. Yes, of course I meant Riku when I said that."

"But…how?" he asked lamely. He didn't know how to explain or elaborate, but Kairi had been his best friend too, and she didn't need him to any more than he needed Riku to explain why the kitchen was pristine.

"You know that scene in Spider-man when what's-his-face has Kirsten Dunst hanging from one side of the bridge and a cable car full of school kids on the other and Toby Maguire has to choose which one to save?"

Sora shook his head, sighing. He'd forgotten her. Forgotten how completely crazy and wonderful and great Kairi was, not as his girlfriend or as the woman who crushed his soul or as She Who Must Not Be Named, but Kairi.


"You'd choose Riku." And she said it somatter-of-factly, like she'd seen Sora's Choice with her very own eyes. "Every time. No matter what or who was hanging from the other edge."

"Kairi…" He wanted to disagree. He wanted to argue, to tell her that he wouldn't, that he couldn't make a choice like that. He'd find a way to save Mary Jane and the kids, goddammit. Just…the words weren't coming out quite right. Or at all.

"No, you would. And there's nothing wrong with that. He's your whole world, sweetheart, whether you realize it or not."

"And what about him?" Sora mumbled. He didn't want to, didn't mean to, but the words shoved through the jumble of protests he was still trying to make against her earlier claims and tumbled out of his mouth without his permission.

"You're his sun, Sor. His whole universe revolves around you. Don't you know that?"

He didn't bother calling. He told himself it was because he didn't want to give Riku the opportunity to say no, but really it was more likely he wanted to give himself a the opportunity to chicken the fuck out. If there was anything Sora prided himself on, though, it was occasionally having the balls to do some massively scary and stupid things. This, of course, being the second most massively scary and stupid thing he'd done…last night ranked firmly at number one.

He didn't bother calling, though, didn't even buzz Riku to get the door to the apartment building open – Sora was there often enough that one of Riku's neighbors was happy to hold the door open for him as he ran down the last half of the block. It was better this way, not giving Riku more than ten seconds head's up when he started pounding down his friend's front door.

After two solid minutes of unanswered banging he started considering break-in options.

After five, Mrs. Next-Door stuck her head out into the hallway.

"Riku left his textbook at my apartment," he forced a laugh, holding up the book as proof. "He's got an exam tomorrow, I'm sure you know how he gets – he's probably got noise-cancelling headphones and a pillow over his head, trying to rewrite the entire book from memory."

She smiled and held out what looked suspiciously, wonderfully like a spare key.

"Ri?" Sora yelled, slamming the door shut behind him. "Rik-oh shit."

Riku's apartment, an oversized studio with a small bed and bath tacked on the back, looked like an amateur war zone. Sora surveyed the scene with wide eyes; the end table was flipped on its side, shards from the vase Kairi used to keep freshly stocked and magazine page petals strewn across the bare wood floor. Pillows were flung haphazardly between the couch and the nearest wall, landing in limp piles across the wood. A massively crooked mirror dangled at a precarious angle, a telltale lump of pillow on the floor beneath it.

"Riku?" he tried again, carefully picking his way over what looked like half a semester's worth of class notes and making his way towards the kitchen. The big island block in front of the counter hid a decent part of the kitchen area from the doorway, but Sora could still see the debris of destruction leading like a tornado path to the sink.

Sure enough, he rounded the island to find Riku sitting on the floor with his back against the cabinet, knees curled halfway up to his chest, arms draped across his thighs. He didn't look up at the sound of Sora approaching, didn't even blink as the brunet crouched down next to him with a sigh.

Sora didn't bother asking what happened. He wasn't stupid – he didn't necessarily understand why it prompted such a reaction, but it wasn't hard to figure out whatthe cause was. He didn't bother with much talking at all, really, starting instead with a careful once-over of the med student's limp body. Riku's right hand, Sora noticed almost instantly, was swollen to nearly twice the size and rapidly bruising green-purple-blue. His knuckles were bloody, the skin in the dips between bone split down the middle, and Sora was sure if he looked around he'd find blood splatter somewhere along the wall of exposed bricks.

"Can I take a look at your hand, please?" Sora asked quietly. Riku half-heartedly shrugged one shoulder, and Sora was more pleased than strictly normal to realize that Riku was, at least, not totally unresponsive.

He pushed himself to his feet slowly, careful to avoid the fragments of a ceramic coffee mug on the floor under the fridge as he wrapped half a tray's worth of ice cubes in a dish towel and wet a small handful of paper towels. Riku'd be able to do a better job of it later, once he rejoined the land of the curable and/or sane, but for now Sora was pretty sure it was at the very least a bad sprain, and ice wouldn't hurt.

He settled back down with his ankles under his thighs, wordlessly holding his free hand out to Riku. The older man shifted just enough to move his arm and drop his swollen fist into Sora's outstretched palm.

They sat in silence as Sora slowly coaxed Riku's clenched fingers into something more relaxed, carefully wiping at the dried, flaking blood caked across his best friend's knuckles and trying not to notice how many times Riku winced. The brunt of the injury seemed to be centered in the base of his fingers, but Sora's first attempt at applying ice was met by Riku yanking his hand away with an angry hiss.

"Riku," Sora sighed imploringly. "You really need to put ice on that."

"What are you doing here, Sora?"

"You left your human phys book in my kitchen." Sora nodded at the textbook left abandoned on the opposite counter. "I figured you'd need it for your exam."

"What are you really doing here, Sora?"

It was the tone that made Sora lean back on his haunches, dropping his hands back into his lap and scraping his bottom lip roughly through his teeth. Slightly hoarse and almost entirely devoid of emotion, Riku sounded like he'd completely given up.

"You left," Sora said quietly. It wasn't where he meant to go, not right away – it sounded too accusatory and offensive in his head – but so much for that as all his mental plans just pulled a swan dive right out the 12th floor window. "You were just…I woke up and you were gone."

"I figured that would be better," Riku mumbled back.

"It wasn't."

"I didn't mean for you."

Riku shoved himself to his feet, leaning heavily on his uninjured hand and carefully forcing himself to the side further away from Sora. The brunet watched helplessly from the floor as the older man finally staggered upright, glaring down at him like he knew exactly what Sora was thinking.

Trouble was, Sora didn't know what Sora was thinking. He had thought he knew what he wanted, thought he might have it all exactly planned out, what to say, what to do, but nothing seemed to register beyond the fact that Riku is hurt. Riku needs help. He tried to scramble his jumbled thoughts together into some kind of coherency, struggling to pull it together as Riku started towards the back room.

"But that's what I meant," Sora protested, jumping up and determinedly dogging Riku as the taller man all but stomped away from him. "This happened, Riku, and we can't just ignore it. We have to deal with it, and maybe instead of throwing separate temper tantrums we should actually talk about it together."

"I don't want to talk about it," Riku snarled, whirling around to catch Sora off-guard. His knuckles had started bleeding again. "I want you to get the fuck out of my apartment, that's what I want."

It hit him like a cinderblock to the soft part of his belly, knocking the air from his lungs and throwing him back a step. Riku didn't want him. Kairi was wrong, and he was wrong, and Riku was disgusted by what happened and, by default, him, and they were never going to be able to just try to be friends. This was going to kill them.

"I – okay," he says soothingly, placating, holding out his free hand. "Okay. I just – I'm sorry. I just wanted to apologize, I guess. I didn't mean to put you in an awkward position or to make you uncomfortable. I'm sorry. I'll go."

Riku, it appeared, had stopped listening somewhere after the second but before the third apology. He stalked toward Sora with an endless, tortured scream echoing from his haunted stare, barely slowing down as he backed Sora into the wall. The brunet braced himself for impact, but instead of swollen knuckles on his cheek there were clammy palms on his jaw, chapped lips pressing roughly on his own.

Sora damn near melted into it. His whole body sagged forward under the release of a thousand pounds from his shoulders, and he caught himself with the arm not holding the ice pack curled around Riku's neck, angling his head and pulling the taller man deeper down into the kiss.

Riku moved first, pulling his mouth back but tilting his head forward until his forehead was resting lightly against Sora's, fingers splayed up from the brunet's jaw to hold him still.

"You don't get it," Riku whispered harshly, dragging the words across Sora's wet lips. "You gave a quick taste of air to a drowning man, Sora, and I'm going to spend the rest of my pathetic life gasping desperately for more."

"Then what are you waiting for?" Sora breathed. "Take it."

Riku didn't hesitate. There hadn't been much between them to begin with, but Sora barely had time to exhale before Riku was slamming against him.

Vaguely, somewhere over their shoulders, or maybe in another dimension, Sora recognized the feeling of his hand going slack, the sound of half a dozen ice cubes smacking wetly onto the wooden floor beneath them. He was far too busy lacing his ice-numb fingers through Riku's tangled hair, tightening his grip in the fine silver threads at the base of the older man's skull and using the leverage to prevent Riku from pulling away. Riku wasn't going anywhere but forward though, dropping his good hand from the brunet's face to his hip, shoving him further back into the wall and pinning his own body tightly over Sora's.

Sora tugged harder, fingers fisted through pale hair yanking Riku's head back enough to expose his throat, the smooth underside of his jaw, and pressed upwards to wrap his lips around the sharp edges of bone, using his tongue to fill the hollow between jaw and chin. Riku, twisting his head to give Sora better access, slowly started to move the hand on his face, thumb sliding over his throat as he moved down Sora's neck, palm against his chest as it dragged slowly down to curl around the brunet's ribs.

One of them was shaking. Sora thought it could be him at first, trembling under the overwhelming weight of Riku flush against him, the heat from Riku's palm searing through his cotton t-shirt, but the trembling issued from under his fingertips, not within them.

"Fuck," Riku whimpered, the word almost swallowed by Sora's sharp intake of breath. "You have no idea – fuck, Sora."

And it was his name, whispered against his jaw with the kind of reverence usually reserved for the devout, that undid him. They were doing it again, not talking about it, and Sora was starting to recognize Riku's newly minted distraction tactics for what they were.

"Wait," Sora gasped, shifting his fingers from Riku's hair to the back of his head, thumbs under his ears and the heel of his palm against the older man's jaw line. Riku strained forward, ignoring him and catching Sora's bottom lip between his teeth, biting just sharp enough to make the brunet squirm before teeth were replaced with a soft swipe of tongue over the tender flesh. He was momentarily distracted, again, by the welcome invasion of Riku's tongue in his mouth, but some part of his hazy thought process snapped at him to focus.

"Wait, Riku," he said again, tightening his grip on his best friend's head. "Stop."

"Sora," the silver haired man whined, mouthing the name against the brunet's skin. The younger man shivered. His conviction was fading fast and Riku knew it, could probably taste it on his skin as he licked along the corded muscles of Sora's throat.

"Nngh," he protested weakly, "no. Ri, stop."

Riku pulled back painfully slowly, looking at least as reluctant as Sora felt. He kept his face close enough that Sora had a hard time focusing on his features or getting a good read on the look in his turquoise eyes. He had a feeling this wasn't an accidental move on Riku's part.

"Stop trying to distract me," the brunet insisted, nudging Riku's hips gently with his own until his best friend had no choice but to take a step back. "We need to talk about this."

Riku let his arms fall back down to his sides, retreating backwards another step. It was easier to study him now, now that there was some distance between them, but Riku was still keeping his face guarded, shaking his long silver bangs into his eyes under the guise of running a hand through his mussed hair. This was going to take longer that Sora would have liked, particularly if there was even a small chance they could wind up picking up where they just left off, but he was determined to get some answers from Riku before they took it too far.

"I talked to Kairi today," he started off slowly. Riku raised an eyebrow, watching Sora carefully as the younger man began picking his way across the room towards the mostly cushion-less couch. The older followed after a few seconds, half-heartedly kicking pillows in Sora's direction as the brunet attempted to straighten the couch up enough to sit on it.

"Why?" Riku finally asked, after a minute of Sora fussing with the cushions.

"Because Axel wouldn't tell me anything," Sora shrugged. "So I asked her if she left because of the general idea that there was someone better out there for me, or because she specifically meant you."

The silence that followed made Sora, who had been in the process of throwing himself down and curling into his favorite corner of the couch, glance up and find Riku standing bolt upright and staring at him.

"Why are you looking at me like that?" the brunet frowned.


It was not the question Riku really wanted to ask. Sora wasn't stupid, he could tell that much without even looking at his now pacing best friend. He wanted to know what Kairi had said, and what Sora had thought of it, and thenhe wanted to know why Sora would bother asking such a question.

"I figured," Sora sighed, watching Riku round one corner of the throw rug and start heading back the direction he'd come from, "given the recent turn of events it would be worth getting some outside opinions on the subject."

"But why would you – Kairi – I mean what did she even…and Ax…I just don't get why." Riku sputtered, kicking up a second corner of the carpet.

"I don't know, Ri, maybe because they –"

"I mean, Sor, what would –"

"– Because they've known both of us for years –"

"I just don't get why you're even –"


Riku froze mid-step, turning guiltily to stare at the brunet glaring daggers at him from the corner of the couch. Sora was glowering in a way that would have made Roxas proud, all but snarling at his shocked best friend.

"I am trying," Sora hissed, leveling Riku with his sternest teacher look, "to tell you that I think I might be in love with you, and I am trying to find out how you feel about it, so if you could please stop pacing like a caged animal and come sit your stupid ass down, I would appreciate it."

Riku didn't move. He seemed far too busy gaping at Sora, slack-jawed and teal eyes wide, too hung up on the first part of Sora's tirade to follow the demands of the second.

"Riku," Sora said firmly, taking a deep breath and quietly regrouping his patience. He waited until the other man shook himself slightly and met Sora's eyes with some level of clarity before adding, "sit."

He came without protest, looping around the oversized ottoman and dropping down carefully on the opposite side of the couch from Sora, who did his best not to chuck a pillow straight into his best friend's face.


"What did Ax say to you?" Riku asked quietly. It still wasn't the question he really wanted, but Sora was willing to start small now that Riku was cooperating (although still not quite looking at him).

"Not much," Sora admitted truthfully. "I called Roxas pretty much the second you left, of course Axel overheard. He was really obviously really concerned about the situation, and specifically about you, and he told me you were probably freaking out. That was about it."

"And Kairi?"

"She called me Spider-man, you Mary Jane, and everyone else the cable car full of kids."


Sora tried to bite back the dramatic sigh threatening to escape his lips. Riku still wouldn't look at him, still couldn't wipe that scared dead pallor off his face, didn't so much as crack a smirk at Kairi comparing him to MJ. The brunet didn't get it, and didn't know how to fix it, and Riku wasn't giving him anything to work with. Maybe he was just going to have to bite the bullet and play the drastic, dramatic card.

"Basically she said if I had to choose between saving the world and saving you, I'd save you," he said, slightly more subdued. It was one thing to say it in movie analogy terms, but to come right out with it like that… "and she said she knew it because, given the choice between you and the world…well," he scraped his fingers through the hair at the base of his scalp, not quite looking at Riku. "She said you are my whole world. And there wouldn't be a point in saving the world if it was a world without you."

Riku was quiet for a long minute.

"And what did she say about me?"

"It's cheesy," Sora warned. He was not blushing. Nor was he anxiously, desperately waiting for some kind of reaction he could interpret properly.

"Because 'there wouldn't be a point in saving the world if it was a world without you,' wasn't?" the silver haired man said dryly. It was a start. It wasn't quite a joke, and it wasn't quite a smirk, but there was a telltale tilt of the eyebrow, a quirk of the lip corner, that Sora considered a promising sign of Riku's return to reality.

"Shutup," he mumbled, scrubbing the heel of one hand over his face to hide the rising color in his cheeks. "She said if you were the world, I was the sun, because your entire universe centers on me."

This silence was the longest yet. The longest, by a mile, but seemed to go by so much faster than any Sora had yet agonized through, because there was just one thought Sora couldn't seem to keep from looping on repeat through his brain. Riku hadn't protested. Hadn't disagreed. Didn't look appalled or disgusted, didn't laugh, didn't start vehemently denying anything. Hadn't argued.

"I told her she was ridiculous," he finally blurted out nervously. "I mean, obviously. You know Kairi, she's a hopeless romantic no matter what, but she's clearly letting her imagination run away with itself because, honestly, you're my whole world and your universe revolves around me. Crazy fangirl ramblings, that's what that is, because otherwise it's just completely crazy –"

"Sora," Riku laughed, but it was the breathless, disparaging kind of laughter usually reserved for utmost disbelief at Sora's stupidity and Riku's tolerance for it, "of course it's not. It's been you all along for me. Always. I've been a done deal since I was 13 years old."

It was Sora's turn to gape at him, blue eyes bugging out from the overflow of thoughts filling his mind. 13 years old. Riku had never really…13 years old. And Riku always said he was too busy for anything real…13 years old. 10 years ago. Riku was 23 – 10 years. How many times, in 10 years, had Sora asked him for advice about Kairi? (everything from asking her out to sex.) How many times, in 10 years, had Sora thrown an arm around Riku, caught him up in a hug, planted a sloppy, drunk kiss on his cheek? (thousands would be an understatement.) How many times, in 10 years, had Sora called Riku his best friend, his brother, his platonic soulmate? (every day, every time rubbing Riku's nose in the fact that he was never going to cross that line between friend and something else.)

"But you never…" he trailed off helplessly.

The older man shrugged. He still wasn't looking at Sora, hadn't looked at him since he'd tentatively adhered to the brunet's order that he sit, and Sora was rapidly approaching a point of desperation.

"Never gave me much of a reason to, did you?"

He said it so calmly, so matter-of-factly that there shouldn't have been any kind of guilt seeping into the pit of Sora's stomach. That, of course, didn't stop it. He hadn't, had done the exact opposite really, and had more or less tortured his best friend for over a decade of their lives. And ohmygod last night. Last night Riku, like Axel, had probably assumed Sora was just using him as a poor man's Kairi. And Riku'd done it anyway. Because he wanted it for ten fucking years and probably figured it was the closest he'd ever get to having what he wanted.

Sora felt sick.

"Don't look at me like that," Riku implored. Sora, so caught up in his momentary self-hatred, hadn't even noticed that Riku had finally turned his sea-glass eyes to the brunet's face. "Don't pity me. I'm not dumb – I knew what I was getting myself. I just figured I'd rather have some of you than none of you."

"Are you…"

"I love you, you stupid idiot."

It wasn't news. And it was far from the first time Sora'd ever heard Riku say it – though, admittedly, it was the first time he understood to its full capacity what Riku meant by it. But it was the first time that it hit him with even half the impact it should have, the first time he realized that Riku uttered it like a prayer and an oath, a confession and a catastrophe.

He would, later, when they were curled around each other in a place that allowed for Riku to shamelessly poke fun at him, blame his reaction on that.

"You asshole," he cried, cried, like actual almost tears, all but throwing himself bodily across the couch to land shamelessly on top of Riku. The older man looked mostly startled and a little scared to find himself with a lapful of 22-year-old, staring with wide eyes as Sora carefully framed his face with both hands.

"I am so sorry," he said firmly, holding Riku's stare with unwavering blue eyes, "for every, single time I've hurt you without realizing it."

"But you didn't kn –"

"Sh," Sora shushed him, "I'm not done. I'm sorry I hurt you, and I'm sorry I didn't figure it out sooner, and I'm sorry everyone else knew before I did, and I'm sorry I'm an…" he trailed off, narrowing his eyes at the significant look Riku leveled him with.

"Idiot," he finished slowly. "As you wish?" he accused.

Riku laughed, laughed and it wasn't painful or bitter or desperate, but light and tentatively hopeful and a whole different kind of disbelieving. He looked at Sora like he wasn't sure what was real, like maybe the weight on his thighs was a figment of his imagination, the words a product of overabundant wishful thinking, and the brunet couldn't fight down the need to give his best friend another something tangible.

As he ducked down, eyes never leaving Riku's half-lidded gaze, he felt the word whispered against his mouth:


And he burst into a grin just as their lips sealed together, because that time he heard it. That time he heard the dozen other words Riku wasn't saying, the 'I love you' hidden in the 'as you wish.' You're ridiculous, you batshit crazy idiot, but you're my batshit crazy idiot and I love you.

"I love you, too."

Riku was still looking at him with a pleasant sort of incredulity, hesitantly marveling at the dawning reality that Sora wasn't semi-coherently mumbling it in gratitude or drooling over a bowl of pasta, but curling it off the tail end of a kiss. It was arguably the most endearing expression the brunet had ever seen on his best friend's face, but also one that made him want to break things with the wash of guilt crashing over him. And broken things…

Sora pulled back, shifting his weight on Riku's legs and twisting around towards the arm wrapped loosely around his waist. He'd forgotten about the other man's hand, bruised and swollen and held gingerly away from Sora's hip, and should probably just add that to the list of things to feel hideously bad about too.

"It's fine," Riku promised, seeing the look on his friend's face. "Probably not broken, most likely just a sprain. Stop worrying about it."

"But –"

"Sora," Riku sighed, and it was the sigh he specifically reserved for when Sora was being a moron and he was pretending to be annoyed as fuck but was really secretly amused, and that was fantastic because it meant things were getting normal again and Sora could breathe a little lighter. "The amount of estrogen in here right now could rival a sleepover full of PMS-ing teenage girls watching Twilight."

"Oh yeah?" Sora challenged. And this was it, right here, that moment that he knew that this was the most perfect decision he'd ever made in his entire life, because here was his best friend, his other half, his goddamn soulmate, and everything was perfect. "What are you going to do about it?"

The words were barely out of his mouth when the arm across his back tightened and the entire world twisted sideways. Sora blinked and there were cushions under him and something warm and heavy hovering over him, amused gaze and teasing smirk semi-obscured by the long silver hair hanging in both their faces.

Riku's smirk grew predatory, and even though Sora couldn't even begin to fathom the number of times he'd seen that expression, it had never once, not once, made his stomach squirm and his breath catch and every nerve ending he had center with absolute focus on every possible point where Riku's body pressed against his own. He was barely breathing and Riku was moving closer and he wanted and wanted and wanted and of course it had been Riku all along, it had always been Riku and especially. right. now.


What if it was you?
You that I needed all along.
I felt like a fool,

Now that I'm sure that I was wrong.
It had to be you.
It had to be you.
It had to be you.
I knew it was you.

In defense of the genre: anyone who says "MY FRIENDS ARE MY POWER" can totally get away with saying "if you were the Earth, I was the sun, because your entire universe centers on me."

Also, for the record – Riku's hand is totally, totally broken. And yes, Sora eventually does drag his sorry ass to the emergency room, and beats the verbal shit out of him for trying to be a big tough boy about a broken hand.