Disclaimer: I do not own Kingdom Hearts, nor am I making any money off this fanfiction.


The Trigger

Chapter One

Propeller

"You want me to what?"

Sora swallowed as Riku's icy green eyes penetrated him. It was like the other man was looking through to his soul, something that didn't happen very often anymore. The dangerous tone he'd affected wasn't helping matters, either, and Sora fidgeted in his seat, suddenly feeling fifteen again when he'd deflated Riku's favorite basketball.

"You heard me…" Sora took in several deep breaths, held each one and counted to five before releasing them. Riku studied him from his seat across the small table between them, slouched down, his tray of food untouched.

Feeling unusually cowardly, Sora dropped his eyes to his chocolate milkshake. Perspiration covered the thin cardboard containing it, sliding down to make a ring of water on the surface of the table. Beside the duo, screaming children ran through a giant play tube area, drowning out their conversation from prying ears. It was the primary reason Sora had chosen this place. The other was that because last Sora knew, this was Riku's favorite fast food joint when he had the munchies.

Oh, man. This was a horrible idea. Riku was never going to go along with it. Sora needed to cut his losses now and bail.

Time to spit it out, he thought.

Taking his last deep breath, he leveled his eyes on Riku's. Riku remained unflinching, his lips still thinned, his gaze still unwavering. The guy could have made a cactuar freeze in place, unable to run away, something the needled green creatures were known for. That was all right. Sora had been dealing with Riku's Power Ice Stares all his life.

"I said I want you to pretend you're my boyfriend."

Riku slid his aviators on, shutting out the world behind black lenses, and grabbed his keys and wallet off the table. Pocketing them, he strode off without a backwards glance. His French fries were still steaming.

"Hey, wait!" Sora's chair scraped against the linoleum as he rushed after the other man. He gripped Riku's elbow, effectively stopping him. Riku kept himself facing forward, letting Sora have his elbow. Sora knew he only had moments. "Just—just hear me out, okay?"

Those were the wrong words. Riku wrestled himself free, straightened his T-shirt, and headed for the restaurant doors. His silver ponytail bobbed slightly in his hurried pace. Sora stared after him, exasperated, then looked back down to his own burger and fries. He reached down forlornly, munching on a fry and sighing around it.

Damn it. It wasn't supposed to go that way at all.


Three hours later, Sora was slumped on the couch in Tidus' basement, staring up at the ceiling as his friend strummed gently on his guitar nearby. Selphie had her textbooks on the floor, sprawled on her stomach and massive headphones securely over her ears. Wakka was somewhere upstairs, talking to his girlfriend Lulu on the phone. It was a scene that happened just about every afternoon, except this time Sora was experiencing dread.

"He said no, I take it?" Tidus pulled his pen from his mouth and jotted something down on the sheet music in front of him. His blond bangs were hanging into his eyes, in desperate need of a trim. Yuna usually took it upon herself to cut his hair for him, but she was abroad this semester, enjoying the pleasures of Paris.

"He didn't say anything," Sora mumbled. "He just walked out." He could feel a spring from the old couch digging into the small of his back. It was uncomfortable, but Sora didn't feel like moving. All of his limbs felt too heavy to move them, and the migraine developing behind his right eye was threatening mutiny.

"That's a no, Sora." Tidus stuck his pen back in his mouth and made another strum on his guitar.

"Yeah, but he didn't say no…"

The blond boy just shook his head and didn't answer. Sadly, Sora was getting used to that.

Selphie pulled her headphones around her neck, pencil paused above her math homework. "Hey, Sora. Are you guys talking about Riku?"

"Yeah…"

"He said no?"

"No, he just walked out."

Selphie chewed her lip in thought, not immediately dismissing him as Tidus had. Then she pushed herself into a sitting position, carefully tucking her knees behind her so her dress wouldn't ride up. "He walked out, huh…?" Her eyes were distant.

Sora frowned at her, wondering what was going on in that quick head of hers. "Yeah…"

The petite brunette held up a finger. "You did break his heart—when was it…? About three years ago?"

"Awh, c'mon, Selphie, that was so long ago! He's still not over it?" Sora swung his legs over the edge of the sofa. His migraine throbbed hotly. Sora shut his eyes and tried not to think about how much it was bothering him. "We were still in high school then!"

"Riku was in love with you for years, Sora," she replied, frowning at his insensitivity. "And then the second he asks you out, you turn him down because you claim you're not gay."

Sora slanted his eyes away, grumbling something indecipherable.

"Then the next thing you know, you're sleeping with your creative writing professor… He gets a boyfriend, and so, in an effort to try and make him jealous, you decide to approach your ex-best friend and ask him to pretend to be your boyfriend… even though neither of you has really spoken to each other since you crushed his heart…"

Biting his lip, Sora drummed his fingers on the sofa's edge. "When you put it like that… it does sound pretty bad." He sighed. "But I just don't know what else to do!"

"Try not being a dick." Selphie leaned forward to shut her textbooks and gather up her papers. She shuffled them all into a messenger bag.

"Hey, where are you going?"

Tidus stopped strumming his guitar as Sora posed the question, no doubt also curious. Selphie looked at both of them, threw up her hands, and marched upstairs. Sora gaped at Tidus, expecting an explanation, but his fairer-haired buddy didn't have one. Disgusted with the uselessness of the day, Sora plopped back down on the sofa. That spider spindling a web had moved.

Maybe she's right, Sora thought, biting at his nails. His black rubber bracelets slid down his arm, a match to the chipping nail polish he wore. Maybe I should have thought this through more carefully.

But whenever he closed his eyes, all he could see was Professor Leonhart—Squall—staring at him with those smoky gray eyes, and his heart would hurt so badly… He had to pay that man back, he had to! It was unacceptable that the older man thought he could play with Sora's emotions so thoroughly. It was unacceptable that Sora had to sit there day after day, pretending like nothing had happened between them.

Sora knew he could go to the board and get Squall fired… It'd be the easiest solution, and the perfect revenge. But that wouldn't break his heart. And if Sora couldn't stomp Squall's heart into the ground, then Squall would never come close to understanding what he had done to Sora.

And he had to understand…


It was nearly midnight when Sora heard someone banging on his apartment door. He paused, on his bed with his earplugs in, Phoenix crooning away softly to help him through his next creative writing piece due in a week's time. He thumped his pen on his notebook where it rested on his knees and wondered if maybe his mind had been playing tricks on him.

Then the knock came again, louder and more desperate.

Sora yanked his earphones out, clad only in his boxers as he made his way across his dirty living room. A pizza box was left open on the coffee table, along with several empty soda cans, and the TV was muted, showing some policemen on a wild car chase. He hadn't had company in a few days, so he hadn't felt the need to clean up. Now he was regretting that decision.

When he opened all the locks and peeped the door open a crack, he found Riku looking in at him, breathing raggedly.

"Ri—"

The taller boy shoved the door open, brushing past Sora. He looked curtly around the living room and dirtier kitchen, and at the ajar bedroom door in the back of the one bedroom apartment. Then he licked his lips and stuffed his fists into his pockets. Sora noted that his converses were untied, like he'd hastily shoved them on.

"Riku?" Sora shut the door behind him, leaning against it. He was in a state of disbelief. After watching the silver-haired boy walk away during lunch earlier, he hadn't expected to see him again for quite some time apart from the few classes they shared.

"I got your address from Kairi." Riku breathed in sharply through his nose, as though gathering his composure. "She said you were usually up til two."

Sora felt his mouth hanging open a little. "You still talk to Kai?"

At this, Riku sent him a nasty glare as he whirled on him. Sora shrank back against the door, then forced his shoulders to straighten. He wasn't afraid of Riku. He hadn't been since they were about eleven and twelve. But in the face of Riku's anger, he had to remind himself of that.

"Don't be stupid, Sora, of course I do."

"Well—well, how is she?" Sora took an uneven step toward the taller guy. "I haven't talked to her in—"

"Months? Yeah, I know." Riku was staring down at the coffee table. "Are you trying to be a stereotypical bachelor, Sora, or have you just forgotten how to clean?"

Offended, his ears burning red, Sora grabbed up some of the trash and went to the kitchen to dispose of it. He huffed the entire way. How dare Riku show up in the middle of the night, and then comment on the state of his apartment. It wasn't like he'd been expecting anyone!

"What are you doing here, Riku?" he asked when he'd come back into the living room.

Riku was quiet for a time, his hands still tucked into his pockets, his eyes resolutely on the coffee table. Then he shook his head. "Why me?"

Sora wished he could have pretended he didn't know what the other boy was talking about. "I just… I—I don't know." He put his hands to his head. "Look, Riku, I'm sorry. I was an asshole earlier to ask that of you. I'm just—not myself lately… Can we just… pretend that I didn't?"

"No."

Startled at his answer, Sora jerked. "What?"

"I know you want to pretend to be boyfriends because you want to make Professor Leonhart jealous." At Sora's gaping expression, Riku smirked, just a tiny, smug uplift at the corner of his mouth. "C'mon, Sora. Everyone sees how you look at that guy."

Sora bit his lip. "They do, huh?" That was… not such a great piece of information. If anything, it made him feel even more ridiculous than he had before this whole thing started.

"C'mon, Sora, what's really going on here?" Riku settled himself on the soft leather sofa Sora's mother had given him his first year in university. "You're not the type to take revenge…"

At that, Sora pushed his fingers in his hair and turned away from the other boy. In his mind's eye, he could clearly see Squall above him, his chocolate bangs hanging into those stormy eyes of his, his lips parted in concentration. Sweat clung to his furrowed brows, and he tilted his head back on his broad shoulders, a groan rumbling in his throat. Beneath him, all Sora could do was cling on.

Knowing it was only going to upset him to keep thinking about the past, Sora shook the memory free.

"You're just—different…" Riku pressed. "It started in high school, right when we were about to graduate. You're some other person now."

"People change."

"But not you, Sora, and not for the worst… Something happened…" Sora could feel Riku behind him now, the taller boy's hands on his shoulders. Riku's voice dropped an octave, close to Sora's ear. "You pushed me away—you pushed Kairi away…"

Suddenly, Riku's fingers came up around Sora's chest and snagged onto his necklace. He wrenched it free, causing Sora to cry out in pain. Sora whirled to find Riku dangling his crown necklace before his eyes.

"I gave this to you for your birthday. It kills me every day to see that you're still wearing it. Why, Sora?" Riku's eyes were narrowed, looking all the more like the predator as he had earlier that afternoon. "We're not friends anymore, so why?"

Sora's throat grew dry, and no matter how many times he swallowed, it wasn't clearing the acid taste in his mouth. "What do you want, Ri?"

The silver-haired youth laughed, his lashes hanging low over his eyes. He rubbed over his chin, shaking his head slowly back and forth. "…Ri. You haven't called me that in forever. What's it been now? Two years?"

"I guess…"

Riku's voice grew even softer. "I've been having these weird dreams lately, Sora. I feel like I'm going crazy, maybe."

Confused at the sudden change in subject, Sora arched his brows. "Dreams about what?"

"Dreams about… another life, maybe. A life where I did something horrible—a life where you tried to save me, and… now, I'm just—living out my punishment." Riku blinked and looked up, as though abruptly realizing what he was saying was making no sense. "That's why I came over here tonight. I—I had another… fragment…"

"Fragment?"

Riku paced toward the door. "I thought—I thought maybe…"

"Riku, are you okay?" Concerned for his former friend, Sora gripped his elbow. "You look like you haven't slept in a while…" Now that Sora was paying attention, he could see the shadows beneath Riku's eyes, great big ones, bruises on his fair skin.

"Isn't it strange, Sora? That I start piecing together these dreams… no, memories… and then you approach me and—" Riku sucked in a breath. "It just doesn't feel like coincidence."

"Okay, Ri, you're starting to scare me…" His throat tight, Sora guided Riku back over to the sofa, but Riku wrenched away, shaking himself.

"I'll be your pretend boyfriend, Sora." He thrust Sora's crown necklace into the palm of his hand. "But if we're doing this, we're doing it my way. Meet me tomorrow at the coffee shop on the campus…"

"Ri, wait—"

But Riku was out the door, shutting it firmly behind him.

Sora blinked, looking down at his necklace.

Okay…

Wondering if he, too, was dreaming, he wandered back into his bedroom to complete that writing assignment.