Riku's voice returns and something important disappears.
Riku was woken up later that night by one of these loud cracks, however metaphorically. He hadn’t actually been in a sleep to wake up from, thanks to his insomnia—but the winding cracks of thunder told him there wouldn’t be a chance in hell in getting to sleep now and he mose well take advantage of the time to get up and do something less boring.
So Riku got up and padded into the kitchen, made himself a bowl of two minute noodles and plopped down in front of the television, where some preposterously overdramatic soap played quietly. His half asleep brain wasn’t really paying much attention to it, other for the light and the company. His gaze wandered, from it to the glowing alarm reading 01:23 to his food to his window, where he could see small puddles growing outside.
He suddenly found himself wanting to go out there and get a closer look at them, to see the individual rain droplets smash into the growing puddles and the ferocious waves crash across the sand, the crunch of his mud-ridden sneakers against the ground as he sank his fingers into the earth, pulling out an invisible weapon from its murky depths as a wave of sheet lightning rolled across the sky, illuminating the dark side of his face...
Logic argued. He had no reason to go out there at this time of night, he’d get sick, he already had a bit of a sniffle from walking around nude the day before, and he, he, needed to finish eating his noodles, alright?
Not that he actually did. He rested them on the couch with a silent promise to come back to them later and an excuse of needing to use the back toilet. He hesitated before taking the house keys, internally debating their necessity, but giving up knowing he’d accidentally locked himself out of the house from smaller things.
When Riku got out the front, he didn’t go around the back to the toilet like he told the noodles he would. Instead he wandered a bit down the road, through the park shortcut, and unto the wharf from which he and the others usually set sail to the special island. Riku’d saw this view of it so often on his walks home after school or coming back from a fun day at the island, but not once had he seen it look quite like this.
The sea looked angry. Strong winds made it s usually calm waters rage in uncharacteristically large waves that furiously battered the edge of the boardwalk and sent spray flying back in massive recoil, sand flew up and stung Riku’s eyes, matted up in his hair. Riku’s dinghy, held fast by a strong and sturdy rope, could’ve been tied to the deck with dental floss for all the good it did at keeping still and not filled with water as he bordered it, untied himself, and pushed himself out with the oar.
It was madness, the sea was saying to him, to be rowing just about anywhere weather conditions, though Riku madly thought it was the crazy one, trying to keep Riku from his destination on a night as darkly bright as this. Riku wasn’t all that sure of what motive it had, going to these extremes to keep him away, and he wasn’t that sure what motive he had, trying to bypass it. Hadn’t he and the sea always gotten on well? Hadn’t he admired its beauty on still summer nights and appreciated the multitude of organisms it brought such life to, the various animals and plants and people? They weren’t exactly fire and ice, the sea and Riku. Where had they gone wrong?
That voice, Riku realised. It was making him do this.
Wrong, it suddenly said in Riku’s thoughts and Riku gave up all pretences of rowing to grip his head in shock and a little fear, simply because (shit, it’d never done that before) of the wrongness it felt, hearing someone else’s voice come out in his mind in his voice in the same way he subconsciously thought all his thoughts, with the same cynical boredom and teasing lilt.
I didn’t influence your decision or your determination to come here, because you’re just too smart for your own good- you noticed my stray wonderings of Midgar, didn’t you? I don’t doubt you would’ve noticed any other subtle prompts, and then there would’ve been an internal struggle for you to see me banished.
Which meant that the voice wanted to stay in Riku’s head, for reasons unknown. Riku wasn’t sure how he felt about that : he hated sudden paranoia the thought of having someone else inside his head gave him, like darkness, and he hated the thought of maybe him being able to get rid of them and choosing not to. But it ‘d been a minutely valuable source of information so far, if not largely undependable for questioning – why was it that the voice only chose to reply to his thoughts now, in the midst of chaos and confusion, when he needed his full concentration? –-perhaps sitting down and consulting the matter onshore first hand when waves weren’t whisking him all about the water was a better idea.
Thus Riku set his mind to paddling, and somehow he managed to on-route himself to the dinghy to the special island’s wharf and get the dinghies out of the grasps of the sea and onto the deck: he was soaked and shivering by the time they were all up there, but at least this way he had a sure fire method of getting back when the sea calmed.
Not that he thought that’d be any time soon, because although at some point or another it’d stopped raining, the sea was still raging and the wind seemed only to be getting stronger.
Riku thought of going and sleeping in the wind-free Secret Place like he planned earlier and then promptly rejected the idea, because yes, it might be windless but nobody could withstand the cold of a cave at night when they were soaked, hey, he’d probably have better luck sleeping in the mini-fridge cooler in the Big-Tree-House.
Which was promptly where he walked off to – The Big-Tree-House but not necessarily the cooler there –, having dragged himself down the dock and along the stone walkway, over the hut and onto sandy stone platform with the palm trees that bent in the wind. He was about to turn right, open the door to the tree-house, think ‘why did I ever even bother coming here tonight, all I got was trouble’—except he smelled something.
Now, it’s important to remember here that Riku was then a teenager more fine tuned into the world and it’s workings than most, or that was his belief. Often he found he couldn’t totally explain to others how he identified things, and how he associated some more finely tuned elements of the earth with supposedly unrelated others, (like the sea and the voice, who but him would ever guess?). He knew that the way his mind worked things out wasn’t always entirely logical, and often had gaps, so he played down his slight psychotic tendency as a joke and dismissed the asker who poked into his unlikely general knowledge as over-inquisitive, couldn’t a guy ever have a break from the questions once he’d fulfilled his word quota for the day?
But Riku couldn’t lie to himself and he couldn’t brush aside the sudden presence of a darkness that so quickly overwhelmed his senses. He turned to look at it and stupidly only expected to see only black, because it was so nightlife and almost-dark. he couldn’t breathe. At once he knew somehow that this was what had tempted him from his room that evening, it was what kept the voice wanting to stay hidden in his mind. It, the storm and it’s darkness was alluring, like sleep was alluring when he was so tired but for some reason still awake. Riku knew that he couldn’t stand a chance against it and the voice when he was vulnerable here, alone in the darkness without his nightlight that kept him awake and kept him safe from the shadows darker than he remembered, that he had never felt threatened by before.
Sora A corner of Riku's mind not yet consumed by the darkness desperately cried, Where is Sora? Riku had always thought that his light would be there when he needed it the most but then here he was, it was gone and Riku was too scared to be disappointed, he couldn’t trust the light and he couldn’t trust the darkness, but there was no twilight to be seen in the eye of an ever darkening storm.
If he was in the eye, that was. With the darkness surrounding him, slowly converting his mind to dark, Riku’s perception of reality was tampered with. His limbs were numb and his eyes weren’t adjusting to the night around him properly anymore and when he turned his head the world blurred. Time was either slowing down or speeding up, he was on his special island with the Papau tree, there were yellow blinking spots in his vision that looked like the eyes of a small creatures, maybe if their bodies were impossibly as dark as the backdrop if black they could be real and Riku wouldn’t be alone.
There was a yell that sounded like a voice but was probably just more thunder and a small click inside of Riku’s head and his focus was clear, he stood up, murmured a word to dry his clothes and he could hear Sora standing behind him breathless and the Voice was letting him see this, he was screaming at it and shoving at it in his mental confines in his mind, trying to yell out to warn Sora just to say something, anything, but his vocal chords weren’t working for him and it was too much too soon, damn, he was such an idiot, if only he’d worked it out sooner they’d be safe in the light.
“Where’s Kairi?” Sora demanded of the voice and the inner Riku was so frustrated. Don’t worry about her, he was wanting to say. As far as I know she’s safe and sound at home. Save your fucking self. “I thought she was with you!”
“The door has opened…” The voice said.
“What?” Sora was just as confused as Riku.
Riku’s body half turned. The voice explained: “The door has opened, Sora! Now we can go to the outside world!” And it new just what to say to get Sora’s attention.
“What are you talking about?” Sora cried. “We’ve gotta find Kairi!”
“Kairi’s coming with us.” A twinge of impatience inside the voice was easily masked: evidently it disliked the girl as much as Riku did. But just as Riku thought perhaps he could feel some sympathy towards the voice (a common enemy, maybe it wasn’t doing this of its own will?) there came a few jerks from his inside chest-- an orb of darkness hovered affront of him, torn from some inside fabric of Riku. His mind? His heart? His soul?
Wherever it was from, it didn’t look entirely harmless, and Riku watched its growing form with tredemption.
“Once we step through we might not be able to come back.” The voice warned.
Not Sora, Riku prayed, desperate, no.
“We may never see out parents again.” Said the voice solemnly. “There’s no turning back.”
But there was, couldn't Sora see?
“We can’t let fear stop us.”
“I’m not afraid of the darkness!” The voice proclaimed and held out a hand.
Something inside Riku broke, then. He remembered times not long ago when he’d said the same thing, when Sora had refused to turn out the nightlight. He’d tacked on “are you?” but Sora had never replied, and Riku had only heard it quiet, hurt sobs later at night, when Sora thought he was asleep.
If the jibe against Kairi was the voice’s attack against Sora then the jibe about the darkness was a final attack against Riku. He had to admit it hurt.
Like things couldn’t get any worse, the dark portal started rising on its own up from the ground. Sora lost his balance within it, like he was standing in mud and to fall into it. He outstretched his own hand to grasp Riku’s but he just couldn’t reach. Too little, too late. He was leaning forward clawing for it, but the darkness was eating him away, and all Riku could do was watch and wait.
Sora was there one second, and gone the next.
It was a moment Riku would replay countless times in his mind later, with a hand over his eyes. He would remember falling to his knees a moment later, to stare and the stone sand they so often fought and trained on, the sea they’d swam in, the horizon they’d gazed at. He would sit there for what felt like hours, staring at nothing incapable of moving. One of the things with the yellow eyes would waddle up to him and place a limb on his leg and Riku would snap back to reality and lash out at it, unaware that he’d regained control of his body but unable to express his anger in any form but violence. He wanted to scream and he wanted to cry and he wanted to sleep but all he could do was swat at these dark creatures and think about Sora.
Riku’s feet subconsciously carried him to the raft and as he looked at it, his fists curled in rage.
Riku’d known that Sora’d only come to the island that night to check on the raft (the sea had told him so, somehow), most likely on the worry that the raft had been swept away by the storm, that they wouldn’t be able to go on an adventure the next day.
As the last remnants of the rain from the storm that’d passed and taken Riku’s best friend with it poured from the sky, Riku snapped the mast of the raft. He unbound the ropes and ripped them into pieces with his hands, and threw each log out into the sea with all the power his arms possessed.
It was easy to blame Sora for his disappearance but it was even easier to blame the raft, an inanimate object that wouldn’t move the finger of blame to the obvious. But destroying it didn’t make him feel any better about Sora’s disappearance, and it was something he regretted, walking along the cold sand, calling Sora’s name. (Maybe the portal hadn’t sent him and the voice far away, maybe he was just lying on the beach on the other side of the island.)
But Riku was cold and tired, and eventually, once he’d ascertained all the yellow-eyed creatures gone, he curled up at the entrance to the secret place, where a strange pin door k stood tall in his way.
For the second time in his life ever, Riku woke up on that island alone.
To Be Continued…
A/N: I am soooo sorry this chapter took so long, and the length of it, too. Bleh. This one pretty much defeated me.