He’d sat up reluctantly then, taking in his bright beach surroundings through angry squinted, eyes. What was he doing sleeping on the island here of all places, why wasn’t he at home ready to go to school? Had he and Sora decided to sleep over again? But no, Sora wouldn’t leave him out here by himself without a blanket... Unless it was some sort of prank?
Riku doubted it, but that was the sort of mundane situation he expected, as he stood up and wiped the sleep out of his eyes that calm morning, stared at tracks in the ruffled sand and breathed in fresh morning air. It was still pretty early, he thought, just past sunrise, so he’d probably still have time to make it to school that day if he chose to.
And Riku thought he might: he was a little tired and weathered around the edges – he needed a stretch - but in an overall alright mood. Once he got home and got some breakfast into him, called Sora and small talked his parents he might consider it.
Riku was halfway to the docks when he remembered what had happened the night before.
Sora was gone.
Lost in a dark portal.
The voice had possessed him.
He’d done this to his best friend.
It was only self control Riku’s head that stopped him from falling to his knees again – if he went down into the dark he might not be able to get back up – and the experience of already having gone through it once, his legs felt like jelly. His mind was red. Riku wasn’t sure who he was angrier at, the voice for possessing him and attacking Sora or himself for letting it happen. Why hadn’t he felt it sooner? Why didn’t he do something about it the second he arrived at shore?
Because the voice’d directed his thoughts away from it, that’s why, and because he’d been too chicken to risk doing anything that could possibly damage his brain. Sure, he could tell it to go away all he wanted, but the facts remained that the voice could be still there.
In this, Riku analogized the voice to the dark: it was familiar in a good sense until infused with light, Sora, and then only the strongest dark or strongest light could convert its greyscale darkness—Riku’d had his usual night lamp unplugged, so all he had left were his wits and his thick bed sheet.
But of course, without his senses, Riku couldn’t truly tell if his dark was darkness until he tried to get to sleep.
So it was in this situation. Riku could bash his brain all he wanted to reassure whatever part of himself his sanity but he wouldn’t actually be able to tell if he was for sure until the next situational equivalent drama-wise of the storm came along. And if he beat his head up too badly, Riku might not be there enough to stop the voice – why did he still call it a voice? If it had the ability to invade a person’s head and take control of their movements, it was more than a voice, it was at least a presence – taking control at all, or he might survive and not’ve gotten rid of the voice at all.
But he would do this. If it stopped him from hurting anyone else he cared for then he would, even if it had him stuck in a hospital ward for the rest of his life.
Thus Riku, still reeling from the shock of last night’s memories, shuffled over to his island and picked up his wooden training sword. He held it out parallel to the ground at eye level, and with sudden force, swung it around to meet his temple. At once he stumbled back from the force, seeing stars, but he quickly regained his footing and tightened his grip, hitting himself harder, and harder.
You like this, voice? His thoughts sneered. No reply. Oh god, it hurt.
Riku realigned the sword with his head one last time, wincing: there was a red pain behind his eyes.
It faded to black, the next time he swung.
“Don’t... stupid. An.. stop poking...”
“..can poke him if I want to.”
“’Ay, he’s coming around.”
Riku groaned and brought a hand to his hot throbbing, forehead. He opened his mouth to ask for water but his vocal chords were stiff and he ended saying “Sora?”
Wakka’s worried face looked down on him. “Ya’allright, man?” Riku tried to sit up, only to be pressed back down by Wakka. “Hey hey hey, take it easy, ya. That was one hard bump to the head ya took there.”
No kidding. Good Gaia, this headache was worse than the one from when Sora and he broke into his uncle’s scotch stash.
“Wakka,” he mumbled. “Sora... The raft...”
“Dun worry about it, alright? Just rest, ya’re in gud hands. We got water here, an ice pack from the mini-fridge, and Selphie’s gone off to tellan adult. So relax.” How could he? Sora was... He’d tried to...
Taking a deep breath, Riku expelled the thought from his mind.
All he had to do now was wait.
Wait he did, staring at the BigTree House’s ceiling while Wakka made meaningless small talk. Eventually, Selphie came back, armed with a worried looking Kairi and a fresh batch of clothes.
“Your pyjmas are all damp and funny-smelling.” She explained, plopping the pile down on the floorboards next to him. “Didn’t want you to get sicker, so I snuck into your bedroom and grabbed an extra pair. You have some lovely wall posters, by the way. Why were you sleeping outside in the rain in only pyjamas?”
“Did anyone ever tell you you desperately lack tact, Selphie...” Kairi mumbled, with a face palm.
“Only you,” she smiled to the red-headed girl, and then turned back to Riku. “No, really, why were you?”
Well, this was new. Riku didn’t exactly want to lie to his friends, but he couldn’t very well tell them the truth. Couldn’t he just picture it now? ‘Selphie, ‘ he imagined himself saying, ‘the reason I slept outside in the rain is because I was in bed when I saw the storm and I just thought it’d be a nice time to go for a walk: so I did, all the way to the island, and then I was embodied by darkness and likely killed Sora and tried to kill myself. For realz.’ Yeah, right. They’d think he was mad. Really, he thought he was mad, they’d probably think him the next Hitler and lock him in New Bedlam for the rest of his life.
So, thinking quickly, he lied.
“Me and Sora were sleeping over the island last night, before the storm came, as a sort of celebration of being friends-again thing, because we had that fight awhile ago, remember, and after that I don’t think either of us wanted to let the other to drift apart. But that afternoon, Sora got particularly adamant about taking the raft then and going, for some reason, and no matter how I tried to talk him out of it, say I could see the storm coming and we couldn’t sail in this weather, we couldn’t go without our supplies, the tide was too high, he wouldn’t listen to reason. When later that night I blatantly refused to go without you Kairi, he got angry. Real angry. Wakka, you’ve met his mum, you know how Strifes get when they get angry.” Wakka nodded. “He took it too far and knocked me out. When I woke up...” He spread his hands. This.
”The raft was gone.” Selphie mused.
“He probably left without me.” Riku acknowledged.
There was a silence. Wakka was the first to speak, “ya man, I think that’s most I ever heard you say. I’d be all congrats and stuff if it wasn’t so freaking depressing.”
Which seemed to lighten the mood, for some reason. Kairi and Selphie started into a conversation about where Sora must’ve gotten to by now and when he’d be coming back while Riku drew invisible hearts in the air between Wakka and Kairi with his fingertips (he was allowed to sit up by this point), getting into a silent argument with the other boy about their likeliness to Romeo and Juliet and whether or not they were dating.
Then Wakka checked his watch and remarked that he had to go because he didn’t want to be late for school, and the atmosphere broke. Selphie decided that she would go back home to update her mum about Riku’s happenings and reassure her that everything would be completely fine and there was no need to worry
“You look after him.” Selphie told Kairi with a smile, then turned to Riku with a warning glare. “No leaving this room, you got that?”
“Loud and clear,” Riku murmured. Kairi nodded at the younger girl, and Selphie disappeared down the stairwell, waggling her finger at him.
There came a slam of the downstairs door. Riku and Kairi looked at each other.
“Wanna go pay Tidus a visit?” She asked, “Maybe we can catch him before he leaves for the airport.”
The idea’d totally skipped Riku’s mind, but Cetra, goddess and planet, he was sure anything would be better than just sitting there, staring into space.
Apparently Kairi thought so to, because without waiting for an answer, she pulled him up out of the blanket, shaking his hand impatiently as he shoved a hoodie over his pajama top and stuffed the rest of his clothes in his backpack, throwing it over his shoulder.
But she smiled when he looked at her, poked out his tongue and said: “Let’s roll~” like some wannabe out of some 90’S B-grade gangsta flick.
To Be Continued