The next morning, Tidus awoke to a bed-less Riku and panicked: had Riku escaped outside when Tidus thought he was asleep? Only to find the older boy stumbling into the hotel room a few seconds later.
“Fuckkk,” Riku groaned, holding his head. “Never drinking again,” Damn did this headache kill. And in the back of his mind, he could hear something whispering, chuckling, sneering at him otherwise. “Shut up!” He yelled, to see Tidus flinch. “I mean, sorry man I…” Tidus moved to his side to grab his shoulders, holding him upright with a worried look plastered on his face.
“Where did you go?” Tidus asked.
“Bathroom,” Riku replied, “I needed to puke…” he trailed, throat hoarse. He tried to say something else, but his voice gave way.
Wincing, Tidus noted, “Your hair’s all wet.” It looked like something else when it was like this, all knotty and white and gray and perkless, like old soggy noodles stuck to his scalp.
“Water,” Riku croaked as he fell onto the bed.
“Hang on, getting you some,” Tidus was looking feverishly around for somewhere to get the water from, but sighing, resolved to leave the hotel to buy a bottle at the nearby markets.
But should he? What if Riku got up again… “Don’t move an inch,” Tidus instructed, deciding.
And grinned as Riku fell asleep, twitching.
Barely minutes or so it felt later, Riku awoke to the sound of a thousand nails scratching into the metaphorical chalkboard of his skull.
“Turn it offf~” He groaned, and there came a rustling noise to his left, then blissful silence.
“It’s Kairi again,” Tidus announced. “She must be really worried, calling us up so much.”
“Uh huh,” Riku murmured, nestling his head into his pillow. Tidus nudged the glass of water he’d fetched into his side but he ignored it, and Tidus put it on the bedside table then instead. “We need to get rid of that phone by the end of today.” His gravelly voice said suddenly.
“What?” Tidus’s brow furrowed as he sat up, ”Why?”
Riku rolled over, not wanting to think. “After three days when a person or people are reported still missing, the police file an official thing on it and one of the first things they do to find the people is call them up on their mobile and track em’ from where they get the signal.”
“Oh,” TIdus said. “So, do we have to ditch it or fork it off to someone or…?”
“No,” Riku replied, “Just turn the damn thing off and leave it that way.” Tidus did, and shoved into his back pocket just in case, moving to sit on the side of the bed while Riku curled into it, trying to fall back into the sleep he’d just come out of. “So now what?” Tidus asked. “I mean, we’re here in some city here and so far we haven’t seen Sora yet. I don’t even get why he would be here. Are we going to keep searching? Where are we going to go?”
“Ahh yeah, one second,” Riku said, a hand to his head, “Right, the West. To Midgar.”
“Midgar!?” Tidus exploded to Riku’s wince, “But that’s like, halfway across the planet. How and why would Sora be there? Do you have any idea how long it’ll take for us to get there?”
A shrug. “You don’t have to go if you’re not up to it.”
A sigh. “You know I will anyway, Riku. I’m not backing out on you after all this. It’d be just be nice to know why I’m going to one place over another instead of just following you blindly. I’d secretly thought before we’d be just tracking around Wutai since Sora told you before where he was going, he couldn’t have gotten too far when he ran away and you didn’t think he could survive well on his own.” Riku snorted. “It’s not funny. Like I mean, if Sora’d been kidnapped by some mob or another and we knew they were taking him to Midgar in particular, and you couldn’t tell me because the mobsters threatened you not to, then that’d be different. But there’s no reason for Sora to be in Midgar just generally, and it makes me think that you want to go to Midgar now not because you think Sora’s there but because you want to go there for your own benefit, to become the next Sephiroth or whatever, or maybe because you don’t really think he’s there but you’re feeding me false facts to throw me off.
“I know this hasn’t been a very good adventure so far, with the fighting and crap, but I’m Sora’s friend too, and the sooner we find him the sooner we can be all playing on the beach together without a care in the world again. If you trust me, I can help you work out the details and we can get there quickly without fuss. That’s what you want, isn’t it? Riku?” He tugged on a piece of silver hair. “You awake?”
“Leave me alone,” Riku muttered, “also, you’re looking into it too much.”
Tidus blinked. “I am?”
“You are,” Riku confirmed. “Sora didn’t run away. He’s not subtle enough, the brat. He was kidnapped—“
“By mobsters? No way…“
“Not mobsters, you idiot. He was kidnapped in a way, by something else that I’m not telling you about yet, and something else that could be related hinted to me he was in Midgar.” On that thought, where was that voice these days? He hadn’t heard it since the night Sora disappeared…
“Goddess if that isn’t vague. Ahh well. I get that the mobsters threatened you and you’re not telling me for my own good. It’s very noble of you. Are we having breakfast soon?”
Riku took the bait far too happily to be healthy. “Yeah, I picked out a coffee shop thing. After that we can go buy some of the essentials we forgot at the markets and set off again.”
Nodding, Tidus got up and started to stash their bedside supplies into a plastic bag he’d nicked from the bin lining.
“In another five minutes, I mean.”
Groaning, Tidus stopped and flopped back down onto the side of the bed.
Twenty six and a half complaint-filled minutes later found Riku and Tidus found themselves strolling down the aisles of a grocery store on a main street of Wuitai, gathering previously forgotten supplies for their trip.
“Toothpaste!” Tidus shrieked, assaulting the store wall with wildly flapping limbs abound, looking for the familiar red and blue Colgate colours.
“And you call me a girl,” Riku observed, as Tidus grabbed two types of soap, shampoo and conditioner to shove in their trolley. “Do we really need separate cleansers, exfoliators and moisturizers? This personal hygiene crap isn’t cheap, you know.”
“I haven’t had a shower in three days, Riku. You smell like cat piss. I think we can afford a few luxuries.”
Whatever, Riku thought, so long as Tidus didn’t go too overboard, running around the grocery store as if he owned the place. He shuffled down the aisle after the younger boy, Panadol packet held against in two hands, imagining that if he held onto the informative cardboard box long enough some of the drug power inside might magically be transferred into him.
“Riku, Riku!”Tidus ran up to him, tugging on his arm.
“What?” Riku snapped. Freaking migrane.
“They have a Wutain-Commons translating dictionary here. And I asked this cool check out chick if she knew where we could buy a Walkman for you and she said there’s this music store down the street that should be good.”
“I don’t want a walkman.”
“What, why not?” Tidus drooped. “I thought we could listen to Nickelback together…”
“It’s expensive and it wouldn’t be the same.” A pause and a scornful mumble, “Stupid twenty year old millionaires singing about problems he doesn’t even have.”
“Actually, I think Chad Kroeger’s thirty.” Riku didn’t even want to know. “Do you think you’ll be able to work out a Wutain – did you know that correctly it’s Wutain and not Wutanese? I was so surprised – map key? I couldn’t make sense of the one in this book.”
Riku shrugged. “We don’t need it. I remember the way from the map I was looking at on the internet.”
“Someone came prepared,” Tidus said doubtfully as he dropped the book in the trolley anyway, with justification of “better to be safe than sorry, huh? I’m sure you have like some genius photographic memory that means you never forget a single line on any street map, but I’ve heard horror stories about you getting lost on the way to school, so…”
“That was one time!” Riku wheeled the trolley over to the ‘cool’ check out chick, a black-haired Wutain girl with too much eye liner who for some reason wouldn’t stop leering at Riku, and they paid for their groceries and left.
“She was so hot man, you should have gotten her number,” Tidus said wistfully, taking the shopping bags to carry from a still very hungover Riku. “Imagine the threesomes!”
Riku gave Tidus a very weird look. “I’m just going to pretend I never heard that.”
“Not like you have a phone to call her with anyway, since we’re all undercover from the mafia and that but dude, you win the genetic lottery while us other guys deal with the scraps and then you don’t even flaunt it. I’m sure you could’ve gotten all our shit free if only you flirted a bit.”
“I don’t use people like that,” Riku explained in the voice of someone who’s explained a thousand times before, weary. “It’s not right to get someone’s hopes up when--”
“You’re an a lone wolf and you flirt for life. Yeah yeah, spare me.” Tidus might’ve said more after that but he was starting to sound like Wakka and Riku tuned out, letting the motorcycle of his brain shift to automatic, with little thought like how far they’d be walking back to the hotel so he could take his panadol and finally be rid of the headache of his life.
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