Categories > Games > Kingdom Hearts

All's Fair in Love or War

by Manyissues101 0 reviews

-RikuNamineSoraKairi love web- Half of her was in love with him, half was in love with his best friend. It was more than a love triangle--it had become a web of tangled lies and mess and betrayal, ...

Category: Kingdom Hearts - Rating: PG - Genres: Angst,Drama,Romance - Characters: Kairi,Namine,Riku,Sora - Published: 2010-02-15 - Updated: 2010-02-15 - 6722 words - Complete

It had been nine hundred and thirty eight days since he'd seen Namine. Riku wasn't the type to count, but he'd passed a calendar that morning, and the memory slammed him in the face. It hadn't been a very significant parting: her goodbye was said more to Roxas, but Riku could see right through her--the way that she wet her lips before saying anything (a hesitant habit he'd noticed long ago, when days were spent in white rooms, just the two of them with regrets and crayons), and even the momentary glance she spared him. She wouldn't betray their secret (how would the others react when they found out that the other part of Kairi was desperately in love with the boy she hadn't chosen?) just yet, but when they merged, when Namine's thoughts became Kairi's and Kairi's emotions became Namine's, Riku could see it in the look she gave him. Kairi knew. Hell, Kairi had probably already known.

But she wasn't his anymore (not that he was the kind to just claim women--okay, so maybe he was, but that was once, and it was Kairi). No, now she belonged to Kairi, who belonged to Sora, who held within him Roxas. Roxas, who got to hold Namine, kiss Namine, and love Namine--all through an extension of himself. Roxas, whose data-version had given Namine those big, goofy looks that Sora had given Kairi. It made Riku sick.

He rose from the chair he'd been sitting at, an empty breakfast bowl in front of him. Instead of practicing good housekeeping skills, he abandoned the dish to walk into the living room and sink down on the couch. At 21, he still lived with his mother, but that wasn't uncommon in Destiny Islands. Besides, she was on this big cruise ("I need some time to myself, Riku, a nice vacation from being...well, here.") to the other islands in the archipelago. He understood her need, her sudden gripping urge to get away from everything--he'd shared the same urges many a year ago when dreams were only as far away as a raft could take you.

Today was Kairi's birthday. He would, of course, be there, but it was getting harder and harder to be around the young woman these days. Sometimes he could see her eyes and hair growing lighter, her features turning up a bit--until Namine stared him down. When he blinked she was Kairi again, never realizing what he was seeing in her. Riku wondered if he was just going crazy, or if it was actually Namine's doing. He still wasn't sure what she was capable of.

Riku's job was to distract Kairi while everyone else got the party set up. She was smart enough to have realized they were planning it ages ago, but willing to go along, just as well. He was meeting her down at the beach in a bit. It would be just the two of them for a while, a social situation he had been avoiding as of late. Not that it mattered--he would never be able to just talk it out with her, not when looking at her made him hurt.

He could just skip out on the party, skip out on her. All he had to do was just lay on this couch the rest of the day (though being lazy had never suited him, it could be better than the alternative) and not answer his door. He could tell them he was busy, or maybe sick. How could they get mad at him for being sick?

All of those things were running through Riku's head as he walked out of the front door. Forget the dishes, forget the house key, and forget the towel he'd left on the bathroom floor that morning. Sure, he was a big boy now--he just didn't have the energy to fix his messes.


Kairi blew out a little sigh, a slight breath that did nothing to the hair strands threatening to fall in her eyes or that beaten feeling that she was getting when she realized that Riku was late. Namine had never had emotions before, and now hers, which ran through her Kairi-conduit, tended to go into the extremes. What if Riku wasn't coming? What if he didn't want to see them again? How much was this hurting him?

They hadn't quite learned how to sync themselves yet, the way that she knew Sora and Roxas had. They felt the same way, thought the same things. To Sora, his nobody was just someone to talk to, not a bit of a challenge. With Namine, it was much different. Namine was in love without the emotions to go with. Now that she had them, she wanted to use them. Kairi, however, wasn't ready to let her.

They both (between them, no one knew him better) could pick out his footsteps as he trudged silently towards them, hands in his pockets, face tilted against the sun. Kairi tried not to express the wave of Namine's elation that surged through her, that made her want to go up and snog him. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on which girl's side you were on) she was able to suppress it.

"Hey, Riku. Ready to distract me from my super secret surprise party?" Kairi asked cheerily, leaning over to look up at him.

"Don't let them hear you say that," he reminded her. "Sora's really excited about this."

"Oh, I won't say anything," she assured him. They began their silent walk down the shore, leaving big and small footprints in the moist brown sand.

Inside of her head, Namine was worrying about him.

He doesn't look okay...ask him if he's okay! Oh, do you think he's sleeping well? He's awfully quiet; do you think this bothers him? Ask him if it bothers him! Tell him that I love him--but that just might make it worse...

Gently, Kairi told her to shut up. She was making it hard to think.

"You've been avoiding me," were her first words. She still shuffled along, not looking at him. Riku hesitated a bit beside her.

"You pick up on a lot," he accused. Kairi could feel him glancing at her, just out of the corner of his eye, but she wondered what he was actually seeing.

"I'm sorry. About what happened."

Sorry that I won't listen to that little voice in my head that wants you more than anything, that loves you more than I'm comfortable with.


"I'm sorry. About what happened," she added gently.

"It's not your problem," Riku murmured, because Kairi had just apologized for being half in love with him, because that's what it was. Half of her was in love with him, half was in love with his best friend. It was more than a love triangle--it had become a web of tangled lies and mess and betrayal, and the only one not getting anything out of it was Riku.

"It is when she's hammering on in the back of my head when I'm trying to get some sleep."

That was the first time either of them had mentioned the blonde.

"She does that," he mused, trying hard (and failing just as hard) not to remember.

(Namine hadn't talked to anyone in a week. As Riku listened, he wondered if she'd been storing up all of the memories just so that she could tell them all at once, tell them to the first person that happened upon her. Maybe she would tell them all and it would take forever, so that no one could ever leave again because they'd be too busy listening to her stories.

"You sure have a lot to say," he teased, a voice he hasn't used in ages.

"It's nice to have company," she said, not really answering his question, but answering it at the same time.

"Why don't you come out of the room?"

"DiZ says that witches don't need company. Besides, he says that people distract me from my work, because when I get visitors, I spend the whole day talking to them."

"I hate to say it, Namine," he whispered, his voice a forgotten mixture of contentment and amusement, "but DiZ is right."

And then she blushed and he laughed and they spent the rest of the day talking and doodling and laughing and pretending that they knew how to love.)

And when he did remember, he shut his eyes and rocked back a bit, trying not to make a sound. He'd been avoiding those memories, the ones that made his heart take the blows.

When Kairi looked over at him, to deduce what was wrong, all he saw was blonde hair and big eyes and creamy skin, the color of her pale dress. He had to clench his fists to stop from crying out, to stop from touching her. Was it this hard for her? After all, Namine could see him, hear him, feel him--but he couldn't do the same. All he could see was Kairi, until his heart got the better of him, but then it was Kairi again. The lines of identity were getting more blurred everyday, and he just needed the right moment to grab her and show her that she could love him too, just like Namine. He wasn't hung up on her anymore, but if loving her meant loving her other half, then he'd ravish her with everything he had.

Kairi had tried to tell him once (Riku, the only one in the trio who wasn't sharing his body, and they thought that it made them special or something, like a little secret between them. Look at me, he wanted to say. I shared my body first and it wasn't this little picnic like the two of you. It figured--they all got to experience something, but he got it first and worst.) what it was like, sharing her heart with someone inside of her (with careful words--"Sora says that it's like this with Roxas."--careful words carefully without Namine), and the whole time he couldn't help but think that now, finally, Namine could love him too.

But then, after she'd given him her little explanation, it was just Kairi standing there smiling because Sora was coming over, and they shared a little kiss as Riku smiled along, because the least he could do was pretend he was okay with it. But it was Sora kissing Kairi, Sora kissing Namine, Roxas kissing Namine, and Namine kissing them both, and Riku, his nails kissing nice crescent circles in his palms that would scar and bleed, and it would still never be enough.

He supposed that it couldn't be known as much of a loss on his part. He'd loved her, first because he thought she was Kairi, again because she was almost Kairi, then secretly because she wasn't Kairi, and finally just because she was Namine.

It was hard to believe that anyone could possibly love that many times and still have a heart left.


Riku stopped.

Kairi paused, turning around. It must have been something she said. Had she said something? They'd been talking about Namine, a carefully avoided topic. Kairi didn't know how to sew up the big hole she'd just blown into him.

"She still loves you, you know."

Inside of her, Namine whispered that that was the worst thing she could have ever said.

Look at him Kairi! Let me through,' cause I think I'm doing it anyway. Just hold back for a minute and let me talk to him. It might do him good if we have contact for a while!

Kairi did as she asked, letting her appear fully to him, praying that Namine would be able to control herself, because it looked like Riku never would.


"Hi, Riku."

It was Namine's voice now, silk ribbons rubbing through his ears. His eyes were closed, and he felt a light hand take his, the skin and weight of a porcelain doll. He knew that hand.

(He chuckled at her wondrous reaction, little rosebud lips apart, eyes wide and shining, as she reached one finger out towards the bug. It flew off and she gasped, like a little child, and then began giggling. She turned towards him, looking for his approval, his agreement that it was a special moment. He gave her that smile, the one that he reserved only for the things that deserved it, and put his hand on the small of her back.

"Have you really never seen a firefly?"

Namine shook her head. "Only in Sora's memories. I've only been outside a handful of times, remember? And these weren't there."

Riku thought back to summer island nights on the beach, or the porch, or sitting in the town square, watching the bugs dance little light shows around him. They lit up in intervals, shining bright and sure, and then went out, hesitant. They reminded him of Namine, her will and smile guiding him like the light he was so desperately searching for, but then she'd remember why she was here and that she couldn't feel the things that he did and she'd falter and become reclusive.

Riku pulled her back against him, supporting her weight as she glanced up at him, her child's eyes hungry for more.

"You're just like a firefly," he told her, awfully close to her ear. And she giggled and smiled, eyes still alight with wonders of everything he could show her.)

"Firefly," he whispered, a pet name that had never gotten old. It usually wasn't his thing, too cute, but somehow there was a part of him that just couldn't stop himself around her. He thought it might hurt less that a simple "Namine" but he was wrong. It hurt even more. But it was a memory for just the two of them, that they'd never share, that no one (save Namine herself) could ever take. That gave Riku a little more strength.

"I needed to see you."

"Don't you already?"

"I mean," she began, "with you seeing me too. Talking to you with my words, not hers."

Riku noticed that she mentioned Kairi with a cracked voice, like she herself was an egg that had been dropped and jostled, and Kairi was the big crack in the shell that made her less perfect.

It wasn't until Riku's head had wrapped around the analogy that he realized that he'd mixed up the names.


And she folded her hands around his face, closed her eyes, and fell onto him because that was all she could do and all she could muster. Emotion overload was taking her now, now that she could really feel all the things she pretended to before. Is this what it was like for him everyday? Namine couldn't imagine.

And she wanted to kiss him, and love him, and really feel him, and--

Don't you do it, Namine! You know that you can't do that! Kairi chided her. Kairi didn't want to kiss him or love him, or feel him.

"I love you, don't you know? I can do that now," she told him, voice unsure but proud. Riku wrapped his hands around hers.

"You could before," he told her. "You were special, and I think you could feel everything."

In other words, his heart was yelling, please, please, tell me that you loved me before, when it was just me and just you and not Kairi, or Sora, or Roxas.

Namine, borrowed heart alight with borrowed emotions in a borrowed body kissed, with borrowed rosy lips, the cheek of the boy who was just himself.

The little part of her mind that she ignored asked her if maybe that was the only reason she loved him.


Riku shook his head, and gently pried her hands from his face. "You can't do this, Namine. It isn't fair."

"To who?"

"All of us. This is just going to make things worse."

But it already was worse, worse than before when Riku thought he loved Kairi, a hundred times worse.

"But I...I love you." Her blue eyes overflowed, one fat tear spilling over. Namine looked up at him while the salty droplet sailed down her fine cheekbone. "Am I not allowed to love you?"

Riku shook his head. "This is the way it has to be. Don't you get it? This isn't about just us. If it were..." his voice faltered, but he gulped and restored his nerve. "But it isn't. I'm sorry, Namine. I'm sorry."

Riku finally dropped her petite hands and began to walk back the way he and Kairi had come. Without turning around he added, "I'm sorry Kairi. I don't think I'll make it to your party. Happy birthday."

He wasn't even sure if Kairi could hear him; he just had the overwhelming urge to say something that wouldn't hurt anyone.

It was a shame, really, that Kairi had been split in two--each half of her heart given to each of the boys who wanted it desperately. And now that the halves had merged into one, no one knew exactly what parts of her they were allowed to love.


Words and regrets and apologies and sneers swam (flew) inside of his head like little neon fish (fireflies) that nipped and bit him so that he'd turn around or open the door or go to the party but--but--he was used to the pain by now, wasn't he?

Kairi had pounded on his door for three minutes before giving up. What could she possibly say to him anyway? Riku couldn't fathom anything that could make this better, even if she vowed to be his instead of Sora's instead of Roxas's instead of unattainable bliss that encompassed everything he'd ever wanted for his life until, until, there was nothing left to blur the lines but the lines themselves.

Not that Kairi would ever do that. She was too much of herself to change anything. Riku knew that just was well as anyone, he'd experienced it first hand. So he just fell back onto the couch, eyes pressing hard into his eyes, so that maybe they'd burst and he'd give himself a reason not to look at her anymore. He didn't even care that he wasn't doing his job, that Kairi could amble up on her house and ruin Sora's big surprise--which would send Sora down here to fuss at him, so fuming mad but so not at all in that way that only Sora could. And he'd see that look on Riku's face and wonder what was wrong, what could make his friend act so gloomy.

Riku was afraid to know what his answer would be.


For once, Namine was silent. And yet Kairi's head was about to explode.

Her guts twisted and turned and pirouetted underneath her skin and tied themselves into little knots--the kind that you had to pick and pry and work your fingernails bloody just to undo. And then, as an added bonus, her brain was frying itself and working the situation over and over and over and over and over--

like a sad movie on repeat and you watch it until the ending doesn't make you cry anymore and it's a hollow feeling like the emotions were drained completely out of you and you find yourself wishing that you could feel something for it at all and that feeling alone makes you cry even harder--

and over and over and over.

Say something, she urged Namine. Tell me what to do, what to say. Tell me how to make him stop hurting!

Kairi was standing outside of his door. Knocking hadn't helped anything, not that she thought it would. Sometimes, you just have to do something to trick yourself and think you're in control. She shifted from foot to foot, unsteady and unsure.

I love him, Kairi. I really really love him. Is that so wrong?

You didn't answer my question....Kairi clenched her eyes shut. Just help me make him better.

Nothing will do it. Nothing can, or will, change. You should know that better than anyone. Things are never easy for me and him. He knows that.

That doesn't seem fair, Kairi thought. It doesn't seem fair at all.

Nothing's ever fair, another little voice (that had nothing, but everything, to do with her heart) chided her. Life sucks and nothing's fair.

(All's fair in love or war)

But which one was this?


"I'm afraid..." she stopped, hesitantly, until he urged her to go on. "I'm afraid of falling. Falling into something and never being able to get out. Like the dar--"

She stopped abruptly, realizing her mistake before she could take it back.

"Like the darkness," Riku finished, voice full of anguish that he tried to hide behind steel and venom.

"But you're out," she tried. "You got out."

He turned to her, eyes full of nothing she could identify. "No. No I'm not."

There's no such thing as what could have been, he told himself. No such thing. No such thing. No such thing as what might have come to pass. There was no difference in what had happened, what would happen, and what might have. They were the same nothingness and they couldn't change anything now so why couldn't he just let it all go before it swallowed--

"I'm afraid of finality. Of inevitability. That one day everything will just be set, and that's the way it will be. The feeling of...not being able to change anything. That's what scares me the most." When Riku saw the look (angst with a smidge of concern--the kind she could only feel because she remembered that she should) he smiled and tapped her forehead. "That and coconuts. They kill more people a year than lightning, you know."

And she burst out laughing and so did he and they laughed and choked and chuckled and chortled because they could and they hadn't in so long.


He could go to the party. He should go to the party. It wouldn't be much of anything without him because then it would only be Sora and Kairi (and Namine and Roxas) and that's only two (four) without their third (fifth). And everyone knew that they couldn't be much of anything in only a pair--they needed their other part to be (but it doesn't matter anymore because they don't need him they have each other and themselves) themselves.

It was go and face them or spend the rest of his life wondering if he could, avoiding them and being alone in this house. He threw on his shoes. What the hell could it hurt?

Nothing. His heart was so numb it couldn't feel the pain anymore.



Kairi smiled, widely, when various friends and family members jumped at her from the living room. And Sora had the brightest smile of all, eyes alight with success, as he scampered to her side.

"Did you guess at all?"

She shook her head. "Not at all. It was a big surprise, that's for sure!"

In her head, Namine called her a liar, but Kairi retorted back that she was a witch and then they were even.

Sora looked around and his smile faded a bit. "Where's Riku?"

Kairi's unaffected exterior threatened to crack. "I don't think he's coming."

"Why wouldn't he be coming? He was supposed to be with you!"

"Oh, he wasn't looking very good, so I sent him home. Probably caught a cold or something."

"He was fine yesterday." Sora looked genuinely distraught. His plan wasn't going perfectly anymore.

"You know how these things are, they just come and go," she dismissed with a wave of the hand. "Now come here--I don't think I've thanked you yet." She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him to her level, kissing him. This is what she wanted. This is all she wanted.

He tastes like grapes. I don't like grapes.

Pointedly, Kairi ignored her. She now knew exactly what kind of juice she'd drink in the morning.

When they parted, she let his neck loose. Sora smiled down at her. "I think I'm monopolizing you."

She glanced around the room, at several people watching them, the crowd looking on with a mix of amusement and discomfort. She caught her parents' eyes, they looked especially unhappy. "Maybe just a little. I'll be back."

She walked over to receive a peck on the cheek from her mother and father. That's who they were and always would be, no matter what she'd learned on her journey.

"Where's Riku?" Her mother asked, a twinge of concern hitting her eyes. Kairi wasn't surprised, Riku was a steady presence at her side, always had been, even before he was in love with her (or her other half, though back then he technically had been in love with her too).

"Not feeling good. He didn't want to get the whole town sick. Or, I guess that's why he left. Of course, I didn't know everyone was going to be here." She looked around. "Did Sora do this all by himself?"

Her mother nodded, smiling, Riku already forgotten (it wouldn't be the first time). "He really loves you, honey."

She nodded, forcing out a smile. "Yeah, he really does. So, uh, where's the--Mom, give me a second?" She pecked the woman on the cheek before waiting for the answer. Riku was standing in the doorway. She needed to warn him about his illness before he gave the lie away...not that it would be hard. He looked more ill than she'd ever seen him, including that time they'd all gotten food poisoning because Sora swore up and down that the coconut he'd gotten had been brown and not yellow, trying to impress them by claiming to have broken one with a tough shell.

"I didn't think you'd be here."

"Didn't think I'd be here either." He ran a hand through his hair. "Can I talk to you? Alone?"

"Hey, Riku! I thought you were sick!"

Sora came drifting towards them, and Riku's posture changed instantly. "Only for the time it took to get something out of the medicine cabinet. Sorry I couldn't get her here."

Kairi peeked at him in amazement. He was better at lying that she'd ever made her wonder all that he'd really been telling the truth about.

"It's no problem, it still worked out good. You should have seen how surprised she was!" He wrapped his arm around her waist affectionately. Kairi wondered if she was the only one who saw Riku stiffen and then hunch, only by a fraction of an inch. Was it her that noticed it, or Namine? She wasn't sure of anything these days.

"Too bad I missed it."

He looked her over with careful eyes, broken eyes. It was too much; Kairi slipped away from Sora's arm. "C'mon, everyone's going to be mad if I don't spend time with them."

"I really wanted to talk to you."

What are you doing? She wanted to ask. He couldn't do these things in front of Sora, it was an unspoken rule.

"Look," she said instead, "Selphie's coming to find me. You know you can't talk over Selphie."

Sora looked between the two of them, still oblivious (bless his naive little heart) to the partial hostility radiating. "I'll intercept Selphie. Just don't leave me to her too long, okay? I don't know how long I'll hold." He smiled at Kairi and headed her best girlfriend off. Riku grabbed Kairi's wrist and towed her out the door.

"Riku, I think you need to calm down!" He hadn't been this frantic this afternoon; on the contrary, he'd been too subdued. Kairi felt a touch of bi-polar coming on, something that hadn't happened since he'd fully been himself.

He marched her out farther, out to a little grove of bushes that couldn't be seen through from the house. He knew this, they'd taken full advantage of it when they were younger and playing hide-and-seek or hiding from parents and their bed times. The little grove had grown up over the years, and with the tree next to it, they couldn't be seen standing.

"Kairi, I can't do this anymore."

"What? Riku, you aren't doing anything." Well, he wasn't. Until he'd dragged her off into the brush where he could potentially murder and bury her. But that wouldn't happen, it was just a joke. Just a joke. The look on his face made that a bit hard to believe.

"That's the problem," he hissed. "I can't do anything. I can't. Because every time that I try--" he cut off, like he was being strangled. "I can't think of any way to make this easier, Kairi. I've tried. I've tried to be around you more, and that made it worse, so I tried to stay away and that didn't work. So I tried to tell you how I really feel, and then Sora--" He broke off and stared hard at the ground. She hadn't realized how sharp his voice had grown until he broke off. In a flash, he had her by the chin, her back pressed hard against the tree, the bark digging into her shirt. For a second she was shell-shocked. Then, she didn't even have the will to be.

He was kissing her. And not just, 'I think I like you,' kissing her, but, 'I need you more than air itself 'reeverythingtome--'

His hands were tugging at her hair. Sora was gentle, and Sora was sweet, and Sora tasted like fresh grapes. Riku wasn't afraid of bruising her, he kissed her with everything that he had in him, and tasted like the air itself, sweet and prominent, an instant relief.

She needed the breeze more than she needed the grapes, she was sure of it.

Inside of her head, Namine was rejoicing. This was everything she'd waited for, with the boy she'd waited for. Granted, the splinters they'd be pulling out of their spine weren't exactly part of the Cloud 9 package deal, but she'd take it.

When Riku was done with her lips, he moved his own to hover over more of her face. Her jaw, her nose, the corner of her eye. He was standing imposingly close, leaning over her. Kairi's eyes were half-lidded, partly because it was hard to get her body to cooperate and open them, and partly because she was afraid that the sight would make it all real.

"I can't play the good guy anymore, Kairi. It's been beaten out of me forever, I think." The ghost of a smile that wasn't real toyed at the corners of his lips. "I can't hold back any longer. I need you."

A sharp gasp escaped her lips, even though she had known this was coming. It was more painful than surprised. "Riku...I...I love...I love Sora..." But even as she said it, she flung herself up at him, melting even more to his lips because he was damn addicting and she was fresh out of will power.


"So...where's Kairi?"

Sora stepped in front of Selphie yet again. "Riku needed to talk to her. I figured he was giving her a present, or something."

"What'd he get her?"

Sora shrugged. "I dunno. They'll be back though--I think Tidus was looking for you. Something....about a paupo?" A quick lie, an easy one, but Selph'd believe anything with the words 'Tidus' and 'paupo.' She let out a giggle, gave Sora a wink, and danced off. "Oh, Tidus! Where are you?"

Sora sighed, dramatically. One problem solved. He heard the creak of the front door; Riku was walking back in with Kairi. She looked...a little smaller, as if she was trying to shrink herself. Sora stepped over to them. The second he reached Kairi, Riku walked away, which Sora found pretty weird. Did they have a fight, or something? Kairi sure didn't look cheerful anymore.

"Kairi? Are you okay?"

Her smile split her face, but it didn't erase the concern from her eyes. "I'm fine. We just had a little argument, is all. We probably won't even remember it tomorrow." She glanced around, but Riku was nowhere to be seen. "Uh...why is Selphie puckering her lips, chasing Tidus?"

Sora couldn't help but to laugh; he was sure whatever was wrong with Kairi would blow right over. Riku wouldn't have said anything to really upset her. "Because I tried to play matchmaker?"

Kairi grinned. "I'll get her, you go calm down Tidus."



Kairi had sequestered Selphie in the kitchen; they were getting ice cream.

"So, why do you look so down?"

Kairi turned around, naivety playing on her features. "Huh? What do you mean?"

"Did you and Sora get into a fight? Or did Riku say something when you two had that top-secret talk?"

"I don't know what you're talking about, Selphie. I'm fine." She took a big mouthful of her ice cream cone, if only to halt the conversation. But that wasn't about to stop Selphie.

"He's really sad all the time. And he doesn't hang out with you guys as much, lately."

"Wha?" Her mouth was full.

"Riku," Selphie clarified, rolling her eyes. "It's like you guys are fighting all the time."

"We're not fighting. Things are just...different now."

"Different how?"

"Well..." Kairi took another lick off the cone. "We're not kids anymore. We can't just play around all day."

"I think he looks jealous. Like that time Sora beat him in a race, and he went sulking off. He wouldn't even talk to me."

"Selphie, Riku is not jealous." Lies, Namine hissed.

"Ooo-kay. But I think everything would be better if he found himself a girlfriend."

"Like who?" Kairi strongly suspected it was the Namine in her that had to ask.

"I don't know. There's got to be someone."

"Selph, if Riku wanted a girlfriend, he wouldn't have any problems finding one himself."

"I know." She giggled. "Tidus sure is lucky I'm loyal--Riku is ho--"

Kairi rolled her eyes. That was the last thing she needed--coupled with Namine's bubbling jealousy. No reminders of the last twenty minutes--

Kairi squeaked as his hands caressed her skin, as the kiss grew tender. She couldn't help but to inhale him, to taste the air after the breakers in his breath. He was her home, that she couldn't deny. There was too much in him that she couldn't pull away from, and she wondered which part of her it was that wanted nothing but his arms, his lips...

"I love you..."

His confession had her crying, torn between reciprocating and wondering who he was talking to. Was it her? Was it Namine? Was it both of them?

"I need you." It was true, it was safe.

"Let's go. Just us...we'll get away from this. No one ever has to know."

(Let's take the raft and go. Just the two of us.)

Kairi's breaths couldn't catch back up; she was squished against him, but wondered if that was the real reason her lungs refused her. "I can't. I just can't."

"But I love you."

She wept against him, and, maybe, it was just another ploy to never let him go.

"Kairi...I need to be with you. Please..."


Before she could answer Selphie, and she was struggling with a reply as it was, a shrill scream broke the air. It gave way to several others, and, suddenly, the wind picked up outside. The color, the light, seemed to drain from the room, and the shadows (black, purple, blue--like the color of a malicious bruise) began to seep through everything.

Selphie's cone fell with a splat to the tile, and she screeched, grabbing Kairi's arm.

The darkness was back, overtaking their island. Just as the king has warned them, in the letter he sent, claiming that one day it would be back, and that they'd be the first targets.

The party had been abandoned--people ran wildly outside, trying to avoid the solid darkness reaching for their hearts. With only two things on her mind, Kairi wrenched herself from Selphie's hold.

"Kairi!" the younger girl shrieked, but Kairi was already running. There were only two people she could be bothered to look for, even though her friends and family died around her--but that is what would keep her up forever, she was sure of it, what would haunt her dreams as she leaped over her mother's fading body.

"Sora! Riku!" Someone grabbed her from behind, and she swung a fist around, to slug him or her the way she never knew she could--but her fist was enveloped in a bigger hand. "Sora! The heartless are here!" Duh, she thought, but that wasn't important right now. Sora's other hand already held the keyblade.

"Kairi, Riku can take care of himself! C'mon, you have to go somewhere safe." He tried to tug her forward, but Kairi squirmed.

"No! I have to make sure he's okay!"


"I'm sorry, Sora!" She slapped him, hard, with her other hand, and shock sent him backwards. Kairi didn't even stay long enough to see it register, just kept sprinting, until she reached the door. She could see him, see his profile, fighting against the squall. The uncontrollable wind had shaken the rain loose; now it fell in torrents around them. Riku was fighting them off, hoards of them, all himself. He could take the heartless, she knew he could. What he couldn't take was the house ripping apart, a piece of jagged, nail-filled lumber cleaving through the air, tearing the skin before the force snapped his neck.

Kairi watched as his body fell, prostrate on the ground. She'd seen him fall to his knees in battle, hardcore sparring with Sora, but never before had she seen him fully incapacitated. He'd get up...right? Nothing could lay him out like that, except maybe Sora on rare occasions. Nothing. Inside, Namine was screaming. Neither of them would even think about the strange angle his head lay at.

Riku didn't stir. Kairi bit, hard, into her knuckles. She wouldn't call out to him, he didn't need it. He would be okay. He was okay. The rain was splashing him, soaking through his clothes and plastering his hair to his face. Surely it would spur him to move, to get up, to come on.

The heartless weren't swarming him now; they'd all vanished. Why would they stop coming after him? His heart was a prime target, next to Sora's on their list. Was it had stopped beating?

Kairi sprinted to him, all of her self-restraint washed away. She slid to her knees next to him, the wet sand dirtying her clothes and splashing her face. Riku was already sodden with it. She put a hand to his lips, hoping to feel the slight stir of breath against her palm, but there was nothing. Quickly, her other hand worked it's way under his shirt, against the chest she'd longed to call home, not an hour before, and pressed against his heart. It would beat, and it would only be a matter of moments before she administered CPR and revived him.

But that's not what happened. There was no flutter of his skin under her hand. Harshly, she pressed down, trying to coax the organ back into beating. Still, there was nothing. An animalistic wailing passed through her lips, and she threw herself down onto him, soaked by the blood spilling from his body, diluted by the pounding rain. No. This couldn't be happening.

"Riku!" She screeched. "Riku!" This was her, it was Namine, it was the strange combination that they'd become, the one that couldn't stop going back to him. Nonononono. This wasn't how it was supposed to end. She'd go to him, she'd be with him, and she'd run away with him if only he'd say something!

Namine spoke, her voiced choked with the sobs she'd never before been able to accomplish. What did you think was going to happen? You had to pick one of them. What did you think would happen to the other?

"Riku...Riku, I love you. We love you. Please don't do this!"

The dead don't respond to their name.

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