Only a Lifetime 05/06
Warnings: Sexual, Disturbing, Violence, Death, Male/Male
Spoilers: No spoilers.
Series: Kingdom Hearts
Summary: Sora's been Riku's best friend since he moved into town three years ago. The week before graduation, Riku finds out Sora has a secret, and it's nothing like he would have ever expected. Complete short story.
This story is a work of transformative fiction, such being defined as a work which incorporates characters and situations which have been created by other authors/artists. No infringement of copyright is intended and no profit is being made from the creation or dissemination of this work. Kingdom Hearts was created and is owned by Tetsuya Nomura and Disney. It is used with respect and admiration for the work.
Note: No Kairi, because I admit to a tendency to bastardize her, and this story just didn't have room for the complications she would entail. ***
"I didn't know you can sew." Riku stared down at his boyfriend in awe. Sunlight spilled around him from the windows. He'd found the only place it didn't reach. "Why didn't you ever tell me?"
From where he was sprawled on the living room floor, Sora rolled his eyes upward. His costume for the movie was scattered in pieces around him as he finished fixing a minute error in the hem. A beanbag tomato stuck with pins and needles perched in the arch of his bare foot, bent knee rocking back and forth to keep it balanced. "Staying in character. What teenage boy can sew and admits it? Only Selphie knew, and she was sworn to secrecy."
Disbelief wrote itself across Riku's face. "Sora. You're gay
. It's not that weird."
The flashing silver sewing needle paused, then picked up. In, out, in, out. "Huh. Didn't think of tha-- OW!" A duffle bag of clothes jumped as his elbow knocked into it. Sora popped his injured finger in his mouth, scowling. "'hat 'urt!" He pulled it out to look at. What had been a mere bloodless pin-prick started bleeding freely from its contact with vampire saliva.
Rolling his eyes, Riku went to the bathroom to retrieve a band-aide. Adorable.
He rummaged around in the cabinet, finally spotting the familiar white and red box. "Does that happen a lot?"
Little strip of plastic in hand, Riku came back to find the vampire sucking on his finger, apparently having decided not to waste the blood. His eyes had gone solid from the miniature feeding. Riku swallowed, tongue thick. "Forgetting about things. Stick it out."
Sora did as he was told. "All the time." Fangs showed as he grinned. "Makes it easy to fake my own death though."
The band-aide crinkled when Riku fumbled in shock. "Easy to what?" Every time he thought he'd become used to the weirdness, Sora came out with something even more shocking.
"You heard me."
"And now I want to now why you'd ever have to fake your own death." Plastic and adhesive smoothed under his fingertips, wrapping around Sora's finger. Only a slight ridge remained as evidence of his foul-up.
There was no mistaking the mischief in Sora's eyes, vampire or not. "How else was I supposed to leave my wives?"
He felt like wooden floor dropped out from under his knees, sunlight dropping into darkness. He was married?
Firm, slightly cool skin under his hands edged into his thoughts. Their fingers were twisted together, Sora's tan translucent next to his own, as though the color were a top coat that could be washed right off. The band-aide pressed against his knuckle, harsh compared to Sora's calloused hands.
"Snap out of it." Their faces were only inches apart. When did he get there?
"They were centuries ago. I would have broken it easier if I'd known you'd take it so hard." His eyes were human again, tight around the edges.
"But... you don't like girls. You look sixteen!" He sounded like a girl, and he knew it. Distant lovers, gone to time, he could almost accept without jealousy. But a wife had a hold on Sora that Riku knew he could never compete with, even after centuries.
"People used to be parents by sixteen." Sora's other hand feathered over his cheek, comforting. "It's not as bad as it sounds. Kind of funny--"
His fist thudded into the couch. "How many
Sora grabbed his wrist, tense from the unexpected violence, but his expression stayed soft. Riku felt sick, sure that Sora somehow knew exactly what was wrong. "Four. Only four times."
Hurt melted into red-tinted jealousy in Riku's chest. "Why didn't you tell me?" The tight grip Sora had on his hands kept him from pulling away, though he tried.
"It wasn't important."
Red jealousy flared to blue-hot rage. "Wasn't important
"Riku." Eyes bluer than anything he'd ever known caught and held his. "I didn't love any of them. They were just friends. That's all."
"You don't marry 'just friends'."
"I did." Stress hid under Sora's soothing tone, shivered in his tense shoulders and cold hands. He acted as though Riku were a wounded animal. "They were desperate, Riku. Every one of them had to marry someone their families would approve of, and I was convenient. They all knew I don't like girls. It worked."
"Why you? There must have been someone else." The tight twist of their fingers loosened as Sora caressed the back of his hand. Against Sora's cool logic, Riku felt the rage slipping away, though the hurt stayed.
"I could only stick around a few years. Anyone else, they would have been with for a lifetime." They knelt facing each other, barely touching at the hands. "After I 'died', they were free to live their own lives." Gentle touches feathered across his cheeks and eyelids. Riku blinked, embarrassed to feel the moisture on his lashes. "I never meant to hurt you."
For a long time, Riku stared at the floor through the pale curtain of his bangs. Neither of them moved. Sora didn't even pretend to breathe. The tension drained away like body heat in a cold shower, leaving only an aching numbness. "I over-reacted. I'm sorry."
"Don't be." Cool, solid weight settled on him as Sora crawled into his lap, knees spread awkwardly at his hips. "I should have been more careful."
Sora's cheek was on his shoulder, chestnut spikes falling forward to hide his face as he burrowed in. "I thought I'd gotten over it... You're older than sin, of course there were other people." Feeling Sora take a breath to interject, Riku kept talking, needing to get it out before it rotted inside him. "I'm jealous."
"Of what?" The words were muffled against his collar bone. Fingers dug into his ribs. "You're here. They're not."
"They were here before I was. And there'll be more after I'm gone." White t-shirt cotton wrinkled and smoothed under his hands as they slid down Sora's back. "A month. It's been a month, but it seems like forever. And what's forever to me is nothing to you. And then you'll be alone again, until the next one comes along."
"You're more than nothing." Twin points of pressure against his neck said Sora was vamping out, whether from the closeness or hunger didn't matter. "We have a lifetime."
"Not yours. What will you do when I get old?"
"You'll still be you." Sora's hands rubbed his back soothingly, dipping down to tease his hips, then back up to trace his spine and shoulders. "I won't leave. Not unless you want me to."
What should have been erotic was relaxing, untangling knots of stress he hadn't even known were hurting until Sora smoothed them away. "I don't want to leave you. Not for anything."
"Then I won't let you." The simple words falling from Sora's lips had the weight of a vow, sealed by the tender kiss his pressed to the corner of Riku's mouth. Calloused fingers brushed his silver hair out of his face.
Something in Sora's glowing eyes, his soft touch, lifted the last of the weight away. Not sure what he was swearing to, but willing to do anything for Sora, Riku tilted his head to bring their mouths into full contact. A whispered "never" hung in the air between them.
Sora's weight settled against him, body pressed to body. Trembling kisses firmed into something with more purpose. "Day-by-day. We'll take it day-by-day." Fangs scraped his lips as Sora spoke, leaving red scratches where they trailed along.
"Sounds good." Comforting touches took on new meaning as they pressed together, Sora's weight just enough to be distracting without satisfying. He cupped Sora's backside to pull him closer. His hands kneaded firm flesh, drowning in the small sounds of pleasure Sora made.
They kissed, meeting somewhere in the middle in a cluster of teeth and tongues and lips. Sora's faint chill against Riku's chest only emphasized how over-heated he felt. Their precarious balance lasted a breath before they toppled sideways to the floor, the couch against Riku's back slowing their descent. Sora laughed, arms wrapped around Riku's neck to kiss him again, knee pulling him by the hips until their awakening erections pressed together through thick cloth.
Sora's white t-shirt bunched at his waist, baring a precious inch of muscled back to Riku's wandering hands. Wanting more, Riku pulled the shirt upwards and off, throwing it somewhere across the room. Sora huffed and yanked him back down, invitingly flat on his back, lips rouged pink from their kisses. "Try asking next time." His voice broke in a moan as Riku sucked at his neck, teeth scraping. "Bastard."
"You love me for it." A deep, blushing red scrape marked the length of Sora's neck. It was silly, but he felt better once he'd marked Sora as his, the way the healing scars on his neck were Sora's claim. He left a fainter one over his silent heart, just above a dusky nipple which was next, pebbled and soft under his tongue.
Sora tugged on his shoulders, predatory teeth clearly visible as he groaned and tried to thrust upwards without having the leverage. "Clothes. Off. Please."
Uncertainty stilled Riku's hands as he reached for the button on Sora's jeans. Sora stared up at him, lashes thicker than any girl's. The sound of the zipper was harsh in his the silence. It only highlighted that Riku's were the only breaths to be heard. Sora waited for Riku to make his decision. Eyes that glowed a clear sapphire caught his own, spurring him onward as he slipped his hand inside. Sora knows what he's doing.
The moment of stillness ended. Sora hissed as Riku's hand cupped him, rolling his hips into the friction.
Riku's eyes and fingers traced the imprisoned erection, curiosity and lust mixing in an addictive cocktail. Carefully he stripped Sora out of his pants and boxers. He wasn't a virgin, but Sora was his first boy. He was hard and full in Riku's grip, the skin smooth and soft. He's bigger than me, damn it.
Something was off from the mental image he'd formed in his fantasies. It took Riku a minute to realize what it was. "You're not circumcised."
Sora's nose wrinkled. "You thought I would be? When I had a choice?" Laughter rumbled through his frame, making muscles jump under Riku's fingertips. "Moving on." The world tumbled, and Riku found himself on his back with a very naked Sora perched on his lap. He grinned and rubbed Riku through his jeans. Warmth shot through from his crotch to his brain and back again, tightening something low in his stomach. The vampire pressed down, laughing as Riku pressed back. "I'm more interested in what's in here."
"You--" Another slow stroke twisted Riku's tongue in knots.
"I think your clothes are getting in the way." Fingers traced the waistband of Riku's black jeans, leaving sensitive trails behind. He shrugged his shirt off, almost falling backwards as Sora stripped his pants. Then they were kissing again. Sora's mouth on his was demanding but careful. More than once Riku almost nicked himself on a fang. Their hips rocked together, hot and cold pressure. It built in his chest, threatening to explode.
Skin rubbed skin as Sora pulled away, eyes shining. "Lubricant." His hands fit to Riku's hips, never stilling completely.
"Bath oil?" Hips rolling upward, Riku felt certain he'd burn to a cinder if Sora didn't do something.
"It'll do." Weight vanished, then reappeared in the blink of an eye. An open bottle of bath oil dangled from Sora's fingers as he grinned. "Super human speed has its advantages."
Riku snatched it from him and slicked up his fingers thoroughly, kissing the other boy as deeply as he could. Sora pushed back on the intrusion, a throaty growl making his chest rumble.
"Faster. I won't break." Chestnut hair framed his face in soft spikes as he watched Riku.
Hoping theory was close to practice, Riku slipped the second finger in, curling and spreading them. Sora's eyes slid closed, lips parted as he let the human open him.
After only a few minutes, Sora began to squirm and pulled away. "I'm ready." He tipped Riku's hand, spilling oil in his lap. His other hand spread it generously, sending another lance of need through Riku.
"You're sure?" Every word had to be forced through his throat.
Sora rose to his knees, still holding Riku's erection. "Oh yeah." He lowered himself, slowly sheathing Riku inside him. They both cried out.
Will stretched to a thread, Riku held himself back, trembling with effort. Sweat pooled on his stomach as Sora rode him until he broke, hips snapping off the floor to meet every stroke. Skin slapped skin as they parted and met again, a rising tide of heat over-taking them.
"Touch me." Sora leaned forward, hands on either side of Riku's head. Tension vibrated his thin frame, tightening muscles under Riku's hands. "Please."
Every thrust made Sora grip him tighter. When his hand closed over him, his hips bucked. Blood rushed through Riku's head, pounced in time with his heartbeat. A few short strokes were all it took before Sora was crying out above him, seed leaving a trail down his chest.
He teetered on the edge of control as Sora tightened around him, clamping down as he rode his orgasm. Just as the edge crumbled, the vampire struck, teeth sinking deep into his neck.
Lightning flashed under his skin as his orgasm swept over him, a thousand times what it had ever been before. Riku felt his world shatter and piece back together, sharp and clean as fireworks exploded at the tip of every nerve. Every touch sent lances of ecstasy through him, the gentle touch of Sora's lips at his neck dragging orgasm after orgasm out, until he could feel his senses buckling under the weight of it all.
After Sora pulled away, Riku lay splayed on the floor, aftershocks dancing up and down his body. Clear, human blue eyes stared down at him, flushed from sex and blood.
"You okay?" A hand cupped Riku's cheek. It felt better than it had any right to, every crease standing in sharp relief against his skin. Thought came slowly, oozing. His brain felt overloaded from processing so much pure sensation. Every bit of skin was so sensitive, he felt like he'd gone swimming in crème de menthe.
"Wow." The feeling was fading, but not so quickly he thought he could move.
Sora laughed, still hot as blood around him. "That's 'yes'?"
"Un." Even blinking set nerves racing.
"Want to catch a nap?"
Experimentally, Riku lifted a hand and let it drop. The feeling sizzled through him. "Give me a minute."
Smiling lips touched his as Sora kissed him. "Take all the time you need."***
Early evening sunlight battled with the overhead lamp for dominance in Riku's junk-strewn living room. Sora's battle to finish the costume before the movie had won, but at the price of a disaster the cleaning lady was going to cry over. Pieces of discarded material and bits of thread were everywhere, along with a collection of sewing supplies Riku had complained Sora couldn't possible need. They had somehow ended up on the floor regardless.
Sora watched Riku turn in front of the full-length mirror he'd dragged out of his parent's bedroom.
The human's expression hovered half-way between horror and bemusement. "I'm not wearing this in public." He swept aside the back of the sleeveless duster and twisted to inspect his backside in the mirror. "This is way too tight-- you can tell I'm not wearing underwear!"
Perched on the back of the couch, Sora admired his handiwork. "But you're sexy, Ri-ku." The duster had taken the longest, having to be modified from an old trench coat and then battered until it looked older than him. Between that, jeans so soft and tight they fit like spandex and the dog collar he'd found in Selphie's "dress-up" supplies, Riku looked like sex in socks.
"Stating the obvious isn't going to make me wear it, So-ra."
He laughed. "Come on, it's not that big a deal. Put on your steel-toed boots and we'll finish the accessories."
"Accessories?" The trailing coat flared dramatically as Riku turned to stare at him. His rabies tags jingled. "What accessories?"
"Jewelry. Nails. Hair." A slow grin stole over Sora's face. "Make-up."
"Oh no. Hell no. I am not wearing make-up." Outside, streetlamps flickered on as the sun finished setting. "Bad enough I look like some kind of gothic gigolo. No make-up."
"It's stage make-up." Sora lifted the bag, sniggering when Riku flinched away from it. "Wyndel's old. I need to draw some lines on your face."
"And the hair?"
"Colored hairspray. It'll be brown tonight."
Victory came when Riku's bare shoulders dropped. "Alright, but anything too girlie and I'm staying home."
Excitement tightened Sora's stomach. "Deal. Now put on the boots and get over here."
Once his lover stopped fighting, it was the work of minutes to transform him into a craggy ex-fighter. The fake hoop earring, armbands and fake knives combined with black nail polish and his newly silver-streaked brown hair combined to make him look dangerous. Deepened lines on his face and a scar finished it off.
Satisfied, Sora sat back to observe his masterpiece. "Get me a camera. I've got to get a picture of this."
Green eyes rolled. "Selphie's bound to have one. Am I done yet?"
"Yeah." Make-up smeared under his fingernails. Sora picked at it. "Just let me get my own on and we can go."
Riku picked at his hair, making a face. "It feels so stiff," he whined, fingers wandering over the low ponytail. "Can't I at least wear looser jeans?"
It didn't take a complete inspection of Riku from ankles to hips and back again for Sora to make his decision, but he inspected anyways. "Definitely not."
Sora rolled his eyes and started the involved process of gelling down his spikes. It took a small fortune of styling products on good days, and Sora had a feeling it wasn't going to be a good day.
He was right. The small fortune turned into a big one before his hair would lie flat, and even then it had a disturbing tendency to spring back up if provoked. He slipped an emergency tube of gel in his pocket, just in case.
Three stops to fix Sora's hair later, the vampire and human lounged on the outside steps of the theater, waiting for their friends. Sora slid under Riku's arm, using him as a prop and wind-protector for his stubborn locks. People in regular clothing stared as they went inside, and Sora had been hugged unexpectedly by a girl in an anime shirt. One person had even commented that Riku's bite marks were the only unrealistic thing about the costume.
Concrete sidewalk dug into Sora's butt through his thin slacks, every tiny rock another jab into soft flesh. "Aren't Selphie and Tidus supposed to be here already?" He leaned his cheek into Riku's shoulder, still warm and lethargic from someone he'd sipped from on the way. Riku smelled like hairspray and leather. Sora reveled in it.
"She's always late. You should be used to it."
"I am not always late!"
Both boys jumped as Selphie cackled, bracelets jangling as she clapped. Fright almost made Sora's hair defy the gel he'd layered on it. Her perfume swamped him, a heavy citrus scent that blocked out even the reek of car exhaust. He fought the urge to stop breathing. Even Riku wrinkled his nose.
Tidus stood behind her, arms crossed. "Geez, Sora, have you even heard of a hairbrush?"
"Shut up, Tidus." Sora tipped his head back against Riku's shoulder to glare at the other boy. He was dressed as a human, in a loose pair of indigo male-wear harem pants and a silver-painted collar. In difference to the theater's no-shoes no-shirt policy, he'd put on slippers and a poet's shirt that was transparent enough it did more harm than good. "What are you wearing, Selphie?"
The girl fluffed her skirt, odd yellow contacts making her eyes gleam like a cat's. Riku shivered under Sora as she stared at them. "A costume. Remember? Were-Selphie? Did you hit your head on the headboard?"
"The perfume. It reeks." Riku unfolded himself from the concrete. His jeans rubbed softly with very movement. "Go wash some off. Didn't you tell her how bad it smells, Blondie?"
Loose shirt billowing as cars drove by, Tidus shrugged. "I tried."
"I smell bee-you-tee-full!" Selphie twirled, almost tripping in her patent leather shoes. She'd added spatters of dark, rusty red to the outfit, especially around the mouth that looked eerily like real blood under the halogen street lamps. "Let's go in! Please?"
"We're not going to win this, are we?" Sora asked, using Tidus as a handhold to pull himself to his feet.
"Nopers!" Her heels snapped on the concrete as she fidgeted, silver flashing from the soles. "There's only an hour to show time, and I want a good seat!"
"Then you should have been on time." Tidus pulled at his collar. "She kept me waiting a half-hour, and won't even tell me why."
Selphie's painted muzzle went in the air, smile taking on a brittle edge. "It's a girl thing."
The silence was absolute. The lone girl watched them pointedly, almost daring anyone to crack a joke.
Groping for something to say, Sora looked around. "Well... Um..." His eyes fixed on her red-stained mouth. "What's that on your face? It's too orange for fake blood."
"Ketchup." She smiled, showing off a set of werewolf teeth almost as impressive as Sora's vampire set. "Fake blood tastes nasty. This was much nicer." Tap shoes clicking, she slipped between him and Riku like an unwanted baby sister. Sora sighed.
"Hurry up you two." Riku tugged at Selphie's hand. "You're the fans here."
"Yeah, we're just the escort," Tidus chimed in, shoving the three of them from behind.
The vampire and were-girl grinned at each other, stamped their feet and chorused, "Yes sir Wyndel sir!"
Tidus doubled over laughing at Riku's pained expression while the theater doors swung shut behind them. ***
Only love and the death grip Sora had on his waist kept Riku from running away the second the closing credits started to roll.
"I can't believe they -- Gray has brown eyes! Brown!" Selphie walked backwards out of the theater, hands emphasizing her points. The leash she'd snapped on Tidus's collar snapped like a whip as she gestured wildly. Popcorn had landed on her hair, and she'd had enough gummy bears to feed an army. Sometime during the movie, one of her fake ears had twisted to the side, giving her a quizzical air. "And when did Triblee become such a wimp?"
"I think when she hit her head-- that would do it. She'll be back to normal by movie three, watch." Sora was a little bundle of energy under Riku's arm as he and Selphie dissected the details of the film. "Brook Shelton was the perfect choice for her. I can't imagine anyone else--"
Riku exchanged a look of shared agony with Tidus as the two die-hard fans babbled using words he could only vaguely pin-point as somehow being related to the movie.
"Oh God, Kevin Fellips as Wyndel!" Selphie swooned, almost hitting her head on Tidus's shoulder. The blonde boy's eyes darted back and forth in search of escape. "I thought I'd die in the shower scene!"
He couldn't let it pass without comment. Especially after the way Sora had been drooling at the scene in question. "Selphie, one: yuck. He's sixty-something. Two: your ear is falling off." As his boyfriend poked his ribs, Riku sighed. "Third, Valinteen was hotter. Happy Sora?"
"Yes." The vampire resumed snuggling. "Much."
Tidus's leash dangled as Selphie groped her ears to keep them up. "I'll have you know Wyndel's a sex god. I'll be right back!" She dashed for the crowded ladies room. "Meet you outside!"
For his part, Tidus waited until she was safely behind the bathroom door and out of sight before reeling in his leash and taking off for the door. The newly-freed human slave waved as he vanished down the sidewalk. "Tell her I went home!"
"Coward!" Riku yelled after him, still locked to Sora's side.
"That was mean." Petite fangs showed as Sora tried to hide his grin. "You should have waited until it fell."
would have been mean." He blinked as they stepped outside, the sudden change from well-lit theater to dim streets blinding him for a moment. Movie-goers flowed around them, parting to the left and right as they headed to their cars. The street was empty, even for midnight, and got emptier as people vanished into the parking lot. "What do you want to do?"
Sora leaned against the wall, pulling Riku with him. His poet's shirt looked pink under the red neon of the movie lights. "Coffee? Pizza?" A gelled spike bounced from the movement, threatening to break away from the rest of his hair. "We should ask Selphie. She might be ready to call it a night."
"Or to go out and build sand castles." A warm breeze blew over Riku's face. He savored it after the chill of inside. The sound of the door closing caught his attention, but it was only a late-leaver, huddled in his jean jacket like it was winter. He shoved past them with his elbows, brown eyes flat and harsh under a baseball cap.
Riku saw the knife before Sora did. "Look out!" He rammed into Sora's shoulder, shoving him out of the way. Flesh slapped concrete as Sora stumbled and fell. The knife arced through where he'd been standing and beyond to Riku, sliding home under his ribs and grinding deep. Pain lanced upwards, whiting out the world for the space of a heartbeat. Agony burned all the way up to his throat in an acidic rush.
The attacker yanked the knife out, sending Riku to his knees. It grated on his ribs, burning worse going out than it had going in. Someone grunted and slammed the ground to his left, shoes scuffling against concrete.
Vision returned in a flood of neon lights. Warmth seeped from his side, damp and reeking of copper. Eyes solid blue, Sora fought for the gun that had appeared in the man's hands. His right arm hung limp, blood streaming down from a palm-sized gash in his shoulder. People screamed all around them, running into the shadows for safety.
"Fucking demon!" The man twisted, throwing Sora to the ground.
Riku tried to stand, managing to stumble between Sora and the man, fighting to stay upright. Everything spun, pain making him dizzy. Crimson lights glowed off the barrel of the gun. Two shots tore through the air, robbing the night of sound. Blood blossomed on the attacker's jacket as he folded to the pavement.
Selphie stood on the top steps of the theater, legs spread, gun leveled in a professional two-handed grip. Riku tried to smile at her. She fixed her ears.
The world spun and rushed upwards, going black. Then everything went away.***
Sora's world stopped when the guns went off. "Riku!" The two humans fells, blood spreading over the ground in coppery puddles. Riku's green eyes were wide, staring upwards blindly. Terror screamed in every nerve Sora had as he scrambled over the bounty hunter, fumbling for Riku's pulse.
Tap shoes clattered as Selphie stepped around the pooling blood, gun still trained on the dead hunter. Sirens wailed in the distance, getting closer with every second. "He's dead, Sora. We have to go."
Cooling flesh gave under his fingers, dead as clay. His wounded shoulder burned, but it was a distant thing next to the white film starting to smear over Riku's eyes. The only thing that mattered was finding a pulse. "He's not! He can't be!" The cold ball in his gut prickled and tightened. He'd want it... He didn't want to go!
A hand on his shoulder stopped him from picking up the body. Her nails were long and red, the glue already chipping loose. "He is, and if we want to get away we have to go now."
"He's not gone! I can--"
"Later." Nails dug in as she gripped his jaw, wrenching his eyes away from the empty shell that used to be his lover. For the first time, Sora noticed she was crying. Real tears, fat and hot that smeared her mascara and dripped off her chin. "If you do it now, we're all dead."
He'd never seen Selphie cry real tears.
Their hands twisted together as she led him away from the carnage. The gun vanished under her shirt, tucked away so neatly even Sora's supernatural vision couldn't spot it. They ducked down an alley, then up a fire escape. Every motion was professional, planned. There was nothing of the flighty, hopeless romantic he called a friend in her. She'd become a stranger in the time it took two people to die.
"Who are you?"
"Selphie Templar, fifth degree Ranger for section Zero-Three-Seven." The fire escape ended at the top level of windows. It didn't stop her. Using a mix of windowsills and artfully jutting bricks, she kept climbing up to the roof, legs flashing pale against the shadows.
Riku's dead eyes still fresh in his mind, Sora followed. If she'd wanted him dead or captured, she'd had three years to do it. "How do you know about me? I've never even heard of a Ranger." He accepted her help up, limp arm completely useless.
"You don't think bounty hunters kill themselves, do you?" The roofs were close together in that part of town. For Sora it was an easy jump, even with his balance off from an injury, but it would be difficult for a human. Selphie jumped it anyways, only stumbling a little on landing. She moved like she could see as well in the dark as he could. "We take care of things. Lycanthropes, Nosferatu, Sidhe, Homo Aquatis Sapiens. Someone has to-- you all suck at doing it yourselves."
"Take care of-- Riku's dead!" Glass from someone's abandoned bottle crunched under his feet. She twisted to look at him, one foot on a ladder leading even higher upwards. They were high enough above the city lights that the stars were visible, powdered sugar sprinkled over the night sky. "Our friend died and you call that taking care of things?"
Selphie dropped off the ladder, wedged between him and it with a twelve story drop on the other side. Mascara smeared even more as she rubbed her eyes. "No, I don't." A black streak trailed down her cheek where her hand dragged. "And I'm sorry. Sorry for not doing my job better, sorry for lying, sorry for screwing up. I'm sorry!" She ripped off her fake ears. "I didn't think he'd go after you. Not when I just took out the other two a few hours ago."
She was shaking. Against the star-lit background of the sky, he could see it clearly. Her perfume drifted around her in waves, covering even the acrid reek of gunpowder and blood. She's still Selphie,
he realized. The same girl he'd known for three years, who'd tackled him on the first day of school and told him that he screamed 'gay' and she wanted to be his friend. His right arm throbbed at the movement, but he carefully wrapped his good one around her shoulders in a hug. "Leia, she's been missing..."
She nodded, hiccupping. "I tried to save her. But I was too late."I was supposed to protect her...
Guilt settled on his shoulders, heavier than the world. "You... You tried. I know you tried your best."
"I never killed anyone before today." Her voice was a bare whisper over the sirens behind them. Her arms wrapped around his waist, like she had to hold onto him to keep herself together. "You're my first assignment. I was supposed to follow you and Riku to Trellis... find out on accident... I'm sorry."
"I thought you said Section Zero-Three-Seven."
He thought she smiled. "You're Section Zero-Three-Seven."
"Oh." It was nearing one A.M. "What do we do now?"
She took a breath and released it. Cool professionalism dropped around her like a comfortable dress. "Now we find some normal clothes and go get Riku before dawn. We don't want them to have time for more than taking out the bullet. After that..." She shrugged.
"After that, you're going to Trellis." Her jaw dropped in shock as he let her go. "Come on. We've got a morgue to ransack."***
Freezing silence radiated from everything, feeling of chemicals and harsh metal and nothing alive at all. Somewhere in the building, a cart of sort clattered over tile, a distinctive rattle that never came from anywhere else. Cold ate him, numbing everything into immobility. He couldn't open his eyes, could barely feel the ghosts of hands on him. A vague feeling of something not right echoed somewhere in his head, but thought was frozen with the rest of him.
Sensation blossomed. It started in his stomach, warm and thick like honeyed sunlight. From there, feeling spread to his mouth where flavor returned in a rush of salty-sweet smoothness. His mouth ached, jaw tender and teeth feeling stretched like putty. He welcomed it, even pain better than the horrible numbness. Memory returned in flashes and jagged bits as his head cleared.Laughing at a soccer game.Kissing his first girl and getting ice cream in his hair for it.Chestnut hair and eyes the same color as the western horizon at dawn.Love.A girl in a miniskirt and furry pantyhose.Guns.Dying.Nothingness.
Riku opened his eyes.
His fingers curled around the wrist being held to his mouth. He didn't know when he'd grabbed it, still couldn't feel his hand. It seemed vitally important that it not be taken away. So he held on, life flooding back through him with every swallow. Sharp, sweet liquid flowed much too slowly down his throat. He ground his aching teeth into the wrist, widening the gash in it. He tasted rubber from the gloves just beside his mouth, but kept drinking down the offering. It was like coffee before dawn.
The wrist pulled away. Riku fought to hold it, to keep the strange liquid flowing. It slipped through hands that didn't have enough feeling to hold it. Without the wrist to hold, his arms dropped to the bare metal table under him. Tingling, electric warmth still spread through him, sluggish now that the source was gone. Florescent lights beat over head, blinding him until he closed his eyes.
"Riku? Come on, you have to get up." An arm slid under his shoulder, then jerked him upright. "Wake up!" The table rattled, the voice lowering to a pleading whisper. "Please let it have worked. Please."
The voice was familiar, but it took him a moment to recognize the emotion for what it was. Despair. "Sora?" His head felt thick and gritty, like he'd over-slept by entire days. When he opened his eyes again, the lights didn't hurt as much, but they were still far brighter than he was comfortable with. Sora blocked most of them. His hair still pretended to be pasted down with gel, but he'd switched to normal clothes. His arm was tied against his chest in a make-shift sling, bandages bulky under his dark rock band shirt. "What happened?"
Sora's relief smelled like fresh snow. "It worked." And then they were kissing, long slow sweeps of tongues and lips and ohGod
teeth that were desperate in their gentleness. It took away the last of the cold, brought everything back to the intense clarity of things he never expected to feel again. His fingers tangled in Sora's hair, spikes stiff and stubborn under his fingers. The vampire's shirt was rough against his chest, every thread important because he could feel it
They broke apart, silence broken only by the sound of their lips parting. "You taste like pixy sticks."
"That'd be Selphie." Sora grinned, relief still written in his eyes. "Get dressed. We have to go."
The freezing air was strangely distant as he swung Riku legs off the table. He was naked, on a metal table in a cold room lined with giant filing cabinets. A morgue. There's an orange tag on my toe,
he realized, staring at it. His name had been written on it in neat print, along with an ID code. "I was dead."
"We'll explain later. Just hurry." Sora kept glancing at his watch, hands covered by surgical gloves.
Every muscle he owned contracted with the cold, aching and stiff from rigor mortis. He dressed as fast as her could from the bag Sora offered. They were his own clothes from a pile he'd left on his dresser. No one had found time to clean him up, but there was a cap that covered the dried blood in his painted-brown hair well enough to pass.
No matter how hard he looked, he couldn't find the bullet hole. He didn't find any wounds at all, in fact. Just two scars. Swallowing hard and almost biting a hole in his lip with unexpectedly sharp teeth, Riku picked up the empty bag and followed Sora out the back.
The alley behind the morgue was in shadows, but the sun was rising somewhere beyond it. He could feel it, crawling up into the sky. His skin prickled in warning. Some deeply buried instinct knew without doubt that he wouldn't last an hour in direct sunlight. An empty burger wrapper crinkled under his foot as they headed for the alley's mouth, where a battered gray sedan waited.
The moment he stepped out of the shadows, pain struck. Sora was right.
like a bad sunburn, sizzling down to his bones. Even the pale light of dawn was like pins in his eyes, blinding. The cap helped, keeping his eyes partly protected as long as he kept his head down.
Sora stayed at his side as he stumbled along, stuffing his rubber gloves in his pockets. "Just get in the car. We've got a blanket to cover you. It'll help." Vision blurring, Riku followed the directions of his hands, the tight burn of sunlight scattering his thoughts. Relief came as he fell into the backseat and Sora tossed a blanket over him.
The car door closed. "You had your ID in your wallet, so you're officially dead," Sora said from somewhere around his feet. "As soon as Selphie resets the video cameras, we'll head back to your apartment and grab your stuff. No one will think to look for signs that you ran." A comforting hand landed in the vicinity of his shoulder. "I'm sorry."
"Why aren't I still on that slab?" Sora's hand tensed, gripping the comforter in a fist. "And when did Selphie start carrying a gun?"
"I changed you." Weight settled on his hip as Sora leaned into him. "If you're fast and the head's not damaged, it's possible." Cloth rustled as Sora curled around him, protecting him. "We never talked about it, not really, but I couldn't..." He took a breath, lungs expanding against Riku's back. "I couldn't leave you dead. I'm too selfish for that."
"I'm a vampire?"
He knew what Sora wasn't saying. He was going to exist for a long time, long enough that everything he knew would vanish. People would be born, grow old and die around him. Like Sora, he'd always be on the move, too young-looking to settle down for long. Maybe there'd be more of the people who'd already killed him once.
He'd get to spend eternity with Sora. It was a bargain. "I love you." Sunlight scalded his hand as it crept out to hold Sora's. Pain didn't matter next to the way their hands fit together. Nonetheless, it was nice when Sora covered their hands up with a fold of cloth. "I told you I didn't want to leave for anything. That means death too." He squeezed Sora's hand. "I love you, fangs for brains."
"I love you too."
The car door opened and slammed closed. Eye-watering citrus perfume filled the interior instantly. "All cadavers covered?" Selphie chirruped. The car rumbled to life around them.Selphie's driving?!
Eternity wasn't as certain as it had a moment before.
"Covered, Ranger-lady." A chill thumb stroked the back of his hand.
"Alright!" Asphalt rolled under the cars wheels, rattling up through the seat and directly to Riku's ear. "I had HQ call us in a car. Grab your stuff, quick drive to a port and a cruise up to New Zealand... We can drop by to see Riku's parents somewhere in there too. By the time we get back, the new identities should be whipped up. We'll be set for school in no time!" Her voice was cheerful as she chattered about breaking dozens of local, national and international laws all in a single leap.
Under the blanket with his lover draped over him, Riku felt the beginning of a family solidify around him. Still, one thing bothered him. "Sora?"
"You never told me why Selphie has a gun."
Sora's grin could be felt in the way his body shifted, in a thousand different ways Riku was amazed he'd never noticed before. "That's a really, really long story."I love him.
Warmth bubbled up inside him. "That's okay. We've got all the time in the world."( Part 06 )