Title: Standing Still
Fandom: Kingdom Hearts
Prompt: Light @ 12_stories
Summary: Riku needs a reason to stand still. // RikuxLeon
Notes: The song influence for this piece is "What's Left of Me" by Nick Lachay. Not my usual cup of tea, really, but I saw a SoraxRiku video to it last week, and the song really rang true as a Riku kinda song, so I looked it up and here we go. Full lyrics here
Story:Watch my life,
Pass me by,
In the rear view mirror
Pictures frozen in time
Are becoming clearer
I don't wanna waste another day
Stuck in the shadow of my mistakes
Sora darted ahead to join his friends, but Riku lingered by the gummi ship, as if unsure of his welcome here. Radiant Gardens. The restoration seemed to be coming along well. He marveled at newly cobbled streets, at storefronts and happy smiling faces. He marveled most at the flowers, planted in neat little plots at various points throughout the town square. Riku found himself wondering who's touch that had been.
"Riku!" Sora called over his shoulder, motioning his best friend on. Riku hesitated another moment before following Sora slowly as the keyblade master met Yuffie word for word with their chatter. Aerith fell back a step and rested her hand on Riku's shoulder. She gave a little smile, and Riku remembered when she had been taller than him. She was much shorter now. He had outstripped all of his friends in height, it seemed.
"How are you?" she asked softly. Riku hesitated. Lost? Afraid? Alone? Despite agreeing to travel with Sora for awhile, it hadn't helped the loneliness. But Aerith was waiting for an answer.
"I'm fine." he lied. She hesitated before kissing his temple in a sisterly fashion.
"No, you're not. But you will be." She gave him a one-armed hug before she stepped inside the house just behind Yuffie and Sora. Riku paused, looked it over, and then entered behind the four.
Cid called a gruff greeting to the two from the couch, and Cloud gave a rare smirk and dove into teasing Yuffie and Sora about their chatter. "I could hear you guys from the moment that you got off your ship, Sora."
Riku said nothing, simply stood in a kitchen that was quickly becoming too loud, too hot, with too many people. Dinner smelled good, but his stomach twisted painfully. Sora's laughter, usually a comfort... it grated against already raw nerves. Quietly, he slipped back out the door and sat on the stoop, face in his hands, rubbing at his eyes. An ache was forming behind them. He had headaches like this a lot these days, it seemed.
He slid to his feet and just started walking. Maybe the folk inside would notice he was missing before long, maybe not. He didn't care. He just needed to be away from here. He didn't know the Radiant Gardens well, especially now the the reconstruction was on the cusp on being complete. He passed storefronts and streets that he didn't recognize. He heard the trickling of water in the distance, but didn't know where it was coming from. All told, he wasn't sure where he was.
He paused at the head of a street and turned left and right. His hands were pressed deep into the pockets of his jeans. His arms were cold, he should have grabbed a jacket he mused. Oh well. He cast his eyes up. Almost full dark. He should head back. Problem, though, was that he wasn't sure which way "back" was.
"Everyone's looking for you."
Riku turned. Instinct made him tense, and ready to draw blade if he had to. He hesitated when he saw the man who'd spoken, and finally let himself relax even a little. A different sort of tension settled in his chest.
Leon took the few steps that separated them and looked at the sky, just as Riku had been. Riku was too surprised to speak, to see the fleeting light reflected on Leon's face. For the first time he actually looked at the man, instead of taking in his demeanor and the scar as hints that he was a badass. He looked... relaxed. Or at least, at peace.
"Why?" he asked before he had the chance to. Leon looked at him. If he sensed a deeper meaning to the question, he did not show it.
"You've been gone for over an hour. Aerith couldn't find you when she tried to call you for dinner, so the rest of us went out looking. Did you get lost?"
For a moment, Riku heard something else in that voice. Something that hinted that this conversation wasn't about physical location anymore. "Yeah..." he trailed off, unsure of what else to say.
Leon looked at him and offered a hand, whether in friendship or something else... Riku wasn't sure. But he took that hand. "Well I found you." Leon turned and gave Riku's arm a tug. A few paces later, he relased the younger man's hand and they walked in companionable silence. They came to the house and climbed the stairs. Inside, Aerith was reheating dinner. Riku felt a stab of guilt, but when she looked up she smiled at him. Worry faded from her eyes.
"He got lost." Leon explained. Aerith hesitated and them nodded, smiling softly.
"Well I'm glad you found him. Here, sit down to eat. The others should be back soon." she said as she put two plates on the table, in front of each of them.
Riku found himself sitting under the moonlight later that night. He looked up at the sky, his green eyes shining with the light. But the light didn't go more than skin deep. The gnawing feeling had returned.
The door closed quietly behind him and he looked up. Aerith. She gave a small smile and joined him on the stoop.
"It's a beautiful night. A little chilly though." She produced a jacket that was about the right size for him, if a little tight across the shoulders. He shrugged into it and was thankful for the warmth. "Cloud's." she explained when he opened his mouth to ask. She sat down beside him, snuggling into her own sweater and they sat in silence for quite some time.
"Thank you for dinner, Aerith." he said after awhile, desperate to break the silence. The silence was too heavy, it had to go. The wind blew past them both, and he caught the scent of honeysuckle and lavender and all manner of things that brought a small smile to his face.
She inclined her head. "No trouble. If I didn't cook for the boys, they'd forget to eat. Or they'd eat those silly prepackaged things, like ramen. Besides, I like feeding people." Riku wasn't surprised. Aerith reminded him a lot of Sora's mother, but she couldn't be that much older than him. Not more than ten years, at least.
Riku wasn’t sure what to say, so he asked about the flowers. “I’ll assume that all the flower gardens were your touch. They really make this place feel like home.”
She paused. “Not me. Oh when the idea was posed I was excited about it, and I did help. But the idea wasn’t mine. It was Leon’s.” She gave Riku a little glance when the young man looked startled. Riku would never expect that from Leon, of all people. Flowers? “Apparently flowers remind him of his home world. Fond memories, I think.” she added, and it was like watching a starving man scrambling for crumbs. The silence again, and she spoke first this time. "I hear that Sora finally kissed Kairi. It's about time."
Riku gave a laugh, hoping to cover up his lapse a few moments ago, but there wasn't much humor in it. "Kairi kissed him, actually. She was tired of waiting for him to get to it." He paused, thinking fondly of his best friends. He was glad for them both. Once, he might have... but no. Too much had happened for there to be anything akin to love of that nature for Sora. And Kairi was like a sister.
"Sora has a good heart. He's capable of loving without question and with great strength. But I think that he can also deeply love those he hasn't known for very long." she said. She rested an arm on Riku's forearm. "You share that with him, I think."
Riku was startled, looking up. She brushed some of his hair back, a motherly gesture, and slid to standing. "I have dishes to finish." She opened the door, but hesitated in the doorway. "I suspect Leon is capable of deeply loving those he has not known a long time as well, Riku." Then she disappeared inside, and Riku was left more unsettled than he had been ten minutes before.
And yet... was she right? Was she saying... no, not possible, but... He slid to standing and felt that need to move, to run, again. This time he did go, but to the bailey. It was a dark place to hide for awhile. As he climbed the steps to the top, he listened only to the echo of his boots against stone, but his mind was racing.
No. He was too broken. Too far gone. Half of a real person. Despite it all, he could not truly be saved.
"Are you always running?"
It seemed by running from the house, he'd found the last person he wanted to see right then. Leon was leaned against one of the stone supports, watching Riku's obviously troubled gait. Riku hesitated, unsure of how to respond.
"What reason do I have to stand still?" Riku challenged him. Leon paused and pushed away from the support. He didn't off a response that could be taken lightly.
"What would you give your life for?" Leon replied, his challenge spoken evenly, though Riku heard the tense emotion in it.
Sora. Kairi. But those answers didn't feel like enough. He would give his life for them, but... "A reason to stand still." he replied, echoing his own challenge. By now Leon stood almost too close. Riku's lips parted, his breathing hitching in his throat. Leon raised a hand, and Riku dared to hope before squashing that hope. Leon wouldn't have that, though, and rested a gloved hand against the side of Riku's head, brushing his lips against the boy's own.
It was a chaste kiss. A soft kiss. But Riku felt something shatter in him and his eyes watered. He blinked back tears, and Leon brought his other hand up, framing Riku's face.
"I don't know what to do. I don't know who I am." he breathed. Leon shook his head and kissed the younger man again.
"For now, let's focus on standing still." There was such a gruff tenderness in that voice that Riku kissed Leon this time, and in earnest.