Riku slouched up to the school gates as Kairi was leaving, shoulders up and head down like bad posture would somehow make him less conspicuous. It didn’t really help: she spotted him immediately and quickly said goodbye to her friends, hurrying over. “Riku! What are you doing here? You didn’t have to come meet me, club doesn’t go that late …” She stopped and frowned. “Riku?”
He glanced aside and she almost prodded him again when he said, “We’re on our own for the day.”
“Huh?” She blinked. “Riku?”
He shrugged again, aggressively, but said nothing. Kairi studied him for a moment and thought: oh.
“Roxas?” she asked softly. “And …”
Riku’s spine stiffened immediately and Kairi bit back a sigh. It wasn’t that she resented it, especially with how infrequently it happened, but there was still something a little … weird about the whole thing, sharing Sora-but-not-Sora with another person. And thinking that always made her feel a little guilty, but that didn’t change anything, so she reached out against the thought and took one of Riku’s hands, squeezing it.
And then Riku sighed, rubbing the back of his neck, like he was embarrassed. “Sora asked,” he muttered.
Kairi’s eyes went wide. “–What?”
“He asked,” Riku said again, rubbing his face. “He was saying something about — stuff with Roxas, and I think maybe they had a fight over it, but …” He cut himself off abruptly and shrugged again. “I thought it would be better if we made ourselves scarce.”
She bit the inside of her cheek for a moment, watching his face, then squeezed his hands again. For a moment she cast around desperately for something to say, to counteract the tightlipped expression on her face, and then said, “You know, there are better ways of asking me for a date.”
He started, but then he smiled and relaxed, back into her Riku and away from the angry tense stranger that he sometimes became against threats, both imagined and real. “Was that what I was doing?”
“Badly, yes,” she said, relieved, and smiled back. “But I’ll forgive you this time.”
Riku laughed and tugged onto her hands, until she’d stepped up against him, and then, suddenly, he ducked. Kairi only had the time to squeak before there was an arm under her knees and another around her shoulders and she was lifted with a slight heave. “Riku!”
“You’re really light,” he said critically. “Don’t you eat?”
She smacked his shoulder. “That’s not the point!” she said, trying not to laugh. “Put me down this instant!”
“No,” he said.
“Sora isn’t the only one who can do stuff like this,” he said, and started walking. Kairi put her arms around his neck, trying to maintain her pout.
“This is really not dignified,” she said. “People are staring, Riku.”
“Let them,” he said serenely and smiled down at her — the same sort of smile he usually only saved for private, the one she always thought of, when she thought of Riku. “They already know anyway.”
She hit his shoulder again, lightly, for good measure. He didn’t slow, or even pretend to be affected and she huffed, giving up to lean her head on hs shoulder. But when she looked up at his profile, he was still smiling, and against her, his body was relaxed — if he was still upset about Sora, at least he’d been distracted for the moment.
“By the way,” he added, abruptly, “ever since you told me I couldn’t kidnap princesses, I’ve wanted to do this.”
“Cheater,” she said, and smiled.
He put her down when they reached the beach, and Kairi hooked her arm with his as they walked along the ocean stretch. Their silence stretched comfortably between them, like it rarely did when they were all three together — Sora was never quiet unless he was asleep, and even then he snored, and beyond that, even when he was saying nothing, his presence tended to resonate inside her head, so that there was always this low vital hum that was Sora, always and forever Sora.
And Riku was sort of the same, a low soft echo always inside her heart — but it wasn’t bright, it wasn’t insistent; Sora was always actively there as the front, but Riku walked in silence, watchful from behind. And after a year of complete silence, with nothing but her vague distant memories for company, Kairi was happy to say nothing, and just listen to the sound of their presence beside her.
They reached the dock and stopped. For a moment Riku hesitated, and then he put a careful arm around Kairi’s shoulders. Immediately she leaned against him, and if she tilted her head up just a little, she could hear the sound of his heartbeat, strong and steady as always. Her own arm couldn’t quite make it the full way around his waist, but her fingers could still brush his hip, which was an intimacy that quietly pleased her.
Across the horizon, the sun was beginning to set, staining the water scarlet and gold. Kairi found herself almost nodding off, unconcerned by the implication of nightfall.
Riku, though, finally stirred; he rubbed her bare shoulder and murmured, voice rough from brief disuse, “We should get going.”
“Nn,” Kairi protested, then yawned. “Do you think the coast’ll be clear?”
Riku’s lips tightened briefly, but his voice remained even when he said, “We should still go back.”
She laughed, and then she turned and hugged him completely, feeling him start at first (though he was so much better than he had been, just six months ago, when any sort of gentle hand still made him flinch) and then relax back into it.
“It was fun,” she said. “Thank you, Riku.”
He blushed, just a little — his tan almost hid it, but Kairi was used to reading those signs, and it made her smile wider. “Mn,” he managed, glancing aside.
“No, really,” she said, taking his hand again. “Even if you didn’t buy me ice cream.”
“… Did you want any?”
“No,” she admitted, smiling at the face he made at her. “You’re just easy to make fun of.”
“Thank you,” he said blandly. “Should I carry you home?”
“Don’t you dare.” She poked him in the chest. “Never mind anyone else, Sora will never stop teasing me for it! And …” She paused for a moment too long and saw Riku’s eyes narrow just a little. “Alex probably will, too …”
Riku made a rude noise.
Kairi poked him again. “Riku–”
“Let’s get going,” he said abruptly. “It’s getting late. I’m hungry.”
She almost pressed the argument, then took a deep breath and let it go. “Does that mean you’re cooking?” she asked, as they turned from the dock, making their slow way across the creaking wood and back to the sand, in the general direction of their home. “I request spaghetti.”
“We’ve got leftovers, you know.”
“But I made those.” Kairi pouted cutely, then giggled at the flat-eyed look Riku gave her. “Riku–”
“I’ll think about it,” he said, with great dignity, and Kairi grinned; the easiest favor, surprisingly, was asking Riku to cook — though he tended to guard the kitchen jealously (and sometimes even with Keyblade, when necessary) when he cooked; even Sora’s puppy eyes were ineffective against sneaking anything.
“Thank you,” she said sweetly, and managed to refrain from laughing for nearly a full minute, looking at his huffy expression, and the sound of her voice echoed brightly in the air.
“We’re home!” Kairi yelled, as she toed her shoes off. “… sounds like they’re not here.”
“Or they’re asleep,” Riku muttered.
Kairi elbowed back gently. “Shh,” she said. “Looks like it’s just you and me, then.”
Riku shrugged, obviously still uncomfortable. “Wonder where they went.”
“Probably not far, if they even left the house.” Kairi turned back to him, catching his hands in hers again. “They might be in Alex’s room.”
Riku’s expression turned pained. “… I don’t really want to think about that …”
She stretched up onto her toes and kissed him. “Then don’t,” she said brightly. “You could think about, oh, dinner instead. That’d be nice.”
He set his hands on her hips and curled his fingers in, so that she would have to wriggle to get away, and set his face into a solemn expression, though she could see a gleam in his eyes. “What about other things?”
“Are you suggesting something scandalous?” she asked, wide-eyed, and put her arms around his neck. “I’m a Princess, you know. A lady. You shouldn’t say anything suspicious around me.”
Riku lifted an eyebrow at her. “Is that so.”
“It’s very so,” she agreed, and squeaked when he shifted her closer, so that they were pressed together from hip to shoulder. “Riku, what about dinner?”
“Are you that hungry?” He looked chagrined, and for a moment he hesitated, his grip loosened on her, and Kairi just managed to keep from making an annoyed sound, pressing back up onto her toes so that they were — almost — eye-to-eye. She took his face in both hands and kissed him again, until his hands slid up to rest on her back and he was careful of his strength as always, but there was no way she was getting away.
And really, she was okay with that.
“Kairi?” Riku’s voice was husky. “Were you serious about dinner?”
She didn’t even pretend to consider, nuzzling his chin. “No.”
He let out a sigh, relaxing from a tension she hadn’t even quite noticed, and slid his hands gently into her hair. “Good.”
The thing about Riku as a lover was that he was gentle — Sora could be a little rough in a playful sort of way, like a puppy roughhousing, but Riku was always careful with her, as though overly conscious of their size differences. Today, though, they thumped down onto the bed and he let more of his weight than usual press her down, enough to make her squeak.
Riku muttered something that might’ve been an apology and slithered down, pressing his face against her throat. And as Kairi tugged a little at his hair, he bit carefully at her throat, tasting her pulse.
“Riku,” she said quietly.
His hand curved against her thigh, burningly warm and enough that it felt like he was spanning its entire circumference with his fingers. A moment later it slid up, under her skirt and skirting the line of her underwear. Kairi made an encouraging sound and bent her knee out to give him more room, but he just swept his thumb in wide arcs against her inner thigh, ticklish and maddeningly close.
“… Riku,” she said after a moment. “More?”
He made another soft noise and licked her throat again before pushing himself up, so he could look at her. “Kairi …”
“Do you need more invitation? Here–” She reached down herself, hooking her thumbs into her panties and tugging down until she could kick them off. “There we go, half the work’s done!”
He eyed her strangely for a moment, then — to her relief — smiled. “I think you’ve been spending too much time with Sora,” he said, and reached to undo the buttons of her blouse instead.
“You’re one to talk,” she retorted, then bit back a giggle when he eyed her narrowly and ran his fingers down her sides. “Riku!”
“Whaaat,” he drawled, and still managed to fumble her bra; Kairi endured about a half-minute of the tickling before she squirmed away and did it herself, shivering a little at the colder air. Summer was gradually coming to an end, and the evenings were growing cool.
But then a moment later Riku cupped both her breasts in his hands and squeezed gently, his palms warm against her skin. Kairi arched her back and sighed, low in her throat, leaning back on her hands for support. Riku shifted closer in response to that, and one of his arms dropped to slide around her waist instead, his mouth replacing the missing hand.
She squeaked and curled her fingers in the sheets. With a little wriggling, she maneuvered into a position where she could bend her knee up, and then sort of hook her leg around his hips — the angle was sort of awkward, but then Riku bit her, still careful, and she found herself thoroughly distracted.
After a moment, her elbows gave out, and she thumped back against the bed and Riku simply flowed with her, against her, and the hand cupping her left breast smoothed down the length of her arm, until he found her fingers and laced them together with his.
“Riku,” she said quietly, and squeezed his hand hard. “I’m here.”
For a moment he paused, then lifted his eyes to hers. “Kairi?”
“Sora too,” she added, not loosening her grip. “Sora’s still with us, even if he’s not here.”
He blinked. His lips quirked in a wry half-smile. “I know that.”
“Just making sure.” She tugged his hand up, and kissed his knuckles. “You seemed worried.”
He shook his head. “It’s not that,” he said, then amended, at her look, “It’s not all that.”
“Six months is long enough to get used to a new roommate, isn’t it?” She blinked at him. “I mean. It’s not like we can really get away from him most of the time.”
Riku’s expression went irritated for a moment. “Don’t remind me,” he muttered. He squeezed her hand back and shifted up, so they were more or less on eye level with each other, sliding his other arm under her so that he could scoop her closer. “There’s something going on with him that I’m not sure about. He’s slippery.”
“We’ll be okay, though.” Kairi pushed at him until he rolled onto his back, pulling her atop him. “So there’s no point in worrying about it, right?”
“Kairi,” he said quietly, then seemed to change his mind, reaching to brush her hair back from her face. “I’m not really good at that.”
“I noticed,” she sighed, leaning her cheek into his palm. “That’s why you have us.”
“… I do,” he agreed, hooking his fingers behind her neck and pulling; she went easily. “Remind me anyway.”
She giggled and kissed him, reaching to tug his pants open.
Another thing about Riku was that he liked to be in contact with the tactile sensation of a heartbeat — a hand on her breast, an ear against Sora’s, something that he could anchor himself with. That had taken getting used to, certainly, but she could understand it — and really, she thought it was rather romantic, too.
He sat up, his back to the wall and her in his lap, kissing her with slow ease; occasionally his arms would tense and relax around her, and she liked the feel of that, the promise of strength that would never hurt her, even at its best potential.
One of his hands settled flat to the small of her back, urging her a little more firmly against him, and she whimpered, drawing her nails across his shoulders. The other hand cupped her breast, long fingers worrying a nipple, drawing high, embarrassing noises from deep within her throat. It took her a long moment to focus, and the soft look in his eyes made her flow forward to kiss him, so that his hand was pressed between them, fingers pressed over her breastbone, close to her heart.
In many ways, two people was no less clumsy than three, especially when one was used to three as the norm, but there was still mouth and hand and hip and them moving in clumsy near-hesitant gestures.
And Riku also never said “I love you” aloud, though sometimes he came close (she and Sora had long ago worked out theories between them, none of them pleasant, and they haven’t been able to make themselves press), so Kairi said it for them both, fumbling with him until he was inside of her and she could hug his head to her breast, whispering it over and over until it no longer made sense and were just syllables, words without definition, and oh, oh, his name stuttered on her lips and broke.
Riku watched her with half-lidded dark green eyes, and she summoned the energy from somewhere to grind her hips against him, once-twice-again, until his head jerked back, thudding once against the wall, and he came, his sigh breathed into her mouth.
Later, after some rolling and a brief nap, Kairi opened her eyes and stretched, as best she could with the weight on top of her. Riku’s ear was pressed to her chest, and the slight tension of him told her he was awake, though with his guard down, and she smiled to herself as she ran a hand through his hair.
“Feeling better?” she asked.
“Nnmrggh,” he told her, but she felt his mouth curl against her skin.
Kairi laughed, tugging a little at the longest of the shaggy ends of his hair. “Silly,” she told him.
She propped herself up halfway onto an elbow and kissed the top of his head. “You still owe me dinner.”
“Nnngh,” he said eloquently, and tugged her arm from under her, so she thumped down again, and then he curled around her like a kid with a stuffed toy and sighed. “… later.”
“But I’m hungry now,” she said, playful. “Riku.”
“Later,” he said, so close to a whine that he almost didn’t sound like himself, and Kairi had to bite the inside of her cheek to stifle a giggle. “I’m sleeping, Kairiii …”
“All right,” she said, and then she did giggle when he immediately cracked an eye open to look at her suspiciously. “But you’ll owe me.”
“I owe you, I owe you,” he groaned. “You never used to be so competitive.”
“Tough,” she said, and then slid her fingers through his hair again, gentle; like a giant cat relaxing, he sighed and nuzzled more comfortably against her. “… Riku?”
“I love you.” She cupped her palm against the delicate curve of his skull.
He was silent for a moment, then leaned up and kissed her once, smiling. “I know,” he said, and there was a me too in the sound of it.
“Good,” she said, and closed her eyes.