Title: Absolutely Fucked
Fandom: KH2. Post-KH2..
Disclaimer: No implied ownership, no financial gain, only fanwork.
Characters/Pairings: Leon/Riku, Sephiroth/Cloud, Sora/Kairi, Full Cast
Summary: Awkwardness ensues and our main characters get a scenery change...
Notes: Long. Time. Coming. For kingdom_xiii on LJ. Claim - Riku/Leon, Theme Set - Light, Theme - Mystery.
"Morning," Yuffie chirped from over the top of one of the old military strategy books she'd dragged up from the basement. Another half-dozen were piled almost neatly on the floor beside the chair she'd staked out, as if she was actually going to get to them in the near future.
"Didn't I lock the door?" Leon questioned. Thankfully, he'd decided to put on pants before leaving his room to start breakfast. Not that frying bacon in the buff was ever a good idea.
"Riku sleeps naked with his window open," Yuffie replied. "And since I've learned this fact, I feel the need to comment... But you need to come over here."
"Can't you say something rude from a distance? I'll start breakfast." Leon glanced at the doorway to the kitchen.
He knew he'd regret it, but Leon walked over to Yuffie's chair anyway.
She hit him with the book.
"I can't believe you two haven't made up yet!" she exclaimed. "It's been two weeks."
Leon rubbed his side where he'd been smacked.
"Thankfully I've healed," he deadpanned. "But... I'll go with him on this. I'm the one in the wrong."
"Did I mention that he was sleeping naked?" Yuffie asked, her nose back in the book.
"You did," Leon said. "Eggs or pancakes?"
"You burn pancakes better than you burn eggs. Unless you've gotten better at, well, burning..."
Leon headed to the kitchen.
When Riku emerged from his room, he was both dressed and talkative. To Yuffie, at least. Leon couldn't quite hear what the pair was discussing, but he did glance into the room once out of curiosity.
He wasn't going to push things. Already he'd proven that he could screw up a good relationship - no, he could repeatedly screw up good relationships because that was all he ever seemed to do when it came to relationships. Well, physical relationships, he decided. That was likely why he got along with Yuffie so well. Never in the years they'd known one another had any non-platonic behavior even wafted between them to corrupt things.
Flipping a pancake into the air (and catching it, something he was getting quite a bit better at after the one day he managed to land more pancakes on the floor than back on his spatula), Leon wondered if he could get out of work in the afternoon. Not likely, since Cid had mentioned some sort of mystery project the day before.
"Mystery projects are never good," Leon mumbled to himself as he made a tidy stack of finished pancakes. Within a few seconds he had the table set and had yelled out to his companions.
Two minutes passed before either showed up, both looking slightly guilty.
He didn't want to know.
A couple of hours and several cases of books to the basement later, Leon and Riku headed to the door at the same time.
"Work?" Riku asked as his hand hesitated over the knob. Yuffie was still in the basement pondering something, but Leon wasn't concerned about her.
"Work," Leon echoed. "Cid has a..."
"Secret project," Riku finished. "You too?"
"Yeah," Leon said with a bit of a smile. He wasn't sure if Cid needed them both for something or if Aerith had coerced (and baked) Cid into scheming some sort of, well, scheme.
"I don't have a good feeling about this," Riku admitted as he opened the door. "Not... I mean, um..."
"Whatever Cid has in mind," Leon agreed. He knew what Riku was trying to say, he hoped. "It's never good when he doesn't just tell us what's going on. I still remember how he marched about a dozen of us all the way to the facility and locked us in before explaining that we were going to get the sewers working again."
"He didn't..." Riku chuckled and waited for Leon to close the door behind them.
"He did," Leon said. "Never let Cid lock you anywhere."
Still smiling, Riku looked up at the sky. The day was mild and sunny - just the sort of day Cid would use to spring some ultimate trap.
"When it's over, we can round up Rikku and race on the lightcycles," Leon said after they'd walked a couple of blocks. He waited a moment before looking over at Riku, who seemed to be seriously mulling it over.
"Versus or Co-op?" he asked finally.
"Depends," Leon replied. "If we play co-op, I think the loser has to, ah, wash dishes for a week."
"But I wash the dishes anyway," Riku noted. "How about Yuffie has to climb in your window and giggle loudly while you're trying to sleep."
Leon missed a step. Apparently Riku was not as heavy a sleeper as any of them had thought. Quickly, he tried to remember if he'd said or done anything remotely embarrassing while being mostly sure that Riku was asleep. But nothing came to mind.
"Yuffie grew up with me," Leon reminded him after he caught back up. "She was seven when we lost this town and as much as I loathe to admit it, when Aerith was busy with other things, I had to get her dressed, undressed, and bathed. I'm sure somewhere in there she got the accidental full tour."
"Too much info," Riku replied just before reaching over to squeeze Leon's hand for one quick second.
"You brought it up," Leon stated as he reached up and stretched. He wasn't willing to comment on the sudden contact - not right away.
"And I regret doing so," Riku said coming to a dead stop.
Leon walked a couple of steps onward before pausing and looking back.
"What?" he asked as he turned. Just when he thought Riku was going to keep smiling, everything had inexplicably changed.
Riku sighed and shoved his hands into his pants pockets, ignoring the layer of bandages still wrapping the one. "I think I have one regret."
Right. That again. Leon had once heard a phrase describing something similar - a behemoth in the corner. Not literally, of course, but a situation of some sort that was always there, lingering, but couldn't be discussed either out of kindness or awkwardness or some other reason. He was fairly sure it was meant to refer to the feeling when speaking to the relatives of the recently deceased and not being sure just what to say.
Ignoring the behemoth did not make it go away, and it most certainly had taken up residence with the pair of them. Yuffie seemed mostly oblivious to it, but she had her own agenda anyway.
One day, Leon needed to ask if she was planning on opening a bookstore in his basement.
Unsure just what he was supposed to say to Riku, however, Leon just reached a hand out.
"Do you want to tell me?" he asked. Hopefully Riku was going to do something, otherwise Leon was starting to feel somewhat ridiculous.
"I won't get to see Aunt Freya again," Riku said softly. "Unless later parts of the curse send me back to spend the end surrounded by all the problems I left behind."
Leon pulled his hand back. Obviously Riku had been holding more than a few things in during the last couple of weeks. But they hadn't really spoken at all. And what had happened at the castle wasn't necessarily 'speaking', per se, either. It was enough communication to get out of that place with sanity still intact.
"There might still be a way to get you un-cursed," Leon said. "And... Maybe next time Merlin is in town, he can help."
"I don't know." Riku started walking again. He looked upward, to the sky, and tried to smile. "Maybe I shouldn't think about it. Do you think about it?"
"Only when you mention it," Leon said, which obviously wasn't the truth. But this time around he was not enlisting aid from the faeries unless it was under Riku's command.
They were both silent until they arrived at Cid's, which seemed a bit on the quiet side.
Leon opened the door and went in first, a little curious about just what was going on. Whatever secret project Cid had in mind, it was apparently a secret project with just two participants.
"Cid?" Riku called. The place was almost dark and Leon instantly frowned. And then he saw it - there was an envelope in the middle of the floor, white, with Cid's messy, blocky writing on it.
"He got us," Leon commented as he picked up the envelope. "He isn't here. Whatever our 'job' is, we aren't going to like it."
"Do we have to do it?" Riku asked as he edged over. His mood seemed a little better, but Leon wasn't quite sure if there was any point discussing anything for the time being that didn't involve the current situation.
"Yeah," Leon said as he opened the envelope. "Someone is probably paying for this one. And I don't mean us."
He scanned the letter inside twice before handing it to Riku.
"No way," Riku said, handing it back to Leon. "He can't expect us to..."
"We're going," Leon said. "If we go home and pack now, we can be there by dinner."
"Lyndal isn't much of an adventure. We'll go, do a bit of work, and be back in less than a week," Leon said. "And honestly, you won't realize that you've been shrunk."
"It would help if Cid had said what we need to do there," Riku stated. "I can't help feeling that..."
"Yes, we've been trapped. Get used to it," Leon said flatly as he headed for the door. If nothing else, he hoped to fit in a few sparring matches with Zack or Paine or even their elusive mentor. Lyndal was a nice place to visit - just not anywhere he wanted to stay.
"Can't they fix their own roofs and dig their own ditches?" Riku asked. "Magic and all."
"Magic only goes so far," Leon replied. "And it has been raining more than usual. Raindrops are ten times bigger to them. Humans - even humans at their size - have better endurance too."
Riku didn't protest again as they left Cid's. Instead he was silent. Apparently the thought of someone else having a problem was distracting from his own angst. Leon almost liked it that way, but saying so would likely involve the need for a few of Aerith's Cura spells.
Packing was uncomplicated - Leon had one bag that he threw a bit of clothing in before adding his gunblade to the top of the pile. Anything he didn't have, and likely everything he did have, the faeries would provide. They were notoriously nice to guests, especially the helpful sort.
The only question that remained in Leon's mind was about where they'd be staying. His best guess would be with the village leader Edea, one of few Leon knew of whose power rivaled that of Maleficent, Jenova or Lucrecia. Staying elsewhere would be complicated and besides, during his last stay Edea had welcomed him with the patience of a mother. She had been the one to turn him back once she'd deemed that he'd learned enough, too, about the village and culture to go back to Radiant Garden and help set up trade routes and... Leon frowned. He'd been set up then, too.
Obviously he'd fallen into a pattern.
Grabbing his things, Leon deposited them in the main room before jotting a quick note to Yuffie. She'd probably not even notice she was suddenly alone for the first few days and Leon was just a little sure where she could have gone so quickly. He had called down to the basement upon arriving home but hadn't gotten a response.
"I'm ready," Riku said just as Leon finished the note. He put it on her usual chair and turned to look at Riku. He looked a little nervous.
"I've stayed in Lyndal before," Leon said. "It's a nice place."
"You said that," Riku said. "Why were you there?"
"Not long after Radiant Garden became Radiant Garden again, Cid received a request from Lyndal's leader, Edea, for aid. The world had changed, in her opinion, and she wanted there to be more trade between the cities. When I was younger, it was rare to see a faerie in town," Leon explained. "Now it's common. That's just happened in the last few years."
"That must be why they like you so much," Riku said after a moment. "So you're a good choice to go. But I'm..."
"Not contagious," Leon interrupted. "We still have to walk out there and find whoever’s going to shrink us."
"Lunch on the way?"
The light was fading from the sky when they finally came upon a lone woman standing near a grove of trees. Leon smiled, recognizing her instantly.
"Leon!" she called, reaching out to him and gliding over to him to wrap her arms around him. "You came to visit."
"Cid sent us," Riku said. Leon knew he was all the more curious now, but they'd have time to talk. And Riku hadn't seemed very vocal on the trip other than to comment that perhaps Aerith would have a cake waiting when they got back.
"Edea, this is Riku," Leon said as he stepped back to gesture in Riku's direction. "Riku Crescent."
Leon was not expecting the blush that welled up on Riku's cheeks - and he also was not expecting the refined lady-fae to bow down in front of Riku for the briefest of seconds.
"Yes, Paine has spoken of you," Edea said as she reached up to touch Riku's hair, trailing her slender fingers through it before letting it fall. "Though she did not mention your lineage."
"I... was found by my Aunt Freya," Riku said quickly. "She's a Burmecian. I'm... nothing."
"The name is given to those who are worthy of it," Edea explained as she reached down to take both of Riku's hands in her own. "Perhaps you'll be willing to talk to me while you're in Lyndal."
"Sure," Riku said. "But I don't know how helpful I can be."
"Words," Edea said, "are always better than silence."
Leon was not entirely sure he liked that she'd looked at him as she'd said that. But she had a few thousand years on him, too. Edea probably knew what she was talking about.
"We can continue talking on the way to town," she continued. "I'm sorry I can't give you wings. But Rikku and Zell have made something of interest that will help."
Genuinely curious, Leon glanced around, though he was fairly sure whatever the creation was, it was likely in the trees.
"Now hold still," Edea commanded as she stepped away from Riku and closed her eyes. Leon closed his eyes, too. Somehow it just seemed safer.
Shrinking, Leon decided, was a bit like being pulled into and out of the computer underneath the castle. But with a very distinct sound that was very much still a cross between 'poof' and 'bamf'. Belatedly, he thought that Riku might actually have a problem with it, even though he was very much still himself. Just smaller.
Leon opened his eyes when he heard the echoing sound from Edea. She hovered just above the ground in front of him, transparent-blue wings sparkling in the reddish-purple sunset.
"Riku?" Leon called as he looked around.
"Right here," Riku replied from just behind him. A second later Riku's hand came to rest on his shoulder and Leon instinctively reached up. "I'm okay."
"Well, come see what Zell and Rikku made," Edea said with a smile. She didn't fly - she continued to glide as if on strings. Leon knew Riku was watching her closely - she was the perfect picture of grace and power. Though perhaps Maleficent had been, too.
Upon arriving at the mysterious gift, Leon couldn't help but laugh. He knew it was as much Rikku's doing as Zell's, and he could easily imagine them both putting a happy amount of hard work and tender care into it.
"I'm driving," Leon said quickly as he ran a few steps to the miniature motorcycle.
Edea just laughed and moved onward, leading the way.
Lyndal was still wide awake despite the sun being low on the horizon, one of the many features Leon had come to appreciate about the town. He saw both Rikku and Zell waiting near the entrance, likely hopeful to see their contraption at work.
Leon was actually quite impressed - he wasn't sure what the tiny machine used for fuel, but it handled almost exactly like a real motorcycle would, if based mostly on a computer simulation, which was probably all that Rikku had to work with. Riku hadn't said much, but that was understandable. Leon wouldn't have heard any of it anyway as they zoomed along, still not able to match Edea's clip.
He came to a stop just before the first set of buildings and reached up almost instinctually to fix his hair. Riku's arms relaxed from around his stomach, and the bike shifted slightly as he hopped off. Leon wasn't quite sure where to keep the thing, and left the engine on just for that reason. He looked at Zell, who thankfully gestured to a haphazard lean-to. It wasn't quite a garage, but it would do. And perhaps during the time they were in the town, a little work could be done on that, too.
"How is it?" Rikku asked, flitting over. "I had Tron print out some stuff but Zell did most of the work!"
"Wonderful," Leon said. "Don't let Sephiroth's brothers see it."
"I bet I could get a king's treasure for a few more," Zell commented as he bounced over beside Leon. "Didn't take that long, really."
"About the amount of time it took to get Cid to send you back to us," Edea said. "But I can give you a tour of what assistance we desire in the morning. Please, enjoy the evening. There's a spare room in my home for you to rest in later."
Riku just nodded as she headed off. He hadn't quite made his way over to the entrance to the lean-to, where Leon was standing, but Leon hadn't let his attention slip. After all, Riku had to feel out of place. Not only did he not have experience with the town, he didn't have friends in it, either. And Leon knew that Zell and Rikku would just be the beginning of the fae wishing to visit with him.
"Riku," Leon said quickly, gesturing at Zell, "this is Zell. He's good with mechanical things. If he'd leave the village, I'm sure Cid would hire him in an instant."
Zell laughed. "Well, maybe I will now. But the trip to Radiant was way to boring to just fly and I can't teleport that far, y'know?"
"That's because you can only teleport to where you've been."
Paine's voice was instantly familiar, though Leon wasn't entirely sure she was the best person to quite literally step into the span between himself and Riku.
"Wouldn't want to teleport into a tree!" Rikku said with an almost nervous laugh.
"And you know Paine and Rikku, I believe," Leon added. "This is Riku Cr--"
"Just Riku," Riku said sharply. "Maybe we should go put our bags at Edea's..."
Without giving Leon time to reply, Riku started off in the direction Edea had vanished even though he obviously didn't have any idea which home was hers.
Leon just glanced around at his other companions and frowned. He wanted to offer some apology, but nothing came to mind. Nodding, Rikku shooed him along and in a few steps he caught up to Riku, who was about to turn a corner.
"Riku?" Leon asked as Riku slumped against the stone wall and sank down to a crouching position.
"I don't know," Riku replied. "I really don't know. Maybe this was a bad idea."
"Of course it is," Leon said as he knelt down. "Cid made us do it."
Riku opened his mouth to say something, but no words came out. Instead he started laughing.
"Once we start working on things, you'll forget this isn't Radiant Garden. Pretend Zell is Cloud, Yuna is Aerith, and Rikku is Yuffie..."
"I'm being ridiculous, aren't I?" Riku interrupted. "I have too much on my mind. I just feel... stuck right now."
Leon didn't say anything. He understood. He remembered being that age and being in Traverse Town after having lost so much and not being at all sure where hope could even be. Everything seemed pointless and the days seemed to be passing in shadowy abandon.
"It might be the pants," Leon finally commented. His shirt felt a little tight. He was fairly sure the process of making humans faerie-sized had yet to be perfected.
"It's not..." Riku scrambled to his feet but not before giving Leon a playful punch to the shoulder. "That's not even funny."
"Let's go drop off our things," Leon said as he stood. "Edea will give us the professional tour in the morning, but we can still walk around tonight."
"Okay, but I'll follow you," Riku said, blushing. "I have no idea where I'm going."
That was a start, Leon decided. Admitting the problem did seem to be the first step towards resolution.
Of course, Riku was really just talking about navigating to Edea's house.
He decided to be thankful for the small things.
Drink Lemonade! Tip Your Waitress!