Title: Without Armor
Fandom: Kingdom Hearts
Disclaimer: No implied ownership, no financial gain, only fanwork.
Characters/Pairings: Ansem/Cloud, Sephiroth, Riku
Summary: Ansem plans to catch a god. But he becomes the one to take the bait.
"I would apologize," Riku said as he looked down at the slumped form kneeling on the cold stone floor, "but I'm not sorry. I warned you that it was a trap."
Green eyes - greener than Riku's - slowly became visible as Sephiroth struggled to lift his head.
"I agree," Riku continued. "I don't like seeing them like that either."
He paused and paced the length of the room, returning to stand in front of Sephiroth when he'd finished.
"There are other things falling apart too," Riku added. "Sora has nearly escaped that dimensional trap, and, well... you can probably imagine."
He crouched down, knees apart, and reached to brush back Sephiroth's hair.
"I can free you, but I want one thing in return," RIku stated. He smirked and waited for Sephiroth's response. There was no need to offer too many details just yet.
"Anything," Sephiroth rasped, straining. "Name it."
"Leave Ansem for me," Riku replied, standing up and laughing. "Feel free to hurt him a little, but leave him alive. I want to make sure I'm stronger... He's been controlling me. I want to take a turn controlling him."
Sephiroth was silent, which Riku assumed meant compliance.
He began to unweave the power binding Sephiroth, causing a small army of shadow heartless to appear, curious and also wanting to protect their prisoner. Riku waved them off, though their confusion was evident in their wide, blank eyes and gently tilted heads.
"Go," he hissed to the ones that remained. They would obey him, he hoped, and not question why one of their masters was clearly contradicting the orders of another.
The second Sephiroth was able to move, he did, grabbing Riku before the teen could even catch his breath. Riku had been careful to hold onto the power and not let it disperse back to where Ansem would feel it. No, he'd given it to himself and to Sephiroth.
"Wait," Riku managed to say before Sephiroth could do anything else. "We need to be cautious."
Sephiroth frowned and pulled his sword from whatever subspace he controlled. "No," he said firmly, "we don't."
"I don't know..." Riku began, only to look up at Sephiroth and see the resolve etched in his bright green eyes.
"I do," Sephiroth interrupted. It was his turn to smirk. "Let's go."
For a moment, Riku was frightened. For a moment, he wanted to undo everything he'd just done and go back to his role as a pawn. It had been so much easier - he could be strong but not risk anything. He could see things so clearly... Things had stopped being clear.
But as Sephiroth stepped forward, Riku swallowed hard and followed. This was the last chance he'd get. Either he would succeed or he would fail, as would Sephiroth.
Together, they raced through the hallways, scattering heartless who continued to question Sephiroth's freedom. Any that drew too close to the pair met with gleaming metal and vanished in puffs of black and shimmering flecks. Whether they'd actually been destroyed or not was uncertain, at least to Riku. They were out of the way, at least, and if they had been destroyed, they could be replaced. There was no lack of those who would give in to the wickedness in their hearts.
At the doorway to Ansem's room, they both paused, staring hard for a moment before Sephiroth took Riku's hand and teleported them both inside.
Only Cloud remained.
"Cloud," Sephiroth said, smirking. "I am not amused."
"I don't belong to you," Cloud replied, attempting to draw the sheets up over his body. "I..."
Before he could finish that statement, Sephiroth moved forward, leaping up onto the bed. His sword flashed in the tiny bit of light creeping in between the curtains and Riku heard a strange sound. There was only silence as all three of the room's occupants followed the blade downward to where it was impaled in Cloud's midsection and the bed beneath.
"You don't not belong to me, either," Sephiroth finally said. He had the hilt of the sword in his left hand, gripping it loosely. Riku winced but could not look away. He knew he needed to move on and find his own prey, but he could not look away from the half-hidden and now ever-so-slightly-red spot where steel met blankets and flesh.
"Seph..." Cloud reached for the blade, eyes wide, horrified.
Riku could not look any longer. He turned and raced from the room, his mind a jumble as he ran. Not paying attention to where he was going, he turned a blind corner and crashed right into the owner of the castle.
"Riku..." Ansem frowned. Riku froze - he'd been caught.
No... This was the chance he'd wanted. If only...
"Lord Ansem," Riku said, stepping back and smirking.
"You?" Ansem asked, apparently realizing that Riku was the one who had freed Sephiroth. "But..."
"I'm sick of being a pawn," Riku said. He summoned his own weapon. "Only one of us can go forward from here."
The outcome hadn't been pleasant for either of them, Riku thought later. He supposed that it served him right for his betrayal. No longer did he wish to conquer and command. Instead... Instead, he simply wanted to rest.
Wandering, looking for a place to be where he could be in peace, where he wouldn't be disturbed, Riku ended up passing through many places. At one point, he saw Cloud again - and Sephiroth. He hadn't thought that Sephiroth would really have killed Cloud. Not permanently, at least. Perhaps he couldn't.
Riku kept wandering. He felt strong, as if he could contain everything within himself without trouble. He hoped that he could, which was the only bit of hope he had left.
And somehow, he ended up back at what was left of Destiny Islands, alone amongst the fragments of the world. He thought he would be okay. He thought he could maintain control. Or at least, he thought, he could be away from everyone and everything.
Gazing at the sea, though, some time after he arrived, he suddenly heard Sora's voice.
And he began to crumble.
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