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.
Wanting to laugh, Cloud offered his hand down to the silver-haired teen, wondering if the youth would even take it. He did, thankfully, brushing himself off and frowning.
"You aren't that strong," he muttered, smoothing the already skin-tight lines of his outfit.
"And you... Darkness?" Cloud asked, strolling over to grab Riku's blade from where it had bounced and landed, just at the edge of the tiny floating island where they'd decided to spar. Both were half-soaked from falling into the pool of stagnant but clear water numerous times, but so far neither had truly lost and been pushed over the edge to fall into the breathable water below.
"You too," Riku replied as he accepted his blade back and smirked. "You... have something I desire. Him."
"Ansem?" Cloud asked, confused for a moment. Certainly he was the one had, not the other way around. And besides, he couldn't explain his actions - not why he longed to be in Ansem's bed.
Unless it was just the power of the man's darkness slowly seducing him. If it wasn't real.
Cloud didn't want to think about it.
"I'm always unwanted," Riku began, taking up his fighting stance before Cloud could even draw his sword. He had to dodge quickly to avoid being hit, swinging wildly at Riku but not connecting.
"Do you have any idea what that's like?" Riku continued. He turned, thrusting his blade at Cloud. Cloud wanted armor. Something. Anything. "For years I desired one thing only to be ignored and passed over."
"Riku..." This was not a friendly spar any more. Their battle had become real.
"The darkness... Ansem gave me another chance. I thought they actually wanted me for who I am, not the power I could have had," Riku screamed, off balance and not at all paying attention as he lunged at Cloud. "I'm just being used. You're just being used."
Cloud froze, not bothering to block as Riku came flying at him. At the last minute he held an arm out to block, but it was too late.
Too close to the edge and with nothing to stop the momentum behind Riku's words and actions, together they fell.
The breathable water was not entirely wet - something that Cloud never bothered to ponder too thoroughly. He clutched at Riku, not entirely surprised that the fall had apparently knocked the wind out of the teen.
Heaving Riku up onto his shoulder, Cloud ascended to the open air quickly and set Riku down. Riku blinked once, gasping for breath and trying to sit up until Cloud forced him flat on his back.
"Breathe," Cloud instructed, wondering just why Riku's aqua eyes were so wide and almost full of fear. He couldn't help his lingering curiosity about just where a miniature version of Sephiroth had materialized from and now he couldn't help the sinking feeling in his stomach that both of them... were the same. Used cruelly under the guise of acceptance.
"Cloud..." Riku managed a couple of minutes later. "I..."
"You remind me of a man that I once knew," Cloud said. "A man driven to madness while searching for himself and the love from someone who could not give it. He never knew that he was loved."
Riku just grunted, feeling around for his blade. But both their weapons had sunk to the bottom of the strange water.
"He died," Cloud continued, "not knowing."
Riku frowned. "You loved him."
"I bear the mark of loving him," Cloud said flatly, stretching out the wing that he normally kept hidden away beneath both clothing and a simple bit of magic.
As Riku reached to touch the dark, thick skin that spanned Cloud's wing, he paused and gasped.
"You really don't know?" Riku asked as his fingers finally connected with the appendage.
"Don't know what?" Cloud questioned, shivering a bit at the contact.
"Everything," Riku said, moving to lean against Cloud. He was clutching at his arm, a little motion that didn't escape Cloud. "This all... is a trap."
"Then why are you telling me?" Cloud asked. "If you're trapping me..."
"Not you," Riku said, shaking his head. "Sephiroth."
"A one-winged angel," Riku continued, seemingly needing to convince Cloud that he wasn't lying. "Showed up in the Underworld right about when you left. He... He's looking for you."
"No," Cloud replied, knowing that a confrontation with Sephiroth would only mean another attempt at dying. "Sephiroth would not look for me."
"Ansem wants his power to become a god," Riku said harshly, shaking his head. "I'm already in too deeply to fight him. I belong to him. I need him and want him. But you..."
"Ansem is using me as bait?" Cloud surmised, his hands tightening to fists. It was not an easy truth and he wanted to refute it. Ansem had shown him nothing but kindness, providing him with comfort and company. In Ansem's bed, he felt alive. "No. I can't believe you."
"Cloud," Riku began, only to fall silent as Cloud pushed away and stood.
"Next time, I will not fall for your lies," Cloud said as he leapt down to retrieve his own sword and go back to the castle through the sewers and lifts.
He did not see the portal opening behind Riku as thick, black hands pulled the teen into darkness. Sephiroth. Cloud shook his head. There had to be a hidden truth, yes, but Ansem was wise and kind, even if there were a few deadwomen lingering in the castle.
That night, Ansem acted no different from any other night, save being careful of new bruises and scratches that Cloud had not noticed until Ansem's mouth and fingers traced over them whilst en route to coaxing a draining orgasm from him.
Cloud couldn't bring himself to ask about Riku's outburst and admissions, despite a lingering pull even as he lay against Ansem's chest and letting his benefactor's strange heartbeat lull him into a dreamless sleep.
And the next day when he met Riku at the castle gates, the teen did not say a word, instead focusing on Cloud's instructions and movement.
Drink Lemonade! Tip Your Waitress!