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October 2, 2007
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There is no doubt in Riku’s mind that no matter where he goes, no matter what he does, Roxas is going to be faster. Somehow he’ll slip away as though he’s never been there, a wisp of something that doesn’t quite exist slipping through his fingers like water. He can’t catch him, he can’t hold onto him, he can’t complete his objective.

But in spite of that he plunges forward, unsure where the dark corridor will take him but knowing the fact that it lingers is open invitation. Roxas enjoys this game that they play, never tiring of it, no matter how many times they’ve played it out.

No matter how many times the nobody wins.

And he plays this game because there is nothing else for him, barreling down the void path between one world and another, footfalls the lone resonance within this dead space aside from the harsh sound of his rushing breaths, the thrill of his heart as he delves onward. He doesn’t know why his heart always races, but he tells himself it is because of adrenaline. From the struggle and from the fight and from the fact that he’s lost before and may yet again.

If he does he’ll just have to recover and try once more. And it won’t ever end until either he is dead or he captures Roxas, which in a way is destroying him too. No matter what DiZ says, in some way the nobody will be erased, will no longer have his own physical presence.

Something about that grips his heart and squeezes it harshly, but he attributes that to the oppressive darkness of his passage, the air stale and cold as he makes his way.

Both an eternity and an instant later he arrives, stepping onto darkened cobblestone streets with an unfamiliar clank, turning on his heel to find the passage has vanished. The way is shut unless he chooses to open another path but he already knows he will not. No, he’ll fight until he can’t fight any longer.

For what he has done, for what he may do still yet, this is his means of atonement.

Yet he does not find his mark right away, venturing through what appears to be a town square, though it warped and full of strongly defined shadows. At the heart of this open space he finds a fountain spewing a noxious toxic green that reminds him far too much of a certain nobody’s eyes, no water to be seen but his reflection shuddering upon the pool’s surface is enough to make him back away.

It is only then that he hears the mirthless laughter of the blonde he seeks, finding he’s nearly backed into him as he whirls around, his crimson cape flowing dramatically around him before falling in its place upon his shoulders again.

His blindfold is gone. Instantly he doesn’t like that, a hand already upon his face to confirm as Roxas watches him with a faint mark of amusement, though he knows it can’t be real. It’s only a mimicry of true emotion and he has none. Riku knows he has none, knows it as though it has been burned into his heart. Yet he always must remind himself, and he doesn’t know why.

“Playing the hero, Ri-ku?” Why he always chooses to speak the name so tauntingly escapes him, taking brief survey of the other’s apparel and concluding that this world must have a change effect upon those who set foot within it. “I’ll admit, you make a lovely knight.”

The words mean nothing, they’re hollow, and they hurt. He’s no hero, no knight in shining armor. This world has a wicked sense of humor along with the nobody. Not a knight and not a hero, though appropriate that he was the black knight. Apparently the other isn’t familiar with that, he muses.

He can’t remember any instance where the black knight is the hero, although often he’s this great and worthy opponent, this strong peerless soul whose only folly is pride. And the more he thinks of it the more appropriate it is that he is given this form. More than anything there is dry humor within it and ever more as he realizes that of all things, Roxas is an angel.

Of all the things he could not possibly be, an angel is by far the worst. But the wings are twisted and dark, a thick collar about his neck with a broken chain hanging from it, jacket and gloves dark in contrast to white pants. But nothing is pure white and he doubts anything is here. A fallen angel then, and he a black knight.

Seeming mistakes make a little more sense to him, watching the nobody shift uncomfortably under his gaze, and knowing there would be the rise of resentment as he cannot help but laugh.

As cold and humorless as Roxas’, nothing but smoke and mirrors, nothing real and nothing tangible. Maybe the one he seeks so doggedly is starting to rub off on him or perhaps it’s the darkness within his veins, that his heart is so steeped in. But he can’t help this fit of empty humor as it seizes him. The black winged angel and the black knight… He can only imagine what his friend might be in a world like this.

And suddenly he’s seized by his collar, hearing his armor screech unpleasantly as he meets the dark cobblestone street, the impact jarring as he finds a familiar weight bearing down on him. Less familiar is the sharp strike to his face, the resonant sound and lingering burn telling him he’s been slapped.

There are many things that he expects, but none of them such a form of contact. And for a time he simply allows his gaze to linger over the dark pavement before him, the forms of nearby buildings lost to shadow as he waits. Effectively silenced he chooses to say nothing, eventually drawn by the feel of being watched to return the attention of cold blue eyes.

“Don’t you dare sound like that again.” The words are cold as they always are but there’s something strained in that tone, and he doesn’t understand it.

Moments like this don’t occur. Instances where he sees something else where there should be cold hatred or nothing at all, albeit brief, only flitting across a profoundly empty expression before it’s gone. Riku always tells himself that moments like this don’t happen, they don’t exist. Roxas doesn’t feel, he can’t ever feel, and the fact that he looks as though he can at this moment doesn’t matter because he’s fooling himself.

Foolish, foolish, foolish. He knows he can’t trust anything a nobody does or says, no expression they portray, and yet at the sight of tears he finds himself at a loss. His eyes aren’t matching the rest of him, and there may be something akin to sorrow but he doesn’t know how to interpret it, this instance where for once his mark doesn’t seem the empty shell that he should be, but he knows that the blonde isn’t a normal nobody.

That must be it, he assures himself, feeling tears hit his face.

Roxas doesn’t sob, he doesn’t make a sound at all. He only sits there in silence, his visage neutral but for his eyes, the rest of his features apathetic.  “Never… not like me.”

The words are smothered before he quite understands them, the nobody claiming his mouth in a sharp kiss. And he knows he’s supposed to fight, he always reminds himself that he’s supposed to, that he’s a traitor and a liar for not taking advantage of situations like this, but he can’t help kissing back. He thinks Roxas knows that, but he knows far too many things he shouldn’t.

At the same time he can’t know true sorrow. He can’t know any of those things, at least that’s what he believes.

A nobody can’t feel, a nobody is void, but they remember and that is how they convince others that they can. It’s all an illusion, a deception, a mirage, disappearing the instant it becomes inconvenient to display such false mannerisms.

It’s beyond the point of remembering how many times he’s told himself those things in the presence of Roxas, and he had a worse time of it when the kiss turns gentle on him, accustomed to the bruising contact that usually finds a way to draw blood. That sharp brevity is what he’s become accustomed to, not something that feels as though it should be called intimate, but for the fact that neither of them are suited to that.

No, they’re both beings of the darkness. He’s a shadow and Roxas a shell. And though he has a heart he doesn’t think he’s any better than the nobody, not with all of the things he’s done, all the things he might do. All the things he knows he’s going to do.

He’s a traitor and so is his heart, and he understands this now more than ever.

Even if it’s fake, he doesn’t want the blonde to cry. He cares and it hurts because caring means nothing to a nobody, and he’s probably being manipulated with these gestures and he doesn’t care. It’s a shame because in the end he’s only repeating his mistakes, failing his friend as always, but he can’t tell himself that he wants to end it anyhow.

Abruptly there’s pain searing through his hand and up his arm, catching the sight of Oblivion pinning his hand to the ground, biting down a cry as he writhes.

The cause of this new injury only looks upon it with apathy, sitting back to look at what he’s done, and there is nothing in his eyes again save that coldness that Riku has come to recognize. His focus idles upon the ruined hand. They both know it will be repaired by their next meeting but only one of them knows just how much it hurts.

And then Roxas stands, leaving the dark weapon where it is as he looks down upon Riku’s face, and something flits over those eyes too quickly to be identified before he turns and opens a portal. Just as he’s about to make his apparent exit he looks back over his shoulder, watching the silver-haired male struggle with his constraint, and sighs.

“So you don’t forget. I don’t want someone like me.”

With that he leaves, portal closing behind him as the keyblade vanishes, leaving Riku to his bloodied hand as he sits up.

The words don’t make sense to him, but the pain dominates his mind and he doesn’t know what he’s supposed to think, if he’s to think anything at all. He doesn’t know how to interpret those words if there is meaning for them in him, cradling the bleeding hand to his chest.

And slowly, ever so slowly, he realizes that he’s feeling his heartbeat through the fingers that pulse with so much pain. At that he can’t help but issue that same humorless laughter that set Roxas off. There isn’t any way that he’ll ever quite understand the other, and he knows that other will never quite understand him, but he knows what was meant. It’s funny and it’s sad and he wonders why him.

He wants someone different, someone who feels pain and pleasure, joy and sorrow.

Because he can’t feel any of those things himself. And perhaps that means he’s even more the tool than he ever realized he was, but he doesn’t care. Riku won’t ever care, because there is one person that wants him no matter how much the sinner he thinks he is.

And that’s the most defeating part of it. He’ll end it, or Roxas will end him. Those are the only outcomes.
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