Nietzsche quote is paraphrased a little.
Characters // Pairings: Riku, Sora, Xehanort // RikuSora
Rating // Warnings: T-M // violence
Canon: Kingdom Hearts (Loveless Crossover)
Summary: A simple question.
"Riku, why do you have long hair?" he asks out of nowhere one day.
Riku, sitting on the edge of his chair and leaning forward to smudge in the spot of shine on a flower petal with a wet brush, pauses for a moment. He dips the brush into the water, cleans the bristles methodically and silently. "Because," he says finally, setting down the cleaned and dried brush, and Sora realizes suddenly that he's hesitating a little too much. "My teacher liked it."
"Your teacher...?" The twelve-year-old boy is interested -- so interested in fact, that he is leaning close enough to his elder companion to brush noses with him. "What was he like?"
A faint, joyless smile. It looks like broken glass. "Cruelty personified," Riku says after a moment, and Sora stares. Cruelty...?
"What do you mean?" The kitten settles, perched crosslegged on his chair to listen. He knows nothing about Riku's past, and he's always wanted to know, but -- to see this sadness in his friend's beautiful eyes, is it worth it?
"... It began when I was very young."
The tiny boy, white tail coiled around his leg, stands silent. There are no parents to introduce him to a new school, no one to kiss his head and tell him he'll be all right through the year.
He is utterly alone.
Xehanort. The principal of the Academy, a well-known and well-liked man. He is popular in his social circles and he is not unkind.
But he is not kind, either, and he regards the tiny, tiny boy with emotionless persimmon eyes and a close eye. The little boy does not say anything as his clothes are removed, his body examined closely in the principal's closed office. If there is a name, it will be found somewhere there.
But there is nothing. His skin is blank. Porcelain plains and curves, but nothing else. No words, no unnatural scars, as if someone knifed his name into him before he was conceived. Nothing there, and Xehanort closes his eyes. He sits at the desk as the tiny boy scrambles back into his clothes and stands silent, a little shaken but unharmed.
"You are a child God has forgotten," he says finally, opens his eyes. He regards the boy silently for a moment. "Do not forget this."
"No, sir," and the voice is quiet and uncertain, but he speaks.
Riku does not say a word again until years later.
"Steel yourself against it," the man coaches him. The strap cracks again. One more line, red pen scratched into his pale back. One more scar.
Just one more.
"The pain can be ignored," he recites, and Riku is against the wall. His eyes and his pride sting. He is fourteen now, hair snowier than ever. He still has ears. He still has pain.
"Yes," murmurs the Blank, and does not wince when the next lash of the whip cracks against his spine.
Two years -- sixteen now.
He curls into himself, coiled in his bed. He has lived here for years -- as long as he can remember. His first memory are those persimmon eyes, and his last -- Xehanort's fingers curling into his hair, knotting there to drag him back, tether him.
He does not have parents or friends. A Blank has no relationships.
The fresh scars on his back seep liquid hurt into the white linen of his shirt. Xehanort is the world on his shoulders, and he envies Atlas.
One more year -- he is released. He has read the dictionary, he has beaten countless Sacrifices to the ground. He has learned lies and deceit and manipulation and he will not be defeated. Everything can be forgotten, ignored -- pain, feelings. Love, if need be. Nietzsche stated it -- one who fights with monsters must take care lest he become a monster. And if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes into you.
He has fought with monsters -- he was one before them.
He has stared down the abyss.
He is ready and all-too-willing to leave.
Beloved is waiting.
Sora is shaking in his arms.
"I'm sorry," and he pushes back the spiky brown locks from his tiny friend's brow. "I'm so sorry."
"Sorry?" Sora glances up at him. There are tears sliding down his cheeks, but he is smiling. "Don't. Riku, I... I'm glad."
"Glad?" His questioning tone matches Sora's.
"Glad," confirms his Sacrifice. "I'm glad you told me. Thank you."
Loveless is his name.
And yet, Riku has never been so glad to love him as much as he does.
Truly, he does.