You can't convince me there's not at least one overnight gap in between the end of 3D and the secret movie, and there's no time at Yen Sid's tower anyway, so here you go.
As it is, Sora's felt a lot worse about things at other times than he feels right now. He should feel awful since he failed his exam, nearly got possessed, something was definitely wrong with his magic again, and he didn't feel amazing or anything. But he was halfway rested from all the sleeping, full of cake and tea, and nothing is trying to thundaga or stomp or possess him at this exact moment. Plus Riku was here, right here, close enough to touch or grab in an instant if the situation turned abruptly ugly. If push came to shove he'd take just Riku over the cake, honestly.
The emotional numbness was probably a bad sign, but Sora came by it honestly after two years of having to push everything aside long enough to get some rest or food any time the opportunity presented itself between disasters. It was easier just to keep on cramming cake into his mouth and carry on an argument with Donald about who ate the last raspberry macaron.
"I can't believe I'm having a tea party right now," Riku muttered for what had to be the fifth time. His face, when Sora looked over to give him the beady eye, was locked in a sort of dazed exasperation. Sora immediately abandoned his argument with Donald to argue with Riku instead.
"Tea parties are great!" Sora insisted, feeling defensive about the celebration he'd thrown together in those long, panicked minutes while Riku wasn't awake yet. "A party's a party!"
Riku snorted. "This from the kid who threw a tantrum at his sixth birthday party because the bakery sent a princess cake by accident."
"That's not why!" Sora jabbed his knee into Riku's leg; Riku kneed him back. "It was supposed to be a star cake! And anyway, don't blame me, it's not like there's even a kitchen here! I just asked the weird wizard stuff what kind of food they had and this is what showed up!" Sora had some questions about that, but none which he was going to ask Yen Sid.
"I definitely blame you," Riku muttered into his teacup. Sora jabbed him harder, making Riku slosh his tea and bumping the table.
"Hey!" Donald squawked, grabbing for his own cup, to lift it out of harm's way. Just as he sighed in relief, a half-eaten tower of cookies beside him wobbled and tipped over, dropping the top two squarely in his tea with a cheerful ploop. "AAAGH!"
"Aw, that looks tasty anyway," Goofy soothed him, reaching to pick up one of the scattered cookies and dropping it in his own tea. The blue sugar crystals melted off the top, turning his tea green. "Wow, neato!"
"Forget that," Axel announced, wrinkling his nose. No, Sora corrected himself, Lea.
"What?! I wanna try that too!" Sora exclaimed, making a grab for a suitably sugared cookie. He only had half a cup of tea so he ended up with just a soggy cookie and had to holler for the teapot to float over for a refill. He could hear Riku chuckling beside him and that was exactly how Sora wanted it, Riku laughing at his antics rather than having to talk about whatever was going to happen next, or worse, the numb blob of feelings he could feel rolling around at the edges of his mood.
Some time later, maybe hours or maybe not, it was so hard to tell here, Sora had to admit that even he was at full capacity on cake and tea-soggy cookies.
"Hey," Riku said while Sora was standing up and stretching, arms up over his head. He said it low, like when they used to talk around their parents, and when he glanced up to catch Sora's eye, Riku's were bright with some of the mischief from back then too. "Come outside a minute."
"Yeah, ok," Sora agreed, grin spreading warm across his face. Mickey and Yen Sid were back at Yen Sid's desk, attention drawn by the book spread across it; Goofy was trying to help clean up the table and no doubt just making a bigger mess while Donald argued with the teapot still stubbornly trying to refill cups. The only one who noticed them at all was Axel, but he only gave them a silent, two-fingered salute to send them on their way.
Lea, Sora corrected himself as they slip out the door and start down the stairs. He had to say thank you to Lea, they should talk about…things…or before or…Sora felt his grip on his good mood waver and shoved all the thoughts back as hard as if he'd used circle raid. He grabbed for Riku's hand to squeeze, bouncing into him as they hit the first landing.
"Watch it on the stairs, idiot," Riku scolded, although he laced his fingers through Sora's and squeezed back, tight. "No way to tell how many stairs are left to fall down, like either twenty or two hundred."
"Yeah, you noticed too, right?" Sora latched onto the new subject easily. "The number's different every time I'm here! The first time I was here there were like a million."
Riku huffed a laugh, making Sora look up at him expectantly. "It's just. King Mickey said when he was an apprentice that he thought that the number changed depending on how much or little Master Yen Sid wanted to see him. He must have really not wanted to put up with you."
"Hey!" Sora protested, using his free hand to slap Riku's arm. The slap of skin on skin was satisfyingly loud, ringing off the bare stone of the tower walls. "You were right with me this time, pal, so doesn't seem like you were on the VIP list either!"
"Not like we ever bring him good news," Riku said. The bottom landing and front door came into view suddenly, a welcome sight to Sora with his stomach still sloshing with tea. "That was absolutely shorter than on the way up. He really is trying to get rid of us."
"Well, he can sure have his wish for right now," Sora darted ahead, throwing the door open and taking a deep breath of fresh air. The air tasted funny here, a little magic or something, tingling on his tongue and fizzing in his lungs if he took a deep enough breath of it. "Race y—"
"Nope," Riku announced, grabbing Sora's shoulder before he could finish his challenge and steering him down the steps and just to the left. They were partially hidden here by the shade of the tower and some of the taller bushes, and Sora wasn't entirely surprised when Riku pushed his back up against the rough stone of the tower's wall.
"Oh! Ok, yeah, definitely," Sora agreed readily, grabbing two fistfuls of Riku's shirt to drag him in closer for a kiss. This was a great distraction too, still new enough for Sora's thoughts to scatter like dandelion puffs, sweet enough to feel it all the way to his toes as he pushed up on them so Riku didn't have to bend over so far. Riku was so warm when Sora wrapped arms around his neck, just as firm under his hands as the wall at his back. More than the slick press of his mouth, Sora felt like vibrating out of his skin from how present Riku was, right there in a way Sora could barely cope with after living with just the idea of him for months on end.
"Mmhm," Riku hummed, pulling back far enough to break the kiss but still near enough that Sora's hair was brushing his forehead. "Nice. But not what I brought you down here for."
"Sounds fake," Sora breezed, pushing up against his hands. His lips only brushed Riku's for a second before Riku's hands were on his shoulders, pushing him down firmly back on the ground. Sora pouted; Riku cupped his face with one hand, running his thumb over the puffed swell of his cheek.
"Did you hear any of what Master Yen Sid told me?" Riku asked. "About what Masters do?"
"Sure, I guess," Sora answered, vague. He'd been right there, obviously, but he'd been eating a lot of macarons at the beginning and they were pretty crunchy.
"He said Masters can pass keyblades onto others," Riku went on. Sora twirled a strand of Riku's hair around his finger, making Riku's eyelids flutter, but he wasn't distracted. "There's a ceremony, but it's simple, just some words and touching the keyblade so it can test your heart. He said, that's what Terra must have done to me. You remember that, right?"
"Yeah," Sora answered, eyes cutting to the side. He remembered only a vague impression of the man himself, fogged by distance across the beach as well as time, remembered more how it had been the first secret standing between him and Riku. "So what?"
"So, this." Riku pushed Sora back further, making his arms drop, far enough that in the space he could summon his keyblade with a glitter that briefly lit both of them in gold. "I'm a Master now, and you've never had one."
Equal forces yanked in Sora's heart in two directions, one twisting tightly jealous, the other liquid warmth at what a helpless sap Riku was and always had been. "That's really stupid, I'm already—"
"It's tradition," Riku interrupted, his snooty tone belied by the warmth in his eyes, glowing like the eerie tower magic was infecting him too. "Can't have the hero of light running around uninitiated, right? I just want to make sure it's done right so it really sticks."
"Riku," Sora sighed, gaze dropping to Riku's keyblade. It was the same one Riku pulled in his dream, a near twin to Sora's, and Sora missed the Way to Dawn inasmuch as it had always been Riku's keyblade to him. "It's still…I thought it only looked like that because you were inside my dream."
"Master Yen Sid said it's normal for a keyblade to change sometimes, as its wielder does," Riku said, voice quiet. "It might keep on changing."
Sora accepted that, nodding, seeing a shifting quality to the edges of it that make him wonder what it would look like after. He lifted his eyes to take in Riku's face with its newly sharp, more adult cheekbones and jawline. What kind of keyblade would an adult Riku have? Sora couldn't picture it, any more than he could picture himself as an adult, or with any other keyblade than the Kingdom Key. Sora shoved that thought away too, just as hard.
"So." Riku cleared his throat. He held his keyblade out, in the space between them. "In your hand, take this key."
"Oh, come on, don't," Sora protested. His heart squirmed in his chest. "It's so silly!"
"In your hand," Riku repeated, louder, pinning Sora in place with his bright eyes, "take this key, and since I know you have the making, in this simple act of taking, it's wielder you are, the same as me. And you will always find me, I vow, no ocean can separate us now. Not worlds or doors, not darkness, not sleep, while you this promise in your heart keep."
Overwhelmed, Sora opened his mouth but no words came on the first try. There seemed like no choice but to reach out for the keyblade's handle, but instead of taking it from Riku as he was obviously meant to, Sora wrapped his hand over top of Riku's, his fingers only touching the cool metal of it in the spaces between Riku's fingers. The keyblade glimmered as Sora squeezed tighter, barely visible, but Sora knew it was real because he felt the answering shiver in his chest, the thud of his heart loud in his ears, echoing Riku's heartbeat where he could feel the pulse of it under his palm.
Sora swallowed hard, trying to blink the telltale prickle of embarrassing tears out from the corners of his eyes. "That's not what that guy said to you, is it?"
Riku laughed, low in his throat, and let go of the keyblade to gather Sora in tight against his chest, kissing him so fiercely that one of the tears slid down from the corner of Sora's eye. The keyblade dropped from Sora's nerveless fingers; it vanished before it hit the sand, leaving only the dazzle in Sora's vision before his face was pressed into the familiar dark of Riku's shoulder. Riku dragged in a shuddering breath. "Well. He didn't kiss me."
"Good," Sora snapped, with so much venom that Riku laughed harder. Sora stretched up to kiss the smirk off Riku's face.
It started out rough, but the steady way Riku's mouth moved against Sora's slowed it into something calmer and unhurried. One of Riku's hands slid up the back of Sora's hair, dragging through the spikes, and Sora's mouth parted on a soft gasp. The tip of Riku's tongue traced across Sora's lower lip, and then Riku was pulling back, examining Sora's face closely. Riku's expression was soft, made softer by the oranges and purples of the perpetual dusk here.
"Hey," Riku murmured. "Today was a lot. Do you want to talk about it?" Sora shook his head, eyes sliding to the side. "Come on. You know I know you better than that."
"Not yet." Sora wrapped arms around Riku's waist and hugged, tighter and tighter until he could feel Riku's zipper digging into his cheek.
"You'll say when you're ready?" Riku pushed, not giving up. "Promise me."
"Ok," Sora agreed. It wasn't much of a promise, since every minute they didn't get split back up again was a pleasant surprise, but it seemed to satisfy Riku. "Can we go to bed, do you think?"
That made Riku laugh, digging his zipper deeper into Sora's cheek. "What? You've only been awake for…um, this place doesn't really have time, I guess. And does the tower have bedrooms?"
"I didn't mean sleeping exactly," Sora pulled away to give Riku a slow blink. Riku went immediately pink across the nose, like an adorable sunburn. "And the King lived here as an apprentice, right? He must've slept somewhere."
"No!" Riku scrunched up his face. "We're definitely not doing that there!"
"Relax, it's magic, there's probably a hundred rooms hidden in there somewhere," Sora said breezily. He leaned up for one more stolen kiss, not wasting any time licking into Riku's mouth in case his preferred method of distraction was not 100% clear by now.
"Hmm," Riku murmured against his mouth. "You really aren't going to run of somewhere right away?"
"There's something I want to do, but." Sora shrugged. "It can wait."
It turned out that Sora was right and that the tower had all kinds of other rooms tucked away, once they were told how to look for them. Yen Sid agreed that it would be sensible for them to claim a space of their own to stay while training, and only raised one eyebrow when Sora blurted a request to share a room.
"You know, like a dorm!" Sora tried to backpedal. Riku made a noise but Sora refused to look because if he made eye contact he was going to lose it.
"Gee, fellas, that sounds like fun!" Mickey chirped, whether because he was trying to help or not, Sora wasn't sure. "Maybe I'll come stay in my old room and train with you sometimes!"
Yen Sid's glower was swift and terrifying. "Don't you have a kingdom to run?"
"Haha!" Mickey rubbed the back of his head. "Well…"
Riku wanted a room low enough that they might survive falling out a window while Sora wanted one high enough for a view ("A view of what?" Riku had demanded while Sora shrugged), so they compromised about two-thirds of the way up the confused stairs. There were several new doorways off the circular landing there, just because they believed there would be; Sora grabbed Riku's hand and chose the one marked with two stars without hesitation, dragging Riku through it. There was a short hallway, because if your room was right on the stairs brooms would be stomping past it all night long, and two more doors. One door looked slightly more insubstantial than the other, as if Yen Sid was asking if they weren't sure they didn't want their own spaces.
Sora stopped, looking over his shoulder at Riku. "Which one?" After half a breath, he added, "You can still sleep in mine, if you want your own."
"No, that's not what I want," Riku answered firmly, pushing Sora to the second, more real door. Behind them the second one wavered as if about to wink out. "Kairi can use it if she wants to come visit." The second door suddenly was worn wood, warm cherry, as if it had been there a hundred years, and Sora nodded in satisfaction.
In front of their own door, Sora put his hand on the handle and paused there. Yen Sid had told them to build a firm image in their mind of what they wanted to room to be like, and they'd get it. If they weren't firm about it, it might turn out…unsatisfactory. "So? What's our room like?"
His other hand was still in Riku's, Riku smoothing his thumb idly over Sora's knuckles. "No requests?"
"Nah, you pick it." Sora felt like his whole brain was too tired to try, like he'd worn out his whole imagination dreaming so much.
"Hm, well." Riku's eyes drifted shut, a slight furrow between his eyebrows as he thought. "The bed's by the window, and it's big, like how beds seemed bigger when we were little kids, with lots of blankets because you steal them. There's thick curtains so we can make it dark, but stars stuck to the ceiling so it's not that dark. There's a rug on the floor so the stone isn't cold. There's two big wood wardrobes so our stuff doesn't get mixed up, and a desk with some shelves above it for when Master Yen Sid gives us homework, and a big beanbag because you'll only read sprawled on the floor." Riku paused, then opened his eyes. "Anything else?"
"A bathroom attached," Sora said immediately. "I'm not going up and down stairs in the middle of the night. And I want a struggle poster for the back of the door, but I can go into town and get that myself."
"What's with you and Struggle posters?" Riku asked, reaching for the door handle and pushing it open with their joined hands. Sora shrugged, distracted stepping into their room and looking around.
It was nice, circular and cozy without being cramped, the furniture all as Riku had named it, the star-shaped windows funny but not entirely unexpected. The squashy beanbag on the floor and the curtains were the same dark blue with yellow stars pattern, the braided rug squishy under Sora's feet once he'd kicked his sneakers off. The bed looked big and welcoming, as requested, a heap of soft blankets in a riot of colors, including one on the very top that looked suspiciously like the blanket Sora's mother had inexpertly crocheted for him as a toddler, and had fallen to pieces years ago.
"You know, you basically imagined a slightly more adult version of my bedroom back home," Sora commented as he drifted past things, poking at them.
"I always felt safe there." Riku sat on the bed and flopped backwards, giving a soft groan. He reached for the curtain, yanking it across and plunging the room into darkness. Above them, stars winked to life, the shape of the chunky, cheap plastic stars they'd put up on Sora's ceiling as children, but in much better and prettier colors, amber and lavender and rose and sky blue and grass green. "Wow. Wait, did I imagine us a lamp?"
In answer, Sora tried to head towards the sound of his voice and immediately whacked his shin on the corner of the bed frame. "Ow."
"Oops." Riku yanked the curtain back, brightening the room back up again. "We'll bring back a lamp, next time."
"Kiss it better," Sora demanded, stepping around the bedpost and falling heavily into bed on top of Riku, making him grunt.
Riku did, even if he didn't start with the part that was actually hurt. He kissed Sora's forehead and nose and cheek, and got stuck on his mouth awhile, while he peeled Sora out of his hoodie and T-shirt. With that out of the way, he moved on to kissing Sora's throat and shoulders, while Sora wound fingers in his hair like it was all he could do just to hang on.
"Would you hurry up?" Sora mumbled, not that he was helping. "Any minute someone's gonna bang on the door with a new emergency."
"Hm," Riku murmured against Sora's skin. The slick press of his mouth was shockingly warm against the hollow of Sora's throat. "No. I won't."
Sora struggled impatiently, but the difference in his weakened strength against Riku's meant Riku had no trouble holding him down. It was an unpleasant reminder of what he'd lost in this last fight, so Sora let it go and went limp so that it just felt good instead, the weight and strength of Riku over top of him, pushing him down into the mattress. Once Sora relaxed, Riku went back to his methodical undressing, dragging slow, wet kisses over each piece of Sora's skin as it was uncovered. He stopped to strip off his own clothes at one point and Sora's low growl of impatience would have been embarrassing if he had any thought to spare about it.
By the time Riku was actually at Sora's bruised shin, Sora was trembling and whining softly with every breath. Riku pressed one last kiss to the red mark and sat up, grinning, to look Sora over. He was flushed too, obvious on his fair complexion, face lit up with heat. "Better?"
"Get down here!" Sora ordered, completely done with this unhurried, teasing Riku when he felt like he was about to go all to pieces. He sat up just enough to grab for Riku's shoulders and yanked until Riku was sprawled on top of him. Comforting heat soaked into Sora's bones everyplace their skin touched, from foreheads to chests to thighs to knees. Riku slid arms under Sora's shoulders and Sora twined around him tighter, arms around Riku's neck and legs curling over the backs of Riku's thighs.
"Easy," Riku told him between kisses. "Easy, I'm right here."
Sex was newer than kissing, only a handful of times during their break on Destiny Islands, and there were probably better ways to do it, but the two of them were still stuck in the stage where neither of them wanted to stop kissing long enough to figure it out. This was overwhelming enough as it was, the muscles of Riku's back shifting under Sora's hands and the slide of their tongues together, one of Riku's hands splayed hot over the small of Sora's back, the other buried in Sora's hair. They were both hard, rubbing together where they were trapped between their stomachs, every uncoordinated roll of their hips sending sparks shooting down Sora's nerves.
"Sora," Riku panted in between kisses, both of them breathing too hard to keep their mouths pressed together for longer than a second or two. His hand against Sora's back gripped tighter suddenly, forcing Sora's hips into the same rhythm as his own. "Sora, please."
"Yeah," Sora agreed. Shoving a hand between them wasn't easy since Riku wouldn't stop moving against him, and Sora grunted with the effort of it. Riku huffed a laugh, and Sora pinched his stomach hard. Riku's surprised gasp drew his stomach in long enough for Sora to grab both of them, squeezing them together tightly. "Like this?"
"Yeah." Riku moaned, right next to Sora's ear, both of them shuddering. He thrust against Sora harder, despite Sora's tight clinging making it progressively more difficult. "Yeah, don't stop."
"Mmhmm," Sora agreed, distracted. His eyes fell shut as he leaned into just letting his body take over and feel everything, Riku hot and slick against him, the ache of his lungs struggling to breathe, the knot of tension winding tighter and tighter in his belly. He was distantly surprised when Riku came first this time, burying his long groan in the curve of Sora's neck and slicking Sora's stomach and hand. Sora wasn't far behind, the deadweight of Riku crushing down on him almost as much of a turn-on as the ragged groan of Sora's name.
It was so good, letting go of everything in the white-hot rush of orgasm, all his small hurts and dumb thoughts blasted away and leaving Sora to drift peacefully. So far as he was concerned, he could stay here forever, Riku against him the only thing tethering him between waking and sleep.
"You alive?" Riku asked, drawing Sora back into himself even though Sora dragged his fingers against it. Riku had rolled them onto their sides so he wasn't crushing Sora. Sora missed the weight, actually, but the way Riku was stroking fingers through his hair spikes over and over was acceptable.
"Mmf. No." Sora nuzzled his face deeper into the curve of Riku's shoulder. Riku's hand in his hair tightened, urging his head back until enough of his face was revealed to kiss him, sweet and slow.
"Liar," Riku said when it broke. "We should clean up."
"Double no," Sora answered, firm. He let his face flop on the pillow next to Riku's, close enough to look at each other without going cross-eyed, barely. "Not moving."
"Ok, ok." Riku reached down to grab a few of the blankets they'd kicked down and dragged them up over the two of them. "But you get to ask Master Yen Sid how we do laundry."
"Magic," Sora retorted. It only took a few seconds for the bubble of blankets to fill with warmth. Sora felt relaxed, but not sleepy, small wonder. It was probably a different story for Riku, though, chasing after him all that time. "Do you want to sleep?"
"Mm, I know I should, but." Riku paused. "I'm a little afraid to close my eyes. Silly, right?"
"It's not." Sora fumbled through the blankets until he found Riku's hand, lacing their fingers together. "Wanna stargaze instead?"
"What?" Riku asked. Sora sat up and reached for the curtain, yanking it across to turn the room dark again. He flopped down on his back to watch the stars reappear, grinning at Riku's huff of laughter. There was the shift of blankets as Riku rolled onto his back as well, then the press of his shoulder warm against Sora's. "They're funny colors, but they look a lot like the stars we saw from home, don't they? I guess that makes sense, since we imagined them."
"Mm." Sora edged closer, until their hips were touching too.
They were both quiet for a while, not needing to fill up the space with words now any more than they had when they were much younger and staring up at the stars together. Like this, in the dark and quiet, the feelings Sora had been pushing back started creeping in at the edges, the fear and worry and hurt that usually couldn't catch up with how fast he warped from one world to the next. But he wasn't alone; he still had hold of Riku's hand and he squeezed it.
"Still awake?" Sora asked. Riku murmured a sleepy yes that seemed about halfway to a no. "Can we…I maybe do want to talk."
"Of course." Riku shifted, rolling onto his side, closer. "About anything you want."
Sora kept on staring up at the stars; it was easier in the dark so that he didn't have to watch Riku looking at him. "I think there's something wrong with my magic. No, with everything. I feel like I did in the beginning, all over again."
"Oh no," Riku breathed, suitably horrified. "Do you think Xehanort…"
"Did something, yeah, I guess." Sora sighed heavily. "I'm so tired of starting over, you know? Every time. It's always me. Ansem said…or Xehanort…oh, whoever, he said I was useless on my own, and he's right."
"Do you really feel that way?" Riku asked. "Useless?"
Sora had expected Riku to argue. "Sometimes."
"Mm. Me too."
"You do?" Sora wrinkled his nose, thinking about that. "But you've done way more than me! All I've done is sleep through the whole thing!"
"Doesn't matter, I still feel like that." Riku's hand let go of Sora's but reappeared on Sora's chest a second later, warm over his heartbeat. "Feelings like that aren't based in reality, they come from inside us, from our fears or worries. Want to know what I learned this year?"
"That it's all right to feel useless. It's fine to feel dumb and lost and sorry and mad, because everybody feels like that sometimes."
"Oh." Sora tried to draw in a deep breath, but it got stuck somewhere halfway down. "Donald always tells me to just cheer up already."
"That's why that dumb duck doesn't have a keyblade," Riku said, making Sora snort a laugh. "That's why he's not your best friend. When I feel like that, I talk to you, and you tell me I'll be ok, and then I feel better. You feel any better now?"
"Kinda. No," Sora amended, rolling over to thud his forehead into Riku's chest. "I can't believe I slept through my whole test! I'm so dumb, uuuuugh."
"You're not a genius," Riku said, gathering Sora in for a hug, stars forgotten. "But I like you the way you are, so just be yourself."
"Easy for you to say, Master Riku," Sora grumbled against Riku's chest. "That sounds so weird."
"It does." Riku yawned. "I might sleep after all. You'll stay, right?"
"I'll keep watch," Sora promised; he still felt like sleep was something distant, unreachable. He pushed at Riku to roll over and curled along his back, Riku's breath rising and falling against his chest.
"This is backwards, too," Riku said, half-asleep and barely intelligible. "All day, everything's felt backwards…"
"That's fine," Sora answered. Riku's breathing evened out, leaving him alone with his thoughts, but it didn't seem quite as awful as before. "Seems like that's how we do everything."
Next up is beltenebra!