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Apparitions
by Edmondia Dantes

Disclaimer: Kingdom Hearts is not mine.

AN: This fic makes much more sense once you remember it happens very soon after Chapter 11 of RR and that when the world went away, Yasuhiro was a Green Requiem.

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Yasuhiro opens his eyes with a dream half-faded and already-forgotten words slipping from his tongue.

Curled into a knot under the pure white sheets, he blinks slow and sleepy, and thinks he smells bright green growing things, but when he blinks again, the impression is lost, and he exhales through his teeth and presses the heels of his hands to his eyes, careful to keep his motions slow and gentle, careful not to disturb her.

It's not the first time he's awoken without knowing why.

And when the sun comes up, it won't be the first time that he'll meet his wife's gaze over breakfast and hide a lie in his smile. Chihoko still thinks he doesn't know about the nightmares.

He knows she doesn't know about his dreams.

He won't tell her, not now, not until much later, when things have calmed, when the winds are not so harsh and high, when the sun sets as it should instead of lingering--when the strangeness has faded, only then will he tell her what he knows.

In that time when all was gone, he knows, he was not at her side.

And she was not at his.

Unthinkable, but he knows the truth of it, and so, he knows, does she.

Perhaps they are too careful with one another, perhaps all of their lies are too delicate to be breathed into realness, but he will not shatter an already-fragile peace with words he knows are poison.

He has lied more to his wife in the past few months than he has in all of the years of their marriage, and in all that time, it has never gotten easier.

Yasuhiro doesn't want it to get easier.

She'll forgive him, as he always forgives her, and if his tongue burns, if his throat is sealed with guilt, if his lips are raw-bitten from the ache of keeping the truth bound behind them, so much the better.

There is strangeness in their house, and not all of it borne by his child, for all that Riku is its root and cause.

Another suspicion unspoken on his wife's lips, and he thinks of her tears and the brilliance in his son's eyes, and in that moment, black char is still wedged beneath his fingernails, and the scent of smoke curdles the sweetness of his wife's perfume.

He'd made her cry so many times that day.

Not of their house any longer, and Yasuhiro is coolly, terribly grateful. He wouldn't have been strong enough to cast him off on his own--weakness enough that he still can't quite let go, for all that his only child is scarcely more than a ghost in these halls, so much worse now that he's here than when they believed him lost forever.

At least then, there had been peace.

Asano will make a fine heir, he hopes, though she will fit strangely within these walls, though she is all but a stranger to this place.

Chihoko is a good teacher. Asano will learn.

If he keeps telling himself that, maybe it will even become true.

Chihoko doesn't stir when he rises from the bed, and he leans over to press a kiss to her hair, and in the early dawn light, he thinks, its pale gold could hint at silver.

Perhaps that's why he's having such a hard time letting go--in appearance, if in nothing else, Riku has always favored his mother.

* * *

As he steps into the kitchen, the bright scent of green growing things strikes him like a blow, chasing soreness from his limbs and exhaustion from his sight, and he raises his chin to see a tall, slim figure turn towards him, swift as a high summer's breeze, and for a strange, endless moment, he wonders if he's still dreaming.

The light pouring through the open windows is an endlessly shifting gray, and beneath its soft, cool glow, his son is wrapped in a thousand shadows and a brilliance so bright it burns.

Yasuhiro blinks, and there is just his son, standing in the kitchen, a bowl in his hands; but the air is heavy and fragrant, and his skin is tingling, as in the aftermath of a lightning strike, and his son is ever unfathomable.

It takes him a moment to collect his thoughts, but when he does, he bites back a frown. Truth be told, he's rather surprised to see Riku here. Riku has never made any secret of his nocturnal wanderings; Yasuhiro wishes it were something as benign as arrogance, but knows Riku just doesn't care. It's more than a little strange to catch him here so early in the day, when he would have tumbled out of Sora's bed a scarce hour before--and if he'd been in Kairi's instead, he would still be there.

His throat and lips ache with the burn of breathing, and "What are you doing here?" slips off his tongue before he even realizes what he's saying.

Riku casts him a quick look through dark lashes and the soft fall of his hair, and Yasuhiro clenches his jaw to hold back the apology that threatens to slide past his lips.

It may have been an unspeakably rude greeting, but after what he's done to Chihoko, Riku doesn't deserve any better.

"Just making some stuff," Riku says, and Yasuhiro blinks, registering for the first time that Riku has set the wide, shallow basin on the counter, beside a row of sparkling bottles, cork-capped and gleaming a green so bright that they almost appear luminous.

"Making what?" he asks, only vaguely realizing what he's said even as he takes another step closer, then another.

"...just some potions," Riku says, and Yasuhiro barely registers the way his son drifts backwards as he advances across the cool tile floor as if drawn by something, but what that something is, he doesn't know.

If one were opened, Yasuhiro thinks, it would blossom like a flower, the contents sliding across split skin and torn muscle, sealing gaping wounds and dragging the weary back onto their feet.

But it would not be gentle, not mild, not kind. No matter what Riku's just said, he can tell it's not a potion, carefully wrought by the hand of one of the priestly family, or even one of the hi-potions, so precious and rare, meant for more dangerous wounds.

This is something else entirely, and Yasuhiro does not know how he knows that.

"Making what?" he repeats after the silence has gone on for far too long, as his son stares at him like a stranger.

Perhaps they are.

"I said they were potions," Riku says, and his arms are folding across his chest, and somewhere in the back of his head Yasuhiro recognizes that pose, but he's not sure from where.

When he picks up a bottle, it hums in his hand. "...is this like one of those elixirs you showed us before?" he asks, because this seems like that, but not... not the same.

In that terrible before, Yasuhiro thinks, he would never have reached for this, but in his hand, the little bottle glows, and his every breath is thick with the scent of highest summer, when every tree and bush is heavy with fruit, and every flower lush and wild.

"It... doesn't do the same thing, exactly, but yeah."

"You made this?" he breathes, and Riku makes a soft noise, a gentle huff of breath, and though he can't bring himself to look away, he thinks his son might be frowning.

"Yeah," Riku says, but his tone of voice makes it a question, and Yasuhiro blinks hard and drags his gaze up, turning from the brilliance cradled in his palm to the boy standing a scarce few feet away.

Strange. He hadn't realized he'd gotten that close, or that Riku had let him.

His child has always been capable with his hands, with toy swords and new-sawn logs, with that strange, vicious blade he calls "Way to the Dawn" in a voice soft with reverence, as though the thing is a gift instead of a strange nightmare wrought in razor edges and dark metal, as though it is something that he cannot ever be without.

But Riku has ever-spurned the priestly family, for all that Wakka is a friend, has never expressed the slightest interest in their gift for the healing arts, has never echoed Yasuhiro's interest in the whys and hows of all things that bud, blossom, and grow.

And yet here is this thing in his hand, small and radiant, blazing with life, and this is a thing that his child has made, this child who has ripped apart his family and driven his brilliant, beautiful wife to tears, this child who he scarcely recognizes even when he's standing right before him.

How strange, to think this boy capable of more than mindless destruction.

Riku's weight has shifted, his hair tumbled into his eyes again, motionless in the kind of way that sets Yasuhiro's teeth on edge, and it takes him a moment to realize that the reason for his son's unsettling stillness is that he's been staring.

Once upon a time, Riku would have fidgeted under his gaze, he thinks, but that time was lost long before their world was, and he can scarcely remember it even now.

"How?" Yasuhiro asks, and doesn't recognize the sound of his own voice.

The smile that slips across his son's face is quicksilver and vicious, barely there before it's gone again, and Riku takes a deliberate step back, shrugs a shoulder, and says "Magic."

Yasuhiro doesn't flinch, but it's a near thing, and when he breathes in deeply, the scent of green nearly makes him gag.

Of course it's magic, not a new recipe, not an amalgamation of other things that came before, not some new twist on something that has been known on Destiny Islands for generations.

Of course it's magic.

"I see," Yasuhiro says, and sets the little bottle back down on the counter with its fellows, glad that his hands stay steady.

Set together like this, the bottles reflect one another, brilliant green radiance doubled and trebled upon itself, so much so that it spills across the counter, tainting the pale stone chlorophyll-bright and shining.

Even knowing what it is doesn't make it any less beautiful.

"Why did you make them?" he asks, a frown creasing his brow as he voices the newborn thought. Why now? he wonders, What else do you know that you aren't telling us?

His son is a liar, but perhaps he'll speak the truth this time. He's already demonstrated more patience thus far than Yasuhiro thought he possessed, and he's been acting so odd since Chihoko let him go...

Riku shrugs, a little awkward, more so than Yasuhiro would have expected. "Just... for people around here. There's... some for you guys, and for Kairi's dad, and for Sora's mom..."

Which means that either Riku has suddenly developed a truly odd sense of what a proper gift might be, or that the strangeness is simply because they're engagement gifts, or at least the precursors to them--likely because he knows exactly how receptive Hiromasu and Shina will be to whatever overtures they do decide to make.

Damn, Yasuhiro thinks, but summer is creeping ever-closer, and they have agreed to open negotiations on the day of the clam bake. It's a clever enough move, to appeal with a gift of his own creation, and a subtle dig at the insult Shina's already offered them: only an attentive child would bear gifts of protection for all members of the families involved, and its expense and rarity will act as a reminder of what danger they court by spurning his suit.

Yasuhiro does not entirely approve of Kairi, Sora even less, and even if Riku is no longer their heir, even if he is barely even their son... the islands, and the islanders, remember.

Chihoko may be their first line of defense against challengers and gossip-mongers, but Yasuhiro knows his role well, and he has never been blind. A marriage none approve of can grow stronger through strife--Shina herself is proof enough of that. The stronger a play Riku makes, the more solid his position will become, and with the entirety of the island against them, he'll still hold the steadiest grip. Mayoralty comes and goes, and there are always other fishermen, but the land is theirs, and the people remember--

--none of this matters anyway. It's too soon. Everything is too soon, too strange, and he is standing here thinking of the insult to his family while his child has conjured an echo of his dreams onto the kitchen counter.

"I see," he says, and plasters on an empty smile, resolutely turning towards his son, letting neither his gaze nor his fingers rest too closely to the cluttered countertop and its unnatural glow. "That was thoughtful of you."

Lying to Riku, at least, is easy. Whether or not Riku buys it, well... that much is impossible to tell.

"But I'm going to need this counter to put together our breakfast, so clean these things up, won't you?"

Giving ground for Riku to gather up his things is easy--it's just as easy as pretending that he's not watching--and Yasuhiro turns to rummage in the nearest cabinet when Riku gets too close. Better not to risk touching him, he thinks, and hates himself, just a little, for the thought.

There's a gentle clink, glass against glass, and the air doesn't change, his skin doesn't stop tingling, but it seems dampened somehow, and when he turns around again, his son is shadowed in the doorway, silent and still, brilliant eyes clear and focused and staring right through him.

In that moment, he knows how easily his son could kill him.

"You'd make a good healer, you know," Riku says, soft and gentle, all the things that he isn't and has never been, and when Yasuhiro blinks, he's already gone.

Endless darkness, endless hunger, endless green, and he knows the touch of magic like he knows the sunrise, like he knows the touch of Chihoko's hand, like he knows his son is not his own, not any longer.

Yasuhiro braces both hands against the counter, closes his eyes, and just breathes.

* * *

The brush of Chihoko's hand against his cheek is like the breath of dawn, and she doesn't turn away when he leans in to kiss her.

He will never be apart from her again.

Never.

* * *

When he goes upstairs to change, he finds one of the bottles dangling from a crimson strip of cloth tied in a loop around the door handle. There's no note, but when he unties it, it unfurls into two ribbons, tiny diamonds glimmering at the ends, and both hum softly in his hands.

Yasuhiro casts a glance out the balcony doors, but Riku is long since gone, and in the brightness of the near-summer sunlight, it's hard to remember the dark.

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