Disclaimer: Hehe, believe me, if I owned Kingdom Hearts, there would have been much more added to that paopu fruit scene. ^_^ Not to mention a lack of Kairi's existence. ^_~ Hehe, just kidding. She'd exist…somewhere else. *Grin*

Dedication: For Jess. ^_^ Hope you like, shoujo!


Sullenly tucked away in a small sodden cove, Sora felt the afternoon sun melting from the sky. Tomorrow was another day - and that was the problem. Another day of humiliation, of being second best, of putting up with Riku's taunts. Why could he never just walk away? And why did Kairi always ask him such a pointless question?

Because she doesn't get a wooden sword in her back if she tries "walking away".

Riku had caught him unsuspecting just as Sora had beaten Wakka in what looked to be a routine game. Wakka never stood a chance against Sora - especially not when Riku was sitting on the edge of the shack watching. Wakka had buckled under the pressure of an audience, particularly one consisting of his idol, Riku.

Shortly after Wakka had shrunk away in embarrassment, Riku nimbly leapt from the shack's roof to the ground.

"You're holding back," he said, crossing his arms superciliously.

Sora rolled his eyes. "C'mon, Riku. It's just a game."

Riku snorted. "Not very good at it, either, are you?"

Sora merely frowned at his friend, his lower lip unconsciously forming into a pout.

"You think you can prove me wrong?" asked Riku, deftly brandishing his own sword with natural ease.

Sora grinned and raised his weapon in a playfully challenging stance.

Ten minutes later he had hit the sand on his back, the unfriendly end of Riku's sword between his eyes.

Riku didn't take kindly to "no". And "piss off" didn't settle well, either, with the older boy. Having just slept through the night of his sixteenth birthday, Riku was proving to be more insufferable and his insults harder to manage than ever before. In their childhood, Riku's competitive nature was tolerable and even enjoyable. What fun would always being on the same side be? And Riku had smiled brightly and reminded him that their childish skirmishes were only games, anyway.

Lately, though, Riku didn't even smile after their scuffles - only smirk with that blatant pride of his and boast.

Because Riku always won. And Riku always got what he wanted. And everyone just loved Riku.

Including Sora. More than the white-haired teen would ever know.

It hurt to fall under Riku's sword - both physically and emotionally. The pain of the wooden weapon was one thing, but the proud grin Riku wore when he landed that last strike was the real finishing touch. No one could fray his nerves like Riku could. No one could even come close.


Kairi passed the cove briskly, pausing in the ribbon-wide gap between the cove and the boulder Sora had moved in front of it. Folding his arms stubbornly, Sora pushed farther away from the shadowing lip of the cove. When he wanted to be found, he would do the finding. …Wait.

"Sora, you bum!"

Why does she always call me that? Sora pouted, his arms tightening immaturely around his chest.

"Come on, we've got to go home!"

Nuh uh, Sora argued mentally, maybe you do, but I'm perfectly happy in my little…er… - he eyed the cove uncertainly - …hole.

"Aw, c'mon, Sora! Riku says he's sorry."

"Then let him come out here and say it," grumbled Sora.

With an exaggerated huff, Kairi threw her arms askew and shouted, "I'm going to tell your mother!"

Oh, look at me. Shaking and all.

Kairi waited another few minutes, slender eyebrows slanted in annoyance and arms akimbo. Finally, she shook her head exasperatedly and turned away out of Sora's field of vision.

Sora smiled smugly and nodded. "Hmph, I don't answer to anyone," he said proudly. As a reward, a spark of rebellious flavor filled his slightly bruised ego. "Not even my mom." The spark grew.

And since no one was around to play audience to it, Sora gloated, "Not even Riku."

He thought a moment on that, on how the older boy could bring light to even the darkest or gloomiest of days. "Okay, maybe Riku," he amended.

Fairly quick, however, Sora's self-righteousness began to deflate. As the sun slipped closer and closer to the azure ocean depths, the warmth of Destiny Island began to fizzle out as well. Soon it would be chilly and Sora assumed that sleeping in water up to his chest all night would earn him nothing short of a parentally-served sermon on taking suitable care of himself.

So, with a sigh, Sora braced his back against the cove and pressed his feet on the boulder. With one strong shove, the rock slithered back a few inches, enough to allow Sora a squeezable exit.

The sun was already halfway hidden under the sapphire quilt, the crimson rays lazing out over the water in a melted portrait of color. Sora scowled at it to quell the urge to smile. In the end, he lost the battle with himself and beamed at the sunset. Even if he hadn't beaten Riku today, he always had tomorrow.

Bending his arms up around his head, Sora trudged through the water toward the docks. Most likely everyone had already gone home, but Sora had his own boat to captain. Tomorrow he would be the one to challenge Riku and not the other way around. He would catch the older boy off guard by his sudden change in attitude and shock the entire island when he finally brought the great and wonderful Riku to his knees in glorifying defeat.

Sora smiled gleefully and lightened his steps. The thought of defeating Riku at last - making the older boy respect him as much as Sora respected him. Make him acknowledge Sora as an equal and not as a little child who needed constant protection. So, maybe he was younger than Riku. That didn't mean he had the right to -

{Fond of the idea of seven years of bad luck?}

"What the - ?" cried Sora, leaping backward. One of his heels caught in a hunk of driftwood and sent the boy toppling onto his backside, pride falling with him and bruising itself on a rock.

{I can just imagine what you'd wish for,} a sarcastic voice snapped disdainfully inside his head.

Sora's eyes widened to the diameter of dinner plates. Slowly, he looked from side to side, then up and down. "H-hello?" he said hesitantly.

{Yeah, yeah. Voice in your head, can't see me, where am I - I've heard it before, kid. Just don't stand up. As it is, I think you bent my frame.}

Sora blinked slowly.

Sigh. {At your feet, clumsy boy.}

Warily, Sora dropped his gaze to the water at his feet. Stuck in the sand halfway underwater was an ornate gilded frame, outlining an oval of black mud. Sora winkled his nose. "Ew."

{Hey,} snapped the voice irritably, {let's see you try floating around the ocean for weeks in a row. It's a miracle I didn't break. Though you nearly solved that crisis by stepping on me with those hulking boots of yours.}

"They're sneakers," mumbled Sora, tucking his feet underneath him self-consciously.

{Fascinating,} drawled the voice. {Make yourself useful and wipe this crap off, would you?}

Wide-eyed with incredulity that jetsam was talking to him, Sora numbly pulled the framed…something from the sand and began swabbing the surface of the slime. After dunking it in the water a few times, Sora found himself staring straight into blue depths. His blue depths.

"A mirror!"

{A mirror!} mocked the voice. {Obviously, clumsy boy.}

"You can talk?" asked Sora tentatively.

{It would appear that way, now wouldn't it?}


{Because I'm actually a prince, but I was hexed by an old hag and forced to live the remainder of my days as a mirror lost at sea.}

Sora's eyes rounded in surprise. "Really?"

{Just how stupid are you, anyway?}

Sora frowned. "I could break you, you know," he said. After a moment he felt a bit idiotic threatening a mirror.

{Go ahead; then you'll miss out on the best opportunity of your life.}

"Which is?"

{One wish to do with whatever you please.}

Sora's skeptical expression gave way to outright disbelief. "No way!"

{Yes way. Unfortunately, you're the first one I've come across since I got here, so yeah, you get to be lucky contestant numero uno. Now make a wish and let me rest after my long voyage.}

Sora wrinkled his nose in doubt. "Do mirrors even need to rest?"

{Make a wish and I'll consider not breaking all over your hands.}

As a precaution, Sora set the mirror against a rock. "So, you're a mirror and you grant wishes. Don't lamps usually do that?" he asked.

{Are you going to recite fairy tale laws at me all night or are you actually going to wish for something? And that's wish. No plural. Just one, clumsy boy.}

"Just like that? Don't I need to do something first? Recite something or - "

{If you even suggest rubbing me, I'll invent a wish for you.}

Sora ignored the bad-tempered object and turned inward. A talking mirror that's going to give me any wish I want? He smiled slightly. So, maybe fairy tales are true. If not…I can always give it to Mom as a birthday present.

Now…what do I want?

I don't have much use for money or gold - not much to spend it on here, anyway. I don't want power or fame…. This is harder than I thought.

"And I can only have one wish?" he asked the mirror.

{Don't even think of wishing for endless wishes. My creators weren't that stupid.}

Sora blinked. That was a good idea - but one he couldn't find the results to. Concentrating, Sora went over every possible wish in his mind. But all paled in comparison to one.

Finally outdoing Riku.

Being able to bring himself to Riku's level, to make the other boy realize Sora was more than what he saw. He wasn't a kid, he wasn't inferior. He was on par with Riku and he would have the ability to make the older boy admit it with one simple wish.

Smiling, Sora leaned his palms on his knees and said, "Okay, I've got one."

{About damn time.}

Sora pulled in a deep breath, stifling the excitement stirring in his stomach. At last he would have the old Riku back - the one who had played games and enjoyed his company. His partner in crime and not someone to look up to and respect.

"I wish I could outdo Riku," Sora said with a satisfied nod. Since it sounded a little short, he added, "You know, in like, fights and everything."

{Oh, come on,} snorted the mirror, {you want to be better than some kid? That is your big desire?}

Sora hesitated. "Well - "

{Never mind,} the mirror said quickly. {Reconsiderations take longer than the first time around. Hm. Heh. I can even get inventive with this. You want to be able to best this Riku kid? So be it.}

Sora smiled brilliantly and waited expectantly. When all remained still and uneventful, he frowned and said, "Hey, nothing's happening!"

{Not here,} cackled the mirror. {You'll find out soon enough.}

Sora tilted his head curiously. "You already granted the wish?" he asked.


"What'd you do?"

{You'll see.}

Sora felt an uneasy feeling beginning to augment as he climbed to his feet. A sudden thought sprang to mind. "You didn't hurt him, did you?" he gasped.

{I can't grant wishes that hurt people. My creators were bent on Disney movies.}


{Forget it. Don't you have to sleep or something? Please tell me you have a home to go to.}

Sora nodded, still unsure as to whether or not he should have trusted this mirror.

{So, you're waiting for what? Me to dismiss you? Fine, soldier. Salute me and get the hell out of here.}

Rolling his eyes, Sora tapped the mirror over with the toe of his sneaker and continued his trek to the docks.

{Oh, very mature, clumsy boy! I hope you have allergies!}

Sora blinked but shook his head, clearing the mirror from his concerns. The sun had nearly vanished entirely and he still had a ways to go to row home.


"Why would having allergies have to do with anything?" he said, turning around to face the submerged mirror.

It simply cackled evilly, bringing more doubt to the young boy's already uncertain mind. With a feeling that he had done something very stupid, Sora ran hastily from the mirror's cove.


Kairi hadn't gone through with her threat to tell Sora's mother on him, but he had received a short lecture anyway when he walked through the door tracking seawater and sand all over the carpet. The following morning as early as his anti-morning policy would allow, Sora crept through the house and to the docks outside. He left a note on the counter saying he would be home for lunch and a P.S. requesting fish for dinner.

When he arrived at Destiny Island, one thing stood out among everything else fluttering through Sora's mind - the island was abandoned.

Not Wakka, Tidus, Selphie, Kairi or - Sora gulped - Riku was anywhere to be found on the shore when he arrived. Plus, both Kairi's and Riku's boats were absent from the docks. Sora felt a pit beginning to sprout vines in his stomach. What had that mirror done to Riku?

After securely knotting his boat to the docks, Sora explored the shore warily. "Kairi?" he called. "Selphie! Tidus! Wakka? Riku!"

Not one of them answered.

The shack leading up to the bridge to so-called Riku's Island was deserted, as were the tree-house, the tunnels connecting both halves of the island and the porticos overlooking the ocean. By the time Sora had made a second check of the entire island, he was more than worried - he was scared. What could that mirror have done to Riku to make all of his friends disappear?

Sora ran to the shore and searched the waters, futilely hoping maybe one of them was out there swimming or on his or her way to the island. No such luck. In fact, the waters seemed almost calm today.

Sora groaned and fell back into the sand, ignoring the surf that persistently lapped at his ankles. "If Kairi doesn't kill me for making her disappear - never mind, she will."


Yelping in shock, Sora attempted to jump to his feet and spin around simultaneously. The result was a solid "Wumph!" as the brunet hit the sand, his legs entangled behind him. He winced up into the face of a very skeptical Tidus, hoping the younger boy would let his clumsiness slide this once.

Fortune smiled on his hope and Tidus merely shook his head. "C'mon, Selphie sent me to look for you." He tugged at the older boy's wrist to emphasize his reason on the island.

Sora frowned questioningly. "Why?" he asked.

Tidus rolled his eyes, almost forewarning his next words, "She wants you to impale a 'ghost'. Riku's boat washed up on the shore near her house this morning. Empty. But she says whenever she goes near it it hisses at her."

Sora's eyebrows took up new residence halfway to his hairline. "You're kidding?"

"Nope." The younger boy looked shamefully amused by Selphie's ordeal. "It's probably just Riku messing around with everyone's heads. But Selphie wants you to exorcise the boat anyway." He broadcasted his opinion of this by another exaggerated eye roll.

Sora didn't expect his luck to be so generous. It wasn't like Riku to play practical jokes on people. He preferred the direct approach to nearly everything. Sora felt his stomach twisting into nearly physically impossible knots. Perfect, I really did make him disappear!

Once they had returned to the docks, Sora heard himself asking, "So, is that why no one left home?"

"I guess," said Tidus with a shrug. Agilely, the younger boy leapt into the boat he had rowed to Destiny Island. "I just had the bad luck of running into Selphie on my way here."

Sora grinned and boarded his own boat, commenting, "What do you think is going on?"

"What do I think?" Tidus winked. "Duh, man. She's totally lost her mind. I just want to see how you exorcise a boat."

Sora blinked. "You mean I actually have to exorcise a boat?" he asked incredulously. He'd assumed Tidus was embellishing just a bit on that part.

Tidus' grin broadened into one of absolute amusement. "Unless you want Selphie on your back…."

"…Any ideas on how to exorcise a boat?"


Selphie was waiting a fair ten feet from the shore, her arms akimbo. From even a mile away Sora could have been able to tell she was pouting. Tidus and Sora exchanged a grimace. Pouting Selphie equaled head-aching island.

"Where have you been?" demanded Selphie the moment Sora's boat touched the shore.

Tidus slowed his own approach by a few inches.

Sora grinned apologetically. "Sorry, Selphie," he said with a shrug. "I thought everyone would be at Destiny Island already."

"Well, we're not!" Selphie snapped, emphasizing the last word with a stamp of her foot.

Sora glanced back at Tidus with an eyebrow arched inquiringly. The younger boy snickered and climbed onto shore, clearly amused by the exchange.

"Where's everyone else?" asked Sora, discovering the whole of Selphie's front yard to be quiet save for the occasional breath of waves breaking on the sand. Only Selphie seemed concerned with the abandoned boat resting near her home.

Selphie followed his gaze with unbridled annoyance, complaining, "They left a half an hour ago. Mom and Dad told me to stop playing tricks on everyone."

"Sounds like good advice to me," said Tidus with a grin.

Selphie's face reddened. "Tidus, you shut your mouth!" she yelled.

Tidus grinned unabashedly at Sora, crossing his arms relaxingly behind his head.

Sora hid a grin of his own, sensing the wiser path was avoiding Selphie's temper. "Um, so where's everyone now?"

Selphie folded her arms over her chest and furiously rapped a foot on the sand. "They're off looking for Riku. Apparently," she said, her tone more nervous than angry, "he didn't come home last night."

The knot in Sora's stomach tightened painfully.

Tidus jerked a thumb in the deserted boat's direction, his expression smooth. Only Selphie and Sora ever seemed to worry about Riku - the others looked up to the older boy as though he were a walking child god. "So, tell Sora about the haunted boat," Tidus grinned.

Selphie's bad humor stormed back into place, a frown taking stubborn residence on her lips. Turning shortly from Tidus, she addressed Sora, "Riku's boat washed up on our yard this morning - but he's not there!"

Sora avoided telling her he already knew and said, "Maybe he went somewhere else and forgot to tie it down?"

Selphie ignored his suggestion and pushed Tidus aside, walking straight for the boat. The vessel lay turned over in the sand, its roughened, sandy spine facing the clouds. Selphie tiptoed close to the boat, her bare feet hardly making a sound on the shore. Tidus and Sora watched as their friend neared the wreck, Tidus gleefully and Sora doubtfully.


"See! See!" cried Selphie, running for cover behind Tidus. "It's haunted! It hissed at me! You all saw!"

"Heard," corrected Tidus cheerfully.

Selphie landed a solid whack upside his head for helping.

Sora tilted his head skeptically. A hissing boat? More to put his own doubts to rest than to prove Selphie wrong, Sora crept toward the boat, wading through the water instead of approaching by the sand as Selphie had.

"Be careful, Sora!" whispered Selphie, gripping Tidus' shoulder with her nails.

Tidus winced and nodded. "Yeah, and hurry up!"

Sora knelt at the starboard half of the boat and peered under the rim, half expecting the wood to reach out and gobble him whole. Instead, all he heard was a muted, "Mrew?"

Sora drew back, his eyes wider than saucers. Disbelievingly, he tipped the boat up slightly, gazing into the shadowed area. Curled up in the darkest corner of the boat's shade lay an unkempt tuft of fur and ears, two wide diamond-cut eyes watching Sora's every move. Sora's jaw fell open in an expression of incredulity.

Tidus called, "What is it?"

The furry creature arched its back and flattened its ears to the back of its tiny head, scrambling against the wood of the boat and spitting angrily. Sora blinked. "It - it's a kitten," he said dazedly.

At the sound of his voice, the small animal's ears questioningly raised. Hesitantly, it mewled and stretched out its tiny black nose. Sora numbly reached for the animal. The kitten sniffed his hand, uncoiling minutely and creeping somewhat into the light. With another muffled meow, the kitten pressed its head into Sora's hand in a gesture of what Sora assumed must have been either trust or approval.

Selphie's voice cooed in his ear, "Aww, he's so cute!"

The kitten recoiled violently and hissed, baring petite fangs in a small growl.

Instead of pulling back in fear, Selphie giggled. "Aww, he's not that scary," she said, kneeling in the water beside Sora. She frowned in concern. "Oh, but he's filthy!"

The kitten caterwauled in protest as her hand closed around his slender waist.

Sora stammered, "Um, Selphie - "

But out from seemingly nowhere a fist of undersized claws raked through the air and landed five angry marks on the girl's hand. Selphie howled and fell back. The kitten hissed as if to say, "Serves you right!"

Sora glanced at the small animal with raised eyebrows. Something about the kitten's arrogance…. His eyes widened in disbelief. "Riku?"

The kitten's ears perked, large sapphire eyes staring up at Sora in a feline gape. It mewled curiously, cautiously taking a few steps toward the water the boy knelt in.

The mirror's words echoed in Sora's mind, Heh. I can even get inventive with this. You want to be able to best this Riku kid? So be it…. I hope you have allergies!

Sora flinched visibly, his gaze fixed on the tremendously confused and petrified kitten below him. …Bad. Very bad.

Tidus appeared leaning over the boat, laughing, "This is what you were so scared of, Selph?"

The girl glared at him while sucking on her hand sullenly.

Tidus scooped the kitten up in one fell lunge, holding the thrashing animal around the ribs.


Tidus' eyebrows arched. "Nasty-tempered little thing, ain't he?" he chuckled.

Sora gulped. "Um, heh, yeah," he laughed nervously. Riku's going to skewer me….

The kitten fell limp in Tidus' stronger hands, aiming a beseeching look in Sora's direction. Together with the wide, ocean-clear eyes and the pathetic mewl the kitten emitted, Sora was sold. With a broad smile, he took the animal from Tidus and grinned when he felt the kitten purring against his chest.

"Aw," Selphie smiled, "he likes you!"

Sora's mind was made up. It won't hurt to keep him like this for a little while longer…. I wonder if kitty Riku goes for catnip?

To be Continued…