Author's Notes:

This fanfic was inspired by two manga: "Summer Has Come Again" by Kazusa Takashima, and "Love is Always Like a Storm" chapter "I Guess I Love You After All!" by Tokiya Shimazaki. While the idea stemmed from these manga, that was only the beginning. I gather other ideas for this fic from other stories, but I will always give credit where due. That said, this is also more than just a cutesy, fluffy romance. It will get its conflict, too.

Even though at times this may seem a bit odd, and even though it may seem this fanfic is centering around a non-slash couple, it's not! This fanfic is Riku/Sora, which means two boys in a romantic relationship. So remember that as you read. :D


Chapter One: A Not-so-familiar Face

-o-o-

Tap. Tap. Klunk. Scriiiiitch.

"I'm sorry, Sora. I just... I never thought of you like that. You're a really good friend, but that's it."

A wry grin twitched at the corners of his mouth as he dragged a shell across the wooden plank, not really concentrating on what he was doing as his mind was swirling with thoughts of the conversation he had just had a few minutes ago. The shell in his hand hadn't done anything to deserve its punishment, but its porcelain surface was easy to grasp, and it provided Sora with something sharp to vent his frustration.

Klunk.

With another stab, he slid the shell down, carving into the old, sea-worn wood of the dock, easing some of that hopeless disappointment away. Hah. So much for wooing Kairi. So much for his so-called love life!

He shouldn't have acted so surprised. He should have been used to this by now.

"A really good... friend...?"

"There are other girls on the island, Sora. Surely I wasn't your last choice."

Ha. Haha. Funny, Kairi.

"You were my only choice!" Sora yelled as he lifted his head, suddenly grasping the yellow-pink shell tightly before flinging it off the dock into the gray ocean. "The other girls already have boyfriends!" He glared after it, watching it helplessly spin through the air, feeling a bit of satisfaction as though his humiliation had been the shell. Too bad he couldn't discard his feelings as easily as that.

The shell made a soft ploop as it hit the calm surface of the water and sank, leaving Sora with nothing in his hands to grasp but his own skin. So he did. Clenching and unclenching his fists, he fought back another angry pout, the cool sea breeze causing him to squint as he stared off into the dark horizon.

It was true. Sora had no luck with girls. Today he had worked his courage up to ask Kairi out, as they were already "good" friends and he figured she was nice enough not to turn him down. But she had. Everyone did. Kairi had never even considered Sora as anything more than a friend, nor was it likely she would in the near future.

Granted, Sora also didn't like Kairi in that way, but in his eighteen years, he had never had a girlfriend. He hadn't been too caught up in girls when he had been in school, but now that he had graduated, he was getting lonely and bored. Wasn't it about time to start experimenting? Everyone else had someone but him. No. He was the boy-next-door they all asked for advice from or counted on to keep a secret. He wasn't the dating type, apparently.

I should have been born on a different island, Sora grumbled to himself. His island was a small community with only a few girls his age, and if he wanted to date someone who wasn't like a sister to him, he'd have to use the ferry to visit the other small islands nearby. If only he had enough money to go to the main land... Certainly there would be more than ten girls there, right? But even there, I would probably only be a "good friend" to them...

Was it that he was too nice?

With a weary sigh, Sora turned his gaze up to the evening sky and smiled sadly. It was getting late. No doubt dinner was getting cold and his mother was pacing frantically, worrying about him. If Sora had learned anything from being a "good friend" with girls all his life, it was that they all worried way too much. Over the years, they had told him all he'd ever wanted (and didn't want) to know about girls' lives—makeup, periods, clothes, hair styles, boys—and it was just about enough to make him give up on them completely. That actually wasn't a bad idea.

Did he really want a girlfriend? Did he want some girl to complain and always rant at him about trivial stuff? Did he want some girl to hang all over him or try to hold hands with him in public? Did he want some girl to expect a present from him every time he saw her? Did he want to run to some girl's side every time she was depressed or hurt, and try to console her? Did he really want all that drama in his life?

What had he been thinking, wanting a girlfriend so badly?

He didn't want those kind of complications. He wanted a girl who wanted him, who wouldn't make things complicated. If looking for one hadn't worked, maybe he could just wait for her to come to him instead. Yeah. That was a good idea. That way he wouldn't have to worry like a girl all the time! It might take eighteen more years of his life, but at least he wouldn't be wasting his time chasing after hopeless romances.

He wanted a girl that would appreciate him for who he was, not someone who would tell him to stop playing video games all the time, stop making up stupid adventure stories, stop eating so much unhealthy junk food...

Food.

At the thought of food, his stomach twitched and then fell into a long rumble. Remembering yet again that food was waiting for him at home, Sora sighed in resignation, giving into his hunger. The old wood creaked beneath his feet as he stood and stretched his tired muscles, pausing with his arms behind his head to scratch his neck and yawn.

The day had been long and horrible and Sora didn't ever want to relive it. He'd rather throw himself off the dock and get picked apart by crabs until he died. Hm. But not until he ate first.

Forcing a smile onto his face, Sora spun on his heel and strode down the dock to the street, his eyes focusing on the line of small businesses nearby. His island was a small, conservative but friendly community, and just about everyone knew each other. Homes were cozy hovels with relatively small yards. Downstairs usually had the kitchen and living areas, and upstairs housed the bedrooms, generally with large windows facing the ocean or a house next door. Large porches, sheer curtains and vine trellises were common in most of the homes, and the street was made of cobblestone that was never too warm or cool during the day. Actually, it was more like a giant sidewalk since vehicles were uncommon on non-commercial islands like his where they got most of their electronics and entertainment shipped in on the ferry, or did their shopping a few islands over. Mostly everyone walked where they needed to go. Sora loved his island, he really did, but there was something about it that he absolutely abhorred.

The loneliness.

Even though he could name everyone on the street, they weren't his friends. Just because Kairi and the other girls dragged him along on their get-togethers, it didn't make him part of their group. Just because Tidus and Wakka and all the other blitzball fanatics let him join their games, it didn't make him one of them. He didn't have any close friends. He didn't have anyone to confide in, gossip with, or cry over. He was lonely.

Which was why he had tried for the past few months to muster up the courage to get a girlfriend. So much that had done him. What a failure.

Forcing back a pout, he remembered he had just resolved to remain single until the perfect girl found him. He could just be himself until that happened.

Sora crossed the street, absent-mindedly kicking at a loose stone along the way and pretending it was some cursed artifact he couldn't touch with his hands, but had to move it away from the street before it could raise zombies from the sewers, being the cursed artifact that it was.

Kinda like blitzball for his feet. He kicked the stone left with his right foot, quickly catching up to it and stopping it with his left foot before kicking it again, only to catch up to it and send it skittering across the cobblestone once again.

He was so caught up in discarding the "cursed artifact" with his feet that when he gave it a final, powerful kick and sent it hurtling through the air, he didn't see the moving van parked in front of the house across from his (where he had aimed) until it was too late. With a heavy thunk, the stone hit the metal side of the van, leaving a sizeable dent, and then dropped to the ground like, well, a rock. He visibly cringed as the sound cut through the silent night air, probably waking up anyone who had been asleep.

And that dent didn't look too good.

Well, what the hell was a van doing parked there anyway? Wasn't this house empty?

Sora suddenly blinked.

Empty house. Moving van.

Someone was moving in? Across the street in front of his house?

But... nobody moved to the outer islands. People always moved to the more industrial islands where there was more work and money involved. Who would want to move to an island as boring as this one?

In any case, his cursed artifact had been discarded of, so he figured he should also remove the evidence, namely himself, before someone came to investigate the loud noise he had made when violating the expensive vehicle. Taking one last look at the house and wondering what his new neighbor would be like, Sora turned and ran up the porch to his home, opened the door, and slid inside.

Almost immediately his mom's voice wafted in from the kitchen, sounding warm and happy as usual.

"Hey, honey! Your dinner is on the stove," she called. "I ate without you since you took so long coming home."

"Ah, sorry, Mom. I was talking with Kairi," he explained as he pulled off his shoes and tossed them onto the floor of the hall. He cautiously raised his nose and sniffed the air. Hm... Smelled like fish for dinner again. Then again, they did live on an island.

His mother suddenly peeked her head out of the kitchen and, seeing him standing there in the hallway, stepped out to meet him, her arms folding across her paopu-patterned cooking apron.

"Talking with Kairi, huh? Must have been a long, important talk," she mused, a strange grin crossing her face. "So, what did ya talk about?"

Ugh. His mother was just like them. Always so nosey. And girly. Why didn't she act more like a mother? Well, with her long brown hair and large blue eyes, she looked young enough to be his older sister, but that didn't mean she had to act like it.

"Stuff."

His mother stared at him, an unconvinced smirk spreading across the grin already there. "You talked about stuff?" When she spoke, it had an obvious hint of sarcasm, as though she knew what had really been said between him and Kairi. She probably did know. It was one of her strange talents as his mother---no matter what he said when he lied or bent the truth, she could figure out his true meaning.

"Yeah," Sora replied, resting a hand on the stair banister, getting ready to climb up to his room. "I'll eat after I get changed."

"Well, Kairi's a nice girl," his mom said as he began to ascend the stairs, her voice tinged with knowing innocence, "but I don't think she's your type, Sora honey,"

Sora froze in mid-step and sighed, turning back to face her with a half-scowl. "So you know..."

"I can tell just by looking at you," she laughed, closing the distance between them and reaching forward to ruffle his already messy hair. He didn't bother trying to escape her attack. But what she said next definitely caught his attention. "But don't feel bad. Our new neighbors are girls."

Sora raised his head, blinking up at her with curious blue eyes. The new neighbors! "Girls?" he echoed, innocently tilting his head to let her know he was interested.

"Yeah," his mom replied as she turned back towards the kitchen, raising one hand in a casual manner. "You remember your old friend Riku?"

Wait a minute...! Riku? She was back? Sora felt his heart skip in excitement.

The house across the street had been empty ever since Riku's parents had died in a freak boating accident, and she had been taken by her aunt to live on one of the main islands and attend a private school. Riku's parents had always wanted her to attend that school, but they hadn't had the money. But from their deaths, Riku had received enough compensation from the insurance to move there and go to that school, and her aunt had whisked her away almost immediately. All that money... Why would Riku be returning now?

"Anyway," his mother continued as she headed back towards the kitchen, running her hands along the wall, "Riku's aunt came and visited me today and said that Riku would be moving back in. Riku's supposed to arrive tomorrow morning, so why don't you stop by and welcome her back?" She stopped in the kitchen archway, turning to look back over at Sora, who was still trying to soak in the news, and grinned again. "The two of you used to be so funny to watch on your little adventures, with her always trying to protect you, but you would end up being the one saving her from being picked on. It'll be nice seeing her again." That said, she disappeared into the kitchen, leaving Sora standing there on the stairs.

That was the end of the conversation, but not the end of Sora's thoughts as he headed upstairs and collapsed onto his messy bed, a couple of magazines tumbling onto the floor from his weight. He ignored them and, tucking his hands beneath his head, he grinned just as his mother had.

Riku was coming back! How many years had it been since Sora had last seen his best friend?

Despite the protests of his hungry stomach, he couldn't help thinking back to those days. He had been about seven, making that nearly eleven years ago. But even over an entire decade, Sora could still remember his friend's cute face.

-o-o-

"Lil crybaby! Wahh, waah!"

"Look at the way Riku cries!"

"What a girl!"

"Leave me –sniff– alone!"

"Haha! Crybaby!"

Sora had left Riku alone on the beach to go buy some canned drinks, and in those five minutes he had been gone, four ten-year-old boys had managed to corner her and make her cry. He heard the taunting and sniffing long before he saw them, and, dropping the drinks, he took off into a sprint, anger fueling him.

How dare those jerks always taunt Riku! She couldn't stand up for herself because of her smaller size, and they knew it, but they always found some sort of sick humor out of making her cry. Just because they were older, bigger, and were about to go to junior high...

Riku herself was a grade higher than Sora, but because she was small, they saw each other as equals, and Sora frequently got her out of skirmishes. Like now.

Letting out a prepubescent war cry, Sora vaulted himself over the makeshift wooden fence where they had cornered Riku and fell onto his first target, one of the taller boys, and wrestled him to the ground, pulling at greasy hair and throwing wild punches.

"ARGH! Get him off me!!"

"It's that brat Sora!" one of them cried.

"Sora's come to save his girlfriend!" another of them sneered.

As soon as his first victim began to cry out and cover his face, Sora clambered to his feet and threw himself at the next older boy, landing a powerful punch square in the jaw. So what if they were older than him! So what if their parents punished him for beating the snot out of them! They had been picking on Riku again, and no beating could do justice for making her cry, but Sora was sure going to try to give it to them!

In the next minute, the four boys were retreating, yelling useless threats at Sora as they fled. He grinned, musing that, after that beating, they didn't have any tails left to tuck behind their legs in defeat.

"S-Sora..."

Upon hearing her small, scared voice, Sora wiped the grin off his face and spun around to face Riku, who was still sniffing.

"You're g-going to get in trouble... Their folks..."

"I don't care," Sora interrupted, putting on serious look as he knelt in front of his friend and leaned forward. He was still trying to catch his breath from running and fighting so hard, but he forced the words out anyway. "They were picking on you! If I get in trouble, it'll be worth it."

"But..." Riku's eyes began to fill with tears, her bottom lip trembling as she stared at him.

Sora quickly reached out and ruffled her messy silver hair, smiling brightly as he said, "Don't cry. You know I hate it when you cry. And besides, I thought you wanted to be more like a boy? Boys don't cry."

At this, Riku managed a small smile in return, her bright green eyes shimmering from unshed tears.

Sora fell into a happy grin, mussing her hair again. "Your eyes are so weird," he commented lightly. "And your hair too."

"Sorry..."

"Ah, don't be sorry about it! I love them!" Sora said, and Riku giggled quietly, knowing what was coming: another one of Sora's weird stories. "Your eyes are like... I dunno. Rare jewels. Yeah! Like the ones in the stories my mom always tells us! And they can be found only at the deepest, darkest places in the ocean. The mermaids found them, and they also gave you your weird hair."

"Mermaids, huh...?" Riku said softly, her smile shy, but happy. "You're the weird one, you goof..."

"We're both weird then."

"But I wish I was like you..." Riku admitted, lowering those pretty eyes. "Strong and happy... And open about what you think. Everyone likes you. No one would pick on you..."

"Then I'll help you get stronger!" Sora laughed, gesturing widely with his arms. "I'll make you the strongest warrior on the islands! Besides myself, of course. And then we'll get married and no one will be able to pick on you again."

"You goof..." Riku lightly laughed. "We can't get married. We're—"

"Friends, I know," Sora interrupted, waving a hand dismissively. "But I don't like anyone else, so it has to be you."

Riku just smiled.

-o-o-

She had been so adorable back then. Even though Riku was older than him by a year (what would she look like now, all grown up? probably a total babe!), she had been as small as him, and had acted as his equal. After that particular day, Sora began dragging her with him and training her, and as a result, Riku began to get into as much trouble as he did with their crazy antics. Of course Sora had teased her and called her girly, even though she rarely acted girly, only when she cried when she was teased by all the boys. Riku had always smiled at his teasing, not like when the other boys teased her, and later when Sora wasn't looking, she would strike revenge by tickling him, always attacking from behind. She had been devious like that.

She had been his best friend, and he had loved playing with her. And if she had really moved back... Well, she was it! That "perfect girl" Sora had been thinking about waiting for was, he now realized, actually everything Riku had been from his childhood. Riku had understood him, she had done the things he had done. Surely their friendship would be the same, even after more than a decade of separation.

Well... maybe not the same.

Sora rolled off his bed and to his feet, shuffling towards his dresser to get changed as he remembered the last day he had spent with his best friend.

-o-o-

"Sora?"

"Hm?"

Sora glanced up from his fishing line to find Riku staring at him with those soft eyes. The stare was strange, no shyness hidden there, and Sora was, for the first time, taken by surprise at how much like him she had become. Returning her stare with a smile, he began reeling his fishing line in, waiting for her to speak again. When she did, he nearly dropped his pole off the dock.

"Can I kiss you?"

Sora felt his eyes widening in surprise. "Kiss me? Well..."

"I know... It's weird... but..." Riku suddenly began stuttering, true to her old self, lowering her gaze and lightly blushing. "But... I saw some of the bigger kids doing it... And I was curious about what it felt like."

He stared at her for a moment in silence and then laughed, leaning towards her and messing up her hair like he always did. Who was he to deny anything from his best friend? Not wanting to see her saddened, and because he too had become curious now that she had suggested it, Sora smiled.

"Okay."

Riku's eyes lifted back to his, took in his smile, and then shyly lowered again as she smiled back. "Really?"

"Yeah! How else are we going to learn? Look up." Raising her head, she blushed further as he leaned closer and blinked a few times, wondering just how to go about this kissing business. He was only seven, after all. "Erm... Maybe you should close your eyes and push your chin up. Or something."

To his surprise, she didn't do as he told. Instead, her eyes narrowed a bit, and she frowned.

"You goof! I want to kiss you."

"O-Oh," Sora stammered, and then took a deep breath to calm himself. She looked so cute like that, with her large eyes all serious and demanding, her silver hair framing her face, and a huge baggy shirt and a pair of boy's swimming trunks hiding her girl figure. She looked so boyish, but he loved the look on her. "Alright."

Slowly his eyes fell closed and he tilted his head towards her, feeling slightly foolish. Weren't guys supposed to kiss girls, not the other way around...? Her request was a little strange, but he wouldn't deny it from her.

He had waited perhaps five seconds before he felt her hands resting on his knees for support as she leaned into him, her breath warm against his cheeks. A bit surprised that she was taking such a dominant stance, he wasn't mentally prepared when her lips finally pressed against his.

-o-o-

It had just been a peck, now that he recalled, but it was still his first kiss. It hadn't lasted long, for that was when Riku's aunt had found them, and had dragged her away from him and delivered the bad news that her parents had died. The bad news that Riku had to move to one of the main islands and attend a private school. The bad news that Riku had to leave Sora.

Riku had cried and cried, but not just because of her parents' deaths. A lot of that crying and that pleading had been because she hadn't wanted to leave. She had wanted to stay with Sora.

When her aunt had carried her away, Sora had just stood there, watching his friendship crumble. Only when they had disappeared from his sight did he realize what had happened. But that hadn't been the last time he had seen her.

Sora smiled sadly, recalling the worst moment of his life as he slipped on his night shirt and stepped into the hall to return downstairs for dinner.

-o-o-

"Stop! S-Stop the boat!"

He stumbled on a loose rock as he ran, trying to keep his balance as the ferry began to gain speed. The ferry that was taking Riku away from him. Gritting his teeth, Sora forced his legs to run faster down the sea wall alongside the departing ferry.

"Please, stop!!" he cried, ignoring the waves crashing against the wall and spraying him. He wasn't loud enough over the sound of the ocean. He had to try again. Choking back helpless tears (boys don't cry, boys don't cry!), he screamed, "Stop the ferry!! Don't take Riku away! Come back!!"

His muscles were beginning to feel heavy, he could feel his lungs burning and his heart hammering in his chest from his effort. He ignored that too, and instead ran faster, leaping over dangerous cracks in the old cement of the wall.

Just when he began to think his pleas were unheard, he saw a flash of white hair and green eyes at the back of the ferry. He focused on Riku's figure struggling against her aunt, tears rolling down her cheeks and wetting her hair as she cried. She was leaning over the railing, her arms stretched out towards him as her aunt tried to pull her back.

"Sora! I don't wanna go!! Sora!"

"Riku!!"

He felt his own tears finally escaping and he bit back a growl. They weren't stopping the ferry. He couldn't run much farther... and the sea wall would be ending soon. It would be over too soon. He wouldn't see Riku again. Riku wouldn't get to call him a goof or laugh at him anymore...

No. He would. He would see her again! He would go to her, or he'd wait for her to come back to him!

"Riku!! Listen to me!!" he cried as he stumbled again. "Don't you dare kiss any boys except me!"

And with that said, he collapsed onto the hard cement as he legs gave out and the ferry sped away, Riku's green eyes fading into the distance.

-o-o-

Haha.

It had been depressing as hell for Sora at the time because his best friend had just suddenly been shipped out of his life, but now that he thought back on it, the two of them had been rather foolish, thinking that their friendship and little adventures were more important than the death of Riku's family and her education. Sora had actually thought that by chasing after that boat, it would have stopped and given Riku back to him. Romantic, but stupid. Well, he had been only seven. What was he supposed to know?

But Sora's first kiss had gone to that little girl, and now that little girl was moving back. Tomorrow.

Again, as he smiled at his mom and sat at the kitchen table to eat, he couldn't help wondering what she would look like now.

She would never have dyed that beautiful silver hair of hers, so maybe it was really long by now... Back then, she had kept it a little past her shoulders, and had never pulled it back out of her face, so a lot of times her hair had gotten really dirty during their play adventures. But she had looked so cute with her toothy grin, mud smeared across her cheeks and her hair looking like a bird nest made out of fishing line. Of course, if it was still long, it would probably be well-groomed, if she had attended that private school as planned.

Wait. Private school.

Maybe she had turned into a snooty rich little school girl during the eleven years without Sora's influence. Maybe... Maybe she had forgotten all about Sora?!

Nah. That was unlikely. Riku would probably be just as excited to see him.

Those pretty eyes of hers were probably as bright as he remembered, too. And her body... Since she was a year older than Kairi, no doubt her body was better than hers. Probably tall... lean... strong. Maybe she played some sports at that school? But she wouldn't be overly muscular. Definitely curvy. Slim waist, nice hips...

Hm. Breasts.

Now that was an interesting notion. As soon as Sora tried to think of what kind of breasts he would like on his ideal girl, he couldn't decide. He heard from other guys what kind of girls they liked, and how great their "boobs" looked and such, but Sora didn't really find himself that thrilled about them.

What was so great about a girl's breasts? They would probably get in the way all the time.

Sora frowned.

This was hard.

Ah, skip the boob part. Other than that, Sora was pleased with what he thought Riku might look like now.

That night as he snuggled into bed, he smiled, clutching a pillow to his chest like a love-struck girl. Sora wasn't the cutest single guy on the island, but he had a head-start wooing Riku.

Maybe he had a chance at love after all.

Sitting up and throwing the pillow across the room, he nodded in determination. Tomorrow he was going to go see Riku, like his mom had suggested.

-o-o-

"Mo-om!! Have you seen my black shorts?!"

"No, honey."

There was a few seconds of silence.

"Mo-om!! Where's my blue and white jacket?!"

"In the dirty laundry, honey," Sora's mother replied, peeking her head into her son's bedroom. She blinked, taking in the clothes-strewn floor and emptied dresser and closet. Sora was sitting in the middle of the mess, a pair of boxers hanging off his wet head and another pair loosely hanging onto his hips. It was the only thing he was wearing after his two-minute shower (she had timed it), and his body was dripping water onto the clothes nearest to him. His room, plainly put, looked like a department store after a tornado. "Do you need any help?" she asked, raising a single eyebrow and managing a wry smile.

"Yeah," Sora said gruffly, grabbing the boxers on his head and throwing them onto the floor too. "Just what do you wear to impress a girl after eleven years of separation?"

"Well, a tuxedo would be trying to impress Riku's aunt, not her... I don't know, Sora," she sighed, keeping that smile on her face. "Show off some skin, but be yourself. Girls like that."

Sora lowered his eyes to the floor to study the clothes around him. "But..."

"I want you out of the house in three minutes, or I'm getting the spatula."

Sora looked up, his blue eyes widening. "You wouldn't!"

She grinned. "Oh yes I would. Get dressed. Now."

Fearing the wrath of his mother and her spatula, Sora began scrambling around the piles of clothes for an outfit. Three shirts, two pairs of pants, four pairs of shorts, and three pairs of sandals later, Sora was practically flying down the stairs to escape his giggling mother. As soon as he was out the door, he took a moment to catch his breath and look over the clothes he had ended up in. Nothing impressive, as he had hoped; it was just a slightly small red shirt that showed off his arms and midriff, a baggy pair of black shorts, his lucky crown chain attached, and a pair of beach sandals.

Though he probably looked like a dork, he felt alright. Perhaps a little gay. Well. So he won't impress Riku. Maybe she'll laugh at him and it'll be like old times again.

Feeling a little better about himself, Sora ran his fingers through his still-wet hair (blah. Limp spikes... definitely not attractive-looking) and turned his gaze towards the house across the street. The van was still there, and so was the dent from last night, but now the back of it was open and inside were boxes of stuff. There was no sign of any people moving them though, which meant that Riku and her aunt were alone with their task of moving.

Great! Maybe Sora could help them unload the boxes!

Practically dancing with excitement as he ran, he crossed the street and climbed the steps to the porch, and was about to raise his fist to knock when the door swung open. Sora blinked in surprise, and a middle-aged woman with blonde hair blinked back. There was a moment of silence, and then the woman's eyebrows rose in understanding.

"You're Sora."

He managed a smile that he hoped didn't look too resentful or bitter from eleven years ago when she had dragged Riku away from him. "Yup. Is Riku home yet?"

The woman smiled kindly, and Sora almost felt bad about feeling so negative towards her. "Riku's upstairs cleaning. Take one of the boxes marked 'stuff' when you go up. It's the last room on the right," she said, stepping aside to let him in. "Riku will be glad to see you again."

Sora grinned in response, lifting one of the 'stuff' boxes scattered around the floor of the hallway as he turned towards the stairway. "I hope so! I'm glad you guys moved back!" he called as he began to climb the steps.

The box was awfully heavy, so when he got to the top, Sora took a moment to set it down and open it. He was relieved to see it was full of video games and comic books, many that Sora himself enjoyed. Certainly Riku's aunt didn't enjoy it, so the items in the box had to belong to Riku herself, which mean that she had managed to maintain the same interests as Sora, even after eleven years.

Feeling his heart begin to race in excitement, Sora lifted the box again and hurried down the hall to the correct room, eager to see his friend again. Upstairs was a stifling hot, and Sora almost had trouble breathing as he carried the box. They must not have gotten the air conditioner working yet... That would explain the almost unbearable heat.

"Hey, Riku!" he called ahead as he stepped into the doorway, the box cradled in his arms. He planted a bright smile on his face, already flushed from the heat. "It's me, Sor--- Ah!"

He froze. The smile fell, and so did the box in his arms. It crashed to the wooden floor and a loud thud reverberated throughout the large, empty hot room.

A figure's back straightened from where it had been crouching before and it turned to face Sora, lips curved into an amused smile. Familiar silver hair fell to bare shoulders, sending beads of sweat rolling down a lean, muscular chest. A pair of loose drawstring khakis were the only thing the figure was wearing, giving Sora a perfect view of the body he had been dreaming about. Tall... lean... strong, but not overly muscular. Definitely curvy. Slim waist, nice hips...

No boobs. No, it was a nice... really nice... flat chest.

Familiar green eyes smiled at Sora, and an undoubtedly masculine voice filled the warm air.

"You goof," Riku sighed as he ran a hand through his damp silver hair, those pretty eyes shining with silent laughter. "You should be more careful with other people's stuff, Sora."

Sora promptly blushed, threw his hand out to point accusingly at Riku, and screamed, "Since when are you a guy!"

A single silver eyebrow rose in surprise, a smirk crossing Riku's handsome face. "You never saw me wearing any sundresses, did you?"

And as those words sank in, Sora's last chance at love and the little girl in his memory became something completely different.

-o-o-


To be continued...