Pre-game. Takes place years before it, actually. Sora/Riku - NOT A PAIRING. *puts it up in neon lights*

I don't own Kingdom Hearts. Shocking, I know...


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Sands of Tide

Akai Kitsune

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He crouched in the dirt by the beach, brushing his hands in and out of the sand and drawing small, meaningless designs with his fingers. Occasionally he glanced up, brown hair cast over his eyes, to gaze out at the ocean.

"What're you doing?"

Sora didn't turn, as his best friend plopped down beside him, wiping clean some of the already-used surface to make his own images. "Waiting for Daddy."

Riku, silver-hair tinted red in the fading sunlight, pursed his lips. "Bet he's not coming back for a while."

The other boy didn't respond. He let himself fall from the crouch, cushioned by the light sand beneath him. He joined Riku in the drawings, as the waves licked gently at their outstretched toes.

"I thought you were gonna wait at home," Riku finally added, scrutinizing his art for a moment before destroying it once again to start anew. "You know, with your Mom, or Kairi or something."

"Kairi went home," Sora shrugged. "The mayor says she can't stay up too late. Somethin' about having a... a... delcate condition 'cause she just got here."

"Delicate," Riku corrected, a smile on his face. In the sand, Kairi's face smiled back at him.

"That's it," Sora replied agreeably. He looked over. "Hey, that's good."

"I know."

The six-year old boy looked out towards their island, his expression almost pensive. "Hey Riku... is it okay if I took Kairi in the Secret Place?"

Riku stopped drawing, surprised. "In the Secret Place?"

Sora bobbed his head. "Yeah. She was looking kinda left out last time we went. So I told her she could come with me - but just once!"

"And she wasn't scared or nothing?"

"Guess not. She was clingy though." Sora crawled to his feet, moving closer to the water and curling his bare feet as the cold sand sank below him.

"If you fall in, your Mom will get mad," Riku said matter-of-factly.

Sora just grinned. "I'll just tell her you pushed me!"

"Hey!"

Riku lunged at him, and the two boys wrestled in the water for a while, until both of them were soaking wet and covered in sand. They lay side by side at the water's edge, breathlessly laughing at themselves, but otherwise silent.

"Hey, Riku?"

Riku glanced at his friend, curious. "Huh?"

Sora frowned, his eyes tuned to the sky above. "What do you think my Daddy's doing?"

The other boy gave him an odd look. "I thought he was fishing."

"Well yeah, but... Daddy never goes fishing longer than a day. He says it makes him fall asleep."

"Maybe he's sleeping then."

Sora shook his head. "No way! It's not even my bedtime! Why would he go to bed before me?"

Riku shrugged. "Then maybe he fell asleep yesterday and forgot to wake up."

His friend couldn't reply to that, though his eyes said enough as he closed them.

"Sora?"

"What?" The boy's eyes didn't open.

"Are you sad?"

Sora crossed his arms behind his head, as he often did. "A little bit. Something's wrong with my mom, too."

Riku rolled over on his side, watching the younger child's changing expression.

"She's been crying a lot, like she hurt herself or something," Sora continued, his eyes opening a sliver to peek at the ocean, searching for any boats along the horizon. "And she hid all the pictures of Daddy. I asked her why she did it, but she says she just lost them. I saw one in a box though." He sent Riku a pleading look. "Why would Mommy lie about that?"

Riku frowned uncomfortably, wishing he knew all the answers like he sometimes boasted. "Dunno. You think she's scared of something?"

"Not of Daddy!"

"Maybe she doesn't like fish anymore."

Sora sat up, curving his head to look at the pictures they had drawn, ruined by their scuffling.

"I could write a letter," he noted after a moment. "So Daddy could see it and know not to bring home any fish."

"He'd be mad," Riku grinned. "If he had to throw them all back..."

"Somebody might step in it, though," Sora mumbled, wading further into the water.

Riku lay still for a while, thinking intently. Finally, he jumped to his feet, standing beside Sora confidently.

"I'll watch it!" he announced. "I live right beside the beach! I can watch for people and make sure nobody steps in it. It'll be right there when your Dad comes back!"

"Really?"

"It's a promise," Riku said seriously.

Sora smiled broadly, eyes shining with gratefulness. "Riku, you're the best friend ever!"

To this, Riku shared his smile. It was true, after all, and both of them knew it.

Together they stamped a message in the sand, spanning across half the small fishing cove and decorated with whatever shells and rocks they could find. When they had finished, the two boys stood up to their waists in the water, admiring their work.

"See? Looks perfect," Riku nodded in approval. "He'll come back and know exactly what to do."

Sora curved his head to one side. "The 'i' is backwards, though."

"What?"

"Look, right there-"

"There's no such thing as a backwards 'i'!"

"Is so!"

Again they wrestled, splashing and giggling in the ocean, rolling in the sand - although carefully, so they would not disturb their own handiwork.

Sora was laughing again, and Riku felt rather proud of himself.

When the sun finally began to set, and both children were summoned back home, Riku whispered his promise once more in Sora's ear. For reassurance, for comfort, to ensure that he was trustworthy.

"A promise is a promise," he grinned, ruffling his friend's unruly brown hair.

Sora grinned back. "And a best friend is forever!" he shouted back, waving his hand until his mother took it and led him away. Riku watched him disappear around the corner, wondering how long it would take them to grow up so they could do real best friend stuff, like adventures and monster-fighting, and exploring beyond their little beaches and the distant islands.

He slept well that night, dreaming of the hundreds of places he would see someday, the people he would meet, the things he would do. And all the while his best friend was beside him, and there was no sad smile on his face. It was a good dream.

In the morning, though, he learned that neither best friends, nor promises, could keep the tide from washing away a dream.

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End
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AN: I have decided that I love writing pre-game fics. Writing Riku when he's not such a jerk is rather enjoyable. I'll probably do more if the inspiration comes. Sora/Riku fluff - as friends, not sex-craved lovers or something *gags in the corner for a while* - is way too cute.

The idea for Sora's dad came from me being sick and tired of Riku having the sucky family life. It's like it gives him an excuse to be such a... a... grr! *chucks a tomato at Riku* Anyway, I like to give Sora the attention most of the time, simply because it's RIKU RIKU RIKU... and too much Riku is boring. ^_^

To all you Riku fans... my bad. I try to be fair to his character, so I write him as fairly as I can... doesn't mean I have to like him though!

Thank you all for reading.