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Carpe Diem

Akai Kitsune


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"Carpe Diem," his mother told him once, making lunch one day after an entire morning of telling him to go outside and see his friends instead of lounging around.

Riku looked at her in confusion, for once drawn away from his own interests. "Wha-?"

"Carpe Diem," she repeated, giving him a sidelong smile. "It's an ancient language, dear."

Stretching out on the couch, he grinned. "Ah. I thought you meant dinner."

"Oh? I was under the assumption that you hated carp..."

"I do," he snorted, rolling his eyes while his face was behind the cushion, where she couldn't see him. "What do it mean?"

His mother turned back to the food. "According to the old proverb, it means 'Seize the day'."

Riku blinked, sitting up. "Is this a hint?"

She laughed lightly. "Oh, and I haven't been giving hints all day? Was this one creative enough for you?"

Smirking to himself for a moment, he stood up, moving towards to the counter and leaning over her shoulder.

"I," he said in a low voice, his voice sly, "Would rather seize lunch."

"Riku! You put that down and- get back here, I said!"




After he had eaten, Riku finally relented and left the house, taking his rowboat out to the children's island not far offshore, where he knew his friends would be.

Sure enough, once he was close enough, Sora and Kairi could be seen lounging on the Paopu tree, waving cheerfully. He quickly tied his boat and ran over, splashing through the water and climbing the ladder on the far side to join them.

"What took you?" Sora asked the moment his feet reached solid ground, hands clasped behind his head.

Riku gave him a playful shove, sharing the smile. "You guys get up too early. Besides, I had a lesson in an 'ancient language', or so I was told."

"Ancient language?" Kairi echoed, her voice curious. "What is it?"

The older boy shrugged. "Don't know. Even my mom couldn't tell me."

Sora leaned back against the curve of the tree, curving his head to watch Riku. "What did you learn about it, anyway?"

"Carpe Diem."

"I thought you hated fish," Sora raised an eyebrow. Kairi laughed.

The silver-haired teen rolled his eyes again. "I do, but that's not the point. 'Carpe diem' is the phrase I learned."

"Neat," Kairi smiled, giving it a try herself. "Carpe diem."

Sora sat up, grinning wildly. "I deem this carp to be very tasty!" he announced in an official tone, one hand raised as if taking a vow.

Riku shoved him again, and the boy fell backwards off the tree and into the sand.

"Dee-em, you goof," he scolded with a broad smirk. "Car-pay dee-em."

Sora lay back in the sand instead, his legs propped up against a root outcropping. "Carpe diem, then," he chuckled, gazing up at the blue sky. "So what does it mean?"

"To quote: Seize the day. According to an old proverb." Riku hopped onto the Paopu tree beside Kairi, taking Sora's old spot.

"According to... so it could mean something else, right?" Sora asked, lifting his arm to trace something out in the sky.

Riku glanced back at him oddly. "I guess..."

"So you could be running around saying 'I play with pre-school dollies' and not even know it?"

The elder teen groaned. "Sora!"

"What?"

"Let's pretend that it's right," Kairi interjected before they could earn themselves an excuse to start fighting. "Why did your mom bring this up all of the sudden?"

Riku shrugged. "I don't know. I guess because I wasn't 'seizing the day' properly or something."

"You were probably hugging your pillow," Sora grinned. Riku leapt down from the branch and wrestled with his friend, and soon the two were rolling around the small island, as Kairi buried her face in her hands.

Eventually they settled down and returned to the third party in their group, covered in dust and grinning wildly. Kairi lay back on the Paopu tree as the boys sat at the island's edge, legs dangling down towards the water.

"How are we supposed to 'seize the day', anyway?" Sora asked after a long pause, still shaking sand from his hair. "I mean, it's not like there's much else to do here. We can't change this place, right? All we can do is change us. And who wants to do that?"

Riku and Kairi couldn't answer, both lost in thought over Sora's questions. Finally Riku murmured, "Not change ourselves... but our surroundings. We have to change where we are, not who."

Kairi blinked. "You mean leave the island?"

The eldest boy crosses his arms, gazing out towards the horizon. "I don't know. What else could we do?"

Sora shrugged. "Not a lot, I guess. But we don't even know what's out there."

Riku smirked, punching the boy's shoulder playfully. "That's the point."

"Hey!" Sora objected, trying to look displeased and failing. "I'm serious..."

"For once."

"Guys," Kairi rolled her eyes, exasperated, "Just give me five minutes of no fighting!"

The boys glanced at each other for a moment. Then, at the same instant, two identical smiles slid across their expressions.

They jumped.

"Hey!" Kairi gasped, hopping off the tree and curving her head over the edge. No surprise there, though; they were at it again.

"Guys!" she repeated, her voice annoyed.

Riku grinned, shoving Sora's head underwater as the other boy spluttered and struggled. "You said five minutes, but this won't take that long."

Sora pulled his head up to take a breath, glaring up at his opponent. "That's not fair-urk!"

"Seize the day, Sora!"

Instead, Sora chose to seize Riku's leg, pulling him down into the water.

Moving away from the ledge, Kairi sighed, hands clasped behind her back. Typical of those two... always finding something to fight over. It was a miracle they were such good friends, really.

Seize the day.

Leave the island.

Does Riku really think...?


"Kairi, what's up?" Sora called, poking his head over the top of the ladder. The younger girl turned to give him a relaxed smile, distracted from her thoughts, when Sora yelped in surprise, suddenly lifted as Riku climbed the ladder behind him. When they reached the top, Sora was clinging to his friend's shoulders, vainly trying to keep from falling back.

"Sora," Riku grunted, hands scrabbling at the wood as Sora's weight pulled them both backwards, "Let go!" Sora grinned mischievously, crouching on Riku's shoulders and crawling over his head, nearly knocking the older boy backwards. "Hey!"

As Riku glared at him, Sora smiled innocently from behind Kairi, as the girl rolled her eyes. "Why did you ask that, Sora?"

He blinked, his expression curious. "You just looked like you were thinking about something. You okay?"

She nodded. "Yeah. But Riku... you weren't serious, were you?"

Riku pulled himself up, brushing sand off his wet skin as best as he could. "I don't know... I really don't. I mean, what if there are other worlds out there? What if there's some amazing places waiting to be discovered, places we'd never dream of... and we're just wasting time here? We could be exploring, meeting new people, doing all sorts of things. But here we are, day after day."

Sora's smile faded. "Don't you have fun anymore?"

The elder teen smirked a little, cuffing Sora playfully in the shoulder. "Of course I do. But don't you ever think that we could be doing so much more? That we could be off traveling this world - maybe other worlds, too - like we used to dream about when we were little kids?"

Sora nodded vaguely, staring at his toes. After a moment, he looked up, eyes bright. "So how would we do it?"

Riku fell silent, as both of his friends looked at him expectantly. He turned away, staring out at the horizon, where the sun was already beginning to set, and crouched down, brushing his fingers through the sand. He closed his eyes, as the gentle ocean breeze whistled in his ears.

"When we grow up, let's get off this island. We'll go on real adventures, not this kid stuff!"

Nothing... nothing's changed. Not since then... not ever.

It's us who have to change things. Otherwise, we'll always be here... trapped in this world forever, without knowing what we could have done...

We have to... open the door ourselves...


Finally he opened them again, lifting his gaze to the sky.

"A raft," he announced, straightening up and grinning at his friends. "Let's build a raft. If we have something like that, it can take us anywhere, right?"

Sora and Kairi glanced at each other, then slowly began to smile, looking back at him. "Yeah!" Sora added enthusiastically. "Let's do it!"

Kairi giggled. "Well if you guys are going, I'm going too!"

"Then it's settled," Riku's expression grew serious again. "We'll make a raft, and we'll travel until we find another world. It may sound naive, but... it's all we have." He looked away briefly. "And... there's no one else I'd rather go with than you guys. I want you to know that."

Sora watched his friend thoughtfully, then took a step closer, his eyes narrowed in determination. He reached out a gloved hand, offering it to Riku, and smiled wryly.

"Carpe Diem," he spoke quietly, and to Riku, it was a promise.

Riku nodded, taking Sora's hand and shaking it, the same expression on his face. "Carpe Diem," he echoed. Kairi placed her hand over theirs, whispering her own sentiments.

They stood like that for a long moment, frozen in time by an unspoken vow, their eyes meeting in the center.

Then, Sora's smile broadened. " 'I play with pre-school dollies'," he snickered under his breath, just loud enough for Riku to hear.

"Why you-!"

"You guys, honestly!"


The next day, the three teenagers began to make plans of their journey, a promise in their minds and hope in their hearts.


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End

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AN: I am cursed by the one-shot bug. Someone help me write an epic. ^^;;

I blame this one on Koorino Megumi and her sporadic Latin rants. Evil, evil Latin professors. Now they're even making me work! Oh well, it's fun.

Can't believe I wrote a fic mostly for Riku, though. *shakes head* I am so ashamed... too bad the ending sucks. *kicks it* I hate ending fics.

Thank you for reading! (Hey, what's the Latin phrase for "review me"?)