'Down Here in Heaven'
There are days that come through people's lives without notice. They enter, they spend their time, they wear their welcome, and then they leave. All goes by silently and everything runs as it normally does. These days prove that humans are truly dull and uninteresting creatures that are simply too ignorant to acknowledge that fact.
It was on one of these days (Christmas Eve, to be precise) that Kairi rolled out of her bed and promptly forgot to stick her feet out to catch her.
And it was at that moment, lying on the ground, eyes wide open, staring up at her ceiling with a vacant expression on her face --I bet that if I try hard enough, I can make all those little dots on the ceiling turn into shapes and animals-- that Kairi realized that that day was going to be an extraordinary day.
Or perhaps she was simply determined to make it so just to spite her ill fortune.
Nonetheless, as Kairi pulled herself to her feet and wandered across the narrow hallway of her apartment towards the bathroom for her daily ritual of shower, brush teeth, apply makeup, the rest of the world began to wake up. And backing out of her apartment window and taking to the air for just a brief moment, it became clear that everyone on the island that day shared the same determination to make it an exceptional day. After all, it was Christmas Eve.
Children everyone were running outside to start their games, sprint down to the beach and make sandcastles, though it was much too cold for swimming. Their parents, native to the island's and hating the cool temperatures, trundled along behind them calling out their customary warnings of "Watch for traffic!" or "Stop throwing sand!" ...And despite all this normalcy, it was indeed a different day, I assure you.
It was Christmas Eve.
"It's Christmas Eve!"
Leon's eyes snapped open as he felt his mattress leap into the air and slam back down onto the bed-frame, walls shuddering, mirror clicking warily against the wall. And one spiky blonde mass of hair appearing just in his line of foggy sleep-clouded vision, a grin of a thousand watts drilling into his newly awakened brain.
"... What are you doing...?"
"Gooooood morning, Squally! Time to get up, time to get up! I'll make us pancakes!"
"Nngh. Go away." Leon's words were muffled as he groggily tugged a pillow over his face and attempted to go back to sleep. The Polar Eclipse was closed for the day. Couldn't he get some rest?
"No!" Hands wrapping around ankles. "Get up!" Oh no.
All it took was one sharp tug and Leon was flying out of the bed, landing in a tangled heap of sheets, quilts, and pillows on his bedroom floor. And directly below him was none other than...
"Cloud..." Leon hissed.
And across the street...
"Good morning, Tidus!"
Down by the beach...
"Bryna, fancy meeting you here."
"Well, you know, Sora's off with Riku already. No idea where those two wandered off to, so I figured I'd just..."
At the supermarket...
"Oh really? You don't say."
"Why yes. And just yesterday she says she saw her mother right here at this very store."
"Really? The one who divorced her poor father --may he rest in peace-- all those years ago? You don't say."
"Oh, but I do. Could you hand me that head of lettuce? Yes, that one. Thank you."
Everyone was awake and everyone was eagerly bustling about, ready to kick start their day. And down by the docks, the ferry came in, loaded with countless holiday passengers, all burdened down with their own masses of wrapped gifts and packages. As they stepped off the docks, their feet met the planks and they exchanged puzzled looks, all thinking the same thing.
But I thought she said it would be awfully cold here?
He said it was wicked this time of year...
This is just balmy.
All of them thinking the same thing... That is, all but one.
Where do I begin...?
It was Christmas Eve.
And it was going to be an extraordinary day.
x x x
Breathing in the sweet salty smell of the islands, Kairi grinned and stepped down from the stairs that led up to the apartment complex. All around her were throngs of people, bustling about in a not-so-normal manner and smiling more that was usually the case. This was something perfect that belonged in scrapbooks and video tapes, but it would just have to satisfy itself with being tucked away in her memory.
x x x
"I don't get it."
"What's not to get?"
"Why are we having soup for breakfast on Christmas Eve?" Cloud asked numbly, draped over the dining room table and scowling heatedly at his boyfriend. The only plus that had come with buying a house of their own was the fact that it came with a dining room separate from the kitchen. Which meant that at that particular moment, Leon couldn't catch hold of the look Cloud threw him. ...Not that he didn't know it was there.
"Because I made it."
"I make lots of things you don't eat."
"Yes, but you make lots of things period."
Cloud grinned wickedly and added in, "Is that implying anything, my dear boy?"
"No. It's not. Now if you don't get off the table, my dear boy, I'm going to slap this pot of soup right on your dear head."
"Feisty, feisty. Sheesh." Try as he might to hold a grudge, even Cloud couldn't deny the fact that the aroma of the soup was nothing short of mouth-watering. Though not much could be said for the appearance of the food (for having a look of tomato soup never made anything really astonishing), Cloud new better than to judge food by its appearance.
"Today, why don't you just try to sit back for once and not ping off the walls, alright?"
"...Can I eat my soup now?"
"No there are rules."
"Rules?! You've gotta be kidding me!"
"...No. I'm not."
x x x
Grinning from ear to ear, Riku watched as Sora's eyes lit up so bright that they could easily outshine the sun. It was that smile and those eyes that made Sora simply irresistible. But it was his adorable personality and cute charm that made him Sora. Correction-- that made him Riku's Sora.
"I thought you might like it."
"Could we...? Are we really...?"
"If you want to."
With a delighted laugh, Sora leapt into Riku's ever-present embrace and nearly hugged the life out of the poor boy as he exclaimed, "Of course I want to!" That was one of the moments Kairi had thought of. One of the ones that only had a home in memories, but really belonged so many other places.
"So what are we going to name him?" Sora grinned, looking down at the adorable silver fluff ball that ran in circles at their feet.
His early Christmas present from Riku, of course.
What were you thinking?
x x x
Without that warning, Kairi might have been completely unprepared for the little torpedo that was launched directly at her, adhering to her side instantly and babbling mile a minute, blonde pigtails bouncing up and down as she jumped eagerly around the puzzled Kairi.
"Mummy and Daddy are taking me to the park and we're gonna put some ornam-mam-ments on the big tree there and then we're gonna go to the beach and get some shells and then we're gonna stop by the store and get some food and then we're gonna, we're gonna bring it to the pier and we're gonna see you and ever-body else there!" Ryo beamed, proud of herself for being the bearer of good news, having blurted everything out before her parents even showed up on the spot.
Seifer easily scooped his energetic daughter up into his arms, grinning as she let out an excited squeal and wrapped her tiny hands around his scarf and buried her face in it. Rinoa laughed and shot Kairi an apologetic look before adding, "Sorry about that. Are you off anywhere in a hurry?"
"Not really. Just sort of wandering around, I guess. You guys are off to the tree then?"
The small party that had gathered there on the sidewalk look over across the street towards the large park that was plopped down right outside the elementary school. An enormous palm tree grew there, towering over not only the school building itself, but also the scads of playground equipment littering the small blacktop nearby. From the tree were ribbons that stretched to smaller, younger palm trees scattered around the playground, the ribbons adorned with what must have been hundreds upon hundreds of ornaments.
Having nothing but palm trees and tropical plants grown really well on the island, Destiny Island inhabitants figured that their trusty palm tree was just as good as any old evergreen any day. And it was. If not more so.
"Yep! Want to come with us? We have a few extra ornaments here!" Rinoa happily held up a little box she'd had tucked under one arm, lifting the lid so that the silver ornaments curled up beneath wadded tissue paper caught the winter sunlight and flickered cheerfully under Kairi's gaze, sparkling and dancing and daring her to give in and go with them.
But she just smiled and that, "Thanks, but I'm okay. I've already hung mine up there and I don't want to take up too much room or anything... Besides, I still have to go make something for the potluck at the pier. I'd almost forgot until Ryo reminded me."
"Yay! Now you won't forget!" Ryo chirped, now seated on top of Seifer's shoulders, the cool breeze drifting around in the air turning her cheeks to a rosy pink color.
"That's right! I'll remember to make something now. Thanks, Ryo!" Kairi said, grinning up at the little girl who swelled with pride.
Bidding farewell to Rinoa and her little family, Kairi continued along her way, thinking to herself and wondering how things had come to pass over the last three years in such a way that perfect families grew out of shambled pasts. In a way, it was sort of inspiring, she guessed.
x x x
"Basil... organic tomatoes, onion root..."
"Oregano, dill weed... um... freshly grated garlic..."
Leon smirked, filling the spoon with more of the precious soup and tapping the edge of the spoon against the side of the bowl to get rid of the extra drops. Cloud sat across from him, a black blindfold wrapped securely around his head covering his eyes, a small frown on his face as he waited for his cue.
And Cloud obeyed. Leon gently moved the spoon in and Cloud closed his mouth around the spoon, cleaning it of its contents as Leon removed it once again.
"Do you give up?" he asked, smirking and twirling the spoon slowly back and forth between his fingers.
"No." Licking his lips slowly, Cloud once again drew those very same lips into a frown, saying, "I don't get it. What am I missing...?"
"One more taste then?"
Repeating the motion, Leon lowered the spoon into the thick liquid, tapping against the bowl. However, looking up once again, Leon was struck by one of those moods. It wasn't anything sexual. It wasn't anything truly inspirational either, really. It was simply something completely random and inexplicable. And it was something very, very rare for Leon.
"Any time today would be good, Leon."
Shrugging, Leon simply leaned across the small table for two and placed his lips right over Cloud's.
x x x
"I told you, you can't play that card."
"Oh who cares? I can play any card I want!"
"Pfft. Like hell. Fucking cheater."
"I don't cheat."
"Yes you do! Yes you DO!"
"Hey look! Mummy has four aces!"
"...Honey, you're not supposed to tell them Mummy's hand."
Kairi giggled as the poker game came to a rather abrupt end, resulting in a scowling Cloud and a slightly off-put Rinoa cradling her girl in her arms and shrugging as the cards were tucked away. The food had been eaten and enjoyed, the company had been good, the talk friendly. As far as Kairi was concerned, this was her perfect day. This was her family, extended beyond all belief, but a family nonetheless.
With a loud yawn, Cloud plopped down next to Kairi and swung his feet over the side of the pier, staring out at the ocean with a content little smile on his face as he said, "You'll have a merry Christmas, right Kairi?"
"Right. You too?"
The two sat side by side in companionable silence, satisfied to just hear the voices of their friends in the background and feel the breeze roll in with the change of tides along the shore. Cloud didn't know what Kairi was thinking... he'd never really gotten the hang of figuring girls out, after all... but he was glad she was always so amiable in these situations. Everyone in the world could be paired off and coupled up except for Kairi... but somehow Cloud still had faith that she'd manage to take it all in stride and put up with it.
Whether it was a healthy thing or not, well, Cloud was still debating that one. But in the meantime it made life so much easier for everyone in general...
A light tap on his shoulder was all it took to derail his jumbled little train of thought and Cloud tipped his head back on his shoulders to peer up at Leon, whom he greeted with a bright grin and a "'Lo there, Leon. What brings you to this side of the planet?"
"Want an early Christmas present?"
Latch. Stumble. Tip. Crash. Leon sighed and made a feeble attempt at prying Cloud off his legs, but, as expected, it didn't really have much of an effect on the over-excited blonde who was babbling mile-a-minute at that particular moment.
"Awww, whatdjagetmeLeon, whatisitwhatisitwhatisit? Huhhuhhuhhuh??? Yaaaay! IloveyouLeonyou'resocoolLeonyou'resoawesomeyaaaay!"
"If you'll get off for a second..." Maybe it was the alcohol. Maybe it was just the time of the year. Whatever it was, even Leon couldn't bring himself to be set in his usual cold-hearted nature and had to crack a smile as Cloud detached himself from the other's legs, simply sitting back and grinning like a fool, arms outstretched and awaiting his gift. ...Not that Cloud was materialistic or anything. Oh no. Certainly not that.
"Close your eyes." Obediently, Cloud snapped his eyes shut, causing several people scattered amidst the small crowd to snicker. If Leon asked Cloud to jump off a bridge, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that Cloud would take the leap without a second thought. ...Thankfully, Leon would just never be the type of person to order his boyfriend off a bridge.
"They're closed, they're closed!" Cloud insisted, wiggling his fingers anxiously and dancing back and forth on his feet with excitement. Leon smirked and reached into the depths of one of the many picnic baskets strewn around the group of people, pulling out an oblong wrapped package. There were looks of confusion from some... Rinoa, Seifer, Ryo, Sephiroth (Leon still couldn't figure out who'd invited him in the first place...), Sora, Riku, Tidus, Selphie, Wakka...
But this certain similar understanding descended upon three people and three alone. Those three employees of his from all those summers ago....
And suddenly there was just this enormous cloud of good feeling that swallowed everyone whole as the red and gold gift was gently set in Cloud's outstretched hands.
"...Okay." Leon nodded and stepped back from Cloud, ending the moment with the simple words of "You can open your eyes now."
There are some people who like to take time to open their gifts. Let me take just a moment to point out the fact that these people are quite evil. Every moment they spend pulling the fibers of the wrapping paper apart, one by one, inch by inch... Well, quite frankly it's sickening to watch people take such joy in shredding trees to bits like that. Slow torture, that's what it is.
And thankfully, Cloud was not one of these people. In less than three seconds, the paper was off, dangling in one hand. The sun caught on stainless steel metal that stretched down into a perfectly crafted rubber handle that sat perfectly in Cloud's hand with perfect balance and perfect weight...
"...Oh Leon..." Cloud's eyes lit up with something akin to absolute awe... "It's..." And then they began to brim with tears of absolute joy... "It's..." Right before Cloud burst into a spout of absolute hysteria, crying out, "My spatulaaaaa!"
But the sunlight caught on something else as well.
"Cloud..." Leon smiled softly and gesture once, just once, towards the end of the silver cooking implement. And there, slid easily over the narrow handle of the fine cooking-ware was...
A very plain, very beautiful, simple silver ring.
And with a little gasp of surprise and a look that had turned from awe to joy to something of pure love in the space of only a few seconds, Cloud found himself firmly situated in Leon's embrace, arms wrapped around his boyfriend's neck and burying his face into the warm junction where the brunette's shoulder blades met his neck. The applause and cheers coming from everyone around them? Yes, they were heard. But nothing mattered more to Leon than the words that slipped out of Cloud's mouth and danced straight into his ears.
"Thank you, Leon..."
And several yards away, another brunette, shorter, younger, and just all around more vulnerable looking than the other stood beside his own boyfriend. In his arms was his own little fluffy white bundle of joy and on his face was his own little grin of sheer delight, even as Riku smirked and muttered in an amused tone, "Hate to say it, but that's just cute."
"Not as cute as Spug-Nugget!" Sora declared proudly.
It took Riku a moment, but he finally did manage to formulate a response, trying his best to keep his eye from twitching as he warily glanced at the short boy beside him.
"...I still can't believe you named the dog Spug... Nugget."
x x x
Kairi paused, halfway across the beach already and nearly towards the point where sand ebbed away and concrete began. But turning around, Kairi came to a complete stop as the little girl bounded across the beach in a desperate attempt to catch up.
Smiling as a panting and exhausted Ryo came to a halt in front of her, Kairi said, "Hey Ryo. You excited about tomorrow?"
"That's good. You have fun with your mom and dad, okay?"
"I'll talk to you late--" Turning to go, turning to go, turning to--
"Wait, wait!" --Stopped. Once again.
"I wanna know what your wish is?"
"Your wish! Your Christmas wish, Kairi!" Ryo rolled her eyes dramatically and though Kairi was coming to the rapid conclusion that the dinky little kid in front of her was going to grown up to act just like her mother, Ryo just continued prattling on. "I promise not to tell. I'm real good at keep promises, I swear! I won't tell anybody!"
"..." Placing a finger over her bottom lip and furrowing her brows together, Kairi appeared to think very hard for quite a little while before finally nodding firmly and agreeing with, "I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours, okay?"
"...Umm..." Mimicking the older girl's actions, Ryo thought as well. And once all was thought out and each had come to the conclusion that the other was certain to not spoil their holiday wish, Ryo beamed and nodded energetically. "Okay! It's a deal! But you hafta promise not to tell anybody, okay?"
"I promise. And I'm really good at keeping promises too."
"My wish..." Tugging lightly on the sleeve of Kairi's jacket, pulling her down until her ear was level with Ryo's mouth, Ryo cupped one hand over the channel connecting the two of them, mouth to ear. She smiled for a moment, mentally putting a few last details into the picture she'd painted in her child's mind. Then she simply whispered, "My wish...is that next year, you'll get a ring too."
"...Thank you... Ryo..."
"For what?" Unaware of the little spark of hope she'd lit within Kairi, Ryo prodded the older girl and pouted. "Come on, lemme hear your wish now!"
"Well..." I guess I haven't really thought about it all that much, have I? "I wish..." Frowning slightly for a moment, Kairi shrugged and answered with, "I wish that tomorrow won't come."
"What?! But why?? Tomorrow's Christmas! Dontcha wanna get all your presents, Kairi?"
"Yeah, but today's been too good. I don't want to give it up so soon."
"...You're so weird."
"Yeah, well, everyone is nowadays."
Ryo shook her head and giggled, tugging once more on Kairi's arm and once more pulling her down to Ryo-size. Wrapping her arms around Kairi as far as they would reach, Ryo grinned and laughed, squeezing for all she was worth to make the best bear hug she possibly could. "Merry Christmas, Kairi."
"Merry Christmas, Ryo."
x x x
Send my baby home.
I don't wanna be all alone.
Nostalgia? No, no, not quite yet. Kairi had to keep reminding herself that she was happy. She wasn't lying about it either! ...At least... not like she lied to the psychiatrist.
This feels familiar... Kairi thought, looking around her as she headed towards her apartment. The crowds of people... the midday rush... the headphones clamped over her ears, blaring Melissa Etheridge. Minus the Christmas music and the cold... it's just like...
No it wasn't.
"I don't wanna be all alone..."
"Hey, watch it, kid!"
Had Kairi not been so completely shut out from world (thanks to the wonderful powers of volume control and bass settings on portable CD players), she might have heard all the commotion bubbling up behind her. She might have seen the hordes of people being flung out of the way. And she might have heard The Voice.
...No, not a spiritual voice.
Not a ghost of Christmas past, present, or future.
But The Voice.
"Fuck you, man! Outta my way!"
"What the--?! Well happy holidays to you too, brat!"
"Yeah, yeah, whatever! Excuse me!"
"That's more like it."
"Get back here, you little--"
"...?" Now, Kairi may very have been quite oblivious to all noise and sight around her. She may have been quite set on simply crossing that one last street and opening that one last door, just to get out of the cold. But like all humans... or at least... all the female ones... Kairi's mind came rigged with a sort of intuition. And it was at that precise moment in that precise place that the little corner in the back of Kairi's mind started to wake up and say 'Hey, I think something's going on back there and I think it has something to do with you.'
Bizarre? Yes. But not exactly anything completely unbelievable.
But wait a...
Short black hair... blonde streaks?
Brown eyes, pale skin, loud voice, ridiculously energized personality, and amazingly violent people-shoving skills? But that would have to mean...
"...Ah? Yu..." Kairi didn't have a chance to finish, for no sooner had she managed to utter those two incoherent syllables, she was swept right off the ground and spun round and round in dizzying circles, clutched in the arms of none other than--
"Yuffie! Yes! That's me! And you're you! You're still you! HAHAAA!" Kairi had to squeeze her eyes shut in order to try and keep the world in proper order. Not only was the ground spinning around her head over and over again, but she could've sworn she'd just seen... wait... no... that was real. "Oh Kairi, you haven't changed! You haven't changed!"
"Yes! It's me!"
"Left, I know. And I was gone and... and... it was confusing and it was bad and... and... and I..." Coming back to her senses... or... well... coming back to something, Yuffie set Kairi back down on the ground where she belonged, tucking her hands behind her back to keep from attacking the other girl again. "I'm back."
"...Without any explanation or any goodbye and I... and I... am really, really sorry and... God, I've missed you so much." Hands flying out again, Yuffie started towards Kairi in a jolt, determined to glomp the living daylights out of her. (...Again?) But catching herself at the last moment, Yuffie refrained. (...Again.) "And you don't have to say anything! And you can hate me too, that's okay, but I... I just wanted to see you. And I know it's random and I know there's no notice and I know I should have called and..."
Each girl regarded the other with a look. These looks were nothing alike. In fact, they were almost the complete opposite of one another. While Yuffie's eyes brimmed with hope, apology, and something in between joy and bliss, Kairi's own look was just... confusion. Confusion... hesitation, shock, and... well... more confusion.
It was after a moment that Kairi was finally able to form a response. She wasn't blushing, she wasn't stuttering. She wasn't the same frightened little girl that had nearly had a heart attack every time Yuffie came within ten feet of her. In fact, Kairi was capable of going so far as to plainly state the thing that had been just behind everyone's lips for quite some time.
"You messed up."
"Would saying I'm sorry help my case at all?"
But Yuffie was panicking... Kairi was turning away. This definitely is not supposed to happen. There was no way this is happening. Since when did Kairi turn down Yuffie for... anything?
"...Would saying I'm straight change anything?" Kairi asked, unable to keep just a little hint of sarcasm from biting at the edge of her voice as she met the streetlight head on and waited for her cue to cross.
"DEAR GOD! YOU'RE NOT GAY?!"
...I'm going to choose to ignore all the weird looks I'm getting. I'm going to pretend she didn't mean to do that.
"...Yuffie, I wasn't serious."
"Oh." Coming to rest beside Kairi, Yuffie laughed nervously and said, "Wow. Phew. That was a shocker. Man oh man."
"Yuffie..." Kairi sighed and opened her mouth once more to say something, but (Yes. Again.) was cut off.
"Kairi, listen." Blinking as Kairi started across the street, Yuffie definitely lost whatever idea might have popped up inside her head as she fought to keep up with the auburn haired girl who was hardly giving her the time of day. When in doubt, buy some time. "Okay, don't listen now, I'm still trying to think of what I'm going to say. But don't say anything yet, okay? Just gimme a sec here." And when in doubt, always say... "Please!"
"...Alright..." Kairi stopped walking once more, tucking her hands in her pockets this time and turning to face Yuffie again. Finally getting a good look at the other girl, Yuffie realized that... well... Kairi had changed. Her hair was a little longer, but still cut in a short and feminine way. Her eyes, though still blue, were now lined with carefully applied makeup. Kairi was taller, Kairi was obviously older, and Kairi... wasn't blushing. At all.
Pull it together, Yuffie... Come on, you have to do this...
"I really messed up. And I messed up before that and I messed up after that. And I took everything out on the wrong people and it was just... really, really bad. And... and while I was gone, I realized a lot of things. I mean..." Unable to continue looking at Kairi's expectant eyes, Yuffie's gaze was averted elsewhere. She would never be so lacking in self-confidence that she would look at the ground, but at the sky? Sure. Even Yuffie was sometimes unsure about things. Even Yuffie got nervous sometimes.
"I went back home, Kairi! I went all the way back there and I was so determined to just go and start over back home. But everyone was gone. They'd all left. And... and I couldn't find them. So I went to my parents, but they'd moved. And so I didn't know where anybody was! ...But I'm not saying all this for pity, just hold up a minute. See..." Licking her lips, Yuffie shifted her weight from foot to foot before continuing in a rapid manner, saying, "They were gone. And now I might not ever see them again. But I know... down here, down on Destiny Islands... I know there're people I care about here. And I know they must still be here because you're here and... and I do care about you and..."
...And that was the most silence Yuffie ever wanted to hear again in her life. Because Kairi not saying anything meant that Kairi was thinking of something to say and if Kairi had think of something to say, it could only mean...
"Please don't say something that's going to hurt really bad."
"...Um..." "Do you..."
"Have any idea what bitch I am? Yes. Know why I'm back? Not really. Not exactly, I mean. I mean, there's a lot of reasons. I mean..."
"Do you want to come inside, Yuffie?"
Kairi had brought them to one last little rest stop in front of one of the many downtown apartment complexes. Funny, Yuffie hadn't even realized they'd been shuffling along in the first place. But all questions and confusions were set aside as Yuffie simply blinked and pointed at the door in front of her, cocking her head to the side.
"Inside? You mean in there? With you?"
"...I don't see anyone else around here." Raising an eyebrow, Kairi glanced to the left, then to the right. Smirking she shrugged her shoulders and regarded Yuffie once again.
"Do you have a girlfriend?"
"Pets of any sort?"
"Do your parents live with--?"
"No, no, and here's a wild guess-- no."
"Well alright then!" But before she allowed herself to get too carried away and let it all slide by, Yuffie had to stop herself. Not again, but just for the first time. She wasn't stopping herself to protect Kairi, but she was stopping herself to protect both of them. "...Kairi, I just... I'm serious, you know. I... I'm not joking."
"I know. I can tell when you're serious." Kairi smiled and took the small flight of steps leading up towards the double doors one at a time, Yuffie following along behind, a puzzled expression on her face.
"...So if I called you a snot-bubbly fire hydrant, you'd know I wasn't serious?"
"And... if I said I'd sold my soul to the devil to buy that ferry ticket to get down here... You'd think I was kidding, right?"
"I'd know you were kidding. Ferry tickets are only ten bucks a pop and even you can't be that poor."
"...So what if I said that I wanted to..." Yuffie had to think a moment, trying to put it together... "What if I said..." And then Yuffie had to think another moment, trying to decide if she should put it together... "Um... what if I..?"
"Can you tell when I'm serious?" Kairi suddenly asked, looking at Yuffie expectantly once more.
"Well sure I can!"
"So if I said I forgave you, would you believe me?" Yuffie nodded. "And if I said that Leon and Cloud are now a very happy couple, would you believe me?
"Are you-- YES! That's awesome! I mean, I totally saw it coming, but..."
"What if I said that Sora named his dog Spug-Nugget?"
"...If it weren't for the fact that I can tell you're being absolutely serious right now, I'd really be doubting your sanity. He named it what?"
Astrologically speaking, the stars all aligned.
Scientifically speaking, absolute zero was reached.
Phylosophically speaking, Nervana was acheived.
But speaking in simple terms of Kairi and Yuffie...
"What if I...?" Kairi kissed Yuffie. There were no fireworks. There was nothing magical about the moment. But there was this strange electric jolt that didn't surge through either body, but simply drifted in, out, and between the two girls standing across from one another beneath the awning of an apartment building.
And speaking in terms identifiable to any human being: everything was just good.
"...Then... um... I'd hope you were serious," Yuffie murmured, clearly in some state of shock from what had just happened.
"Hoping isn't knowing. Am I serious or not?"
"...Yeah. Yeah you are."
"Good." Kairi turned towards the door, finally reaching out and pulling it opened. Thankfully, Yuffie didn't notice that her cheeks had taken on a far-too-familiar pink tinge that Kairi instantly started hating all over agian. "Sooo... Is it okay to ask for a story or two about the past couple years then, or is it too...?"
"Nah. I got tons of stories to tell."
"...Want some hot cocoa?"
"Cocoa would be great."
x x x
"I still can't believe you got me tickets to her concert!"
"Happy birthday, Kairi! But, uh... I guess I haven't really been being completely truthful to you."
"I don't really like Melissa Etheridge."
"In fact, I don't really like her music at all."
"...Are you serious?! But... but you... but the..." "The... the... you said..."
Yuffie carefully picked the CD up from the ground, casting a sympathetic gaze at its damaged surface. It probably would never play the same again, if at all. Turning over the disk so that Kairi could take it easier, the label of the disk caught Yuffie's eye, a smile instantly spreading across her face even as Kairi finally seemed to find her voice and start speaking.
"It's okay... I should have looked and... Umm... Don't worry about it. It's just Melissa Etheridge... I mean, you know, no big deal... Er, no, I mean, um... I just sorta... liked the CD, but that's okay, it's okay..." Kairi was babbling and she definitely knew it. She wished the dock itself would just open up and swallow her... Anything to get her away from this new person.
"Hey, it's Melissa Etheridge. Who doesn't love her?"
"Hey, I would've done anything to get in your pants back then, what can I say?"
"...Are you serious?! But Yuffie... You mean all those times I've played her music in the car or made you listen to one of her new CDs... you mean...?"
"Didn't make it any less perfect."
Yuffie turned back towards her baffled girlfriend and shot her a grin.
"So come on, let's go have fun, okay?"
(x) (x) (x)
And so concludes Raspberry Heaven. ...Now go have fun. Play in the snow (if you're lucky enough to have any) and chill with your pals.
In short: have an extraordinary day.
So ends your public service announcement.