Dcal's note:

This chapter is just a short introductory chapter to set the background to the rest of the story. Setting is on Destiny Islands, pre KH. The characters featured in this particular chapter are aged 5 for Sora and Selphie, 6 for Riku(well, you get the picture). However, this is just a prologue for the main story so it is set in the past. In the next chapter, it would be ten years from this starting.

The idea for this fic is adapted from a story I read from Yuki Midorikawa's collection of short manga stories. The title of the original story roughly translates to "Decending Leaves"

Standard disclaimers apply.

- - - - -

"Stay away from my friend!" Sora exclaimed at the top of his voice.

The three bigger boys, encircled around Riku, turned to see a squirrel-like ball rushing towards them. The leader of the trio held Riku's long silver braid in his sweaty palm and thus was the recipient of Sora's amateur karate kick. Though the impact was not that significant, it did cause the former to let go of Riku's hair. Sora delivered two weak punches (that probably hurt him more than his 'victims') into the sidekicks' stomach. While the three bullies were distracted by their irritation to have the most unlikely protector interrupt their money-extorting activities,

Sora took Riku's pale hand and ran like hell.

It didn't matter that Riku kept tripping and falling due to the inability to keep up with Sora who was NOT in stockings and petticoats.

- - -

The sky was set ablaze by the setting sun. The clouds turned shades of pink and orange as they drifted, carried by the evening wind. A cool kiss of summer's breeze felt good upon Sora's wet forehead.

They had stopped running after they had arrived at the field before the forest. Sora thought it safe as no one could see two tired boys lying on their backs, among the waist high grass. Sora was sprawled upon his back with his hand, still holding Riku's slender fingers, on his chest. Riku also lay flat against the bed of grass, within arms length of Sora. He could feel each burst of energy through the strong heartbeats from under the tips of his fingers clamped on Sora upper torso.

Sora turned his head to find an imploring gaze, the colour of the greenest blue, peeking from lowered lashes. The smile on the young boy's face faded into a concerned frown as he noticed the faint bruise forming upon Riku's pale cheek. Riku's eyes widen as Sora suddenly clamored to an upright position. The brilliant blue of a summer's afternoon flashed with resolution. It blinded Riku. Gingerly, Sora thumbed the soft skin that had suffered from a callous punch.

"Don't worry Riku. I won't let them treat you this way anymore. I promise."

- - -

Selphie crept behind Sora, who was hiding behind a row of lush green rose bushes.

"What are you doing?" whispered the little girl clad in a striking ensemble of a duckling yellow jumper and matching ribbons (that hung untied) in her air.

"Protecting Riku," replied Sora, his gaze focused unwavering at the elaborately carved door.

Selphie's curiousity was ignited. "You mean the Riku who lives behind that door?"

Sora nodded.

"The Riku who is the only son of the richest people on this island?"

Sora nodded again.

"And," Selphie paused before confirming once again, "Is he the Riku that lives behind the door behind that really really tall solid iron gate which is the only entrance unless someone decides to climb those very very tall brick walls and can escape the five fierce doggies as well and not be seen from the twelve guards posted around the whole compound which is roughly the size of your house, plus my house, multiplied by ten?"

Sora just nodded his head in reply.

An incredulous look spread itself cheekily around Selphie's face. "Are you kidding me?"

"No." A simple yet convicted reply.

- - -

"Mommy, how do you spell stronger?' asked the frustrated blue-eyed boy.

"S-t-r-o-n-g-er,". said the boy's mother patiently as she put away the plates she had just washed and dried. "Why do you ask Sora?"

"Wakka asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up, I couldn't decide. He asked me to think about it and write it on a piece of paper so that I won't forget." '

Sora lowered his head down and concentrated on writing down the thought that had occurred to him:

I have decided! I want to become stonger. So I can protect Riku when he is in danger!