Disclaimer: I do not own Kingdom Hearts I & II.

Tohrue's Note: Ahh. Can you believe summer is right around the corner? I'm so excited. It turns out though that I have to take a couple of classes this summer as I .. failed my math and science class a couple quarters ago. Shame on me, I know. But they're only about a couple weeks long, so hopefully it shouldn't interfere with my updates this summer.

Also, terribly sorry if it's a bit short. I'm really busy with so much that I have to hurry and type these.

Updated: April Twenty Second, 2006.
Author: Tohrue – also known as moi.
Chapter Seventeen: A Return & Old Feelings

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"Kairi, it's okay .."

"We're here for you .."

"Honey, everything is fine."

"I love you so much Kairi!"

Kairi's eyelids flickered threateningly as she slowly began to come out of her state of unconsciousness. A throbbing pain thumped throughout her cranium while she could feel the bottom lip of her's swollen and sore. As for her arms and her legs, all of them were numbed and 'asleep' – it was basically impossible to move any of those limbs; toes and fingers included. Finally as her vision became clear, the first few figures that she made out in the room were Selphie, Yuffie, her mother, and Queenie. Her eyes studied them each carefully as her bottom lip quivered as if in a state of sudden sadness. And just moments later, she bursted out crying.

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Even though he'd planned it, Sora hadn't ended up going to the hospital. With a heavy sense of guilt and worry, he strangely couldn't find himself to come and confront her. He'd been basically brainwashing himself with thoughts that he hated her, and yet the moment he'd found out what'd happened, those angered feelings had washed away like writing in the sand with tide. Instead, he'd gone home and locked himself in his room – something that was not so uncommon these days now.

It turned out that Kairi hadn't just gotten a couple of cuts and bruises. With a sprained collar bone, a cracked ankle, and countless bruises and cuts, she'd been out of school for a good three weeks. And those three weeks had slowly moped by. Every day, people talked about the girl's condition – whether she was improving and how she was doing, and of course, the infamous topic of it all: who had ganged up on the girl? Many people still suspected it'd been Riku, but Sora'd put those rumors to the grave thankfully. Some people thought it was Queenie though she had exchanged schools now, and others even suspected Yuffie and Selphie.

On the Tuesday morning of the fourth week since the 'accident,' Sora had arrived at school as if it was any other day. However, upon entering the building, whispers flew around even more quickly and common than usual. It hadn't taken long before the news had finally leaked into his own ears.

Kairi was back.

At his locker, Sora nervously rearranged the books in his locker for no reason. His fingers and hands rummaged all around as if he'd been looking for something that he'd lost. But in fact, that wasn't the case at all. With his intestines so tangled into a knot of a nervous rope, he wasn't even able to keep a steady hand. Specks of sweat were forming at the top of his forehead while every few seconds he would bite down on his bottom lip or look behind him as if hopingly, dreadingly expecting to see Kairi.

Thankfully the boy had managed to get all the way to fourth period before he had seen her.

Upon entering the Biology room, he found a huge crowd of people swarming around the back in the corner. He'd simply rolled his eyes, suspecting that people were fascinated with a bucket of dead frogs or rodents or something of that sort. Why people were so amused with dead embodiments, left him confused. However, that didn't seem to be the case this time.

"Oh Kairi, you look prettier than ever!"

"I'm so happy you're okay!"

"Does anything still hurt? Do you need me to carry your stuff for you after this?"

"I prayed every day for you!"

Setting his stuff upon one of the random desks in the collection of them, he slowly and hesitantly began to move towards the back of the room. He had the option of running out of the classroom and going to the nurse, saying he was dying of a stomach ulcer and that he could never come back to school. And though it'd been a good escape plan, it'd seemed that the only path his feet knew .. was in the direction of Kairi.

As people began to notice Sora making his way back, the whole reminder of the situation before the attack, was brought back freshly into their minds. Though, it didn't seem as if Kairi was the one to take the blame for it now. People gave disgusted and dirty looks at him, while others rolled their eyes in annoyance. Sora just reached for the back of his neck and rubbed it nervously as people made way for him. Funny thing how he'd lost respect from quite a number of people yet they still feared him and wouldn't dare to block his path.

Finally coming before her, the moment he'd dreaded, was here. Leaning against the back of a table, the girl was dressed in her white and blue school uniform looking quite as happy as ever. Her hair meekly straightened and no makeup on her face, when she actually smiled, it made her look even prettier. Sora just gave an awkward stare back in response.

"Hi Sora."

"H-hey .."

People must have realized how much of a 'personal' situation this was, even though everyone basically was drunk on gossip at their school. Everyone slowly pulling away and heading back to the front of the room, it hadn't taken too much time before both Sora and Kairi were alone in the back.

"Kairi, listen, I'm really sorry about all that stuff I said befor—"

"Sora, it's okay."

Kairi smiled at him even more. As she did this, he noticed a small little cut below the higher part of her cheekbone. He had no idea how even though all of it had happened – the attack --, she was still so .. 'cheerful' looking.

"While I was in the hospital," she continued. "I realized how foolish it was of us to explode. Even though it was an immature thing to do .. the bet .., it was immature of how I reacted to it. I shouldn't have thrown stuff at you and exploded like a little kid. I realize that we both made mistakes – you taking on Riku's challenge, and me leaving my two best friends for people who didn't even care for me at all. But, I do forgive you. We are high schoolers after all, aren't we? Besides, not everyone is destined to be together."

"Kairi, no, that's the thing, I was never really fak—"

"So Sora, let's not hold a grudge, okay? I don't want us to be mad. But .." she paused. The smile on her face that was meek and understanding, was now slowly folding into a collapsing frown. "I don't think we can be friends. I think it would be too hard and awkward if you know what I mean. But hey, when we're in the hall, we can still say 'hi' to each other and stuff. It'll just be as if were friendly strangers with each other."

"But I don't—"

"Class, it's time to begin."

The voice of their professor broke out their heart wrenching conversation as the older man finally came into the room, although it'd been minutes after since the bell. Both Sora and Kairi looked towards him, before Kairi finally made the first step forward.

"Bye Sora."

With that, she headed towards the head of the classroom; a small little limp in her step.

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"So you ended it just like that, huh?"

"Yeah .."

Kairi looked glumly down at her bowl of ramen as she boringly played with the noodles with the edges of the fork. It was lunch time and things had seemed almost normal to her. .. Just despite the fact that people didn't give her the nasty little looks and comments in the hallway. It irritated her yet made her slightly .. confused, how before it all, everyone acted as if they hated her guts. But yet now, people were acting as if she and they had been best friends ever since the minute of her birth on earth. At least the two people she really did care about had taken her back.

Though people continued asking how she was and if she was in pain, nothing personal about the attack was brought up. In a sense, it was a good thing. She wanted nothing to do with it and not only that, but she was basically blacking out the whole memory out of her head. Kairi hadn't known who it was as they'd kept their face covered during it, but she'd remembered getting hit, kicked, and all those eye cringing details.

"Kairi, you know you still sort of like him," Yuffie finally added.

"No, I don't. I don't have any feelings for him – not even anger or hate."

"Yeah, I guess I actually can understand that." Selphie nodded as she took a bite of her apple.

Not responding, she continued to play with the strings of food. Thankfully Selphie had changed the subject just seconds later afterwards as to how awkward it'd already became.

"So you, me, Yuffie, and Queenie are all going to the movies on Friday, right? And then later that night we'll all spend the night at Yuffie's and order in Chinese and stuff? I think Queenie asked if we'd meet her back at on the opposite side of the Island, though. So maybe we can get out of school half an hour later, take the tram over there, and meet her at her school?"

"Yeah, sounds like a plan." Looking up, Kairi smiled.

During the whole hospital ordeal, it seemed as if those three had made a bond and connection. No longer did they view Queenie as the stuck up rich spoiled brat, but rather as just someone else like them. Though, it hadn't just been them. Apparently with her move of schools, Queenie had done some changing herself. She was still the sour skinned girl she'd always been, but that shallow trait as well as others, was no longer carried with her.

Kairi had just wished people would have been the same as her as she was now; not so judging and involved into the whole popularity contest. .. Maybe then, the whole 'bet' thing would never have happened.

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"Bikini or Lingerie?"

"Bikini, duh!"

"Ha ha, hm .. okay. Green or purple?"

"Defiantly green!"

Both Kairi and Queenie laughed, as they knew the answers to these questions already. Lying sprawled out on the beach, the only thing that was clung onto their body was the polka dotted bikinis that loosely remained tied. Stretched out across beach towels, the girls played 'this or that' to pass the time as they waited for their skin to become just the slightest bit tanner than it already was.

As Queenie had been making daily trips while she was in the hospital, Kairi's mother had offered the girl a place to stay at her house so she wouldn't be running back and forth between her home and the hospital every day. And even though she'd been out for a few days now, Queenie remained at her house. While Kairi was at school, Queenie stayed back at Kairi's. Whether it was helping out with the cleaning or just watching TV, she'd been staying there.

"Hot or cold?"

"Hm .. hot!"

"OJ or Apple Juice?"

"OJ! With pulp!"

".. Sora or some other boy?"

Sitting up, the giant shades were removed from Kairi's face. She looked down on the blonde whose head remained tilted towards her. Finally, her own sunglasses were removed from her head to indicate that she was staring right back at Kairi. Silence quickly passed at the awkward question before she found herself a bit annoyed with the 'out of box' question.

"Why would you ask that, Queenie?"

"Because I know you still like him," shrugging, she placed her shades back on.

"No, I don't."

"Yes, you do. Stop lying to yourself."

"I don't like him!"

"Whatever Kairi," she finally added curtly.

"I DON'T! Why would I like him after what he did—"

".. Kairi, I think I know who it is." Suddenly changing the subject, the air ran cold.

".. What?"

Sitting up, Queenie pulled her legs towards her chest. The dark shaded glasses were removed again and this time, placed beside her. Eyebrows slightly rising, her tone of voice became slightly sharper and even more serious than before. Kairi, of course, gave a slightly confused and horrified look back in response. The blonde had known how sensitive the subject it was – and the fact that she seemed to be 'joking' or whatever it was, about it, made her slightly fuming.

".. Kairi, I think I know who attacked you a few weeks ago. Last night, when you were sleeping, I was watching those mystery investigation shows. And, thinking back to what you told me about all those threatening notes and stuff, .. I put the pieces together, and I finally think I know who attacked you!"

But before Queenie had actually finished with her statement, Kairi had already gotten up, gathered her towel, and began walking away. Queenie of course, did the same steps just a minute after her. Slipping on her sandals, she began to quickly walk after her.

"I know who it is!"

"I don't want to hear it!"

"Why not"! You don't want to know!"

"I want to forget it ever happened! Just like everything else!"

Finally, the sound of footsteps behind Kairi stopped.

And then, Queenie said it.

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READ&REVIEW
HUGS&KISSES

TOHRUE