"I'm glad you're back."

It had been a few years, that was certain. But, it felt like old times, with both of them sitting in the sand, Tidus's leg's sprawled out carelessly and the brunette's pulled up to his chest as if to protect something. Sora sighed and gave a weak smile, head falling onto his knees. He unconsciously rubbed his gloved hand over the battle scars laced up his forearms.

"Yeah, it's nice to be back, I guess."

Sora looked up to the bent paopu tree. Tidus guided his own gaze to where Sora's was directed. "You know, I guess I just expect him to be there," mumbled Sora. "I hate to say it, but I miss the days when he used to kick my ass in those duels we used to have up near that tree."

Tidus gave a short laugh, flopping down into the sand, laying there with his hands behind his head in a sort of a makeshift pillow. "I don't miss you kicking my ass. That was kind of pitiful. Even worse was that you could beat Wakka, and he was older than both of us! But now, you're stronger than me, or Wakka. Even stronger than Riku was, right?"

"Than Riku is."

"Oh, right."

Tidus looked over to Sora. He looked so contemplative. Well, he did have a lot to contemplate. His blue eyes seemed to speak a thousand years of stories without any words. Even though Sora was just barely 18 years old, he held so much wisdom, and it astounded Tidus. But behind the wisdom, there was sorrow. Sora had seen more in his 18 years than most people saw in their entire lives.

"He's not dead forever, you know," said Sora, a slight island breeze caressing his cinnamon spikes. He was hugging his knees to his body, gazing out at the sea. Sora was smaller than Tidus, now, in terms of both height and muscle, but he held so much impossible power in his damaged, little body. "He's just a shell, but I will find his heart. I know I will."

Tidus looked away from Sora, to the lazily swaying coconut trees. Island nights were the best time to think. The blonde let his thoughts wander, to the days when they were just kids, playing in the sand and dueling each other with wooden swords. He remembered being jealous of how strong the bond between Riku and Sora was. He never had any real friends like that. Sure, Wakka was a friend, but they weren't that close.

As he got older, he realized that he wasn't just jealous of their friendship. He was jealous of Riku for being so close to Sora. Tidus had never really been interested in girls. It was a few nights before the darkness consumed the island, that he realized he was in love with Sora.

When Destiny Islands were relinquished from the darkness Tidus's infatuation had grown. Sora had left to go find Riku (who had been trapped in the Kingdom Hearts), and Tidus was left to console Kairi. The auburn haired girl had blatantly been in love with Sora, and at the time, Tidus had thought that Sora had most likely loved Kairi in return. Oh, he was wrong.

It was about a year later that Sora returned with Riku in tow. Riku was taller than Tidus was, but Sora had just grown a bit. Kairi was almost as tall as he was. The girl had immediately ran out into the water, intent on confessing her love to Sora.

But that was when she noticed Riku and Sora's intertwined fingers.

And so, she kept her feelings repressed like Tidus had. There was nothing that they could do. Kairi had told him later, that she secretly knew it would happen all along.

Tidus tried to forget his affections for Sora. He tried to date other girls on the island. But with Sora back, and trying to re-kindle their friendship (as if it had ever started to fade, in Tidus's eyes) Tidus had found it harder to pretend he cared about anyone else. He was surrounded by that infectious laughter, that silly grin, those large, blue, brilliant eyes more than before, and it was hard to think about anything else. Nobody knew about it, though. Tidus wasn't good at hiding his feelings, but for some reason, these ones stayed hidden.

But then…

"So, Tidus," mumbled Sora, "Maybe I'll take you with me, next time. When I go looking for Riku's heart. You've gotten a lot better at fighting." Sora forced a smile. Ever since Riku had suddenly been taken away, the light that Sora had desperately held onto his entire adventure had faded.

Tidus sat back up and gave a cocky grin, "I dunno, Sora. I might just out-shadow you with my superior fighting skills." Sora gave a real laugh, that soon subsided into a genuine smile.

"Thanks Tidus. You're a great friend."

Tidus returned the smile.

Even if he was only a friend…

that was alright.