The Most Special Day
By: Koorino Megumi
This is my response to a fic challenge from Ginger Ninja. Special thanks to her for both the challenge and the inspiration!
Since this is a pre-game fic, it has no spoilers for KH or any sequels. Enjoy!
It wasn't often that children from Destiny Islands left the group of islands very closest to their home, but when word had spread about the amazing innovation on Bhed Island developed by some inventor named Cid for the birthday of his daughter Rikku, teachers on every island had been hard-pressed to keep the children's excitement in check.
It was called an "amusement park." They said it was like a fair, but much, much bigger. And it wasn't just food and games and prizes and entertainers--it was going to have all sorts of metal machines that you could ride on that would take you up and down and all around, and all of it at amazing speeds! When you added a marvel like that to all the candy and wonderful things that fairs offered, it was too much for any child to resist.
And on Niji Island, the children had succeeded in gaining the possibility for that dream to become a reality. Of course, there had been concessions made for the children to convince the school that this was a worthwhile trip. They'd had to raise the funds themselves, for one. That had taken more hours of bake sales and offers of boat ride services and swimming marathons and amateur concerts than most cared to remember, but they had fortified themselves with constant reminders of what it was all for.
The only other problem was that the school had insisted that the trip must fall during their spring break. Unfortunately, that put the trip only two days before the park was going to be closing to add new rides for the summer. But the kids were happy with that. After all, it wasn't like anything could be make them postpone this trip!
And now, months later, it was already the eve of their journey. To be exact, it was late afternoon on a Sunday, and three close friends had decided to spend the day as they always did, playing together on Kokoro Island until darkness would make it too hard for their games to go on.
"I'm gonna ride them all!" the boy with spiky brown hair was in the process of declaring, throwing his arms out to his sides to emphasize just how many he expected "all" to be.
His silver-haired companion shook his head at him, a wry grin on his face. "You'll get dizzy and say you want a nap long before that. Or do you only do that when you're supposed to be working on our raft?" He raised an eyebrow significantly.
The other pouted. "I'll show you, Riku!" he declared, "I'll ride them all even if you can't."
A competitive glint entered Riku's eyes at those words. "All right, Sora, you're on! We'll see just who can ride more."
"You guuuys!" piped up the third member of their group--a brown-haired girl. She was pouting, her hands on her hips. "You just have to make a challenge out of everything, don't you?"
"Awww, Kairi." Sora made pleading eyes at the girl, obviously not happy about her displeasure. "It's more fun this way!"
"Pfft." Kairi shook her head, rolling her eyes at the two. "Boys."
At that, said boys gave each other a look before, simultaneously, bursting out with, "I have an idea!" This was followed by a moment of eyeing each other before saying in unison, "You have an idea?"
Kairi giggled at that. "Ooookay..." She pointed right between the boys, then moved her finger back and forth from one to the other as they waited through the common ritual, watching her eagerly. "First this time will be...Riku!"
The silver-haired boy smirked at that. Sora pouted but conceded, looking to his friend to share. "All right, how about this!" Riku started, the words more of a declaration than a question, "How about whoever loses the contest has to buy cotton candy--for the winner and Kairi!"
His words were followed by a brief pause, a mumble of, "That was my idea," and another giggle from Kairi. Both boys turned to her for the final verdict.
"Mmmmm..." She put a finger to her mouth, tilting her head in consideration, though she couldn't help the grin that curled her lips as the boys leaned progressively closer to her the longer she held the syllable, waiting in anticipation for her words. "Mmmm...okay!"
"Yeah!" Sora pumped a fist, giving a little jump, "Free cotton candy!"
Riku snickered, crossing his arms over his chest, "Hey Sora, don't get too excited. Or did you forget who you're up against?"
Sora grinned. "That's why I'm so excited. I told you I can beat you, Riku!"
Riku quirked an eyebrow. "We'll see about that."
"Yeah, we will."
Several hours later, the three moved to sit on the shore and watch the sun set. Though, admittedly, sit was a bit of a relative term. Sora was lying with his legs stretched out toward the water, the sea lapping at the toes of his oversized shoes. He had his hands behind his head as he stared up at the sky, perfectly at ease. Riku was half-reclined, sitting in the sand but leaning back against an arm for support, his other hand resting on his leg, tapping it faintly and ignoring the breeze that was blowing strands of silver hair into his face. Kairi was the only one fully sitting up, leaning forward a bit, her legs crossed and hands resting in her lap. She was smiling placidly at the sky as blue faded to red, orange, pink, and all the colors of the rainbow before slowly darkening to every blue shade of the sea.
This was another ritual of theirs, though they did it from different parts of the island on different days--mostly due to Kairi's influence. She said she liked the change in perspective. Neither of the boys was willing to argue. But all three had known without anyone saying a word that today was a day to watch from the shore. After all, tomorrow they would be setting sail in this direction. And if they squinted far enough from here, tilted their heads slightly to the side, and twisted their imaginations just a bit, they could aaaalmost see Bhed Island--a tiny speck that may or may not have been their imagination nestled between the distant waves.
"Tomorrow's gonna be great," Sora murmured, bringing up the topic without prelude. He knew the others were both thinking about it.
"Sure is," Riku echoed, "Until you get too tired."
"Heeey!" Sora protested, kicking sand at his friend, though he would have needed to sit up to aim properly. "Tomorrow we'll find out," he added, the words carrying a finality meant to tell Riku not to pursue the joke at the moment. After all, tomorrow would be amazing for more reasons than just their competition. But more than that, from the angle at which he was gazing up at the sky, he could just make out the disapproving frown on Kairi's face.
"Yeah," Riku echoed, glancing at that frown as well. "And it's going to be awesome."
"Yeah!" Sora cheered, pumping a fist crookedly in the air, still without sitting up, "We'll get to do all the rides, and watch the clowns, and eat cotton candy..." He paused, his expression becoming a bit thoughtful as he tilted his head back to better see the girl who was just behind him. "Hey Kairi, what do you wanna do tomorrow?"
"Me?" The girl blinked, by this time so used to the boys' excitement over the rides that she hadn't expected the question. "I guess..." She trailed off, expression thoughtful. Both boys watched her in anticipation, but she finally just smiled. "Tomorrow you'll see," she said simply, then stood, brushing the sand from her clothing. "It's dark," she commented, gesturing at the sky that was slowly fading to navy, now that the orange orb of the sun was tucked beneath the horizon. "We should get some sleep. Don't forget we have to get up early tomorrow!"
Riku snickered, getting to his feet as well. "Yeah, we wouldn't want Sora to oversleep."
"Hey!" Sora protested, jumping to his feet more energetically than was necessary, "I don't oversleep that much!"
"Sure you don't."
"Riiiku! Kairi, you know I don't, don't you?"
Giggles. "Sora, you have such a funny face."
"...hey, that's not helping..."
And laughing and joking, three friends headed home, eager to tuck themselves in bed, sleep, and wake the next morning to the day of their dreams.
But no one would get much sleep that night. The children had barely made it home when the storm started. At first, it was no more than a whisper on the waves and the slow movement of clouds across the sky, covering the stars bit by bit. But before long, the wind was a torrent, and then the sky opened with sheets of rain, pounding against the roof of Sora's home as the wind howled, battering the water against his windows.
Even Sora, with his penchant for sleeping through anything, was eventually startled awake by all the noise. After a moment of groggily swinging a non-existent wooden sword at a non-existent Riku for charging at him like that, he blinked sleepily at the window. And then his eyes widened, and he jumped out of bed, running to it, heedless of the variety of objects on the floor that attempted to trip him. He stuck his head under the still-drawn curtain so he could see.
Staring at the downpour, Sora felt his spirits plummet. It was obvious that there was no chance of sailing in this sort of weather.
It'll clear up by morning. It has to clear up by morning!
He stood for an hour straight, nose pressed against the glass, his breath making a little circle of fog that he ignored because his wide blue eyes were far too focused on the sheet of water that, from that vantage point, seemed to be coming straight for his face.
He didn't even know it was already morning until he heard his mother calling him from downstairs. He was forced to pull his face from the window then, wondering what she was doing up at this time of morning--until he glanced at his clock to find that it was already 7:30. They were departing from Niji Island at 8!
But it's still pitch dark out. It should be light by now! And sunny! And not stormy! Sora unconsciously began to flail his arms in time with his train of thoughts. How am I even supposed to get to Niji in a storm like this?
He began to run around his room, turning the inside of it to as much of a hurricane as the outside already was as he scrambled together clothing for the day, his backpack...tried to figure out wherever in the world he'd put the bits of money he'd been saving... And while doing so, he realized that it was stupid to wonder how he was getting to Niji Island. Storm or no storm, he wasn't giving up this dream so easily! About the only obstacle he had to worry about was his mother. Granted, she was a formidable enemy, but he was confident that, if all else failed, he could sneak out his window. Sora wasn't the type of kid to even think about the possibility of slipping off the roof in this weather, so it sounded like a great idea to him.
"I'm coming, Mom!" he called as he frantically pulled his oversized yellow sneakers onto his feet, almost falling over backwards in the process, "Just...need a minute...!"
He heard his mother yell something in reply, but her words were garbled by a combination of the fact that he was pulling on his backpack and that a particularly violent crack of thunder chose that moment to shake the house. Deciding that it was probably just her being a mother anyway, the boy finished his preparations and burst out of his room--leaving it looking like a hurricane had just blasted through it.
"No time for breakfast, Mom! Gotta go!" he called as he ran past the kitchen. He hadn't been sure that she would be in there, but a combination of the light coming from inside and the sounds of her bustling told him that he didn't need to bother checking to make sure.
His attempt to avoid her, however, proved to no avail. "Sora, wait a minute! Come here."
There was an odd note in his mother's voice. He would have expected her to be annoyed at him for trying to dodge her, but she sounded almost a little...regretful. The boy skidded to a stop just inches from the door, yellow sneakers squeaking on the floor. His eyes had widened a little at her words, and he gulped nervously, but he dutifully turned himself around and plodded back to the kitchen, his steps a mixture of hurry because of his fear of being late and hesitation because his mother only called him with that sort of tone when she had bad news. And there was only one type of bad news that he could think of that would make her stop him this morning, and he didn't even want to consider that...
But ignoring something doesn't make it go away. Sora headed into the room, his mother immediately trapping him in front of her by holding out a piece of toast coated in strawberry jam. "Here."
"Aw, Mom, was that all?" Sora whined, taking the toast and beginning to munch on it, trying to mentally convince himself that that was all. After all, his mom was strict about his always eating breakfast. It could be all she wanted!
"No, Sora, I'm afraid not."
...gah. What happened to my luck? If things keep up like this, I might even lose to Riku!
"What is it? I've gotta go, Mom; I'm late." Sora devoured the toast in about the same amount of time it had taken him to turn his room into a disaster zone. His mother's next words were delayed for an instant, as she turned to grab the other piece she'd made and offer it to him.
"Sora, I just got a call from your school."
Sora stopped dead, mouth full of toast. A phone call? How had he missed hearing that?
Another clap of thunder that shook their small house gave him a probable answer, but Sora was too busy with his next thought to worry about it. "Whad'id dey say?" he asked through bread and jam.
His mother frowned, eyeing the piece of toast missing only two bites that, under normal circumstances, would have been gone by now, rather than meeting her son's gaze. "They said they're going to have to cancel the trip."
"There's nothing for it, with this weather... And since the park closes in a few days to add some new rides, well..."
Sora began coughing violently, his face quickly turning purple.
"Sora!" His mother grabbed him by the arm, spinning the boy around and beginning to smack him on the back. "Chew your food!"
The boy was quickly liberated of the stray clump of toast, and, after a bit more coughing, he began to regain some semblance of his normal color. "But..." he protested, even as his mother eyed him sternly, "The trip..."
His mother's gaze softened at that. "I'm sorry, honey," she said sincerely, "But you just can't go today. You'll have to wait until the park reopens again. But I'm sure you'll all be able to plan a trip then!" She smiled encouragingly. "Would you like another piece of toast?" she added, knowing food was usually a good method of bringing a smile to her son's face.
Said son, however, still hadn't finished his previous piece of toast. "But...but we could get there! The storm isn't that bad!"
Another clap of thunder made Sora wonder who in the sky was up there timing these things.
His mother grabbed a rag and cleaned the spot on the floor where part of Sora's toast had landed. "Honey, if the school cancelled the trip, the school cancelled the trip. And..." she added, looking up at the boy with stern eyes, "I don't want you going out in this weather. There's no reason to take a risk like that!"
"Now don't even start, young man. What did you have in mind--for you, Riku, and Kairi to sneak out there alone? The trip is cancelled." Her words were harsh, but at the look on the boy's face, she sighed, her expression softening. She leaned down in front of him, taking his hand as if to remind him of the toast that he still held. "Sora, I know how much you've been looking forward to this trip, and I'm sorry, but you're just going to have to wait a little longer to be able to go to the park. Okay?"
"But we don't even know how long it'll be closed for! If we don't go today..."
His mother sighed again, patting him on the head and ruffling his hair. "I'll tell you what. How about you go pick some games, and I'll play with you for a while this morning! And then this afternoon, you can have Riku and Kairi come over--if that's okay with their parents--and you three can play indoor games and even have supper together. How's that sound?"
Sora looked at her for a moment before he lowered his head and scuffed a toe on the ground. Then he finally heaved a big sigh and brought up the piece of toast, taking an over-large bite. "Ah righd," he mumbled, pouting the whole time, even through his chewing, "I'll...pway inside doday."
His mother smiled, giving his hair one last toss. "All right. Pick a game to start with!"
Later that afternoon, a very pouty trio was sitting in one brown-haired little boy's room. The two boys were both lounging on the floor, listening to the sound of the rain that was still pattering against the roof and being generally melancholy. The girl, on the other hand, was busying herself trying to clean up the disaster area that was the room. Even she, however, didn't look much happier.
"...I woulda won, you know."
Riku threw a book at Sora. It hit his head in the midst of his spiky hair, falling to rest on the floor beside him. "Sure you would."
"You guuuys, don't fight..."
"And we woulda all had cotton candy..."
"And you would've been paying."
"I would not! I could beat you!"
"Like you keep saying you'll beat me sparring?"
"Hey, I'm gonna win one day! If you wouldn't keep-"
The room fell silent again.
"...how long do ya think the park's gonna be closed?"
Riku gave a shrug that wasn't visible from anyone's current vantage point. "Didn't that Cid guy announce a month or something?"
"A whole month?"
"And then we need to get another trip organized..." Kairi broke in softly, the anger fading from her voice now.
"Awww, man. Are we gonna hafta get more money?"
"I bet they can get the money back for today and use that. What do you think, Kairi?"
"Well, with this weather...they'd probably have to give it back..."
Another clap of thunder. Sora sighed, kicking at a ball that happened to be near his foot. It glanced off a box with a dirty sock hanging over its rim, rolling into a discarded shirt a few feet away. "That's good, at least. Getting money takes too long."
Riku raised an eyebrow. "Takes too long? It'd be more fun than this."
"This would be more fun if you two would get up and play!"
Both boys glanced over at Kairi's pouting face. Riku pulled himself up into a sitting position. "What do you want to do, Kairi?"
The girl just frowned over at Sora, who was staring at the ceiling the same as before, kicking at nothing.
Riku frowned at her expression, turning to give Sora a slight kick in the side. "Hey Sora, quit being a bum."
"I'm not being a bum!" Sora protested, "I'm...saving strength! For when we get to go."
Riku rolled his eyes. "Sure you are. Sit up already; Kairi wants to do something."
"Yeah, yeah, I'm getting there..."
Sora started to pull himself languidly up from the ground, but he wasn't even halfway there when Kairi interrupted, "No...no, that's okay! You two...just stare at the ceiling or something. I'll be back later."
Both boys turned to her in surprise at that. Unfortunately, Sora had been halfway between sitting and lying down, and he lost his balance and fell face-first into the shirt--a shirt that needed to be washed, he noted--that had the ball in it. Said ball was thus launched into the window, bouncing off it and back across the room, glancing off a wall before finally coming to a rest beside a large toy chest that had most of its contents strewn on the floor around it. "Merfurrugerfum?" Sora mumbled before spitting the shirt out of his mouth.
Kairi giggled. "Just wait for me, okay? I'll be back up." And before either of them could make any intelligible protests, she was pulling open the door and on her way out, shutting it behind her.
After she was gone, the boys proceeded to stare at the door for a moment before they turned to give each other a look.
"That..." Riku started.
They both blinked.
"We should go after her."
"She said she was coming back!"
"Sora, don't be a lazy bum!"
"I'm not! She didn't want us following."
Both looked at the door again.
"What do you think she's doing?"
"That's why I asked you!"
"How'm I s'posed to know?"
"Then why don't we go after her?"
"You go after her! I'm gonna wait like she said."
They were interrupted by the sudden crash of glass shattering on tile downstairs, and both boys immediately jumped up (Sora tripping over the dirty shirt and almost going right back down) and lunged for the door. Several more items were tripped over and kicked around the room in the process, but they did reach the door. Riku grabbed the knob, throwing it open, and they both proceeded to attempt to leave--simultaneously.
"Sora, let me through."
"I was here first!"
"I opened the door!"
"So I could get out!"
"Let me go!"
After a brief scuffle--and with a bit of creative maneuvering--both boys managed to leave the room together, Sora halfway on top of Riku. They then proceeded to trip each other several times as they rushed down the stairs, rolled a bit, and finally finished their descent in a heap at the bottom. After a bit of thrashing of arms and legs, they untangled themselves and got back to their feet, finally rushing into the kitchen--Riku just barely making it through the doorway before Sora and thus avoiding another collision.
"Kairi, what happened?"
"Kairi, are you okay?"
The little girl stood in the middle of the kitchen, sniffling, with a puddle of orange liquid lapping at her feet. Sora's mother hovered nearby, fishing a broom and dustpan out of the coat closet. "Stay back," she ordered the boys as she came over to the girl, carefully beginning to sweep up the pieces of glass around her.
Both boys flinched, Sora bobbing up and down a bit in his desire to come forward. "What happened?" they repeated, in unison.
"I...I dropped it..." Kairi sobbed, new tears beginning to pour down her cheeks, "I'm sorry..."
The two blinked, giving each other confused glances.
"Dropped what?" Riku asked.
"Kairi...we've got lots of glasses," Sora added.
"That's...that's not it!" Kairi wailed as Sora's mother switched the broom for a mop, beginning to soak up the orange liquid. The look on the woman's face was sympathetic, but she couldn't help a faint smile.
"Then what's wrong?" Riku pressed.
"Yeah...don't cry, Kairi!"
"There we go," Sora's mother announced as she cleaned up the last of the mess. Both boys immediately ran to the girl, putting their arms on her shoulders and back as she scrubbed at her eyes.
"I...I wanted to...cheer you up..." Kairi hiccupped. "Because of...the park and...and the cotton candy..." She sniffled, rubbing at her nose now.
"Awww, Kairi, that's not your fault!"
"Yeah, you shouldn't be worrying about us. Just because Sora was being a lazy-"
"I was not!"
"Yeah you were!"
Kairi let out another sob, and both boys immediately fell silent.
"I wanted you to have fun," she continued mournfully, "And not keep arguing..."
The expressions of the two became decidedly guilty at that.
"So I...well, it's not cotton candy, but...but your mom had some passion fruit, so I...I was gonna make us some juice... I thought that'd be special and...and 'd make you guys smile. And not fight. But I put it all in one glass! And then...then I was gonna pour it in three, and I dropped it, and now it's all gone, and your mom doesn't have any more fruit, and it's all ruined!" She dissolved into sobs again, leaning forward and burying her face into both boys' shoulders at once.
The two just stared for a moment, awkwardly patting the girl, and then they shared a look before gently detaching her.
"I have an idea!" Sora declared just as Riku opened his mouth.
"Yeah, what's yours?" the other boy asked.
"Iiiii...I say we go back upstairs and play games!"
Riku snickered. "Does this mean you're done being a lazy bum?"
"Hey, I wasn't-"
Kairi sniffed, and Sora trailed off, giving her a nervous look.
"Yeah, games!" he repeated, "We can...uh...race to see who can clean my room the best! Or...something..." He scratched his head.
Riku hit him lightly from behind. "That's boring. I've got a better idea."
Another sniff put an end to that tangent.
"I say we have cookies! And then we play hide and seek."
"..." Sora pouted. "Well, what do you wanna do, Kairi?"
The girl looked up, eyes wide as if she were surprised they'd even ask. "I..."
Both boys watched her eagerly.
"I wanna clean Sora's room!"
Sora grinned triumphantly at Riku--for about five seconds, until the implications of that statement (both in terms of the state of his room and the fact that it meant they'd all be cleaning it) sunk in. Then he frowned, but he didn't protest.
"And then I wanna have cookies--and play hide and seek!"
Riku grinned at Sora at that, and the other boy's face lit up as well.
"All right!" Sora cheered, "Last one to my room is a rotten egg!" And just like that, he started to take off across the kitchen--slipping on the wet floor, skidding, and finally colliding with the far wall and falling backwards onto his butt. "Owwww..."
"Sora!" Kairi cried, laughing and running over to him.
Riku just shook his head, sneaking out the door during the commotion to get a head start on the game.
And thus the day of their big trip to the amusement park ended--three children playing games together at home, the park and all its amazing attractions left forgotten in the rain.
Knowing how excited the two boys had been about the park, Kairi didn't want to tell them, but it was the day she'd been hoping for from the start.