Sora wanted to believe it, wanted to with all his heart. He had belived it for that one moment when Kairi's eyes had filled his world through his tears, but as those tears had dried and people began to gather around the three of them, that feeling, that calm security, had slipped away.
It had been the worst when they showed him into his old bedroom and waited for his reaction, that first night back. Taken from his friends, from the island and the paopu tree, Sora had been herded 'home', where his parents watched him with expectant eyes. His mom and dad - now no closer than faint memories - couldn't understand his blank responce to the perfectly preserved room. They had left, and Sora had looked silently about him, touching relics of his innocence lightly, as one would touch museaum artifacts. The tears, when they started, didn't take him by suprise, and he sat on his bed and watched the endless vault of start-studded sky as they fell silently down his cheeks.
He did not sleep that night. For almost two years he had slept in an unfamiliar place nearly every night, Donald and Goofy beside him, the Keyblade a comforting prescence in his mind and heart. But here was a place hauntingly familiar, distrublingly so - something out of a past that seemed more like a dream with every step. It was a piece of his life from before - before the Door and the Keyblade, before losing Kairi and Riku, before discovering the worlds beyond the horizon.
Sora stumbled from his room as dawn lightened the sky, his blue eyes dim with fatigue. He desperately needed to avoid questions and welcoming arms; he couldn't take the sudden shift to normality. So Sora slipped out of the house - his house - and made his way to the Island.
The familiarity of the Island was somehow not as eerie as the familiarity of his room, his house, his parents. Sora wandered the spit of land, feet bringing him across the sand without being aware of walking. Here was where he and Riku raced; here was where everyone sparred. Here was where the raft had been built, when all three of them were so innocent - even the seemingly untouchable Riku. Here was where Kairi slipped through his arms as the Door opened - here was where the Keyblade first fit itself into his hand - here was where Riku had first embraced the darkness. Here was where the three of them had sat every summer evening, watching the day depart.
He wandered in this fashion for days, his mind slipping between the present and the past, both recent and far. He would go back to the house at night, sometimes falling into a fitful sleep, more often staying awake to watch the slow wheeling of stars. A part of him knew that he couldn't go on like this. A part of him didn't care.
It was sunset when Sora found himself sitting on the paopu tree in his old spot, unseeing eyes taking in the colors. This, he realized, was something that almost every world shared: the setting sun. The colors reminded him of Sunset Hill, of Twilight Town, and everything that entailed, and he let himself sink back into a memory of faces.
Sora nearly jumped out of his skin, thoughts of a slim, quiet, blonde girl flashing through his mind before Kairi's wine-colored locks and happy, open face resolved themselves. A sense of deja-vu wrenched at him as he forced a smile onto his face.
"Hey," he answered, his cheery voice false to his own ears.
It was apparently false to hers, as well. She sat down beside him, worry in her eyes as she stared into the sunset. Neither of them said anything as the sky deepened, the ocean mirroring the streaks of red and purple as the day failed. Stars began to appear, pinkpricks of light against a clear backdrop. Sora sighed.
"I wonder which one is Radiant Garden," he whispered to hmself. "Beast's Castle, the Pridelands, Port Royal...They're all out there, somewhere."
"Yeah." Kairi didn't look over at Sora as she spoke. Her features were hidden by twilight. "They're all out there, Sora." She paused. "But Sora, they're also in your heart, just as you're in theirs." Sora glanced over to her, but shadows still hid her features.
"I know that, Kairi. I promised all of them just that." He laid his hand gently against his heart. "They're all there."
Kairi turned her eyes to Sora. He was so changed, and yet he was still the boy she'd given the paopu to, almost two years ago. "Then why do you act like you have lost everyone dear to you?" she asked softly, her eyes shadowed.
Sora shook his head emphetically. "Kairi, I looked for you from the moment I woke up in Traverse Town! You and Riku... you're probably the closest people to my heart." His hands sketched in the air, as if trying to show what he couldn't put into words.
Kairi caught at his hands and held them in her own. "Then please," she whispered, "don't look at the stars like you lost something precious out there." Her voice was almost pleading. "Sora..."
It seemed, suddenly, that something clicked in Sora's mind. Kairi's words, her hands around his, the dusk deepening the colors of her hair and face even as the rising moon and stars bagan to pick out soft highlights on her face and in her eyes...
He draw a breath and then let it out, never taking his eyes off of Kairi's shadowed face. "I'm so sorry, Kairi," he whispered, and then he leaned forward and kissed her, hesitant and unsure.
After a moment, an eternity, Kairi pulled away to search his face, smiling softly. Raising his hands in hers, she held them to her heart.