Secrets, Ideas, and Coconuts
By: Koorino Megumi
This was written in response to a challenge from Ginger Ninja. Many thanks to Jchan for her invaluable beta help! I never could have finishedthis without her.
"Nuh-uh, I totally got there first!"
"Bah. You were too busy panting to see I was ahead of you."
"You were not!"
"I was too."
Riku raised an eyebrow at his brown-haired friend. "You want to race again? That was already a rematch!"
Sora pouted mightily, making fists at his sides and attempting to stare down the older boy. "Okay...something else, then!"
Riku continued to eye him skeptically. "Like what?' Then a smirk crept across his face. "Wanna fight instead?"
Sora's eyes bugged slightly, but he skillfully avoided taking the bait. "Nuh-uh. I have a better idea."
"Yeah! Uh..." The little boy scratched his head, taking a desperate look all around him at the island where they played, as if his surroundings would somehow give him the answer. But they couldn't even see that much of the island from down by the cove, so...
Sora blinked. "That's it!" he declared.
Riku crossed his arms over his chest, his smirk turning to an amused smile at Sora's antics. "What's 'it'?"
"Hide and seek!"
Riku cocked another eyebrow. "Hide and seek?" He considered the idea for a moment, but then the grin spread back over his face. "All right, you're on!"
Sora froze midway through pumping a fist in the air. "But...?"
"Loser has to help the winner with his chores..."
"...for a week!"
Now the brown-haired boy's jaw positively dropped. "Whaaaat? That's not fair!"
Riku smirked. "Think you're gonna lose, huh, Sora?'
Sora's pout came back, but it turned incredibly fierce. "No way!"
"Then are you gonna do it?"
"Yeah! You're on!"
"All right! So first...wait." Riku hesitated, looking around.
Sora blinked. "What?" He grinned. "You scared, Riku?"
Riku scowled. "No way! But we can't play hide and seek with just two people. We've gotta find Tidus or Wakka or somebody..."
"Oh." Sora's cheeks reddened. "Yeah...oh!" He pointed a little ways away from them, by the door to the shack. "How 'bout her? Think she wants to play?"
Riku raised an eyebrow. "The new girl? She's probably not real good."
"Hey!" Sora protested, getting on tiptoes so he could lean right into his friend's face. "What's that s'posed to mean? So what if she's not real good. I bet she still wants to play!"
Riku sighed. "Yeah, you're probably right. So...you wanna go ask her?"
"You bet!" And, grinning all the way, Sora ran across the sand to come screeching to a halt just feet from the girl sitting in front of the shack, building a tiny sand castle. "Hey," he started, giving her a wave, "Uh...I'm Sora. You remember, uh...um...Kai...uh..."
The girl looked up in surprise at the attention, but she gave him a wide smile when she saw who it was. "Kairi," she corrected softly, "Yes, I remember you...Sora."
"Great!" Sora grinned back at her. "So um...whatcha doin'?"
"Me?" Kairi looked down at the half-made creation at her feet, so far a mess of lopsided towers sticking out of a lump of sand. "I'm making a castle."
"That's pretty good," Sora stated, nodding knowledgably as he squatted in front of her artwork.
"Really?" She sounded very excited about the comment. "It's the castle of my dreams, so-"
"You wanna live in a castle?" Sora asked, sounding shocked, "Like...leave the islands?"
Kairi looked shocked right back. "N-no! That's...that's not what I meant..." Her cheeks reddened, and she looked down at her castle uncomfortably.
"It's okay!" Sora quickly declared, trying to sound reassuring, "I mean...your dreams are your dreams, right? You can dream whatever you want."
"But...but I didn't mean that!" Kairi reached out and began shaping one of the towers, her face still bright red. "I...I meant that I see this castle in my dreams, sometimes."
Sora's eyes widened at that. "Really? A big one like this?"
"With all the towers even?"
Kairi turned back to Sora, the color draining from her cheeks now as she saw the look of wonder on his face. She laughed.
Sora pouted. "What's so funny?"
"You have a funny face!"
"Hey!" Sora protested, pouting even more, "I do not!"
Kairi just giggled.
Silence fell between them then, but it was quickly broken by a call from nearby of, "Hey Sora, hurry it up!"
"Oh!" Sora cried at that, "Yeah... Uh...hey, Kairi? You wanna play hide and seek with Riku 'n me?"
Kairi's eyes widened. "You want me to play with you?"
"Yeah!" Sora declared immediately. "I mean...if you wanna. It'd be lots of fun! Riku 'n me are having a contest, even!" He pumped a fist in excitement, but then quickly lowered it. "Oh! But you don't gotta be in the contest. You can just play, if you want. I mean...unless you wanna be in the contest. Uh..." He scratched the back of his head, grinning goofily. "What do you wanna do, Kairi?"
Kairi smiled brightly at him. "I'd just love to play with you."
"Great! Come on!" And without any further ado, Sora grabbed the girl's hand, helping her up from her place in the sand (and leading her around her castle so that none of her towers were injured) and pulling her behind him as he ran back over to his silver-haired friend. "Okay, let's play!"
Riku nodded, arms crossed over his chest. "I'm Riku," he said to the girl.
"My name's Kairi," she replied, looking down at her feet nervously.
"Okay!" Sora interrupted, frowning a little at her nervousness, "Kairi, you wanna be It to start with? That way I can beat Riku when you find him first." He grinned.
"Hey, I wouldn't be so sure if I were you!"
"Yeah, you'll see!"
Kairi started giggling, which stopped both boys and shifted their attention to her. She giggled a bit more at the confused looks on their faces, but before they could say anything about it, she stated, "I'll be It."
They blinked at that. This girl sure acted weird! What was so funny, and what did it have to do with that? But it was what they'd wanted, so neither of them complained.
"Awesome!" Sora declared, "Okay...you count to twenty. Starting...now!" And he immediately took off running across the island.
"Hey, Sora!" Riku called, going after him.
Kairi just smiled and turned away from both boys, closing her eyes and beginning to count. "1...2...3..."
Sora was determined to win this game. There was no way he was going to do Riku's chores for a week. So even though Kairi had never played with them before and didn't know any of the usual hiding places, Sora still decided not to use them. He was going to find a new hiding place that was better than all of the others, and Kairi and Riku would never find him!
Since Kairi not finding him was the only goal he really needed to worry about, the boy immediately put his mind to work thinking about places that a girl just would not go. What sort of place would that be like? Dark, for sure. All girls were afraid of the dark, right? And dirty! Sora would never forget his mother's reaction the day he'd come home from school with Riku after a storm and they'd chased each other all around the entryway before removing their shoes. And...what else? Cold! His mom had shivered and complained so much that one night when they'd gotten caught out in a little boat during a storm...
Deciding that those were enough things to be looking for, Sora tried to think of a place on the island that was dark, dirty, and cold all at the same time. The shack was kind of dark and dirty, but she'd been sitting over there before the game had started! And anyway, the sand over there would show his footprints. Not to mention that wasn't cold. But what was cold? About the only cold thing around here was water, and...
Sora's eyes widened, and he immediately shifted his path. Of course! He needed a dark, dirty nook that was near water. The waterfall would be perfect!
Reaching his destination, the boy began poking around, trying to find the best cover he could. The waterfall fit his criteria pretty well, but it was also sort of out in the open. Unless he could push in reeeeally close to it, and use some greenery to cover himself up...
Leaning in close to the rocks and playing with the leaves, Sora was caught completely off-guard by the bird that suddenly swooped right past him. In fact, it startled him so much that he completely lost his balance and fell toward the rock...
...and through it?
"Owww..." Sora mumbled as he picked himself up, dusting dirt from his hands and rubbing at his eyes. Why had the sun disappeared when he'd fallen? It had been such a bright day, and...
As Sora looked around him, his eyes widened in shock. Not only had the sun disappeared, but Sora found that he was no longer outside at all. All around him, there was nothing but rock! And a tiny sliver of an opening where the slightest shaft of light came sneaking through--the place where he'd fallen in.
Sora headed toward the sliver of light first, kneeling down and poking his head out. He was immediately assaulted by the sound of rushing water and found himself looking out at the place where he'd been before, trying to hide in the greenery near the waterfall. Which meant that this was...
"...the monster cave!"
Excitement taking the place of his confusion, Sora pulled his head right back in. He had completely forgotten about this place! He and Riku had found it not too long ago, when Kairi had first shown up on the islands. But they had decided it was boring at the time, hadn't they? Sora frowned. "But it sure makes an awesome hiding place..." he murmured, his voice echoing off the stone walls of the enclosed space. He blinked, an idea striking him. "Hey, I know what the cave's good for!" he called, amusing himself with the noise of his own voice bouncing back at him, "It's a spot where nooooobody would ever be able to find us! Why didn't Riku think about that?"
Getting excited at his plans, Sora nearly popped back out of the cave to tell his friends, but he remembered their game just in time. Well, he'd just have to wait a little while. So what to do while he waited...
He considered having more fun talking to himself, but there was a chance that the others would hear him doing that and find him, so that wasn't a good idea. Sora frowned, thoughtful. He felt like there was something about the cave that he was forgetting, and he couldn't seem to shake the sensation. He didn't remember them taking a really good look when they'd been in there before, either. Hrm...while he was beating Riku at hide and seek, wouldn't it be great if he found something cool in the cave to show off, too?
He told himself that he wasn't looking for something new and cool just because Kairi was there. No, Sora was just adventurous and liked cool things. So, being the adventurous little boy that he was, he promptly began exploring the cave. Putting a hand to the stone wall, he trailed along it as he began heading toward the back of the area, trying to find out just how big the cave was. Had they gone all the way to the edge last time? He could see that it went back a bit, but the very end was shrouded in darkness. Not that this was an obstacle for him! He wasn't a girl, and he wasn't afraid of stepping into the dark.
The wall had begun to curve in when he finally stopped moving, but it wasn't the curve that made him pause. "Is that...wood?" The boy knocked on the surface, trying to figure out what it was made of.
The sound that came back to him was hollow.
"The door that won't open!" Sora cried. He frowned, remembering their experience more clearly now. It was right after finding the door that they'd decided the cave was boring. "Betcha there's something really cool behind it..." His eyes widened as he got another idea. "Hey, what if I..."
"Sor...ere are you?"
Sora turned in surprise at the voices. He had been so excited about the cave that he'd completely forgotten about the game this time!
...but what if the calls were a trick?
"Sora...won! Would you...out alre...?"
Riku's voice. So Kairi had already found him!
More excited than he could express, Sora practically came bouncing out of the cave, looking for his friends and waving as he ran. "Over here! I'm here!"
Riku and Kairi were both out on the beach, the girl looking slightly uncomfortable, and the boy with his arms crossed over his chest, looking decidedly twitchy.
"Where were you?" Riku demanded immediately.
Sora broke out in a grin. "Toldja I was gonna win!"
The older boy kicked at the sand, scowling. "Yeah, you just wait till next time!"
"You're really good, Sora!" Kairi spoke up, though a bit timidly, "I couldn't find you at all. Not even with Riku helping me..."
Sora's grin widened. "That's because I'm the master at hide and seek."
Riku snorted. "Suuure. Remember that time when-"
"But I got something to show you guys!" Sora quickly added, hoping to head off Riku's stories before he said anything embarrassing.
"Really?" Kairi looked excited now. "What is it?"
Sora couldn't help smiling at her expression. "It's..." He paused. "A surprise!"
Riku arched an eyebrow at him. "A surprise? C'mon, Sora, we've been everywhere on the island."
Sora hesitated at that, but then he reminded himself that he and Riku hadn't really explored the cave, and they'd certainly never opened the door, and if Riku had really remembered it, he would have found Sora there already. Suddenly the boy found that he was bouncing up and down in excitement. "No we haven't! C'mon, come see!" And he grabbed Kairi's hand and started off toward the cave, fighting between his desire to get there as quickly as possible and his worry that he was going to make the girl trip if he went too fast. He could hear Riku following, though his friend wasn't rushing half as much as he was. Riku thought it was nothing. Well, just wait until he got a look!
When Sora got to the waterfall, the boy got an ingenious idea. Stopping, he let go of Kairi's hand and turned to his friends. "Okay, now you guys gotta close your eyes."
"Okay..." Kairi, who had been smiling the whole time, let hers slide shut.
Riku rolled his eyes and then followed suit, though there was a bit of an amused curve to his lips as well.
"No peeking!" Sora ordered.
After watching his friends for a moment to make sure that they followed his directions, Sora was finally satisfied enough that he darted into his new Secret Place. Once he was there, he called, "All right, you can open your eyes!" And he clamped his hands over his mouth to keep himself from laughing at the silence that followed.
"You giving me another chance to win at hide and seek?" Riku finally asked.
Sora's eyes grew wide at that. Riku and Kairi were standing right outside the opening; he didn't want them to find it and then have to do all those chores! "No!" he called, "I'm right here. Look!"
There was another silence. "Right where?"
Sora grinned triumphantly. Maybe there hadn't been anything to worry about after all. "Here!" And with that, he stuck his head out of his Secret Place for them both to see.
The startled look on Riku's face when a disembodied head suddenly popped out beside him was quite possibly worth more than the week's worth of chores the other boy owed him. "Gaaah!"
Kairi, on the other hand, looked fascinated. "Is there a cave there?"
"Yeah," Riku replied immediately, sounding a bit annoyed that he'd been caught so off-guard, "We found it before. But there's nothing in there."
"You don't know that!" Sora protested, pouting at his friend's attempts to belittle his accomplishment. "And it doesn't matter what's in it, 'cause..." He hesitated, looking around furtively to make sure none of their other friends from the island were within hearing range, "...it's our Secret Place."
Riku blinked at him for a moment, and then his face lit up. Kairi's was already beaming.
Sora grinned back at them. "So shhh! Hurry up and come in!"
Both of the other children had about the same reaction to the space that Sora had (though, as the boy had guessed, Kairi was a little scared about the dark area in the back). Riku wasn't as fascinated by the cave as Kairi, but he seemed to remember their lack of exploration as well, so all three immediately set about searching the cave, Riku gravitating right to the dark part. When Sora saw him heading that way, he immediately ran up to him.
Riku stopped, giving his friend a curious look. "What 'door'?"
"The door!" Sora repeated, gesturing toward the invisible wall that the silver-haired boy was standing just short of. "There's a wooden door back there!"
Riku blinked. "...oh yeah! But how'd a cave get a door in it, anyway?" He started forward, reaching out to feel along the wall much like Sora had done.
"Where does the door go?" Kairi piped up softly from behind them.
Both boys turned to her, then turned toward the door--or, at least, the location of it, considering how impossible it was to see. There was only a brief pause before Sora declared, "Let's find out!" and all but lunged into the darkness in front of Riku in his zeal to grab the...handle? In all his excitement over his plans, he'd forgotten that he hadn't actually managed to get it open yet! "Um...so how do we open it?"
"What do you mean, how? You either push or pull!" Riku stepped up next to the boy, shaking his head at him.
Kairi just watched as they both fumbled with the door, hands first scraping along a surface that must have been too smooth to pull on before they stopped, gave each other a look, and then threw themselves into the door with all their weight. She gasped, eyes widening. "Careful!"
It was too late, however, as two boys were now lying on the ground next to each other, groaning.
"Oh yeah...I remember that, too..." Riku said with a wince as he slowly pulled himself back up, grabbing Sora by the arm to help his friend, "Maybe we should think about this."
"Yeah..." Sora agreed, rubbing his other arm, "What could we use to open the door?"
They were all silent for a moment, but then the brown-haired boy blinked as a thought occurred to him. "I've got an idea!"
Riku eyed him skeptically.
"Well, maybe we were just too close. If we went all the way across the cave and then ran-"
He was interrupted by a resounding, "NO," from his two companions. He pouted. "Well, it might have worked..."
"What if maybe there's a switch somewhere?" Kairi offered, mostly to keep Sora from proclaiming any more "ideas."
"Maybe..." Riku stepped forward toward the door again, running his hands all over it much as he had before, though this time he reached up as high as he could and then knelt down and felt the surface right down to where it met the ground. "I just sorta feel edges, but you can't grab them." He stood back up, giving the door a kick as he did so and trying to hide his wince afterwards. "Any other ideas?"
There was a brief silence again before the completely unsurprising, "I know!" Except this time, rather than voicing his exact thoughts, Sora abruptly turned and ran right out of the cave without another word. Riku and Kairi gave each other a look, both knowing this was unlikely to mean anything good, and waited in a mixture of anticipation and dread.
Sora returned soon after, proudly bearing...a coconut?
"Just watch," he instructed, grinning excitedly as he smashed the coconut against the wall a few times, obviously meaning to crack it open. "Come on..."
"I'll get it," Riku interrupted, snatching the coconut from the unsuspecting boy and giving it a good smack against the cold stone. One half remained in his hand while the other fell to the ground, rolling until it came to a stop on the brown-haired boy's too-large yellow shoes.
"Thanks." Sora was pouting faintly, but he reached down and picked up the half of a coconut. "Now watch." And without further ado, he set it on his head. "A helmet!"