How to Do Dishes Riku-Style
Summary: Focuses on Kairi and Riku and may not at all be romantic. But as I ship Kairiku, be warned.
As Riku drifts off to sleep in Kairi's house, on the couch littered with game pieces and little bits of string and possibly pencils (something is poking into his back), he finds himself assaulted by memories.
Random memories, from when he was about twelve and Kairi was eleven and Sora was sleeping, just like he was now.
And in the way things have of sneaking up on you till you're drifting off to sleep in your friend's house, this one singled him out, floating to the surface and covering his mouth imploringly.
The silver-haired almost-teenaged boy began breathing it in, hints of colour poking around the edges of his mind as he dove deeper and deeper into the blackness...
Kairi turned the lights on whenever she got up at night. It was a bad habit, but an innocent one--born of childlike fear and smoke in your eyes from the tricks the mirror played.
(Is that me? Is that nobody? Is that just a mirror?)
She trailed her hands along the edges of the wall quickly. Nervously. White hands sliding against the white walls that sloped down to meet the carpet or hardwood flooring, till she found a switch.
The lights blazed on as she whimpered, yet Sora slept through it all. Fears, childlike calling, lights... he was out like one.
Riku stirred and pulled his head up from where it had been buried in his arm.
It was his house they were at right now--Riku's house--and even though he could just as easily go to his own bed he preferred to stay up with his friends in the living room till they practically passed out where they were.
On the carpets or hardwood flooring... or on Riku's personal favourite, his dignified little perch on the right side of the couch.
The word struggles out of his mouth, but that is all she needs.
"Riku!" She pounces on him, going in his general direction till she bumps into the couch, then shakes him even further awake. "C-could you take me to the kitchen? ...I'm thirsty..."
At first Riku has no idea what's happening--doesn't she know where the kitchen is?--then he remembers that they had only just now followed him home today, and it wasn't until Kairi said "Your house is really nice, Riku" that he and Sora realised she'd never been to his house.
"..." Riku cast a glance at Sora, presumably dead but for the rise and fall of his chest. It would take a nightmare to wake him up, and it looked like he was having good dreams.
The silver-haired boy sighed, rubbed his eyes, and shook himself completely awake before mumbling, "Sure, yeah, I'll take you..."
He brushes his hair out of his eyes and goes forth blindly into the hall, where lights no longer blaze and Kairi clutches at his elbow to keep up with him. The cold tilework numbs his feet up to the ankles, and it's like he's ankle deep in soft grey water, padding through beach sand and salt looking at things.
White hallways... wooden tables... maybe a painting here or there...
That's Riku's house, mild and shining slightly in the dark. A little bit boring, but not too bad in all.
...He supposes it reflects his own tastes...
Finally the third door to the right assembles itself before his eyes, the outline familiar and distinct against his eyes. A smack of brown against the whiteness.
He pulls the door open and stands, wavering slightly as his unshod feet take a moment to regain feeling of the ground. At least Kairi is wearing socks...
"Here we are... the kitchen." Riku gestures towards the black, yawning hole in the wall, almost nodding off where he stands. "...Okay, I'm going back to sleep now..."
The sense of fear in her bluey-purple eyes and the tightened clutching at his elbow sends a rush of much-needed blood to his head, one that wakes him up entirely like shaking wouldn't do.
He really should have noticed this before, when Kairi decided to waste electricity on a childish, foolish, completely innocent whim.
Now he just feels like a jerk.
"Oh... Sorry, Kairi..." He flicks the light on and ghosts into the room, a whisp of silver-coloured hair and mild clothing that fades into the rest of the mild, silver surroundings.
Really... the only reason Riku had for his ignorance... was that he had been tired.
Fear doesn't stop to be tired...
Riku sets down a glass of milk and a glass of water on the table, then plunks his own body into a chair as Kairi swerves into her solid hardwood seat, jitteringly.
"Kairi, I think you need to do something about being scared of the dark," he says suddenly, as he slides the glass across the wooden table to his friend. Past the stick of butter, waiting to be spread in a sandwich or a bagel. Past the two other chairs, on either side of the table. Both those chairs are hardwood... he has a strange amount of wooden things in his house
All the way across these details and things... to Kairi.
Sitting there in a white shirt, topped by red strawberry hair that is paper-thin as the sky on a wintery day. She takes the glass in both hands and tilts the white, glowy milk into her mouth.
Her glass is half-empty when she puts it down, a frosty, thin slice of sweat on the outside edge. Riku sees it and thinks that he should have warmed it up--cold anything would not help Kairi's jitters.
She stares out into the hallway, where the lights burn ever closer to their life's end of fizzling out unobtrusively. Milk glass half-empty, half-forgotten at once.
She jerks fearfully. The glass makes a hard, brittle 'clink!' against the table.
Riku pauses, and cannot remember what he wants to say. "...You gonna finish that milk?"
She nods. Takes the glass in both of her hands and drinks it down, like a tonic, or a cure against the cold and her fear of the dark.
Riku's redheaded friend is so serene most of the time that Riku can't forget about these moments. These little earthshaking events where Kairi jitters and starts like an engine on the fritz, nervous and scared and so vulnerable... A little play-school girl who shies at everything and doesn't want to move, all at the same time.
So not like Kairi, and at the same time entirely predictable.
Kairi is afraid of the dark, he could tell people, and they wouldn't say a word of disbelief.
"I-it's..." She swallows. Not her milk, which is three-quarters finished. "It's not that... I'm scared of the dark... it's that my head plays tricks on me. I-I'm scared of what's waiting outside the back of my eyelids when I sleep..."
Riku sits... Stares glumly at the half-glass of water in front of his body... then he looks up.
"Kairi?" It's one of those rhetorical questions (though he doesn't know the meaning of the word till he's two or three years older--right now he just knows it's one of those questions that doesn't have an answer), so he goes on and says, "Don't move."
He hops to his feet and wavers, then makes his way across the room. The cold tile burns his feet.
He shuts the door, swings his arm to the switch, and plunges them both into darkness.
"Shh--calm down..." He wavers back to his place at the table, arms outstretched so he won't bump into anything. He knows this place in the dark like the back of his hand, so he doesn't meet anything with his arms till he reaches the table and lets them hang down at his sides.
Then, Riku thinks better of it and stretches them out one more time.
"Here. Take my hands."
Kairi grabs them almost impulsively and holds on. Now they're making an oval around the glasses and the butter on the table--three circles from overhead and an egg-shape surrounding them.
"Okay?" he asks calmly, noticing her shaking hands. They're chilled from holding the milk, but they warm up quickly wrapped around his own larger fingers. "The only thing in this kitchen is me, Kairi. Nothing here but us."
"Okay?" he repeats.
"...O...okay..." The jittering has gone down a little, like a fever, and Riku takes this as a good sign.
His eyes are adjusted now, and he can even make out the faint yellow on the butter plate. Shadows of the table and the outline of the milk, glowing slightly. Kairi's white shirt, outlined by a rim of black that is her chair.
"Kairi, can you see anything yet?"
"C'mon, Kairi, just try really hard. Open your eyes."
A slight sniffle--when did she start sniffling? This must be harder on her than he'd thought, maybe he shouldn't have done this...
"R-riku?" she asks waveringly.
She lets go of his hands firmly--if that's at all possible, and wipes at her eyes with a thin, glowing wrist.
"I can see you now... Th-thanks."
Riku is easy to see in the dark, with his whitish silver hair and the yellow on his clothes. If it had been Sora on the other end of the table from Kairi, she would have seen nothing but a dark outline--a shadow. Probably a monster to her overactive mind, rendered hyper by the dark.
But now she just sees Riku.
He curls his arms back into his half of the table and stretches them over his head. "Yeah... no problem, Kairi."
They finish the rest of their respective, glowy drinks in silence.
Still surrounded in the dark.
Finally Riku takes the cups over to the sink when they're empty--not two minutes later--and blanches.
It is still dark in the kitchen, and he knows it like his hand, but he sees the outlines and edges of dishes still yet to be washed, waiting for a pair of pallid hands to take up the sponge and scrub them senseless.
The small lamp is switched on, casting a wan yellow light over them all, and Riku groans. "Ohh..."
That's right, it was his turn to do the dishes today...
"Riku?" Kairi approaches the light eagerly, semi-gratefully. He can't tell if she was sincerely calmed by their earlier sitting in the dark. or if she's just relieved to have some light. Anyway, she asks him a question. "What's up?"
"I've just... got a whole load of dishes to do..." He grabs the sponge and the nearest silver spoon and starts scrubbing.
"Why are you doing the silverware first?" Kairi asks, poking her head around his shoulder--because she just isn't tall enough to poke her head over it.
Bleary-eyed, tired, saddled with the one chore he really hates doing, and in no mood at all to answer questions fired from a curious little stick-skinny friend of his...
Riku answers it anyway, because it is just too hard to snap at Kairi when he and she are tired.
"Because they're pointy and sharp and it's easier to just get them out of the way first."
He turns the water on and rinses, a handful of silvery sticks with points at the ends.
"Whenever I see Sora do the dishes, he sort of fills the whole sink with water and washes the plates first because they're bigger."
"...Well..." he replies numbly, "...that's the way Sora does it." He starts on the cups and glasses next.
A sink full of water... yes, that is the way Sora does it, because Sora likes having fun. A sink full of water just has so much potential for waterfights and splashing and almost drowning your best friend in the sink...
Riku lifts a plate and frowns when he sees another piece of silverware tucked underneath it. Like bugs, he thinks ferociously. They just don't want to be found.
"I've never done dishes before," Kairi offers timidly, watching him like she's watching some kind of foreign ritual.
He blinks and forgets about the silverware scattered to hide from his gaze.
"W-well, I've dried dishes before, when Sora wanted help... but I've never actually..."
"Are you telling me you've never done dishes before?" Turquoise eyes open wide and staring, sizing up the little girl behind him--eight, from the look of her, but she's really actually eleven--and thinks back to when his mother taught him how to do this particular, gutwrenchingly monotonous chore.
He had been eight.
Riku rolls his eyes and moves over. "C'mere."
"What for?" She takes the half-vacated spot gingerly, stepping into the close vicinity of the sink--and of him--then looks at him washed in the yellow faded light of the lamp.
"I'm gonna teach you how to do dishes, you little princess."
There is no malice or whining in either of the statements. They look at each other.
Kairi coughs and starts laughing thinly, and Riku joins in.
And then they get down to business.
It is really not the matter of washing a simple cup that is the problem--anyone can do that, even princesses like Kairi. It is managing the load that is the problem, because Riku insists that the smaller things should go first because they are often pointy and dangerous when wet, or they're more delicate and need to be handled carefully.
Whereas Kairi sees no problem with doing them as they come, dish after plate after saucer with the hiding silverware thrown randomly around in the order.
He has to teach her that she has to turn the water off between the time she dries the dishes and the time she starts rinsing the next one, because leaving it on is just wasteful.
Riku really doesn't mind, because after a few minutes of squabbling and tugging plates out of her hands to show her the right way to do it...
They have fun.
Fun, without Sora.
And the dishes are done twice as fast.
Riku stirs halfway to life and groans accordingly, feeling stiff joints and an aching neck as the consequence of his usual sleeping position on the three-cushion couch (no less, in Kairi's house--enough to seat all three of them and maybe two more). Even when he piles an arm onto the armrest and puts his head on that, he still can't manage to wake up comfortably...
And he's always so stiff...
Riku brings the pillow arm up so he can shield his eyes from the glaringly orange and yellow decor (Sora's mom was never subtle in her decorating tastes), then tries to bring his other arm up so he can brush his hair out of his eyes at the same time...
His arm is trapped between the warm, cushiony feeling of the couch and the warmer, smoother feeling of a T-shirted back.
He uncovers his eyes and looks to see what's holding him up.
Paperthin hair, and a stick-skinny body... Red and white and maybe a little bit of blue to balance out the pink...
"..." Riku tilts his head slightly in puzzlement.
Kairi is snoozing between him and Sora. Her arms are crossed underneath her small head, as an impromptu pillow on Riku's lap.
Takes in his breath through his mouth, feels the air sting...
He curls his arm back onto the armrest and goes back to sleep, because he just can't deal with waking up Kairi before she does so herself.