AU setting, Sora/Kairi.

Hope it's okay.

Disclaimer: Nope.

He'd been late. That was the first thing he could remember, though he tried as hard as he could to remember farther back. School had long since ended, but he'd remained, doing something that at the time had had some importance.

Whatever it was, however, escaped him now.

If he closed his eyes he could recall a swinging of doors, a burst of sunshine, a gust of wind; he'd run across the grass, past the trees lining the sidewalk, further, further, further down. He remembered it all because for four years that scenery had ingrained itself in his mind; such was hard to forget.

Clear as if it had happened yesterday, though, clear as the sunshine he vividly remembered shining on him that day, he'd seen her, and remembered stopping. The sunshine couldn't reach her through the drooping leaves of the one willow tree on campus, and in that darkened cradle she slept, one leg extended, other drawn close to her with her knee resting against her thigh, fingers brushing the grass, hair brushing against her shoulders. She slept, in the quiet of the afternoon, and he'd found he couldn't move, torn at the sight of her.

A gust of wind had blown a few bangs from her eyes, and he'd seen a bruise.

No matter the cowardice inside him, he'd wanted to go to her, even if he didn't know her, and ask her why she had that. But his phone rang in that instant, a third time, the final time, his mother had threatened as various "yes"-es, and "no"-s, and "I know, Mom"-s were offered as dialogue on his end, and his feet shifted on the grass and he was gone, leaving her behind.

He'd forgotten about her, easily enough. She was only another girl, and nothing important to him.

He didn't see her in his classes; she wasn't in any that he had. Maybe once and a while he glimpsed her red hair as she passed him in the halls, or when he was laughing with his friends he saw her doing the same in the lunch room, always self-conscious about some part of her. Sometimes that even made him narrow his eyes at her behavior, and it could've been concern. But still, he didn't know her, and didn't feel anything for her.

She was just another girl.

She leaned against her lockers sometimes, holding an arm and laughing with a blonde girl and a brunette. Throughout the years he saw more of her, so much more that he realized it was because he was actually looking for her.

He'd never tried to speak to her, but he watched over her.

Though, he didn't know why. After all, nothing was in it for him, and there was no point or reason; she wasn't even his girlfriend.

But he couldn't help but notice her nervous eyes wander when she was alone, or the way she'd cover up her insecurities with a quick smile when her friends arrived.

By junior year she always wore sweatshirts and jeans, no matter the weather.

His friends confused his attention towards her with feelings; they said he had a crush on her, was in love with her. Such wasn't so.

He didn't know how to love, after all; he didn't believe in love's existence. He couldn't even care, because in his mind she really meant nothing to him.

There was just something about her…

He passed her every day, freshman year, sophomore year, junior year, and she was always under that willow tree, asleep, or reading, or listening to music. She'd chew her pencil and do her homework, as well, eyes flicking up at passers-by, eyes always casting nervous glances at the parking lot.

Her eyes were blue, he realized after a time. He hadn't easily been able to discern their color.

In senior year, though, she was in his AP English class, and despite her timid appearance he came to know she had quite the fire in her. She had passion, a love of writing, took thrill in debating…her eyes danced in delight when after school ended they dulled in hopelessness. He couldn't understand why, but couldn't even ask when they became partners that year.

But for the first time they talked, and somehow a friendship formed. She'd even smiled at him.

And gradually, day by day, the non-existent heart within him began to beat for the first time, and he felt alive.

He laughed with her in a different way. He didn't talk with her outside of class, because he never saw her, but during the lengthened periods of the one worth-while class he'd ever had, he found himself getting to know himself as he got to know her. She'd tap her eraser on her lip as she grinned at him, asking questions that were hard to answer, trying to figure him out.

She never said anything that wasn't meaningful; Kairi – that was her name – made everything, every second, and everyone…count.

He couldn't understand it.

Where was the point in it? Life let you fall so hard, and the earth crushed you upon impact. Why get up and try again, when you know you're destined to fail?

"I'm a failure, you know."

He was as startled as she was at such a comment. They'd been sitting down next to each other for the first time, after school, backs against the lockers and eyes forward, on the wall, saying nothing, only content in the other's presence. He saw her look at him in question, even though he was staring straight, and he merely shrugged, turning his head farther away.

She didn't reply, though. She just touched his arm. He'd flinched at her touch, too, and moved his arm, all the while moving his gaze to look at her. But she'd understood. And smiled.

She always smiled…for him.

"It's not failing if you keep going, Sora."

That was what she'd said. He'd rolled his eyes at her, had stood up, and had left her there, not understanding why he was in a bad mood, not understanding why he suddenly felt suffocated in her presence.

Not understanding why such an answer…was not the answer he wanted.

The next day he'd confronted her for the first time outside of class in the hallway, and when she was surrounded by friends, no less. The blonde girl lowered her head shyly, though peered through bangs at him, and she brunette had shifted her weight to the side, hand on her hip and eyes expectant.

"I'm sorry," was what he'd said.

"Don't be," was what she'd said.

But he couldn't help it. He ran from her because she'd said the truth, and he couldn't handle dealing with everything he'd believed in crumbling. He'd revealed cowardice to her, a temper, impatience; his flaws.

And yet she touched his cheek once, making his face flare, and had walked away with a smile.

And he had smiled, too, unable to stop.

It was raining when everything had changed, though. She'd had sick days, many sick days, a week after that, and then a week after, when she'd returned, sun hadn't shone once. She avoided her friends in the hallways, didn't eat at lunch, and didn't speak up in her favorite class.

"Are you okay?"

She looked away from him, despite the fact that he could see her clearly, sitting across from her. Her gaze seemed hollow, her frame weak.


She'd disappeared the moment class had ended, and her friends hadn't seen her when he asked for her. But he found her. Under the willow tree.

Where she went to cry.

He stood away from the branches, fists at his sides, anger in him as she hid her face in her knees, hair wet and falling into his eyes. He shouted to her, accused her of giving up, accused her of being the coward he was, and "that isn't you!"

His heart skipped a beat as another sob reached his ears, even when the rain fell so hard and pounded so loud on the ground it was near impossible to hear over the noise. The skies were crying that day, it seemed, and the tree was crying, too, accompanying Kairi in her misery.

She hid from him, that day, but he saw one thing clearly.

Every time he'd glanced at her in passing, he'd felt that something was off. And there was. Her frame and expression did not signify peace, or happiness, or even exhaustion, as she slept under her willow tree.

It was pain, loneliness, agony.

She'd suffered.

The blare of a car horn had startled her up, and she'd avoided his eyes to stare down into the parking lot, where the ominous glow of yellow car lights peered through the rainfall at them, hungrily searching them out. She'd mumbled something of an apology, grabbed her bag, and ran, but he'd grabbed her wrist and pulled her back to him.

She'd been terrified.

"Let me go!" she'd begged.

And, startled, he had. He'd let her go.

She was sick a few more days, or so that was her alibi, and he felt himself growing sicker, too. Her friends didn't seem worried, but he was anxious, kept looking back to her empty English seat, wondering if he shouldn't have let her leave. He hadn't wanted to, after all.

He'd been foolish, though. Another one of his imperfections.

Another reason why his parents didn't love him.

Another reason why he hated himself.

She didn't hate him, though. He didn't understand why.

And he wanted her there, so he could ask.

Maybe then the knot in his stomach would ease.

She was back after another week, and she was a wreck; she was falling behind in her classes and becoming more self-conscious about her movements. She wouldn't let him get closer to her, either, and that hurt him.

And the knot still hadn't disappeared.

She'd tried to avoid him, he knew, but he'd caught up to her, at her willow tree, where she was crying again. And they remained there for a while, saying nothing, him looking at her and Kairi looking away.

An hour passed, and then she'd stumbled to her feet, the obnoxious blare of a horn calling her. She'd tried to swerve out of his way, remembering their last meeting, but he'd stepped in front of her, grabbed her shoulders, and stopped her dead.

"Go away!" she'd cried, tears trailing down her cheeks.

She was pushing him out of her life. But so many people had tried to do that before that he didn't care; he didn't give a damn.

It was bullshit, and she was scared, and he wouldn't give up on her.

Everyone had given up on him, before. And he would give anything that the same went for Kairi, too.

He pulled her closer, and her eyes widened. And then, desperate for the knot in his stomach to go away, for it was tightening and becoming increasingly uncomfortable, he lowered his head and captured her lips, not setting her free.

Because his freedom would lead to her prison.

She'd pushed away from him, panting, eyes confused and shoulders shaking, but the rejection didn't hurt. He knew she didn't care for another; she just didn't know how to deal with affection.

They were one in the same, after all.

"I need…to go," she said, looking away from him.

"Come back to me, then."

She hadn't answered him. She'd just pushed him aside and covered her face, crying all the way to her car. Only then, as the rain dripped continuously on his head – slower now, the storm giving in – he let his shoulders fall and the hopelessness of it all sink in.

She would never trust him, he knew that. She couldn't trust him.

The very people who were supposed to love her beat her, after all. Where was the right in that?

All along, every year from sixth grade on, Sora had stayed away from people, because love, companionship, and long-lasting friendship were concepts he didn't understand. His father hadn't wanted him, his mother had died, in he lived in a household as cold as the rain sliding down his neck. Gruff words, casual glances, conversations escalating into fights…

He'd had enough of the hurt. So he'd shut himself down.

Her glimpse, under the willow tree that day, had sent a shock so painful through his body he hadn't understood it. Until now.

That was reality calling to him, telling him it was time to wake up and see what life had given him. It was his chance…to find acceptance.

In her.

And the thing he had been avoiding, because he hadn't believed in its existence, now made his heart race in fear and tears slide down his cheeks as she was driven away from him.

He loved her.

And he was so afraid of losing her.

Kairi…had been the only one to smile at him with complete sincerity.

The rain kept dripping on him, running into his eyes, soaking his shoes, and making him shiver. He should've run to his car, should've driven home, should've jumped in the shower to forget, like he always tried to do.

But he couldn't.

Suddenly, though, the sunshine broke through in the sky, and he winced sadly and lifted his head, watching as the shower continued to fall, brightened by the new day. The sun that had brought him to her…she'd never been able to feel – it signified hope, after all.

And still, she'd smiled.

It was cold where he stood, and he couldn't bring himself to hope, because hope was gone. But he'd wait, like he never had before, and stay rooted to the present, not searching for the future and forgetting his past.

He'd wait, and wish, that this wasn't the last time, that she'd come back to him, because she'd never promised anything.

And he was scared of that.

And so he stood there now, wanting the call of the sunshine and wisp of the willow tree to be more than just a good-bye.

Because his life had just started, and he didn't want it to end…without her.

"I'll…wait for you," he murmured, eyes not to the heavens now, but to the parking lot that had taken her from him. "I'll…love you."

I'll be there for you, like no one else. Just please, please come back. And be with me…


I do that, sometimes. Leave you hanging. 'Cause even I couldn't decide how it should end. So I just decided to end it. Heh.

I thought this was interesting. Very different from my normal fics. I'd tried to incorporate some meaningful content, though, and I don't know how it worked. Tell me how I did...please.