Rating: M, due to yaoi that will be in later chapters, and for swearing in later chapters as well.
Disclaimer: I in no way own anything related to Kingdom Hearts, except maybe the game. If I did Sora and Riku would be making out at every possible opportunity. Are they? No? Then I still don't own it.
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Destiny islands looked the same as it always had.
Endless plains of ever stretching gold spun sand, the water that winked and sparkled in the light of the glorious sun. The blue sky with the occasional wisp of translucent cloud. Even the air was the same, stained with the salty breeze of the ocean and the exotic scent that the whole island seemed to exude. From the tiniest grain of sand to the largest, towering paopu tree.
The whole island breathed life.
Sora flung himself out of the water, a giggle barely escaping his lips. His spiky brown hair lay soggy against his tanned skin, and his black clothes dripped liquid absolutely everywhere. But he didn't care. Not at all.
The giggle turned into a laugh.
He spotted Kairi up ahead, her longer red hair drifting slightly in the wind around her face. Her blue eyes looked down kindly on Sora, who fell onto his knees in front of her, unused to the sand after all of his adventures.
He smiled up at her, and outstretched his hand, where the charm that Kairi had given to him all that time ago lay, nestled in his fingers. He brought his hand into Kairi's, giving her the icon made of thalassa shells back.
"I'm home," he said.
She grinned. "Welcome home."
Sora withdrew his fingers quickly, Kairi's brushed over his, silently begging for him to hold her hand, and yet they sipped, one by one, out of her grasp, and Sora's arm fell by his side. His hands formed into tightly clenched fists, and he didn't even know why. His fingernails bit into the palms of his hands so hard that it hurt.
He looked down at them in confusion for a few moments, trying to dissect the crescents that his nails were from his flesh; if he didn't stop soon he was going to draw blood…
And then Riku stepped out from behind the younger keyblade master, startling him into forgetting about it. And just as quickly, his fingers dropped.
Unlike Kairi's hair, which was fluttering idly around her face, Riku's had completely lifted with the wind, and was swirling around with the it. His green eyes burned out from underneath his thick fringe, which, in parts, stretched along the strong line of his jaw.
He took a few seconds to smile at Kairi, almost not recognizing her.
"Hey Kairi, it's good to see you again," he said disarmingly.
"You too Riku, it's good to see you, uh, 'looking' like yourself again," she said with a hint of amusement in her voice.
Riku smiled wryly.
"No offense meant, of course," Kairi said, laughing nervously.
"None taken," he returned.
She smiled sheepishly, reaching a hand to the back of her head, a habit that Sora was particularly notorious for. Riku shrugged in return, not really caring.
There was an awkward silence between the three best friends.
They stood there, in the damp ocean breeze, Riku and Sora dripping in their saturated clothes, and Kairi just standing there, wondering what to say next, wondering who was going to talk. She was just waiting for someone to say something, so that they could all start laughing again. Just like they used too.
But they never did. And Kairi's smile slowly dropped, the sparkle diminishing ever so slightly in her wide eyes.
"Come on guys, you better get into some clean clothes. Can't have you catching a cold!" she said desperately, trying to bring some vitality into the situation.
She turned her back to them and made her way up the beach, her soft shoes leaving little foot prints in the sand behind her.
Neither of the two boys mentioned that it was far to warm for them to catch a cold in the middle of summer on Destiny Islands. They didn't have to, they didn't want too. Best not to mention things that would only cause an even greater rift between them.
Sora turned to look at Riku, and the two of them shared an uneasy glance. Then the silver haired teen shrugged again, and they both started to walk after their female friend together, one stride at a time.
Luckily, Kairi's house was right on the shore of the beach, so there wasn't much traveling to do.
"You guys wait here, mmmkay?" she said as the two of them stood uneasily on her porch.
"Sure," Sora supplied.
She flashed them a smile before quickly unlocking the white front door and disappearing inside.
Sora shifted hesitantly on the wooden deck, looking down at his toes and wringing his hands together nervously, trying to dislodge the angry red marks that his nails had provided.
"Relax, Sora," Riku chuckled.
Sora shot him a half hearted glare. "I am relaxed."
Riku snorted, throwing him a sarcastic smile. "Suuuure you are."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Sora said back almost angrily.
Riku actually laughed this time, and reached overt to ruffle Sora's hair that was drying fast and trying to resume its naturally erratic appearance.
"Don't worry about it, kiddo."
"Hey, I'm not a kid!" Sora replied as he tried to dislodge Riku's hand from his head.
"Sure you're not."
With a squawk Riku captured Sora in a tight head lock, giving him a fierce noogie. A bark of laughter escaped him as Sora flailed around uselessly.
"Hey Riku, come oooon, stooooop!" Sora shrieked, laughing.
"Nah, I'm not gonna," Riku said childishly.
"Ooooh, come on!"
"Sorry to break up the male bonding, but you guys are still wet," Kairi said, humor inflecting her voice.
He threw them each a rough woolen towel for them to dry themselves with.
Riku caught it his before it hit him in mid air, and then drew it over his head. He rubbed vigorously at his sopping wet silver hair that had turned a strangely dark grey color.
However, Sora wasn't so lucky. The towel hit him straight in the face, before flopping sadly to the ground.
Kairi giggled. She walked over to Sora and picked up the towel for him. Kairi shook it off quickly, before holding it out to Sora again, a smile dusting her perfect features.
"Here," she muttered happily.
Sora grinned sheepishly, before taking the towel from her hands and copying Riku.
In a few seconds he pulled the towel away from his head, and watched as his bangs spiked up before their very eyes.
"Sora… how do you do it?" Riku deadpanned.
Kairi's giggle turned into a laugh.
Sora pulled a face at his best friend, who just stuck out his tongue back. And Kairi stood between them, laughing again. Actually laughing, not the forced laugh that she had been forced to resort to for all the days that she had been waiting for them.
Maybe things could somehow… be okay again?
Riku grinned as Sora 'flipped the bird,' or stuck up his rude finger, at him. He mimed accepting it and then put it in his pocket.
Sora glared petulantly, lower lip coming out into a little pout. This caused Riku to burst into hysterics, joining Kairi.
"Guuuuuuys, it's not fuuuuuny!" Sora exclaimed, dragging his words out.
This, of course, only caused Kairi and Riku to fall to the ground.
"Come oooon!" Sora said.
This time, he stamped his feet a few times, looking childish.
That didn't help his situation anymore, either.
Kairi and Riku were laughing so hard that their sides hurt. Kairi was already bawling her eyes out, while Riku had managed to contain himself to a few tears leaking out from behind his thick black lashes.
Sora opened his mouth to retort, and then stopped.
They just looked so… happy?
He wasn't sure. It could have been happiness or a hollow kind of desperation, laughing when they wanted to cry. He couldn't tell the difference. Maybe it was… a little bit of both?
And so Sora joined them, laughing too. Falling into the sand with his best friends. His laughter was tinged with irony and sorrow, as well as both beauty and mirth, just like Riku's was. Laughing because, maybe the act of laughing could prove to themselves that they were really okay. Maybe laughing was a way of proving to themselves, that they still belonged here, among the sand, the drifting sea and the claustrophobic atmosphere.
Eventually the sound died down, leaving them there. Just lying there, aimlessly looking up into the bright blue sky. Side by side, barely touching.
Seconds went by.
Seconds evolved into minutes, carefully blending into each other, until they were gone.
Silence, except for the gentle, ceaseless lapping of the waves and the whistle of the warm island breeze through thick green foliage.
"Kairi, is that you?" a surprisingly loud voice asked.
The three of them were drawn out of their thoughts immediately.
And before they knew it, Sora and Riku had leapt straight off the ground and onto their feet. Sora crouched low, arms out to the side, Riku stood up, knees bent, one arm extended. Both with their hands desperately outstretched, waiting for keyblades that never came.
The mayor jumped back at this virile reaction.
"Dear lord, you gave me a fright!" he shrieked, clutching at his chest.
Sora and Riku, upon realizing what they had done, straightened up, and then looked away nervously.
"You could have given me a heart attack," he exclaimed, clutching his chest harder.
Riku snorted at this, the fact that the man was holding wrong side of his chest from his heart was ironic.
The shrewd little fat man set them a glare.
"And why are you two acting so suspiciously? Looking like you're about to attack someone! The nerve of kids these days!" he screeched.
Sora and Riku exchanged an uneasy glance. What was his problem?
Kairi pushed herself off the ground, her features drawn. Sure, the mayor had raised her, but that didn't mean that she liked him all the time, and he did have the ability to be a little ditzy, and over react, all the time.
"And I should take you guys down to the law bringer in town! Yes, vagabond kids turning up out of no where! And what are you wearing? You have trouble written all over you!"
Sora and Riku blinked.
"Papa, what are you saying?" Kairi spoke up.
"Kairi! What are you doing with those ruffians! Get over here immediately!"
"Papa… don't you recognize them? It's Riku and Sora," Kairi tried to explain.
"Nice try Kairi, good one," he said sarcastically.
"No, papa! You don't get it! I'm serious!" she cried desperately.
"Kairi, dear, why would you bring something like that up now? Heaven knows that we've just moved on."
"No buts, come over here at once, I don't want you around such negative influences."
"This conversation is over, get away from them!"
"PAPA! JUST LOOK AT THEM! LOOK CLOSELY!" Kairi screamed in desperation.
She wrapped her arms around her body and closed her eyes against the sight of the two distraught boys.
They hadn't changed that much… had they?
"KAIRI!" the mayor shouted back.
She trembled. "Please, just look at them… for me?"
The mayor sent her a disapproving glare, but she ignored it.
The mayor hesitantly walked over to the two 'strangers.' Honestly, he had never seen them before in his life. And the clothes! One wearing dual colored long length pants, an open vest and a bandage on his arm. The other with a black, yellow and red outfit with pockets attached by god knows what and matching gloves! Not normal island wear!
But now that he thought about it, the spiky brown hair that hung over eyes the color of the sea, and the silver hair that was longer than before, it all looked familiar.
It couldn't be…
Then again, why would Kairi lie to him?
And then it hit him. Straight on, like Wakka's blitz ball, right in the face.
The shadow of the two boys he had known was reflected in the closed eyes of these two newcomers. But they were so different, held themselves with a bone deep weariness, nerves that you could practically smell coming off them. They had grown in body, taller, fuller, stronger… but in the mind? They had the look of a lion, trapped in the bars of its own cage, pacing back and forth, back and forth. They looked as if they wanted to start running, and keep running, until they couldn't breathe… until they died that way…
"What happened to you?" he asked, trying to take it all in.
"You wouldn't believe us even if we told you," Riku said, taking this in his stride.
"But, where have you been all this time?"
Both boys looked down. They didn't know how to answer.
"Umm, they took the raft out, right? Yeah, left me behind." Kairi lied through her white teeth.
The mayor didn't look convinced, but didn't press any further.
"And you Kairi! Where have you been for the past few days? Running off without telling anyone," the mayor berated.
This time, Kairi answered quickly. "I went on a camping trip, sorry for not telling you earlier."
"By yourself?" he asked suspiciously.
The old man huffed irritably.
"At any rate, you'd better go and see your parents Sora," he proclaimed.
"Yeah, I probably should be going home," he answered uneasily.
"Come on Kairi, Margaret's been worried sick about you," the mayor said, referring to his wife.
"Oh, um, okay."
"Bye Kairi," Sora said softly.
"Bye Sora," Kairi threw over her shoulder as she was navigated by the mayor into their house.
Sora stood on her porch for a few moments before he stepped back down, onto the beach, without discussing anything, Riku followed him and stopped next to him.
"I'm just gonna walk with you for a while, then split off and head to my house," the silver haired teenager explained.
What they didn't see was the mayor looking out of the front window at them as they trekked their way into the distance.
And they didn't notice the old, sodden wood of their raft floating idly alone in the massive sea that stretched out behind them. The mayor looked from one to the other, before he disappeared further into his house.
The two newly reunited best friends lapsed into an easy silence. Some might have been afraid of the deathly stillness between them, but Sora and Riku were used to it. The silence reminded them subtly of battle. Battles where there was no time for words to each other, just the silence of their voices as they fought, together, side by side.
They made their way up the dusty trails that snaked their way through the village on destiny islands. All the familiar sights looked unfamiliar, all the houses stood in the same places, but each one had changed in small ways. An extra crack in the glass there, a new tree here, a different colored door.
Sora kept going.
"Umm, Sora? You kinda missed your house," Riku called out to him.
"Oops," Sora said as he re-traced his steps.
His house did look a lot different. Instead of its usual cheery yellow color, it had been re painted a dirty cream. The fence was now a deep brown, contrary to its original bright lime, and the paopu tree in the yard was dieing, leaves spiraling down onto the unkept lawn. Rancid fruit lay at the top most branches dripping purple juice along the rotting trunk.
"Well, I guess this is where I leave you," Riku said after an awkward pause.
"Yeah. Thanks for walking with me, Riku."
Riku started to slowly walk away, shoulders hunched against the day light.
"No problem," he said as he raised a hand in lazy farewell.
Sora returned the wave.
And stood there.
Scared on his own front door step, wondering if he could go inside. Who knew what was going to happen?
He could barely even remember his family. What they had looked like, what they had said, done or thought. Names, sure. But he couldn't remember who they actually were. Not once on his journey had he thought about searching for them, they were only ever an after thought, a shadow trailing hungrily after Riku and Kairi.
And now he had to go back and live with them again? Like everything was back to normal?
He hesitantly raised a hand, as if about to knock.
And abruptly changed his mind. It was now or never. He could stand there all day, waiting for the courage to knock. Better to get everything over and done with.
Sora reached for the door handle and opened it with a single twist. They were home. If not his mother would have left a spare key under the once cheery welcome mat.
Sora waited a few more moments, breath held, eyes screwed shut.
He could do this. All he had to do was breathe, yeah, just breathe. In, out, in, out, in, out, and shit he was starting to hyperventilate. Okay, he could calm down, he could do this.
And before he had to opportunity to chicken out, Sora pushed the door open, walked inside and then closed it behind him.
Emptiness. Silence, and not the friendly one shared between him and Riku, either. Sora didn't call out that he was home, it would have felt… odd, somehow.
Instead he started through the house, silent as a heartless. Down the entry hallway, passed the firmly shut study door, until he reached the kitchen. And then walked straight into it.
Yes, he had been right. His family was there. Just sitting down, eating, watching a small cracked television set. His older brother was eating a fruit salad that his mother Maria had obviously just made. She herself was consuming an identical salad to the one her son was, while Sora's dad Michael was munching contently on a sandwich.
They looked so peaceful, Sora couldn't bring himself to interrupt them. So they hadn't needed him after all, they'd been able to move on. Act like a real family. Things were obviously better without him.
Sora smiled bitterly, and turned away, about to go back through the hallway, to the door, and then leave the house. He didn't know where he would end up, but it had to be better than here, with his scattered family that looked disgustingly right without him.
He heard a clatter of someone dropping a plate.
Immediately, Sora's reactions jumped into action. He whirled around, craning his neck desperately for his opponent. Crouched in a low attacked position, arms encircling an imaginary weapon that just… wouldn't come anymore.
And instead of a heartless, or a nobody, or another estranged member of the Organisation XIII, all there was was his father. His father who had just turned around and seen a stranger in his doorway, and dropped his plate in alarm. His father who was really afraid. No more shadowy monsters, no more nightmares from which you couldn't scream, no more tricks and turns and whispered echoes of the name 'Roxas.'
But then why… was this so much more terrifying?
Maria and Sora's older brother Makae turned around when they heard Michael's reaction.
And then they all saw him.
Not a flicker of identification ran through their eyes. Sora was just someone who had broken into their house. A thief, a pest, a heartless…
"What are you doing in my house?" Michael demanded.
He stood up from his chair, putting his back to his family, as if trying to protect them.
Sora couldn't answer him. Didn't know how, this was his father, screaming at him as if he were a monster.
But then again, maybe he was a monster.
His son's stupefied answer must not have been the desired one, seeing as how Michael asked again.
"What are you doing in my house!" he shouted, the levels of hysteria in his voice getting louder.
And still, Sora didn't have an answer. And he knew what he must look like, standing there in his strange clothes and guarded eyes in front of his family, he didn't look like their son, but maybe that was because he wasn't part of the family anymore. Maybe he didn't belong…
"Get out of my house!" Michael screamed.
Makae got out of his seat too and was standing beside his father.
Sora felt a brief flash of hurt before the numbness washed it away.
"You heard him, get out!" Makae repeated.
And still, Sora felt himself being enveloped by his silence again. The comfortable silence.
He must have looked like a murderer with dieing eyes, staring at these people whose house he had invaded.
And before he knew it, he crashed into the floor.
His mother had come up behind him with a soup ladle and smashed it against the back of his head.
It didn't even hurt, it was just that the suddenness of the attack had caught him off guard.
"Mum! What are you doing!" Sora said, finding his voice at last.
This time, it was the family that fell into silence.
His father was literally boiling with rage.
"How dare you say that you know us! Now get out of our house!" he shrieked.
He picked Sora up by the front of his shirt, and what was more surprising, was that fact that Sora let him. Sora let himself be lifted off the floor by his father, his shoes trailing uselessly in the air. After all, he couldn't hurt his family.
Michael then threw him against the floor.
"GET OUT," he snarled.
His mother started to cry, and Makae grabbed her arm in an effort to comfort her. "Shhh, it'll be alright," he whispered in her ear, trying to calm down her down.
"Don't you remember? It's me, Sora!" the spiky haired teen cried.
The absence of sound. Purely, nothing. It was as if the world had stopped. The inviting breeze lay dead in the stagnant air that smelt of dieing paopu, of dieing promises.
"What?" Makae stuttered.
"It's me, Sora, don't you recognize me?" Sora pleaded desperately.
Again, no one moved. Bodies trapped motionless, eyes searching, always searching. But no answers unfolded, and Sora's voice died on his lips which were chapped with the stains of his fading adventure.
"You're lying," Michael whispered.
"No, I'm not. Can't you see? It's me, I'm home."
"H-how… can you… taking advantage of our sorrow like that! What kind of monstrosity could do that," his father bit out harshly, denying the truth.
Sora stood up, his sky blue eyes misting over with unshed tears. He would not cry now. He couldn't, not here. Why should he cry now? Shouldn't he cry in the adventure, when things were bleak? Heroes weren't meant to cry when they returned home. Fairytales didn't work that way.
"It's me! Can't you tell?" Sora screamed.
"No it's not!"
"YES IT IS!"
Sora looked into his family's eyes one by one.
He grabbed a lock of his spiky brown mop. "I am Sora, look at my hair! See, just like it was! And my eyes! They're just as blue as yours are!" he cried.
"You're not Sora," his father replied again obstinately.
"Yes… it is," Maria breathed.
"What? You can't be serious," Makae retorted.
"Sora…" Maria cooed.
She opened her arms wide, inviting him to share her embrace.
Instead he stood there, unsure of what to do. He couldn't just… walk forward. It didn't work that way. He couldn't act as if nothing had happened. And since when… did the thought of hugging his mother repulse him so much?
Hurt flashed across her face before she disguised it carefully.
She pulled him gently into her arms, and Sora didn't struggle. Only monsters hurt their family.
And the room seemed to spin as Maria hugged Sora, Makae and Michael looking on in wonder. They had thought him dead. Gone forever. And yet here he was, dressed strangely, older, and with an air about him that set them on edge, as if he were about to either fight or flee.
Sora nearly screamed.
But he couldn't.
He tried to breathe, only to find that he couldn't. He was suffocating here, with his family in their time worn house. Couldn't survive in the heat of his mothers shallow arms, couldn't bear the faces rent with an emotion that looked all too similar to Kairi.
And only one thought flashed, unheeded, through Sora's mind.
One that he couldn't stop forming in his very bones, like an ache that wouldn't go away.
Things would never be the same again.
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Okay, well, this is the first chapter. What do you think? Evidently this story is based after the adventure, and area that not many people like to explore.
This story will eventually contain yaoi, but not at the moment, this isn't some shameless fan service story, this story will have a plot. And yes, Riku will play a much larger part in later chapters. This one was just getting Sora re introduced to his family, and the kids seeing the mayor again.
Anyway, please review, I would love any comments that you could give me.