Dedicated to my Light.
A/N: Hello, everyone! For those of you who're wondering where in the world my next That's Why chapter is...uh...I got sidetracked.
Just a fluffy, little one-shot for this holiday season. The Gift of the Magi. KH style.
Merry Christmas to all my faithful readers and reviewers. You guys rock!
Disclaimer: Not I, said the Tali.
The Gift of the Heart
Sora dismissed his Keyblade and made his way toward the Paopu tree, intent on taking a breather from Riku's adamant swordplay. Not that he needed it, really. But he'd just spent the last half hour engaging his friend in techniques of combat while leaving his other to watch like she always did. Though she very well could have joined in on their hacking and slashing, Kairi was content with the sidelines, drawing as she would in her little sketchbook.
Sora imagined the desire to create artwork came from her Nobody, but he never voiced his opinion aloud. Kairi'd always been an excellent artist anyway so he had no qualms with her new hobby. He just wanted to spend some time with her...without appearing to be so blasted obvious.
"Giving up already?" Riku asked.
Sora shrugged. He turned and hoisted himself on the tree before slinging his left leg over the opposite side so he could lie down, fingers laced behind his spiky head of hair. "It's vacation, Riku. Don't you know what that means?"
Riku stared at him with those steely eyes of his in reply.
"It means," Sora continued, "sleeping, eating, sleeping, no homework, sleeping, Christmas parties, sleeping, presents...did I mention sleeping?" He pretended to close his eyes. But, in all actuality, they were in a feigned squint. For one simple reason: to see what Kairi had been doodling. He was surprised to see himself and Riku – very lifelike, too.
Kairi faced him. "You really are a lazy bum!" she joked. "Are you planning on napping away your entire holiday?"
Sora flashed her his infamous grin. "Maybe after the Christmas Festival." His heart sank at his very words. He was glad for the party. It was a good excuse to indulge himself on chocolates, cakes, and everything else under the sun, but...he had yet to buy a gift for a certain someone on his list. The certain someone he had severe chest-pangs for. The certain someone sitting right in front of him...he was in a pickle.
Kairi laughed. She pressed the brown colored pencil's tip against her paper to give picture-Sora's bangs some emphasis. She flexed her hand from the effort and twirled what was left of her mahogany about her knuckles, pleased with herself. "Finished!" Kairi held it up for them to see.
Riku strode to her side and whistled low in admiration. "Wow! You're really good."
Sora sat up so he could get a better look, smiling broadly from ear to ear. "You should do another one."
Sora stuck his fingers in his mouth and pulled at his cheeks. "Like this!"
Kairi giggled while Riku smirked at the face. "Don't pose too long. You'll get stuck looking like that forever."
Sora released himself. "Will not!"
Riku folded his arms across his chest. "Too late."
Kairi clasped a hand over her mouth to cease her titters. Especially since both boys started grappling with each other over the playful insult. "C'mon. Don't rough yourselves up too much before tonight. No one will want to dance with you if you're all bruised and dirty."
Sora dusted himself off and reclined again, forgetting Riku for the time being. "We're already bruised and dirty. You'll dance with both of us anyway."
"You'd better wash up. Party starts in an hour-"
Sora bolted upright again. "AN HOUR?" His heart nearly gave out with this tidbit of information. Surely he hadn't been practicing that long, had he? Sora grabbed a hold of his head, trying not to panic. Though it was painfully obvious to the others that something was amiss.
Kairi stood and shoved the pitiful remains of her colored pencils into one of the pockets of her pink dress. She tucked her sketchpad under her arm, looking frazzled as well. "We'd better go get ready." Kairi departed the islet with a kind wave to both of them, hurrying along for reasons neither Keyblade Bearer could fathom.
Sora moaned long and loud. The apple of his eye was finally out of earshot. He had good reason to make a big deal out of forgetting her Christmas present. Sora tugged at his hair and toppled backwards, falling off the Paopu tree. He complained there, on his back, until Riku bent over him.
"You don't have Kairi's present, do you?"
Defeated, Sora shook his head.
Riku sighed. "So go and buy her one."
"What am I supposed to get her?"
"I don't know. I bought her a stuffed animal. Girls like those, right?"
Riku nudged Sora with his foot. "Go get her something. It's not too late."
The latter peered up at the Paopu tree. All the yellow, star-shaped fruits that had been there the day previous were gone. Each had been incorporated into the festivities and the decorations, making this holiday exceptionally important. For Sora, anyway. He had to make this one count. He had no idea when his time here would be up. "Yeah," Sora agreed. "It's not too late."
Kairi was in a state of alarm. Not only was she absent a gift for Sora, but she also had no idea what he wanted. The thought of asking him was out of the question. If she did that, then he'd know for certain that she'd procrastinated until the last second and therefore draw the outlandish conclusion that she cared nothing about him!
Here she was again. Making mountains out of molehills.
Kairi held her sketchpad close to her chest as she wove through the crowd in the main square. Like herself, there were more than a few people doing last minute shopping. Among the hustle and bustle, Kairi could see the merchants, their open shops decked with holly and Paopu fruits. She passed the stone fountain in the center of the hub, her heels clicking against the rings of cobblestones. If she didn't find a gift quick...
Then something caught her eye. Across the way, dangling from the thatched roof of one, particular vender, was a silver chain...polished and gleaming in the dying sunlight. It was stunning. More importantly, it was perfect! Sora had never been big on jewelry, yet, for the life of him, he refused to remove that crown pendant he wore around his neck. Kairi wasn't sure she'd ever seen him take it off. The crown was holding up fine. But the chain...after trapezing from one world to the next, it was a wonder the thing hadn't rotted off. Old and rusting...Sora needed a new one.
Kairi breathed a prayer of thanks. Her luck wasn't so bad after all. She made her way to the little shop and set her sketchpad on the wooden counter, her gaze unwavering from her desired purchase.
"Ah," said the peddler. "You have a fine eye, Miss. Shopping for someone special?"
Kairi blushed. She tucked her auburn hair behind her ears to hide it, too. "Um...sort of. How much for the chain?"
"For you, I'll make a special offer. Nine hundred munny."
Kairi blanched at the price. "N-Nine?" she gasped.
"Hundred," the man finished.
It was expensive. But Sora was worth it. Kairi fished around in her pockets for the amount. She became more and more distressed when all she found was broken colored pencils. "Is there any way I can pay you later?"
The vender's expression fell. "I'm afraid not." His gaze traveled to Kairi's unveiled drawing. "I'll tell you what. You give me your sketches and I'll give you the chain. Fair trade?"
Kairi beamed. True, she hated to part with her pad...she'd been working on it for such a long time. But, for some reason, she knew it was worth it. Even for something as simple as s Christmas present. "Deal!"
Sora couldn't take his eyes off the merchandise. He now considered himself the most fortunate boy on the face of the whole Islands. There, positioned tantalizingly against one of the shop's supporting poles, was a pack of colored pencils. And they weren't just any colored pencils, either! They were the brightest of the bright – reds, greens, blues of every color. It was enough to make him giddy. What's more, the lot of them were wrapped in a fine casing of leather. It was perfect.
Sora pointed. "How much for these?" he asked the woman there.
"Two hundred," she answered. "Very reasonable."
Sora pulled out all the munny he had and spilt it on the counter. The mother-of-peal stones skipped across the wood as the Keyblade Master began to count. "Fifty..." he mouthed. "One hundred..." Sora's cobalt eyes widened. "One hundred?"
Oh, this couldn't be happening!
"I'm sorry," the lady said. "That isn't enough."
Sora deflated. "Please...it's for someone important."
"How about some of these other arts and crafts?" The woman motioned to the rest of the commodities. "I'm sure you'll find something you can afford."
Sora shook his head. "You need help for the Festival, right? I can work."
The woman pondered over this. "We're closing shop for the celebration this year." She looked at Sora's pleading face long and hard before offering him a proposition: "I'll trade you these pencils for that crown pendant of yours."
Sora was already undoing the clasp.
Kairi studied herself, making sure everything was in place. She'd managed to wrap Sora's gift and slip into her white, party dress with time to spare. It was the same routine every year. The gang of boys would poke at Selphie and herself for dolling up in frilly lace and silky ribbons. Always white, as tradition. Then, the girls would have their fun, asking how come Tidus, Wakka, Riku, and Sora never cleaned up so nicely all year 'round. Kairi had to admit. They were darling in black slacks and white dress shirts.
Kairi finished her inspection and smiled. This was her last chance to enjoy Riku and Sora's company for Christmas...that she knew of. It had to be flawless. She gathered up her packages and bags that lay on her bed before heading out, her pulse spiking with every step.
The fountain...the centerpiece of the Christmas Festival...that was the ideal gift-giving spot of the party. People of all ages, from adults to kids to parents and friends, gathered here. It was so big, there was more than enough room for such happenings.
As for Sora and his friends, they preferred the northern section of the stonework. It was on the opposed side of the dancing ground so it was an easy spot to nab. More away from the tune of Jingle Bells and the like, each of them sat their presents against the fountain while they dangled their toes into the crystal-clear water.
They'd already opened two of the team's gifts. Sora wasn't surprised to find a recurring Blitz Ball theme in Wakka and Tidus' presents. Though...a little intrigued by their insight to give Selphie and Kairi something and feminine as perfume. Usually it was, believe it or not, sparring equipment.
Now it was Selphie's turn. She handed everyone a small box, identical to the others in every way. "Merry Christmas!" she squealed.
Sora ripped away the wrapping paper and tossed it over his head. He opened the container to find a palm-sized holiday ornament...mistletoe. Sora chanced a glace at everyone else's and saw that they all hand the same decoration, too. Selphie was known as the romantic of the bunch – she handed out ornaments every year. Something everyone had grown used to. Usually the trinkets had something to do with the obtainee's individuality. One time, Wakka'd received a Blitz Ball.
"Sorry, guys," Selphie apologized. "The shop themed on me. It's the only one they had."
Tidus scrutinized the ornament. "No prob. It's...nice?"
Wakka grinned evilly. "I think I'm gonna have fun with this years present, ya?" He dangled the mistletoe over Tidus and Selphie's head – both of whom screamed and struggled to escape the line of fire. The three of them ended up vanishing into the crowd, Wakka chasing down the objects of his torment with his tiny adornment.
Kairi laughed. "I guess we'll give them our presents later."
Riku pocketed his ornament. "Okay. My turn." He tossed Sora a badly wrapped lump and handed Kairi a teddy bear with a big, red bow tied to its ear.
"AW!" Kairi hugged the stuffed animal close. "It's so cute! Thank you!"
Sora fiddled with his present while Kairi fussed. He managed to tear open one of the edges and found a slip of paper there. It read: YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO. And inside was... "Gah!" Sora folded the paper back over the yellow fruit. He faked a smile. "I can't believe you got me this." There was a hint of a threat in his voice that only Riku heard.
His friend chuckled. "I knew you wanted to try it so-"
"Be quiet!" Sora hissed. "Why do you keep-"
"Do you like your gift?" Kairi asked, interrupting him.
"Yeah." Sora hid it behind his back. "Lots."
Riku pushed himself to his feet. "I think I'm going to save Tidus and Selphie now. They've been tortured enough." (Sora could have sworn up and down that he added: "But you two haven't.") Riku left them there, making an effort to act as if he hadn't planed any of this, the schemer.
"And then there were two," Kairi sighed. "Everyone keeps disappearing on us." She put her teddy in her lap. "Would you like to open my present while we wait?"
"Sure. You can open mine, too." Sora wanted to appear cool, clam, and collected. But it was impossible. He was so proud of his purchase, he had Kairi's gift out in his hand before she started searching for her present to him.
The Princess of Heart smiled at his persistence. She finally located a long, thin box and rested it between her fingers. After swapping what they'd bought, she said, "On the count of three, okay?"
"Okay." Sora resisted the urge to shake the package next to his ear. Curious didn't even begin to describe how he felt right about now. That and he was sure his heart had lodged itself in his throat. "One..."
"Three!" they shouted in unison.
At once, they dove into the unwrapping-as-quickly-as-they-could process without littering the fountain. However, abruptly, the sound of ripping paper came to an unpleasant halt. Both Kairi and Sora were completely frozen, staring deadpan at their gifts. There was absolute silence between them for a full minute before anything was said.
"Wow..." Kairi unfolded the leather packet and blinked at all the brand new colored pencils. "This is great..."
"Yeah." Sora halfheartedly removed the silver chain. "Great."
"But?" Kairi asked, sensing trouble.
Sora rubbed the back of his neck. "It's stupid but I...I sorta sold my crown to buy your present."
Kairi blushed. Noticeably. "You really did that. For me?"
"Yeah. Anything for you, Kairi."
She smiled sheepishly. "And I sold my sketchbook to buy your present."
"Man!" Sora dropped his head into his hands.
"We really screwed up, huh?"
Sora looked up at her, a crazy idea hitting him so hard, he was seeing stars. Paopu stars, that is. Maybe he'd spare Riku, on second thought. But sharing the fruit with Kairi? Right now? Here? Bold wasn't a strong enough word. Insane...yes. For all he knew, this was their last night together. So why chance it? Sora swallowed. It was difficult.
"Maybe not." He pulled out Riku's unwrapped package, just about ready to fall into the fountain he was so dizzy. Why? Telling someone you loved them wasn't nearly as easy as taking on embodiments of evil. In fact...Xemnas was in a run for his munny. Kairi was...was...she was terrifying.
Sora realized he hadn't explained himself when Kairi began to look worried. Gosh, her eyes were something else. "Uh, well, we can share this," he gulped. Sora tried to reveal what was within the wrapping. He really did. But his hands refused to move. He stared his fingers down, willing them mentally to do something other than tremble.
It didn't help matters when Kairi offered her assistance. She gently pried the star-shaped lump from Sora...only enough to where she could grab a hold of the hidden fruit. In this way, they were both touching it. Sharing the experience.
"What did Riku-" Kairi's words caught in her throat as the wrapping fell away.
Sora took a breath. "I don't know when I'll have to leave again. Leave you again. I don't know what my future holds. My destiny, my anything." He took the Paopu and broke it in half. "But I do know this: I want you to be a part of it."
Kairi silenced his fear of rejection when she took a bite of the end of the fruit, a bashful smile blooming across her face. "Anything for you," she whispered.
Sora felt so euphoric, he almost leapt to his feet and whooped for joy. Almost. A part of his brain reminded him that he hadn't eaten any of the Paopu himself. So he shoveled a good deal into his mouth...which ballooned his cheeks. He'd heard his entire life that the juice from a Paopu was the sweetest thing he'd ever taste. But nothing compared to the way Kairi looked at him then. It was enough to forget he had anything in his mouth to begin with. Somehow or another, he managed to swallow. Bliss-stricken, he matched Kairi's expression and...sat there. Sora was truly adrift in her eyes. He only lost contact when she hugged him around the neck.
Sora returned her embrace. He had a better handle on things this go around – he wasn't about to lose precious seconds because he was baffled or surprised. "Merry Christmas, Kairi."
"Merry Christmas, Sora." Giggling, she withdrew from him. "C'mon!" Kairi insisted. "Dance with me."
The Princess pulled him off his feet and yanked him into the crowd, not hampered in the least. For tonight, they were to behave as any other normal teenagers would. It was one they wouldn't forget anytime soon.
"Love is the thank you that's never silenced." - Unknown
A/N: WOOT! I love fluff. And Christmas Fluff pwns. I hope you enjoyed the one-shot. Leave a review and I promise to get back to you. Thanks very much for reading.