For xsynthetic-smile's songfic challenge.

Augh, okay. Double spacing and song lyrics do not go well together. Frankly, trying to maneuver the stubborn, vindictive (mutter mutter) thing sucked, and so I had to freakin' rearrange two of the stanzas because it's stupid. I curse it in my mind.

Anyway, yes, this is a songfic, and the lyrics are "Drops of Jupiter" by Train. It's such a gorgeous song, and, frankly, I've been obsessed with it for a couple of days now. So why not put it into a Kaiora fic?

Disclaimer: I own not the superbly awesome Kingdom Hearts, nor the genius lyrics of "Drops of Jupiter" by Train.

-- - --

Now that she's back in the atmosphere,
With drops of Jupiter in her hair, hey, hey…

It was the sound of her name on his lips, the surprised exclamation of "Kairi!" coming out in a rush of breath and gentle tone, that jerked him into the full reality that she was no illusion. The fluorescent lights played on her hair, the soft glistening entrancing him, and she laughed the way always remembered her laughing, hands clasped behind her back and eyes closed in genuine bliss as she engaged herself in the conversation. She was really there, in the same room as he, after so long that she'd been gone.

If he hadn't been watching her, so transfixed by the ethereal glow only her true form could conjure, he wouldn't have believed it to be true.

She acts like summer and walks like rain,
Reminds me that there's time to change, hey, hey

She was just as sweet as always, it seemed. Her personality emanated even from across the room with a beauty that could floor a person, her cheer warming his heart with familiarity as she held up her hand and leaned forward a little more, giggling and shaking her head as she said something to excuse herself. Her friend, a brunette he didn't recognize, nodded and clasped her hands together, eyes bright.

Turning fluidly on her heel, Kairi was striding away from his sight, so he turned his head to watch her go, somewhat aware that the guys he'd been talking to presently had fallen silent to stare at him in confusion. Her footsteps held that same energy they always had, her stride full of purpose and determination and yet never hurried. Just her walking across the room, the way her red hair – which she'd grown out – brushed against her neck and the way the hands at her sides swept at her skirt, had his heart racing, and he waved his hand absently as someone slapped him upside the head, rolling his eyes at their knowing laughter.

Since the return from her stay on the moon,
She listens like spring and she talks like June, hey, hey…

She was closer now, stopping at a refreshment table. Her back was to him, and she stretched her arm forward as someone came behind her and tapped her on the shoulder. She jumped, giving a surprised laugh, and a reminiscent smile floated to his face at her reaction. He remembered many times he'd spent sneaking up on her, tickling her sides slightly to get her to squeak and spin around, only to laugh that laugh of hers as she slapped him playfully across the shoulder.

He'd done anything for her attention back then, when they were kids.

Presently her hand was stilled on the table, cup in hand, as her head was tilted in interest, her eyes training on the newcomer's face as a smile slipped to her face as he continued to talk. Gently putting up with his talking, nodding once or twice, she then laughed at something he said and eagerly nodded again, lips moving fast as she warmly contributed, the other falling back on his heels to grin as he crossed his arms over his chest.

His own lip twitched, nose wrinkling at the chemistry between them. And he should've been strolling over there, tapping her on the shoulder and capturing her attention as he reacquainted himself with his childhood best friend, but instead he glowered quite stubbornly as his friends behind him started laughing and shaking his shoulder.

"Yeah, yeah…" he muttered.

Well tell me, did you sail across the sun?
Did you make it to the Milky Way
to see the lights all faded,
And that heaven is overrated?

Tell me, did you fall for a shooting star?
One without a permanent scar,
And did you miss me while you were looking
for yourself out there?

Why was Kairi back? She'd left with barely a good-bye, tears of sadness in her eyes but a look of fury on her face, as she'd stood before him. Her head had been bowed in defeat, her hands had been fisted in front of her, and a pack had been over her shoulder, and he'd been listening only half-way as she apologized and kept repeating her reasons, as he couldn't fully comprehend that she was leaving him. They'd always been together, and they were going to go places together, he, Kairi, and Riku forever a faithful trio as they fulfilled their dreams side by side.

Sure, he'd been naïve then, but it was the dream he wanted. The dream she was breaking, body shuddering from suppressed sobs as she just repeated again that she had to get away, rubbing at her arm as her eyes darted to his and then away uncomfortably.

"Kairi…" he'd tried, reaching out as his voice cracked and then pulling back somewhat uncertainly, struggling with what to do. And she'd covered her mouth, apologizing a final time through a sob as she'd turned and fled, short hair fluttering in the breeze as she rushed down his steps and further down the walkway, to where her car sat running.

Only when she'd sped away had it fully kicked in that she was gone, and he'd fallen to his knees, heart suddenly feeling only half-complete.

Yet now, now she was there, chatting easily with a boy he didn't recognize, easily falling into the celebrations of a reunited class, giggling once or twice as if she'd suddenly become the happiest person on the planet. It was as if in her traveling she'd held the sun, moon, and stars in her hand, and had found herself, transforming into a beautiful, confident woman whose troubles were now in the past.

Maybe that was so.

With a painful twinge, he wondered as well if she'd found someone that she now regarded as precious to her, a boyfriend or maybe, (and worse off), a fiancé. She certainly looked happy, and he had to be suspicious that another man was the cause of that. After all, only he and Riku had ever made her shine so much before, a thing he was quite proud of. She was their light, and in turn they rewarded her by protecting her from the world with every ounce of strength they had.

Lowering his eyes from her for the first time since he'd caught sight of five minutes ago, he wondered if she'd even thought of him once since she'd been gone. Had she thought of him and, more importantly, had she missed him? He'd certainly missed her. So much so that he'd never been able to find himself a girlfriend, because he hadn't wanted to replace her memory.

She'd hurt him by leaving, and he wondered if she'd hurt half as much as he had.

Now that she's back from that soul vacation,
Tracing her way through the constellation, hey, hey…
She checks out Mozart while she does tae-bo,
Reminds me that there's room to grow, hey, hey…

Shaking his head, he freed himself of such thoughts, deciding it didn't matter now that she was back. She'd finished finding herself in the vast world outside their little safe haven of a school where their friendship had first blossomed, and dwelling on the memories and wounded feelings was just keeping him from her. Nervous as he was about talking with her again, though, he just clenched his fists in firm resolve and swallowed, walking away from the group he'd been laughing with. They voiced their confusion as they called after him, but he didn't look back, shaking slightly as he attempted to ease the tension in his upper body, letting his arms fall a little more comfortably at his sides and swallowing again to try to erase the dry feeling at the back of his throat. The butterflies he would have to ignore.

He was approaching just as Kairi clapped her hands and asked him about his favorite classical music, remarking that she liked so many but she was currently fascinated with Mozart. He smirked as the man opposite her hesitated, fumbling, and she covered her mouth, giggling and saying that he didn't listen to classical music, did he.

He almost laughed as the other blushed, averting his eyes as Kairi swept away the tension by commenting about whether he did anything like yoga or martial arts, dwelling on how she especially liked listening to Mozart as she did tae-bo in her living room.

He smiled gently, pleased to see that the intelligence he'd admired so much in her was still at work.

Now that she's back in the atmosphere,
I'm afraid that she might think of me as plain ol' Jane
Told a story about a man who is too afraid to fly so he never did land

He was almost there, too, when he suddenly stopped in his steps, eyes wide, and then veered left, safely behind her. Stopping several feet from where he stood, he listened to her laugh as he grabbed a cup of punch, for a moment glancing suspiciously at the server. One of the things he'd never grown to trust was the loyalty of people, not since a party in his junior year in high school when he'd gone with Riku and Kairi (against his will since he was still rather nervous around people) and had won himself a spot near the refreshment table for the majority of the night, drinking what he remembered as weird-tasting fruit punch. It wasn't until near 11:30 that he, after he'd been swaying unsteadily on his feet for an hour and noting how strangely the room was spinning, had stumbled into the center ring of attention and had fallen to his knees, going sick all over the floor. His ears had burned with shame as their laughter resounded all around him, and he'd only been rescued by Kairi's familiar touch and Riku barking at them all to shut up and get a life.

It was the first time he'd fully leaned on Kairi for support, shaking terribly against her in the back seat as Riku rushed all of them back to his house. Just another reason he was thankful to have the both of them in his life.

"Hnn…" he muttered, slight scowl on his face as he drank only a little of the refreshment, thinking his suspicions rather ridiculous. But then again, one couldn't help their nature, and thanks to the cruelty – or stupidity, whichever one – of his classmates, he was forever on alert about watching what he accepted at any party.

Turning slightly and lifting the cup to his lips, he tilted it back as he realized that he could hear Kairi's voice clearly from where he stood, still as sweet as always and now even more beautiful with her maturity. She was talking to a new person, one of their friends from school, Hayner, the other man having drifted away as he'd come to the realization that Kairi wasn't so easily swayed by well-crafted lies and insincere flattery. And he turned a little more, still focusing away to appear as if he wasn't listening, all the while keying in to the tale her words wove, lids falling slightly in fondness towards her as he felt a kind of awe at the life she'd been leading.

She'd been to so many places he'd only hoped to go when they were younger, laughing over some, reminiscing wistfully over others. And he felt suddenly obsolete next to her, so small and unaccomplished whereas she'd done everything the two of them had ever imagined together. It made him wonder what she would think of him, if he ever mustered up the courage to say hello before the long night ended and they went their separate ways.

Who would he be, compared to all the people she'd come to meet? Someone she'd been close to whom she'd just drifted away from, or still the best friend she'd curled up next to on rainy days, laughing about nothing and everything at the same time as they fought over the popcorn, both voting out the sappy romance in favor of the sidesplitting comedy.

Would he still be Sora in her eyes, or had Sora disappeared to her?

After all, he'd never fulfilled any of his dreams, while she'd flown off to hers so long ago.

Well tell me, did the wind sweep you off your feet?
Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day,
And head back to the Milky Way?
And tell me, did Venus blow your mind?
Was it everything you wanted to find
And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there…

There were so many questions he wanted to ask her, but as he swallowed more of the drink in his hand his mouth immediately went dry and his legs refused to move. Stubbornly he looked ahead, eyeing her from his peripheral vision as he watched Riku cross the room, looking once in his direction and then smirking slightly as he stopped and pointing to the girl to his left. He glowered and waved his hand, daring him to alert his presence to the redhead; his friend merely shrugged in reply, turning and chatting with a pretty blonde who was standing next to his cousin Roxas and his girlfriend, Olette. They quickly became absorbed in each other, and Sora grinned despite himself.

He made the wrong move of looking over to his left, however, because immediately Hayner jerked his head in shock and exclaimed, "Sora! Long time no see!" He stiffened, wondering if he should try to kill him with his eyes or hate him more subtly, and then he was looking into the beautiful blue of Kairi's eyes that he could never forget. He swallowed, hand suddenly shaking, and grinned awkwardly before downing his punch to give himself something to do.

"Sora?" she asked in surprise, and sheepishly he lowered his head and place the cup down on the table beside him, running his fist along his mouth so he didn't have some stupid pink stain there the rest of the night.

Though, of course, he was certain a stupid pink blush was now flaring on his cheeks as she smiled slightly at his awkward behavior. "H-hey, Kairi," he finally stuttered, noting with contempt that Hayner was slipping away before he could kill him.

She clasped her hands in front of her, smile falling as sadness entered her eyes. "It's…it's been a while, hasn't it?"

His lip twitched and he looked down, a scratch on the wooden floor near his sneaker capturing his attention. "If five years is long to you, then yeah."

"Sora…" she tried, touching the bottom of his chin and guiding his head back to look at her. Her winced, mouth twitching as he tried to keep back his anger and sadness, wishing all the loneliness she'd left in him when she'd just walked away could disappear so they could have a few hours of happiness. "Sora, I'm so sorry," she murmured.

He shrugged and she sighed, slipping her hand to his cheek instead of giving up. His face warmed. "You had to go," he said indifferently, though his eyes darted away from her as he said so. "You had to find yourself, see what you could be out of your sheltered existence with just Riku and me. I understand. And look at you," he said, laughing gently, though he winced at the bitter undertone he hadn't meant to add. "You're just as perfect as ever; more so, even."

"I missed you," she continued, protesting to his attempts to just brush the matter aside. "Every day."

His shoulders fell at her words. "Did you really, Kairi? Even with all the places you've seen and people you've met. Even with all the wonders you got to experience? You still thought of me, your childhood friend you left behind?"

"You know I did," she said, pulling his face closer so that his forehead could rest on hers. His hands itched at his sides, and he just wanted to hug her, grinning into his hair and laughing over memories, but he was still so wary, so afraid, that she didn't want him anymore. "And you're not just some childhood friend, Sora. You more than anyone should know how much I care about you."

"Yeah. You cared enough to leave." Why couldn't he let this go? Honestly. Why now was he being stubborn about this?

She sighed in frustration and poked him in the ribs. He shifted at that and laughed somewhat, causing her to giggle along with him. And just like that he'd muttered "sorry" and swept her into his arms, remarking on how much he'd missed her and how glad he was to see her.

She smiled and turned her head, cheek resting on his chest as he tilted his head and grinned, heart racing but also feeling whole again. She was real in his arms, and best of all she felt right in his arms.

She was really back.

Can you imagine no love, pride, deep-fried chicken,
Your best friend always sticking up for you…
Even when I know you're wrong.
Can you imagine no first dance, freeze dried romance, five-hour phone conversation,
The best soy latte that you ever had
...and me.

Pulling back and tickling him slightly at the sides, Kairi grinned and leaned against the table, palms flat at the edges, fingers brushing at the fluttering white tablecloth. She tilted her head, too, weight resting comfortably at the table's edge as she allowed him to stare at her a few seconds past comfortable, always smiling.

Finally he snapped out of his trance. "It was…tough, without you."

Her smile dropped and she sighed, gaze switching to the floor, feet shifting somewhat as she nodded dejectedly. "I couldn't say a proper good-bye. It would just hurt too much, Sora, and I was already dying inside knowing that I was hurting you two by not allowing you guys to come. It didn't hit me until two long highway rides and one gas station stop, believe it or not, that you two more than anyone would understand the pain I was feeling. I guess I was just too out of my wits to even consider it." She sighed and shrugged her shoulders. "After all, Riku's mom with her drinking problems, and your dad…" she winced and shot him a look, but he flashed her a smile, to which she responded with a weak one of her own. "Well, yeah. You would've been able to help me through my mom dying. I just hurt too much though to even consider I was giving up so much more by fleeing all my memories."

He laughed slightly, looking out at the floor that held half of the friends he knew and then half of the ones he didn't, their memories intertwining with them as both stared collectively.

"Your first crush," he said suddenly, grinning wickedly. "You were convinced you were madly in love with Riku, and ran and tugged on my hand, begging me to help."

She blushed and looked away, scowling. "Yeah, well I was in, what? Ninth grade? I really thought I loved him."

"We couldn't be together as a group for half a year because it was so awkward," he laughed, and she shot him a look.

"Well what about you? You got yourself nearly suspended because you were too proud to apologize to a student after you beat him to near unconsciousness."

Sora grinned and rubbed the back of his head. "Oh yeah. That was tenth grade, right?" He thought a moment, recalling the rage he'd felt at that time, and he shrugged it off before he could become too affected again. "He deserved it, you know. The way he treated you…"

"You still broke his nose."

"He wasn't much to look at to begin with."

Kairi giggled. "You goof. Even now you're stubborn about it."

He grinned lopsidedly. "Riku said I didn't do a good enough job at teaching him a lesson, you know that? We were always so serious about protecting you."

She tilted her head fondly. "And I appreciated everything you guys did."

He smiled back, tender eyes locking gazes with her for a moment or two, and then his gaze lowered to his feet. His smile grew, and he laughed somewhat. "Remember my attempt at cooking for you when you were sick?"

She burst out laughing, leaning over, and he glanced up, nose wrinkling as he grinned teasingly. "Yeah. You'd think a guy would cook soup, but no. I come downstairs in my blanket, woken because of your shouting, and find my kitchen a mess thanks to your attempts at cooking fried chicken." She giggled again. "Your excuse was that Riku had already made soup and you could do better than him."

He scratched at his nose, laughing softly. "It was so awful, too."

She giggled. "Well I couldn't taste it, I was so sick, so I wouldn't know."

Smile playing still on his lips, he leaned back, hands falling to either side of him as he mimicked her position, weight coming to rest against the edge of the long table. He glanced about with a sweeping gaze, taking in the balloons bunched up one either side of the entrance to the gym, the "Welcome Back!" banner drooping slightly and rather crookedly over the doors. His eyes fell to a pair he didn't recognize as they entered, and then he was looking back to Kairi, who'd closed her eyes peacefully, smile still on her lips, too.

She looked lovely, with the light making her red hair look so much softer. Her lips were full and cherry-red, and her skin was smooth and pale. She'd been perfect before, but he didn't know the word for her now. Whatever it was, it made his heart ache with love for her, and he lowered his head to glance at his feet, blush spreading across his cheeks.

He'd never fallen out of love with her, he knew that now.

"I can't believe all those times you stood up for me, really," she said, voice cutting into his musings gently. "All those times I would insist something, or say you had to do it my way, or refused to do what you wanted because of my, well, stubborn attitude," she flushed in embarrassment at that, and he resisted the urge to chuckle, allowing only a grin to fall across his lips, "and you were still there. I mean, Riku was there, too, but he was so easily frustrated by the both of us sometimes, because of his situation and all." She looked sideways and over to him, expression softening. "But you were always patient with me," she said, voice full of awe.

He tilted his head towards her, realizing that in her presence he could never be without a smile. She just affected him so much with her loving manner. And no matter that he was a cheerful, carefree person by nature. Kairi made him a better person, just by being near him.

How incredible.

"It wasn't as hard as you think," he laughed, and she smiled appreciatively, attention going back to the floor, attracted by the music that had started up again after a half-an-hour of silence.

Her expression softened as he watched her, and he had to wonder what it was that she was thinking about. Following her gaze, he caught sight first of Roxas twirling Olette recklessly as she giggled in his ear and told him to cut it out, though obviously really enjoying it. One of those wide grins he only had for the brunette was on his face, too, and he pressed a kiss to her forehead as they fooled around without a care at the center of the floor, knowing that it would be a long time before they saw the people in that room again and so purposely not caring about what they were or were not whispering.

He grinned and his attention moved across the floor. He was surprised to note that Riku was dancing, too, his silver-haired friend more of the "glare-and-hold-up-the-wall" type when such recreations took place. But now he was guiding the blonde in his arms across the floor, her gentle laughter causing him to let down his guards as he rarely did and just smile.

"Riku…" Kairi murmured, tilting her head and closing her eyes with a smile. "He's changed so much. I wish I'd been there to experience it."

He winced, hoping to avoid that conversation again, because its memory left a bitter taste in his mouth. So, looking back ahead as he'd turned his attention to look at her, he trained his eyes on his best friend who was sincerely enjoying himself in the company of the blonde girl.

"Remember our first dance?"

"Yeah…" she murmured wistfully. He turned his head to look at her, and she looked back with a smile. "It was the first time I honestly considered you to be more of a romantic than you let on."

He flushed and looked down. "Yeah, well, you were depressed and all…"

She shook her head, he catching the motion and looking up. "Doesn't take away from the fact that you seriously ran after me after I'd fled in embarrassment from the prom. Sora, whether you know it or not, it's every girl's dream to be given a flower and then dance under the moonlight." She smiled widely. "I'd never felt safer than when I was in your arms that night."

He lowered his gaze and smiled gently, recalling that night vividly. Her tears liquid silver in the moonlight, the curled hair piled atop her head flowing down to her shoulders, dislodged from when she'd run, her red dress bringing out her pale skin that glowed beneath the stars. He'd momentarily forgotten what he was going to say, so entranced by her beauty, and she'd shifted uncomfortably and asked him what was wrong before he could snap to. Shaking his head, he'd fumbled at the jacket of his suit, retrieving the rose his mother had insisted on pinning there, and then hesitantly extended it to her, saying he wasn't worth it and he could go to hell for the things he'd said to her.

She'd laughed through her tears and wrapped her arms around him, and he'd asked her then if she wouldn't mind dancing with him, now that they weren't in front of everyone.

"Sora," she'd said, wrapping her arms around his neck willingly, "I'd dance with you anytime."

"You were what kept me from crying myself to sleep that night," she said, her voice again bursting his thoughts so that he was pulled back to the present. He swung his gaze back to her, smiling.

"I'm happy I could help."

She raised her arms over head. "Wow, I still remember those phone calls we'd always have with each other at just the right times." She shook her head. "We'd talk about nothing. Just homework, or gossip that we thought was stupid, or just about the classes we had the next day, and yet soon we'd be talking for five hours and neither one of us would be the first to hang up." She giggled. "Remember how we ended up making it into a contest later on, and the first to cave had to do some outrageous dare?"

"Yeah," he said, and then he wrinkled his nose. "You almost made me kiss Riku."

She covered her mouth and giggled. "I just wanted to see the look on your face. And let me tell you, it was priceless."

He crossed his eyes and shot her a look, and she giggled again. "Yeah. Like that."

He dropped his head and sighed. "He would've killed me, and then I would've come back from the dead and haunted you, you know."

"Because that always happens," she said with a laugh.

He grinned back. "Of course."

Both laughed a little and lapsed into a comfortable silence, now leaning against each other as they made it a game to think up the craziest of memories. That was how it had used to be, the two of them competing in a different form; it was always who could do the most outlandish things, who could be most creative, who was most daring. And he was glad for that, because it made for great memories, memories he hadn't thought he'd be reliving until that moment. He could honestly admit that he'd forgotten half the stuff they used to do together.

It was nice, then, that they were reliving them together.

"Remember our coffee escapades?" he asked with a laugh, arms crossed over his chest as he nudged her with his shoulder, still leaning against the table. She covered her mouth and giggled, a sign that, yes, she did.

"Ugh," she laughed, "I can't drink coffee anymore because of that."

"We'd just sit there in the café for hours, first struggling over the names we couldn't pronounce and then laughing over the faces we made at how awful they tasted." He was laughing at the end of the sentence. "Every Saturday sophomore year. You'd think we'd have better things to do."

She tilted her head. "The soy latte was pretty good, you know. It was the only one I actually liked." She looked at him and smiled. "In fact, you dared me to drink it, just because it sounded so awful."

He laughed. "Funny how things work out like that."

She smiled gently. "Yeah."

Again, silence fell, and Kairi let her hand slip comfortably into his. Startled, he looked over, and she rested her head on his shoulder and glanced up at him, affection etched deeply into her eyes. He blushed and then let his head fall onto hers, hand dropping off the table so he could fully curl his fingers around hers, smiling slightly into her hair. In all the five years that she'd been out of his life, he'd never imagined it could be like this, just like the way it used to be, when they loved each other as much as friends possibly could, forgiving the pain and embracing the happiness.

In all the five years, he'd never thought she'd come back.

Yet now her body was leaning into his, reassuring him that this was no illusion, and that if he blinked she would still be there. He hadn't thought such a simple thing could be so heartwarming.

"You know, I could never imagine a life without you." He started in surprise, and she squeezed his hand. "Even if I was away, I still had the memories of you, and it helped me get through the days where I could barely roll out from under my bedcovers, I was so depressed." She leaned affectionately into him. "All my good memories have you in them, Sora. It's such a beautiful gift."

He nudged her playfully. "You're getting sentimental on me, Kairi."

She giggled softly, though it wasn't with its normal cheer. "I just hope you know that I would never trade you or your friendship for anything or anyone."

He twisted and tilted her head upwards, catching the tears as they fell, just as he'd expected. Smiling gently, he nuzzled her face as he wiped the teardrops from her cheeks. "I know."

"I'm so sorry," she whispered.

He nodded again, standing up and pulling her into his arms. "I know, Kairi."

She sighed and eagerly wrapped her arms around him, burying her head into his chest. "I love you, Sora."

He stiffened, eyes wide as he tried to somehow believe those words were true. And as they kept echoing in his head, they just sounded too beautiful to be real. But then she looked up, fear of rejection on her face, and he laughed once in disbelief, trembling in happiness. "I-I…didn't know that…"

She laughed through her tears and buried her head back into his chest, shoulders falling in relief. "Well now you do."

His eyes softened. Yeah. Now he did.

But tell me, did the wind sweep you off your feet?
Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day
And head back toward the Milky Way?

A song floated through his ears, slower than the ones that had been floating around them for the long while that they had been talking, and she looked up at him shyly, smile playing on her lips. He blinked, still rather dazed by her words just moments before, and her smile widened as she stepped out of his arms and clasped her hands in front of her, head tilted cutely to the side.

"Sora, will you ask me to dance?"

He jerked out of his daze at her playful tone, lips curving up into a wide grin, and then extended his hand to her, nodding. "Kairi, would you, um…" he flushed a deep red, even though he realized it shouldn't be this difficult, considering she'd asked him to ask her, "like to dance?"

She covered her mouth with her other hand and giggled. "I'd love to."

So he led her out onto the floor, the wood bathed in the fluorescent light and looking quite bright as they found themselves suddenly in open space, the classmates they knew smiling knowingly as Sora looked pointedly away and Kairi blushed and looked at a spot on his shoulder. Fumbling nervously, he took her hands and then they were dancing quite easily, nothing fancy or spectacular of course, but rather falling into the comfort of each other's presence. If he concentrated enough away from the many stares, and if he lost himself to the music and her smile, it felt like they were just floating, dancing on nothing but air.

And he was suddenly glad Riku had showed up and dragged him out of his apartment that night, because he'd slammed the door in his face once, saying that they hadn't talked in two years and so why start now, and that a five year reunion was nothing important.

He'd been wrong, though, and Riku had known it. It was everything important, because in one night he'd met up with the cousin he'd been estranged from for too long, had met his girlfriend, had reconciled the argument that had kept Sora separated from his friend for two painful years, and had found again the girl he'd never stopped loving.

Five years had changed him, but in one night he was himself again and had never been happier.

Tell me, did you sail across the sun?
Did you make it to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded,
And that heaven is overrated?

Heaven had nothing on this, on this time, on this place, on this moment. And even as they separated, and people rushed forward and pulled them from each other, girls pressing Kairi with questions, guys wrapping their arms around his neck and ruffling his hair, he couldn't shake the peace that had settled in his heart. His laughter came freely, and he punched playfully at Tidus's arm, telling him to knock it off as he stepped out of his reach.

He bumped into Riku, too, on his way to keep Kairi to himself for the remaining hours, and stopped, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly as the other crossed his arms and arched an eyebrow.

"Uh, thanks."

Sora watched as a smirk tilted the corner of his friend's lips upwards, and Sora allowed himself a laugh. Knees bending as Riku playfully ruffled his hair, he grinned and pushed at his arm, flashes of high school days when all they'd ever do was fight or call each other names or behave in the fashion they were currently behaving in resurfacing in his mind. Everything he'd forgotten of his near-brother came rushing back, and he felt slightly bitter that they'd all grown up from then, when times were simple and smiles were easy.

But it seemed they'd crossed a barrier as extensive as the galaxy itself, and had finally comfortably found themselves again in a time and place where they could smile and laugh and be the close friends they used to be before time played a crafty hand in their lives.

And Kairi was back from a trip greater than either of theirs, hopefully to stay and add new memories to the ones mingling in the reminiscence of that night.

He didn't want her to leave ever again.

Tell me, did you fall for a shooting star
One without a permanent scar
And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself…

"Kairi!" he breathed out in relief, after he'd finally stumbled across her after catching up with Riku. She turned and flashed him a bright smile, hands clasped behind her back as she tilted her head at him.

Stepping forward, he hesitated, stopped, and then rubbed the back of his head. "So, uh, what now?" he mumbled, looking away.

"Hmm?" He looked back at her, and she blinked at him. "What do you mean?"

Wincing, he looked down at his feet and rubbed the back of his head again. "Well, what about…are you…mmm…" He knitted his brows, hand stilling. "Are you leaving again, Kairi?" he blurted out.

She blinked as he looked up, eyes wide and worried as they bore into hers, and then a small, gentle smile wiped away her confusion. "Sora," she murmured, "I've been back here for a year now."

He stared at her. "And you didn't…?"

"I didn't know where you lived, lazy bum," she laughed, tilting her head.

He relaxed, nodding. "So we'll keep in touch, then?"

Kairi nodded resolutely. "Of course."

Grinning in relief, he leaned down and kissed her before he knew what he was doing, closed eyes shooting open a moment later as he pulled back. Kairi, whose eyes were still shut, parted her lips slowly as her lids fluttered open, and she stared at him, startled.


He panicked. "Iloveyou?" he rushed quickly, a moment later clamping his hand over his mouth in shock. She blinked twice more before she let out a giggle, soon after that collapsing into hysterical laughter as her head came to rest against his chest. His body, still so stiff with surprise, slowly relaxed, and then he was wrapping his arms around his shoulders, grinning despite himself into her hair.

She tilted her head back and smiled. "You're cute."

His eyes softened, and he leaned down and gently captured her lips, one hand holding the small of her back as the other held the back of her head. It had been a long time since she'd said that to him, and in so teasing a tone.

Five years he'd worried about what she'd think about him if she ever did come back. He'd been so wounded by life, sometimes too unforgiving for his own liking. By senior year he was rapidly closing himself off, frustrating Riku and scaring Kairi, to the point when she would ask if she was really any good to him considering he wouldn't let her help him. It was the most painful year of his life, when he had begun to lose everything.

Lying in bed at night when she'd finally left, he imagined her finding the perfect guy out there, one who wasn't so scarred by domestic problems and a rather bitter attitude towards people's natures. He had come to the conclusion that she was happy, was flourishing, and was on the arm of another, some lucky bastard who kept her from even bothering to miss him.

Holding Kairi now, smoothing back her hair and recalling days of running along the beach and talking under the stars, he wondered when he'd lost so much faith in her, too.

"I love you," he whispered, this time a truer confession, and she responded in kind, wrapping her arms around his waist afterwards.

He smiled gently, burying his head into her hair, believing nothing could possibly make him happier than he was at that moment.

His Jupiter girl had finally touched back down to Earth, and had come to rest in his arms.

-- - --

I actually had a blast writing this. Epecially the whole "deep-fried chicken" segment (that's my favorite stanza to the song; the chicken part makes me want to giggle). And despite my immense frustration at the stubborn, vindictive (goes off into tangent again) attitude of this stupid computer, I'm good.

...well, I dunno about the end. That was kinda iffy on me. My romance seems to really suck.

Anyway, please review!