By: Koorino Megumi
Happy birthday to the wonderful Ginger Ninja! I can't wait to see you tomorrow!
This is a pre-game fic without spoilers. Special thanks to my amazing roommate Shelley for her inspiration!
Sora had never been very fond of flowers. They tended to attract insects that he didn't like, and they also made his nose itch. Why would you want to be around something that only made you sneeze?
But that had all changed after she'd come to the island.
"We should give her something," Riku stated the morning they'd heard the news from the mayor.
"Yeah!" Sora enthusiastically agreed. "...like what?"
"Well..." Riku frowned. "What do girls like? I bet we need something better than a frog, huh?"
Sora blinked. "What? What's wrong with a frog?"
"Come on!" The older boy rolled his eyes. "Don't you know anything? Girls are scared of frogs."
"Hey!" Sora protested, "I know stuff! Like girls can't be scared of frogs. Selphie likes frogs."
"That's because she's not a normal girl," Riku replied knowingly. "Just look, she hangs out with Wakka and Tidus! And she's crazy with that jump rope."
Sora considered this for a moment. Riku had a point; the brunette couldn't picture the new girl running around swinging a jump rope like a whip. So maybe a frog wasn't a good idea after all. But what was? "Okay," he conceded, "So what do girls like if they don't even like frogs?"
Riku frowned at that. "Well...they like pretty stuff. And Mom always tells Dad to get her 'spensive stuff, but we can't get that..."
"Aren't frogs pretty?"
Riku rolled his eyes. "Do you see your mom putting frogs out for people to look at?"
Sora burst out laughing at the very thought of his mother and a frog in the same vicinity. "No way! She only likes to show off embarrassing pictures." He scrunched up his nose as Riku started laughing now.
"Yeah, like that one of you after you fell out of the boat that one time!"
"You tripped me!"
Sora pouted mightily. "Anyway, it's gone now."
Riku raised an eyebrow. "Gone? Didja sneak off with it?"
"What? I couldn't do that! Mom would be sad..." The boy reddened slightly.
"So where is it?" Riku pressed.
Sora opened his mouth to reply, then hesitated, glancing around furtively. "Promise you won't tell?"
The older boy grinned. "Sure thing."
"Okay, but if you do, I'll tell your dad what really happened to that shovel."
"Hey, I said I promised!"
"Okay." Sora glanced around again before leaning in close to whisper, "It's hiding behind her huuuuuge flower pot."
Riku blinked at him. "Her flower pot?"
"Yeah, the really big one with the dead flowers Dad gave her for her birthday that she says she can't throw away! It's behind it. She likes those flowers so much she'll never get rid of 'em, and no one will ever even know it's there!"
Riku's face lit up at those words. "Sora, you're a genius!" he exclaimed.
Sora screwed up his face in surprise at that. It was about the last thing he would ever have expected Riku to say to him. "Really? I thought it was real smart, but-"
"Not that!" Riku cried, laughing, "Not the pot! The flowers."
Sora blinked. "The flowers...?"
"The ones your dad gave your mom."
"Oh." Another blink. "And they make me a genius?"
Riku sighed. "I guess not."
"But don't you get it?" the older boy pressed, "Flowers! They're something we can find, and they're the perfect gift for a girl! They love them so much, they don't even care when they're dead!"
One more blink, followed by a grin. "Oh! I guess I am a genius."
Riku snorted, hitting the brunette lightly on the head while striding past him. "Come on! We've gotta find some good ones."
"So uh...what are you guys doing?"
If Tidus hadn't put out a hand to stop him, Sora would have run head-first into the other boy. As it was, the unexpected contact made him stumble, and suddenly the young boy found himself on his butt in the dirt.
Riku stopped right when the blond spoke, and he straightened to his full height, trying to look as natural as possible. "It's a special game," he said immediately.
Tidus cocked his head. "A game? What kind of game?"
Sora sneezed for the thousandth time that day. Sighing, he got back to his feet, dusting off his pants a little but heedless of the dirt that he smeared across his cheek afterwards. "It's a search!" he explained, "We're just looking for-"
Worms!" Riku hurriedly interrupted, "We're looking for worms."
Sora turned to the other boy in confusion at that, giving him a look that either meant, "Why not tell him the truth?" or "Why not frogs instead?" But then he sneezed, and the other boy spoke before he could interject.
"You 'member the storm yesterday! Some of the worms are still in the grass. If you look real close, you can see 'em. We're counting how many we see. I'm winning," he couldn't resist adding.
"Hey, you are not!" Sora protested.
"Are not! You're just lying 'cause-"
"Wanna play?" Riku quickly asked Tidus, resisting the urge to put a hand over Sora's mouth.
Tidus was giving them a look that screamed lack of interest. "Uh...that's okay. You have fun. Wakka and I are gonna practice fighting monsters instead."
"Aww, really?" Sora pouted. "Hey Riku, you think-"
"If you quit now, I win."
Sora's eyes widened, and he sighed. "Fine. Sorry, Tidus. Maybe later."
"Yeah, uh...you guys have fun."
Riku took the opportunity to start forward, eyes again glued to the ground. "We will. There's another, Sora! I'm winning by even more!"
"You're kidding!" Sora protested, rushing after Riku with his own eyes intently on the ground again. He was in such a hurry to win that he almost forgot what he was really looking for. Then he sneezed, and it all came back to him.
Several hours, several tumbles, several scrapes and bruises, and a lot of sneezes later, the two boys finally plopped down in the middle of the path and spread their findings out before them.
"How 'bout this one?" Sora asked, holding up a yellow flower with a broken stem. "It's bright. Don't girls like bright?"
Riku scrunched his nose at it. "Sora, that's a weed."
"It is?" Sora blinked. "How can you tell?"
"Because that's what those are! We want ones like this." He held up a small purple bloom.
Sora frowned at it. "You mean small ones?"
Riku sighed. "Not just small ones! Pretty ones. That aren't weeds." He gave the younger boy a pointed look. "So here, let's put the good ones in a pile right here so we can make a bouquet." And he set his purple flower very carefully in the grass before him.
"Okay..." Sora agreed uncertainly, eyeing the greenery before him. "How about-"
"But why not-"
"Half the petals are missing!"
Sora sneezed, and Riku went back to sorting his own findings.
It took another hour for the boys to put together their bouquet. When it was done and Riku was admiring it, Sora was instead busy looking forlornly at his pile of rejects. "Riku, are you sure-"
"Sora," the older boy started, glowering down at his friend with the full power of his only-slightly-taller height, "It's done." Then, his expression softening a little at the other's disheartened look, he added, "Come on, it's almost dark! Don't you wanna get it to her tonight? I bet she'll be scared her first night in a new house."
Sora considered that and nodded. "Yeah, I would be." His expression abruptly grew determined, and he grabbed Riku's hand. "Okay then, let's go!"
When the little girl was just short of the house's entryway, she stopped, peering very nervously around the corner. Sora spotted her immediately and leaned to the side so he could see her better, waving enthusiastically. "Hi!" he exclaimed.
The girl peered uncertainly back at him for a bit before she came forward, very slowly, to stand beside the mayor. She had short brown hair and bright blue eyes. "Hi," she replied softly.
"Don't be scared! We're friendly, see?" Sora gave her his biggest smile.
The girl burst out laughing at the sight, and Riku shook his head at the other boy. "What he means," he said, pulling out the hand that he'd been hiding behind his back, "is we brought you something!"
"Yeah!" Sora chimed in, "Ta-da!"
What he was gesturing proudly to was what appeared to be about half of a very wind-tattered bouquet. Riku frowned at it. "It's his fault," he stated.
"What? I didn't do anything!"
The girl giggled as they glared at each other, and she reached out to accept the flowers. "I think they're really pretty," she said. Then, timidly, added, "My name is Kairi. What are yours?"
"I'm Sora!" Sora declared, striking a pose. Riku hit him in the chest. "Hey!" the brunette protested.
The older boy rolled his eyes. "Don't mind him. But I'm Riku. Nice to meet you, Kairi."
"Yeah!" Sora echoed, "We don't have any normal girls on the island! Uh...except you, I mean."
Kairi laughed again. "Does that mean you guys are normal boys?"
"Yeah, no one would ever think Sora was normal."
It was about a half-hour later, once the mayor's wife had put bandages on their wounds, the flowers were in a vase in the middle of the kitchen table, and all three children were sitting around it enjoying milk and cookies, that Sora decided maybe there was something good about flowers after all. Because even though a frog would be much easier to get, the way Kairi's eyes lit up when she looked at the flowers made all the work worth it. Even the sneezing.