This was written for Gray-Rain Skies' sokai challenge. Everybody loves a good Sora/Kairi! Hope you all enjoy, especially Gray-Rain Skies!

Italics are Kairi's thoughts.

Timeline: 2 weeks have passed since Sora and Riku's return to the islands.

Disclaimer: Don't own it!

another.sleepless.night

alone

She strolled the dark city, listening to the infinite hum of the cicadas. It was another one of those nights. One of those sleepless nights. Since her precious boys had finally returned to her, Kairi had been having trouble sleeping. Granted, she loved the warm, lazy afternoons spent with her best friends. The three would never leave each other's side during the day. It was the night that she despised. For in the night, all the thoughts that need to be kept silent come rushing into her mind. The thoughts of darkness overpowering Riku. The thoughts of Sora being slashed to bits by a raging heartless. The thoughts of Sora giving his heart to save her. The thoughts of herself. Alone.

In the first few of these lonely nights, Kairi would toss and turn in bed, staring at the blank wall next to her bed. She soon learned that her parents were quite the pair of sound sleepers and was more than keen to sneak out the back door after they had fallen asleep. I'm not gonna sleep anyway was her reasoning.

Kairi grew fond of the darker side of her hometown after the first few escapes. During the day, the first side of the town radiated happiness. The islands were bustling with summertime activity and the streets were packed with people. Children ran barefoot up and down the emerald hills. Teenagers lay out on the mainland beach, attempting to get that oh-so-perfect tan. The merchants would be all smiles, selling fruit and freshly baked breads in the market.

The second side is a different story.

The night envelops the town, casting unfriendly shadows in every crevice. There are no children running, no sun to tan by, no smiles. Just loneliness. Her first few nights alone in the abandoned city were frightening, but Kairi learned to love the tranquil silence.

While wandering aimlessly, she would still think those bad thoughts. But at least she wasn't as alone as she was in her bed; she had the swaying palm trees, the crashing waves, and the grains of sand under her feet for company.

It was another one of those sleepless, lonely nights. Kairi walked over a bridge and onto a lone dirt path, hugging her arms to her chest. Her thoughts had been lingering on Sora tonight. She had noticed that when she, Riku, and Sora wasted their days together, Sora was much quieter than he used to be. What Kairi wouldn't give to have their lives restored to what they used to be. They all used to be so happy, playing everyday, having make-believe adventures, and conjuring fairy tales in their innocent heads. That was so long ago.

Busy with her untroubled memories, Kairi hadn't noticed that she had walked along the path until it reached the docks. She had never roamed this far away from her house during her nightly strolls before. She almost turned around to go back home, out of worry. Almost. In the corner of her eye was the silhouette of the island. Their island. Feeling somewhat rebellious, Kairi proceeded to disconnect her rowboat, and take off, slowly running her oars through the dark ocean. The waves slapping repeatedly only seemed to urge her on. Within a few minutes, Kairi had reached the single dock on their island to be greeted by yet another boat.

"Sora…?" she muttered breathlessly.

She tied her boat hastily to the pole of musty wood and sprinted up the stairs to the outcropping deck that Tidus and Wakka had built five summers ago. No Sora. She gazed across the horizon, hoping to see any trace of Sora. I hope nothing is wrong. With a short gasp, Kairi saw a solitary figure, sitting on the paopu tree, swinging his legs.

She raced to the shack and climbed the steps, anticipating the worst. Why would he be out this late? It was nearly three! She walked hesitantly across the wooden pathway to the tiny island, trying to compose herself. Sora sure was there, all right. Kairi continued onto the island, swallowing her worries.

"Sora, are you all right?"

Sora didn't appear to acknowledge her presence, but he mumbled a soft "Yeah."

A wind picked up, blowing Kairi's crimson locks across her face, "Then why are you out here?" she inquired cautiously.

He turned to face her, with his classic grin forced onto his tan face, "Couldn't sleep. You?"

She giggled gently at his smile, "Me either. It seems like I can never sleep these days..." Kairi pulled herself onto the horizontal tree, glad that nothing was seriously wrong with Sora. She scooted herself closer to him and said, "I usually just walk aimlessly through the city to get my mind off things. But the island wanted me to come over here. I could feel it."

"Do the islands usually talk to you, Kairi?" Sora joked, sarcasm clearly evident. She hit him playfully on the arm, laughing all the while.

"No. This island happens to be the only one that talks to me, Mr. Smarty Pants. And he tells me that he doesn't want you making fun of our friendship like that."

Sora lost the fight against his laughter, bursting into a hearty chuckle and ending with a loud snort. Kairi started giggling uncontrollably at his laughter, and he at hers. They laughed for a solid five minutes, tears forming in their eyes, sides screaming with pain. Sora's expression hardened as he drew his gaze away from her shining face. "I…I missed you, Kai," he whispered into the wind.

The smile slowly dropped off her face. She turned to face him; his eyes were glistening, fixated on his oversized shoes. She peered into his eyes, but Kairi didn't have a chance to respond. The words spilled out of his mouth too fast, "I'm so sorry I let you down Kairi. I didn't want you to come look for me. I wanted you to stay here, safe on the islands."

Kairi twirled her hair absentmindedly. "So you don't think I'm strong enough to take care of myself?" she asked, half-jokingly.

"No, Kairi, that's not what I-"

More seriously than before, she cut him off, "If I hadn't gone to look for you two, you never would have come back…"

"Kai-"

"You would have left me all alone..." Tears began to well up in her eyes.

"Kairi, I'm sorry-"

Those bad thoughts that she tried to keep to herself came flooding out, accompanied by a cascade of tears. "I was so alone, Sora. I waited on the beach everyday and you never came. Never. I had to do something! I just don't know… everything's changed. Everything." Her cheeks were streaked with mascara and her hair had blown into a tangled mess as her body convulsed with sobs. "I missed you so much…" she cried.

"I…I know," Sora managed to spit out. His arm draped gently around her shaking shoulders only to be shoved off ungratefully. "Kairi?"

"I have to… go home." She mumbled before taking a final sniff and storming off to her rowboat. I can't believe I made a fool of myself like that. I can't cry like that in front of him. Kairi untied her boat and made her way back to the mainland, letting her emotions pour freely out of her.

x.x.x.x

The next morning, Kairi woke early with her face buried in a pillow soaked with tears. God, Kairi. Pull yourself together. She showered and dressed quickly, and ran downstairs to see her parents off to work with a false smile. She, Riku, and Sora had decided yesterday to relax at her house today, so she wasn't surprised to see the duo walking up her front steps. Large smile still pasted on her face, Kairi let them in with a cheery hello.

Riku smirked and pushed Sora into the house. "Sora apparently didn't sleep last night, but I made him come over anyway."

Kairi forced a laugh but noted that Sora had lost that familiar gleam in his azure eyes. Trying to push the memories of the previous night out of her head, Kairi asked, "Who wants pancakes?" Riku nodded exuberantly, but Sora didn't even give a sign that he was listening. Ignoring Sora's lack of enthusiasm, she began to make breakfast for the three of them, conversing with Riku simultaneously.

Kairi's pancakes turned out as they always did- fluffy, moist, and perfect. As Riku was drenching his flapjacks with paopu- flavored syrup, he asked, "Why so blue, Sora?" Sora's eyes rose from his plate to meet Kairi's violet orbs, full of surprise.

"Oh, nothing. Just tired."

Kairi sighed, mentally thanking Sora for not recounting her breakdown to Riku. She would be so embarrassed if Riku knew of her fears. "Well, wake up!" Riku shouted in Sora's ear. Sora fell out of his chair with a girly scream; he rose with a bright pink tint to his cheeks. Laughter erupted from Kairi and Riku. This is how it's supposed to be.

For the remainder of the day, they lounged around Kairi's house, recollecting stories of their childhood. Sora was much more willing to listen to Riku and Kairi's tales than tell his own, but a smile had crawled its way onto his face by the end of the afternoon. Kairi saw them out the door around five, feeling much happier than she had that morning. This was her usual routine: end the afternoon with a grin on her face. At least Sora seems happy again.

x.x.x.x

Her happiness, however, never seemed to last very long. Kairi found herself lying in bed with her mind clouded with thought, yet again. She kept thinking about him. About Sora. Why can I not stop thinking about him…? She kicked the light sheets off her body and sat up, staring out into the midnight darkness. The night sky taunted her, beckoning Kairi to come outside. She willingly obliged, laced her shoes up her lower calves, and snuck out. Kairi quickly wandered to the outskirts of the town, and continued down the dusty road. It seemed that she could no longer control her body, her legs moving toward the docks, her fingers unknotting her rowboat unconsciously, her arms pumping the oars through the sea.

Maybe my friend the island does talk to me…

She tied her boat to the side of the wooden dock, venturing out to the sandy beach. The sky was exceptionally clear; the ocean reflected every star in the heavens. Kairi removed her shoes, grateful for the wonderful weather, and waded in the sea. Wet sand rolled across her toes in ripples as she walked deeper into the water.

"Hey," a sullen voice spoke.

Kairi whipped around quickly, to be greeted by Sora sitting on the paopu tree again. "Aughh! Sora! You scared the hell outta me!"

A smile flew to his face as he apologized quickly. "What're you doin' out here again, Kai?" he asked. Instantly, Kairi could sense that he was only pretending to be cheery, but she decided to play along.

"Couldn't sleep," she replied, forcing a smile. "Same for you?"

Sora took off his shoes and jumped into the waves, splashing Kairi. "Yup."

"Hey!" she cried as she shielded her body from the torrent of water. She proceeded to shove him underwater, laughing as Sora emerged sopping wet. He ran his hand through his chestnut spikes and stood up. He grabbed Kairi gently by the sides of her arms, lifting her nearly a foot above the water with a smirk on his face.

"Excuse me?" he joked, "Did you just push me underwater?"

Observing how his muscles tensed beneath his slim arms, yet he held her so gently, Kairi couldn't help but stare. He's really grown up, hasn't he? "Yes, I did!" she replied, snapping back to reality. Her gaze averted to his bright blue eyes staring intensely into her own. He returned her body into the water without taking his eyes off hers. "You've changed so much, Sora," Kairi whispered.

"We all have, Kairi…including you…" he mumbled with a blush on his cheeks, lowering his gaze to the ripples emanating from their bodies. Sora splashed his way up to the beach and lay down, ignoring the grainy sand sticking to his moist skin.

I've changed too? Kairi was beginning to feel guilty, standing alone in the calming ocean. She had been very selfish. She had made Sora feel terrible the night before; she knew it was her fault. He needs an explanation, at least.

"Sora?" she uttered almost inaudibly as she made her way to him.

He broke his stare with the stars and popped his head up to listen to Kairi. "Yeah?" he answered, propping his upper body with his elbow.

"I'm sorry… for last night. It was uncalled for…" she said shaking her head, "I…I just worry a lot these days."

Sora hesitated, but questioned anyway, "Is that why you can't sleep at night?"

She looked away, feeling that familiar lump rise in her throat, "Yeah," she replied, "I feel so selfish. I may have waited for a year, but you and Riku suffered so much on my behalf. I keep thinking what my life would be without you two. I don't want it to be like that."

"How so?" Sora pushed her to finish.

"I keep thinking of Riku fighting the darkness, and of you nearly killing yourself with every battle, and…" Kairi swallowed the lump, "and of me being left alone forever."

"Oh, Kai… don't you know?" he said as he sat up. She turned to him, fresh tears forming around her eyes. "We did it all for you."

She sniffed as her lips curled into her first real smile in days. "Sora…" she whimpered as she wrapped her arms around him and fell into his toned chest, "Thank you." He rested his chin on her sandy hair, squeezing her petite frame protectively. "But Sora," she said into his chest, "what I want to know, is why have you been up every night?"

He released her form his grasp and looked into her eyes, laced with unneeded tears. "I just can't sleep..."

"Well, obviously!" she retorted. "But why?"

Sora sighed and began tentatively, "You know how you can't sleep 'cause you can't clear your mind?"

"Yeah?"

"Well, I can't either," he said, shrugging his shoulders.

"Hmm… well, what d'ya think about?" she inquired. Sora simply looked to the calm ocean, ignoring the question. "If you don't tell me, I can't help you!" Kairi said bluntly. No response. "Sora?"

"You…"

"Me? Wha-"

"I can't stop thinking about you, Kairi," Sora whispered, "The way your hair catches the afternoon sun, the way your smile brightens my day, the way you care about everybody and anybody."

Kairi sat speechless, refusing to break the stare. His cerulean eyes searched hers for approval. "I lo- love you, everything about you," Sora sputtered. She maintained her gaze, looking vaguely perplexed, but Sora blushed and rose quickly. "I'm sorry, Kai," he said abruptly. He walked to the serene ocean water, staring at the faintly pink horizon.

He fought against the darkness for me. He suffered for me. He gave his heart for me. Is this why I can't stop thinking about him? Do I love him?

The water sprayed against Sora's legs as he watched the sunset begin to form. A teardrop rolled down his sun-kissed face. "God Sora, why can't you do anything right…" he whispered to himself. His ears perked up as he heard splashes of water from the shore. Sora wiped his cheek hastily, trying to retain his so-called masculinity in front of Kairi. Slender arms slowly curved around Sora's waist from behind him. He spun around and noticed just how her hair caught the light of the dawn.

Kairi took her hands and laid them on Sora's moist cheeks. Standing on her tiptoes, she whispered softly into his ear, "I love you, too."

He took her hands into his own and leaned forward into a deep kiss. "I'll never leave you, Kairi, I promise," he breathed.

Kairi grinned as she sought the touch of his lips a second time. At least she wouldn't have to spend another sleepless night alone, ever again.

Fin.

Hope the fluff didn't claw your eyes out! I just couldn't resist it. You know you can't resist it either!! Sorry if it didn't flow perfectly. But I tried! Reviews would be GREATLY appreciated!