author's note: Written for myxbeautifulxlove's challenge. Hope you all enjoy!!

time line: 3 years or so after they return to the islands.

disclaimer: I don't own Square-Enix's Kingdom Hearts or its characters...dang.

WiSh I CoUld PrOvE I LoVe YoU…

sokairiku

on.that.day

he.learned.the.meaning.of.loneliness

x.x.x.x

He knew things would be different.

Change is, after all, the key to growing up…he thought.

He knew that one day Kairi would have to choose between the two of them, though they both loved her with all their hearts.

He knew things would change.

Just not this much.

x.x.x.x

He brought her up to a rounded hill away from the strangely friendly town. She sat down, enjoying the pink and orange hues erupting from the low sun. "They call this Sunset Hill, Riku." Not like he cared. He sat down next to her, wrapping his arm around her waist. She turned to face him, her long crimson tresses flowing in rhythm with the gentle breeze. A smile blossomed on her glowing face as she began to stroke his bangs away from his eyes. "It's where lovers watch the sunset together," she whispered, her voice carried away with the wind. Her face tilted slowly toward his. He leaned eagerly into her body, seeking the taste of her lips. "Riku." He peered into her violet eyes with a curious look. "Riku?" He noticed how her eyes shone almost lavender with the sunset's reflection upon them. "Riku!" They were such a pretty color…of blue? Her eyes never took on that shade. "RIKU!"

Riku jolted up, greeted by the cheery azure eyes of his best friend. "Sora! What the fu-?!"

Sora was leaning over the bed, head tilted to the side. "Did you forget?" he asked, cutting Riku off, "We're supposed to go to the island today! You were supposed to meet me and Kairi down at the docks half an hour ago!" Riku glanced at his alarm clock, the red digits angrily flashing 6:32 A.M. He wordlessly jumped out of his bed to the bathroom where he began the task of brushing the knots out of his long, silver hair. "Riku, we're going to the beach. You do not need to brush your hair," Sora teased.

"Excuse me?" Riku poked his head out the bathroom door and said, "and how many gallons of hair gel did you use this morning?"

"I do not use gel, Riku. It's all natural! I am not so girly that my hair has to be perfect everyday."

Riku, having completed the brushing of his gleaming locks, walked over to Sora and poked one of his mahogany spikes. It did not budge an inch. "Gel," Riku retorted.

"Dammit, Riku! Get off!!" Sora yelped as he swatted Riku's hand away, "Stop wasting time; we need to go!"

As the two sprinted out of Riku's apartment and down the hill to the docks, Riku relished his victory of annoying the hell out of Sora. Again. He and Sora always had that special quirk to their friendship. They could get in a huge fight with each other, complete with black eyes, bruises, and Kairi's tears, and would still be the best of friends. Nothing could break the bond the two boys shared. Or rather, young men. Riku had just turned twenty a few weeks prior. Over the past few years, the duo had grown up into strong, handsome men. Their bodies were etched with battle scars stretching over their skin; they couldn't simply hide them from everyone. All of Destiny Islands knew who they really were. The people certainly couldn't call them boys after they learned of their many adventures.

Kairi, however, insisted on calling them just that.

"Boys! Hurry UP!!" Kairi yelled up the hill through her cupped hands before stepping into her rowboat.

When Riku and Sora had finally reached the docks, Kairi had already begun rowing out into the ocean. The two jumped into their respective boats and paddled off toward the island. "Riku… look what… you did… Kairi's… mad now!" Sora exclaimed in rhythm with his strokes through the water.

"She is… not, Sora…stop being so… paranoid!" Riku yelled back over the splashing sound erupting around them.

"Did you not…see her?!"

"Whatever…" Riku decided it was best for Sora to win at least one argument today. They rowed in silence until they almost caught up with Kairi.

"Hey, Riku…wanna race?" There were only about 150 meters left to reach the island, but neither of them could pass up the chance to beat the other and show off in front of Kairi.

"Ready?" Riku said without hesitation, grasping his oars menacingly.

"GO!" Sora bellowed immediately, having expected the affirmative reply. The two began to put all their strength into winning this childish race. Sora's knuckles grew white with his unbelievably tight grip. Riku's hair fluttered behind him as he picked up speed. Both were equally determined to win. They passed Kairi in a blur, not even acknowledging her presence.

"Not again," she muttered under her breath, quite aware of the attempts to impress her. "Well, I should at least make this interesting…WINNER GETS A KISS!" she yelled ahead. Kairi began to paddle harder, trying to catch up.

Soon, all three were gliding like snakes through the water. Their positions were as always: Riku and Sora tied neck and neck, and Kairi lagging behind.

Only 20 meters left.

This wasn't just a race anymore, seeing as one of Kairi's cherished kisses was on the line. It was war. Sora pushed harder, his muscles straining to speed his boat up. Soon Sora began to lose the rhythm of the sea. He looked over and saw that Riku was pulling ahead. Riku didn't take to straining his muscles. He kept with his pace, steering his rowboat smoothly. A few seconds later, Riku's rowboat collided with the sand on the island with Sora's just behind. Riku flew out, almost tripping on the edge of his boat, and screamed, "HA! BEAT YA!"

His lungs begging for oxygen, Sora just replied, "You had a… head start!"

"Whatever, sore loser..."

"I'm the real winner here," Kairi said jokingly as her boat landed, "Two boys vying for my attention? How sweet!" Riku smirked at her comment, celebrating his win.

Sora blushed and looked down at his oversized shoes. "It was just a race, Kai. L-like old times!"

"Ha! You can't fool me, Sora," she teased. She stepped gracefully out of her boat and walked to Riku. Standing on her tiptoes, she let an innocent, playful kiss brush Riku's cheek. A warm feeling was sent surging through his veins. Sora was fuming, Kairi was laughing, and Riku was blushing. To Riku, this was heaven.

x.x.x.x

They wasted away their day just as they always had. They would first play in the ocean, splashing water at each other like they were kids again. Once they became bored, Sora and Riku would try just one more time to teach Kairi the rules of blitzball. She would never learn them, so she always made up her own. Riku always managed to hold his tongue at his disgust of these fake rules, but when Sora stormed off in impatience, they knew it was time to do something else. After eating a well-packed lunch (compliments of Kairi), they would nap together under the shade. Both Sora and Riku slept with a hand on Kairi, neither willing to give her up even in slumber. When they awoke, Riku and Sora would spar with their wooden swords for hours on end, the afternoon sun smiling upon them.

Kairi would sit on the paopu tree and watched them, entranced by the fluidity of their movement. When they were young teenagers, Riku was always too violent when sparring, and Sora was always too reckless. Now, when they battled, they were a pair of dancers, flowing into every motion. Their bodies moved together as one unit, never coming too close to harm each other, but never straying too far apart. Riku was the lithe one, bending gracefully into each attack, pulling his momentum up and out as swung the toy sword. When Sora attacked, he was quick and fierce. Swift jabs and surprising hooks complemented Riku's smoothness.

In battle, they were one. But although they were one, neither was able to let the other win. Today was no different.

Kairi had taken her seat, with her body slipped into the niche of the curved tree. She was anxious to see them spar again. Although they could be deadly, she knew they restrained themselves to not hurt each other. Riku and Sora had taken their positions across from each other. A challenging look fell onto Riku's face and was countered by Sora's glare. Kairi couldn't help but giggle at their seriousness. "Don't forget the formalities!" she said sarcastically. Sora took a deep bow, never breaking his gaze with Riku. Laughter erupted from Kairi at Sora's response. Riku smirked, hoping to please her as well, and bent his knees into a fake curtsy. Even more laughs flew from Kairi.

"Let's go!" Sora cried.

"I'm already ahead of ya."

The two came soaring toward each other, toy swords gliding through air menacingly. The battle began fast and only got faster. Sora sprinted around, occasionally cutting his sword into Riku's area. Riku would usually slip away, dodging and following with a sly attack.

Except once.

Sora had weaved through Riku's defense and pressed his sword against his chest, pushing him to the ground. Kairi gasped and stood up on the tree, attempting to get a better look at the action. The sand grated into Riku's face, taunting him. He rolled quickly onto his back and pounced forward, kicking Sora in the chest. Sora's body numbed as he flew backward, colliding into the paopu tree. Riku charged with a smile gracing his features and slid his sword up to touch Sora's neck, signifying victory. But it wasn't a toy sword anymore.

Riku had unconsciously summoned the Way to the Dawn.

Sora's cerulean eyes widened as the cool metal came in contact with his skin. Riku's jaw dropped as he saw what he had done. A small trickle of blood ran its way down Sora's neck as Riku let go of his tight grip on his keyblade. It evaporated into the air with a small flash. They both knew for a fact that Kairi wouldn't let them spar anymore. They had always promised her that they would be so careful. Riku's aquamarine eyes filled with shame as he mumbled, "Sora... It was an accident, I swear." He stood motionless, staring at Sora and seeking an answer.

His gaze still fixated on Riku, Sora managed to sputter out, "See, Kai? Wasn't that cool? We totally had that planned out!" Sora turned to Kairi, hoping his lie had baled them out. But Kairi was no longer watching over them on the paopu tree.

Sora's eyes locked with Riku's, veiled in fear. A splash emitted from below the small island. The tree had shaken violently from the impact of Sora's body smashing against it and had flung Kairi off into the ocean. The terror in their eyes subsided as the two realized that Kairi had just fallen. Sora wiped the blood trailing down his skin and knelt over the back edge of the island. Sora chuckled and said, "Ha. She just fell in!"

Riku smiled thankfully and knelt by Sora, waiting for Kairi to yell at them when she rose up out of the water. As he looked into the blue-green waves, only bubbles popped up. Riku grabbed Sora, nearly crushing his shoulder. "Riku! She's just messin'… You know how she likes to do that!" The water continued to ripple and Kairi stayed submerged.

Riku peered into the water, seeing that the bubbles had stopped reaching the surface. "Sora?" he asked hesitantly as he looked over to his best friend, but Sora had frozen. His sapphire eyes were fixed on the slowing water, wide with terror. "Sora!" Riku repeated. She wasn't coming up.

It took only a second for Riku to react. Pushing the motionless Sora out of his way, Riku dove into the ocean without bothering to take off his shoes. First, he felt around blindly for any sign of motion, but gave up and opened his eyes. He could hardly see a thing. His aquamarine orbs felt like pure acid was being poured onto them as the salt-water rushed against them. When his sight had become whole, he spotted Kairi's body floating lifelessly. Her foot had been locked in a tangle of fishing net. Riku darted toward her, summoning his keyblade at the same time. He hastily tore through the rough rope and pushed Kairi's body up, hoping she was okay. Riku ascended and grabbed Kairi's arm on his way. His lungs were screaming for air, but Riku couldn't leave Kairi down there. He continued swimming up, clutching Kairi's limp body to his own. He prayed that he could make it in time, that Kairi wasn't hurt, that Sora would have snapped out of his trance.

At last, Riku's head made contact with the surface of the water. He gasped for air as he dragged Kairi toward the island. Sora had indeed come back to reality, for he was waving frantically at Riku on the coast, beckoning him to swim that way. Riku stumbled onto the shore with Kairi hanging loosely from his side. Riku lessened his grip as Kairi's body dropped with a thump onto the wet sand. Riku lay next to her, trying to fill his lungs with needed air. The sand rubbed against his skin harshly, but he didn't care. Kairi was safe.

Sora had leaned over Kairi's body, checking her pulse. He pressed his head against her chest, feeling her heartbeat began to slow. Sora sobbed loudly as he placed Kairi's cold hand against his face. Riku sat up, and his tears streamed silently down his chiseled face. He placed the back of his hand against her cheek, praying she would wake up.

A watery cough erupted from Kairi after a few drawn-out seconds. Her indigo eyes opened slowly and were greeted by their worried faces. She hurled her body into Sora's, and he embraced her tightly. He stroked her wet, tangled hair as she cried loudly into his shoulder. His eyes locked onto Riku's.

She had chosen.

Kairi eventually calmed down, and told the two how scared she was. Neither boy wanted to tell her that Riku had risked his life for her; they just wanted to sit in peace.

"Hey, let's go up to the tree to watch the sun set," Kairi said, "Just like old times?" She and Sora stood up and locked their fingers together.

Riku looked into the beautiful sky and muttered to himself, "It's where lovers watch the sunset together…"

"Riku? Did you say something?" Kairi asked, tilting her head to the side.

"I'm actually kinda tired," he lied, "I should go." His eyes averted to his feet.

"You okay?" Sora questioned, sensing something was wrong.

Riku's lips curled into a smile. "Yeah," he said, "just tired."

"Okay…see ya tomorrow?" Kairi asked.

"Of course."

Riku turned and walked to the dock. A smile was still pasted on his face, though acidic tears ran down his cheeks. Riku took one glance behind him to see Sora and Kairi walking hand-in-hand to the paopu tree.

"Wish I could prove I love you," Riku whispered into the wind. He turned, stepped into his boat gently, and began to paddle slowly to the mainland. He took note on how beautiful the sunset was today; the pink and orange hues shone onto him. As he rowed steadily, his tears continued to flow. They were merely accentuated by the light of the sun.

After years of battling each other, Sora had finally won.

FIN

author's note: Yeah… I just couldn't get the image of Kairi drowning out of my head! Wow… I hope that doesn't make me a terrible person! Well, I hope everybody liked it. Hope it wasn't too weird and/or had crappy flow. I tried. I would love, love, LOVE you if you sent me a review! So please do so, my love needs to be spread!