Sora sat on the shores of their little island; the one that he and his friends had made their own since their early childhood. Here, he and his friends had their first adventures, exploring and discovering all that there was to the little islets. He learned how to spar, wrestle, race, swim, and climb here.

This is where he had learned about group dynamics and strategy. As he, Wakka, and Tidus sparred against Riku, three-against-one, he discovered that they had different skills, abilities, and strong (as well as weak) points. Over time, they learned how to combine their efforts for the best results (although they still could not defeat the other boy). He also spared one-on-one against Selphie, Wakka, Tidus, and (most often) Riku. During these duels, he learned that you had to vary your tactics when confronting different opponents.

This is also where he learned about love and loyalty. Poised on the Paopu tree with Riku, listening to the sounds of the waves below, they talked about life, thoughts, and goals. Sitting on the pier with Kairi, watching the sky change colours with the setting sun, while talking about their days, dreams, and plans. Lounging on the shore with both of them, talking about everything and nothing or simply enjoying a companionable silence.

The sounds of foot beats stumbling through the sand pulled Sora from his musings. Then there was a soft thud beside him, and the rustle of someone smoothing down cloth. Sora did not have to look to know that there was girl with short auburn hair and violet eyes sitting to his left.

Kairi…

She was the one who would always hang around lazily with him, and encourage him to just relax and enjoy the ride. Who seemed completely unaffected by the events of the past couple of years.

She'll spend half her life waiting for me if she has to. She'd wait until the end of the world, just to welcome me back. She acts as though everything is as it always was, even after all that has happened. She lets me pretend that I have no worries or responsibilities. She smiles with me and makes me laugh when things get too serious. She always makes sure I remember that she's there, even when we're apart. She is as mercurial, unforgiving, and harsh as the sea.

A feeling drew Sora back to reality again. However, this time there was no sound, but a familiar aura beside him. It was congenial, protective, and tentative. Sora did not have to turn his head to know that a boy with long silvery hair and aquamarine eyes had seated to his right.

Riku…

He was the one who would always push him to progress, and encourage him to strive to be better and take charge of his own destiny. Who seemed almost haunted by the events of the past couple of years.

He'd give up his life to help me. He'd go to the edge of the world, just to support me. He understands that everything has changed, even if the world has stayed the same, because we have changed. He acknowledges the weight that I have to shoulder, and he carries it with me. He confers with me and lets me cry when things get too serious. He doesn't mind if I forget about him, but he's always there for me. He is as steady, quiet, and solid as the earth.

As he lay back in the sand, on this rare moment of absolute peace, Sora realised how fortunate he was to have his best friends. They were laying on either side of him now, two very comforting and contrasting presences. Kairi's hand had tucked into his left, while his right hand had tucked into Riku's own. They compliment and complete him.

The three friends just lay there, watching the stars appear, each lost in their own little world.

Hers is warm, bright, simple, and clean.

His is cool, dark, complicated, and tainted.

Mine is a combination of both of theirs.

He needs them both, as they are each a part of him… and he would not have it any other way.