She was sitting on the long since destroyed raft on the play island, her bare feet resting in the water and the sun warm on her skin, and that was how she knew it was a dream. The warmth of Namine at her side, so close that her hair blew across Kairi's shoulder each time the wind picked up only confirmed it.
"I used to imagine this, when I was in Castle Oblivion," Namine said quietly, looking out across the shore to where Riku, Sora, and a third, shadowy, figure were running around bashing at each other with wooden swords. "All of us together, whole. Isn't it wonderful?"
"Maybe..." Kairi glanced at Namine, who was looking perfectly at home on the raft, "...if it was real."
Namine looked stricken, and Kairi woke up.
o 0 O 0 o
"This isn't right," Kairi said the next night as soon as she closed her eyes to sleep and opened them again on the beach.
Namine looked around them, her eyes wide and soft. "What's wrong?" she asked, worried. "Everything's the same as it always was, isn't it?"
Kairi smiled at her gently, at this part of her heart who had been separated from her for so long. Of course she wouldn't understand when she'd been gone. "It is. ...It was. But I'm not fourteen anymore; I can't be happy just sitting on the raft while the boys play."
She stood up, and as soon as she was on her feet she was across the beach with a wooden sword in her hand and the shadow of Roxas aiming a strike at her. She laughed as she blocked it, and called out, "Come on, Namine! You and me against the boys!"
Namine's own sword was held limply at her side, it's point resting in the sand, as she stood on the outskirts of the scuffle and watched Sora come to help Kairi fight off Roxas only to have both of them turn on him a moment later. "I've never been good at fighting," she admitted quietly, but Kairi could hear her as easily as if she'd shouted, even over the noise to the fight.
"It's okay," she said, smiling and holding out her free hand to Namine. "You can't get hurt; it's not like this is real."
Then Namine and the beach vanished from around her, and she was back in her own bedroom once more.
o 0 O 0 o
"You're just the same as me, Namine," Kairi said as soon as the dream began again. "You can be brave. I've seen it!" When Namine continued to hesitate Kairi reached out to grab her hand and pull her toward the rest of the group. "Don't worry, I'll keep you safe. You trust me, right?"
Namine's eyes met her's, bright and affectionate, as she raised her sword. "I always trust you," she said with certainty. "No matter what."
For a moment the spar going around them seemed to fade away, or maybe it really did, as Kairi stared into Namine's eyes, startled by her conviction. She hadn't meant what she'd said as any sort of grand statement, it was just the sort of thing friends said to each other. But somehow Namine made it seem like much more.
Then the moment passed and she raised her own sword with a smile. "Okay!" she said, squeezing Namine's hand. "Let's get them! If you watch my back and I watch yours, none of them can beat us.
As they charged at the boys together, still hand in hand, Kairi thought I should really get Sora and Riku together to do this in real life...and then the sound of swords clashing together was replaced by the sound of the wind blowing through her window.
o 0 O 0 o
They were already in the thick of the fight when Kairi dreamt again. She dodged a stab from Sora then glanced at Namine to see how she was doing. "Jump to the side!" she called out. "Riku's about to-" but she realized that there wasn't time to finish the thought if she wanted to keep Namine unharmed, and instead dropped the attempted explanation in favor of grabbing Namine's arm and yanking her out of the way as Riku suddenly shot forward.
"Thank you, Kairi," Namine said, curling her hand lightly around Kairi's upper arm as she peered over her shoulder at Riku. "I don't know how to read the moves in a fight."
Kairi touched her fingers "Yes you do," she said firmly. "You just need to think about it. Look, Sora's about to roll under Roxas' sword the next time he swings it." She pointed at the two and, sure enough, in a moment Sora was curling into a ball and tumbling across a few feet of the beach. "It's not about knowing how to fight, it's about knowing Sora and Riku. We've watched them all my life; it isn't hard to tell what they'll do now."
Namine watched, so still that she was barely breathing, as the boys all clashed together, ignoring the two girls for the moment as they weren't trying to fight. Riku leapt into the air, raising his sword high above his head, and Namine slowly said, "Roxas... he's about to throw his sword at Riku." Even as she spoke her words became true.
"I told you you could do it," Kairi said, smiling proudly. But when Namine didn't throw herself back into the spar, her smile faded a little. "Do you not wanna do this? If there's something else you want us to do, I don't mind."
Namine looked at her, biting her lower lip. "Anything?" she asked.
"Anything at all. It's not like there're any limits in a dream."
o 0 O 0 o
Kairi thought she was still awake until she felt another person in her bed.
"You said we could do anything I'd like, right?" Namine said quietly, her breath warm against Kairi's cheek.
The change of scenery was so unexpected that Kairi had trouble thinking of why they would be there. "You want to have slumber party?" she asked, confused. "Isn't that hard to do when we're already asleep?"
o 0 O 0 o
"You're the one who said I could be brave, aren't you?" Namine asked brushing her fingers across Kairi's cheek. "I can be. I will..."
Kairi was not nearly so confused this time, after having had a full day to think about what it was Namine must want. "Namine, there's Riku and Sora," she said, her voice trembling as she couldn't help leaning into Namine's hand. "I shouldn't.. I can't have dreams like this."
The last thing she saw before the dream bedroom faded into her real one was the look of disappointment on Namine's face.
o 0 O 0 o
"Don't say this is a dream," Namine said as soon as Kairi opened her eyes to her. "Don't say it isn't real. I can't be with you like this when you're awake, all I can do is sit in the back of your head and watch your thoughts. So please don't say this is a dream and take yourself away from me."
"Why didn't you give me any sign at all?" Kairi whispered against Namine's neck. "If you'd just let me know..." She didn't know how to finish that statement. She'd have welcome Namine with open arms? She'd have pushed her away? She would have at least been able to talk to her about it instead of having to spend the past two days thinking about what had happened and whether or not she'd accept what Namine wanted on her own, unable to go to anyone else for advice since the only one who'd really understand was Sora and there was no way she'd talk to him about this.
"I am the sign, Kairi. You're my Other, don't you know what that means?" She twined one of her legs through Kairi's, pressing close against her. "All that I want to do is be with you, as close as I can be."
Kairi's breath caught as Namine's lips drifted across her chin, her cheek. She giggled nervously, "When I said we could do anything I... I kind've thought you'd want to go swimming or something.
Namine smiled softly, "Maybe we could another night, if that's what you'd like. Maybe we could even play with the boys again, even though I don't think I'll ever be good at fighting, even for play. Just not tonight, please. Please?"
It was the tremor in her voice that decided Kairi at last, and how shy she looked even as one of her hands slid to one of the zippers on her dress. "Okay," she said, touching Namine's cheek. "Okay, I can try. For you."
It wasn't really that hard of a decision, she thought as Namine's lips caught her own. Namine was a part of her, and she loved herself; being the person she was, living the life she had. How could she deny her anything, when they needed each other to feel complete?
o 0 O 0 o
When she woke at last, sweaty and breathless, it seemed like a horrible crime that her bed was empty of anyone other than herself.