Rated T for vague references to fantasy violence & depression.
Trying to adjust:
Kairi had no real need to readjust to life on Destiny Islands.
"Well, I wasn't gone as long as you two were," said the auburn haired girl when the three friends were discussing it by the paopu tree a few weeks after their return from their victory against Organization XIII.
"Not to mention the fact that she was unconscious for most of the time that she was gone," Riku pointed out.
"Besides, you got to be home in-between journeys, so you've already readjusted." Sora stated.
"Uh, Sora? You're the one that brought up the fact that it was odd I didn't have to adjust at all to begin with," Kairi pointed out. "Now you're arguing the point for us."
"I only pointed it out because Riku said it was odd that I had few problems adjusting when he was crashing at my place last night."
"Well, people have commented that you are a little different too," said Kairi.
"Really? How so?" Sora inquired.
"Well, you're more confident, and you do have a bit of an ego now," answered the girl.
"You're more skilled with a sword now, too," added Riku. "Aside from that, you're the same old Sora."
Sora had readjusted to life on Destiny Islands almost seamlessly.
"Well, he was asleep for a whole year," Kairi said to Riku as they continued the conversation while walking home; they had already dropped Sora off at his parents house.
"Not the entire year," Riku corrected absentmindedly. "He just can't remember the little he was awake for."
"Same difference, plus, everyone here forgot about him while he was sleeping. So, between that and everyone disappearing when the world vanished for awhile, it doesn't feel like he was gone for that long to everyone here;" she added after a moment of thought.
"That explains the people here, my point was that Sora has still experienced enough to have changed a little more," said Riku. "I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that he had friends with him the whole time; he didn't have to face anything alone," the silver haired boy added pensively.
"Do you think it would have different for you if you weren't all alone the whole time?" Kairi asked interestedly; even she and Sora had never heard Riku's full side of the story.
"Yes, I think so," Riku answered softly.
Kairi played with her hair nervously, "Have you considered speaking to someone about it? I mean, Sora and I have told everyone all about what we did while we were gone. It's going to be old news soon enough. Maybe if you didn't keep it al in…"
"That's not a story I'm interested in telling," Riku stated as they approached the Mayor's house.
Riku was unable to readjust to his old life on the islands.
"Do you think it's because he's just changed too much?" Sora asked Kairi while they were supposed to be doing homework during a shared free period at school the following day. "Not that that's not understandable, I mean, he was conscious during the whole experience and he went through a lot."
"That's true, but, do you really think he's changed that much?" asked Kairi.
"Well… yeah, he was never this quiet before, and he seems less secure with himself now." The brunette answered. "I first noticed it after we defeated Xemnas. He said that he was sorry he used to think he was better at stuff then me, and then he said that in truth, he was always jealous of me."
"Really?" Kairi dropped all pretence of schoolwork. "Did he say why he jealous of you?"
"He said he wished he could live his life the way I do," answered Sora, "just following his heart."
"I think that may be it," Kairi responded thoughtfully.
Sora blinked in confusion. "What do you mean?"
"I think the problem is that he hasn't changed… and neither has anything else here, including us." Kairi rolled her eyes when she saw the look of confusion on Sora's face. "He wished that he could follow his heart? Don't you understand, Sora? Riku was never able to be true to himself here, and I don't think he ever will."
Sora looked affronted, "why not?"
"He never has been just Riku because he was always trying to live up to the impossible expectations that everyone else had for him, even you and me. We all expected him to be better then everyone else, we never seemed to realise that he was, and is, just a kid too."
Understanding seemed to be slowly dawning on Sora. "That's why he always felt so trapped here."
"And why he still feels that way," said Kairi. "People here expect him to be the same Riku… the Riku that they thought he was, and his new quiet, subdued demeanour along his refusal to talk about his side of the story you told only adds an enigmatic edge to him that makes people here assume even more of him."
While readjusting to life on Destiny Islands was different for each of the three friends, readjusting to their friendship was no problem for any of them.
When Sora got finished with his homework, he went in search of Riku, whom he found sitting alone on the paopu tree, as he was prone to do since the three friends returned home. Sora ran across the bridge and jumped the tree to lean against it.
There was no sign that the silver-haired boy had noticed the other's presence until he asked Sora a simple question. "Nothing's changed, huh?"
"Nope," Sora answered and realised that he and Kairi were right about their friend. "Nothing will."
"What a small world." Riku's voice was too vague for Sora tell what he meant by that.
Therefore, like any good friend, Sora tried to bring some optimism into the conversation. "But part of one that's much bigger."
"Hey Riku...what do you think it was…the door to the light?"
Riku gracefully jumped down from his perch and turned to Sora. He reached out and tapped Sora's chest, right above his heart. "This."
When Riku drew his hand away, Sora brought his own hand up and felt his heartbeat. "This?"
Riku nodded, "Yeah. It's always closer than you think."
Sora smiled, and then Kairi called both boys as she ran out to join them. The auburn-haired girl held a bottle that contained a letter from King Mickey, which informed the trio that something Riku and Sora did when they saved Kingdom Hearts left it so that it was still possible to travel between the worlds for those who had the means and the knowledge.
Sora was glad that he would be able to see his friends from other worlds again, but he also had a feeling that he would not be seeing a friend on this world for much longer.