Okay, so, really, I should be working on my dedication stories. I know. And I am. But I needed a break. Thus, this. It's a oneshot collection, a kind of continuation of my oneshot Fluttering Capes and Secret Identities, with jumps in the time frame, no plot, and no connection to one another. I don't know when it'll end, and my updates will probably be sporadic, but I have themes for a couple of following chapters, so maybe you'll like it.

That or you'll find this pointless and wonder why I'm even bothering with this. (sweatdrop)

Anyway, here's hoping you'll enjoy this!

Disclaimer: No.

Old Lovers - Their heartbeats echo louder than words.

-- - --

"I'll come back to you, I promise!"

Their words, their breaths, their hearts…all were in sync, intertwined as they interlocked their fingers together, foreheads touching, knees crushing into the sand. In the background the waves crashed, the wind stirred, but the approaching sea and descending cold couldn't tear them from each other, because all that mattered was the now, all that was needed was their warmth shared on that little patch of ground, hardly any space between their bodies. There were no goodbyes in their moment together, just infinite promises and plans for a better future beyond this war that rocked their secluded lives.

It was never goodbye.

His touch now was as gentle as always as he pressed his hands against hers, sad smile tugging at his lips, scared light sparking deep within the recesses of his cloudless eyes as for a time he tried to avert his stare, searching on wordless lips for comments and perfected declarations to speak. Nothing came to him, no impressive speeches or undeniable explanations to soothe over the fact that he, not even twenty, not even a husband for a year, had to leave again, to fight off shadows and clash swords with new enemies while she was left behind. The guilt was heavy within his chest, and so great was the pressure that he could hardly meet her stare, because what could he say once he looked at her? What apologies could possibly change this fate?

How could he say that, more than anything, he'd rather be caught in this moment, just sharing her breaths, just feeling her touch against his, instead of being the savior of a whole universe of worlds suspended in unbalance? It was wrong, to be dubbed the hero when all he wanted was to be the normal kid, eighteen and foolish, goofy smile plastered to his face and new wife giddily at his side; and it was sick to be the one who couldn't turn away from it all, no matter his selfish desires, no matter his own little world of happiness that always called his name.

Heroes shouldn't be indecisive. They shouldn't live lives on the fence, staring down at the side of glory and honor as they fell backwards towards the existence of normality. Valor should always come first. Saving people should always be most important.

And yet, as his fingers curled around hers, as he finally glanced up and smiled weakly at her fresh tears, he wanted his close friend there before him more than all of that, and the guilt, the remorse, the raw pain crashed against him so that his tears were slowly intertwining with hers, too, and he was so utterly sad that he was laughing at it, because it was either that or collapsing into a pitiful, pathetic slump.

But she was there, never removing her hands from his, easing back only slightly to press her cheek against his as her lips whispered against his ear, and there was such intimacy in her simple touches, such love in the way she never said a word and yet showed her support through the gentle squeeze of her hands against his, that he let his tears run dry, smile curving his lips slightly, eyelids closing as he faded into the moment.

They had each other, and he knew that, but still. What happiness did he have in his heart if he was only leaving her behind?

Pulling back slightly from her to rest on legs which ached from kneeling so long on sand gritty and cool beneath his body, he disentangled their fingers, lifting his hands to then cup her cheeks as he smiled, battle-worn, callused digits smoothing away the tears she cried, relishing the feel of her warm, youthful cheeks. This was important, that he memorize the moment – and how his heart hurt, when Roxas silently cursed from within, grudgingly reminded of a memory with a confident swagger and emerald green eyes and a smirk so full of arrogance the man had had to be in possession of a heart – because this was separation once again, fate intervening and straining the bonds that kept them so near and dear to one another.

Biting his lip, smiling forcefully as he watched her glance away uneasily, head tilting down as she tried to avoid his anxious stare, he knew that she was fighting with all of her will to not beg him to stay. Kairi was like that, strong-minded, unwilling to plead or beg, and though she cried before him she still had pride within her, and she would never put herself above all the lives out there waiting, no matter if he selfishly did so already. She would always expect him to return, because she had that unyielding faith in her heart, but she would never ask it of him, appreciating that he had his own path to follow.

Emotions struggling within him, he wished rebelliously that once, just once, even though he would have to refuse anyway, she would ask him to not walk away. For no reason that he could comprehend, he just needed that of her, but it was a foolish thing he wanted, an utterly childish request that he could never ask, and so he didn't. Ever.

Instead, he just encouraged her to look back over towards him, capturing her wavering gaze as finally he let out a smile unmarred by sadness, not contorted by insecurities. Thumbs brushing against the corners of her eyes, head tilting as he let out an accepting sigh, he murmured, "Kairi," voice softer and gentler than the summer breezes that touched upon their island home, with more love than most humans in a lifetime ever experienced, let alone felt, "don't be sad. I'll fight for you?"

Laughing humorlessly, she nodded, leaning forward to just be close to him, and then, as he let his hands descend upon her shoulders in a slow, tentative fashion, she collapsed against his torso, no more tears in her body to cry. Instead, she just talked of small things as she wound her impossibly fragile arms around his waist, hair smelling of sweet shampoo and skin as invitingly soft as he'd remembered as she recollected on days of their youth, memories in the form of "remember this?" or "…and that one time…" falling slowly from her lips as she fought to relax the shake in her body, speaking of such for both of their benefits as the sun to his left fell gradually closer to the horizon.

"…and you've always meant the world to me," she finished softly, as she always finished, inhaling gently through her nose as she shifted her head against his chest, gently fingering the shirt covering his back as he smiled and bowed his head into her hair, nodding and murmuring his agreement. She insisted on never letting him go before she told him her feelings on the off chance that he would leave never knowing how much she loved him; it was a testament to old lovers who'd withstood time and troubles, she always commented on it as, she simply preserving their memories for them to think back on forever. But he always knew, and he would've told her that to save her the trouble, but the fact that she did it soothed the both of them, and he felt that there was no point in convincing her not to remind him anymore.

Simply hearing again and again that she really, truly loved him made even his darkest days seem a little bit brighter. And clichés like that were needed wherever they were given.

By the time she fell asleep in his arms, lulled into that state by the crashing of waves and sifting of wind and his hand rubbing comfortably along her hair, Riku was there, feet stopped by his side and hands shoved his pockets, gaze eyeing the horizon now bathed in darkness. And for as long as he was there Sora felt complete, comforted by his presence and filled by the girl in his arms, so that concerns of harder days and tougher battles didn't pervade his thoughts. It was just them, a trinity, a triangle of souls bound forever into the bonds of friendship. And the night felt right, because they were together, after everything that had happened in the past.

"I tell ya," Riku drawled at last, disrupting the silence not unpleasantly with a voice soothing and slated, a work of cool metal and calm spring miraculously working together, "you guys have been no fun since you got hitched. Marriage life sucked all the youth out of you." Snorting, the act making Sora grin and tilt his head back so that he caught aquamarine eyes aglow beneath pooling bangs, his friend muttered, "All this lovey-dovey crap. It's disgusting. What are you? Actually in love?"

Smiling gently, the boy with brown hair and eyes still innocent and with precision deadly enough to end the lives of the most dangerous of enemies glanced down and gently placed his blade-wielding hand on the head of the girl he'd loved before he'd known what the word even meant, nodding calmly. "Can you believe that, Riku?" he asked, bangs overshadowing his softened stare but not concealing his smile.

"It's absolutely shocking."

The small curve of his lips broadening into a grin, he looked up and caught the faint smile of his longest-known friend, the best friend he'd always had, the closest confidant he'd ever stand beside. They too shared a bond, always had, and so without speaking now the silver-haired youth urged him that it was time to go, sparing the girl slumbering in his embrace a regretful look as he had dignity enough not to sigh. Holding out his hand as he tilted his head, gaze narrowing not in irritation but as a stoic reminder, the older male extended his support through a simple gesture, revealing the depths of his friendship through the small, encouraging smile hidden almost entirely by the shadows of the night.

And as Sora clutched Kairi to him and placed his hand and all of his trust into Riku's grip, he knew that this wasn't a beginning, nor was it an end, but instead just another obstacle for all three of them to overcome on their own ways, fighting relentlessly to come back home again.

Wordless reminders of friendship and love would keep them together, and they'd always keep true their promises to one another through it all.

"I know you will!"

-- - --

It's short, amazingly enough, but I'll hopefully write longer - comfortably longer - fics than this in time. So, though it's kind of eh, please review.