Disclaimer: I could claim to own Kingdom Hearts and all its worldly affiliates, but, le sigh, I would be lying. The pool of professional envy that I'm wading in says otherwise.
A/N: First fanfic. Only fanfic. The chapter length is frustratingly short, and I suck at third-person. See? With so much criticism already piled on me by myself, no one needs to be mean! Seriously though, I welcome all feedback.
Water. Water was everywhere, in every pore, filling every orifice. It flooded my lungs, my eyes, surrounded my skin until there was nothing left but the cold, the darkness. I didn't even try to breathe; it was already futile. The world was blue of the deepest nature, swirling in a suffocating storm of perfect stagnancy. Through my slitted eyes, I could see my hands in front of my face, floating on the ends of my arms. Silver hair eddied lazily in and out of my field of vision, until the slitted eyes slid completely shut. There was nothing left to see. Nothing left to feel.
No more cold.
No more darkness.
Sora opened his eyes to rain. The curtains of his window were swept, as always, aside to reveal the new day, in all its depressingly cloudy glory. He groaned, thrusting an arm across his face. "Nuuu. No fair."
On tropical Destiny Island, the weather was ever-prone to change. As spectacular as the sunny, postcard-perfect days were, so too were the storms in their fury. Sensible architecture had all the houses upon the island standing three feet off the ground, for when the inevitable floods would hit. The wind would howl and lash, the boats and canoes belonging to children and fisherman would be splintered upon the shore, and coconuts would fly like wild canon-fire. To look out upon nature at its most raging was to offer your breath to be snatched away in reverence.
For Sora, the frightening glory of the storms was a constant irritation during the wet season. Currently, the Island was coming to the tapering end of the rains, but they still occurred every now and then, like determined last gasps. Soon the sun would reign for another three-quarters of a year, but that didn't change the fact that right here, right now, he was house-bound until the present storm fully abated. Oh, God, if he even suggested, even thought of suggesting venturing out before the clouds were all gone and the sun baking the world dry once again, he would be subjected to his mother's entire diatribe of the risks of tropical storms. He would be sat down at the kitchen table, and the newspaper clippings would come out, paraded one after the other, while she described in full, graphic, creative detail the fates of those who had previously thought to defy Destiny's more vicious face of Mother Nature.
Sora sat, the coverlet bunching at his hips as he crossed his legs and peered out, scowling at the gloom. Damn it, he'd been planning to see Kairi today, and then they were going to collect Selphie, and she in turn would nag them until they went and added Tidus to the group. Wakka would somehow have magically appeared the second Tidus touched the pavement, as if he'd been lying in wait in the dog house, then they all would have paddled out to the play island. Selphie would have pouted off by herself the instant Tidus and Wakka ignored her in favour of blitz practice in the beach shallows, and Sora and Kairi would alternately have laughed at her, comforted her, and suffered her clasped-handed visions of romance at seeing the two of them together. And then, with the usual procedures out of the way, the day would have been what it was – not – not this… bland – rainy – USELESSNESS.
Sighing in disgust, Sora flung the covers away, padding across the room to where his cell phone sat quietly on his roll-top desk. He picked it up, dialling Kairi's number.
She answered quickly, humour in her voice as she warned, "Your mom's not going to liiiike thiiiiis."
"Hush," Sora bit back playfully. "What she doesn't know won't hurt her."
Kairi laughed. "How do you figure you'll pull that off? Your mom knows ALL."
And sure enough… "Sora, honey, I hear you talking – you're not on the PHONE, are you?"
Kairi giggled on the other end. "Busted. The woman has ears like a wolf."
"Whoa. HEY, MOM. KAIRI THINKS YOU'RE A DOG."
Kairi squealed. "Holy shit! Sora! Take it back!"
"I go, I take you down with me," Sora cackled. Then, "Oh, crap, she's coming. To you, Kairi, I bequeath all my worldly possessions – plus my brutally maimed corpse."
"SORA! GET OFF THE PHONE, NOW!"
"She's coming!" Sora whispered hysterically into the cell. "Hide me!"
"Oh, sure, Sora, I'll just tuck you away into a convenient corner of my room. No wait – once I inherit your brutally maimed corpse, I'll go taxidermy on your ass, and then tuck you into a corner of the room. No, wait, the closet! And then I'll tell Selphie I left her a present in there!"
"Oh, my God you're evil."
Sora let out an 'eep' as his mother appeared in all her maternal rage in the doorway. "Say good-bye to Kairi, now, mister!"
"Good-bye, Kairi," he moaned funereally, and hung up without waiting for a response.
Sora's mother, while small in stature, had a presence which filled the room. Normally mild-mannered, once angered, the air around her rose and undulated, like an aggressive bird puffing up its feathers. Sora grinned weakly as she planted a hand on either hip and glared. He twinkled the fingers still wrapped around the phone and said, "Morning, mommy."
"Don't you 'mommy' me. Sora, how many times do I have to tell you not to use the phone during a storm? People get electrocuted that way! It happens, I've read about it!"
"You might think I'm being silly, but how do you think you'll feel when it's your brains being fried, just because you couldn't go five minutes without socialising? Hmmm?"
"That's right. For the two seconds you have left to feel regret, and then you'll be dead. And that goes for the computer, too. I heard you last night, tapping away – Sora, computers explode during storms!"
"Okay, I give in! You got me!" He tossed the cell phone to the floor and staggered sideways to the bed, clutching his bare stomach as though shot. "Spare me. I have seen the error of my WAYS!"
His giggles are interrupted by a clip upside the head, making him yelp. His mother smirked. "That's better. Don't make me start confiscating your electronics."
"No, mother," he sighed, long-sufferingly.
"Good boy. Now, get dressed, I'm making breakfast, and then you can use your time in house-arrest to either, a) complete your homework, and I know it's not done yet, or b) clean out the attic like you were supposed to two weeks ago."
"Homework! I lied! I have lots left to do!"
"I don't get you and the attic," she muttered, leaving him alone. He followed her to the door, hanging off the frame as she headed downstairs and calling, "It's scary up there, mom! If you want it clean so bad, you do it!"
"Yes, dear," her voice floated back. "Mommy will protect you from the big bad dust-bunnies."
"Damn straight," Sora muttered, shuffling over to the closet. "Not just any dust-bunnies, mutant dust-bunnies. They multiply like… bunnies… fuck it."
Sora stripped off his pyjama bottoms and pulled on a pair of boxers, his ripped jeans, and a small red tee, looping two belts around his hips, one to hold the jeans to his slim hips, the other for decoration. Running a hand through his hair and likening it to a good comb, he trip-trapped down the stairs and into the kitchen, where the smell of fried bacon and poached eggs swam and tempted. Taking a deep, happy lungful of the delicious air, he sank down at the round kitchen table and watched his mother cook. She glanced over her shoulder at him. "Any thoughts on what you want for your birthday yet?"
Sora frowned, bringing his hands together and studying the steepled fingers. "I've thought about it… But I still don't know." He looked up, perplexed. "I don't need anything, mom."
"Need, no, but want?"
"I don't want anything. I can't think of a thing. I'm good how I am."
She pouted, turning the bacon with a hiss and sizzle. "Jeeze, you take the fun out of this," she grumbled. "I haven't been able to get you anything good for years now. I miss my baby's excited face when he realises he's got what he always wanted."
Sora shrugged, smiling beatifically. "I guess I just… already have everything I always wanted."
"You had better mean materially, mister, or I may gag on the sentiment packed into that small sentence."
Sora snorted, then laughed. "Fine, mom. Materially, I need, and want, nothing."
"But Sora. That's no fun."
"But mom. It's my birthday. Get me a box of sea air and I'll be happy!"
"You, my dear boy, are odd."
Sora shrugged. "What's Aunt Serba getting Roxas for his eighteenth?"
"Hmm." Sora's mother tipped the bacon onto his plate, then went back to fish the eggs from their watery pan. "I think she said something about that new skateboard on the market – a McDuck?"
Sora nodded thoughtfully. "Yeah, I can see that. Roxas'll be pleased. The board he has now is getting kind of worn-out."
"You used to like skating, didn't you?"
"Only with Roxas." Sora shook his head. "And only in Twilight Town. Destiny's got too many cracked roads to be able to skate properly."
"Well, I can't say I'm disappointed. It seems so dangerous. I don't know how that cousin of yours survives his life, between that skateboard he screeches around on, and those fights he gets into."
"The fights aren't dangerous, mom, it's to do with the tournaments he does. It's all done in a proper environment." He dug into his breakfast, practically inhaling it, while his mother rolled her eyes at his voraciousness, and disappeared off to do – you know – mom things. Cleaning and stuff. God knew Sora didn't make the house sparkle like it did. He could barely pick up after himself.
Once finished, he slipped his plate into the sink and snuck back upstairs before his mom could screech at him to clean it. He sat down at his desk with a flump, twisting the seat to look out at the weather. It persisted to be miserable, though the ferocity was dying down. Lightening flashed periodically, powerful enough to throb the air tangibly. It was times like this that Sora was grateful for the underground powerlines the Island Council had installed ten years previously. Sure, it meant that when the power did go out, it was for a damn messy reason that often took a couple of days to fix, in which everything in the fridge would die a terrible, smelly death, but it was vastly preferable to the days of yore, when storms like the present one left them shivering in the dark. Sora still had bad memories of those days.
Sighing, he dropped to his knees on the carpet and stretched over to where his cell-phone lay dark and silent. No new messages. Hmph – you'd think Kairi would at least check in to see if he was still breathing with both lungs. Some best friend she was.
Sora clambered back up onto the desk chair, and picked up his chemistry textbook with pronounced distaste. "Ick," he said, for emphasis, in case the book was still unaware of the minute space it occupied in Sora's usually all-loving heart. He slammed it down and opened it up, adding, "Double ick," as he scanned the questions he was required to answer on the bookmarked page. Face-desk moment! "Kairiiii," he grumbled, head lolling to the side. "Why are you not heeeeere, helping meeeee? Hmph. See if I leave you my maimed corpse now. I'll leave it to Selphie, and she'll turn it into a moogle, and every time you go to her house, you'll have to face the fact that I chose eternal moogle-dom over you."
Hmmm… how to further procrastinate…?
Sora rose from the chair and stalked over to the window, hands folded behind his back, glaring at the storm. From his room, Sora had a clear view of the ocean, chopping and foaming with frustration, lapping at the barrier of land. It was usually a sight Sora liked to avoid – if he stared for too long, he would end up having The Nightmare again when he turned in for the night. Capital T. Capital N. Sora had nightmares just like everybody did, ones where you fall into nothingness, ones where you suddenly realise you've been giving your English oral speech in your underwear (and that's if you're lucky – yeah, the naked one was mortifying). There were times when he realised he was dreaming, and stopped the bad things from happening, and times where he'd look on helplessly, forced to live it out until waking or slipping into pleasanter visions. But The Nightmare was different to those. It was vivid. It breathed. He felt the sun, smelled the surf, feet sinking an inch into the hot sand. And the tidal wave that grew, and advanced, it was real. It was coming. The water would recede from his feet, draining away to feed the gargantuan wave that would obliterate Destiny Island and all its inhabitants… Sora had been having this nightmare for as long as he could remember. He grew up with that fear imprinted on his soul. It meant that, when the others went surfing, he would stay on the sand. It meant that blitzball belonged to all others, but never him, he would never give himself so far to the water. It was difficult, being terrified of the ocean on a small island, but Sora had managed. He could still row over to the play island and have fun. He could still cool off on a hot day. He just wouldn't go too deep. And when the others inevitably did, he would close his eyes, or creep away to the Secret Place before anyone noticed him leaving.
When the wet season came about, and the waves began to tower… well, Sora didn't sleep too well during those months.
In a fit of defiance, Sora flipped the ocean off.
Yeah, Sora… it's a-shakin' in its boots…
He sighed, and drew the curtain across, hoping to block the morbid mental images just as easily. Suddenly, the mutant dust-bunnies weren't looking quite so bad.
The storm grew worse again that night. It was as if the world was being torn asunder in a battle between the gods. The window vibrated violently in its frame, making Sora sink further into his bed, whimpering quietly. He squeezed his eyes shut, listening to the ocean pound out a metronome in the background. He didn't sleep – couldn't. He was too busy waiting for the silence, knowing that this time would be the time, tonight was the end of the world, of his world – the second the silence came, he would know that the tsunami was coming. The sea would cease to crash, and instead there would be a quiet hiss. The rain would continue, loud as ever, but in the absence of the ocean's ire, it would seem like a whisper. And then the hiss would become a roar. The roar would become the universe. And then, they would all just cease to be.
Dawn arrived, at long last, surprising Sora. He sat slowly, gripping the covers around his body, staring at the curtains. He reached out, flicked them aside, and watched the sun rise. The storm was quiet now, the ocean calmer, and the sound of water dripping from the trees and gutters filled the room as Sora unlatched the window and pressed it out an inch. He caught a lungful of moist, earthy air, breathed it deep, almost swooning relief as the clouds, bit by bit, were dispersed by the climbing sun.