Chapter 1 Between Reality and a Dream

As the sun began to set, signaling the end of yet another day at Destiny Islands, Riku and Sora sat together atop of the legendary paopu tree silently watching the sunset and, at the same time, going through their thoughts. You've probably heard the legend of the paopu fruit before. It is said that if you share a paopu fruit with someone you truly care for, your destinies become intertwined, and you'll remain a part of each other's lives, no matter what. Well, Sora was planning to do just that. He's always had a thing for Kairi for as long as he could remember, but after the last two years they've spent apart and seeing her go through it all, he wanted to be with her now more than ever. The only question was…how. Riku on the other hand was just glad that he was home again. Sure he felt relieved, but he was still feeling the guilt because of the things he did in the past. There were things that he did that he wasn't exactly proud of which is why he wanted to apologize for everything. Especially to Sora. Just thinking about it made him want to ram his head into one of the coconut trees that he was looking at so many times that he would forget about everything. As much as he wanted to apologize, once again, the question was how.

'I better apologize soon,' Riku thought,' or I'm never going to get over –' Riku snapped out of his thoughts when he heard Sora finally broke the silence.

"Are you okay? You looked as if you were going to bang yourself against that tree over there." Sora said while pointing to one of the coconut trees that he was talking about. "You've been staring at it since we got here!" Sora joked. 'No I'm not okay and how did he do that?! He saw right through me!' "I'm okay, Sora. I just have a lot on my mind that's all." Riku replied. "You want to talk about it?" Sora asked, "It feels a lot better when you just get it off your chest and say something you know." 'Well, he has a point… here goes nothing.'

"Sora."

"Yeah?"

…"I'm sorry"

With a bewildered and confused look on his face Sora said, "What do you mean?" 'What is he talking about?'

'Sora, get a clue! It's hard enough just to talk about it…'

" You know, ever since we came back from defeating the Organization and finally being home, I've never been happier." Riku confirmed so he wouldn't be confused, "It's just that, lately, I've been thinking things through, and the more I really thought about it, the more I began to question why I'm even here. I mean think about it. I willingly gave myself to the darkness, I willingly helped Ansem and Maleficent, I turned traitor on my best friend, and I hid from you guys for a year as a living replica of a guy who almost took over the worlds! After all of that, why am I even here? I don't deserve to be here at all!" Riku spat. After saying all that, he began to notice that he was talking a little off key with his untrained attitude so he took his time to calm himself down before he finally continued. "I guess what I want to ask is, how could you, Kairi, and everybody else still want to be my friend after I've done things that are nearly unforgivable?" And with that, he lowered his head to the point that you couldn't see his face, waiting for his answer. 'Please. Just say something. Anything.'

' Wow. That is a lot' Sora thought 'I see why he's sorry but, why I'm still your friend? Isn't it obvious?' Sora always did have a hard time figuring out what was going on in Riku's head. Heck, nobody could, but whenever he was this down, it was just too plain and simple to ignore." Isn't it obvious Riku?" Sora said quietly. Riku still had his head hanging as low as his attitude but was still listening with a slight interest. " That stuff doesn't really matter to me to tell you the truth, but it hurts whenever I see a friend like this." Sora said in a low tone "You've always been there through pretty much my whole life Riku, and I've been there for yours. We've both admit that we've done some crazy things in our lives and that, believe it or not, is normal." Sora explained. "But no matter how stupid those things were, we were good all the same. 'I don't see where this is going Sora. What are you trying to say?' Riku thought while Sora was babbling. "I guess what I'm trying to say is, it doesn't matter what you do in life. No matter how good or how bad you may be, there is always something to teach us and to help us open our eyes to what truly matters. So no matter what you do, you're still you. There's always something. And when I look at you Riku, I don't see you from what you did, I see you as a friend, my best friend."

"And I'm sure Kairi and everyone else does too" Sora added.

Sora then stopped talking and waited for what Riku had to say until he heard something. 'Oh god no! What did I say? I am not hearing what I think I'm hearing.' Sora's thoughts proved to be true because Riku's head was still down but something else was happening. Something that Sora has never seen him do before in years. Underneath his curtain of hair that hid his face, Riku was actually crying. He was crying hard too. Sora was just about to ask what it was he said until he saw Riku lift up his head to finally say something.

"Sora. Thank you." Riku mumbled. "For everything." 'I feel like such a sissy now, despite the fact that I never cried once in at least 8 years!'

"What are friends for?" And with that, Sora scooted closer to Riku and embraced him. Riku clung to him as if his life depended on it and began to sob uncontrollably while Sora just sat there, trying to calm him down and telling him to just cry it out and that everything was going to be okay.

After several minutes of crying, Riku finally calmed himself down enough to say, " You never told me what you were thinking about."

"Do I have to?"

. "It's only fair."

"Fine then, but before I say anything, can you do me a big favor and not tell Kairi about anything I say?" With a puzzled look on his face Riku asked, "I won't say anything but why don't you want to tell Kairi? Don't you trust her?" "It's not that I don't trust Kairi, because I do." Sora confirmed, "It's just that it's very personal so I want to keep it on low profile that's all."

'Well, this is it. Here I go. And God help me if Kairi comes.'

'Well, this isn't like Sora at all. This is going to be good. I can tell.'

"I'm in love with Kairi." Sora stated rather quickly. 'There! I said it! Bet Riku didn't see that coming.'

Riku however, just sat there, staring blankly at him in disbelief but in truth, was thinking the complete opposite. ' Well, that doesn't surprise me. He's liked her since she came here; it's just too obvious. I'm just shocked that he actually went up and said it. Bold move…' "Well, to be honest, that doesn't surprise me." Riku said truthfully.

"How come?"

"After seeing you watch her from a distance and that uncontrollable blushing of yours, it's not that hard to figure out" Riku said while pointing out Sora's current blush.

"Seriously?"

"Seriously."

" Just wondering Sora but, when are you gonna tell her?"

"It's up to you because, hey you've had some history of you liking her too so I wanted ask if that affection is still standing. If you like her still than I –"

"Sora, love isn't a time game!" Riku snapped, not believing a thing Sora just said, "It's more like the pursuit of happiness game. If you're gonna hold back because of me then I see no love fantasy of yours ever happening. And no I don't like her."

'She's single? YES!!! There's hope!'

"Let me just give you a piece of advice before I end this conversation. If you truly love her make a move, if you don't…. someone else will." That last statement kind of scared Sora but he wasn't about to let that bring him down. In fact, he was nearly 100 confident about feelings that he just couldn't deny.

"Thanks Riku. And as far as telling her is concerned, I've been having this idea of how to tell her."

"Let's hear it."

So for the next several minutes, Sora explained how sometime tomorrow, he would ask Kairi if he could speak to her privately. If she said yes, he'd take her on a long stroll towards the Secret Place and have a chat along the way. When they finally get there he'd show her the recent addition to what he did to the carving that they did as kids, then there would go the moment of truth and the paopu. From then on, it would totally depend on what Kairi would do next.

"I like it. How long have you had this idea?" Riku asked.

"For a couple days now."

"So the matter is settled then?"

"Yep. Until tomorrow." Sora confirmed therefore ending the conversation so the two teens could sit in silence to slowly watch a sunset that seemed to last forever. During yet another term of silence, Sora had something else in mind that he thought should finally talk about. He was sure that Riku would understand after seeing him single-handedly help him with his 'love sick' problem. If Riku did have something else in his mind, Sora was confident that he could figure him out too. But Riku didn't. He was, however, glad with what Sora had to say about his emotional dilemma and was glad that he was somehow able to help. 'I'm satisfied. I just hope that Sora's declaration of love plan works. But then again, knowing him, I don't think it will work, I know it will work… it better work.'

After about 20 minutes, Sora once again broke the silence, deciding that now would be the time to talk about something that has been his #1 topic for a week. "That wasn't all I was thinking about you know." Sora said quietly. "Will you care to explain then?" Riku asked with a tone that said 'keep going.' "Well, before I say anything don't say anything to Kairi because I want to be able to tell her myself." "Don't worry Sora, I won't tell her." Riku promised, completely understanding what he meant. "First of all," Sora began, "I want to ask something. Have you ever had a time when something happens and you could've swore that it was real but in the end, it really wasn't? Riku, this may sound really random right now but I really need you to answer this question." 'Once you do, you'll understand.' After taking a small and quick stroll down memory lane, he gathered up his thoughts and said,"To be honest," Riku began, "there were some times when that kind of thing happened." Riku stole a quick glance at Sora, before continuing only to see that he really was listening to what he was saying with a face that proved it. " It would happen whether if it was in my dreams when I was sleeping, or whether it was just a pigment of my imagination, but either way, it did happen." 'That was all that I needed to know.' Sora thought with a small smirk slowly appearing on his face.

"Well, it happened to me too. Except that I've been having the same dream over and over again for a week now." Sora said. After hearing that statement, Riku quickly looked directly his way with a concerned look on his face asking Sora if there was something wrong and to feel free to keep going; after looking towards Riku, he slowly nodded his way and kept going, pointing to what he was talking about, he said "In the dream, I'm walking down that beach," "I was walking towards the Secret Place and while I'm walking I start seeing these flashbacks of my past. It was like my life was flashing before my eyes. When I get to the Secret Place, I see the drawing me and Kairi drew, then I start to hear a voice, Kairi's voice" Flashback "That's my lucky charm, be sure to bring it back to me." "Don't ever forget, wherever you go, I'm always with you…" "I just can't wait, once we set sail, it'll be great…" " Is this real?" End Flashback "Then I hear another voice. Ansem's voice calling my name, I turn my back to the drawing to see where it came from only to see a door that wasn't there when I first came in. As I'm standing in front of the door, I hear his voice again, Flashback "I came to see the door to this world…" "Tied to the darkness…soon to be completely eclipsed…" " All worlds begin in darkness and all so end…" " The heart is no different…" End Flashback "As I look at the door, it begins to glow, so I start to walk towards it. Then while I'm walking, I suddenly feel this strange force trying to push me back. That force then begins to talk to me in my head but I couldn't understand what it was saying." Flashback "Gastalatentop dakarepeno labeska werto toperentope whatsoduperuapdap. Labeska werto toperentope keori maatsu koyuki keori." End Flashback "It was like it was speaking a different language."

"Did you recognize the voice?" Riku asked.

"I didn't know what it was." Sora said sadly, "In the end, the force ends up pushing me backwards off my feet sending me flying towards the exit but the exit turns out to be a big opening of light, and then I wake up."

" I'll tell you one thing, that's no ordinary dream. I think you're dreams are trying to tell you something. Maybe it's a glimpse of the future or maybe it really is a figment of that crazy imagination of yours or something like that." Riku suggested.

"Maybe. The only thing that I know is that it's a girl's voice…"Sora sighed.

'I hope I find out soon, because for some reason, something just doesn't seem right." Sora quickly snapped out of his thoughts when he heard footsteps behind him. He turned around only to see that the footsteps belonged to their lifelong friend, Kairi.