Disclaimer: Kingdom Hearts never has and never will belong to randomcat23.
Post Kingdom Hearts 2
"I'm going to do it today."
Riku's eyebrows rose over closed eyelids. He was currently laying on his porch swing, enjoying the morning warmth and the smell of the summer sea. Without opening his eyes, he had known it was Sora who trounced up the stairs and stopped before declaring his plan for the day; the only question in Riku's mind was: What, exactly, was 'it'?
"What are you doing today?" The silver-haired teen offered, finally looking at his best friend.
Sora looked at the ground momentarily, snapped his head back to Riku, and then let it fall again. He was fingering the edge of his red t-shirt and kicking the porch floor with his sneaker.
Riku sat up and raised just one eyebrow this time. "Sora—"
"I'm gonna share a paopu with Kairi!" The words came rushing out of Sora's mouth and it took Riku a second to understand them. When he did, he had to smile.
"I was beginning to think you weren't going to do it." Riku sat up and gazed down toward the beach and then beyond to the play island. "You've got a nice day to pick a paopu," Riku started again when Sora didn't respond.
"I was hoping you would come with me."
"I think you can row over the island by yourself, Sora," Riku chastised.
"I was looking for some moral support from my best friend, actually," Sora pouted, crossing his arms over his chest. He sighed and took a seat next to Riku on the swing, which creaked with the added weight.
Riku glanced at Sora through his silver hair and drummed his fingers on the armrest. Sora gave him a direct, pleading stare, puppy-dog eyes and all. Riku pushed Sora's encroaching face away with one hand.
"Alright, I'll come with you, but I'm not holding your hand when you go to Kairi. You can do that by yourself." Riku got up and wiped his hands on his shorts. It was before noon, but the summer sun already roasted the town. Tilting his head in thought, Riku said, "I'll be right back."
He disappeared into his house and returned moments later with a thermos filled with ice cold lemonade. Two cups were stuffed in his cargo-shorts' pockets. "Nothings better on a hot day than Mom's homemade lemonade."
"Hey, that rhymed," Sora grinned and stood up.
"Leave it to you to pick out the obvious." Riku made his way down the steps, followed closely by Sora.
"You mean you did that on purpose?"
Riku never bothered to answer.
The two teenagers walked through town, waving off Wakka and Tidus' invite for a game of blitzball. They had more pressing matters to attend to. The main dock was bustling with people tending to their boats. Luckily, the ocean was calm and the ride to the play island would be easy. Riku untied his boat as Sora hopped in. The two boys took turns rowing and they quickly made their way toward the distant beach.
The sea breeze ruffled Sora's hair as he said, "Thanks for coming, Riku." His friend just shrugged and continued rowing. "No, really, it means a lot to me."
Riku cut him off, "Are you going to get all sappy on me? I'm just watching you get a paopu fruit."
Sora laughed and the boat hit the sandy beach. They got out of the small boat and stretched. Countless shells littered the sand, mixed in with strains of seaweed. The smell of salt water was strong but the scent summer wild flowers overcame it. The island hadn't changed at all.
Riku had to grin; the idea of a race suddenly overwhelmed him. Smirking, he casually walked up behind Sora and gave his shoulder a good push. The smaller boy lost his balance but recovered before Riku could finish saying: "I'll race you to the tree!"
Sora couldn't—wouldn't—turn down a challenge and sprinted after Riku. It was a close race, but Riku made it to the top platform first and stopped at the end of the bridge, holding up the thermos in a victory pose. "Beat ya," he taunted.
"Only because you got freakishly long legs!" Sora breathed heavily. He bent over to catch his breath, but burst out into laughter anyway. "When's the last time we did that?"
"I don't know," Riku shrugged, preferring not to bring up the past and focus on the task at hand.
After Sora had started breathing again, he straightened himself up and walked over to Riku, who was gazing up at the paopu tree. Both teenagers were silent for a moment; the wind rustled the leaves of the tall tree.
"Well, there it is," Riku announced.
Riku gave Sora a push, "Get up there and get it!"
Sora gave him a startled look. "Don't you think we should look for another paopu tree?"
"What?" Riku responded incredulously. "This one is right here, why look for another one?"
"I just want to find the best one," the Keyblade Master whined. "I mean, this is important." His hands rested on his hips for emphasis.
"There isn't another paopu tree."
"How do you know?"
"Because there has always only been one!"
"But, the island was re-made; maybe another one got placed somewhere," Sora protested.
Sora pleaded and pleaded again.
Riku crossed his arms, "Fine, let's look for another tree." Sora grinned and nearly ran inland to search for another tree. Riku followed, but wondered to himself, "Why is Sora, of all people, stalling?"
The sun rose to the highest point in the sky while Sora and Riku roamed over their play island. Everything had gone back the way it had been, just as Riku had expected. But, Sora being as stubborn as he is, insisted on searching every nook and cranny of the small piece of land. No rock went unsearched—"What if there's a baby paopu tree behind it?" Sora had asked as if it were an obvious conclusion.
Riku's patience was spent by the time he bent over to look behind the fifth blackberry bush. Nothing had changed since the islands re-creation. The tree house had the same squeaky board. The one fish in the pond still had its orange speckles. And the secret spot remained untouched.
And, like always, it was hot. It was weather like this that made Riku consider cutting his long hair. He never went through with it, but the idea still popped into his head when the long strands stuck to the back of his neck.
Speaking of which, Riku was considering wringing a certain someone's neck . . .
"Sora, we've searched the whole island; just go back and pick that stupid fruit!"
"But we haven't checked the coconut tree grove twice yet!"
"It's a coconut tree grove!" Riku yelled, "Coconut trees grow with other coconut trees, not rouge destiny-intertwining trees!" Irritation filled every word.
"I guess you're right," Sora lifted a finger to his cheek in thought, "but what if—"
"I'm going to smack you with my thermos if you take one step closer toward that coconut tree," Riku warned. A lemonade thermos may not cause as much damage as a keyblade, but it was still a threatening weapon.
Sora retreated and joined Riku on his hike back to the lonely paopu tree. Upon reaching it, Riku fell to the sand and took a drink out of his cup. Even though it was late in the day, the drink was still cool; Riku was thankful.
Sora pondered the paopu tree, as if he planned on sketching it. "I'm going to get that one." He pointed to the paopu at the top of the tree.
"That's great," Riku took another sip.
"Do you think that's a good one?"
"It's a fruit, Sora, not a gummi ship. I'm sure the magic will still work if you pick a slightly blemished paopu."
The younger boy paused, shrugged and climbed up onto the tree. The rough bark gave his shoes something to grip as Sora hugged the tree and made is way to the top. Reaching a hand out, Sora barely touched one of the legendary fruits. "I can't reach it, Riku!"
"Thermos," Riku stated bluntly and lifted his makeshift weapon again. The younger boy gulped and withdrew his statement. Riku would be one to use that weapon.
Sora frowned, but managed to scoot up the tree an inch more and snag one of the yellow fruits. He jumped down, a grin plastered on his already happy face. "I got it." A breath of relief came from his grinning face.
Sora sat down next to Riku and asked for a cup of lemonade. He took a sip and stared out over the sea, watching the sun sink lower in the sky. If he hurried there would still be time to share the fruit with Kairi . . .
Sora paused and took in a quick breath. "Have you ever," he hesitated and then ended with a rush, "been in love?"
Riku nearly choked on his current sip of lemonade. His sea-green eyes snapped to Sora's blue ones and stared incredulously. "What? No, I, no."
Riku frowned. Where did that question come from? "Why are you asking, Sora?"
"I was just hoping you could tell me what it feels like."
It was Sora's turn to stare down Riku. "I want to make sure what I'm really feeling," he put a hand over his heart, "for Kairi is love, before we share a paopu."
Riku smirked at Sora's naivety. Of course Sora would worry about things like that. "It's just a fruit, Sora, not a life-binding contract."
"But it's not a pinky-swear either," Sora returned, his forehead wrinkled in thought. "This is the legendary paopu fruit of the Destiny Islands. A lot of people take this seriously."
"You mean like Selphie?" Riku asked with a wicked grin.
Sora gave Riku a light punch in the arm. "Come on, I mean the whole town. Some of them consider it almost marriage." His face blushed at the word, but Sora's tone remained serious.
Riku's gaze swept over the horizon as he mulled over Sora's predicament. Even though he didn't think much of the legendary fruit, this was important to his two best friends. It finally hit Riku that this was the reason Sora had been stalling all day. The kid had his mind set on sharing the fruit with Kairi, but spent the whole day wondering if it really was meant to be. Riku found it funny how Sora, who jumps headfirst into everything, hesitated on something Riku thought was obviously right.
"You really don't know, do you?" Riku questioned Sora, breaking the silence.
Sora bit his lip. "I know, or I think I know, but at the same time I don't. I, I don't want to make the wrong choice. How am I supposed to know if, well, this is what is supposed to happen?"
Riku folded his arms behind his head and lay down on the warm sand. "Kairi's heart came to you, didn't it?" His eyes turned to Sora in just enough time to see the younger boy's mouth fall open slightly. Riku smiled. "I mean, she found you before anyone else. That says something."
The only sound that could be heard was the crashing of the waves on the beach. Riku got up and went to sit on the tree, leaving Sora to ponder those thoughts and taking time to think about his own.
Like the never ending waves on the beach, some things never changed. Sora was still naïve and good-hearted. Kairi was her normal pleasant self, waiting for Sora to make the next move. The Island remained as it ever was. Riku let out a content sigh, taking comfort in the consistency. It was something he had never been good at.
Minutes passed and soon Sora came up and joined Riku on the bent paopu tree. The Keyblade Master rolled the fruit over in his hands, grinning to himself. "I'll ask Kairi tomorrow." And from the way he said it, Riku knew Sora didn't plan on stalling anymore.
"Good. Just make sure I'm not around to see the sap-fest."
"It's not going to be a sap-fest!"
"Yes it will," Riku insisted. He looked over at his friend with a raised eyebrow and watched as Sora nodded in agreement.
"Alright," Sora started as he jumped down from the tree, "I'll just meet up with you later tomorrow then."
Riku joined Sora on the sand and the two walked back to their small boat, laughing.
I had fun writing this one; it's been a long time since I've done anything Kingdom Hearts related.
Love it or hate it, let me know in a review! –randomcat23