a/n: Haven't done anything remotely fluffy in awhile. I've been leaning towards angst and tragedy, so this'll switch things up a bit. Enjoy! (p.s. Thanks to Ana for the prompt and reading it before I posted. Love you!
disclaimer: Not my characters. My fanfic.
dedication: HAPPY BIRTHDAY SUKI! I whipped out a good ole Kaiora for you, 'cause I know how much you love the adorableness and the cheesiness (and I hope you'll tell me whether this is a mild cheddar or fancy gouda, possibly a baked brie?). So I wish you a VERY happy birthday, love, and hope you like this.
"I'll go see if we can go out," Sora tells me, placing a large hand over my thin one, rubbing misshapen circles against my skin in a comforting sort of way. "It's nice out."
I smile. His lips curl up slightly in response, but the vague grin doesn't reach his eyes. A gentle pat to my leg, fingers slowly sliding down my shin as he stands, and he's gone.
I lean my head back, letting my mind carry me back to yesterday and beyond to memories I can no longer place but still swim through the torrents in my head.
My childhood. My islands. My ocean. My sunshine.
"C'mon, we have so many places to show you!" Riku exclaimed, tugging down on his bright yellow shirt before he bounded off. He disappeared through a thick curtain of foliage, leaving me confused yet slightly curious.
"It's the Secret Place," Sora informed me, puffing out his chest with his fists on his hips, as if that would make the importance of the cave any greater.
"It looks scary," I confessed, "And dark. There are monsters in the dark." I brought my gaze back down to the bottom of my skirt, my eyes lingering on the white stripe breaking off from the light purple. It was a new outfit. I liked it a lot.
"Don't be scared," he said, bending down so he could peer up at my hesitant face. "I'll protect you from the monsters."
And before I could stop him, he had grabbed my hand, lacing his tiny fingers with mine, and we were off to explore. The cave walls were dark and cold as we entered, and I squeezed his hand tighter.
"It's okay, Kairi," he assured.
We stepped inside, and my eyes, which had grown accustomed to the dank passage, were nearly blinded as I looked up to see the sun gleaming through a hole in the ceiling of the Secret Place.
"See? It's not all scary," he whispered to me as he squeezed my hand.
"C'mon, slowpokes!" Riku yelled, jumping off a rock. "Let's look for buried treasure!"
And that's how we spent our childhood. We spent it exploring and adventuring, battling monsters and saving princesses (although I insisted on saving a prince myself rather than pretending to be the helpless princess). And Sora always held my hand if I was scared (and when I only pretended to be scared).
I loved my childhood.
I'm drowning in my memories. They're pulling me down before I have a chance to take a gasp of air, a breath of reality.
"Kairi, you're burning up!" Sora said to me. I giggled as he held his hand against my forehead, feeling the intense heat radiating off my skin.
"So what?" I retorted, pulling my fingers through short hair. The saltiness of the ocean had clung to the tips of my wine-colored locks even though my hair had long since dried, and I was struggling to gain control of the thick knots.
"You do look a little pink," Riku added, sitting down next to me, his toes digging beneath the grains of sand. "Maybe we should go inside," he suggested to Sora.
"She'd never," he said, his hands covering his mouth in mock-surprise.
"I am right here," I said sassily, my voice nearly a yell. They still had the bad habit of talking about me despite the fact that I was sitting right there. "And no, I'd never go inside on a day as beautiful as this. A little sunburn never hurt anybody."
I collapsed backward, the sand sticking to my sweaty, salty skin as I moved my arms and legs up and down, creating shapes. Sora called them sand-angels. He was so funny sometimes.
I closed my eyes, tilting my head toward the sun. Even without sight, I knew it was there. It burned red against my fluttering eyelids; it sent its warm rays down to earth, caressing my face. I always knew when the sun was there. I trusted it. It gave me life.
Riku and Sora had lain down next to me, creating their own sand-angels. It was how we wasted our summer days then, soaking in the sun, living our dreams on the islands.
I loved my islands.
I open my eyes, and I inhale loudly. Sora isn't back. I drift back into dreamland before I can stop myself. I fall back into the sea of my memories.
We sat in the treehouse, Sora and I, our knees digging into the musty old wood of the floor. The sun shone through the holes in the ceiling, casting beams of light into our haven.
He leaned into me. He leaned into the sunshine.
His eyelashes were glowing with the light of the sun, a bright honey shade hidden within the brown. And if his eyelashes were glowing, it was nothing compared to the radiance of his smile.
He didn't need to say anything, and neither did I. The ocean spoke for us. Kiss her, it bubbled as it splashed against the rocky walls somewhere below.
His cerulean eyes sparkled, mimicking the bright color of the sea under a burning sun. He inched forward, and the distance between us closed. Before I knew it, his lips had pressed against mine, and I was flying. I was flying with the birds under the hot summer sun, and I had never felt better in my life than I did then, with Sora's lips smoothly kissing mine, his hand running its course through my bangs and behind my ear. I wrapped my arm around his neck and pulled him closer, inhaling his scent, a mix of coconut and seawater.
That day was the first time he had ever kissed me. He tasted like the ocean.
I loved my ocean.
I blink and turn, pressing my face into my pillow, and stare out through the large glass window separating my room from the nurses' ward. With an exasperating expression adorning his countenance, Sora is busy arguing with a trio of nurses, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather.
"Absolutely not!" I hear Fauna cry out as she shakes her head.
"We cannot risk it," Merryweather reasons.
"And not another word," Flora hisses into Sora's face before snapping a binder of medical records shut. The three stalk off, leaving Sora alone and desperate.
He swipes his hand across the counter in his anger, spilling important papers and various forms across the plain tiled floor of the hospital. He stands there, fuming, and I watch him curse to himself. He bends down, stacking all the papers, and replaces them on the counter before stumbling back into my room.
"They won't let me take you outside," he groans as he plops down in the chair next to my bed. He rubs his fingers against his temples in an aggravated attempt to soothe himself. "I just want to take you outside, I just want to make you happy…"
I smile sadly.
He continues, running his hand through his untidy hair. "I know they've forbidden you to go outside during the day, but I just thought… I just…"
"I don't need to go outside, Sora," I manage to say, my voice as soft as a spring breeze. He bends closer to me, clutching my hands.
"But I thought you… I thought you wanted…" His voice cracks miserably and he squeezes my hands harder, even though it's not me that's scared anymore. He's terrified of the thought of losing me again.
I don't even remember what had happened. All I remember was seeing the sun blindingly shining above. Sora's told me his side of the story, and it nearly broke him to do so. We had been driving around the outskirts of the city, and he was at the wheel. We went around a curve and Sora couldn't see and there was a car coming and we crashed and I flew through the windshield and now I don't remember anything.
They brought me to the hospital. I thought I was going to die, but they fixed me up. When I woke up, I wanted out. I was scared without the sunshine. I was scared to be alone.
I had multiple skin grafts along my legs, my shoulders, my arms, my back, my face. It's taking a long time to heal. They tell me I'll never be able to feel the sunshine again. My skin is too sensitive, too broken and fragile.
It tore me up at first. The sun was my life. My childhood, my islands, my ocean. The sun radiated through everything that was me. And having that ripped away from me was devastating. Until I thought about it, that is. I had forgotten what sunshine really was to me, what it meant to me.
"I don't need to go outside to see the sun shine," I tell him gently.
"What?" He pulls back from me, confused.
"You're my sunshine, Sora. Right here, right now. I don't need anything or anybody else but you."
A smile erupts on his face, the uncontainable grin breaking free. His neck curves down slowly as he bends to whisper in my ear, "I love you."
He kisses my quivering lips, and I kiss him passionately back, my hand tracing his jawline.
Breathlessly, he murmurs, "I love you so much, Kairi, so much it hurts."
"I love you too, sunshine."
Attack of the killer cheese! Reviews are appreciated.