A/N: Set on Sora and Riku's homecoming day, and just after, this story may contain minor KHII spoilers. First we start with Riku, the day of the return. I hope you guys enjoy it.
Disclaimer: I wish I owned Kingdom Hearts, but unfortunately I don't. That honor belongs to Square Enix and Disney, and I am making no claims against that.
Kairi wasn't sure whether she should find it funny that, after everything that had happened to them in the past 2 years, she still knew exactly where to find Riku on that day when he and Sora had finally returned home. The sun was just beginning to set, Sora had gone to see Mickey, Donald and Goofy off as they left, and Kairi was just about to head home when she saw that little boat that had belonged to Riku was still docked on the shore of their "play island," a year and a half after it'd been tied to that wooden dock. She really didn't even have to go looking for him, her memories had led her straight to Paopu Island, the small land mass that held only the Paopu tree around which the trio must've spent hours reflecting. This island was, after all, already being called "Riku's Island" by the 5 other kids who played there, and old habits die hard.
And of course he was there, leaning against that old bent tree trunk the same way he always did, looking out into the great expanse that was the ocean, though Kairi had a feeling his thoughts didn't have anything to do with rafts and adventures and friendship like they used too.
And so she slowly walked to the tree, and she went and stood beside him. For a second there was silence, and Kairi was trying to figure out what she was waiting for. Acknowledgement, maybe?
"Come on Riku, let's go home." She said softly, and the silver haired male didn't answer.
"I can't go back, Kairi. Not after everything I've done." His voice was quiet and hard, and Kairi could hear the regret and sorrow that laced his syllables.
And, for some unknown reason, Kairi's brow furrowed.
"Riku!" This time her voice was strict, and Riku had to suppress the exasperated sigh. What else was he to expect from Kairi, but a motivational speech about how he was wrong about himself and the darkness.
"Forget it Kairi, I willingly gave into the darkness, you can't deny that." His voice was rougher now, angry as he jerked his head away from the sunset and his face out of her sight, turned to look at the sand beneath his sneakers.
"Riku, look at me Riku." Again Kairi's voice was strict, and made her sound like an angry mother, frustrated by a misbehaved child. Slowly Riku gave in to her demand, and when he complied she roughly shoved his too-long bangs out of his eyes.
"Why did you do it?!" Was she yelling at him? Her angry tone and fierce gaze threw him off for a second; he'd never seen Kairi get this mad at anyone but Sora, and even then it wasn't like this. But even so, he wasn't truly intimidated by her new attitude, and so he said nothing. Soon enough, the glaring dissipated and she let him go, opting instead to look out into the sunset.
"Riku, you did it for us, didn't you? For you, me, and Sora?" Her voice had calmed and quieted, but the gentleness he normally associated with Kairi wasn't there. And then it clicked; she was trying to prove a point, and she was afraid Riku wouldn't listen if she wasn't forceful enough about it.
"So then, what's wrong with that?" What's so bad about someone who cares about their friends enough to make sacrifices for them?"
"Don't you get it, Kairi? I surrendered to darkness, let it take over! I was… weak."
"So now fighting the darkness and winning makes a person weak?" Kairi laughed, but it was almost… hollow and bitter. "Riku, I'd say you were one of the strongest people on that battleground. You didn't give up after you made a mistake, and you didn't call it quits after you almost lost. Instead you fought back, and fought harder, and all for us. And you made it back." Here Kairi placed her hand gently on Riku's arm, as away to reassure him, to remove his doubts, but he shrugged it off.
"But I didn't fight back. I let it in, Kairi, and it took over. Do you think I was still fighting for my friends when I took the Keyblade from Sora, or when I took his friends away and left him defenseless, or when I-"
"But that wasn't you, Riku. You were the one that stopped Ansem from killing Sora in that battle, the one who refused to let him get us. You were fighting the darkness then, and ever since."
"That doesn't erase everything that came before that, choosing darkness over Sora's company, hurting anyone that came in my way, kidnapping princesses, I did all that, Kairi, that was me!" Riku shouted, and silence fell upon the duo once again.
"…Sometimes, your intentions outweigh your actions." Kairi broke the calm, not taking her eyes off the ocean. "You did all this for me, and for Sora; you did it for all three of us. If a little kid steals with no money steals food for his starving family, is he still a criminal? Is someone who helps you up only to push you back down and laugh really doing the right thing?" Kairi looked up at Riku now, and smiled when she saw the surprised expression on his face. But quickly enough that vanished, and he tried to say "That's not th-"
"It IS the same thing. I only wish you'd hear what I was saying; nobody blames you for what you did, not me, and not Sora either. Isn't that all that matters?"
"Maybe you both can forgive me, but I can't forgive myself." Silence.
"You know, if it was me, I would have done the same thing."
And now Riku looked up, wondering if Kairi, the princess of heart and his best friend, could really fall as far as he did; he was saddened when he realized he wasn't even able to trust his best friends anymore.
"I would have done anything for Sora, or for you, Riku. Anything." She emphasized, her navy colored eyes meeting his aquamarine ones. "Trust me."
Silence fell again, the twilit sky slowly darkened.
"I… I guess I have to go back…" Riku started, deep voice laced with traces of fear that only someone close to him would've heard. Kairi heard.
"Yeah. Are you ready?"
"…I… as ready as I'll ever be." He sighed, but his body didn't want to go. Suddenly, he felt the gentle pressure of Kairi's lips against his cheek.
"Don't worry so much Riku," she giggled, whispering in a light, airy tone, "It's made you prematurely grey. Now, come on, everyone's waiting, for you."
And, by some supernatural force, Kairi managed to lead Riku off of his little Paopu island, to the dock, and into the faintly twilit sea.
If you took the time to read this, and you liked it, or if you didn't, or if you're just somewhere in the middle, please review. I'm sure everyone can find the button now that it's been enlarged and placed front-and-center, and your feedback means a lot to me. I want to know if I should continue this or not, and I want to hear your voices.