A Christmas tale for the friendship of Riku and Sora. Based off the Santa mention in the game. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: Riku, Kairi and Sora belong in their respective game Kingdom Hearts.

"Really, Sora, isn't that a bit much?"

Glancing up from the shredded wrapping paper, the boy in question gave a large grin. Lifting his hand to give the other a wave, his fingers were covered in little bits of tape that never made it to the package. His attention shifted, he then started up on the task of cleaning off his fingers. "But I want to wrap it myself, Mom."

"Hunny, look at the mess you've made." The woman giggled behind her hand. "I think you've wrapped yourself more then your present."

Peering down at the box through the gaps in his fingers, Sora's expression became determined. "I just need practice."

"You sure you don't simply want Mommy to wrap it for you?"

"No way! Last Christmas, both Riku and Kairi wrapped their presents themselves. I wanna do that too."

Putting her hands on her hips, she chuckled once more. "Then I think you'll be needing either a smaller present or a lot more wrapping paper."

"Actually ... I need more tape." He spoke, showing her the little ball of useless tape he'd just finished peeling off.

"Oh goodness, Sora. Maybe you should go out and play. Give yourself a break."

"But I wanna finish this before-"

"If you keep at it, you'll only make yourself more and more frustrated. Go on, get some fresh air and the presents will be here for you to wrap when you get back. I'll even show you a secret technique that I bet even Riku doesn't know." As if to emphasize the secrecy, she placed a finger to her lips and winked.

The smile on Sora's face grew instantly. "Really?"

Giving him a nod, Sora quickly got to his feet. "I can't wait to see the look on Riku's face! I'll bet Kairi won't believe that I did it myself, either."

Moving forward, the woman ruffled his hair softly. At his current age, he still only came up to her mid thigh, which was where Sora had chosen to wrap his arms around her. Tilting his head up, he smiled brightly before letting go. "Thanks, Mom. I'll be back in a bit. Don't forget, okay?"

"Yes, hunny."

---

Clutching the dirt in his hands, Riku tossed the loose sand out in front of him as Kairi returned with a bucket of water. Today's activity was going to be sand castle building. Both Kairi and Sora had complained about having not built one in ages and with Riku being the only one with a bucket ... well, it was easy to cave around them.

"We should make a really big one!" Kairi grinned as she set the bucket down beside them and flopped down onto the ground. Stretching her hands up in the air, she added, "One with lots of decorations like shells and seaweed, you know, that sort of stuff."

Riku waved a hand at her. "Hey, if you want to go collect them, then be my guest. I'm content with a regular old sand castle."

Making a humming sound, Kairi kicked at the sand. "Maybe in a bit. We should make it first."

"Where is he anyway?" Riku questioned, glancing behind him, wondering if maybe Sora would already be there.

Kairi shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe his parents held him back for a bit. Christmas is right around the corner after all and you know how his family is about the holiday." She chuckled.

Riku gave a small smile, knowing all too well. Every time he came over to Sora's house during the holiday season, he'd be stuffed full of so many Christmas treats that his own father would call complaining and asking why Riku was already too full to eat supper. During the holidays, Sora's house always smelt of cinnamon and the radio was constantly playing carols faintly in the background. Outside, their yard was decorated with lights, statues and the illusion of frosty weather. It wasn't like his family didn't celebrate Christmas but he didn't know of anybody else who loved the holiday more then Sora and his relatives.

"Riku?" Kairi questioned, giving his shoulder a nudge. "Hey, you went quiet. What's up?"

"I'm just thinking about how much I want chocolate chip cookies." He smiled. "We should see if we're allowed to go over to his house after this."

All for the idea of delicious sweets, Kairi grinned. "Ahh, I hope his mom made her butter tarts this year. Those are my favorite. I could eat fifty of those!"

"Fifty? If you ate that many, you'd get sick."

"You're one to talk. You eat more of Sora's snacks then he does."

The sound of feet slipping across the sand, accompanied by labored breathing caused Riku to glance back. "'Bout time you showed up."

Kairi turned around and gave Sora a big smile. "Aww, what a cute little hat!"

As Sora sat down right behind them, he gave a smile, reaching up to pull on the edges of his hat. It was a small Santa hat, made of thin cloth as it was much too warm to wear something heavy outside. "Thanks. Dad just pulled it out of the Christmas boxes this morning."

"So should we get this thing started?" Riku questioned, motioning to the bucket and the wide open beach before them.

Rubbing his hands together, Sora nodded. "You bet! We should make a really big one! One taller then even you, Riku." He spoke, waving his hands above him.

"There's no way that would stand." Riku shot down the idea and Sora frowned in response for only a moment.

Clapping her hands together, Kairi grabbed the boys attention. "We'll never know unless we try, right? So let's go!"

"Yeah!"

So the trio went about the task of dampening the sand and making the towers. Kairi spent most of her time carving out windows, doors and designs on the castle walls and Sora was busy digging in the sand to find already wet dirt. Riku was left with the task of fetching water and shaping the mounds of sand Sora plopped down into something that resembled a wall or tower. They never got the castle even a third of the height Sora wanted before part of it cracked and caved. Highly annoyed by this, both boys set out fixing the broken parts, patching up the sides so as to make it seem like there had never been an accident.

"Okay, well I'll be right back." Kairi spoke, getting to her feet.

"Where you going?" Sora questioned.

"To get twigs and shells and other things to decorate it with."

"I'll help you." Sora went to get up but Riku tugged him back down.

"And leave me to fix everything? I don't think so. Kairi has a better eye then you do anyway. You'd probably step on all the good shells."

"Would not!" Sora protested but Kairi giggled and gave him a wave.

"It's fine, Sora. Really. I'm not going far. The best shells are usually by the dock anyway. I'll be right back."

Sora looked ready to protest once again but Kairi had already turned away and he figured Riku would eat him if he left. Grumbling softly to himself, Sora continued on with his task of fixing one of the walls he'd accidentally put his knee through. After a minute of silence, Sora gave a sigh and offered Riku a big smile.

"So what'd you ask for Christmas this year?"

"Well, I asked my parents for a couple things but knowing them, they'll just get me stuff like clothes and books. You know, 'stuff I can use'." He rolled his eyes at the thought.

Sora smiled and gave a laugh. "Well, what about Santa? If you ask him, you wouldn't have that problem. He's bound to bring you at least one toy."

"I can't ask somebody that doesn't exist to bring me a gift." Riku replied simply.

Sora's hands halted. "What do you mean doesn't exist? Of course he exists! I get presents from him every year."

"What are you talking about? There is no Santa, Sora. A guy like that can't exist. It's impossible." Riku spoke as he brushed the sides of his tower with careful fingers.

At this point, Sora had stopped fixing altogether. "What's so impossible about it?"

"There is no way somebody can deliver that many presents to that many kids in one night. Besides that, he's a big, old fat guy. What makes you think he could even move that quickly?"

"He's chubby because of all the treats he eats. And he's got magic on his side, that's how. I can't believe you don't believe in Santa, Riku. He'd be so disappointed in you if he heard you say that about him."

"No, he wouldn't because he doesn't exist."

"So you're telling me that you've never ever gotten a present from Santa before?" Sora folded his arms and crossed his legs stubbornly.

Riku rolled his eyes. "I've gotten presents that say they're from Santa but none of them actually are. My parents probably just wrote that they're from him. Besides, all the presents I get are never anything I ask for."

"Maybe Santa just doesn't think you deserve good presents. I don't think so either. I wouldn't want to give gifts to somebody that didn't believe I was real."

"No, I never get what I ask for because he doesn't exist. There's a difference." Riku grumbled. "And you're too naive to realize it. You're such a little kid, Sora."

"I am not a little kid!" Sora retorted. "You're just trying to trick me. Santa's real and I know it!"

"Fine, believe what you want but I know the truth and the truth is that Santa isn't real. End of story."

Wanting to argue his point further, Sora opened his mouth only to have a scowl cross his face. He couldn't come up with another point and winning an argument with Riku was hard because he was even more stubborn then Sora was. The bigger problem, however, was that Riku was rarely wrong. But he just had to be wrong about this. There was no way Santa wasn't real .... was there? Shaking his head roughly, Sora tried to stir up the doubt only to have it settle right back to where it was.

Suddenly getting to his feet, Sora pointed accusingly at the other and shouted, "He is real! Just you wait and see!" And with that, Sora took off in the direction he'd come.

Riku rolled his eyes once more and went back to the castle. He knew he was right, Sora was the one being stubborn. He'd see and then he'd feel guilty over doubting Riku. It would happen, just wait ...

---

"Bye Santa! Thanks for everything!" Sora waved frantically, halfway out of his window. "Merry Christmas!! Say hi to Jack for me, would you?!"

The fading sound of jingle bells and deep laughter chorused through the air and disappeared behind the clouds. Once Sora was certain the icon had left, he slipped back into his room and smirked at his companion who was standing right next to him. The other was still looking out the window, as if he'd catch another glimpse of him.

"So .... who isn't real?" Sora spoke up, jabbing the other in the side to get his attention.

Utterly speechless, Riku only waved at the other to leave him alone, still eyeing the clouds.

Sora didn't mind, this gave him a chance to boast. Stretching his arms forward, he gave a victorious sigh. "Yep, me and the big guy, we became good buddies over my journey to find you and Kairi." He stretched his arms behind his head where he let them rest. "I know it took all these years to prove it but I told you, Riku. I told you Santa was real."

"I can't believe it ..." Riku mumbled, letting his eyes slowly leave the night sky and slip back into the room.

"Ha! See?! Who was right?" Sora grinned, taking a step back from the window to throw his hands up in glory.

"No ... no, that can't be right ..." Riku spoke, placing his thumb and index finger to his forehead, looking deep in thought. "There's just no way ... I must be dreaming ..."

"What?" Sora's face dropped a bit. "Even after both seeing and talking to him, you still don't believe me?! Are you kidding?!"

"I just ..." Riku started but fell silent. After a few moments, he glanced back up at Sora. "That .... that was really him? That was actually Santa? Santa Claus?"

"You don't seriously think I'd show you a fake, do you?" Sora pursed his lips.

"..." Riku's mouth was open but nothing came out. He was still in complete shock. He kind of had no choice but to admit that he was wrong now but ... wow ...

"Soo, what do you have to say for yourself?" Sora questioned, rocking back and forth on his heels.

Riku was silent. He was still deep in thought. After everything they'd seen - other worlds, other people and different forces - it would be ridiculous for Riku to think Sora was actually lying. But ... it was Santa, for crying out loud! Santa! Who would ever think that somebody so obviously fictional could actually be real?

"Riku!" Sora called. His hands were on his hips when Riku snapped back and actually looked at him. "Don't you have something to say? Don't you owe somebody, oh, I don't know, an apology?"

He paused a moment before giving a nod. "You're right." He replied simply and Sora's face brightened as he continued, "I do have something to say."

Sora kept his mouth shut but he was obviously excited to hear it. Those sweet little words you never heard Riku say .... any second now ...

Rubbing the back of his neck, Riku gave a single laugh. "Looks like I'm going to have to make sure I'm good next year to make up for it."

The shock on Sora's face was quickly washed away with annoyance. "Yeah, well you're off to a lousy start!"

"Ahh, but it's currently early Christmas morning. It's like a freebie card." Reaching over, he ruffled the hair of a fuming teenage Sora. "Merry Christmas, Sora."

The tiniest of moan of annoyance rumbled in Sora's throat. "Merry Christmas, you jerk."

END

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