A/N: So I'm a bit late. I started this before Christmas, but I didn't have time to finish it but I didn't want to leave it sitting here until next Christmas. Not my best work, I don't think, but it was fun writing the trio. Also, for some reason the site wouldn't let me format the title the way I wanted to. They were all in bold with periods in between, but it kept deleteing 'sugar' and 'cookie'. Don't know why. MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HOLIDAYS, HAPPY NEW YEAR!
SOKAIRIKU FRIENDSHIP WITH SOME SOKAI FLUFF.
THIS IS MY 60TH FIC!
"Run where?!" Riku griped, bounding around another tree trunk. "Are we even heading anywhere in particular?"
"You mean other than away from the heartless?" Kairi pointed out as she dashed through the forest of thin grey trees—quite an impressive action given her current three inch heels—she'd rather liked them when she first got a good look at her Halloween Town ensemble, now however, she found herself missing her sneakers.
"Just run!" Sora yelled, turning back for just a moment to shoot another fire spell at the swarm of Wight Knights gamboling after them. "There's a safe place ahead!"
Finally they reached a small clearing in the trees, and Sora pointed his friends towards the tree at the end of the clearing. It was larger than the others, and sported a large carving of a Christmas tree on its front.
"There!" Sora yelled, reaching the tree first and wrenching open the tree-shaped door. He held it open and gestured inside. "Jump in!"
Riku was the first to reach him. He peered inside and shook his head. "Are you crazy? What is that?"
"Safety! Just go!"
Riku backed away. "I think I'll take my chances with the heartless. I've learned to stay away from sparkling vortexes of mystery and doom."
Sora's jaw dropped. "Riku…we've literally got all of hell at our heels and you're…just come on! Count of three. One--"
"Three!" And Kairi had caught up and tackled her friends into the tree trunk, sending the three kids tumbling into a "sparkling vortex of mystery and doom" that smelled strongly of gingerbread.
There was an abundance of swirling glitter, a bright orange light, and the next thing Riku was aware of was being spit into an expanse of something soft and white and crunchy and wet. He pushed himself off his stomach and surveyed the snowy surroundings. Interesting place. Not an area of this world he'd ever visited.
He was next aware of a yelp and a weight on his back pushing him face first into the snow again.
"Sorry, Riku," Sora groaned from behind him, as he began to try and lift himself off of his friend. He was interrupted by a scream and yet more weight as Kairi was catapulted onto their growing dog-pile.
"Oh," she groaned, "Sorry boys."
"Ifyu dommim, camoo peems gerrofm." Riku mumbled against a mouthful of snow.
"What was that?" Sora asked, head tilted.
Riku lifted his face out of the snow as much as space allowed. "I said, if you don't mind, can you please GET OFF!"
Riku promptly found his face shoved into the snow again, just as Sora found his face shoved into the large furry collar of Riku's shirt as Kairi pushed herself off them. Sora blew the strands of Riku's hair out of his face and rolled off into the snow.
He looked over at Kairi, who was staring upwards at the white flakes drifting gently from the sky, her hands outstretched in front of her to catch them, a soft smile gracing her lips. Sora smiled, trudging through the snow to stand beside her, admiring, as he did, how cute she looked in her puffy, fur trimmed skirt and Santa hat.
"It's snowing," she pointed out quietly, eyes full of wonder and still fixated on the sky. "It's beautiful. I'd forgotten how lovely the snow is."
Sora's brow furrowed. "When have you ever seen it snow? It never snowed on the islands."
"It did in Radiant Garden, though," Kairi told him, finally tearing her gaze away from the dark blue of the night sky and turning her own expanse of blue toward him. "I'd forgotten about it until just now, but I can remember one time when I was very, very small, that the light falling from the sky changed, and it stuck to the ground, and everything was just coated in white softness…like now." She narrowed her eyes, squinting at something that was located somewhere over Sora's left shoulder. "I remember asking what it was, and someone telling me…but that's all. I can't remember who it was. Not even their face." She frowned into space for just a moment more before shaking her head. "Oh well. I can see how beautiful the snow is right now."
"It's cold." Riku piped up, brushing the white fluffiness off the sleeves of his dark blue coat. "The sudden costume change helps, but still, this place is freezing. Honestly, Kairi, I don't see how you can stand it in that skirt."
"Actually," Kairi said, looking down at her Holiday apparel through the eye not half-concealed by her crimson Santa hat, "These tights are quite warm." She gestured at the green and red striped tights covering the expanse of her legs between the puffy red skirt and the matching red boots. "I like this world. All the amazing outfits; it's fun getting to blend in for a change."
Riku raised an eyebrow. "What about Atlantica? What with the fish tails, we really got to blend in there, and you hated that world."
Kairi's smile of satisfaction quickly faded into a frown as she looked up at him. "That's because all I was wearing there was seashells."
"I really liked Atlantica," Sora threw in, attempting to change the subject.
Kairi's eyes narrowed even more. "That's because all I was wearing there was seashells."
It was no consolation to Kairi that neither boy bothered to contradict her.
(She couldn't really blame them; it was the way they were wired. She'd have started to worry if either of them didn't stare when the only thing between their eyes and her breasts were a couple of clamshells.)
Sora's eyes, which had been searching everywhere in an attempt to find something to point out that could change the subject, landed upon Santa's workshop in the snow-covered valley below. A huge grin immediately lit up his face.
"Santa!" He shouted, pointing wildly toward the building below. "Guys, come on, we can go meet Santa Clause!"
Riku and Kairi did not appear to share his enthusiasm. They glanced at each other, sharing a look, before turning their attention—and concern—back to Sora.
Riku began to make a snarky comment concerning the childish suggestion, but then Kairi sent him another look and he decided to leave her in charge of a more kindly letdown.
Kairi twisted her hands together as she attempted to string together a suitable response to her fifteen-year-old friend stating that they were going to visit Santa Clause. "Sora…you do know that… well, I mean that--"
Riku got tired of waiting. "That Santa doesn't exist." To both their great surprise, Sora's grin only grew.
"Ah, ha! But that's just what you think! I'll have you know that Santa DOES exist, and he lives right down there!" Sora turned and began running down the hill towards the center of Christmas Town. He stopped shortly as he realized his friends weren't following. He turned and frowned. "Really, guys? After all the crazy stuff we've seen you still think Santa is just a legend?"
Riku and Kairi shared another look. Kairi shrugged. "Stranger things have happened."
Unused to the slippery texture of snow, progress towards Santa's workshop was slow, and involved quite a few slips, falls, tumbles, colorful language on Riku's part, and consequential scolding on Kairi's.
Yet by the time they hesitantly stood in front of the door to the workshop, all three had gained (or regained, in Sora's case) their snow legs.
"So, do we just go in?" Kairi asked, blinking at the gold doorknob.
Sora shrugged. "Why not?"
"You are totally kidding me."
Indignantly shocked; totally speechless; and triumphantly smug. Or, in order, Riku, Kairi, Sora.
The crimson-clad living bowling ball looked up from his list and greeted the intruders with a half-hearted smile. "This is going to sound rather rude, but I can't help feeling a bit dismayed at seeing you here, Sora." He chuckled out a signature ho ho ho. "It's just that every time you show up it usually means trouble isn't far behind, and I've got enough troubles catching up toy production before Christmas without another infestation of heartless."
Kairi and Riku watched with growing amazement as Sora preceded to answer as casually as if conversing with a mythical figure was a daily occurrence. "Nah, just visiting, mostly. The heartless are contained to Halloween Town, and Jack and Doctor Finkelstein are working on a way to eliminate the infestation they've got now. Some kind of security system, I think."
The ancient gift-giver nodded. "Hm. Hope they'll be willing to share some of that technology." He turned his attention to the silent teens standing behind Sora. "What are you looking so surprised for, Kairi? You knew it all along, didn't you?"
Kairi blushed as everyone's attention fell on her. She shrugged. "Well, I mean, I guess deep down, I never really wanted to stop believing in Santa, or, well, I mean, in you."
Santa smiled. "And well you should! These two ought to follow your example more often!" He raised bushy eyebrows at the two boys. "She's the only one out of the three of you who has been on my Nice List every year of their life. Speaking of which, I suppose you'd like to know which list you're on."
Sora nodded eagerly, but Riku crossed his arms and grunted. "Already know which list I'd be on." He muttered softly, but Kairi caught him, and sent him a look as if to say, Stop talking about yourself like that.
"Kairi, Nice, as always; Sora, Nice; Riku…Nice." Riku head shot up, as did his eyebrows. Santa pursed his lips. "Or at least you would be if you hadn't made it your life-long mission to convince the children of the worlds that I didn't exist. That puts you outside my jurisdiction, in the sort-of No-Man's-Land with everyone else who doesn't believe in Santa Claus."
Riku's mouth had hit the floor. "How the heck am I on the Nice List?"
The pudgy man chuckled. "You judge yourself far too harshly. Now!" The round man swelled as he took a deep breath. "I hate to shoo you off, but I have much to do, with Christmas being so soon, but the Mrs. will be glad to---"
He was cut off by the sound of jingle bells from outside along with shouts of ho ho ho and Merry Christmas and other such Santa-like phrases being issued by a voice that did not at all sound very Santa-like.
This prompted the actual Santa to throw down his list and draw himself out of his armchair, his pleasantly-plump red face turning into a very red, not so pleasantly-plump face. "That Jack Skellington!" He shouted. "Every year, every year, it never fails! Tries to 'help' me with Christmas!"
The three teens watched bemusedly as the plump man rolled himself out of the workshop. They followed, and as they exited, they were drawn to the sight of Jack Skellington, in his macabre sleigh, flying toward the workshop toting a large sack of gifts which were sure to be characteristically horrific.
Jack landed his sleigh,and smiled cheerfully as the real Santa marched indignantly toward him, shouting all the while.
"Jack Skellington! What have I told you?! Christmas is MY holiday, and I don't need Halloween Town's gruesome brand of help!"
"But you don't understand! We've been studying the types of toys that children like! Not just Halloween Town children, too! I think we've done quite well this year! We just wanted to help, since you said you were behind in toy production! Look, look!"
He began pulling gifts and toys out of the large black sack, and surprisingly, teddy bears and toy trains and cheerful-looking dolls were among the examples. "We still don't see why children like them so much, they aren't scary at all, but if that is what they want then we decided to give it a try!"
To everyone's surprise, Santa actually smiled and nodded. "Yes, some of these are actually quite good. Some are still a little…" He held up a grotesquely leering stuffed black cat. "Unusual, but who knows, maybe they'll work for this new 'emo' or 'goth' generation, or whatever it is they call themselves. Alright, bring them in, we'll look through them and see what we can use. This close to Christmas I can't be too picky when it comes to accepting charity."
"Is it really almost Christmas?" Sora asked, turning to his friends. "We haven't been gone that long, have we?"
Kairi opened the pouch attached to her dark green belt and pulled out what looked like a journal. She flipped through it, pausing every now and then to check the dates. She hummed in mild surprise. "It's the twenty-second of December. It is almost Christmas." She put the journal away. "Guess we've been away longer than we thought."
"You lose track of time, traveling." Riku commented, shrugging. "Uh-oh." His attention was caught by Jack, whose sack of toys had formed a hole and was starting to leak presents. He quickly swooped in and began gathering the gifts, pausing only once to give Sora and Kairi a wave to say he had it covered. He paused again, a few gifts later, attention focused on one particular item. Smirking, he tapped on Jack's boney back. He leaned down, and Riku's smirk grew as he murmured a suggestion into the place where Jack's ear should have been.
"I can't believe it's almost Christmas," Sora said, staring up at the stars twinkling in between the patches of snow-filled clouds. "All this traveling, all this fighting…I haven't really gotten to properly celebrate Christmas in a long time." He felt a warm pressure against his hand and looked down to see Kairi's gloved hand sliding into his. He looked up to see her wearing a soft smile.
"It's only the twenty-second. We haven't missed it yet. And I don't think the whole universe will collapse if we take a few days off and head home for the holidays."
Sora nodded, a smile growing on his face. "Yeah." Just as suddenly as his smile had arrived it started to vanish, and Sora looked down to his feet as a creeping guilt began to settle in his stomach. "Except…it's already three days until Christmas. I haven't gotten you a present." Sora felt his frown droop to the point where he wouldn't be surprised if his mouth fell off his face altogether. "And I wanted to get you something good, since I owe you a present from the year I was gone."
"Sora, look at me." Hesitantly he raised his eyes to meet Kairi's, and was surprised to find that her smile was even wider and brighter than before. "I don't care."
Sora blinked at her. "You don't?"
She squeezed his hand a little tighter, and then said softly and sweetly in that way that only she could, "I already got what I wanted for Christmas."
Sora continued to blink in confusion. "Which would be…?" The air suddenly seemed ten degrees colder as Kairi slid her hand out of his, but the warmth soon returned tenfold as she wrapped her arms around this neck, nestling her head against his. He blushed as he felt her warm breath against his cold red ears as she whispered her reply.
"I got you back."
Sora blushed spectacularly, his brain registering slightly that it was amazing that his face could radiate so much heat in this cold weather. He ignored the embarrassment, though, and wrapped his arms tightly around the only Christmas present he'd ever need.
And with faces nestled in each other's shoulders, neither noticed the long, lanky arm arching over their heads to hang a bit of foliage on the street lamp above their head.
Kairi drew back, her hands lingering against his chest as she pulled away. Suddenly she paused, and Sora watched curiously as her eyes rose upward and blinked several times at something above their heads. Sora followed her line of vision and felt his heart rate increase dramatically at the sight of mistletoe hanging conveniently above them.
Oh you've got to be kidding me. This sort of thing doesn't really happen.
"Mistletoe," he heard Kairi whisper.
"Yup." He replied, not daring to look at her as he felt his throat start to close up.
"Bit cliché," Kairi next murmured. Sora forced himself to look down. He glanced over her shoulder and caught sight of Riku, repressing a smirk, leaning casually against a wall of the workshop.
Kairi was a lot closer to him when he finally looked back at her. "Although," she whispered, her voice like liquid sugar, "mistletoe or no mistletoe," their noses brushed and Sora realized he'd unconsciously begun to lean toward her. "This is right where I'd want to be," and he felt her breath hit his lips with every whispered syllable.
And it was more than he could take. So he moved forward, filling in the cold air between them and capturing her lips, and suddenly it didn't feel so cold outside.
This had to be the best Christmas ever.
Not even just because of the kiss; it was simply being with her, sharing it with her, having her by his side after so many Christmases and holidays and lonely aching minutes without her.
The kiss was just the frosting on the cake.
Now was not the time for anything deep; they knew their friend well enough to know that public affection was directly proportional to public humiliation. Sora pressed his lips to hers once; twice; and then stopped himself, and found that he was content to linger so close to her, forehead resting against hers as eyes like the ocean smiled at him.
"You know, you always had the silliest reason to believe I didn't exist."
Riku looked up from his shoelaces, which he found easier to look at than his two best friends, and surveyed the round little man who had walked up beside him.
"Just because I never brought you what you wanted for Christmas...Honestly, I don't know what sort of powers you thought I was in possession of, but never was it in my capability to bring you Kairi for Christmas." He chuckled. "Although, judging by your bit of matchmaking, I take it you've gotten over that."
Riku merely grunted in response.
Beside him, Santa had turned his round little head upward to look at the snow which had begun shower in droves down upon them. He chuckled again. "Oh, Christmas is such a magical time, isn't it?"
Riku grunted again. "Some Christmas. We're a million light-years from home, we've got no tree, and we probably won't get any presents this year."
"Presents?" Riku looked up at the sound of the old man's surprise. "That's not the point of Christmas, dear boy! Look at your friends over there; they've got the right idea of it!" He pointed to Sora and Kairi, who had begun to twirl around each other in the heavy onslaught of white flakes. "That's what you do on Christmas! It's a time to celebrate! It's a time to spend with those who mean the most to you! Presents! That's all you ever seemed to care about on Christmas." And with a few more shakes of his head, Kris Kringle rolled himself away.
Riku smiled at his friends and blinked at the torrents of snow being dumped from the sky. Then his smile twisted into a smirk as he deftly scooped up a handful of snow and pitched it at the back of Sora's head. Except that at the last second Sora moved, and the snowball, which was not equipped with heat-seeking tracking technology, continued on its course and splattered into Kairi's shoulder.
She gasped, her mouth forming a misshapen letter 'D', as her eyes, which were quickly becoming death rays, turned towards Riku. Still glaring death, she picked up her own frozen missile and rather than throwing it, chose to chase Riku, who had taken off running in a direction that would take him anywhere but nearer to Kairi. His legs are two feet longer than hers, so to this day, he can't figure out how she caught up with him and smashed her handful of snow into his ear.
It was all downhill from there.
Many years later, they will look back, and concede that even though they were a billion light-years from home, with no presents, it had to be the best almost-Christmas ever.
Disclaimer: I own an Oathkeeper necklace, a 358 Days poster, and (as of several hours ago) a copy of Kingdom Hearts Piano Collections, and....that's it. Nomura owns everything else.