Author's Note: In the immortal words of Alice Cooper: SCHOOL'S OUT FOR THE SUMMER! I thought the day would never come! This chapter is significantly shorter than the other chapters, but I felt like adding some of my other 'sketches', if you will, would just seem more irrelevant and random (than usual) ^_^
This chapter's theme is '2:1' by Elastica - which is just so amaze.
Slight warning: uhm... nothing other than idiotic ramblings and slightly depressing (in my eyes anyway - I'm a sensitive soul) content.
Thanks for reading!
Keeping a brave face in circumstances
—So many decisions—
To know which is the proper order
—The best position—
To be in.
Sometimes, Kairi hated being the observant one.
Although, truly, it was nice to be depended on, to know that she would be needed, would always be turned to when the situation got complicated, she could see through everything. She saw things others did not. She could see past the noticeable and discover the truth. And no matter how much she kept telling herself she wasn't seeing everything because she was too emotionally attached, she just couldn't deny the evidence.
—and Sora is shouting, "How could you possibly make a crystal skull except by some type of magic? Huh, Riku?"
"In a factory...from glass."
"Oh sure. C'mon! Could you make that?"
"I need you to tell me that you believe in crystal skulls."
"…please don't make me believe in them, Sora."
"I… believe in crystal skulls."
"And what do you believe about them?"
Riku ground his teeth. "I believe that they were crafted by the ancient inhabitants of Atlantis and that they're powerful centres of healing."
"There, that wasn't so hard, was it?"
Sora made a face. "That sound. Ever tell you how much it pisses me off?"
Kairi could keep telling herself that Sora's yelling and bumbling were his true self and not an act. But she knew that when he yelled, "Riku! You asshole!", like that, that it wasn't from anger or hatred towards the other; it was from his own frustration, a self-directed anger that hadn't been there before.
His yelling meant that he was with Riku.
"… Sora, are you aiming for the bulls-eye?"
"Yeah, 'course I am, it's the best thing on the board!"
"No, it isn't."
"Riku, just look at it. It's tiny, it's red, it's right in the bloody middle. 'Course it's the best thing on the board!"
"You're such an idiot."
And she knew that Riku's comments weren't from contempt. They were now from the same frustration Sora had and…
"…so I'm thinking about getting an Adamantium helmet."
"Yeah? That's the stuff the Wolverine skeleton's made out of, isn't it?" Riku noted.
"Yep. Hardest metal in the world."
"And, sadly of course, a fictional metal. So that would probably reduce its effectiveness in a crash-style scenario." Although the expression on Riku's face never changes, Kairi is sure she sees something in his eyes, something that dances and twirls and goes 'hahah I win'.
They were the first friends she had made when her family had moved to the insular community of the Islands. Ever since, they had been her best friends and she was truly grateful for that, but sometimes—
"I mean, come on Sora - you'd be the first to admit that you're not the most rational thinker."
"No I wouldn't!"
"You still don't understand what happens in Ocean's Eleven."
"It's a complicated film."
"It really isn't."
"Huh? Sorry, what was that, Kairi?"
—But sometimes she feel a little like an intruder, like someone who lived on the periphery. They had a bond that she couldn't begin to partake of.
—And that seclusion hurt more than anything else—
So she kept looking for anything that would tell her she was wrong; something that would completely reverse everything. But Kairi hated herself for searching because she knew that she wouldn't find anything; that she couldn't even look Riku in the eyes, knowing that in them she'd see something that she couldn't hide from. While other girls were still lost in their fantasies and daydreams, wondering if there was ever a chance, she knew the truth. Not only because she saw the two of them every day, but because she was able to see past Riku's facade.
She could see past the rivalry and see what the intense glares really meant.
Even when Sora and Riku couldn't.
"Hey, Kairi?" Sora ventured, staring at her with his large, blue eyes.
—And she can't help but notice that Riku's gaze is still on Sora, never moving for a moment—
"Oh, sorry - I just wanted to say that we should probably be heading back pretty soon…"
"Ahhhh, ok." Sora answered brightly. "How about we stay over at mine tonight? My parents took another one of their weekend trips to Hawaii. For some reason Roxas keeps saying they've gone to Las Vegas though..."
Sometimes Kairi felt like nothing more than an interruption. And that's something she can't ignore, no matter how hard she tried. So she said things and did things to get their attention, to make sure that they don't leave her behind...
"We'll miss dinner if we don't go now."
—and she can't help but feel satisfied when Sora proves she hasn't been forgotten.
"Nooo! I'm not missing dinner this time. Let's go, Riku!"
"It was your own fault last time, idiot. Don't blame me for your mistakes."
"Don't call me that, you bastard!"
"Then stop being one."
It's at times like these that Kairi can allow herself to forget; when they bicker so violently, she can almost imagine that everything she's seen, heard and concluded isn't the truth. So Kairi allowed herself to slip back into a familiarity of actions long since forgotten, their meanings changing some obscure time back. And as she walked back with them, she couldn't help but let herself glance at Sora with hopes that he'd be looking at her, even if it's for a moment.
"So did you hear about crazy old Maleficient? Y'know, if I was getting sectioned, I'd put up more of a fight."
"Downside: Could get lobotimised." Riku said blandly.
"If you guys ever try to section me, know that you will have crossed a line and I will section YOU, so help me..." But as Sora talks, Kairi is able to notice how Riku's eyes watch him more closely. There's also something in that gaze that sends shivers down her spine. So she looked away, suddenly annoyed.
Why should Riku get everything she wanted? How could someone like him…?
Riku's always there, always there
—always Riku and Sora and never her—
"Look guys, you've had you're fun sectioning today!" She snapped, finally losing the tenuous grasp on her temper. As they finally stop looking at each other, the moment broken by her harsh tone, she knew that wasn't the truth. No matter what happens, Riku will always be there for Sora —and Sora... "There's going to be no more sectioning today. Jeez…can't we just make it back in peace for once?"
Her words are harsh and bitter, but she couldn't help it.
—he was going to take everything. Without even trying, or thinking, he was smashing her hopes and dreams—
So she can't help but feel resentful sometimes...
(There must have been a noticeable reaction on her features, because Riku turned to her with a concerned; "… Kairi?")
... even if he did deserve it more than her.
Riku's always there for Sora, but she knows it's because she's hardly ever in the sort of trouble Sora gets in and that if she ever was, Riku would be there for her too. It's simply the fact that Sora gets in so much trouble…
But, deep down, she knew.
—she knew how they just completed each other. That was them. More than just the best of friends. That was the kind of connection they had.
—Who wouldn't envy that?—
It's because she can't accept it that she pushes it away and ignores it. Because she didn't want to give up the dream she'd held on to for so long. She didn't want to have to grow up. Instead, she watched Riku's eyes, hoping that that strange, dark look to them will disappear when he watches Sora.
—just wasn't ready to face reality—
"Home sweet home! Hey, hey - Roxas! Would you ever try to section me?"
"Wow, that sounded convincing."
Kairi had spent so much time thinking about Sora, she inevitably had to think about Riku. It was obvious from the beginning they both played an important part in each other's lives – it was just a question of how important. And as she watched him more and more, trying to figure out how to gain his acknowledgement, she'd watched Riku more and more as well.
Because they're always together.
"Hey, hey! Where's dinner?"
Because they're always very close together. And she refused to notice how they both lean against each other more than the wall; didn't like noticing how their knees were pressed so close together. But she could attribute that to how close they were sitting. It was always just an accident.
—and it doesn't mean a thing that they never correct it.
"Can't you wait?"
"I'm hungry! Why should I be forced to wait? Ow! What was that for, asshole!"
"Stop being a nuisance."
Even that act of violence now appears as something different. It doesn't seem as harsh as it used to be and she knew this because Sora didn't use both hands to cover his head. Just one.
The worst thing about going back over all the memories, the evidence, is that she wished she could manipulate it. Change how she remembered it so that it was anyone he was looking at now and not Sora
—just as long as he's not looking at Sora—
"Ahh! It was great, Kairi. Can you believe that a teacher could fall for such a simple trick? … but Marluxia said if he catches us using the staff room phone line again our reward will be in Devon."
Sora stared at her for a moment, eyes glazed with confusion. "Oh, no, sorry. It's heaven isn't it? Yeah, that's right. I used to get them confused as a kid. You know, when people die, they go to Devon."
Kairi found herself stifling the stirrings of a smile. "That's funny."
"Well, not really, no. Ruined my summer holidays – I thought my whole family was dead."
"He's so different."
"Sora?" Riku guessed quietly, peering into Kairi's face. Pulling her gaze to his, he was unprepared for the dim quality that her eyes had adopted.
She nodded and continued in a passive voice, "I know it's stupid but... I just thought he'd always be the same. I mean I knew he wouldn't be the person forever and I expected changes, I really did. But…" Kairi trailed away at a loss.
"You didn't think they'd be so…sudden?" Riku supplied. He understood how Kairi felt.
It was true, there was just something... different about him. Sora wasn't the same, even though he was trying to hide it. Nobody could accuse Sora of being overtly mature but... there was definitely something troubling about the way the brunet appeared now; somewhat worn and nursing a world of anger, tired and yet unable to give up. Now, every so often. Sora would laugh, but it was the sort of laugh that had nothing to do with amusement or joy and everything to do with disbelief and knowing more than most knew. On occasion, Riku would be thrown off by the sudden darkening of Sora's eyes. It was like staring into a pool of melted Lapis lazuli. No way out. Only an endless ocean of opaque, deep blue thought.
Sometimes those eyes held an almost... aging quality.
He looked up at his name to see that Kairi was suddenly filled with a sort of nervous energy. Her eyes refused to stay focused on any one point at a time and instead danced around Riku's face nervously.
Kairi looked at him through the curtain of her long lashes. She plucked another strand from the carpet and let out an irritated breath.
"You like him, don't you?"
Riku drew in a sharp breath, aching to fill his lungs with the oxygen Kairi had effectively knocked out of him.
Kairi averted her gaze, lifting and dropping her shoulders in a resigned shrug as a soft breeze from the AC tousled her hair fondly and brought a heartrending smile to her lips.
The delicate skin of her throat bobbed as the girl drew in shuddering breath.
He didn't know what to do. He had no idea how to deal with his own emotions let alone those of his friends.
Riku tried not to look at Kairi - tried not to even think about Sora because - fuck - Kairi knew.
"...really like Sora, don't you?"
He opened his mouth and drew in another breath
—screaming in the silence with the need to speak—
and then clamped it shut.
The red-haired girl finally composed herself with a heavy sigh and dared a confused glance at Riku. Her eyes clenched closed and Riku wanted so badly to know what was going through her mind because he'd betrayed her. She was the one supposed to love Sora - had been since forever - and Riku knew that he'd broken her heart even if she wasn't showing the hurt.
Riku sighed, avoiding her eyes. There was no way to get out of this now… if he said no, he'd be lying. In a way, if he didn't answer, it would be a yes by default. So…
"What are you talking about, Kai? You think, because I don't chase girls around like some kind of rabid dog in heat, that I'm automatically queer?" He said completed dryly.
Kairi's voice was like a knife through the tension in the air. "I'd appreciate if you didn't insult my intelligence." Her eyes slowly opened, staring fixatedly out of the window. A vacant glaze in her eyes, she turned to him after a pregnant pause and asked, with a stretched smile that only just looked believable:
"Are you… together?"
Riku felt anxiety bubble in his stomach - felt the rejection warm and acidic in his throat - and shook his head. It didn't matter though, because Riku instantly knew that his response meant nothing because, regardless, he was sure he'd hurt Kairi worse than any deliberate malice ever could.
—Because she knew.
He had no idea what else to say.
"Don't be dumb, don't apologise." Kairi waved a hand, breaking into an uncomfortable laugh. Riku forced his own smile and tried to quell the feeling of disgust welling within him. Of course she would be uncomfortable with him. He had just admitted to wanting the boy she'd been in love with since forever. He had just admitted to wanting her future and trying to take it away.
He wanted to take it back. He wanted to snort and mock her for taking it seriously, to tell her it was just a bad attempt at a joke and sweep it all beneath the carpet. It would be so much easier… then they could snipe at each other for a while and go home, like nothing had ever happened. It would be so much less painful.
But it would be too much like lying.
"…I bet you wish I was anyone but me right now," Riku observed, feeling his tone war between irony and bitterness.
"Why?" Kairi blinked at him, then after a pause. She was trying to calm him down, he could tell. "Personally, I think it's pretty cool knowing the guy all the girls want likes the guy all the girls hate."
Riku gave his friend a sidelong glance. Kairi's fingers were grasping the hem of her dress and she toyed with the fabric anxiously.
Was he going to accept her lie for his own sake?
Without even thinking, he knew the answer to that question, because he needed this to be his own little truth. And she had given it to him.
Maybe even to herself.
And when Kairi said, "Still friends?" Riku gave a curt nod and he could almost convince himself that the smile didn't feel strained.
When Sora walked in with a grin on his face there was a moment where the trio stared at each other awkwardly and Riku raised an eyebrow. Sora blinked, confused and looked around, trying to think of something to break the awkward silence…
Sora forced a laugh and smacked his head in good humour.
"Oh damn it, I forgot the coffee!"
As soon as the trio prepared to ascend the stairs later that night, Roxas approached Kairi.
"Are you really... actually... going to get in the bed?"
Kairi blinked. "Yeah."
"Right. Umm, better take these." Roxas held out a bunch of bananas.
"Oh, I'm not hungry, but thanks."
"No it's not for you." There was an uncharacteristic hesitation wherein Roxas' blue eyes bore onto Kairi's violet. "Just... chuck them under the bed."
"What...? What's under the bed?"
"Dunno." Roxas admitted, "We just call it 'The Thing'."
Sora's room had a distinctly spicy smell, Riku noted. It was cool that night and the pile of green blankets in the corner marked where Kairi was. Riku's breath caught as he saw her lying on her back in her sleeping bag, one hand over her stomach protectively and a serene expression on her face.
The boy sat next to her and swallowed, his eyes wincing against the emotion that was welling within them. He'd never been one to cry and he doubted he would start now, but the sensation of his cheeks heating accompanied his prevailing emotion of guilt.
"I'm sorry," he whispered to her and placed a hand on her forehead, pushing her hair from her face. "I'm your best friend. I shouldn't be hurting you. Not like this."
The soft thin strands of her hair ran through his fingers like sand. His hand slowly made its way to her cheek, which he cupped delicately as he told her, "I'll never care for him more than our friendship. I don't think I can. I'd be a fool to give you up so I can take him away from you."
And I know you'd pretend you're fine with this … but the look on your face yesterday…
"You don't need to hide from me, Kairi. Besides, I know you too well for that to work. Just like you know me too well…" He paused; contemplated what he'd just said and stared at her. "I guess that means you know how badly I've fallen for him, huh?"
The normally happy countenance that was Riku's face crumpled and he ran his free hand through his hair wearily.
"I'm so sorry."
Kairi waited in silence until she heard a shuffle and glanced over to see Riku's figure settled back in his sleeping bag.
"I know." She whispered softly.
Sora was sleeping. And he didn't look like an angel. The sun wasn't shining through his window and illuminating his golden-brown hair like a halo. And his hair wasn't a head of soft, golden-brown hair that just begged to be touched so much as an overwhelmingly obnoxious tangled mess.
But that was okay because it suited him.
Though, in all honesty, Sora's personality was obnoxious enough on its own.
Sora was sleeping. It would have been nice if there had been a soft smile on his face, or some sort of serene expression at least. But there wasn't. There was only a thumb in his mouth and a viscous strand of saliva peeking out from the corner of his lips.
All in all it wasn't a pretty sight.
But that was okay, because Sora was sleeping.
And so Riku could finally say the one thing he'd been meaning to tell his friend for quite some time.
"Because to me, Sora...
His only answer was a blissful snoring.
A/N: That last line is so cheesy! But I'm feeling lazy so sue me =P
Hah, soooo disjointed. I'm literally the worst editor ever!
I had SERIOUS blockage when it came to writing the main vein of the story, so I decided to take a different character perspective. Originally it was supposed to be from Riku's perspective, but as you know, ended up as centred on the Kairi/Riku friendship. Pretty damn depressing, right? But I hope their situation is relatable/understandable.
Reviews always appreciated, similarly, any sort of ideas will be hungrily devoured.
Previous suggestions really gave me a lot of ideas for future plots, so I'd like to thank M and Azkateelia.
And to thesurreal: I'm so very flattered!
Thanks for reading guys x