Author's note: This is another really old one-shot, written about three years ago. This time, it's a fan-insert. I've always been intrigued by Kairi and Riku's friendship – except I view it as more of a sibling thing than an "omg I want you, I need you, oh baby, oh baby" thing.
As Kairi walked away from Sora, her face flushed hot. She wasn't... embarrassed, so to speak, but surprised that the words had come out of her mouth.
Don't ever change.
Half of her wondered if Sora would come after her, and that part of her also wanted him to. The sound of feet kicking at the sandy ground or pounding on the wooden planks not five yards away would make that part of her giddy with happiness. But the other part of her wanted some alone time with her thoughts, certain that she and Sora would have plenty of opportunities to speak till their hearts were content aboard their raft.
Her eyes took in her immediate surroundings, drinking them in as though taking photographs – like she'd never see them again. There was the beach where she'd been found, where she'd met Sora. Her memory fast-forwarded to watching Blitzball games and sparring matches. Most of their arguments took place on that beach, where the races were held to stop a more decision maker from coming to mind. Her and Selphie had learned a little fighting from Sora and Riku here, although Riku was still the best fighter on the island.
And from there, her eyes traveled to the foliage by the small waterfall that hid their "secret place" from view. She hadn't been there in so long... Maybe, she thought, she'd visit there tomorrow before they had to go. She'd ask them if they could go, just the three of them, for old time's sake. She was feeling rather nostalgic.
But right now, she had another destination in mind.
In the storage shack, where random collectibles from over the years on the island were kept, there was a staircase that served as an easier way to get to the cove. It was safer, at any rate, than struggling through the rocks and trees and around the sometimes unfriendly beaches with their choppy waters and hidden rocks. It was there that she headed now, slipping through the hand-crafted door that didn't quite fit in its frame.
Inside, it was dark. No windows had been installed, deemed a waste of time and energy by the young hands that had crafted the place. And besides, it would be unpractical, what with the storms that sometimes hit the island unexpectedly. Kairi inhaled the familiar musty odor as she climbed the stairs and cherished the scent of childhood.
The aroma of tropical fruits, some of which had fallen from their trees and were rotting sweetly in the sand, replaced the scent of old wood, fish, and old seawater when she reached the top of the stairs and pulled open the door. She walked purposefully to the raft once she'd stepped back into the sunshine, looking over the cove from the small platform that served as a porch to the storage shack from this entrance.
Kairi reached into her pocket, fingering her lucky charm before pulling it out of her pocket and sitting with her back against the raft's pole, where the sail would be attached when they were ready to take off. The charm was unfinished – she'd been working on it when they weren't preparing the raft, and she hoped she could finish it before it was time to return home for the evening – for the last time, she thought before she could stop herself. When it was complete, it would be her most cherished object. She'd already completed Sora and Riku's, but she was adding a special touch to hers – this way, he'd always be with her, even if they somehow got separated on their journey.
She was so transfixed in her task of connecting the last two shells, she didn't notice that the shadows had darkened as she sat by the raft, silently working. She didn't even notice when someone sat beside her, watching her intently for a long while before clearing his throat and making her jump.
"Won't you be spending enough quality time with this thing come tomorrow," Riku's voice teased. Kairi tried to stuff the now-complete charm in her pocket and put of sight, but it was too late. Riku had given her one of his knowing, lopsided grins before chuckling and sprawling out on the sand beside her with his head tilted back towards the sky.
"Um, hi Riku," she said cheerfully, too late to pretend that he hadn't scared her. She noticed the charm she had given him was tied to his belt loop, and she smiled. Even if they had taken them willingly enough, Kairi had expected the boys to keep them out of sight. It made her happy to see that they didn't think of her charms as childish or silly, but as yet another token of their friendship.
"Hi yourself," was his cooler-than-ice reply. He had turned his head towards her, and his eyes were fixed intently on the pocket in which she had hastily stuffed her charm. "I noticed something," he said with amused thoughtfulness.
"Huh?" Her cheeks felt hot. Kairi blinked, tilting her head slightly to the left in confusion. Riku's mind games were generally saved to torment Sora; it was rare that the redhead fell victim, and she wasn't enjoying it.
"The charms," he said, the corner of his mouth twitching upward. "You know, tehy're shaped like paoupu fruits." He paused, chuckling at her stunned expression as he sat back up so that he was leaning on his elbows. Kairi obviously had not thought of that. He gave her a moment to stutter a nervous cover before cutting off her vain attempts, saying simply, "It's pretty fitting."
It is," she asked, still looking confused. "I mean, it is." She cleared her throat, trying to look unsurprised – not that she was kidding him, she knew. Riku wasn't like Sora. He tended to be quicker with a lot of things. Again, he tried to swallow a chuckle.
"Think, Kai," he told her, reaching out an arm to tap his index finger to his forehead, as though she were a small child and not his junior of only a year or two, and one of his best friends to boot."Just the three of us, always together. Always. Destinies intertwined, forever." His voice was low and excited at the prospect of their upcoming adventure.
It was in that moment that she understood, looking back at the passage to the beach before looking out over the sea and whispering, "Best friends forever, right?"
Riku followed her eyes, although she thought they were seeing two entirely different things in the sunset.