. Teenage x Wasteland . ©

xo . Kyorii

A/N: In my sixteen years of existence, I have learned many things. One of them, primarily, is that schoolwork is the biggest troll to teenagers. Not only is it a pain at school, but it also has to take over people's social lives, too. But enough about that. Let's talk about why you shouldn't rip my head off for the five-month wait

So for the past few years, some of you recommended that I publish a book. Not on fan fiction, but an actual book. Well, other than school, that's why I've been gone. I'm trying to write a book. I was just wondering if you guys would, you know... buy it? I'm not betting on an extreme success, so I'll start out small by personally publishing it. That means if you want, you can only buy it online. I won't give away the plot, but with the idea I have going, it's like a sci-fi, fantasy, action, and romance kind of thing. I don't know how long it will take me to write it, but I'll do my best to have it done before I turn 17! Side note: I turn 17 on December 17. How cool is that?

Now ladies and gentlemen, onto our feature presentation! Originally this was supposed to be in the next chapter, but since it's been awhile, I decided to give you Sora and Kairi's back-story early instead And since I've been gone for quite awhile, I extended this chapter by a good 10k words and split it into two chapters x)

Disclaimer: I don't own Macbeth by William Shakespeare.

. Chapter XXXIV .

. The Calm in the Storm .

Line of the Chapter:
"Who cares if your relationship short lived? It could be intense and passionate all the same. If you're meant to be, you're meant to be. Take a chance."

I will be the calm in the storm you're looking for;
I'll be the shipwreck that takes you down.– Hedley, Kiss You Inside Out

She couldn't bear to look at her reflection that particular afternoon.

Selphie claimed that it wasn't as bad as it felt, but she had trouble reciprocating those thoughts.

"I feel like I got punched in the face," whined fourteen-year-old Kairi Lovelock. She pulled on her cheek and groaned. From then on she swore to take good care of her teeth; she didn't want the dentist coming at her with those numbing syringes ever again.

"There's the thing," snapped Selphie, "it feels like you got punched in the face, but you don't look anything like it. Trust me, Kairi, you look fine."

She shook her head like a stubborn child. Selphie let out an exasperated sigh and forced Kairi's computer chair around 360 degrees. The redhead caught a glimpse of her hair in the vanity mirror and immediately shielded her eyes. Slowly, she removed her hands from her face and looked into the mirror.

Selphie was right; her face looked a lot better than it felt.

But there was another issue at hand.

"I can't speak properly," said Kairi. She sounded as if she had burned her tongue. It was rather uncomfortable.

Selphie raised an eyebrow. "You're really hell-bent on not going to this party, aren't you?" Kairi nodded. "Why? It's going to be the hottest party of the summer! Tidus is the host! Tidus Clearwater, our childhood friend. How could you pass up such an exciting opportunity the day before summer school? Girl, trust me, you're going to need all the fun you can get." Seeing that the redhead didn't move an inch, Selphie rummaged through the shelves in her room until she found a narrow but portable whiteboard and whiteboard marker complete with an eraser at the tip.

"Here," she said, handing the items to Kairi. "If you can't convey what you're thinking verbally, write it down. Sound good?"

No, Kairi wrote. Selphie glared at her. Kairi smiled back. You can't make me go.

It was Selphie's turn to smile. Kairi didn't like the sinister feel it held behind it.

"Selphie?" she squeaked.

Five minutes later she found herself tied in her best friend's skipping ropes at the end of the island pier.

"Selphie, Kairi!" hollered Tidus at the pier on the other side. As he helped the girls tie the canoe in place, he said, "I'm so glad you could both make it. I was scared that you weren't going to come, Kairi."

Kairi simply drew him a picture of a stick person tied in skipping ropes.

"Oh," was all he said.

"Well what are we waiting for? Let's get this party started!" cheered Selphie, skipping off to some random direction. She seemed to be heading for the dance floor next to the tiki themed bar. Since their play island wasn't the largest, there weren't many elaborate decorations, but the lanterns tied in series above the dance floor was certainly a nice touch alongside the torches.

"Hey, Tidus!" slurred an obviously hammered teen. He clapped the blond on the shoulder and yelled against the music, "Great party man!"

He mimicked the teen's actions. "Thanks, man. Take it easy on the drinks, though." The teen wobbled away with empty promises.

Who was that? Kairi wrote.

"I honestly have no idea," Tidus answered sincerely. "I meant for this to be a small get together with twenty people or so, but twenty became one hundred in the span of an hour." Kairi was about to write more, but Tidus stopped her. "Stop that, will you? I'm sure you sound fine. Besides, who's going to hear you with all this noise? Speak with actions, Kairi. Actions. Go dance. Have fun. Party." And with that, the shaggy blond pushed her onto the dance floor.

After about an hour of being controlled by the music, Kairi decided that her body couldn't take anymore dancing. Selphie, who was nowhere near tired, dismissed Kairi to do as she pleased. With that said, Kairi contentedly ran off to her sanctuary: the secret place. It was the only place that ensured peace and quiet, and only she (with the exception of some close friends) knew how to get there.

She immediately found the small waterfall that she usually collected drinking water from as a child and crossed over to the bushes nearby. Two unidentifiable teens were close by, but they were too… preoccupied to notice the redhead sneak into the bushes. She pushed a few to the side and slipped into the darkness of the tunnel. Due to experience, she landed on her feet perfectly. It was dark, darker than she had anticipated, but the little light that the moon provided was enough for her watch her step.

Kairi walked over to the large stone that she usually used as a chair and sprawled herself across its hard surface. Slowly, she closed her eyes. Peace and quiet. This was where she liked to think and used to draw as a child. Her drawings, along with Selphie's and Tidus's, even made it onto the rocky walls. The trio liked to think that they were the first to discover this rocky abode when they were children, but judging by the few drawings that were already inscribed on the walls prior to their discovery, someone had already been there and apparently never came back.

Kairi's ears perked upward when she heard the sound of footsteps nearby and the familiar sound of the bushes being pushed aside. At first, it was nothing. Then it repeated. Again. And again. Kairi was certain the person was nearby this time.

It's probably Selphie or Tidus, she thought. They were the only ones present at the party who knew of the secret place. The rest were good boys and girls that stayed home on the main island.

Her eyes opened when she heard a scream; a masculine scream. The sound of tumbling followed suit. They were getting closer. And closer.

That was most definitely not Selphie or Tidus.

"Oomph!" said the stranger. Kairi remained frozen in place. Maybe if she stayed still, she would remain unnoticed.

The stranger rose from the ground and dusted off their pants. Kairi couldn't see much, but she saw enough to conclude that he was slightly taller than her with hair that defied gravity in every direction. He wasn't exactly lanky, but he wasn't exactly muscular, either.

Then the eyes.

It was like a vast ocean wave followed by smaller, gentle, soothing waves: the kind that rose to your ankles and ticked your feet. The kind that made you feel bubbly on the inside. It was surreal and almost… dreamlike.

"Hi," said the owner of the dreamy ocean eyes. He sounded nervous. Embarrassed. Cute.

How did he notice her? She hadn't moved an inch.

She shook her head. She'd been spotted already. There was no going back. It was too dark, too dark to write a reply with her whiteboard. So she did what first came into mind to prevent even more awkwardness and embarrassment.

She dropped the whiteboard and ran.

The next day, Kairi sped walk through the halls with her fists clenched at her sides. She didn't want to be there. Of all places she could be at the moment, she had to be there.

School. On a summer day. School during summer.

Summer school.

Fast tracking English during the school year seemed to be a good idea at the time, but now… now… now it just seemed stupid.

"Good morning, sunshine," greeted a well-rested Selphie. Kairi growled in response. "Don't you growl at me Kairi Lovelock. You chose to be here today."

"And what a stupid decision it was," she sighed. The redhead slumped her shoulders and hit her head against the wall continuously.

"So where did you run off to at the party yesterday?" asked Selphie. "When I asked Tidus where you were, he told me he saw you running out of the secret place."

Kairi turned beet red. "Oh, that… um, you see… I… Isortofkindofmetsomeone."

Selphie raised a brow. "Come again?"

"I. Met. Someone," she annunciated.

Her babyhood friend smiled mischievously. "Ooh, I see. I told you going to that party was going to be good! So what was his name? Was he cute? Was he a good kisser?"

Kairi narrowed her eyes. "You expect me to know all that information after one encounter?"

"Well I'm sorry. You 'met someone' in a dark cave during a wild party. That's not kinky at all."

"It was nowhere near that. It was… more on the embarrassing side."

"And what, pray tell, was so embarrassing?"

"Well, he tried talking to me, but…"

Selphie stifled a giggle. "But you couldn't talk because of what the dentist shot in your mouth?"

Kairi hung her head in shame. "Precisely."

"And then you ran?" Selphie's stifled giggles turned into full on laughter. "You know, there are better ways to handle things. You could have at least said hi. I'm sure that wasn't so incredibly hard."

"I know, but he seemed so nice and his voice was so smooth and his eyes, goodness, Selphie, his eyes-"


"There's the bell," said Selphie, "Tell me more about him at lunch, okay?" After a quick one-armed hug, the two dispersed.

When Kairi walked in her English class, she was surprised to see that it was fairly small. There were only about fourteen people or so and it mostly consisted of boys. Her teacher, Ms. Farren, was currently writing her name on the board in neat calligraphy. Kairi took her seat in the middle. To her left was a brunette boy with spiked hair and glasses. He looked a lot like the boy she met yesterday, but something about him (maybe his hair) was off. Behind him was a lanky boy with spiky red hair the same shade as Kairi's. To her right was an empty seat.

"Roxas," the boy to her left said. When she turned to face him he had his hand outstretched towards her. He was around her age, if not a few months older.

"Kairi," she responded, shaking his hand.

"This is Axel," he said, pointing to the redheaded male with spiky hair. He looked about a year older than her and Roxas. She didn't want to judge, but he must have failed to be there. He wolf-whistled at her and waved.

"Nice hair," was all he said.

The bell rung again and the Destiny Islands anthem followed suit. Everyone in the class lazily stood to show respect. When it was over, the teacher turned on the TV for Destiny Academy's own show broadcasted on campus every Friday. After a cheesy introduction, the camera panned downward to a classy looking studio. The hosts, both of which were third year males from Destiny Academy, began welcoming new transfer students to the school. One of them was Tidus. Kairi recognized the other as Wakka.

"Good morning students of Destiny Academy," greeted Tidus, "This is Tidus Clearwater and Wakka Yevon. Welcome back."

"And a warm welcome to those who come from different worlds!" exclaimed Wakka with a heavy accent. "We hope you enjoy your short stay here."

"But to make things slightly less awkward between you and the Destiny Islanders," continued Tidus, "we're going to let you participate in a traditional Destiny TV segment called Fifteen Minutes of Fame."

"Or shame. Depends on how you do," chuckled Wakka.

"For fifteen minutes, a male and female student selected at random will be chosen from a bowl of names and interviewed," explained Tidus. Then, in an Effie Trinket accent, he began to say, "Now, the time has come to select one courageous boy and girl to have the honor in participating in Destiny TV's traditional Fifteen Minutes of Fame! Wakka, the bowls please." At this, two transparent bowls were wheeled in: one for girls, the other for boys.

"Ladies first," said Tidus. He dug his perfectly tanned arm deep into the bowl and pulled out a slip of paper. He smirked as he unraveled the contents. Kairi didn't like his facial expression. "Oh, this is interesting. For the girls we have a personal childhood friend of mine."

Please be Selphie, chanted Kairi mentally.

"Kairi Lovelock!" the blond announced. Kairi inwardly groaned and got up from her seat. Her name was one in three hundred girls attending Destiny Academy that summer. This had to be rigged.

"Good luck," said Roxas with a smile. He had a friendly smile.

Kairi bowed slightly in gratitude. "Thank you."

When Kairi exited the classroom, she immediately felt her phone vibrate in her pocket.

Text received from Bestie:
LOL sucker.

She rolled her eyes and made her way to the studio. She had never been there before, so when she arrived, she was surprised to see that it was massive and spacious. She spotted Tidus talking to a crewmember on the interview set and began stomping in his direction until someone grabbed her arm. It was a third year crewmember with a horrible tan. She looked like she just rolled in Doritos.

"Are you Kairi?" she asked. The redhead nodded. "Please come with me."

She found herself being led to the interview set anyway where two make-up artists applied a generous amount of products to her face.

"Well, well, what a pleasant surprise," came a familiar teasing voice from behind one of the artists.

"You did this on purpose," Kairi growled as one girl coated her lips with colour.

Tidus raised his hands in surrender. "I had nothing to do with it, I swear."

When Kairi's male counterpart came walking through the door behind Tidus, her jaw dropped, smearing some colour on the outside of her lips. He had spiky chocolate brown hair, a cute face, and familiar blue eyes.

"Okay, you totally set this up!" she whined. Tidus merely chuckled and took a seat on his designated red couch.

When Kairi's make-up was finished, she was content with the outcome. It was a natural look with earthy tones. It suited her age.

Afterwards, she took her seat on the couch directly across Tidus. The set had the classic Destiny Islands loft feel: sturdy straw-like walls, modern and colourful furniture, a glass coffee table in the center and a wonderful view of the paopu trees dancing with the wind outside.

"Scared?" asked Tidus.

"Not really," she answered honestly. Kairi was thought of as an easy-going person, and with one of her best friends as the hosts, she figured that things should go smoothly. "Although, I do have a complaint about my partner."

Tidus smirked with a shrug. And just to smite her even more, Kairi's partner just occupied the seat next to her, but before he could introduce himself, Wakka demanded their attention.

"We're on in five," he said, "Get ready."

"Good luck," said the male interviewee. When Kairi turned to face him, she was rendered speechless. If he was cute in the dark, he was even handsomer firsthand in the light. With perfectly tousled brown hair, perfect features, a healthy tan and ocean blue eyes, it was hard not to stare. He was, undoubtedly, the same boy from last night.

"Y-you too," she stammered. She heard Tidus cough obnoxiously and gave him the inappropriate finger before the cameras caught it. Right when the previous story finished airing, the cameras began rolling.

"And welcome back!" screamed Tidus with excitement. "We are here live with our lucky male and female interviewees. Could you please kindly introduce yourselves to everyone and tell us why you're here?"

Kairi turned to her fellow interviewee hoping that he could go first, but being the gentleman he was, he offered to let her start.

"I, um…" she cleared her throat. "I'm Kairi Lovelock. I'm here to fast track English for second year."

"I'm Sora Hikari," he said in a confident, playful voice. "I'm here because… well, my mother gave birth to me. Isn't that obvious?" The audience of crewmembers offstage laughed.

"Oh, I see we have a comedian," commented Tidus, sending a small wink at Kairi. Funny. Definitely Kairi's type.

Sora rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. "I'm actually here for the same reason as the lovely Ms. Lovelock here. English, room 316, Ms. Branford."

Kairi tried to keep her blush hidden at his first comment.

"316, huh? That's right across Kairi's class," informed Tidus.

"Yes," Kairi said through gritted teeth. He was being atrociously obvious. "It is."

Tidus chuckled lightly. "So, Sora, how old are you?"

"Old enough," he said with a wink. More laughter. "I turn fifteen in two months," he then answered seriously.

"So Kairi, is your hair naturally red or do you dye it?" asked Wakka.

"It's natural," she answered. Sora sprawled both his arms across the couch and widened his eyes.

"Whoa, seriously?" he asked. Kairi nodded with a reddening face. "That's… that's awesome. It looks really good on you."

"Thank you," she said, looking down at her knees. The crowd ooh'd suggestively.

"Sora, do you have a girlfriend?" Tidus suddenly asked.

This time it was the brunet who turned red. "Oh, wow. That. Um, no. I don't. I guess I haven't found the right girl yet." Kairi kept her head down, her hair acting as a curtain to hide her smile.

"What about you Kairi?" asked Wakka, "Is there a special man in your life?"

She felt Sora's eyes on her, rendering her paralyzed for a few seconds. "Well, um, other than my father, no. I don't have a 'special man'."

Tidus suddenly snapped his fingers. "Speaking of your father, did you guys know that Kairi's father is the mayor of Destiny Islands?" Cheers sounded from the audience. Sora whistled and clapped as well.

"So Sora, Kairi, do you have any siblings?" asked Wakka when the cheers died down.

"I'm an only child," replied Kairi.

"I have a brother," answered Sora, "a twin brother. His name's Roxas."

That explained the resemblance.

"Whoa, there's another Sora?" asked Tidus, wide-eyed. "Are you identical?"

"Yes. Though I'm older by six minutes," he said proudly. "And obviously handsomer," he added with a wink. Whistles and cheers followed.

"So do you guys have like… twin telepathy or something?" asked Wakka.

"We actually tried that when we were kids," started Sora. "When we were around four or something, we'd stand on opposite sides of a door, cover our eyes and try to guess the colour the other one was thinking of."

"Did any of you get it right?"

"No," Sora answered with a laugh. "Roxas was always thinking of weird colours like bluebell, silver strand and periwinkle. How the heck was I supposed to guess periwinkle at four years old?" The audience (Kairi inclusive) let out a laugh.

"Sora, if you don't mind us asking, what are you?" asked Tidus. "You have this distinct look about you that I can't quite decipher."

"I'm waysian. Half-white, half-asian. Half Italian, half Japanese," he answered.

"Italian, huh? Can you speak it?" asked Wakka.

Sora rocked his head left and right with a sour face. "Kinda. I speak fluent Japanese and English, though."

"Well, can you speak the little bit of Italian that you do know?" requested Tidus.

"Spaghetti, gelato, ciao," Sora said in an atrociously heavy accent with hand gestures. The audience found it highly entertaining. "I actually know a few more. Uh, grazie? I believe that's thank you. Mi chiamo Sora. My name is Sora. Um… per favore is please and…" He looked straight into Kairi's eyes for the first time. It was the ocean waves all over again. "Bella. That means, uh…" he cleared his throat and turned away. "Beautiful."

She too turned away the instant he said it.

"I, uh… also know a few songs, but I don't like singing in public," Sora muttered.

"You sing?" Tidus asked with a smirk. He knew Kairi was a sucker for a guy who was musically talented.

Sora nodded, his face still red. "I'm all right. I'm better on the guitar."

"You play the guitar?" Tidus asked, louder this time so Kairi could hear. "Kairi plays the guitar, too." She pretended to rub her eye using her middle finger.

Sora's ears perked up. "Oh? How long have you been playing?"

"Around two years… I'm better on the ukulele though," she said nervously.

"I've always wanted to learn how to play the ukulele," he said, a confident smile on his face again. "You'll have to teach me some time."

She smiled back. "Sure."

She paid no mind to Tidus' obnoxious coughing in the background.

The remainder of the interview went smoothly. Jokes were exchanged, information was given and stories were told. Kairi was surprised to see that regardless of all the awkward moments in the beginning, she actually found herself comfortable around Sora. Tidus and Wakka seemed to approve of him, too. He was sociable, playful, and had irresistible charm. He carried himself well and was easy to get along with. He was secure.

And totally Kairi's type.

So when he walked her back to class with idle conversation, she desperately wished that he didn't remember their rather embarrassing meeting the night prior. That way, they could start over without him thinking that she was a freak.

"Hey," he suddenly said, "I know this might sound weird, but you look kind of familiar, Kairi."

She tried not to let her fear show. "I highly doubt that we've met before, Sora."

He tried not to shudder at the way she said his name. It was utter perfection in its greatest form.

"Are you sure?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. She nodded unconvincingly. "All right," he sighed. He looked somewhat disappointed when he grasped the handle of his classroom door. "I'll see you around, Kairi."

"See you," she said right across the hall. "It was nice meeting you."

He smiled. "Likewise." He walked in first. When the door shut behind him, she released a breath that even she was unaware of holding. She took a deep breath before grabbing the doorknob of her own class, but before her fingers even touched the cold metal, she heard a door creak open from behind her.

It was Sora.

With a whiteboard in hand.

Her whiteboard.

"Excuse me, but I believe this belongs to you," he said with a smug look. She accepted it but was too shocked to reply. He knew. He knew all along.

It was when the door shut behind him that she returned to reality. She shook her head and looked down at the narrow board. He wrote something.

Don't worry; I don't think you're a freak.

Slowly but surely, she smiled. It was the nicest thing she'd never heard.

At lunch, Selphie couldn't contain her bothersome giggling.

"What is so funny?" asked an annoyed Kairi, mouth half-full of PB&J.

"You," she replied, still giggling.

"What about me?"

"It's so obvious that you're crushing on that Sora guy."

The redhead dropped her sandwich. "What?" she asked in rage. Heads turned in the cafeteria. She waved them off. When the attention was no longer on the two, Kairi asked in an angry whisper, "How is that even possible? I've known the guy for fifteen minutes!"

"Love at first sight?" suggested Selphie. Kairi rolled her eyes. "Besides, it's so totally obvious that he's crushing back, too." Before Kairi could start spazzing out again, Tidus joined their table.

"Hello ladies," he greeted. He sent a wink at Kairi as he took his seat. "So how about that Sora guy? Pretty dreamy, huh?"

Selphie high-fived him. "You did good, Tidy-Widy."

"I know right?" he asked rhetorically, paying no mind to his embarrassing nickname. "Actually, I had nothing to do with the names. Honest. That was just luck. But it totally made up for their rather unfortunate incident last night, right?"

Poor Tidus had to clean peanut butter and jelly off his face that afternoon.

For the next two weeks, Kairi couldn't keep her mind off the boy across the hallway. Every time their classes were released for a fifteen-minute break, she'd catch him smiling and waving at her when they locked eyes. Particularly today, though, she noticed something different. He was chatting with the same girl with stylish ebony hair as usual (more like she was chatting with him; she was sorry to say that he didn't look the least bit interested in the conversation), but in the middle of it all, he looked right at her. The smile was still evident on his face, but his eyes showed some kind of longing that she couldn't quite place. He looked fine when socializing with his friends, but when it was her, things changed. His smile said one thing, but his eyes said another.

"My brother can't shut up about you," said Roxas when he took his seat next to her after lunch.

Kairi blushed and rested her reddening cheeks on the palm of her hand. "I'm sure he's referring to someone else."

"And I'm sure you're the only one with natural red hair around here," he replied, smiling. Her silence was enough to entertain him.

"Good afternoon class," greeted Ms. Farren. The class lazily gave their replies. Ms. Farren was young teacher in her mid-twenties or so. Her eyes were a mirthful green, her hair a deep, chestnut brown. She was fresh out of teacher's college and a delight to learn from. "As most of you have noticed, our class is fairly small. Ms. Branford right across the hall, however, has too many students." Kairi's heart skipped a beat. She knew where this was going. "And since Ms. Branford and I share the same lesson plans, a few students from her class have volunteered to transfer to ours."

The next day, Sora occupied the empty seat to her right.

She couldn't speak to him at first. She was too shy, too embarrassed. It wasn't until they were in the middle of a lesson two days later that he initiated some conversation.

"You know," he whispered, leaning over to her desk, "if you give me a valid reason for running off, I'll understand. For example, if I was somewhat unattractive, you can't say that. It's invalid."

She tried her hardest not to laugh. He broke the ice quite easily. "Maybe you were being unattractive," she whispered in return, her attention still placed on the note Ms. Farren was writing on the board.

"Come on, Kairi," he said, sounding desperate. She put down her pen and sighed.

"I couldn't speak," she answered.

"My beauty does have that effect on people," he teased.

Kairi waved her hands in front of her face manically. "No, no! Well, I wouldn't know. I couldn't really see, for one. And secondly, I just came from the dentist. He shot three syringes in my mouth. My lips were numb and I couldn't speak properly for hours. Is that valid enough for you?"

"I… certainly wasn't expecting that," he answered, "but yes."

"Can you two please stop flirting?" asked an irritated Axel from behind. "I can literally feel the sexual tension from here. I'm actually trying to learn, so please." He dodged the erasers thrown at him.

"So how did you know it was me?" she asked, genuinely curious.

"Look at me," he demanded softly. She did, trying to keep her blush hidden. "It's as I thought. No one has eyes like you, Kairi. I could see them in the dark."

"I could say the same for you," she whispered. Axel groaned from behind. "So if you remembered who I was, why did you act like we were complete strangers on the show?"

His chuckling was music to her ears. "How creepy would it be if I told the entire school that we met in a dark cave? Do you know how the teenage brain works? I didn't want to make you look bad."

"Oh," she tucked some hair behind her left ear and gave him a genuine smile. "Thank you."

He began to rub the back of his neck. "No prob-"

"Mr. Hikari," called Ms. Farren from the front of the classroom. Everyone's eyes were on him. "Could you kindly tell us what happened in act 4, scene 3 of Macbeth?"

"With pleasure," he said with distaste. "Um…" he rubbed his chin, trying to recall the scene they had read only five minutes ago. He was too busy marveling at Kairi's hair from his peripheral vision to pay attention at the time. Desperately, he looked at the redheaded beauty that occupied his mind, hoping that she would give him the answer. Luckily for him, she mouthed the answer. He grinned.

"Macduff has been tested," he answered.

"By whom?" she asked, still unconvinced that he was paying attention.

"Malcolm," he answered, "because he was just testing his loyalty to Scotland." He actually knew the answer that time. Kairi made silent clapping motions. He placed his hands on his hips proudly.

"Good," said Ms. Farren, "but please try to refrain from being…" For a split second, she looked at Kairi. "… distracted in my class next time."

Roxas and Axel snickered.

The first time they make physical contact, he teaches her how to tie her shoes.

That particular day, Axel was truant, so Sora occupied the seat behind her, hoping to get a better view of her perfectly straight claret hair. No matter how many times he looked at it, he couldn't wrap his head around the fact that the colour was natural. The red reminded him not of blood, but of red velvet cupcakes. He loved red velvet cupcakes.

"Stupid," she muttered under her breath. She raised one knee to the air and placed her foot on the edge of her chair for support. Impatiently, she quadruple knotted her shoelaces. That was the fifth time he'd seen her do that all morning. He placed a hand over his mouth and suppressed his giggles at the adorable way her face would scrunch up in frustration each time.

After lunch, her laces came undone again. Sora scanned the classroom when he walked in. They were the first two to arrive. No teasing Roxas. No teacher. Perfect.

He took the seat behind her and watched her fumble with her laces again. And although he was being sadistic about it earlier, he couldn't bare to watch her suffer any longer, so he stood from his seat and casually knelt before her.

"Tie it around your ankle first," he said. He placed her fashionable purple shoe on his knee and tied it like so. The whole time, she was silent. Paralyzed. She felt like Cinderella. When he finished with the first, she thanked him nervously and moved on to tie the next, but their hands arrived at her shoe at the exact same time. It felt like lightning followed by placid rain. Then suddenly, as if his hand felt like fire, Kairi withdrew hers from his touch.

"Sorry," he said, slightly embarrassed, "am I making you uncomfortable?"

"No," she responded quickly: A little too quickly for her tastes. "It's just… it's nice. What you did. I like it. It's stylish. I just… didn't want to seem like a princess with you tying my shoes like that. I can do it, you know."

"I know you're completely capable of tying your shoes," he said, smirking, "but I've seen you do it way too many times today. Just let me this once. I just can't… watch you suffer like that anymore."

He only meant to tease her, but if Kairi was in any sort of pain- real pain, that is- he didn't think he could bear to watch it after all.

Their first normal interaction outside of school happened the following week. What seemed like a harmless swimming competition at the time became another reason for Sora to gain interest in his redheaded classmate.

"Is that Kairi?" Roxas asked when he took his seat next to his brother on the bleachers. Sora squinted, trying to figure it out himself. Sure enough there was a girl with hair the colour of red velvet cupcakes tying her hair into a high ponytail at the edge of the Olympic sized pool, undoubtedly identifying her as the Kairi he knew.

"It is," he breathed. He didn't see that coming. He only came to support Tidus in the male division.

"She's hot," commented Axel. Sora whacked him in the back of the head. "What? We were all thinking it."

"Hello boys," said a familiar high-pitched voice. The girl took the empty seat beside Roxas on the edge.

"Selphie," greeted Sora, "you didn't tell me that Kairi was in the competition, too."

"Oh, I'm sorry, Sora," she said. Her facial expression read that she wasn't sorry at all. "I wasn't aware that you were fascinated with Kairi." Sora fell silent as the boys snickered.

"Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen," said the announcer through his microphone, "and welcome to the annual Destiny Islands swimming tournament!" Cheers and whistles sounded from the bleachers that curved to form a circle. Swimming was something to take pride in on Destiny Islands, hence the countless bleachers, fancy arena and plentiful supporters. "Today we'll start off with the female division and end with the top three finalists from both the male and female division."

"That hardly sounds fair," complained Roxas. "Boys versus girls? Is that how you've always done things here?"

"You'd be surprised when you see how fast our girls are," chuckled Selphie. Sora had a hunch she was talking about a certain classmate of his. He shivered in anticipation.

"Let the tournament…" the announcer paused for dramatic effect. "… begin!" A horn sounded throughout the circular arena and the first set of girls readied themselves on the edge of the pool in their respective lanes. Sora memorized Kairi as the girl before the lane that read 7 on the bottom tiles.

Suddenly, a rectangular hologram screen appeared before every person in the audience. While it startled Axel and the twins, Selphie treated it like no big deal and sipped on her iced tea nonchalantly.

"What's this?" asked Axel, feeling noobish.

"A close-up view on the race," Selphie replied, keeping her mouth around the rim of her straw. She selected Girls Division and twelve numbered rectangles appeared to the left of her screen, each with a headshot picture of the girls currently participating in the race. Their last name was written just below their picture in different colours.

Under lane 7 read Lovelock in fluorescent pink with Kairi's picture. To the right of her picture was a pink dot that represented her position on the pool. She, along with all the other dots, was on the starting end. Roxas clicked on Kairi's picture and was taken to a different page. To the left of the screen were Kairi's stats: name, age, gender, lane number, birth date, etc. To the right was a close-up view of Kairi getting ready to dive.

"Whoa, we get to close up on girls in swimsuits?" asked Axel in awe. He began clicking on every girl's name. "I love this world."

"What does the number on the bottom represent?" asked Roxas. Under Kairi's stats was a fast growing number.

"How many people are betting on her," replied Selphie. Everyone around her was betting on Kairi's page. She clicked Place Bet on her screen as well.

"There's over 500 and still growing," said a shocked Sora, watching his brother's screen. Sora found it almost impossible that all these people were betting on Kairi. She was the smallest and youngest among her competitors. The rest of the girls looked much more muscular and intimidating.

"You're about to see why," giggled Selphie. Sora shrugged and placed a bet on Kairi as well.

Another horn sounded, this time signaling the ten-second countdown.

"Round one, set one, girls division, front crawl. Racers, get ready," said a female voice from the speakers.

A large 10 appeared on everyone's screen and began counting down. The instant it was finished, Kairi dove into the pool and sped her way to the other side. From beginning to end, the pink dot was in the lead by a landslide. Sora lost all feeling in his arms and legs and even dropped his can of Pepsi. She won within a minute and twenty-something seconds. People stood and cheered for her victory. Lovelock was at the top of the rankings for round 1 with the fastest time.

"That was incredible," clapped Roxas, joining the crowd in chanting her name. Sora was too shocked and wide-eyed to move.

Within half an hour, Kairi managed to place first in the girls division. She was awarded with a trophy and prize munny on the highest podium. Sora cheered his heart out. She, along with two other resentful girls, advanced to the finals against the boys.

Another half hour crowned Tidus second in the male division and some bulky boy named Seifer Almasy as first. The two, along with Wakka who placed third, advanced to the finals.

"You should join this next year, Sora," said Roxas, elbowing his brother playfully.

"Oh? You swim?" asked Selphie, a smirk playing at her lips.

"I'm okay," he said modestly.

Kairi's number of bets lowered for the final round, but they were still high, nonetheless. Sora confidently placed a bet for her again.

"Final round, final set, co-ed division, front crawl. Racers, get ready," informed the female voice again. By the time the countdown was at 5, everyone was on the edge of their seats. The horn sounded. Sora's heart raced as he watched Kairi dive into the pool. The blue dot, representing Seifer, was in the lead, but Kairi wasn't far behind him. By the time the racers tumbled and changed directions, Kairi was in the lead.

Sora took this time to turn away from the screen and watch her for real. She was majestic. Inhuman. Seifer's movements were vigorous and fast, but hers were calm and slow. She was engulfed in her element. Sora nearly lost his breath.

Within thirty seconds, the turquoise dot (Tidus), not the pink one, reached the finish line first, and the whole arena burst into applause for Tidus' surprising victory. Sora was too busy admiring Kairi's form to even notice that the shaggy blond had gained in on her.

"She was so close!" whined Selphie as they exited the arena. Tidus, all showered and pampered, came out of the change rooms surrounded by paparazzi. He went to Selphie's side with a towel over his shoulder.

"What, you're not proud of me?" he asked, pouting.

Selphie posed for the cameras and got on her tippy toes to put her arm around Tidus' shoulders as a congratulatory gesture. "Good job, Tidus!" Sora chuckled and rolled his eyes at her façade.

When he turned around, he caught a certain redhead being interviewed about two meters away. She smiled, nodded and looked truly happy for her friend. Seifer, on the other hand, looked downright pissed.

"So Ms. Lovelock, how does it feel to win first in the female division again?" asked a reporter.

Again? Sora thought. He should've known.

"It's an incredible honour," she responded, trying not to look snobbish by modestly hiding her trophy behind her back. While she told the reporters about how she and Tidus shared the same coach, the boy named Seifer walked up to cameras and interrupted her, stealing the limelight. She looked scared of him. He didn't like it. Axel sensed this and pushed the brunet through the paparazzi, sending him straight into Kairi. He sent him a death stare before turning apologetically to Kairi.

"Hi," he said nervously. He tried to tune out the flashing cameras in the background. All the attention was on them now.

"Sora," she said, wide-eyed that he had made her feel safe. "Hello."

"Ms. Lovelock, is this your boyfriend?" the same reporter asked coyly.

"No!" they both screamed in unison.

"We're just classmates," said Kairi. It stung Sora a bit, but that was the reality. They'd only met two weeks ago. They were practically strangers.

One day, Sora thought, I'll change that.

"Ms. Kairi, can you please look in this direction?" asked a photographer.

Sora began to get out of the shot. "I should probably-"

"No, no!" said the photographer. "Stay. We'll get the rest of your friends in the shot, too. Hey, Tidus!" Tidus arrived with Selphie and Wakka in tow. They joined the picture without a moment's hesitation. Kairi positioned herself between Selphie and Tidus, but the blond shoved her aside.

"What are you doing?" he muttered. "Go beside Sora."

"What?" she asked, flabbergasted.

"You heard me. Now go. Shoo. You'll thank me for this later." Tidus made shooing motions in Sora's direction. Kairi growled before complying. She and Tidus occupied the middle, flashing their trophies straight at the camera. Sora was now to her right.

"Compress, please," ordered the photographer. He motioned for Sora to move closer to Kairi. He ended up putting an arm around her waist, causing the redhead to be as still as a statue even when the photo had already been taken.

"Good job today, Kai," complimented Tidus.

Once her circulation went back to normal she smiled and nodded. "You, too. Congratulations."

"You're getting better every year. You might even beat me next year," he said, scratching the back of his head nervously.

"Maybe," she teased, nudging his elbow.

"I should go," he suddenly said.

"What? We still have to celebrate!"

"Oh, I know. I'll meet you at the ice cream parlor later, but for now, I should leave. Sora's been looking in this direction for way too long, waiting for me to leave so he can make his move," he said, snickering.

"Tidus!" she whined, watching him leave as he cackled. She sighed and slumped her shoulders. Sure enough, Sora was at her side five seconds later.

"Hi," he greeted with a friendly smile.

"You said that already," she said, reciprocating the smile while tucking some hair behind her left ear. He apologized and rubbed the back of his neck nervously. "Don't worry, Sora. I'm just making fun. So, if you don't mind me asking, what are you doing here?"

"Originally I was here for Tidus, but now I see that I had another reason to be here," he answered. "Why didn't you tell me you were such a good swimmer?" She shrugged, a blush slowly forming on her cheeks. "You were so fast, yet your arms and legs were barely moving."

"Swimming isn't about how fast you can move your arms and legs. It's about form, strength, pull, and resistance," she said as if she'd recited it a thousand times before. "That's why I managed to pass Seifer halfway through. He may be stronger than I am, but I have a better pull and more resistance." She took in his confused expression and chuckled. "Did you understand what I just said?"

"I did, actually," he said. "It's just impressive."

"Oh? So you know how to swim?" she asked, a smirk playing at her lips.

"I'm all right," he answered. "You could probably beat me."

"I probably could," she answered haughtily, teasing him. "We should try racing some time." He willingly agreed.

"Kairi!" Selphie called from afar. She was waiting by a sleek, black Beemer.

"My mom's here," she said, double checking her bag if she had everything. When she was finished, she locked eyes with Sora and smiled. "So I guess I'll…"

"See you in school?" he finished with a nod. She nodded back and started towards the car, waving goodbye in the process. Sora sighed in relief. Their conversation had gone quite smoothly for his tastes. He returned to Roxas in a happy mood, but still craved to know more about his redheaded mystery.

When Kairi opened the front door to the car, Selphie was already in the back, snickering. After congratulating her and taking her things to the trunk, her mom asked, "Who was the boy you were talking to?"

"Tidus," Kairi lied.

"No," said her mother, already suspicious. "The one with the brown hair. I've never seen him around before. He a friend of yours?"

"Um, no. We're just classmates. His name's Sora," answered Kairi.

"He's funny, Mrs. Lovelock," winked Selphie in the back seat.

"He's handsome," teased Kairi's mother.

"Mom," Kairi whined. Her mother and best friend teased her the whole way home.

When their group picture made the front page of Destiny Weekly the following day, Kairi got a headache from Selphie and Tidus' endless teasing about Sora's arm around her waist.

"Can I ask you something?" Sora suddenly asked the following week.

"Shoot," said Kairi, tapping her pencil on the edge of her desk. Lately she and Sora had been the only ones attending class. While majority of the class dropped out to enjoy their summer, Axel and Roxas formed a band with some senior dropouts and called themselves The Oathkeepers, leaving only Sora, Kairi and Ms. Farren in the classroom. Ms. Farren didn't really mind with the pay and her love for teaching.

"Promise you won't get mad?"

"Why would I get mad?"

"It's kind of… private," he whispered.

Kairi sighed. "A period normally lasts five to seven days-"

"No!" he interrupted, slightly disturbed. "I wasn't going to… augh. Thanks. Unwanted mental images tormenting my brain now."

Kairi chuckled. "Sorry. What did you really want to ask?"

He rested his chin on the palm of his hand and mumbled, "I saw your dad on the news this morning. He was giving a speech of some sort. Your mom was there, too, and… no offense, but… you look nothing like them."

She turned to him with confusion in her eyes.

"I'm sorry," he said. "Just forget it."

"No, it's just…" she looked at him strangely. "Why does it fascinate you?"

He shrugged. "I don't know. I guess I find you… interesting, that's all." She continued to stare. "I mean, your hair is naturally red, you can't tie your shoes properly, your secret hideout is a cave, you're brilliant in school, you're a surprisingly amazing swimmer and you're the mayor's down to earth, carefree daughter. In all honesty, I expected you to be a snob when I found out you were the mayor's daughter: an airhead who complained that her father didn't get her a car for her sweet sixteen birthday. But you're nothing like that. You're modest, fun loving, and pretty… inside and out. I guess I just… want to know the rest of you." Then Sora froze, refusing to believe that he just revealed everything he'd been thinking about for the past few weeks. He must've sounded like some creepy lunatic.

"All right," she said, fighting a blush and leaning toward him. "Fair enough. I'll tell you why I look nothing like my parents under one condition."

"Shoot," he said, mimicking her.

"Let me learn more about you," she countered. "We're the only two in this class now," came her excuse, "might as well get to know each other."

"Sounds fair," he agreed. Secretly, he was giddy and flattered inside. She wanted to learn about him, too. Progress had been made that day. They were one step away from strangers.

"The reason I don't look like my parents is because I'm adopted," she answered.

"Oh," was all Sora said. An awkward silence fell in between them. "I'm sorry, I… I didn't know. Is this a sensitive topic for you?"

Kairi shook her head no, but Sora didn't want to dwell on the subject.

"All right, my turn," she said, smirking. It scared him a bit, but he didn't admit it to her face. "Why did you lie about your birthday on facebook?"

He raised an eyebrow. "How did you know when my real birthday was?"

"I take the attendance sheet down everyday. It has all our birthdays recorded. And…" she rubbed her elbow, suddenly embarrassed. "When we first met, during fifteen minutes of fame, you told Tidus that you were turning fifteen two months from then. Your birthday is on the 7th of August. On facebook, you put July 8. Why did you do that?"

"I value friendship," came his swift reply. "Only my true friends would know when my real birthday is. Roxas does it, too. I know it's kind of mean for those who are nice enough to greet you a happy birthday, but I want to know who really knows and cares about me."

"That's weird," Kairi stated bluntly. "But brilliant," she added in a British accent.

"Why thank you," he said in an equally pathetic accent.

"Another question," she said. "I never did ask you this, but… how did you know about the cave at Tidus' party?"

"Oh," he ran a hand through his unruly spikes. "I was born here. When I was a child, Roxas and I used to draw in that cave all the time."

"So it was you?" she asked, slightly surprised. "When Tidus, Selphie and I first found that place, we were wondering who already drew on the walls."

"Now you know," he winked. "I'm sure you find my mediocre drawings sexy."

"Very," she replied, giggling.

While the two continued to idly chitchat, Ms. Farren, with her back turned to them and her face to the board, smiled.

She was invited to his house that weekend to finish an English assignment. Their two-storey bungalow, much like Kairi had expected, had the Destiny Islands loft feel. It looked welcoming and homey. It was a nice change from the mansion she returned to every afternoon. Roxas, surprisingly, was the one who answered the door for her.

"Who enters my domain?" he asked darkly, rubbing helplessly at his sleepy eyes. His hair was a mess, he was still in his pajamas and he answered the door mid-yawn. Clearly he had just gotten out of bed.

"Oh, I'm sorry, Roxas," she apologized. His hands immediately left his face as he stood up straight like a true gentlemen. "Did I wake you?"

"Kairi!" he screamed. "I'm sorry, I didn't know it was you! Come in, come in. I should've waked up earlier. Sora told me you were coming. Sorry. Whoa. This is really awkward. Sorry I look like a mess." He began pacing in embarrassment, knocking straight into Kairi who dropped her bag on the floor. "Oops. I'm-"

"You don't have to be sorry," she chuckled, kneeling down to gather her things. She had never seen Roxas so embarrassed. She found it highly entertaining.

"Hey," he suddenly said, picking up her wallet that had fallen open. "This is a nice picture," he complimented, pointing at the picture in the largest slot. It was of Kairi and a blonde unidentifiable girl smiling on a beach. "Where was this?"

"Twilight Town," she answered, not minding that he had invaded some of her privacy. "They have beautiful beaches there. That's my cousin Namine beside me." She didn't bother telling him that she was agoraphobic. The chances of them ever meeting was slim to none.

"She's pretty," he mumbled, handing back the wallet. As Kairi leaned forward to accept it, she lost balance and ended up falling on top of him.

"Hey, Roxas, have you seen my English binder with-" he stopped midway down the stairs, taking in the scene before him. He cocked his head to the side, slightly furrowing his eyebrows. She caught his upper lip twitch.

"Hey, Sora," greeted Roxas casually, helping Kairi to her feet. "I'll leave you two be now." The younger Hikari bounded up the staircase as if absolutely nothing had happened. Sora, now lacking the usual bounce in his step and friendly demeanor, walked down the steps calmly and eerily quietly.

"Hello," he greeted in a hushed tone.

"Hello," she repeated awkwardly.

"Come sit." He continued to use his hushed voice as he led her to the living room to explain why his mother wasn't home. "She's out for some errands. She'll be back in around three hours." She didn't ask about his father. He had already told her the day prior that they didn't get along well. "Shall we get started?"

Getting right down to schoolwork. That was absolutely nothing like Sora.

"Is something wrong?" she asked, taking the seat next to him on the red couch. Their house was designed much like the set of Fifteen Minutes of Fame, only much bigger and better.

"No, of course not," he said through gritted teeth.

"All right," she sung, letting the subject drop. For two hours they worked diligently on their project until Roxas insisted that they take a break. He was kind enough to bring them some snacks and freshly squeezed orange juice in a neat, assorted tray.

"Thank you, Roxas," said Kairi as he poured her a cup. She accepted it with a gracious smile. He returned it.

Sora cleared his throat, feeling neglected. "Roxas, don't you have to do the assignment, too?"

He shrugged. "Axel said he'd be here an hour ago to work on it."

"Then why don't you get out of the house and go to his?" Sora suggested more curtly than intended. Roxas smirked at him. That's when the puzzle pieces came together for Kairi.

Could Sora possibly be… jealous?

Kairi dismissed the thought regardless of the fact that she found it kind of cute.

"Can I trust you to be home alone with a girl, Sora?" asked Roxas with a cheeky smile. Kairi's face turned the same shade as her hair.

"I'm practically fifteen," he pointed out.

"All the more reason I should be skeptical," Roxas countered.

"Do you really think I'm going to pull a move on the mayor's daughter?" asked Sora. It wasn't meant to be personal, but Kairi somewhat believed it was. She hid her discomfort far better than her partner did.

"I don't see why not," came a seductive voice from the doorway. Leaning against the doorframe was Axel, playing with his favourite lighter. He let himself in as if the house were his second home. "Come on, Roxas. Let's finish this stupid assignment thing at Demyx's house. We can jam with the band when we're done."

"I don't know, Axel," teased Roxas. "I don't trust my brother." Sora groaned and just begged the two to leave.

"Sora's a good boy. I think we can trust him to be alone with a girl," said the pyromaniac.

"Oh, I'm not so sure about that," came a feminine voice from behind Axel. He turned to come face to face with the twins' mother.

"Good afternoon, Mrs. Hikari," greeted Axel. For once, Kairi heard him sound polite. So he did have manners.

Kairi immediately stood from the couch, ready to greet the twins' mother. Her parents were strict about being polite, respectful, and friendly. Whenever her father had guests over from different worlds, he was hell bent on making sure that she personally greeted them and introduced herself.

When Axel stepped aside to let Mrs. Hikari through, Kairi was almost at a loss for words. She was beautiful, and the resemblance was almost scary. The twins had undoubtedly inherited her chocolate brown hair and laser blue eyes. She looked rather young to be the mother of fifteen-year-old twins, but then again, Kairi's foster mother was pretty young, too.

"You must be Kairi," she said, smoothing out her yellow sundress before offering her hand. "It's nice to finally meet you in person. You're as beautiful as Sora described."

"Mom," Sora whined.

Kairi took her hand with a nervous chuckle. "Nice to meet you too, Mrs. Hikari. You're as sweet as Sora described."

"Kairi!" whined Sora again.

"Sora told me you placed first in the girls' division in the tournament. Congratulations," said Mrs. Hikari.

"Mom, stop making it sound like I talk about her all the time," begged Sora.

"But you do-" Roxas was interrupted by a couch pillow to the face.

"Are you hungry?" the woman asked. "Dinner will be ready in about half an hour."

"Thank you for the offer, Mrs. Hikari, but I'm going to have to decline. I have to be home soon," informed Kairi. As if on cue, a familiar car horn honked from the edge of the premises.

"Well, it was lovely meeting you, Kairi," said Mrs. Hikari.

"Likewise," the redhead returned. She gave Roxas and Axel friendly high-fives, but when she came to Sora, she hesitated. She wasn't sure whether to give him a strictly platonic hug or a high five. She selected the latter to dismiss any signs of favoritism and left after thanking everyone and saying goodbye one last time.

When Mrs. Hikari shut the door behind her, she smiled at her oldest son.

"What?" he asked, dumbfounded.

"She'd make a lovely daughter-in-law," chuckled his mother.


"Augh," Selphie groaned the following week, rubbing at the sides of her head. "Can you just admit it already?"

After waving goodbye to Sora with a giggle, Kairi put down her tray of food and took the seat adjacent from her best friend. Tidus occupied the one across from them a second later with Wakka to his right.

"Admit what?" Kairi asked, innocently taking a bite out of her sandwich.

"Admit that you want to bang him," joked Tidus. Kairi rolled her eyes but returned to smiling like an idiot a moment later.

"Oh man. There it is. The smile," observed Selphie. "You've been wearing that smile on your face ever since he transferred into your class. Not that I'm glad to see you happy all the time, but I can't help but wonder… what do you learn in class? Each other?"

"Why does everything have to be about sex with you guys?" chuckled Kairi. "Can't you just accept what is? That life is good?"

"I'll accept what is if you do," came Selphie's ultimatum. "You're a happy girl, Kairi. That, I understand. But lately…"

"You've been happier, yeah?" finished Wakka. Kairi shook her head. The idea of her liking him was preposterous. They were only classmates. Maybe even friends. Summer school would be over in a week, and the instant it was over, it was likely that they wouldn't be seeing much of each other anymore. He told her that he came from Eden. If he was a transfer, he'd be gone within the next month or so. The thought secretly made her weak.

"Dude, just do it."

"I can't."

"You can."

"I can't."

"It's so simple."

"It's difficult."

Roxas sighed in exasperation and picked up the phone. "You can ride a bike without holding onto the handlebars, sing One Direction songs in public without a care in the world, do three tumbles in the air before landing perfectly into a pool from a diving board and ride on almost every roller coaster that can send anyone into cardiac arrest but you can't call a girl and ask her to hang out?"

"What if she's busy?" Sora pointed out.

"Summer school is over. What could she possibly be busy with?"

"She's the mayor's daughter, you know. She could be doing some official business or whatever. Or what if she doesn't want to hang out with me? What if there's some guy I don't know about? What if she's actually engaged-"?

"It's these what if's that keep people from taking risks. Regardless of how big or small, there's still a chance that things will go your way, you know. Just do it," said Roxas. He waved the phone before his brother, taunting him. "You're a phone call away, man. Just dial the number."

Two weeks later, the biggest regret of his life was not taking the phone from Roxas that day.

He thinks he might have a crush on her when Tidus invites them all to his house for his birthday. He's relieved to finally see her again after what seemed like year when, in reality, it had only been two painfully agonizing weeks.

When he entered the house, Sora soon came to realize that Tidus' basement was the epitome of awesomeness complete with a soda bar, 100-inch HD plasma screen, surround sound speakers, a pinball machine, a foosball table, an air hockey table, countless game systems and shelves and shelves of video games. Outside was the pool, slide, and hot tub.

"Dude. No fucking way." Sora took three steps forward and fell to his knees. Before him was a display of an Iron Man suit behind a thick sheet of glass.

"It gets even better," said Tidus. Excitedly, the blond clicked a button on the side. The suit lit up and came to life.

"Tidus my man, your parents must be freaking hit men," said Sora, still on his knees in disbelief.

"SUPER SMASH BROS!" yelled someone from the gaming center. Sora was on the couch within seconds.

"Gentlemen, step aside. Let a real player through," demanded a familiar voice. Sora almost fell off the armrest when he realized that it was Kairi. Majority of the boys offered her their controllers and somewhat bowed in respect.

"Ms. Kairi, I am not worthy of this controller in your presence," joked one of the boys, handing her his controller.

"Kairi?" Sora squeaked, pulling on his collar. "You play video games?" She nodded as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. Sora just about died.

The crush was officially on.

She was sporty, spontaneous, talented, and deadly smart.

And now, she was a gamer.

Someone should pinch him. It wasn't legal to be that turned on. He thought he was in love.

"You must be an alien," he concluded when she had won over ten games in half an hour. Currently the two were taking a leisurely stroll by the pool with only the pool lights and the moon as their source of light. He couldn't help but notice how beautiful she looked at night.

"That's flattering," she said sarcastically with a smile. After finishing another lap around the pool, Sora suggested that they go for a quick swim.

"What, now?" Kairi asked incredulously.

"Why not?" he asked, removing his shirt in the process. Kairi looked in the opposite direction to prevent herself from doing something irrational. When she heard a splash, she found Sora afloat on the deep end. She tried not to focus on how adorable he looked with his hair down. "Come on, Kairi. You do owe me a race, after all."

After many attempts of convincing her to get in the water, Sora ended up losing the argument.

"Fine, fine, you win," he admitted, arms raised in surrender. "At least help me up, will you?" She walked toward the edge of the pool and offered her hand to help him up. She realized it was a mistake the instant his hand grabbed hers. "Smart move, Iri."

"No, Sora, no!" she begged. But it was futile. She was soaking wet within two seconds time. The instant her head surfaced, she wasn't whining about her clothes like Sora expected. Instead, she only smirked at him.

"What?" he asked, sounding somewhat scared.

"Race you to the end!" she suddenly screamed. With that, she had a good five-second head start.

"Hey! That's not fair!" he yelled, swimming after her.

"You're pretty fast," concluded Kairi was they sat on the edge of the pool, panting. He tried not to think of how hot she looked when her hair was wet or how tight her clothes had become on her. "No one's got up to my shoulder after a head start before."

"But you're wearing clothes," he pointed out. "It's much harder to swim in those- especially denim. You must be a water bender or something, I swear."

"S-something like that," she agreed, vigorously rubbing at her arms.

"Are you cold?" he asked, catching on to her body language.

"I'm f-fine," she stammered.

"I'm sorry, what was that?" he asked, a teasing smirk on his face. "You're f-fine?" She frowned at his mockery. "Come on. I'll get you a towel."

"No!" she declined a little too quickly for her tastes. "It's… you…" It was then that she noticed his body glistening wet in the moonlight. He wasn't as skinny as she originally expected. His arms were starting to gain some muscle and his abs were lightly toned. She blushed and found interest in her knees. She lost her train of thought. Curse her teenage hormones.

"I'm sexy and I know it!" suddenly sang an off-tune tenor voice from behind them. It was Axel, making very inappropriate pelvic thrusts in their direction. In shock, the two fell into the pool.

Sora, completely aware of his surroundings, opened his eyes and lost his breath. Kairi's skin glowed underwater, and he wasn't just saying that because of the pool lights. Her hair, much like his, was sprawled in every direction, stealing his breath even more. It wasn't until she opened her purple blue eyes that she stole something more than his breath. They stayed that way for a while, suspended in the water, gazing into each other's eyes until the sound of laughter from above caught their attention. On the surface, teens at the doorway leading to the basement doubled over in laughter.

"That was perfect," Tidus guffawed, holding what seemed to be a cup of Quash in hand. "Best dare ever!"

"Thank you, thank you," Axel bowed. Sora pulled on the pyromaniac's leg, sending him into a watery nightmare. More laughter.

"Axel!" Roxas cried, jumping in for the save.

"Come on," said Sora, taking Kairi by the wrist and helping up her shivering figure. "Let's get you warmed up."

Five minutes later, when they were alone in the backyard, Sora turned on the circular campfire by the lounge in the upper deck. He was afraid that if he asked her to get in the hot tub, she'd get the wrong idea of his intentions.

"Better?" he asked, covering her with a towel. He then took the seat beside her on the bench.

"Much, thank you," she said, smiling. Already colour was starting to return to her face. She used the fire as an excuse for her blush when, in truth, it was because she appreciated Sora's concern for her.

They spent a few minutes in a comfortable silence, looking up at the stars until Kairi had an idea. "Sora, stand up for a second." Confused, he obeyed. She did the same. She lifted a lid on the bench and cheered when she pulled out an acoustic guitar.

"Would you like to go first or shall I?" she asked.

"You, definitely," he answered immediately.

"Any requests?" Then with a teasing smile, she asked, "I don't suppose you know One Direction, do you?"

"Oh my gosh," he started, flicking his wrist. "Liam is so hot and Harry has like the best voice ever!" Then purposely off-tune, he began screaming, "BABY YOU LIGHT UP MY WORLD LIKE NOBODY ELSE-" She busted out laughing before he finished. It wasn't until their laughter died down and that Kairi began strumming soft chords that he said something that surprised them both.

"Kairi, can I be completely honest with you?" he asked.

"Haven't you always been?"

"Well," he started, rubbing the back of his head nervously. What if she gets weirded out? What if she never speaks to me after this? What if-

He suddenly remembered Roxas.

"It's these what if's that keep people from taking risks. Regardless of how big or small, there's still a chance that things will go your way, you know. Just do it."

He took a deep breath. Whether she took romantically or platonically, it didn't matter to him. He just wanted her to know. She deserved to.

"I've missed you," he whispered.

She was still at first. It frightened him. But when she smiled, his erratic heartbeat began to calm.

"I've missed you, too," she said. "But-"

Not the but, thought Sora fearfully.

"Why?" she asked in a barely audible whisper.

"Oh," was all he could muster. He gulped. He was in no way prepared for this one word question. "Well, um, that is, you see…" Out with it, he demanded himself. "That month and a half I spent with you in summer school was… we had a blast." He scolded himself at his horrible fragmented English. It was as if he learned nothing over the course of the summer. "Only someone like you can make school fun, Kairi. I just… missed what was. I was kind of upset when we lost contact with each other for two weeks, but now that you're here, well, I figured that I should tell you this before I miss you again."

She leaned closer as if telling him a secret. For once, he hated guitars. It was acting as a barrier between them.

"Well," she whispered, "as of now, you won't have to miss me anymore." And when she began to sing softly along with her light strums, he was a goner.

Sora doesn't hesitate to ask her to hang out the following day. He didn't want to seem too eager, but he couldn't help it. After he saw those unique purple blue eyes glow in the cave, he couldn't help it.

So when he arrives at her house (mansion was more like it) and is ordered to wait by the gate by one of the intimidating guards, he's surprised to see her walking towards him hand-in-hand with a girl toddler and preteen boy to her far left. He isn't too disappointed, though. As long as she was there, he was happy.

"Please don't tell me those are your kids," he joked when the trio arrived at the gate. "It might make things slightly awkward between us."

She rolled her eyes. "Yes Sora. I've given birth to two five year olds. I reproduced when I was nine years old."

He chuckled and leveled himself with Marlene. She looked at him with big, doe-like eyes. "And who might these people be?"

"These are my cousins Denzel and Marlene. Say hi, you two," she ordered softly. Marlene was the first to greet him with her high-pitched voice. When he tousled her hair playfully in return, it was obvious that she was fond of him already.

"Denzel," she said slowly, "say hi to Sora."

"Hi," the brunet boy said distantly, putting his hands in his pocket in a dramatic fashion.

"Don't take it personally," assured Kairi, "He's like that with everyone. He's going through that 'I'm too cool for this' preteen stage."

"Kairi, are you and Sora like mommy and daddy?" suddenly asked Marlene. The two jumped at the question.

"No," answered Kairi. "Sora's my friend, like Tidus. You remember Tidus right?"

"Tidy-Widy?" asked Marlene with a giggle. Kairi nodded.

"Ooh, friend zoned," came a whisper only Sora could hear. He turned toward the only source of the sound: the guard by the gate. It didn't take him long to realize that it was Axel in disguise. Roxas gave him thumbs up from a nearby bush.

"Are you mental?" Sora whispered back. The 'guard' merely winked.

"You don't mind, do you?" suddenly asked Kairi. "My parents are having business talks with their parents and the kids wanted to get out. I figured you'd be good with kids since you're one yourself."

"Ha ha," he dragged sarcastically. "And no, I don't mind. Where do you think we should take them?"

"The play island, maybe?" she suggested. "They've been dying to visit it. I've told them about it a couple of times."

Sora couldn't contain the grin forming on his face. He hadn't been on the island since they first met. He felt as if she were willing to share her childhood with him this time by personally inviting him herself. "That… sounds great. Let's go."

The island still proved to be an excitable place after all the years that went by. The abandoned ship, primarily, was their main source of entertainment. While Kairi talked Marlene into walking the plank (which was Destatiian slang for jumping off the diving board), Sora kept the ever-quiet Denzel company on the deck.

"I don't trust you," said Denzel bluntly.

"What?" asked Sora, perplexed that an eleven-year-old boy would say such a thing out in the open.

"I'm not trying to be rude. I'm just being honest," he said.

"Well thank you for your honesty," thanked Sora optimistically. "And I understand why you don't trust me. This is our first meeting, after all."

"No. You like my cousin," he stated brusquely.

Sora stiffened. He specifically made sure to make his moves seem strictly platonic today. Either this kid was observant beyond belief or he was just a bad actor. "Not in the way you're thinking."

"Yes, you do," the preteen insisted, "And I don't trust you. You seem very… playful and optimistic."

Sora looked at him unsurely. "And that's a bad thing?"

"You seem like you're just playing with her feelings," he explained. "You don't look like you're going to take things seriously. You're going to hurt her."

"I'm not going to hurt her," defended Sora. He didn't care if he was being painfully obvious. This kid needed to know that his intentions were pure. "I wouldn't dream of it."

"Whatever," Denzel muttered, shoving his hands in his pockets. "I still don't trust you."

"Land ho!" called someone from the pier.

"Tidy-Widy!" sang Marlene from the plank. Kairi helped her back onto the deck and led everyone down to the pier.

"Hey squirt!" The shaggy blonde pulled Marlene up to his shoulders and acknowledged Denzel and Sora with a nod. "I heard the tikes came over and I couldn't resist seeing them again. Mind if Selphie and I take over for a bit?"

Kairi looked behind Tidus and found his brunette companion waving at them whilst standing on the canoe. Kairi didn't need to see her facial expression up close to see that she set this whole thing up. She knew Sora would be with her. She knew she'd take the kids to the island. She was good.

"Um…" Kairi looked toward Marlene who was currently giggling while pulling on Tidus' hair. Denzel simply looked like he didn't give a damn. Sora, on the other hand… "Sure, why not?"

Her brunet companion's ocean blue eyes lit up. She pretended not to notice.

"All right. I'll promise to have them home by five," informed Tidus, dragging the two children back on the canoe.

"Remember, no sex is safe sex!" yelled Selphie. Tidus immediately covered the children's' ears.

"You are going to be a horrible mother," the blond muttered when he began untying the ropes that kept the boat connected to the pier. When they were out of earshot, Sora sighed and sat on the edge of the pier.

"Tired?" asked Kairi, taking the seat next to him. When she looked at the horizon, she predicted that the sun was only an hour away from setting.

"Kind of," he lied. What Denzel said was really getting to him. Did it really appear that way? Did he seem like he was only toying with her? It certainly didn't feel that way.

"Did Denzel give you a tough time?" she asked, leaning backward with her palms behind her. He briefly wondered if she was a mind reader. "Because I told you, he's like that with everyone."

"Um, not really, just… he gave me something to think about," he answered, mimicking her position. Their shoulders brushed for a brief second, causing a chill to run up Kairi's spine.

"An eleven-year-old got to you?" She covered the chill with a chuckle. "What could he possibly have said?"

"He said something along the lines of me not taking things very seriously." Came the half-truth. "Is that true? Am I too childish? Do I not take anything seriously?"

"Sora," she started softly, "being childish isn't a bad thing. Some people need that in their lives to rid themselves of the hardships in their life. I know I do." She blushed, knowing she had just said "I need you in my life" in a not-so-obvious way.

"But what if it's too much? If I don't take anything seriously, how can anyone expect me to take anything seriously?" She reassuringly placed a hand on his shoulder, causing his heart to jump.

"Sora, you are serious. I've seen it. When we were working on that project, during the exam. You're serious when you need to be, don't worry. Besides," she removed her hand and tucked some hair behind her left ear. "You're fine just the way you are. Stay Sora. Don't… don't change. Don't ever change, Sora."

She could feel his eyes on her as she watched the sun's reflection off of the water. He looked as if he were waiting for him to look at her, so she did.

And she did not regret doing so.

They were close, so close that, if either of them did so much as moved an inch, their foreheads would be touching. She looked at him, really looked at him while he took in her scent. He had grown to memorize that scent that associated itself with Kairi. It was heavenly. It was a cherubic blend of roses, almond oil and the ocean breeze.

He wanted to kiss her so badly right then and there. But he couldn't. Not yet. That would have been selfish. He couldn't satisfy his wants without satisfying hers first.

Suddenly she cleared her throat, ruining their little moment.

"W-we should go. It's going to get dark soon. We don't want to have a difficult trip home, now do we?" Sora noticed her voice shake for the first time.

As she got up and dusted off her shorts, he nodded slowly, taking in that their moment was over. "Yeah. Sure. Let's go."

She's in the middle of laughing on Skype when she thinks the idea of liking him isn't so preposterous anymore. She was fourteen. The idea of a crush wasn't exactly farfetched.

Besides, Sora was a good guy. He made her happy in a way no one else could. He was polite and charming. Sociable. Adorable. They shared common interests. And in the span of two months, they practically had each other memorized. He walked comfortably with his hands in his pockets. She walked elegantly with light footsteps. After tying his shoelaces around his ankle, he'd double tie them. She kept it single tied. If the stoplight on an intersection were already blinking when they arrived, he'd run it. She preferred to wait. He loved icing on cupcakes. She hated it. Whenever she got excited, she'd ball her fists and jump slightly. The left corner of his lip would curl higher than his right. She knew him. He knew her. But yet, it wasn't enough. She wanted to know more.

And that almost kiss on the pier sealed the deal. She hadn't realized how much she'd wanted him to do it until he just didn't.

"Kairi? Is something wrong?" asked Sora via webcam. She shook her head, but he knew her. Then she heard intense, muffled yelling coming from his living room. She suspected that it was his parents. She asked him if everything was all right. He nodded, but she knew him.

"Tidus, can I ask you something?" asked a breathless Sora. He let his knees fall to the paved court as he let out an agonizing cry of exhaustion.

"Sure bro," replied Tidus, dribbling the ball twice before taking a shot at the net. It hit the board at an angle and swished right in. "Is this about Kairi?"

The brunet didn't hesitate. They'd discussed this bro-to-bro before. "Yes, it is."

"Then let's have a seat, shall we?" Tidus offered. He led them to a bench just on the outskirts of the basketball court. The sweaty blond opened the cooler on the sidelines and retrieved two for Sora and himself. The two immediately placed it on their faces and sighed in relief.

"So what's up?" asked Tidus, mouth half-pressed against the frozen bottle.

"You don't… you don't think I'm just playing with her, do you?" asked Sora worriedly.

Tidus raised a brow in suspicion. "Are you?"

"So you think so too, huh?" The brunet sighed in dismay. "I was afraid you'd say that."

"What brought this up?" Tidus asked mid-gulp.

"Denzel," the fellow athlete answered.

"And you listened to him?" The blond asked while chuckling incredulously. Then suddenly, his laughs died down and his face was stoic. He was void of all emotion and still as a statue. All that was heard was the chirping of birds and the yelling of people at the tennis court nearby. "Sora, there's something I need to tell you."

"Sure, man. What's up?" asked a genuinely concerned Sora. Tidus wasn't normally this serious and unmoving. It frightened him.

"Don't freak out."

"I won't. I pro-"

"I like Kairi."

Sora's heart stopped. All at once, his promise became an empty one. "What?"

"I like Kairi," Tidus confessed, blushing a bright shade of red. "Like… I like her. I know I should've told you earlier, but you posed no threat to me then. Now, I just… I don't know. It was getting unbearable."

"You like like Kairi?" Sora asked, jaw agape. He should've seen it coming. They were, after all, childhood friends. Short lived or long term, it was bound to happen at some time. "That's… that's great."

Tidus raised both his eyebrows. "Really?"

"Really, you…" Sora cleared his throat to prevent his voice from shaking. "It's great."

"You're not going to put up a fight?"

Sora shrugged. "In all honesty, if it were any other guy, I would. But it's you, Tidus. You're my friend, and you make her happy. That's all I ever wanted for her. For you. Why would I put up a fight with that?"

Suddenly, Tidus began laughing. He clapped his friend on the shoulder and began wiping tears from his eyes. Sora's entire body went limp. What just happened?

"Either you are a horrible observer, or I'm an amazing actor. I'll select the latter because it makes me feel better," said Tidus in between wheezes. "Oh, Sora. Sora, Sora, Sora. Oh, how I love your gullible ways. You passed, you beautiful man you, you passed."

"Passed?" the brunet squeaked.

"Sora, I've been a friend to Kairi for far too long to see her that way. She's more like a little sister to me that I look out for. And as her-" he made air quotes, "-'older brother', I felt as if it was my duty to test your feelings for her. I've known her for twelve years, Sora, and the last thing I want is to have her hurt by some guy. I know you're a great guy and all, but I just needed to test you, and you certainly passed. If Kairi's happiness is of utmost importance to you, then good for you, man. Good for you. Now I know you want only what's best for her. Good job, brah."

"You snaked me," was all he could say.

Tidus winked. "Like Malcolm and Macduff."

Sora looked as if he had just sucked on a sour lemon. "Ew. English. Get away from me."

"If it makes you feel better, I was telling the half-truth. I did like Kairi, but that ship has long sailed."

"Is this the part where you tell me that you lied again and that you've actually been in love with her the whole time and that I'm the other guy that all the fangirls hate because I'm getting in the way of their OTP?" asked Sora fearfully.

Tidus laughed some more. "No. She's all yours. You should ask her out."

Sora gasped. "Are you crazy? She's the mayor's daughter! There could be a sniper aimed at my heart right now."

"You shouldn't let status separate you from what you want. Besides, this may just be a hunch, but I think she likes you, too."

"What makes you so sure?"

"You didn't hint the sarcasm there, did you?" asked Tidus. "When I said hunch, I meant that I'm sure as I'll ever be that she likes you."

"But what makes you so confident?" asked the brunet once more. "She recently wished me a happy birthday. Ooh, wailing siren? I don't think so."

"Kairi's a girl, Sora," Tidus pointed out. "You know how they like their subliminal messaging or whatever. She may have wrote happy birthday on your wall, but we both know that she was sitting in front of her computer for like five minutes thinking of what to say."

"I don't believe you."

"Fine, if you're so hell bent on the fact that she doesn't like you, let's make this a little more interesting with a game then, shall we?" Tidus offered while spinning the basketball on his index finger.

Sora smirked. He loved a good competition. "Do go on."

"How confident are you in your basketball skills, Sora?"


"Then let's play a game of HORSE. If I win, I am completely confident in knowing that Kairi likes you. If I lose, then, well, I lose. Either way I still think you should ask her out."

"Really? That's what you're basing your confidence on? A whim that you can beat me in basketball? That doesn't seem right. You'll lose. Five shots in a row are too easy."

"Then let's change the word. How does HIPPO-POTO-MONSTROS-QUIPED-ALIO-PHOBIA sound?" Sora twitched. "The fear of long words," Tidus informed with a grin.

"The irony in that is outstanding," chuckled Sora. "But you're on."

It was needless to say that Tidus won.

"You're a good friend, Tidus," Selphie told him that evening. She picked on her sundae at their usual meeting spot: The Inside Scoop, an unusually large ice cream parlor down the boardwalk of East Beach. "So Sora has absolutely no idea that you like her?"

"I told him I didn't anymore," the blond answered, hands buried in his hair.

"When did this crush even start?"

"I don't know," he grumbled helplessly. "You know how we started training for swimming a week ago? We were just at the pool last week and, I don't know… I just saw her differently."

"I see," said Selphie, slowly mixing the chocolate syrup into her vanilla ice cream.

"I want what he wants. Kairi happy. Is that… is that so bad?"

Selphie reached over from their booth and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Tidus, I'm sure what you're going through is just a phase. You're like Kairi's older brother. You've always wanted her to be happy. I think you're just confusing yourself because she's growing up. It has, after all, been only a week."

"Maybe you're right," he considered. "I'll eventually get over it. Thanks, Selphie."

"I'm always right," she said haughtily, getting up from her seat. "Be right back. Gotta pee." As his companion left her, Tidus fed himself the last spoonful of his treat and got up to pay the bill on the far right of the parlor. As he waited for the machine to accept his debit card, he looked toward the small stage in the center of the parlor. It was Friday, The Inside Scoop's Open Mic Night, where singers from all over the island could showcase their talent in a friendly competition.

"Are you going to sing tonight?" asked a girl behind the counter. She was different from the one who told him to swipe his card. She had short brown hair that stylishly stuck up at the ends and a long braid that ran down her back. Strangely enough, she had heterochromatic eyes, adding more to her mysterious look that Tidus couldn't quite place. He'd never seen her around before. She didn't look like she was from Destiny Islands. She must have been new.

"Um, no," he said, finally answering her question. "I'm not a singer." He'd never participate himself; he wouldn't dare, but he had a thing for girls who could sing. "Are you?"

"I am," she nodded, flashing him a bright smile while extending her hand towards him. "My name's Yuna."

He shook her hand and reciprocated the smile. "Tidus."

Kairi's beloved grandmother passes away the following week. Sora isn't formally invited to see her during the ceremony, so when Tidus tells him that he can see her within two days time, he jumps at the chance to invite her to the park near the school. She is eerily quiet and still on the swing when he arrives. They're alone. He doesn't back out, though. All his life, women had raised him. He knew how to confront them when they were upset.

"Hey," he says softly, taking the swing next to her. He doesn't bother asking her if she's okay. He knows she isn't. It's painful to accept. "You can talk to me, you know. Let it out."

She bites her lip and shakes her head. He notices her grip the chains of the swing tighter.

"Kairi," he makes her name a plea.

"I'm fine," she insists, though the tears brimming in her eyes begged to differ. He allows them to sit in silence for a while until he hears a sob-like sound escape her throat. He's in front of her within seconds.

"She loved to tell me stories. I loved her stories," she hiccupped. The tears finally came when she looked up at him. "Can I tell you a story?"

And for the first time, she's in his arms, and if she weren't soaking his shirt wet with her tears, he'd think that life couldn't get any better than that.

She gets better every day. Slowly her friends convince her that her grandmother would've wanted her to be happy. That she'd want her to live life to the fullest, not moping. So when Selphie insists that they go to the 100th anniversary of Destiny Islands festival with Sora and Tidus a week and a half later, the redhead doesn't decline.

"Kairi!" cheered Sora when they arrived. He looked overjoyed to see her. "You look really pretty."

"Thank you. You look quite handsome yourself," she said, admiring his navy blue polo and beige chinos.

"Well," Tidus stretched his arms and started backing away from the group. "I'm just gonna… go check out that booth over there." He gave Selphie a firm nod.

"Oh!" squealed the atrociously obvious brunette. "I'm… going to follow him. Bye now!" When Selphie and Tidus left the two abandoned on the boardwalk, Kairi resisted urge to rip their heads off. She really hoped Sora wasn't disappointed.

"Sora, I'm sorry. You can leave if you want," she mumbled.

"Now wait just a minute," he said. "Why would I want to do that?"

"So you'll stay? Even if it's only me?" she asked hopefully.

"Well I didn't come here to blow off the person I came to see," he grinned. "So where do you want to go first?"

She took a quick glance around her surroundings. Every Destiny Islands anniversary was built to be unforgettable. The air smelt of funnel cakes, paopu fruits, and salt water. Countless attractions were built on the beach every year, but one caught Kairi's eye in particular.

"That one," she said, pointing at a nearby tent.

Sora gulped. "That one? Kairi, I don't think I've ever told you this, but I have an irrational fear of mirror mazes."

"Why? Because all the mirrors break when you walk in?" she teased. He gasped, feigning offense. She giggled and boldly took his wrist. "The only way to get over a fear is to face it head on. Now come on."

He whimpered when they walked inside.

"Miss," said the woman in charge of the line-up, "is your boyfriend all right?"

Sora's heart skipped a beat when Kairi didn't bother correcting the woman. For a second there, someone actually thought they were dating. He secretly wished they were.

"He'll be fine," she assured, patting his arm. When it was their turn, Kairi forcefully dragged him inside.

"Tell me when it's over," he pleaded, closing his eyes.

"Hey! Eyes open!" she demanded. He opened them when he felt her hand intertwine with his. "Better?" she asked.

"Much," he admitted. He crushed her hand the whole way through.

"Sora," she whispered softly when it was over. "We're done. It's okay now. You got through it."

He inhaled sharply and nodded. "Only because you helped me." She's in his arms for the second time of their lives. "Thank you."

At one of the booths on the far end of the beach, Kairi held up a star shaped fruit. "Do you know what this is?" she asked Sora.

"I briefly remember seeing something like that when I was a kid," he replied, eyes skittish. "What's so special about it? It just looks like a fruit."

"It's called a paopu fruit."

"A poopoo fruit? That's horrible."

Kairi stifled her laugher. "Paopu fruit. Destatiian people believe that when two people share a paopu fruit, their destinies become intertwined."

Sora crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow at her. "Are you implying something?"

She blushed madly, returning the fruit. "Th-that was strictly for informatory purposes!"

"Are you sure? You weren't very convincing, waving the fruit in front of my face like that," he teased.

"Sora," she groaned. It was so darn adorable in his eyes. Her gave her hair a good shake. Suddenly, her head shot up. "What? What's wrong?"

"I love this song!" she suddenly screamed, dragging him towards the dance floor in the center.

"What is this? I've never heard this before," said Sora, observing the many people dancing in partners around him. They moved in sync with moves he had never seen before. Before he knew it, Kairi intertwined both their hands and brought them up to level with their faces.

"It's traditional," she informed, bringing their chests together in one swift movement. He tried not to react inappropriately. "Okay, when I take one step forward, you take one back." He obeyed. "Good, now when I glide left, you glide left. Cross one foot over the other." He obeyed again. "Do the same when going right, but cross over with your other foot."

"I think I'm getting the hang of this," he said proudly, looking down at their feet.

"Now spin," she instructed. He spun her like he'd seen princes do in Disney movies. "Good!" she praised with her back to his chest and their hands still intertwined below. "Now when I walk forward, so do you." He followed. "Do the same going back."

"Then I'm guessing I spin you again?" he asked.

"That's right," she said, now spinning to face him. "Now repeat."

"This isn't so hard," he said, taking a step back when she stepped forward.

"I'm glad you think so, because it gets faster," she chuckled.

"Wha-" But before he could say anything else, the music suddenly had a drastic change in tempo. "Hey, what, Kairi-"

"Glide right, glide right!" she commanded through giggles. He nearly tripped over his own feet trying to keep up with her. For the remainder of the song he merely spun her around and around, not knowing which steps to return to once she was done. Kairi didn't seem to mind, though. She was content with spinning. Her laughing and humming alone was music to his ears.

It was then Sora noticed that Kairi loved Destiny Islands. She embraced her culture, her home. She appreciated its vast oceans, sports, legends, traditions, and scenery. And on that night, that one night, she taught it to him all. She welcomed him to her home. He, regardless of his parent's arguing back home, finally felt at home and welcome, because home wasn't that two-storey bungalow twenty minutes away from the beach.

Home was the girl who was laughing in his arms.

So when they decided that enough was enough for one night, they crashed on the shore far from the night's festivities, side by side, looking up at the firework filled sky. And when they looked each other in the eye at the exact same time, Sora didn't think he was in love with her anymore. He knew.

Selphie insisted that she and Kairi go to the beach with Sora and Tidus the following day.

The problem: Selphie also insisted that she wear a cute –albeit revealing- swimsuit in one of the boardwalk shops.

"I am not wearing this," whined Kairi from the other side of the change room.

"Can I at least see you in it?" asked Selphie, picking at her French-manicured nails.

"Are Sora and Tidus in the store?" the redhead asked, fearful that the boys would see her in so little clothing.

"No, you freak. They're getting drinks," replied Selphie, now impatiently banging on the door. "Now come out and flaunt your sexiness!" With a groan, Kairi opened the change room door and shyly walked out.

"Oh my gosh," squealed Selphie, "you're totally wearing that." As if to emphasize her thoughts, Seifer banged on the store window and wolf-whistled with his male cronies. Kairi turned beet red.

"No way. It's… it's…"

"It's hot," finished Selphie, admiring her choice in swimsuits. "There's no way Sora can resist you after seeing you in that."

"That's just wrong, Selphie. He doesn't strike me as that kind of person."

"We're not trying to make him do it with you. We're just trying to get his attention. We're simply provoking him to make a move and ask you out," the brunette explained. "Besides, you live on Destiny Islands, Kairi; the land where girls wear bikinis on a daily basis. I think it's time you grow up and become an average citizen. I don't even know why you're being modest. It's not like you're unattractive."

To prove her point, Tidus spit out his water by the door and excused himself.

Selphie raised her eyebrows as if saying See?

Kairi bit her lip and looked in the mirror. "Well, it is kind of… cute…"

Before she knew it, Selphie clammed the cash onto the counter and dragged her best friend outside.

"Hello boys!" Selphie sung as they met up on the boardwalk. "Lovely day isn't it?"

"Yeah," agreed Tidus, obviously trying not to gawk at his childhood friend. "L-lovely."

"What about you, Sora? How are you today?" she asked cheekily.

"It's, er…" he pulled on the collar of his shirt, looking at anything but Kairi. He always thought she was always a one-piece swimsuit kind of girl. He'd never seen her wear anything else other than a one piece before.

Until now, that is.

"It's kind of hot," he answered honestly. He wasn't referring to the weather.

Selphie then sent her best friend victorious smirk. "We should go for a swim, then."

After a quick, awkward swim, the remainder of the afternoon was spent watching Tidus and Sora face off with a couple of friends at beach volleyball.

"Selphie, can I change back now?" asked a self-conscious Kairi from afar. She tried to cover up her upper body when another teen wolf-whistled in her direction.

"Are you crazy? He just said you looked hot," reminded her best friend. "We gotta keep his mind going if you want him to ask you out."

"But I want to play," she whined.

"Then play," smirked Selphie.

"Do you see how thin the string is on this thing?" complained Kairi, gesturing to the string on her swimsuit. "What if I decide to spike the ball and my top just falls to the floor?"

"All the more it's gonna turn him on," she winked.

"You are disturbed. I highly doubt he's like that, Selphie. Just let me cha-" A girl wearing a swimsuit far worse than Kairi's suddenly walked up to Sora and leaned toward him while twirling her hair. She boldly placed a hand on his developing bicep and blinked her false lashes in attempts to turn him on. Kairi narrowed her eyes. He gave her no signs of rejection. In fact, he seemed to enjoy making conversation with her. There was no discomfort in that smile of his.

"I think I'm going to go for another swim," muttered Kairi.

"I'm such a fool," grumbled a hopeless, irritated Kairi the following day. She sat on the edge of the outdoor training pool, rocking her legs back and forth in the water. She rested her elbows on her knees and rested her face in her palms. "All this time, he's just been playing with me. I'm just some girl he met over the summer who he played with, nothing more."

Tidus chuckled from behind her while trying to towel dry his golden locks. It turned out Selphie was right. His crush on her two weeks prior was just a phase. "Kairi, I'm a dude, so trust me when I say that he is not playing with you."

"But he's leaving in like. Two weeks. I'm wasting my time. How could I have been so stupid?"

"You're not stupid," said Tidus, "Just a little impatient." Before Kairi could defend himself, Selphie walked through the gate with a picnic basket in hand.

"I bring fruit from the vines of wrath," she announced dramatically. "And by vines of wrath I mean my fridge and by fruit I mean sandwiches."

"Oh, Selphie! Thank goodness! You just saved me from girl talk," said Tidus, relieved. "And good job with those sandwiches. I'm glad you know your place in the world.

"You are a sexist little pig." She moved the basket away from him when he tried reaching for its contents. "No sandwich for you." As the two bickered like children, Kairi couldn't help but chuckle. Selphie's crush on Tidus was so obvious to everyone but Tidus himself.

When Tidus finally managed to get his hands on a sandwich, he munched on it while leaving for the change rooms.

"Is he seriously going to eat a sandwich in the shower?" asked Kairi.

"Boys are weird," Selphie concluded. "And speaking of boys…" She wiggled her eyebrows at Kairi suggestively. "How's the Sora situation going?"

The redhead groaned. "Not well. I'm wasting my time."

"You're not wasting your time. He likes you, Kairi. And I'm not just saying that to make you feel better. I'm being completely honest. You know me. I'm straight up."

"If he liked me, he would have done something by now." Kairi sighed in dismay. "I think we should just accept that maybe, just maybe, he's not the least bit interested in seeing me like that."

Selphie almost laughed. "Kairi, Sora is an idiot if he's flirting that heavily and not into you."

"But maybe he just doesn't like me, Selphie. Remember yesterday? Provoking him didn't help in the least bit. He hasn't made any moves or anything. And that day you were babysitting Marlene and Denzel with Tidus, I thought he was going to kiss me on the pier. But guess what? He didn't. He just didn't. He didn't want to."

"Sora is a boy, Kairi. Some boys are shy. Sora, in particular, is extremely shy. He may not be shy toward anything else, but when it comes to this, he's a turtle hiding in his cute little shell. Just trust me. He's into you."

"And what if he is?" challenged Kairi. "What if he asks me out? Then what? He's got two weeks left here - two weeks and its bye bye Destiny Islands and hello Eden. It's no use anymore. Maybe… maybe we should just stop. We'll just stay friends. We'll be okay. We can live off of Skype."

"Who cares if your relationship short lived? It could be intense and passionate all the same. If you're meant to be, you're meant to be. Take a chance," Selphie pointed out. "And no, I won't allow you two to be 'just friends' when it's clear that you like each other. Just keep liking him, Kairi. I'm sure it'll all be worth it. Things will work out. Just wait."

In standard time, she didn't have to wait long. In Kairi time, it had been years. For the past week Sora had been acting strange around her as well, which led her to the conclusion that Selphie and Tidus were right. He did like her. But he didn't act unlike himself, no, he was still comfortable around her, but sometimes she'd catch him staring at her or staring off into space, deep in thought. She admitted she was getting a little impatient, but she figured she had every right to be. He had one week left. One week to let her know that the past few months meant something to him, too.

On his last Saturday, Kairi received a text. She sprawled herself across her bed to reach her phone on the nightstand.

Text received from Sora:
Can we go for a walk? I need to talk to you.

Kairi looked at the clock. They had done this before, gone on casual walks, but not this late. It was already eight thirty. She was about to tell Sora as much, but he already sent another text.

Text received from Sora:
It's not late. Come on, lazy bum.

She chuckled that her nickname for him was used against her. Powerless to resist, she texted him back.


Text received from Sora:

There was no question as to which beach he was referring to. She knew. So without a second thought, she got up, stretched, changed into a white blouse and purple skort and walked out the door hoping that this particular walk would be the one that changed everything.

"Where have you been?" he asked when she finally arrived on her canoe. He stood on his own canoe, his right shoulder leaning against the edge of the pier. "I've been standing here for fifteen minutes trying to look cool. It isn't easy, you know."

When he hopped onto the pier, he helped the giggling Kairi up like a true gentleman.

"So what's up?" she asked, dusting off her shirt.

"Nothing, I…" he scratched the back of his head. Kairi knew what this meant. He was lying. "I just wanted to talk to you."

"At eight forty-five? Sora, it's already dusk. Look." She gestured toward the sky that was painted half blue, half sunset: Her favourite time of day.

"Fine, I needed to talk to you about something. Walk with me," he asked softly. He started toward the shoreline with Kairi at his side.

"So what is it?" she asked, getting impatient after five minutes of silence. With each passing minute the sun got lower and the moon got higher. Kairi figured it was like her and Sora -together for only a little while. The thought made her heart ache.

"I've noticed something," he said, letting the shallow waters tickle his feet. "I've noticed you act different lately. You seem… not impatient, but a little weary of me lately. Have I done something?"

It's more like what you haven't done, she thought but didn't voice. Suddenly, she felt a wave of confidence overcome her. All the irritation and hopelessness she felt toward him came rushing back in that one moment. She was getting somewhat angry. She had to know if he was just playing with her. She had to take matters into her own hands. She'd been suffering at the expense of his flirting for far too long.

So she said it.

"Sora, what are you doing?"

"I'm walking."

"No, what are you doing?" she asked, more sternly this time. "For the past few months, you've been playing with me. Do you… what exactly are you trying to do?"

Sora inhaled sharply and massaged his temples. "I was afraid you'd think that. Kairi, please don't think like that. I'm not playing with you. I am kinder than that, believe me."

"Then what?" she asked, voice wavering.

"Why now?" he suddenly whispered. He was using the hushed tone that associated him with cowardice, fear, nervousness or embarrassment.

In this case, it was all of them at once. This was not what he wanted to discuss.

"Why are you asking me this now?" he asked, his voice barely audible with the waves crashing on the shore.

"Because I'm scared," she answered, hugging herself. How he desperately wished it were his hands on her arms.

"What are you afraid of?" he asked. "Just tell me."

"Why do you have to make me so blunt about this?" she asked, the volume of her voice slightly lower than his. "I'm scared that you're going to leave without… without…" She couldn't finish the sentence.

"Leave?" The word was foreign to him. "Why would I leave?"

"Aren't you a transfer?" she asked.

"Transfer?" Another foreign word. "No, Kairi, I… oh. Oh. You thought…" He chuckled to himself. Kairi didn't find anything funny. "You think I'm leaving for Eden? I… I can't believe I never told any of you about this. I live here, you know. I'm not going back to Eden. I live on Destiny Islands. When September comes, I'll be attending Destiny Academy. I'm not leaving."

Kairi didn't know whether to laugh or cry at that moment. She'd never considered that maybe, just maybe, she could keep him. That he wasn't a transfer. That he was staying.

"Is that what you were scared of?" he asked, his voice light and buoyant once again. The mood suddenly lightened when he laughed. "That I was going to leave?"

Kairi pulled on her arm uncomfortably. "Not exactly, but…"

"Why were you scared, hm?" he asked, smirking as he lowered his face to her level. "Would you miss me?"

She confidently looked him in the eye, giving her the upper hand. "Maybe. Maybe I was scared for the same reason you transferred to my class."

He inched closer. She was making his job so much easier for him. "Oh? And what reason was that?"

"You tell me," she countered, forcing the confession upon him once again. Finally he sighed and accepted that he would have to be the one to do it after all. It was the reason he called her out to the beach in the first place.

"Fine," he said, pulling away. His voice shook slightly. "I transferred because I like you. It's just… I couldn't help it. When I first saw you in the secret place… I couldn't help it." He looked toward the setting sun with red cheeks. "That's what I called you here for. I wanted to tell you that I like you, m-more than a friend. I thought you deserved to know. Does that answer suffice?"

The corners of Kairi's lips raised. She smiled the largest smile she possibly could. She didn't care if she looked like an idiot, because Sora had just declared his feelings for her, and at that very moment, that was all that mattered.

He wasn't playing with her.

He liked her.

He liked her.

And she liked him.

They liked each other.

She was so relieved that she couldn't think straight.

"That answer… definitely suffices," she finally answered, taking it in. Then after realizing that she hadn't given him a proper answer, she added, "I like you, too."

His head snapped in her direction, eyes wide in disbelief. "Wh-what?"

She repeated it again with a giggle. "I like you, too."

"Say it again," he ordered softly, still refusing to believe it.

"I like you, Sora."


"Sora, I like you."

"You like me," he repeated, tasting the words. "So you, and I, and we, and you…" he said in between slow, deep breaths. "We like each other?" he finally squeaked.

"I… I guess so," she concluded, the smile still evident on her face. Then silence.

"I don't know what to say," he finally said, running a hand through his spikes with a chuckle. "I wasn't expecting that answer."

"I've been waiting for you to tell me that for a while now," she admitted with a nervous chuckle. "Why did you choose now to tell me?"

"Because of what you said earlier," he said. "I didn't want you to think I was just playing with you. I thought it was time I come right out and tell you the truth."

"Then you thought right," she complimented.

"And thank goodness I did," he said, eyeing her hands that had fallen to her sides. "I'm sorry if I seem weird right now. I am incredibly inexperienced when it comes to things like this, so... I don't really know how things work. I'm kind of a dork."

"It's fine, Sora," giggled Kairi. "This is all new to me, too."

"So, uh…" He laughed nervously. "Would it be all right if I, uh… you know…" She caught him eyeing her hand and smiled. Their hands found each other effortlessly. For Sora, it served as physical proof that what had just happened was real. He didn't hold back on his thoughts. "Wow. This is actually happening."

"I can't believe you fell for someone who ran away from you in a cave," she said with a pathetic chuckle.

"And I can't believe you fell for the world's biggest dork," he whispered. She's in his arms for the third time in their lives.

"So is that why you wore that rather provocative swimsuit the other day?" asked Sora cheekily. That same evening, the two occupied the bent paopu tree on the island with Sora's head on Kairi's lap. It could have been minutes as well as hours. They couldn't keep track.

"Maybe." Kairi blushed.

Sora chuckled and brought up a hand to caress her cheek, still feeling the need to feel her there. He was afraid that if he didn't, his alarm clock would go off and he'd have to get up and face another way without telling Kairi how he really felt.

But those days were over now.

"If its intention was to get my attention, then trust me, it certainly did," he assured with a laugh.

"That slender brunette certainly got your attention as well," she reminded.

"Now wait just a minute," he said. "Was that why you went back in the water? Because you thought I was into her?" She nodded sheepishly. "Kairi, if you wanted my attention, all you had to do was ask. You didn't have to… tease me. You've had my undivided attention all summer."

"Aww, Sora," she cupped both his cheeks in her hands. Suddenly, her eyes hardened. "You better not do that again, though."

He laughed again. "If I had known you were going to be this jealous, I wouldn't have confessed. You're too much of a hassle to handle." Kairi's jaw immediately dropped. "I'm kidding!" he assured defensively. "Even if you were a hassle to handle, which you're not, I still would've liked you. I would never give up on you, Kairi."

"Nice save," she complimented. He relaxed knowing he was forgiven again. Then suddenly, Kairi lifted his head off her lap. He rose to sit beside her, curious as to what she was doing.

Then she took off her shirt, and Sora's cheeks grew incredibly warm.

"Wh… what are you doing?" he asked tensely. His eyes grew wide, hopeful.

"Going for a swim," she answered flatly, dismissing any perverted thoughts that he previously had.

"Now? The waves are awfully strong," he pointed out.

"Then why don't you come catch me?" she insisted, already running across the bridge. He removed his own shirt and ran after her. He caught her staring at the sky in waist-deep water. "Sora, what's the date today?"

"August 25th," he answered, moving to stand beside her.

"The predicted date of Destinia's meteor shower," she whispered, and then pointed toward a faraway island. "Look." Sure enough, streaks of various colours crossed the sky toward the island.

"Wow," he breathed, then came to his senses. "Wait, isn't that dangerous?"

Kairi shook her head as if it were the most normal thing in the world. "Most meteors are no larger than a grain of sand. They disintegrate before they can even reach the world's surface."

"How do you know that?" he asked, fascinated by the colours illuminating the sky.

"My parents told me I was found on the night of a meteor shower. I decided to do some research. They're quite rare and beautiful," she whispered, eyes twinkling.

"Like you," he said, admiring her profile.

"Wow," she chuckled. "That was extremely cheesy."

"But I meant it," he argued.

"I know," she chuckled. And before they knew it, a wave larger than the others had knocked them both off their feet. Sora took hold of Kairi before he was knocked off balance, keeping her close so that they wouldn't get separated. They were under for three seconds until the wave had died down, leaving Sora to lie on top of Kairi on the wet sand. She was unexpectedly laughing at the mishap as he placed his hands on either side of her head, keeping him steady on top of her. She just lay there, laughing, until she caught him staring.

"What?" she asked.

"I think I love you," he whispered, leaning forward so that their noses touched.

"You think?" she chuckled.

"I'm actually just scared of your reaction," he admitted wholeheartedly. "Did it frighten you?"

"Not in the least bit," she answered. His eyes drooped slightly as he turned his head to the side. "Are you going to kiss me?" she suddenly asked, her heart beating erratically.

"Do you want me to?" he asked, seeking permission. Her needs came first.

She lifted herself slightly so that her elbows were resting on the sand and that their foreheads were touching. After a few minutes of just laying there, eyes closed and deep in thought, she finally said, "Yes."

He checked her eyes. She was sure. He smiled and leaned closer.

"You're actually going to?" she asked once more, still preparing herself. He nodded slowly. "I should just stop talking and let you do it, huh?"

"Mhmm," he agreed, leaning in to close the gap in between them. And for the first time in their lives, they knew what it felt like to fly.

That... was the longest thing I ever wrote. And yet, that was the condensed version LOL. I hope that makes up for my absence and I hope you guys still love me!

So how has everyone been for the past five-ish months? I've been good lately. Well, sorta. Things have changed since I last spoke to all of you, but to make things easier, I'll put it in point form :)

- Well, for one, I got braces four days ago. Oh, the torment! My friends were all like "Say goodbye to the life you knew!" or "It's excruciatingly painful!". I thought they were over exaggerating, but two days ago, I had two cold water bottles pressed against my face because I was in so much pain. I can't chew anything.
- Thank you all for helping me reach 100,000+ hits on this story, over 1250 reviews and over 300 faves! Your support means so much to me :')
- Did I tell you that I started driving? When I first stepped on the gas pedal, I underestimated how light it was and floored the thing. Thank goodness I have fast reflexes and hit the breaks a second later.
- I dyed my hair back to black. It was a really nice Kairi red the last time I wrote to you guys, but since it faded to brown, I went natural again!
- I went on the tallest roller coaster in Canada. When my friends and I got strapped into our seats, the woman with the mic was like "You are about to go 306ft up in the air and will experience a drop near 90 degrees. It is not my intention to scare you!" I was like B, Puh-lease. It took one minute to get to the top of the freaking ride, and yet, that was it. After the drop, it was nothing. DAREDEVIL.
- I watched The Avengers awhile back, and it was so good. OMG. Better than The Hunger Games. By the way, if you want to know what I thought about that movie, you can go to my page and check the Hunger Games section.
- Watched MIBIII recently and it was so good too! I absolutely love prequels.
- Over the march break, I finished FFXIII-2. I am officially in love with Noel Kreiss. Serah x Noel ftw! He looks like an older Sora, no?
- Final exams are in a week! Wish me luck! But when it's over, the next chapter will come before you know it, and my cousin's coming back to visit Canada :D

Now, many things to say about this chapter. I once heard a great director say that in a movie, you have to take out your favourite scenes. I believe the same thing applies to writing. I have four different versions of this chapter on my computer, all with different moments that I liked and disliked. Also, it was very hard to condense the main couple's backstory into two chapters! Originally their backstory was only supposed to take up half a chapter like Roxas and Namine's, but I extended it just so we could get a better look at their relationship from the past. It was even harder to write a chapter without our extra characters! No Hayner, Olette, Riku, Namine and the rest of the gang = sad times :(

Now, onto character development. Kairi's still the same confident Kairi we know, and Sora, well, I guess I wanted to make him seem a little more charming here. Charmingly dorky, that is. That's how I imagined him lol. But he's still the same ol' childish goofball. Selphie, on the other hand, had a major character change in this first part. I wanted to portray Selphie as the outwardly girly but inwardly mature type. Notice how she didn't hate on Kairi when she found out that Tidus liked her? She's honest and knowledgeable, not just annoyingly girly.

In the next chapter, we'll face how Sora and Kairi's relationship develops. We'll encounter Xion again (if you didn't notice, she was the ebony-haired girl in the beginning) as well as Seifer (dun dun dunnn) and the separation of Sora and Roxas. We'll also get to see the turn of the tide: their break-up. I hope you're all ready for it!

Well I really have to start studying now, but before I do so, I simply have to thank all the people who reviewed the last chapter. I lost track of who I replied to last time, but I'll PM anyone who reviews this time! Special thanks to: Sooperevee, cupcakexofxdoom, mrkhrules, Kuroyami Fukaikuro, Zach Fleming, Hiddensecret564, ChuckleBunny, Member of the Creed, AsoenixKristian, LittleKeybladeNinja, xTwilightxDestinyx, Thalia, BaconisEpic, asb227, ShadowSpooky, Artism, anon, Jackson12, MeganLovesHelloKitty69, Versivalia, CupcakeLerman, Jared Someone, Zoe the Hunter, Dennou Writer, AKAAkira, Mokimoki-chan, RoxasLuvsCookies, KurukiXV, Sookdeo, Tyket Ansatsu, DragoNik, Nichole, godson5518, StaySaneInsideInsanity, Help, Redeeming Endeavor, Nikolas Sur, beckster411, TwinToshiro, Q-A The Authoress, EternallySky, ThatGuyFromThatPlace21, Gumi Harue, Spellbound aka soragirl4ever, xSmileage, Isabelz3Cookies, Ms. Lazy, Half-Dragon Hero, 2bblue101, Keyblades of Oblivion and aquarosebandleader.

Thank you all for your support. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for any of you. Even my own words, and I'm a writer, can't express how much I appreciate your support and reviews. And don't get scared if I ever update this late again, which, hopefully, I won't. I've come to know you all too well to leave you :)