Chapter 1

Kairi awoke to a dark room, pulling away from the drowsiness of sleep. She lay still, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the darkness. The fan above spun at the slowest setting, humming with every revolution.

Sitting up, the redhead stretched her arms above her, releasing a yawn that forced an escape. It was not uncommon for Kairi to wake up at this hour: she normally had to use the bathroom at least once during the night. Throwing off her covers, the girl walked to the door of her bedroom and quietly turned the knob. Directly across from her own room, the door of one of her roommates was left open. She peeked inside, noticing no one inside. She shrugged to herself, taking a left and dragging her feet to the bathroom.

It was not until she left the bathroom that she noticed the dim light pouring into the hallway a little farther down. Wondering if someone had left the light on, she walked down the long hallway, peering left into the living room and kitchen.

The lone light fixture hanging in the kitchen was on, partially covered by the cabinets that blocked the view. A black table rested against the wall, with a pair of chairs placed neatly under the two sides perpendicular to the wall. Peering through the opening between the cabinets and the counter, Kairi walked out into the living room.

She sighed in relief when she found a familiar face in the kitchen, busily whisking away at whatever was in the bowl that he held tightly in his arms. Now awake, she decided to walk out to see what he was making in place of returning to her bed.

As she approached, he looked up to meet her eyes and smiled. "Kairi. I didn't think anyone was awake. I hope it wasn't me that woke you."

She shook her head, narrowing her eyes in the kitchen light. "No, I woke up by myself," Kairi replied. She noticed that he continued stirring at a chocolate mix. "What are you doing?"

He stopped mixing and placed the bowl on the counter, pulling out a square baking pan from under the oven. "I'm making brownies. I…" He seemed hesitant to explain himself, but continued to speak, "I bake when I can't sleep. I know it's pretty girly, but something about it helps me calm down enough to rest." He prepared a baking pan, making sure to evenly cover the surface.

Kairi pulled a chair from under the square kitchen table that sat nearby. "I don't think it's girly at all." A smile made its way onto the girl's face as she watched him pour the mixture into the pan. "Is it safe to be baking when you could fall asleep during one of the thirty or so minutes it takes to make that?"

He smiled in return. "I wouldn't know. I've done this so many times and I've never fallen asleep. I typically fall asleep after it's done. Maybe it has to do with waiting for something that makes me sleepy." He guessed, placing the tray inside the oven. "This is probably the best part of baking though. Would you like some?" Sora held out a spatula covered in brownie mix.

"I suppose a small taste won't keep me up forever." She reached out with a finger and took a swipe at the spatula, tasting the mix Sora threw together. "Tastes pretty good."

"Always does." He shamelessly licked the spatula, earning a laugh from the watching girl. "Do you normally wake up this early? I mean, I haven't done one of these sessions since before you moved in, so I was just wondering."

"I typically have to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. Don't know why." She shrugged, propping her head on her hand. "Oh, while I'm on the topic of bathrooms… you're pretty good with keeping the toilet seat down. Xion complains about Riku all the time, but I haven't fallen into the toilet yet."

Sora laughed, folding his hands behind his head. "For most of my life, it's always been just my mother and me. You could say that I came house-trained."

Kairi smiled, looking away from him. "Do you ever miss living with her?"

Sora thought for a moment. "Nah. I got used to living by myself thanks to college. Plus, it's a lot of fun living with friends, isn't it?"

"Living with you, Riku, and Xion has certainly been an interesting experience." She nodded slowly, laughing with him under the kitchen light. "I'm kidding. It's been pretty enjoyable, in my opinion. Though I never asked..." She leaned forward onto the table, folding her arms before her. "You don't have a problem with me being here, right? I know it was sudden and everything."

"Aww, don't sweat it!" Sora chuckled. Though tempted to lick the inside of the bowl, he restrained himself and addressed Kairi. "If anything, you coming to live with us was a relief to me. I mean, you can imagine how third wheel-ish I felt around those two."

Kairi nodded in understanding. "Yeah, I see where you're coming from." Still, Kairi felt like her abrupt appearance was reason of concern. "Question: how did Xion tell you guys that I was going to move in?"

Sora laughed, placing the bowl off to the side. "She sat us down like a week before you showed up and said 'so one of my friends from high school is going to be staying with us.' Kinda funny."

Kairi covered her face with her hands. "I knew she was going to wait for the last possible moment that could be considered remotely polite."

"Kairi, relax!" Sora laughed at the newest resident of their apartment. "You reduced the rent for me by a good eight percent- don't quote me on that, since that's a complete guess. Yeah, I lost my private bathroom, but look!" He smiled charmingly, raising his hand in her direction. "I got a new friend in the process. I like having you around. I'd rather you be across the hall than Xion anyway. At least you inhabit it."

The auburn-haired girl still had her doubts. "You don't feel cramped at all? What, with four people for a three-person apartment…"

"Are you kidding me?" He leaned back in his chair, his arm draping over the back of it. "It's more fun than ever! It feels like at least one of us is always out at one point in time, so it never feels lonely now that we're breaking the rules. Doesn't it make you feel like a badass too?"

"I don't expect to find 'people who breach their apartment contract' in any definition of badass, to be honest," Kairi said. "It's definitely fun living with you guys. I never thought I'd be living with boys, but you and Riku are pretty fun to have around. I didn't think Xion was serious when she told me to move in with her."

"A friend of Xion's is definitely a friend of ours,s" Sora said confidently. "And what can I say? Apartment B-2 is the place to be." When Kairi shook her head in mock disappointment, Sora groaned with a smile. "Come on. It was funny. The energy in this house is paid with smiles and laughs, so you better get happy!"

The two laughed with each other, their conversation lasting long after the brownies finished. They continued their chat in the small kitchen, sharing their conversation over newly made brownies and milk. Their topics, though random, made for funny discoveries about their common interests and personalities. Kairi found herself growing fonder of her roommate; he just seemed to energize her, his smiles infectious without limitation. Time seemed to flash by, and before they knew it, Riku was awake. The young man entered the kitchen, already dressed for hard working day.

"Morning," The silver-haired medical resident greeted his roommates. "Why are you guys up?"

"I couldn't sleep, so I made brownies last night. Is it really morning already?" Sora asked, stretching in his seat.

"What? We were not here for three hours!" Kairi said in disbelief. The clock on the wall confirmed it for her. "Oh man, I didn't even realize."

"Does it matter? I thought you were off today," Riku said as he ate one of Sora's brownies. All the while, he methodically prepared himself some coffee.

"Last night I agreed to take a coworker's shift from three to closing today." Kairi sighed as she stood.

"Oops. My bad," Sora said sheepishly, standing from the kitchen chair. "Had I known that, I wouldn't have trapped you in a conversation all night."

"It wasn't your fault, Sora. Besides, it was interesting anyway." She tugged at the bottom of her short shorts. "I have about seven hours before I have to get ready for work anyway. I'll just sleep until ten or eleven."

"Wow, so I walk in and that's it? A third person arrives for the party and it's suddenly bedtime for Sora and Kairi!" Riku leaned against the fridge, crossing his arms in staged disappointment.

"Don't take it personally." Kairi giggled as she played with her hair. "We were up talking for half the night. You showing up only reminded us that we needed sleep. Besides, I didn't realize how tired I was until now. I need to catch some sleep."

"Not only that, but you'll be learning the whole morning, whereas I'll be sleeping my life away!" Sora taunted as he yawned. "My life is awesome. Have fun at school or work or whatever you're doing today, Riku." The brunet ran his hands through his hair, walking toward the hallway that led to their rooms.

"Yeah fine, get some sleep. And when you wake up, buy some groceries! We need more coffee creamer," Riku called out. He turned around, eagerly waiting for his coffee to finish.

Sora nodded tiredly, walking closely behind Kairi. She turned around when she reached her door. "Can't believe we stayed up all night talking, Sora. That went by fast."

"Yeah it did. I don't even remember what we were talking about when Riku came in." He walked into his room, leaning against the door frame. He stared back at Kairi, a smile playing at his lips.

"I think we were talking about pajamas." She laughed, tucking her hair behind her ear. "I said I liked your PJ pants. Dinosaurs look good on you."

"Maybe I just look good. Ever think of that?" Sora brushed his shoulders, feigning swagger.

Kairi, on the other hand, giggled as she shook her head. "Good night, Sora."

He yawned, backing into his room. He was ready to fall onto his waiting bed. "Night, Kairi." Their doors closed simultaneously.

Just outside the hallway, Riku leaned against the wall with a smile, clutching his mug close to his body. He noticed something different when he walked into the kitchen that morning: a new kind of relationship was developing between those two. He silently wondered to himself,

How much longer until the boy falls for the girl across the hallway?

Redeeming Endeavor: Take care, and I'll see you around!