MANDATORY AUTHOR'S NOTE: Welcome to Chapter Four, everyoneeee. I'm hoping everyone is enjoying this story! I'm way excited about it and have a lot of plans for it. Also, MUCH LESS DRAMA than LMC. I promise you there's still going to be drama, because I am the queen of it, but it won't be as confusing and crazy as LMC.

DISCLAIMER: This disclaimer applies to the entire story. Kingdom Hearts and any and all things having to do with it do not belong to me. However, the plot and plot events are entirely MINE, along with the band Destiny's Embrace, the use of the word Hikari as a name, and the characters' personalities.

NOTES: This story will have some adult content so for now, it is rated T. Eventually, it will go up to M rating for obvious reasons as the plot progresses. I encourage you to stick with me until then.

Also, I have decided not to focus on Namine and Kairi's friendship too much, as this story is more of a story about Sora and Kairi's friendship being so horribly maimed. I hope none of you mind . . . Part of it is because I'm just not good at writing scenes where girlfriends are hanging out. It doesn't progress the plot, it's like pulling teeth to write, and frankly, I only have two real girlfriends and when we hang out, you just don't want to know what happens. So I will definitely reference that Kairi's friendship with Namine progresses, and there will be a FEW scenes where they talk and showcase what type of bond they have, but again—this is a story about Sora and Kairi.

ENJOY!

~x~

Chapter Four

~x~

No matter which way you looked at it, the Marriage project was going to be nothing short of insanely difficult to complete. Kairi was diligent and hardworking, but Sora was . . . Not. Since the Monday that he'd demanded Kairi change the thesis, she'd only seen him in class maybe twice? And those times were ridiculous, because all he wanted to do was sit and text on his cell phone. When he did talk to her, it was to argue with her or be rude. At first, Kairi had been hurt, but now, it was Friday, and she was royally pissed.

"Ms. Gainsborough," she said irritably, raising her hand to get her teacher's attention. She was currently passing out that weekend's homework, which was going to be hard to do since Kairi was barely keeping up with the rest of the class on her own. They were supposed to have half of their essay done, along with two separate assignments: one that involved them simulating what it would be like to have children and raise them, and one that had them pretending to be in the careers that they wanted to pursue in the real future, writing down their income and household budgets. Kairi had managed to complete half of the essay and the budgeting assignment, but she still needed Sora's input on the remaining one. Not to mention, the newest homework assignment required them to write a short essay on overcoming an argument over household chores in a unique way. She knew she could do them both by herself if she wanted to, but frankly, she was just plain tired of Sora getting away with slacking off.

"Yes, Kairi?" the teacher said as she continued to pass out the homework.

"Can I go out of the room and try to get a hold of Sora? Because he's here today; he's just skipping," Kairi grumbled.

"Tattletale."

Kairi looked and saw that Tidus was sticking his tongue out at her. When their eyes met, he threw her a roguish wink, and Kairi hurriedly looked away before he made her blush. He reminded her of Sora in a lot of ways, but the fact that he was the drummer in her favorite band just seemed to fluster her.

"Very well, Kairi," Ms. Gainsborough said. "But class is almost over . . . Are you sure?"

"Someone needs to ream his ass out," Kairi huffed, gathering up her things and rising to her feet. "It'll just take a second . . ."

Everyone watched her go, but Kairi paid them no mind. After all, it was likely that they wouldn't have much to say. Luckily for her, she was no longer the hot topic on everyone's minds. She hadn't been bullied more than three or four times since becoming friends with Namine, and she felt amazing. The only person who had really given her any shit was Sora, and that was only when he was actually in attendance during Home Ec.

Sora had never been a rule breaker. When they were children, Kairi was always the one who wanted to do things like break curfew to stay longer at the beach, or shoplift candy from the Dollar Tree. She could still remember the first time she had ever snuck in through his window at night, when they were twelve and thirteen. He'd panicked and worried that his parents were going to find out, forcing Kairi to go back home. She'd obliged that night, but during the Summer between seventh and eighth grade, she would sneak out of her house and go to Sora's, so he started sneaking out of his to meet her. He figured if he wasn't in his bed, his parents wouldn't hear anything that would cause them to suspect rule breaking. Long story short, eventually both sets of their parents had discovered what they'd been doing, and they were both grounded. Kairi had fond memories, though—it was during those late night walks on the beach that she discovered she had a crush on him, and it was also during said walks that the first and only time he'd ever tried to kiss her had occurred.

"Do you ever want to just . . . Just build a raft and go?" Kairi asked, hands behind her back as she stood at the edge of the sea. The waves lapped at her bare feet, ice-cold but comforting all the same. Sora was standing right beside her, also void of shoes, and he gave her a strange look when her words left her lips.

"Huh?" He looked puzzled, but amused. "What are you talking about, Kairi?"

"Well," she said, tucking a strand of her short crimson hair behind her ear. "Don't you ever wonder if there might be other worlds out there?"

"Other worlds . . . ? Kairi, we live on Earth," he laughed. "There are other countries, and stuff . . . But we can take a plane, or a boat. Why would we build a raft?"

Kairi rolled her eyes and put her hands on her hips, swiveling to fix him with an exasperated yet playful glare. "Sora, why must you be so practical?"

"I don't know," he stammered, scratching the back of his head nervously. "We're older now, I guess."

"And?" She skipped off a ways and waded into the water until she was up to her knees. It was so cold that it made her teeth chatter, but she didn't care. She smiled at Sora over her shoulder, her teeth glinting pearly white under the light of the moon. "Just because we're older doesn't mean that our childhoods didn't exist." She turned around to peer out to sea again. "A person can take away your innocence physically, but they can never make you forget it."

"Kairi?" He was right behind her, shivering from the cold and obviously worried about her being out in the surf.

"Sora, would you do it if I asked you?" Kairi asked, slowly sliding her arms around herself.

"Do what?"

She whirled around, her cerulean eyes suddenly pleading with him. She was only thirteen and he was only fourteen, but she knew that she would leave with him in a heartbeat if he said yes.

"Build a raft and sail off to other worlds," she clarified. "If I asked you to do it, would you help me?

"Kai . . ."

"Sora, tell me!" she cried, her voice raising in pitch. "Would you take me away from this place if I asked you to?!"

Sora looked shocked, but he nodded. "Yes, Kairi. Of course. I would do whatever you asked me to."

The redhead breathed a sigh of relief before she started to walk deeper into the gently-swaying waters. The moon was full and high overhead, illuminating the waters in such a way as to mirror the expressions on their faces. Kairi gazed down at her reflection for a few moments before she leaned down and ran her fingers through it, causing the sight to ripple and break apart. She was hiding something, and she didn't know how much longer she could stand to live in a life that took the things that she cared about most away from her.

But she wouldn't tell Sora tonight. She wouldn't tell anyone ever. Because if she did, then he would hurt her, and as he had told her—nobody would believe her.

"Kairi? Are you okay?" Sora sounded concerned, and he grabbed at her hand before she went much farther than her waist in the ocean. Her body shook as she cried, and he gripped her hand tighter. "What's wrong?"

"Sora, please," she sobbed, looking up at him with tears clinging to her lashes. "Build a raft with me—take me away from here."

His eyes weren't looking into hers, though. They were trained upon her lips and the blush that stained his cheeks was plain to see. He tugged on her hand, and Kairi crushed herself against his thin chest. He had no idea what had happened to her on her thirteenth birthday. Had no idea what had been happening before it. Would he still do whatever she asked him to do if he knew?

"Kairi, don't cry," he begged, and his puberty-deepened voice cracked. His arms slowly slid around her and he held her gently, tenderly, as if she were a breakable piece of priceless art.

"Sora . . ." Kairi lifted her head, and all-of-a-sudden, all she could see were his eyes. She had never noticed their endlessness before, and now, with the way the twin sapphires shone, they were the most beautiful eyes she had ever seen. Here was someone who had eyes like the sea, but only in the most gorgeous of ways. Sora pulled her closer, and she gasped slightly, but not only from the cold waters that surrounded their legs.

Kairi let her eyes fall shut, waiting patiently for him to do what she hoped he would. She had been kissed before, but it wasn't the kind of kiss that was right. Brothers aren't supposed to kiss their little sisters, are they? But if Sora kissed her, then maybe . . . Maybe it would erase Riku's kiss?

Their breaths mingled, lips mere centimeters away from each other, and then . . .

"SORA REI YOSHIMURA ! KAIRI ANN FRIERSON! Get your butts back onto the sand this instant! You are in SO much trouble, you two. Wait 'till I tell your mother, Sora . . ."

The sound of Kairi's mother's ear-shattering shrieking startled Sora so much that he tripped over absolutely nothing and went tumbling into the water, leaving Kairi howling with laughter at his eternal clumsiness.

Kairi leaned against the wall outside the classroom and pulled out her phone. She hesitated for a moment, knowing that Sora was most likely going to yell at her for calling him. But she knew that this project was important, so she called him quickly, before she changed her mind.

He answered on the fourth ring, sounding breathless. "What do you want?" he asked hoarsely.

Kairi's brow furrowed. "Why aren't you in class?" she asked, keeping her voice lowered. "I haven't said anything, but I'm pretty pissed off at you for skimping out on everything this week. I've had to do it all myself."

"You think I care if you're mad at m-me?" His voice suddenly caught in his throat and he paused for a heartbeat. "I've been busy."

"I—" Kairi stopped when she heard what sounded like a girl's quiet laugh, and she couldn't help the pang of jealousy that shot through her. She knew Sora had a girlfriend, since it had been mentioned once or twice, but it still hurt either way to know that he had feelings for another girl. They had never really pursued anything together themselves, but Kairi had known for a fact that there had been something between them. It was kind-of upsetting now, too, to hear him with another girl. And what on God's Earth were they doing?

"What?" Sora spat out. "Just say it—I'm busy."

And then it happened—the word vomiting—as Kairi's anger and jealousy swelled and crashed through her careful defenses.

"Are you having sex?" she blurted out indignantly.

Silence. Absolute and total silence.

Almost as soon as she said it, she dropped the phone and listened as it clattered to the floor. Panicking, she dove straight for it and frantically pressed the End button, cutting off whatever Sora had been about to say. She was blushing madly and her heart was pounding.

'Oh, my Lord, did I seriously just ask him that?' Kairi thought, thoroughly and completely mortified.

"Do you always sit on your knees in the middle of the hallway?"

The lazy, nonchalant drawl that came from behind her caused Kairi to jump with fright and leap to her feet. She whirled around and nearly fainted on the spot.

"You're . . ." She trailed off, shaking her head in disbelief.

Standing in front of her was Sora's brother and none other than the lead screamer of Destiny's Embrace . . . Vanitas Yoshimura. His hair was as black as charcoal and stuck up at all sorts of odd angles in a bedheaded sort-of way. His bangs fell across his face in all the right ways and his sunset-colored eyes pierced straight through to the core of her soul. Kairi placed a hand flat across her chest, her eyes roving up and down his body. He was wearing a pair of black skinny jeans that were so tight that they had to be women's pants, a wide brown belt, and a maroon zip-up hoodie with white draw strings. There was this smirk on his face—this God-damned, hot ass smirk—and Kairi knew she was blushing again.

"Vanitas," he said, eyeing her in an appreciative manner. Though she felt like she looked stupid, since she had chosen to wear Victoria's Secret yoga pants and a light pink sweater that day.

"S-Sorry," she stammered nervously, because this was Vanitas Fair, and he was the fucking guitarist in her favorite band and he was so hot, like what the Hell?! "I was in your way . . ."

"Nah," he said, grinning and flashing perfect teeth. "You're cool, girl. I don't mind it when the road blocks are cute."

Kairi blinked in astonishment. Had the VanitasYoshimura just called her . . . Cute? Good God, she was going to have a heart attack in the hall. Though she was a little confused . . . When did Vanitas start going to her school? She hadn't seen him the years before due to some sort of attention deficit disorder that forced Sora's mother to have to home school him . . . Did Vanitas know everything about her? He had to . . . Riku was in the band with him! But then . . . If he knew and he was still calling her cute . . . ?

"Well, I suppose I should say 'you're welcome', then," she said, flirting back with him to see how he reacted. She knew she was playing with fire, him being Sora's twin and all, but she didn't care. Sora hated her and Vanitas was hot. Kairi's logic was undeniable.

Vanitas's eyes twinkled and very blatantly slid to her lips. "Good manners," he chuckled. "I like that in a woman. But what were you doing on the floor?"

"No reason," she said. "Just waiting for you, I suppose."

Vanitas's eyebrows shot up, and Kairi's blush betrayed her false sense of confidence. She had no idea where this flirtiness was coming from, but Hell, if it was going to keep making her sound this cool, then she wasn't complaining!

He took a step toward her, and then suddenly, Ms. Gainsborough stuck her head out into the hall.

"Kairi?" She sounded annoyed. "I thought you said it would just take a moment. This is class time—it's not time to be fraternizing with your friends."

"Sorry, Ms. Gainsborough," Kairi said sheepishly, lowering her eyes in shame.

Ms. Gainsborough nodded curtly and then disappeared back into the classroom. Kairi sighed heavily and when she looked at Vanitas again, he was gone. Frowning, she glanced behind her and, to her dismay, she saw him heading down the hall.

"See you later, road block," Vanitas called out, lifting his hand in a jaunty wave without even turning to spare her a second glance.

"Bye," she squeaked out, though she was sure he didn't hear her. Clutching her phone close to her chest, she rushed back into the classroom to pay her dues to her irritated Home Ec teacher.

The second she got the chance, Kairi was going to tell Namine all about this.

~x~

It was Saturday, and Kairi was staring down at her notebook with mixed emotions. Namine had been pushing her to write all week at school, but every time Kairi put the pen to paper, nothing came. Oh, she had a million thoughts bouncing around willy-nilly in that head of hers, but when it came to sorting them out, she failed miserably. Namine had told her to "write what she knew" and to "focus on her feelings." That was easier to say than it was to actually do, unfortunately, and so Kairi set aside the blank pages and sighed heavily in defeat.

When had she discovered that she enjoyed writing? Oh yeah . . . It was sometime in elementary school. They had done a creative writing assignment in the sixth grade, and Kairi had written a story about a whale that fell in love with a dolphin. She had enjoyed it so much that she had kept writing sequels and showing them to the only person who actually cared to read them: Sora. Looking back on them in the tenth grade, Kairi and Sora had laughed themselves to tears over the wildness of her childhood fantasies, and it was then that Sora had told her the best advice she'd ever heard.

"Do you like to write, Kai?" he had asked after she'd chuckled and expressed her embarrassment over her juvenile writing.

"Well, yeah," she had responded. "But I don't really show anyone what I write because I'm afraid it's as stupid as this shit."

Sora had laughed and shook his head, saying, "Kairi, don't let what others think about you keep you from pursuing your dreams. You think I care what people think about me being all nerdy and wanting to start my own post hardcore band? People just laugh at

me—they don't believe in me."

"I believe in you," Kairi had interjected brightly, because she knew how talented Sora was with his singing and the guitar, and because she truly did believe in him.

Sora had reached for her hand then, squeezing it and saying the words she still lived by to that very day:

"As long as you have at least one special person to believe in who you are and who you want to be, then never stop dreaming, okay? Just be you, Kairi, and you'll be happy. Write whatever you want. Write stories about whales marrying dolphins, vice versa, or any other sea mammal out there. Just do you."

Kairi scowled, tossing aside her pencil. Life motto though they were, the words were getting harder and harder to live by the more Sora hated her. Because she was being herself, and she always had been, and it had gotten her absolutely nowhere.

God, she had so much that she wanted to say to Sora. So many emotions and memories that she wanted to recount to him, all in the hopes that he would understand how badly he had hurt her. The wounds were still fresh, never quite healing all the way before they were violently and cruelly ripped open with every nasty glance he sent Kairi's way. Sora had been her rock, and now that he was gone, she was slipping and sliding against the slick ocean floor, her head coming dangerously close to dipping below stormy waters. How much more of his rejection could she handle before she completely lost her footing and drowned?

And that was when it came to her.

A letter.

She would write him a letter.

Kairi would write him a letter that she would never send to him, and she would spare no details. She would write every single thing that came to her mind without trying to sort through the mess. She would just let it come bubbling out of her, and maybe, when she finished it, she would be a little better off.

She snatched the notebook back and immediately started writing, the words all rushing forward to the tip of her tongue as she put the lead to the page. It was like there was a million people clamoring to be heard over one another inside of her head, and though their cries were jumbled, one thing was prominent and the most pressing.

"Sora . . ." the voices seemed to scream. "Sora . . ."

And so she wrote.

'Dear Sora . . . It all started with the sea, and that's where we will end our story together, lost beneath the depths of the place we love so much.'

~x~

Kairi woke with a start, the remnants of her nightly nightmare fading painfully slow as she sat up. She looked around, feeling bewildered. Her cell phone was ringing on the table next to her ear, and when she looked at the clock, it was nearly six-o-clock at night. She supposed she must have fallen asleep while writing her letter to Sora . . . She wasn't nearly finished with it yet, but that didn't matter—she wasn't going to rush her heart.

"Who the fuck is calling me?" she mumbled in annoyance as she reached for her phone. "Nobody ever calls me . . ."

It took a couple blinks and head shakes for Kairi to fully comprehend just who was calling her before she pressed the answer button.

"Hello?" she said, trying to sound as though she didn't care what he had to say.

"Yo, we gonna work on this project, or what?" He asked, and she could hear the sounds of him driving in the background.

Kairi narrowed her eyes suspiciously. The last encounter they'd had, he'd nearly punched her and had grabbed her quite violently, proving to her that he still didn't like her and had no intentions of working on the project equally with her. So why was he suddenly calling, acting like everything was all cool?

Oh, Hell no.

"Excuse me?" Kairi spluttered angrily. "You don't just get to fucking assault me in the hallway in front of everyone, and then call me and act like everything's all right. What the fuck, Sora? Who do you think I am? Your doormat?"

Sora was taken aback for only a brief moment before he lashed back with just as much venom: "You fucking made our thesis sound like all men are pigs, and now Ms. Gainsborough thinks we're simulating an abusive, controlling marriage. Which means all of our assignments have to reflect that. And I don't want to be known as the abusive asshole, thanks."

"Sora, you grabbed me and punched the locker next to my head," she snapped. "How is that not abusive?" She clenched her fists in her lap. "I don't know who you've become, or whatever, but you can't touch me like that ever again."

"Or else what, Kairi?" he shouted. "You'll go tell everyone that I raped you and now you're pregnant with my kid?"

Kairi felt her heart sputter and tears come to her eyes. That was a low blow, even for Sora. But she couldn't let him hear that his words had upset her. She gathered up all of her pain and rage and brought it to her lips.

"I'll lay your ass out," she hissed. "I will fucking beat the shit out of you if you touch me like that ever again."

Silence, and then Sora's voice was chillingly calm.

"Are we going to work on our homework this week, or not?" he asked. "Because the band has a show to do tonight at The Secret Spot, and I thought it'd be chill if you could meet me there so we could do it before it starts."

Kairi blinked back tears and stared up at the ceiling. The fact that their friendship had deteriorated to threatening to hit him because he'd scared her was tearing her apart. Did he really hate her that much?

"What time does it start?" she asked, forcing her voice to stay strong and not to quiver.

"Eight-thirty. So we'd have like, two hours."

"F-Fine," she breathed. "I'll be there."

He hung up without any word of good-bye, and it took every fiber of resolve that Kairi had within her not to break down right there. Because this was ridiculous. She felt like she was living in an alternate universe—a world that wasn't her own, in a life that didn't belong to her. In all of her life—after losing her birth parents as a child and being put into an orphanage, and then adopted into a family—Sora had been the one constant after she'd met him. Everything else could change, and he would always remain the same. If she ever felt like things were getting too overwhelming, she could always count on him to be a shoulder to cry on.

But now?

Now, that wasn't the case.

Kairi got out of her bed to get presentable, because if she was going to meet up with the boy she secretly pined after, she was going to at least look hot. The Secret Spot was a very popular underage nightclub amongst the teens of Destiny Islands, and Destiny's Embrace was known to play shows there often. Kairi hadn't been to The Secret spot since Junior year, though, and she was a little bit nervous to be returning.

She dressed in a pair of lacy black tights, a black long-sleeved mini dress that draped off of her shoulders and clung to her body like a second skin, and a pair of black velvet wedge heels. She ran a brush through her hair and then pulled it up into a loose, messy high ponytail, leaving her bangs out to swoop down and frame her heart-shaped face. She made her eyes look smoky with eye shadow, pursed her lips and ghosted on some reddish-pink lip stain, and contoured her cheekbones with bronzer.

When you went to The Secret Spot, you went all out, or you didn't go at all.

'And not to mention,' Kairi thought as she threw herself a wink in the mirror, pleased that she didn't feel ugly for once. 'Vanitas is going to be there . . .'

Grabbing a stylish purse, she stuffed her notebook and phone into it, grabbed her car keys, and went to the door.

Memory stared at her from where she was lying on the kitchen floor, right next to her food bowl, and Kairi nearly burst out laughing. That was one other bad habit that the dog had picked up from Sora before Memory had become hers: she was fiercely protective over her food bowl, to the point where she would bite you if you tried to touch it. Sora had already had two dogs of his own, Piggy and Francesca, and they'd been so much bigger than Memory that she had had to resort to ~defensive measures~ to protect her meals from being eaten. It made her giggle whenever she saw Memory standing guard like a watch dog, and sometimes she'd pretend that she was going to touch the bowl just to see the way Memory growled and yipped.

"What do you think, Mem?" she asked, twirling around and striking a pose. "Hot, right? Sora won't be able to—I mean, Vanitas . . . Vanitas won't be able to resist me in this outfit."

Memory yawned and licked her lips, so Kairi took that as a sign of agreement and smiled bright enough to block out the sun.

"Then we have an accord!" Kairi announced dramatically before she swept out of the apartment with a spring in her step and the promise of a potentially thrilling night dancing in her pretty cerulean eyes.

~x~

A/N: Short, I know, but . . . It had to be a set up chapter, I suppose. Anyway, make sure you review or else I won't post the next chapter xD Hehe!

P.S. Are you guys liking Kairi as the "tough" girl? Because honestly, she COULD beat Sora's ass if she wanted to. SOMEONE needs to beat it eventually =.= But then again, there are a lot of asses that need kicking in this fic, for what they did to Kairi by ignoring her and also Riku for doing what he did.

EITHER WAY . . . Do you like Kairi's personality? Should I make any changes? Let me know if your review!