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Sora remembers and when he does, it feels so real, it's as though he's stepping back into his memory...

He feels short. Shorter than he thinks he really is. There's a different jaunt in his step, and he's running. Running and breathing hard, and yelling, "Riku! Riku, wait!" with a wooden sword in one small hand, and a clumsy rectangular piece of driftwood (a shield) in the other.

The day is bright, tranquil and warm and there's a comforting breeze that drifts through the air assuring its inhabitants that this place--Destiny Islands--is safe. It's home.

The sound of waves along the beach would soothe anyone who wasn't trying to chase after his best friend with heavy wooden props to weigh him down. The shield is large and heavy and it clunk clunk clunks as he drags it along with him. The silver-haired boy, turning and grinning some distance away from him sticks out his tongue and calls out to him, but this boy can't hear it.

It's just the two of them on the beach with the white sand and the sparkling waters. It's their secret place where they play together after school, pretending they're pirates, or sometimes even knights. Sora likes playing knights. He can pretend he's saving a princess, and while Riku often allows him to play the princess' saviour, sometimes Sora feels like it's Riku who wants to save her instead.

Today they're going to play knights, and that is why he has a shield and sword. It's taken many beatings (he's not as good as Riku when it comes to all of this stuff) but he's determined to win a fight eventually. He'll be courageous, just as courageous as his best friend.

Clunk.

"All right, Riku! I'm ready!" Sora calls, his wooden sword in hand.

Date: 2006-12-02 06:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tall-dark-and.livejournal.com
Maybe Sora will win out on Riku eventually - or maybe not. Personally, Riku's going for the last one. He doesn't plan on losing anytime soon! But we'll see if the other boy has a chance to surprise him today.

That chance does not come at the moment. Riku hadn't bothered to stop and wait, but he does bother to walk back a few paces now that Sora's ready. "I bet you're not," he says, his voice full of challenge as he points his sword at Sora. "I bet you wouldn't even know ready if it smacked you in the face!"

Oh so clever, isn't he?

"You gotta prove it, not tell me."

He offers a smirk to punctuate that statement. One of those that just breathes a statement of 'I bet you can't!'. Sora probably knows it well.

Date: 2006-12-02 07:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aerora.livejournal.com
"I am ready!" Sora retorts, a frown scrunching up his features.

He raises his wooden sword a little higher as though this is some sort of proof of his readiness.

"I'm gonna save the princess today," he says, hoisting his shield in a slightly more comfortable position. "And I'm gonna beat you too."

A determined little fellow as always, he starts charging towards Riku.

Date: 2006-12-02 07:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tall-dark-and.livejournal.com
"I thought we were both good guys, Sora!" Really, Riku's not surprised by this turn of events at all, but it suits him to act like he is.

He's not quite in the mood to take this seriously, yet. This is only proven by --

 " -- Look out up there!" Riku shrieks, pointing at something behind Sora (that isn't really there).

Date: 2006-12-02 07:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aerora.livejournal.com
Aaaand Sora will fall for it, of course. Because that is what he does.

He looks up. Then frowns. "Riku, there's nothing--"

Date: 2006-12-02 07:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tall-dark-and.livejournal.com
"Yes, there is!" Riku shouts gleefully, and jumps at Sora, attempting to tackle him.

Okay, so maybe he's taking it a little seriously after all. Maybe.

Date: 2006-12-02 07:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aerora.livejournal.com
Sora falls to the ground with a slight 'oof' sound. The other boy is still much bigger than he is, and stronger too.

Sand gets into his hair and clothes.

"Heey!" he shouts. "Get offa me, you cheater."

Date: 2006-12-02 07:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tall-dark-and.livejournal.com
"No way," Riku says, and settles himself so he's sitting on Sora's legs. "You gotta say the magic words!"

He picks up some sand, and promptly dumps it on Sora. "Gonna bury you if you don't," he taunts, and goes for some more.

Date: 2006-12-02 07:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aerora.livejournal.com
More muffled shouts of "Stop!" and groans of disgust come from beneath the flailing arms of the one-year-younger boy.

"I have a princess to save!" Sora continues to shout, feeling around for the wooden sword he'd dropped upon being tackled.

Date: 2006-12-02 07:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tall-dark-and.livejournal.com
"Maybe the princess doesn't want you to save her?" Riku suggests. "Maybe she's happy where she is!"

Not that they've exactly decided what the princess is being saved from, yet. Oh well.

Noticing Sora's search for his sword, Riku takes his own and taps Sora on the head with it. "Whatcha gonna do with no weapons, princess bait?"

Date: 2006-12-02 08:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aerora.livejournal.com
"She's not happy where she is," Sora says shaking his head. Grains of sand fall from the movement. "'Cause that's not part of the game!"

He tries to squirm his way out from beneath Riku's rather tight grip, and fails, breathing hard.

"And I'm gonna--" He reaches for Riku's sword and grabs it "--take your sword."

Or try, anyway.

Date: 2006-12-02 08:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tall-dark-and.livejournal.com
Riku's eyes narrow, and he holds tight onto it. "Are you?" he asks, and scoffs. "You can't get it unless -- unless -- "

He pauses for a moment, so he can think of something good.

" -- Unless you pass a test!"

Maybe that'll distract Sora. Somehow. Even if it doesn't make much sense!

Date: 2006-12-02 10:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aerora.livejournal.com
Sora freezes for a moment, mid-struggle, frowning.

"What test?" he asks confusedly. He doesn't let go of Riku's sword.
"You're tricking me 'cause you want to save the princess first!"

Date: 2006-12-02 11:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tall-dark-and.livejournal.com
"No way," Riku says, quick to deny that accusation. "If I wanted to do that, I'd just tie you up and leave you here!"

He just learned how to make a really good knot, too.

"It's a really good test, you know. Not just anyone gets offered it."

Now if only he'd figure out himself what it was.

Date: 2006-12-02 11:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aerora.livejournal.com
Because Sora is a year younger, this makes Riku the automatic smarter-than-him kid, and thus Sora is quietly contemplating the truth of his best friend's words.

"...what kinda test?"

Date: 2006-12-03 12:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tall-dark-and.livejournal.com
"You gotta let go of the sword first," Riku says. He's hoping that his score of 'older and smarter' helps him here. "I can't tell you until then!"

If Sora falls for this, he'll actually be surprised.

Date: 2006-12-03 04:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aerora.livejournal.com
Sora eyes him. Greatly. Calculating whether or not Riku is lying to him.

"Then you havta get off me," he says after a moment.

Date: 2006-12-03 04:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tall-dark-and.livejournal.com
"Cross my heart and hope to die," Riku says. The strongest promise there is!

Date: 2006-12-03 04:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aerora.livejournal.com
"On the count of three?"

Date: 2006-12-03 04:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tall-dark-and.livejournal.com
"Three," Riku says, and jumps up. He then tugs hard on his sword.

Date: 2006-12-03 04:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aerora.livejournal.com
Sora lets go of the sword then scrambles to get back to his feet.

It certainly feels good to be standing again.

Dusting himself off, he looks to Riku.

"So what's the test?"

Date: 2006-12-03 05:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tall-dark-and.livejournal.com
"You gotta answer a total of three whole questions," Riku says, his voice intentionally loud. "And only then shall you pass!"

Date: 2006-12-03 05:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aerora.livejournal.com
He nods (heroically) and crosses his arms.

"Okay," he says with a grin. "That sounds easy. And after this, I can take your sword to save the princess?"

'Cause he really wants to save the princess, you know.

Date: 2006-12-03 05:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tall-dark-and.livejournal.com
Riku could point out that Sora has his own sword, but he's not going to. That'd just be dumb, and ruin the game!

"Only if you answer all the questions right."

He plants his feet, and offers Sora a smirk. "First one! I'm big, red, round and dead - what am I?"

Date: 2006-12-03 05:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aerora.livejournal.com
Oh, yeah.

Well, he thinks that Riku's sword is invested with special power. Really. And besides, he kinda wants to see what this test is all about.

Until Riku gets around to the questions.

Little Sora's face scrunches. "What kinda question is that?" he demands, then suddenly brightens. "I know! Riku when he's wearing a red shirt and he's eaten too much food."

He starts to laugh.

Date: 2006-12-03 06:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tall-dark-and.livejournal.com
Of course it's invested with a special power - Riku touched it. Clearly, that means it rules over everything, and would beat down kings themselves.

Right.

As for the answer, Riku looks surprised for a moment. That's gotta score a few points for Sora! But he quickly tries to hide it, mocking disapproval. "You're not thinking hard enough," he says, his hands on his hips. "You gotta think outside the box, Sora!"

Whatever that means.

Date: 2006-12-03 06:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aerora.livejournal.com
If Riku had told Sora that, he probably would have said, 'Yeah right' even though deep inside, he'd probably think this was true.

Of course, Sora isn't thinking of that because he is still laughing.

"Aww, Riku that riddle doesn't make any sense," he says when he's calmed a bit. "'Cause I woulda said Santa Clause, but Santa isn't dead."

Date: 2006-12-03 06:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tall-dark-and.livejournal.com
"That's what you think!" Riku retorts, and gives Sora a look that implies he's just an uneducated kid. "But I guess that's enough of a pass."

Date: 2006-12-03 06:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aerora.livejournal.com
Sora blinks, a sort of hurt look overcoming his face.

"Santa isn't dead!" he repeats firmly, clenching his fists. "He'll come this Christmas, you'll see. But he's not gonna give you anything 'cause you don't believe in him!"

Date: 2006-12-03 12:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tall-dark-and.livejournal.com
"I don't want anything from him!" Riku proclaims. "Even if he is alive, he could never bring anything as cool as what I've got."

He grins.

Date: 2006-12-03 03:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aerora.livejournal.com
"But Santa always brings something cool--cooler than the stuff we got last year. It's what he does!" Sora argues, crossing his arms. He's firmly set on his beliefs.

Oh. And that test? It's completely forgotten, now.

Date: 2006-12-03 07:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tall-dark-and.livejournal.com
"Don't you want to hear the rest of the test?" Riku asks, completely ignoring Sora's statement. He's done with all this sappy Santa talk!

Date: 2006-12-04 12:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aerora.livejournal.com
What? Riku isn't going to try to fight him on this?

Oh, well. Good. Sora wins!

He shrugs, his arms still crossed. "Okay. What's next?"

Date: 2006-12-04 12:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tall-dark-and.livejournal.com
Riku picks and chooses his battles, sometimes. Besides, if he lets it drop now, he can come up with far more effective ways to prove his case.

"Second question," he says. "Why are you important?"

Date: 2006-12-04 12:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aerora.livejournal.com
Sora frowns, eyeing Riku. "Huh?"

Is he serious?

"I dunno...'cause without me...um..."

Date: 2006-12-04 01:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tall-dark-and.livejournal.com
"Without you," Riku says, "Some of us won't find their way."

His voice is strange now, somehow. Deeper, perhaps?

Date: 2006-12-04 01:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aerora.livejournal.com
Little Sora suddenly looks doubtful, as though he doesn't really believe Riku.

But something somewhere in his heart is affected by Riku's words. It's beyond little Sora's immediate reach--it's more...mature.

And then just as quickly, like a dream, it's gone.

He blinks.

"Hey, Riku?"

Date: 2006-12-04 01:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tall-dark-and.livejournal.com
"Yeah?"

If Riku's still acting different, there's no clue to it yet. Can't judge much from just one word, after all.

Date: 2006-12-04 01:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aerora.livejournal.com
A silly smile crosses his face and he's his usual little-self again.

"That was a weird question," he says with a laugh.

There is still a very subtle stirring in his heart.

Date: 2006-12-04 01:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tall-dark-and.livejournal.com
"Not as weird as you," Riku says, and maybe everything's back to normal now.

Except that the smile he offers is... wistful, instead of his usual arrogance.

One has to wonder if that's even possible for him...

Date: 2006-12-04 02:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aerora.livejournal.com
Sora continues to laugh, but a moment later, it fades away and his small face bears a more serious expression.

"Thanks for being my best friend," he says.

Date: 2006-12-04 03:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tall-dark-and.livejournal.com
"Heh," Riku says. No matter how strange he's acting, one thing stays typical - he has no idea how to respond to that. "Yeah."

But no matter how uncomfortable this might make him, there are important things to cover. Riku leans forward, and taps his finger on Sora's forehead. "Just don't forget it," he says, and then does the same to the younger boy's chest, right over the heart. "Keep it in there, if you can't keep it in your head. You've gotta -remember-."

Date: 2006-12-04 07:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aerora.livejournal.com
Sora blinks.

The game of knights and princesses seem trivial now, a far-off memory in his mind, but it's strange because he's still standing on the beach. And he's small, short, young.

"Yeah," he says, reaching to press his hand against his heart. It almost feels like he can see outside of himself. "I'll never forget, no matter where we end up." And he means it.

Date: 2006-12-04 08:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tall-dark-and.livejournal.com
"Good," Riku says. "Just hold onto that."

You might expect arrogance to cross his face to accompany his next statement, but it's not there - only honesty is there now. He's truly serious about this, and it's oh so very important.

"You hold onto that, and no matter how you're lost, I'll find you."

It's a promise.

Date: 2006-12-04 08:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aerora.livejournal.com
Sora nods.

There is gratitude and respect in the way he looks up at his best friend, and he knows that he will do the same for Riku--no hesitations--if the situation ever arose.

But it's scary to think that something could pull them away from each other. Could shatter the image of the two boys playing on the beach with their silly wooden shields and swords, laughing and running.

A moment later, little Sora grins. "Wanna save the princess together?" he asks.

Date: 2006-12-04 08:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tall-dark-and.livejournal.com
And there's that cocky smirk that we've all been waiting for. "Sure," Riku says. "That's what we're meant to do."

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Sora

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