The sun is shining brilliantly, making the sea foam sparkle as it washes across the shore. The sand is clean and warm to the touch. The wind brings the faint scent of all kinds of tropical flowers, mixed with a hint of saltiness. Children are laughing. Paopu fruit are swaying in the breeze. It’s a typical summer afternoon on the islets of Destiny Islands.
On the beach between the docks, two familiar friends are playing. Sora and Kairi are running around and chasing each other, both with wooden swords in hand. It looks like they’ve been doing this for a while, since the beach is covered with footprints.
Sora turns around to face Kairi. His face is red, probably from laughter. He holds both ends of the wooden sword in front of himself like a shield, preparing to block an impact.
“Okay, try a combo.”
Kairi smiles and steps back, waiting for his confirmation. He nods.
Kairi swings her sword at him, clashing it against his. Though he is pushed back a slight bit, he holds steady.
She swings the sword back upwards, hitting his a second time. The attack is weak, so he hardly moves at all. He starts to grin.
She spins around elegantly, and with all the power she can muster, lands her third blow.
Sora’s back hits the sand. He blinks. After realizing what happened, he sits up to find Kairi jumping up and down gleefully.
“You’re trying to hurt me, aren’t you?” He says, shaking the sand out of his hair.
Kairi offers him a hand up. “No, you’re just going too easy on me again.”
Sora doesn’t deny it. He takes her hand and stands back up. She steps back and resumes her fighting stance. Sora smirks and does the same.
Swords ready, they run at each other. But just as Kairi swings, Sora jumps into the air and does a forward flip over her. Before she can spin around to defend herself, he skillfully makes his move and knocks the sword right out of her hand. It flies through the air and lands in the water a good 50 feet away.
Kairi watches as her weapon is carried of to sea. She clenches her fists and spins around.
“Sora, you show off!”
Sora looks at her angry face and doubles over, laughing. Kairi marches over to him and pushes him over. Again, he hits the sand. Instead of trying to get up, he stretches out to make himself comfortable.
Kairi sighs and puts her hands on her hips. “Now you’re gonna have to make me another one.”
“Okay,” Sora says, staring up at the clouds.
She sits down on the sand next to him. “So, how am I doing?”
“Alright…” he responds. The sand is so warm; he just might take a nap.
Instead of continuing on, he yawns. Kairi gives up trying to get anything out of him. She stares at her fingernails.
A few seagulls cry from their perches on top of the palm trees. Otherwise, they’re alone.
“I’ve been having strange dreams lately…”
Sora sits up, curious as to why she brought up such a personal topic. She doesn’t look up at him, instead, continues examining her hands.
She hesitates, staring at the sand she’s sitting on. Finally, she looks up at him. Her eyes are deep and blue, hinted with concern.
“Do you think that everything is okay out there?”
“Out… there?” He blinks, “You mean, in the other worlds?”
Both of them stare out across the ocean. The water is calm. White clouds are gently rolling in.
“Don’t worry,” Sora assures her, “If anything bad was happening, King Mickey would let me know.”
“You’re right,” she says, wrapping her arms around her knees. The ocean breeze blows back her hair. Sora catches the scent of her shampoo, which smells sweeter than any of the islet’s flowers.
“Kairi…” he whispers, leaning over towards her, “What were your dreams about?”
A dark shadow looms over them. Sora and Kairi turn around, only to find Riku standing behind them, eclipsing the sunlight. He’s holding some wooden planks and a pair of hammers under his arm.
“Riku!” Sora yells, relieved. His sudden appearance was quite alarming.
Riku blinks, looking down at them. He notices how closely they’re sitting to each other. He smirks.
“Did I interrupt something?”
“No!” Sora responds, finding his sudden appearance quite annoying.
Riku tosses one of the hammers to Sora, which he catches. He looks up, bewildered.
“We’re fixing the dock today, remember?”
He looks over at Kairi. “It’s okay,” she says, standing up, “I promised Selphie that we’d work on our homework together.”
“I’ll talk to you later, Sora.”
She turns and walks away. Sora watches her leave, slightly disappointed. Holding the hammer at his side limply, he turns to Riku.
“Man, why do we have to fix the dock again?”
“Besides the fact that it’s broken?”
Riku starts walking towards the dock, and Sora follows.
“It’s almost typhoon season. If the dock isn’t sturdy, it might wash away.”
They continue walking. Riku looks up at the sky, thoughtfully.
“It’s important for us to take care of this place. To preserve our childhood.”
“Huh?” Sora questions, “Preserve our childhood?”
“You’ll never grow up, will you Sora?”
Sora notices the smirk on Riku’s face, and realizes that he’s being teased. He glares at him, and then suddenly runs ahead.
“I’m not racing you.” Riku shouts.
Sora doesn’t stop running. Riku laughs.
A little while later, Kairi and Selphie are on the upper deck of the tree house, overlooking the ocean. They’re sitting on the floor, surrounded by books and notebooks. The otherwise peaceful seaside ambience is being interrupted by the noise of Sora and Riku hammering the dock back together below them. Kairi watches them, lost in thought. Selphie slams one of her books closed in frustration.
“Wahh…” she whines, “I can’t do equations with them making so much noise!”
Kairi just continues watching, pressing the eraser of her pencil against her lips.
“Huh?” she says, looking over to Selphie.
“Why did you ask Sora to teach you how to sword fight? It doesn’t seem like you. You never used to fight with anyone, not even for fun.”
“I don’t want to get into fights…” Kairi responds. She looks back down at Sora and Riku, who are arguing over how to nail down a plank. “I want to be able to protect my friends.”
“Protect them from what?”
Kairi doesn’t respond. She looks down at her open workbook, and starts filling in answers.
“Hey, did you know?” Selphie says, changing the subject, “Wakka has a girlfriend now!”
Down on the beach. Sora and Riku have worked hard, and the once dilapidated dock is now fully repaired. Sora finishes hammering in the last nail and wipes the sweat off his brow. He stands, up, admiring his work.
“There, good as new.”
He carefully walks down to the end of the dock, testing it. Every plank is sound and stable.
“Remember the last time we built something together?” Riku asks.
“Yeah. Our raft.”
Riku smirks. “I never did get to tell you off for goofing off while I did all the work.”
“Hey, that was over a year ago! We didn’t even get to use it, anyway…”
“I wonder what happened to it.”
Sora stares pensively into the distant waves.
“You know…when we came home, my family didn’t remember that I was gone. It was like I never left in the first place.”
He holds his arm out in front of him, as if to summon his Keyblade. Nothing happens.
“I haven’t used the Keyblade since that day. I’m afraid that if I try to call it, it won’t appear. We defeated Xehanort’s Heartless, and then Organization XIII and Xehanort’s Nobody. Maybe there isn’t a use for the Keyblade any more.”
He pulls his arm in, clenching his fist.
“When we were gone, all I wanted to do was to find you and come back home. But now, I think all I want to do is leave again.”
“Naturally,” Riku says, walking down the dock towards him, “There’s nothing to do on this rock. No dangers, no adventures. But, it’s nice to have a place to come home to.”
“As long as you have something to protect,” Riku says reassuringly, “there will always be a use for the Keyblade.”
“I guess you’re right.”
They stand at the end of the dock together.
“So,” Riku asks, “When are you going to tell her?”
“Uh…” Sora mutters, looking down at his sneakers. Riku smirks and starts walking back towards the beach.
“If you don’t tell her soon, I’ll tell her for you.”
Sora spins around in panic.
“No, don’t do that! I-”
He accidentally missteps on the edge of one of his poorly nailed planks. In a flash, the plank pulls lose and sends him tumbling into the ocean. Riku turns around.
“I told you it was nailed in wrong!”
Sora coughs up salt water, grumbles, and starts swimming toward shore...