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Disclaimer: Disney and Squeenix own KH. They just let me play with them.

-

It wasn't that Sora didn't understand his friends, or that he didn't realize that Kairi sometimes wanted Riku to disappear. He did. They were both just more important than what admitting that was worth.

It wasn't that Kairi hated Riku, either. He was passionate and fun and even a little kinder to her than he was to anyone else but Sora. She just hated the way Sora's eyes would always stay locked on him, somehow even while he was looking at her. Riku was in a whole other league and he didn't even know it. The little girl in her wanted to squash that.

It wasn't that Riku resented the life they had. But he did detest the fact that, at 13, all he was was all he would ever be... and it never felt like enough. His and Sora's eyes were always on the next, bigger thing: it was part of the game. But he was stuck in the first level and he just knew that Sora's smile would carry him on, farther and farther away until Riku couldn't even see him.

-

It wasn't that Sora looked at Riku any differently, or even that Kairi loved him less. But she was endlessly ashamed of that whiny little voice inside that still spoke out against Riku, even when she knew he was caught in that darkness bigger than all of them, just as Sora had been. Time and growth gave her the strength to overcome that. When she faced Riku again, she was finally able to plead that he stay without a twist of resentment in her gut.

It wasn't that Riku was oh-so-much wiser, now. He wasn't foolish enough to presume about his own wisdom, anymore. The difference was that both he and Sora fully understood his faults, and they could find their way through them. That, more than anything, was what gave him the courage to step out of the darkness. Sora could have all the faith he wanted, but as long as Riku knew that Sora realized that he could slip away... the other boy would help him keep his feet on the ground, even if his own control slipped a bit.

It wasn't that Sora's feelings for Riku or Kairi changed. But certain things started making a lot more sense when Sora discovered a whole new set of ways to make his best friend smile. Even the way Kairi used to act around him. He always gave her a big, grateful smile the next day after times when they could tell she'd been on the island, but slipped away when she heard the humming laughter.

-

P.S. I am DYING for a great Riku/Sora multi-chapter, so any recs anyone has are more than welcome!

Hope you enjoyed. ^^

~Kelska

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March 2011

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