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True Friends

By Amanda Bivy Stone

Romance / Adventure

Chapter 1

Chapter 1
Interesting Things

  The monologue of the elderly teacher speaking at the front of the classroom echoed through the otherwise silent room, her voice almost sounding as uninterested in the subject matter as her weary pupils. Every student sat at their desk attempting to pay attention to the bland droning of the lecture; all except for a young boy in the back row that was soundly sleeping at his desk. His best friend that was sitting beside him scoffed when he looked over and saw his slumbering friend.

  Running his hand through his light purple hair, the boy looked over at a young red headed girl sitting across from him and rolled his eyes. The girl noticed his look and silently giggled. She looked over at their sleeping friend and lightly tugged on the tip of his spikey brown hair. At her prodding, the boy sleepily shook his head and let out a discontented grunt that his nap was being interrupted.

  “Sora,” The teacher at the front of the class turned around from writing on the chalkboard and glared at the three teens in the back row. “Would you kindly wake up or would you rather another detention?”

  Hearing his name, Sora swiftly sat up and tried his best to hide his sleepy eyes. Rubbing the back of his neck uncomfortably he forced a grin and stammered, “Oh, um sorry Mrs. Hamasaki. I was just resting my eyes.”

  Mrs. Hamasaki raised one of her grayed eyebrows at Sora before sighing and turning back to the board. As she continued her lecture, Sora looked over at his friends beside him and noticed that both of them were giving him looks. Yawning, he shrugged and placed his hands behind his neck making his friends shake their heads. Within the next few minutes the bell signaling the end of class rang through the room causing the students to immediately spring out of their chairs in attempt to escape to the outside world. Sora sighed relieved and began packing up his things when he got a smack to the back of his head.

  “Ow!” He let out a yelp before looking up to see teal eyes smirking at him. Narrowing his eyebrows he asked, “What was that for Riku?”

  Riku scoffed, “Have a good nap?”

  Sora sheepishly chuckled and was about to respond when the young red-headed girl stomped up to him with her hands placed firmly on her hips. Glaring at him with a frown she scolded him, “It’s bad enough that you sleep in almost every class, but then you go and fall asleep during an optional weekend class that you didn’t even have to attend!”

  “Oh come on Kairi,” Sora defended, standing up to be at her level. “I only came because you and Riku were taking it. Why did you guys want to take a safety class anyways?”

  “Don’t look at me.” Riku told him, waving his hand and looking out a nearby window at their home, Destiny Islands, outside. “I only came because Kairi insisted. I’d rather be practicing my fighting.”

  Kairi sighed, “Because you two, there are all sorts of useful things we should know about safety. Who knows when it will come in handy!”

  “Let’s hope you’ll never have to use it.” Mrs. Hamasaki noted as she approached the group. She looked right at Sora with a slight scowl as she told him, “Young man, if you were not interested in learning, you should not have come.” She held out a pink piece of paper and waited until Sora reluctantly took it. “I know this was an optional course, but you are still getting a detention.”

  As she turned around to walk away, Sora solemnly sat down in his chair and groaned, “Aw man! My mom is going to kill me!”

  Riku shook his head and laughed as he grabbed his backpack to leave the classroom. Kairi stayed by Sora and told him, “We’ll figure it out Sora. Come on, we better get going.”

  Sora sighed and stuffed the pink paper into a pocket on his backpack before smiling up at Kairi. “Yeah, let’s go to the paopu tree!” He beamed, making Kairi giggle.

  The three of them grabbed their things and walked out of the school. As they opened the doors that led outside, their eyes took a moment to adjust to the bright sun. They stood on a dirt path on top of a large hill that went from the school down into the island. Wooden homes were speckled along the hill leading down to the local hospital before reaching the shoreline. The island they were on was one of many; one of them being where the three of them enjoyed hanging out. Many of the residents of the islands thought the particular view was the most beautiful spot in all the islands.

  Sora and Kairi smiled as they looked out at the spectacle they had seen almost hundreds of times before. Out in the distance they could see the small island where they hung out almost every day. Giving each other a smile, they immediately went into a sprint, racing each other down the hill. Riku stayed behind in a daze, not even noticing that his friends had run off. He usually was the one at the front of the pack, especially if some sort of competition was involved; but for some reason, he wasn’t all there. He looked at the surrounding island and sighed.

  As he reluctantly began to move he mumbled under his breath, “This place is like a prison.”

  Shaking his head as he finally began to make his way down the hill he saw Sora and Kairi running ahead. With a smirk appearing on his face he immediately darted after them, pulling in front of them before either of them knew he was joining in on the race.

  “I was wondering where you were, Riku!” Sora laughed until he noticed that Riku was getting ahead of him.

  Riku and Sora raced to the shore line at a wooden pier that had multiple rowing boats tethered to it. Leaning his hands on his knees to catch his breath after Riku had already arrived, Sora panted out, “Aw man, now the score’s 12 to 3!”

  Riku laughed as he knelt down by a boat and began untethering it. “You’ll catch up one of these days Sora.” He teased as he completely untied the rope connected to his boat. Carefully getting onto the boat as it bobbed in the sparkling ocean water, he asked, “So are we all taking my boat or what?”

  “If you’ll do the rowing, I’m up for that!” Kairi quipped as she caught up to the boys, out of breath.

  “Yeah, you wish!” Riku laughed back, “If you take my boat, you’re the one doing the rowing.”

  Kairi placed one of her arms behind her back and grabbed the forearm of the other as she giggled, “Alright fine, I’ll just go with Sora. He’ll row for me, won’t you Sora?”

  Sora jumped up and chimed, “Oh, sure thing!”

  Riku noticed the way Sora’s cheeks lightly blushed and shook his head with a laugh under his breath. Sitting down in his boat with the oars ready to row he told them, “Well hurry it up lovebirds!  We don’t have all day!”

  Sora’s eyes widened as his cheeks darkened. “What? What are you talking about?” He stammered as Kairi untied his boat for him.

  Only laughing in response, Riku began rowing his boat towards the nearby island where they always hung out. Sora and Kairi were close behind and soon all three of them reached the small island. Riku tethered his boat to one of the wooden posts along the wooden pier and looked up at his surroundings. A few of their classmates were already running along the golden sands of the beach as couple others were climbing up the multiple tree houses that had been built into the towering trees in the center of the island. Looking over he spotted the place he, Kairi, and Sora always took as their official hangout spot. It was a small circular area that was raised over the ocean waves. A wooden bridge led to the sandy area where a clump of palm trees stood as well as a long bent tree with star shaped fruit, called the paopu tree. Riku stood and stretched his back after he was done tying the rope and smirked as Sora and Kairi approached in their boat.

  “Took you guys long enough,” He joked, getting a look from Sora.

  “Well you didn’t have an extra person on your boat!” Sora bit back, giving Kairi an apologetic look when she glared at him.

  Riku chuckled and motioned his head towards the paopu tree saying, “Come on, the sun’s going to set soon. Wouldn’t want to miss seeing the thing we’ve seen a thousand times before.”

  Kairi giggled as she hopped out of the boat and began walking to Riku commenting, “I don’t think I could ever get tired of seeing the sunset here. It’s so beautiful!”

   Sora agreed with a smile, “Yeah, this place is great!” as he walked up beside Riku, who just crossed his arms silently.

  Chatting with each other about different things they enjoyed about the island, Sora and Kairi made their way to the tree as Riku trailed silently behind. They crossed the bridge and approached their bent tree. Sora and Kairi hopped onto it and sat down beside each other, while Riku placed his hands behind his head and leaned against the trunk. They stared out at the ocean horizon as the lowering sun began to shimmer off the surface. The sky began fading from the bright blue to dark hues of orange and red, reflecting brilliantly off the waves.

  Sora and Kairi began chatting about various things that happened that day as Riku remained quiet, seemingly lost in thought.

  “Are you alright Riku?” Kairi looked over at him and asked, “You haven’t said anything for a few minutes.”

  Both Sora and Kairi leaned forward to look at their silent friend with concerned looks. Riku sighed and took a couple steps forward.

  He ran one of his hands through his hair that almost seemed to glow in the light of the setting sun, before speaking, “I just can’t stop thinking about what’s out there.” Gesturing his arm towards the ocean he continued, “I mean, this place is so small and insignificant. There has to be more.” Facing his concerned friends he noted, “We know there has to be something; Kairi couldn’t have just fallen from nowhere.”

  Kairi shivered when Riku mentioned her arrival. The fall thankfully wasn't something she remembered. She had no idea where she was born, but it wasn’t Destiny Islands. According to her adopted family she had fallen from the sky in a bright beam that had broken through the clouds and crashed into the ocean. She didn’t like to talk about it; however, she had confided to Sora that she was terrified of it happening again. The fact that she had been taken from her home and transported to an unknown world was terrifying, especially since she had no idea why or how it happened.

  Sora noticed Kairi’s demeanor suddenly change and placed his hand reassuringly on her shoulder. Kairi looked over at Sora and gave him a small smile of silent thanks.

  “We need to find a way to get out of here.” Riku continued, not noticing how his previous comment had affected Kairi. Turning his back on them, he continued looking out at the ocean.

  Kairi gave Sora a concerned glance and Sora nodded. He slid off of the trunk of the tree and walked up beside Riku. Leaning forward so Riku would see his face, he assured him, “We’ll find something someday Riku. The islands aren’t so bad.”

  Riku scoffed, “You’re just saying that. You and Kairi don’t have any interest in leaving this place.”

  “When did I say that?” Kairi countered as she also slid off the trunk to approach her friends. “Don’t you think I want to find my home someday? Just because I’m not ready to go now doesn’t mean I won’t ever be.”

  Crossing his arms, Riku closed his eyes and said, “I guess you’re right; but when will you guys be ready? The longer we stay here the more restless I get. This place is just too small. Nothing exciting ever happens here.”

  Kairi came up between Sora and Riku and reached her arms up around their shoulders. Watching the last sliver of sunlight disappear under the darkened horizon she assured him, “You have to stay positive Riku! At least you have me and Sora!”

  Sora nodded and grinned as he added, “Yeah! And we’ll be here for you no matter what!”

  Riku opened his eyes and looked over at his friends. As he noticed their smiles he smiled back and told them, “Thanks.”

  Looking up, Riku noticed the stars beginning to appear in the darkening sky. Taking a deep breath he patted Kairi’s shoulder before pulling away from her side embrace. “We better head home. Thankfully, we have one more day of the weekend before school starts back up. So we can meet here bright and early tomorrow if you guys want.”

  “Yeah,” Sora agreed as he reluctantly pulled away from Kairi and walked up beside Riku. Lowering his voice once he was next to Riku he asked, “Do you need to stay at my house again tonight?”

  Riku looked down at his feet as he absently kicked the sand before replying, “No, I’ll be fine. My parents are on some trip to Unmei Island, so I actually have the house to myself.”

  “So sleepover at your place then” Sora chimed, immediately smiling.

  “You wish!” Riku scoffed, “My parents hate it when I have you over and you know that.”

  Sora stretched his arms into the air and exclaimed, “I spilt my drink one time and I’ve been exiled! Geez, growing up with parents like them must have been awful!”

  “You have no idea.” Riku said under his breath.

  “You did what now?” Kairi asked as she walked up beside them.

  Sora began filling Kairi in on the event as the three of them began walking along the bridge back to their boats so they could make their way home. They reached the main island and Kairi waved goodbye to the boys as they tethered their boats. Sora watched as Kairi walked away before attending to tying the rope.

  Riku stood after he was finished and waited for Sora to be done as well.

  “You’re so quick Riku!” Sora noted as he stood up beside his friend.

  Crossing his arms, Riku told him, “Yeah, well I didn’t waste time staring after Kairi when she left.”

  Widening his eyes in embarrassment, Sora stammered, “I-I didn’t either!”

  Riku laughed and teased, “Uh-huh, sure you didn’t.” He motioned his head towards the beach that led up to their town and said, “Come on, Saki is probably wondering where you are.”

  “You want to come over for a while?” Sora suggested as he placed his hands behind his head and walked beside Riku.

  Shaking his head, Riku responded, “Not tonight, I’m actually kind of tired.”

  “Fine” Sora slumped his shoulders, “Go be by yourself then.”

  Riku smiled but didn’t respond. They walked together in silence until they had to take separate roads.

  “See you tomorrow!” Sora grinned as he told him farewell and waved his hand.

  Lifting a hand in a response, Riku gave him a small smile before turning his back and walking towards his empty home. Coming up to his neighborhood he could see light outpouring from every window and cheerful chatter muffled by the closed doors as he passed every house. Then he came up to the dark dreary building he called his own. The windows were darkened and even the porch light was off, causing Riku to have a hard time finding the right key to fit the lock.

  Eventually, he was able to open the door and entered the black darkness that filled his home. Feeling along the wall he found a switch and flipped it on, allowing light to pour into the room and causing him to momentarily cover his eyes until they adjusted. He was standing in the pristine living room. Everything was in its place and dust free, just the way his mom liked it. Standing on a small area of tile that was in the entryway that was in front of the white carpet in the living room, Riku took off his sandy shoes before making his way down the hall to his bedroom. Reaching his room he flicked on the light and saw that his mom had once again rearranged everything in it; so much so that if a guest were to enter they would have no idea he even lived there. It was just the way his parents liked it.

  Rolling his eyes, Riku turned around and headed towards the bathroom to wash off his shoes. It was something his mother was adamant about. She hated sand or anything dirty being in the house so she regularly insisted on Riku washing off his shoes when entering the house. Riku and his parents were never on friendly terms; but he rarely went out of his way to disregard their rules. Once he was sure the sand was off his shoes he placed them in the tub so they could dry and made his way back to his bedroom. Grabbing the collar of his shirt to begin taking it off he opened the door to his closet to grab his wooden sword collection; only to find them missing. He narrowed his eyes as his hand tightened around the knob of the door.  With harsh movements, he began looking through every drawer and open spot he could think of. When nothing appeared he crossed his arms and asked in an aggravated tone, “Where did she hide them?”

  Giving his room a final once-over he stomped out of his bedroom and made his way outside, not caring that he was barefoot. Rocks in the dirt outside cut his feet slightly as he made his way to the side of the house to the blue trash container. Lifting the lid he narrowed his eyes at the contents. There, lying in the empty bin lay a pile of wooden weapons. Cursing under his breath, Riku reached in and grabbed the weapons. The garbage had been emptied earlier that day but a lingering scent of trash had seeped into the wood regardless.

  Once he noticed the smell, he gave an annoyed growl and threw the weapons back into the bin. “I’ll just make new ones.” He grumbled under his breath as he headed back inside the house with his hands dug into the pockets of his black pants.

  Slamming the front door behind him, he didn’t even bother to wipe the dirt off his feet before making his way back to his bedroom. Opening one of the drawers of his dresser he grabbed a pair of blue pajama pants before turning to make his way to the bathroom. He sighed as he walked into the hallway, noticing his footprints had contaminated the white carpet; but he almost didn’t seem to care. Opening the door to the bathroom, he looked in the mirror. He was still wearing his school uniform in a white button down shirt and black dress pants. Even though the safety class was on a weekend, he still was required to wear the uniform. Tugging at the blue plaid tie around his neck he walked further into the bathroom and closed the door behind him so he could take a shower.

  Several minutes later he emerged from the steamy room wearing the blue pajama pants. He left his clothes lying on the tiled floor as he dried his hair with a towel and made his way to his room. Entering the room he sat on his bed and looked out his bedside window at the sparkling night sky. The stars scattered along the cloudless sky and the moon was filling the island with a pale light.

  Tossing the damp towel onto the ground, Riku placed his hands behind his neck as he lay down, still staring at the endless sky. Yawning, his eyes slowly closed as he mumbled sleepily, “I wonder what’s out there…”

  The next morning, bright sunlight streaming through the window caused Riku to squint his eyes open. Rubbing his eyes, he slowly sat up and looked at the still slumbering world outside. The surrounding flowers in the garden his mom planted in the front yard were barely unravelling; hesitantly welcoming the new morning as if they weren’t yet ready for the day. Turning towards his bedside table he noticed that it was barely five in the morning.

  Leaning his head back on his pillow he groaned, “I really need to get some curtains. Not that my parents would ever let me put them up.”

  He lay there silently for a few minutes before sitting up and swinging his legs off the side of the bed. Stretching, he yawned and stood up. He looked over his room at the dirty towel and brown footprints he had placed the night before. His parents would be livid when they return home and saw what he had done. Sighing, Riku reached down and grabbed the towel off the ground and tossed it in a nearby laundry hamper.

  “No need giving them one more reason to hate me.” He mumbled under his breath.

  Going through his closet he pulled out his regular outfit: a tight fitted yellow and black shirt paired with his navy blue pants. Within a few minutes he was dressed and ready for the day. He stopped by the kitchen and grabbed a blueberry muffin before heading out of the house. Taking a bite of the muffin he readjusted his oversized backpack on his shoulder.

  “Might as well start the day, even if it is early,” He told himself as he headed towards the market.

  As he walked, the surrounding environment slowly began to awaken. One by one the local birds began singing their sweet sounding songs and the flowers were soon in full bloom. Within a few minutes, Riku entered the main shopping plaza of the town; usually bustling with people but now only sparsely filled with the occasional squirrel searching for food and employees making their way to their job. Approaching a red shop with a glass door, Riku pulled on the handle and heard a welcoming bell chime as he entered the building. The dusty smell of wood filled the air as various construction pieces and tools filled the long aisles.

  A gruff voice welcomed Riku. “Good morning Riku! Haven’t seen you in a while” he noted.

  Riku looked over at the register and saw a tall man wearing a green plaid shirt with a scruffy black beard. Smiling, he got straight to the point, “I need to make some more weapons.”

  “Aye,” The man nodded with a smirk, “I thought that would be the only reason you were here. Lucky for you, I still got some wood in the back that I’ve been saving for you in case you ever wanted to make some more.”

   Widening his eyes Riku replied, “Really? Thanks; I was thinking I would have to cut my own.”

  The man laughed, “I’d like to see that. Nah, I had a feeling you wouldn’t be able to stay away from weapon making for long so I put some right sized wood aside for you.” Turning away he called behind him, “I’ll be right back with it.”

  Riku nodded as he rocked back and forth on his heels. Within a few minutes the man returned to the main lobby of the shop carrying a stack of long, rectangular wooden blocks. Riku smiled as he saw the pieces.

  The man placed the wood onto the counter next to his register and told Riku, “Well, here ya go. I hope this helps.”

  Approaching the counter, Riku swung his backpack in front of him and unzipped it to place the wood inside. As he placed the last block into his bag he asked, “How much do I owe you?”

  Waving his hand dismissively the man told him, “Nah, don’t worry about it. I saved those specifically for you so it just don’t feel right charging ya.”

  Riku paused momentarily and smiled before zipping up his backpack. Swinging his bag back behind him he told the man, “Well thanks a lot.”

  “Just make sure to show me the finished product.” The man told him with a smile.

  “Will do,” he promised, making his way to the door.

  Readjusting the now-heavier bag on his shoulders, Riku left the store and took a deep breath of the clear air outside the dusty shop. A few people had begun appearing in the marketplace as the sun was going higher in the sky. Riku had no more business in the marketplace and began making his way to the shoreline. Sora and Kairi wouldn’t be up for at least a few more hours, especially Sora; so Riku still had more time to spare. Reaching the calm shoreline, he walked onto the pier and tossed his backpack onto his boat before untying the rope connecting it to the wooden post. The ocean waves softly lapped the side of his small boat causing a slight mist of salty water to spray into the air. As Riku finished untying the boat, he carefully got into the rocking vessel and grabbed his oars. He rowed his way to the small distant island and once there he tethered his boat to the pier and grabbed his bag before making his way onto the sandy banks.

  Jogging, he crossed the wooden bridge and swung up onto the trunk of the paopu tree. Placing the backpack beside him he pulled out one of the wooden blocks he received as well as a small plastic bag filled with various sized tools. Silently, he grabbed a small sharp blade from the plastic bag and began chipping away at the wood, carving it into a weapon. He sat there for what seemed like hours, getting lost in it.

  “There you are Riku!” Sora’s voice came up behind him, “Making a new weapon? I thought you made all the ones you wanted?”

  Riku looked up from his work, his eyes taking a moment to adjust from sudden movement. In front of the paopu tree stood Sora looking at him confused and Kairi beside him with a smile and her hand behind her back grasping the forearm of the other.

  With a sigh he admitted, “I did, but when I got home last night I found that my parents threw them out.”

  “What? Why?” Sora asked as his eyebrows furrowed.

  Riku shrugged and was about to continue when his stomach growled.

  Kairi giggled and took a few steps closer to the boys, “Sounds like someone’s hungry, when’s the last time you ate?”

  “Um… this morning, around five I think.” Riku said as he looked up at the sky trying to remember.

  “Five?” Sora exclaimed, “What in the world were you doing being up that early?”

  Placing his things back into his backpack Riku replied, “I’m always up that early Numbskull.”

  Sora gave him a pout at the name calling but then rubbed his own stomach and noted, “Well I agree with Riku’s tummy, I’m starving! Let’s go eat something.”

  “Alright,” Kairi agreed, “My family gave me some money for today so lunch is on me!”

  Riku smiled at Kairi in thanks as Sora exclaimed, “Alright! Thanks Kairi!”

  Placing his bag back on his shoulders, Riku slid off the trunk of the tree and followed his friends to the pier where they got on their boats and made their way back to the main island. As Riku tied his boat to the post he looked up at the sky and noticed something behind some clouds. Standing, he squinted his eyes to get a better look.

  “Do you guys see that?” Riku asked his friends as they rowed up beside him.

  “What is it?” Kairi asked, hopping out of the boat while Sora tied it up.

  Riku pointed towards the sky, “It looks like a falling star, but it’s in the middle of the day.”

  Sora looked up from the rope and cocked his head to the side. Without fully tethering the boat, he quickly stood and agreed, “Yeah I see it too. I wonder what it is.”

  The three of them stood there staring at the object that was shrouded by the clouds when a deafening sound surged through the still air. A bright beam burst through the clouds and the object they had been watching suddenly shot into the ocean. Riku staggered from the sound as he covered his ears in an attempt to stop their ringing.

  “What was that?” Sora yelled loudly, also covering his ears.

  “I think something fell from the sky!” Kairi responded pointing towards the ocean.

  “Yeah, but what?” Sora asked.

  “Only one way to find out,” Riku answered before running to the edge of the pier and immediately diving into the ocean.

  Gasping for breath as he came up from the salty water he looked at the object in the distance. It was difficult to see clearly as the waves kept it constantly in motion; the only detail Riku could make out was a brilliant red color. Pushing himself against the current he began swimming forward to get closer, every so often pausing to see if he could yet determine what he was after. As he paused to catch his breath he treaded water and gave one last look when he gasped.

  Slightly turning his head back towards Sora and Kairi he yelled, “Go get help! I think it’s a girl!” Without seeing how either of them reacted, Riku immediately pushed himself to swim as fast as he could to the human being floating unconscious in the water.

  Both Sora and Kairi’s eyes widened as they heard Riku’s words. Sora immediately turned to run towards the hospital grabbing Kairi’s wrist to bring her along with him when she didn’t move.

  “Come on! We need to get help!” Sora told her hurriedly.

  Kairi didn’t move, her legs almost seemed glued to the wooden pier beneath her as she stared wide eyed at the girl Riku was going after. All she whispered under her breath was, “It’s happening again…”

   Sora noticed Kairi's immobility but didn't have the time to calm her down. He resigned himself to giving her wrist a supportive squeeze before turning to run for help.

  Riku’s muscles stung and ached from his sudden endurance, but he was undeterred as he put everything he could against the waves. Gasping for breath, he reached the girl floating in the water and wrapped his arm around her waist. Riku had trouble treading the water without getting his hand tangled in the girl’s long red hair that floated around them. Keeping both of their heads above water was proving difficult as the strong current began pushing them under, causing Riku to get a mouth full of salt water. Despite the struggle he pushed himself forward towards the sandy beach, keeping a close eye on his goal. As he reached the shore line a few people had appeared to see what was going on. They murmured to each other as Riku placed his hands under the girl’s arms and pulled her along the wet sand until both of them were far enough away from the tide. He put her down on the sand, kneeling beside her and placing two fingers along her neck to check for a pulse; but there was none.

  He looked up worried and said, “She isn’t breathing.”

  One of the nearby people watching the ordeal yelled out, “Does anyone know CPR?”

  “Wait,” Riku said under his breath, feeling his heart drumming in his ears from the adrenaline. “I just learned it at that safety class.” Placing his shaking hands on the girl’s chest, he shut his eyes tightly as he counted “One, two, three,” With every count he pressed down on her chest, trying to get her to catch a breath, seemingly to no avail.

  Concern from the forming crowd around them filled the air as the girl’s revival seemed less and less likely. Riku ignored their words as he continued the rhythmic motion until with one last press the girl’s eyes shot open and she began to cough. Riku sprang back as the girl doubled over spewing salt water that had made its way into her lungs. She gasped for air and fell back onto the sand, very weak but alive. She briefly looked over at Riku’s widened eyes before passing out again. Letting out a breath he had been holding, Riku relaxed his muscles and placed his hand over his heart as if it were about to beat out of his chest. The crowd began to cheer and gasp as the girl came to life but Riku simply stared at the girl in front of him oblivious to the praise.

  He looked over the girl he had somehow saved. Sand was tangled into her soaked, bright red hair that reached all the way to her hips. A tear was along the waist line of her tight green tank top but her black shorts seemed to be undamaged. Riku’s cheeks flushed as he looked her over and swiftly darted his eyes to look elsewhere.

  As if on cue, Sora came running up with a line of medics carrying a long white stretcher. The crowd surrounding the girl and Riku parted ways to allow the professionals through. Placing the stretcher on the sand beside the girl, four medics went on either side of her and carefully lifted her on to it. As they picked the stretcher back up, other medics began doing various tests on her to make sure she was stable before bringing her back to the hospital. Riku sat on the sand and watched as everything transpired until Sora came over and offered him a hand to help him up. He strained a smile up at Sora as he stood and looked around at the dispersing crowd.

  “I can’t believe that just happened.” Sora noted and then patted Riku on the back, “Great job! You saved her life!”

  Riku nodded numbly before shaking his head and scoffing, “Yeah, well somebody had to save her. Might as well had been me.”

  Sora laughed, “Humble as ever.”

  Half-heatedly laughing in return, Riku smiled and watched as a middle aged nurse walked away from the girl’s stretcher  and over to him and Sora.

  The woman pushed a few strands of blonde hair behind her ear and smiled as she approached and congratulated Riku, "Well, that was some fast thinking. I don't know if she would have made it without you. We are going to be keeping her at the clinic for a while so she can recover. Feel free to come visit her. In fact, if she is anything like our last visitor…" She glanced over at Kairi, still standing on the wooden pier watching everything transpire, "She's going to need some people help her get settled into her new life here."

  Riku smiled at the nurse and rubbed the back of his neck before replying, “Um… it was nothing really.” 

  “That ‘nothing’ saved a girl’s life!” A young man from the crowd called out towards Riku.

  The surrounding people all nodded in agreement and began swarming towards Riku, congratulating him on his bravery. He stood there uncomfortably but also slightly proud as he swiftly got bombarded with questions and praise. Sora took the opportunity to slip away unnoticed and walked over to the pier to check on Kairi, noticing her sullen look as he approached. She had her head pointed downwards as if she were deep in thought and both of her hands were clasped tightly in front of her. Sora walked up to her slowly as if not to startle her. Once he was beside her he rubbed the back of his neck uncomfortably before asking, "Hey. Are you okay?"

  Without looking up Kairi replied, "Is that what happened when I came here? Did someone have to save me?"

  Staying silent for a moment, he looked down at the waves lightly lapping the wooden posts of the pier. "I-I don't know," He finally decided to say, "I don't really remember. I was only six when you came here" Getting a sudden smile he leaned down so Kairi could see his face and added, "But I bet we can find someone who does!"

  Giving a small smile, Kairi looked up at Sora and nodded as she told him, “I’d like that.”  

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1. Chapter 1
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