Amu beamed as she latched onto Kairi’s arm. “Thank you so much for joining me today.”
Kairi stiffened and pulled back. He readjusted his glasses, blushing, whilst he glanced away from Amu. She looked very nice today. She always looked nice but especially today.
“It’s a shame none of the others could join us but oh well, more space for us to set up camp, huh?” Amu said.
Her Guardian Charas snickered around her, examining Kairi with fierce expressions. Amu blinked. She seemed oblivious to the reason why they were treating him with such demeanour. Kairi, however, was acutely aware of the reason as to why they were teasing him. Musashi was huffy about it, though.
After all, they were all here to have a good time on the beach. Nothing more, nothing less.
Amu took Kairi’s hand again and then tugged him along. Kairi didn’t mind, and they soon darted down the sandy steps and onto the flat of the beach. He scanned the surrounding areas for a good place to set up their little spot. He noted where the flags were and what sort of people were around; others already here included a few fisherman way down by the rocky pier and a few, nuclear-looking families closer to them.
“Where should we set up?” Kairi asked.
Amu glanced around, humming, and she tapped her chin. Her eyes lit up and then she pointed: “How about there?”
“Sounds good.” Kairi agreed with a placid smile.
Together, they were bound for the spot that Amu had picked out. It was a decent distance away from the other people whilst remaining close to the flags. Soon, they were able to set up. They unfurled their towels and placed their bags on them. As they did so, they became more acutely aware of the seaside breeze and the warm sun shining down on them. It felt very pleasant though.
Amu turned away from Kairi, briefly, and took off her shirt and shimmied her shoulders. She could feel the sting of sunshine on them. So, she turned her head.
“Kairi, could you do my back?” she asked. “I’ve got sunscreen in my bag.”
“O-Oh! No problem.” Kairi stammered.
Kairi fumbled with Amu’s bag as he riffled through it. She didn’t have any overly personal items that someone like him ought not to be seeing but it was awkward regardless. She hummed a little tune as she held her hair up as he took the sunscreen bottle out of her bag.
He gave it a squeeze and held it out in front of him. Amu took a swipe and started spreading it on her face. Kairi then applied the lotion to his hands a second time so that he could prepare to do her back and shoulders. She was thin and bony, warm too despite only having been out in the sun for a few minutes. He began to massage the sunscreen into her and she froze at his touch, panicking him.
“Everything alright, Amu?” he asked, alarm in his voice.
“Oh yeah! I just had a thought, you should give the sunscreen over to our Charas; it’d be bad if they got burnt as well.” Amu said.
“True, true.” Musashi piped up.
He and Amu’s Charas then swooped in and took the sunscreen out of Kairi’s lap. They began to share it amongst themselves whilst he continued to do Amu’s shoulders and back, getting underneath the straps of her two-piece even though it felt strangely indecent. Eventually, Amu shrugged him off and beamed.
“I’ll do you now.” she offered, chirpy.
“Alright.” Kairi replied.
They switched around. Now it was Kairi facing off into the distance whilst Amu sat behind him. He took off his shirt and he heard the sputter of the sunscreen behind him. Then, a cold slap across his back – before he could even feel the rays of the sun. Amu began to massage in the lotion onto his skin.
Amu wasn’t exactly gentle with him, Kairi soon realised. She dug her fingers in very hard and he wouldn’t be surprised if she had broken his skin here and there in streaks with her nails. Still, he endured it until she felt content that Kairi would be properly protected from the sun.
“Now what?” Amu said, and Kairi turned around on his towel, so they could sit side by side. “Should we play in the water? Maybe kick around a soccer ball?”
“You sound like Kukai…” Kairi complained.
“But I suppose we have to get in the water eventually. So, let’s just… play in the surf, I guess.” Kairi replied.
“Sounds fun.” chirruped Amu.
They both picked themselves off the ground. Amu twisted around, briefly, to the Guardian Charas and asked: “Do you lot wanna come along to?”
Her Charas snickered amongst themselves and Musashi looked like he might have said something, had Ran not pounced on him and clamped her hand over his mouth. She smiled.
“We have plans.” Su informed her.
“We’re going to make the most artistic castle and we need Musashi. I have plans for a palace and I’m going to need his expertise.” Miki added.
“We look forward to seeing your creation but try not to rouse too much suspicion.” Kairi said.
“We’ll be fine, we’ll be fine.” Su said in her lovely, lilting voice.
“Alright, well, have fun.” Amu agreed.
She and Kairi left the Charas behind before half-running to meet the waves on the beach. The closer they drew into the ocean, the opaquer the shallows became. From a distance, it was a blue blanket but closer, they could see distinct colours and the sand beneath the water. They could see the sea shells and shiny rocks, as well as strands of seaweed and other aquatic plant life and schools of tiny, shimmering fish. The ocean seemed so enormous and monolithic and yet, even in the shallows, the two could see that the ocean, in its grandeur, was anything but uniform.
Amu stepped up to the plate first. She spread out her arms and awkwardly, Kairi followed suit and in a quiet voice asked: “What’re we doing?”
“Feeling the wind.” she replied, and she closed her eyes.
Kairi closed his eyes and tried to do what Amu was doing. So, they stood there – arms spread wide – and allowed the wind to rush past them. They could it feel it in their hair and upon their skin, like peppered kissed. Amu laughed, and Kairi smiled a small smile. The water at their ankles seemed to thin.
Amu opened her eyes and then assailed Kairi. She grabbed his shoulders and his eyes, irritably, snapped open.
“Look,” she said, and she pointed at the waves which were rolling back as far as they could.
Kairi smiled. She looked so dearly excited about it and it got him excited as well. He lowered his arms and Amu took his hand again. Their fingers interlocked, and his heart skipped a beat before hammering. He breathed deeply and when he exhaled, he and Amu were knocked back a little bit by the water.
Sand dragged around their feet. The water was frigid, but it felt nice. It lapped at them and they enjoyed the rush. The movement of the beach in which for a single moment, it felt like it was just them and the sea. For moment, it even felt as though they were about to meld into the water. It was serene.
Amu laughed, and Kairi could have sworn he felt the sun in her voice. He gazed at her, so lovingly, and yet she seemed so oblivious to the crush that he had on her. He smiled. His cheeks slowly growing rosier and rosier. She glanced at him and blinked. She reached out, drew in closer with her toes trailing in the sand, and tucked a strand of his hair behind his ears.
“You’re already really wet.” she commented. “You should cool off.”
“Y-Yeah.” Kairi said.
“Alright, on let’s jump into the next wave then.” Amu suggested.
They faced the water again. Kairi held his breath as he watched the water begin to crest. Foam and sand were displaced and when it took to its highest curl, with a quick flick of his eyes towards Amu, they jumped on her command. Her command being a cheeky look and a nod.
She screamed joyously as they jumped. Kairi plunged beneath the water and a huge splash unfurled around him. He kept his eyes clenched shut and felt the water waver above him. It was fun. Feeling the water encapsulate him, until his lungs burned, and he needed to come up for air.
He broke the surface and took a big, gulping breath as he opened his eyes. The sting of salt hurt him, but he didn’t mind. He glanced around, squinting, and from what he could tell, everything was blurry, and Amu was gone.
“Amu? Amu?” he called out to her.
He felt the rush of water behind him and then he was embraced from behind.
“Boo!” Amu yelled.
She hugged onto him tightly. Water poured off of them both and she laughed. Kairi smiled.
“Cute.” he said. “Now let go.”
She complied, and Kairi turned around in the water; meeting her impish gaze as his finally straightened out.
“C’mon,” she begged him, “let’s play.”
Kairi, utterly infatuated, obliged her in her frolicking amid the waves. He enjoyed being splashed at, even when it temporarily blinded him, and he enjoyed getting his revenge by splashing more at Amu. He liked to hear her shriek and laugh, tumbling down in the shallows and whatnot.
Soon, their stomachs were growling so they came out of the water and returned to their towels. They plopped down, sand puffing up beneath them and grains scattered on the colourful fabrics on their towels and stuck to their feet. Their Charas tittered, slightly annoyed, as they had slightly messed up their hard work.
As they dried off, Amu and Kairi admired the castle which their Charas had constructed. Miki chattered very happily about her vision whilst Ran and Musashi complained about how much of a slave driver she was whereas Su and Dia remained blissfully and awkwardly silent respectively regarding it all.
Regardless, what had been constructed thus far was impressive. It was obviously a work in progress, but it showed great promise. It was Feudal in style and had the basics of an Emperor’s palace, but still required some detailing in the roof work to make it pop in such association. It seemed to have a very good grasp of historical accuracy – no doubt thanks to Musashi’s advice.
Kairi just hoped that it wasn’t rousing too much suspicion. She glanced around. The beach was slowly growing busier now that the temperature had climbed again. It would be bad if people noticed that a miniature palace was slowly being constructed in the sand with no one visible doing the construction. Amu, meanwhile, assured Kairi that her Charas – and Musashi – were very responsible and it would all be fine.
Satisfied, Kairi and Amu soon picked themselves up again and moved out in search of something to eat. Neither wanted some savoury as they had had the good sense of having lunch at home before leaving. And besides, it was the beach after all so of course they would want something perhaps cooler and their options were limited so the ice-cream vendor was looking very good. And without further ado, Amu soon had her heart set on something nice and sweet – and Kairi couldn’t say no to such a hopeful look on her face as they began to close in on the vendor.
Amu and Kairi glanced at each other awkwardly whilst the vendor, who had a kind face, asked what they would like.
“One soft serve please!” Amu finally spoke up. “And can I get sherbet with it, please?”
“Of course,” he said, nodding, and then turned his gaze onto Kairi, “and what about you, young man?”
“One Blue Hawaii shaved ice, please.” Kairi replied.
“How mature…” Amu snickered under her breath, to Kairi’s bemusement, whilst the vendor asked for the combined sum.
Kairi handed it over and both of them thanked the vendor profusely for their sweet treats which were soon handed over to them. After that, the pair decided to leave the Charas to their own devices for a bit more and wander down the strip of pathway to further along down the beach.
Seagulls pecked around in the grass and sand on both sides. People came and went; the gentle hum of traffic never too far away. It was nice. As they walked, they made light and airy conversation.
“Hey, do you want to try a taste of my ice-cream?” Amu asked. “But I want some of your shaved ice in exchange.”
Kairi exhaled loudly. “Of course.” he replied.
They exchanged each other’s desserts and paused a moment to try the other’s. Amu was surprised to realise she liked a flavour as mysterious as “Blue Hawaii” – even if she couldn’t identify what the flavour was. Kairi didn’t mind the zing of the sherbet on the soft serve, but he much preferred the ice-cream underneath the extraneous layer of pink fuzz.
“Did you like it?” Amu asked and they swapped their treats yet again.
“Yeah…” Kairi mumbled as he put his plastic spoon with a heaping of ice on it into his mouth.
“I’m glad. Because it totally counts as an indirect kiss then!” Amu chirruped.
“Wh-What?!” exclaimed Kairi as he nearly choked on the ice.
“I really like you Kairi. I’m kind of glad no one else was able to make it. Otherwise, I mightn’t have gotten my shot to tell you that.” Amu replied.
Kairi went red and because he was going red, Amu went utterly scarlet. She started panicking.
“Oh, my goodness, do you not like me anymore? You had a crush on me for a bit and then all that happened and now we’re here – only as friends? I mean, we can be friends. I’d like that but, um, I do have feelings.”
Amu rambled, and Kairi huffed. He decided to try and pull a movie star move and kiss her to shut up. He pecked her on the lips, eyes clenched, and hoped for the best. Amu stiffened but she did kiss back. She relaxed and accidentally dropped her ice-cream, which caused her to break it off.
“Oh, and now I’ve gone and dropped my ice-cream.” She worried.
“It’s okay, you can have mine,” Kairi said, and he handed it over his shaved ice, “and I’ll clean it up.”
“Thank you…” Amu murmured, blushing, whilst Kairi bent down to removed, the serviette from the cone so he could use it to scoop up the ice-cream. “And thanks for this date.”
“No problem at all, thanks for the date.” Kairi smiled, his heart pounded, even as he cleaned up the dropped ice-cream on Amu’s behalf.