At some point during their first adventure, Donald had relinquished gummi ship piloting duties to Sora, after a combination of getting tired of the boy’s whining and also not really wanting to manoeuvre around the steady stream of Heartless in the Lanes Between. There were only so many times a yellow eyed demon space ship could pop up in your periphery and shoot a laser beam at you before you became a complete nervous wreck.
Most of the time, it was fine. Sora turned out to be a relatively skilled pilot, possessing little to no fear of the laser beam shooting demon ships and being able to get around them easily. Or blow them to bits. Occasionally a Heartless got a hit in or they came worryingly close to an asteroid, but mostly the trips through space were relatively smooth.
So when an asteroid smashed a wing clean off one Wednesday afternoon on the way back to Disney Castle, Donald almost had a heart attack.
“What did you do?!” he screamed as the gummi ship tipped worryingly to the left. Alarms blared overhead as the cabin shook. Goofy yelped as he almost fell out of his seat.
Sora didn’t answer him, throwing his weight into wrenching the steering mechanism to the right to correct the angle with a grunt. With his left foot he kicked a button on the control panel to activate the boosters on the remaining wing.
The ship rocked slightly back to a more normal position, though it continued to shudder violently. Donald clung to his seat. “What happened?!” He tried again.
Sora swore in lieu of replying, wrestling with the controls to get the ship to avoid another asteroid floating off to the left.
“Shut up! Goofy can you hold this?” Sora shouted over his shoulder, standing up out of his seat and moving aside to allow Goofy to grab the handles. His hands free, he summoned the Kingdom Key and pointed it through the windscreen.
“Now what are you doing?” Donald moaned.
“It’s a shortcut!”
A beam of light shot out from the keyblade and a portal appeared before them.
“Sora, are ya sure?” Goofy asked as the ship wobbled towards the black hole ahead.
Donald put his hands over his eyes as the ship hurtled through the portal. If he was going to die in a fiery inferno in the middle of space then he didn’t want to see it. The ship shook viciously around him and he squawked loudly, pressing his fingers firmly over his eyelids. Dimly he could hear Goofy yodelling over the din.
Suddenly the vibration stopped and he peeked through his fingers to briefly see the landscaped gardens of Disney Castle before the ship nosedived straight into a topiary of a pig playing a trombone.
Donald stared in dismay at the King’s gummi ship, now freed from its topiary prison and smoking on the lawn. Chip and Dale were chattering away to each other as they assessed the damage. He felt his heart rate lower from narrowly escaping death for the fifth time that month to gradually climbing up again in building rage.
He whirled around to glare at Sora, who was rubbing the back of his head sheepishly as he grimaced at the wreckage. “Sora!”
Sora winced and scratched his cheek. “Well, we crashed in Deep Jungle and managed to fix it okay…”
“That was four years ago!” Donald huffed, summoning his staff. He suppressed the urge to thwack Sora on the shin with it and cast a gravity spell to collect the scattered pieces of gummi on the grass. He thought years of practice would have meant incidents like this would be avoided. “What happened?”
Sora didn’t reply immediately, running his hand down his face and curling it at the back of his neck. “I, uh…” he murmured, cheeks flushing. “Didn’t see it?”
“You didn’t see it,” Donald repeated lowly, narrowing his eyes.
Goofy ambled over. “Gawrsh, Sora, It’s not like you to not see somethin’ like that while flying.”
Donald wanted to point out Sora did have a tendency to day dream, but Goofy had a point. Even Sora wasn’t spacey enough to just not notice a giant ball of rock in mid-air.
“I’m sorry!” Sora said, holding his hands out in an appeasing gesture. “I just had something on my mind, and then when I noticed the asteroid, it was, uh…” he waved vaguely at the gummi ship, “a bit late. I’m really sorry! But at least we got back in one piece?”
Donald tapped his foot. He still wasn’t happy about the King’s gummi ship getting damaged because Sora was drifting off, but he did have a point about getting them back safely. He would still be having nightmares about exploding in the middle of space for the next week, however.
Goofy looked concerned. “You had somethin’ on your mind? Is everything okay?”
“Yes! Everything is fine!” Sora insisted quickly, plastering on a grin. “Nothing important!”
That was mildly suspicious, Donald decided, tilting his head and staring at the teenager. Although, Sora did normally voice his concerns so if it was something serious he probably would have said something on the ship. He hummed to himself, deciding to let the matter drop as Chip and Dale scampered over to inform them the ship would be fine once they installed a new wing and patched up the fuselage. Hopefully they would be able to have it mostly fixed before the King got back from his visit to Radiant Garden, and Donald wouldn’t have to do any grovelling.
“Well, why don’t we just go on ahead and let Queen Minnie know that we got rid of all the Heartless in the worlds we went to?” Goofy suggested. “I’m sure Daisy wants to see ya Donald while we’re here!”
Donald perked up at Daisy’s name. It would be good to see her, they had spent the past two weeks visiting various worlds to ensure order was being kept and there were no brewing pockets of darkness. Fortunately, there was only a small number of Heartless on each world they visited. They had been on their way back to Disney Castle to report in to Queen Minnie, who would relay the report to Master Yen Sid and the King while they set off again to the next batch of worlds.
If Sora blew out a wistful sigh above him, Donald didn’t notice.
Donald spent the next week keeping a beady eye on Sora as he piloted the ship between worlds during their next batch of destinations.
(“Donald, you don’t need to stare at me.”
“I’m just making sure you don’t drift off again!”
“Then watch the road, not me!”)
Fortunately Sora didn’t have any more run-ins with the local asteroids and Donald let himself relax a bit. That was until Sora barrel rolled out of the way of a small team of Heartless ships on their way to Corona without any warning and Donald nearly suffered his third heart attack of the week.
Twenty minutes later, the gummi ship (miraculously unscathed) touched down in the woods just outside of the Kingdom and Donald clambered out of the cockpit, muttering under his breath about reckless kids in charge of expensive space ships.
Donald looked up at Goofy, who was standing next to him and watching Sora trudge on ahead with a thoughtful expression on his face, “Does Sora seem a little… quiet?”
“When is Sora ever quiet?” Donald griped, following after the teenager in question. Although, perhaps, maybe, Sora had been a little more pensive on the ship recently, but Donald had put that down to Sora just concentrating for a change.
Goofy hummed beside him. “Hmm… maybe I’m imaginin’ it.”
Up ahead, Sora smashed his way through a small patch of Flutterings and shouted over his shoulder. “Come on, guys! We want to get to the Kingdom before nightfall, don’t we?” With a grin, he broke into a sprint.
“See? He’s fine,” Donald said, reluctantly picking up the pace. It was only mid-morning and they had plenty of time. Unless Sora got lost in the woods again. Or fell into the lake. Or – Donald broke into a run to catch up. Just in case.
Aside from a few more Flutterings, the woods were otherwise mostly tranquil, and the short journey to the Kingdom was relatively uneventful. Sora beamed widely as they entered through the gates and walked into the town square, the crowds large and bustling in the middle of the day.
“No breakdancing,” Donald warned as they passed a stack of empty barrels that Sora eyed with glee.
“You ruin all my fun,” Sora complained, throwing his arms behind his head.
“Well, maybe you can get a crowd goin’ after we find Rapunzel and Eugene,” Goofy suggested. “Though uhh, where we are gonna find ‘em anyways?”
As luck would have it, Eugene found them as they meandered in the vague direction of the castle. He was strolling down the main thoroughfare, his satchel slung over his shoulder and a piece of paper in his hand.
“My sidekicks!” He greeted warmly. “Perfect timing!”
“Why, is something wrong?” Sora asked, exchanging a firm handshake.
“Just the opposite! Rapunzel and I are going to get married!” Eugene beamed. “I was just on my way into town to get some things together for the preparations.” He waved the piece of paper he was holding, which turned out to be a list. “And now I can invite you all personally! A general invitation was sent out to whole kingdom, what with Rapunzel being a princess and everything, but we weren’t sure you guys had heard seeing as you don’t seem to…” he waved his hand in a vague motion, “stay around for very long.”
Sora smiled sheepishly. “No we, uhh, tend to travel around a lot! Gotta make sure those Heartless stay down and…”
“Order,” Donald hissed.
“And, you know, we like to sight-see,” Sora continued quickly, “oh but wow, a wedding…”
“Congratulations Eugene!” Goofy offered.
“Congratulations!” Donald echoed.
“Thanks! I am a very lucky man.” Eugene grinned. “Oh! Actually, I think I might…” he opened his satchel and rummaged around inside. “Aha! Here we are, it’s a bit crumpled because it’s just a spare but you get the idea.” He produced a slightly creased invitation with a flourish.
Sora took it. “We’ll definitely be there!”
“Perfect! Well, I have a bunch of things to do, but if you’re sticking around I’ll catch you… later…?” Eugene glanced between them.
Sora nodded. “Yeah! We’ll be here.”
Eugene shouldered his satchel and waved as he jogged off into the crowd.
Donald looked at the invitation Sora was still holding. The back was purple, with Corona’s yellow sun symbol glittering in the middle. “Let me see!” He reached up for the invitation.
Sora didn’t respond. He was looking at the invitation with a pensive expression, his eyes far away.
Donald frowned. “Sora?” He prompted.
“Hmm? Oh, sorry! Here!” Sora started, and handed Donald the invitation.
Donald took it, giving Sora a look. “What, is the date a problem?” He asked, glancing at the front of the invitation. The announcement of the event, date and time were inscribed in a swirling font. No clashing engagements immediately sprang to mind, but maybe Sora had something else planned? It would be typical of him to promise to go when he already had somewhere else to be.
“Oh no, the date’s okay, it’s just umm…” Sora said, breaking off suddenly. His gaze darted off to the side, biting his lip, looking troubled. “But, oh hey!” He visibly shook himself and refocused on Donald, his sudden stormy expression melting into soft curiosity. “Are you and Daisy married, Donald? I’ve never actually asked.”
Donald very nearly spontaneously set the invitation on fire.
Goofy hyucked. “Gawrsh, doncha know? Donald’s never actually asked!”
“Really?” Sora tilted his head. “How come?”
Donald shot Goofy a seething glare. Goofy just smiled back serenely. “Well, you know… not everyone needs to get married…” he muttered, scowling deeply. He and Daisy had been together for so many years, and were going to be together for the rest they had left, so what if marriage had never come up? Though Daisy had given him some pointed looks after the King had proposed… Donald shook his head. No, this was a headache for another day. Without skinny teenagers giving him cheeky looks.
“Do you think she’d say no?” Sora asked, his tone light and teasing.
“None of your business!” Donald wagged his finger in Sora’s face. “Me and Daisy are meant to be together, and sometimes that’s all you need.” He folded his arms resolutely, changing his tone to something sly, “when you get a girlfriend you’ll understand.”
Sora’s reaction was not what he expected. Instead of flushing red and blustering to cover up his embarrassment, his mouth clamped shut and his face drained of colour. He stared wide eyed at Donald for a long few seconds, silent, before clearing his throat and dragging his gaze away. “Um, yeah, sure, of course…” He muttered, avoiding Donald’s eyes, “Hey, come on, let’s go and see Rapunzel in the castle, okay?” Abruptly, he turned on his heel and marched in his chosen direction.
Donald hesitated, sharing a concerned look with Goofy, before following.
Okay, maybe Goofy had a point about Sora being quiet in the ship.
It definitely wasn’t just because he was concentrating either, because even then Sora usually made some sort of noise – grunts and exclamations. This was just staring blandly out of the gummi ship’s windscreen and barely making a peep as he avoided obstacles. It reminded Donald of when they had first set out on Sora’s journey to recover the power of waking, which meant something was definitely bothering him.
“Sora?” He tried.
Donald paused. Asking ‘are you okay?’ was almost certainly going to get him a rebuff, but if he pointed out the problem then Sora was probably more likely to give him an honest answer. Unfortunately, he didn’t know what the issue was, unless Sora was still sore about the girlfriend comment from yesterday. He had seemingly gone back to his usual self after they met up with Rapunzel, conversation forgotten, but it was the only thing Donald could think of.
He decided to chance it. “Are you upset about the girlfriend thing?”
Sora’s shoulders stiffened immediately. Bingo.
“N-no, why would you say that?” Sora’s voice was pitched high, deflecting.
Donald sighed a little. Teenagers and their love drama. “It’s okay Sora, just because it didn’t work with Kairi doesn’t mean there isn’t a girl for you!” He tried to keep his tone light and encouraging, bordering on friendly teasing.
“That – that’s not it!” Sora snapped, hands tightening on the controls.
Donald blinked at the sharp reply. As far he was aware, nothing had actually happened with Kairi, it was just a childhood crush that had petered out as they both grew up and priorities shifted. But maybe he had it wrong and Sora was still interested?
Before Donald could say something else, Sora sighed harshly, his shoulders slumping. “Sorry. It isn’t that, I promise,” he said firmly. His knuckles regained their colour as he loosened his grip on the steering, but from what Donald could see of his face, he still looked irritated.
“Okay…” Donald replied slowly, unsure whether to drop it. “Do you want to talk about it?” He offered.
Sora was quiet for a long moment. “… No,” he said eventually. “It’s okay.”
Donald waggled his feet, turning his gaze to the floor, frowning. That meant something was definitely bothering Sora, but he was unwilling to share. Donald didn’t like the idea of letting the matter go if Sora was upset, but pushing the issue now was likely to result in argument. Sora didn’t lose his temper often, but he was quick to anger if an issue he was particularly sensitive about was pressed.
In the other passenger seat, Goofy had put his chin in one hand and scratching his temple idly with the other. “Hrrrrm…” He murmured, looking at Sora thoughtfully, as though something had just occurred to him.
Donald wanted to ask, but then Sora announced a terse, “we’re here!” as Atlantica loomed into view.
Atlantica ended up being more of a social visit rather than part of an important mission. King Triton was usually more than capable of watching over his undersea kingdom, and normally did not require much assistance. Sora did point out, however, that King Triton didn’t watch over the land in the world and so it was important to check there as well.
Donald suspected he really just wanted to see Ariel for a nice chat and a cup of tea.
Ariel had helped them throughout their last adventure thanks to Sora’s heart link charm, but recently she hadn’t been available. Sora knew she was safe and happily married to Prince Eric, but she hadn’t made it clear why the summoning magic couldn’t be used anymore. They had been originally worried the charm was damaged, but Simba and their other friends had answered their call as normal.
The reason became known when Ariel greeted them happily at the castle, embracing Sora warmly and taking them to a cosy reception room. She invited them to take a seat, asked them to wait and swept out of the door, promising to be right back.
“I’m glad she’s okay,” Sora said, leaning back against the plush cushions. The tension from earlier seemed to have melted away. “And that she’s not mad at us.”
“You thought she was mad?” Donald asked curiously, leaning around Goofy who was sitting between them.
“Well, she didn’t say why she couldn’t be summoned anymore! I thought I’d upset her,” Sora admitted, rubbing his fingers through his hair. “She seems pretty cheerful though.”
“We can ask when she gets back! But you and Ariel are good friends, Sora, so I’m sure she wasn’t cross atcha,” Goofy said, patting Sora’s knee.
“Thanks for waiting!” Ariel called, re-entering the room with a bundle cradled in her arms.
Sora looked up, his eyes immediately blowing wide when he saw what Ariel was carrying. “Ariel…!” He breathed, leaping to his feet and rushing over to her. He reached out with a tentative finger, wiggling it at what Ariel was holding.
Donald stood on the cushions, leaning on Goofy. “What is it?”
A tiny hand emerged from the bundle and wrapped around Sora’s index finger. Sora beamed wide, eyes bright blue and sparkling as his curled his finger around the baby’s hand. “Hiii,” he cooed softly. “I’m Sora!”
Donald exchanged an excited look with Goofy. “A baby!”
“Gawrsh, congratulations Ariel!”
Ariel smiled, radiant in her joy. “Her name’s Melody.” She looked at Sora, who was making a variety of ridiculous faces at the bemused baby girl. “Would you like to hold her?”
Sora looked at Ariel in awe. “Can I?!”
“Of course! Here, take a seat…”
A bit of rearranging and adjusting later, Sora was sitting in the middle of the plush sofa, surrounded by large cushions, holding baby Melody and looking like he was about to cry tears of joy. “She’s so cute…” he simpered, looking down at her with a wobbly smile.
“She looks a lot like Eric,” Donald observed, trying to get Melody’s attention, but she was enraptured by Sora’s necklace.
“She does!” Ariel agreed, leaning on the back of the sofa behind Sora. “Though I was a little worried she might end up with a tail…”
Sora tilted his head back to look up at her. “Really?”
Melody gurgled and waved an uncoordinated fist at the crown pendant as it swung, twinkling in the afternoon light.
“Well, only a little. I think Daddy’s magic is pretty strong,” Ariel said. “She really likes your necklace, Sora.”
“Hmmm?” Sora looked back down as Melody successfully brushed her stubby fingers against the pendant as it bobbed closer to her. She let out a pleased burble, wiggling her feet.
Sora held the chain and waved the pendant like a pendulum over Melody. The baby followed the movement with wide eyes, cooing, before catching it and trying to pull it towards her. Sora bent his neck slightly so she could bring it to her face. “Careful,” he murmured quietly, “don’t put it in your mouth - it’s very special, okay?”
“Where’s it from, Sora?” Ariel asked as her daughter babbled at her reflection in the silver.
Donald tilted his head. He had never actually asked this question. He’d known and travelled with Sora for the better part of the past four years and had never asked about the necklace, even though Sora never took it off. In every magical transformation to adhere to world order, to bed, to go swimming, everything, it was always present and he never took it off except only to clean it.
“Someone very important to me gave it to me when we were really little,” Sora replied, his expression impossibly tender, voice soft and affectionate. “It’s… like a good luck charm.”
The crown twisted slowly on its chain.
Out of all the worlds he had visited where he assumed a guise, the Pride Lands was Donald’s favourite. Being able to fly was pretty amazing.
It was also hard not to be too smug at how he had gotten the best deal as Goofy plodded along with his heavy shell and Sora tripped over his own paws for the sixth time that morning.
“Okay, this was hard enough the first time around…” Sora muttered into the dirt, giving the slope up to Pride Rock a dirty look.
Unfortunately for Sora, he was older than the last time they had visited, which meant instead of turning into the same small lion cub he was before he was now a longer limbed, clumsier version. It reminded Donald of Bambi, only furrier and less dainty.
“Well at least we haven’t seen any Heartless yet!” Goofy said.
Sora lifted his head from the ground with a huff, just in time for something small and fuzzy dashing across the grass to bump straight into his muzzle.
“Wak?” Donald swooped down and perched on the top of Sora’s head, peering down at what appeared to be quite a young lion cub. She had soft golden fur, much fuzzier than Sora’s more silken pelt, and she was even smaller than Sora had been on their first visit. Large brown eyes blinked owlishly at them, wide in wonder.
“Hello!” Sora said, rearranging himself into a more comfortable sprawl. Donald spread his wings out with a quiet squawk as he was nearly dislodged from his perch.
The baby lion sat back on her rump with a fwump, still staring at them silently.
“I’m Sora!” Sora continued. “Can you tell me your name?”
Donald wasn’t entirely sure the young lioness could speak yet, as she scrunched up her face in apparent deep concentration.
“Kiara…” She said slowly, her voice rounded and unsure around the syllables.
“That’s a pretty name. Are you good at running?”
Kiara considered the question, before slowly shaking her head, her big brown eyes dropping to the ground.
“That’s okay! I can’t even walk in a straight line!”
Donald rolled his eyes, and opened his mouth to introduce himself (and Goofy, who was quietly chuckling to the side) when a large and familiar lion bounded into view.
“Kiara!” Simba called, skidding to a stop a few feet away.
Kiara looked up, getting to her feet and smiling as Simba came over. “Papa!” She squealed, rubbing her head along his forelegs and winding her way between them. Simba looked warmly down at the cub, leaning down to rub his head along her back affectionately before looking back up at the group.
“Hello everyone, it’s great to see you again. I see you’ve already met Kiara.”
“Papa?” Sora repeated in reply, abruptly sitting up, causing Donald to tumble off of his head with a disgruntled screech.
“Gawrsh, everyone’s havin’ babies. Congratulations Simba!” Goofy said.
Donald flapped back up into the sky, shaking the dust off of his feathers. He circled slowly above as greetings were exchanged. Simba reassured them he hadn’t seen any Heartless recently and that currently everything was peaceful in the Pride Lands. The circle of life (as Simba called it) was being slowly restored, as plants grew back and the prey species returned. Kiara had been born to him and Nala a few months ago, the new crown princess.
Kiara was a bright and curious young thing, happily playing with Sora as he batted at her gently with his large paws. She squealed with laughter, tumbling around in the grass. Sora grinned as he let her jump up and mouth at his ears, pulling at them with a playful growl. He always was good with kids, Donald supposed.
Later, as they made their way back to the gummi ship for the evening, Donald released the spell that maintained their altered appearances. He clambered into the ship with a sigh, already missing his wings. Behind him, Sora and Goofy stretched out their limbs as they got used to being bipedal again as they also entered the cockpit.
Once inside, Sora dug around in his pocket and pulled out the gummiphone, opening up the gallery function and checking the photos he had taken earlier with Kiara with a grin. Donald scowled as he was reminded of Sora balancing the device on his tail to take the photos.
(“I can’t believe you’re taking a selfie like this.”
“I’m a multi-talented guy, Donald!”
“Oh if they don’t fuss about the giant key I swing around with my mouth, they aren’t gonna care about the phone… I want a photo of Kiara!”)
“You have no respect for maintaining order,” Donald grumbled.
“Hey, I took photos with Melody, I couldn’t leave Kiara out!” Sora protested. “It’s important to document these things.” He paused, looking up and huffing a gentle sigh. “Feels like everyone really is getting married and having babies…”
“Well I guess now that it’s peace time folks can get on with that kinda stuff,” Goofy said, reaching above to pull the hatch to the gummi ship closed.
Donald watched with a scowl as Sora brought up the messaging app and selected Riku, his fingers hovering over the screen as he apparently tried to remember how to attach photos again. Donald huffed, still irritated at the rule breaking and headed further into the ship. Goofy could show him again this time.
Donald peeked around the corner of the gummi ship’s cockpit door at where Sora was sitting in the pilot’s chair. The plan was to sleep in the ship tonight, before taking off for Disney Castle tomorrow morning. Then their current mission would be complete, until they were called upon again.
It was late, the sun having set hours ago, but Sora hadn’t come into the back of the ship to climb into his bunk yet. His arms were folded on the gummi ship’s console (thankfully switched off, his right elbow was pressing the booster switch down), and his face was tipped up to watch the stars above. Despite the low lighting in the cockpit, Sora’s melancholy expression was clear.
It had been so long since Donald had seen Sora look so sad.
Straightening his spine, he came to a decision. He couldn’t wait around while Sora was so clearly upset by something any longer.
Before he could place one foot over the threshold, however, a gloved hand came down gently on his shoulder. Nearly biting off his tongue to stop himself from shrieking and alerting Sora, he swivelled around to come face to face with Goofy.
“Not now,” Goofy said before Donald could give him a piece of his mind. “He’ll come to us when he’s ready.”
Donald narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “When he’s ready for what?”
Goofy smiled, his eyes twinkling. “Aww, that’s his secret.”
“It’ll be okay, Donald. We gotta trust Sora to tell us when he wants to, then we can help. Okay?”
Donald wasn’t sure he agreed, but Goofy seemed to be at ease with this, so he guessed he could be patient for a little while longer.
Behind them, Sora rested his chin on one of his forearms, pulling out the gummiphone with his free hand. He stared at the messaging app on the screen, Riku’s name lit up at the top. The photos from earlier were unsent.
As the gummi ship touched down gently on the launch pad of Disney Castle’s gummi garage, Donald let out a happy sigh. Home. Not that he didn’t enjoy adventuring and seeing old friends, but he also enjoyed sleeping in his own bed and seeing Daisy and going longer than two hours without being ambushed by Heartless shaped like puddings.
Sora reached over and flipped the engine switch off, but he didn’t immediately leap to his feet and vault out of the cockpit as he normally did. He remained seated, running his thumb idly over the steering.
Donald frowned at Sora’s delay in hooliganism. “Sora?”
Sora took in a deep breath through his nose, as though steeling himself. “Hey, can I… can I ask you guys something?” He asked quietly, looking intently at his shoes.
“Well sure ya can, what’s up?” Goofy said encouragingly.
Donald leaned forward in his seat. Was Sora going to finally tell them what had been bothering him the past couple of weeks?
Sora bit his lip. “Is it okay if,” he broke off. Tried again. “Does it matter…?”
“Sora, what’s wrong?” Donald asked, feeling his patience starting to wane. He just wanted to know! And then he and Goofy could help and Sora would just stop looking so sad.
Letting go of the controls, Sora shoved his hands into his hair and curled his fingers around the roots. His voice was tight. “Is it okay to – tolikeotherboys?” He finished in a rush. He stared at the floor of the gummi ship intently, his shoulders hunched and stiff.
“Pardon?” Donald asked, with a blink.
“To like…” Sora clenched his jaw. “Boys.”
Like boys? Oh. Ohhh. Well that explained a few things. Sora apparently didn’t want a girlfriend, he wanted a boyfriend. Donald slumped back in his seat with a quiet groan, half in relief and half in despair. Honestly, teenage love drama. And there he had been worried it was going to be something bad.
“Gawrsh, Sora,” Goofy said warmly, getting out of his seat and placing a gentle hand on Sora’s shoulder. “Of course it’s okay!”
Sora slowly withdrew his hands from his scalp, lifted his head and blinked up at him. “Really?” He asked hopefully.
“Sure! Right, Donald?”
Donald hopped out of his chair to stand on Sora’s other side. “Uh huh! And it’s no reason to be all mopey!” He wagged a finger in Sora’s bewildered face.
“But – but everyone we know likes… y’know, the other side!”
Donald considered that, tilting his head. Sora did have a point, nearly everyone they knew that was in a relationship was with someone of a different gender. He didn’t know about at home, but certainly on their travels Sora hadn’t seen anyone explicitly in a same-sex relationship. No wonder the poor kid was a bit confused, he relented.
“Well, maybe some folks do like the same side,” Goofy said gently, “and ya just didn’t know! But just because people might not talk about it doesn’t mean there’s anythin’ wrong with it.”
“Exactly!” Donald agreed.
Sora’s shoulders dropped and he let out a shaky sigh, tipping his head back against the headrest. “Thanks, guys,” he said, his voice a little wobbly. A small smile bloomed on his face as palpable relief echoed off him in waves.
“I’m sorry for teasing you about getting a girlfriend,” Donald offered, after a moment.
Sora knocked his elbow gently against him. “It’s okay. Would you mind… if it was a boy?” He asked, still sounding slightly unsure.
“Don’t be ridiculous!” Donald declared firmly. Sora grinned at him in return, his eyes shining brightly, (hopefully not with tears, Donald thought desperately, he hated it when Sora cried, and it reminded him too much of how young he was.) He squeezed the teenager’s knee in comfort and turned to climb out of the gummi ship. “Come on! The King is waiting for us!”
Goofy hyucked and rubbed Sora’s shoulder. “And Riku too!”
There was a knowing note in Goofy’s tone that gave Donald pause, similar to when he had stopped him from going to talk to Sora in the night. Like he had already figured something out. Donald frowned to himself as Sora sputtered behind him. Thinking back on it, Goofy had known exactly what was bothering Sora back then, hadn’t he?
Heading out of the gummi garage towards the library, Donald looked at Sora’s face curiously. His cheeks were slightly flushed, his expression bright and excited. And, okay, Sora was normally excited to see his best friend, but he seemed almost… giddy. Donald hummed to himself, a suspicion forming in his mind.
Sora pushed open the large double doors to the castle's library, looking in eagerly. He immediately spotted Riku standing in the middle of the room with King Mickey. Queen Minnie was seated at the desk, taking notes as the King and Riku relayed their report. Sora bounded in, rushed straight up to Riku and grabbed his wrist.
Riku started, glancing down at him in mild surprise, his expression soft. "Hey, nice of you to finally show up. Did you manage to land the gummi ship in one piece this time?" He teased.
"Shut up," Sora said with no heat, avoiding the King's questioning look. "Can I just borrow you for a quick second? That's okay, right your majesty?" He looked around Riku's shoulder at a confused King Mickey, shooting him a charming smile. "Thanks!" He slipped his hand down Riku's arm and into his hand, clasping it and tugging his best friend back towards the doors.
“Hey! Sora!” Riku protested, but he followed willingly enough, dodging around Donald and Goofy, who had matching bewildered faces as they passed them and into the corridor.
Sora tugged Riku a few feet down the hallway until they reached the arches overlooking the gardens. He released Riku’s hand (reluctantly) to vault over the stone wall onto the lawn, looking back up at Riku who looked somewhere between annoyed and baffled. “This way!”
“Sora, where are we going?” Riku sighed, placing one hand on the wall but not leaping over. “The Queen is waiting…”
“Just to the gardens where people won’t bother us for a bit. It’ll be quick!” Sora promised. “Please?”
Riku hesitated, before swinging his legs over the wall to land beside him. “Is everything okay?” He asked, frowning down at Sora, his eyes dark with worry.
Sora smiled brightly at him. “Yes, all fine, better than fine actually!” He enthused, bouncing on his toes.
Maybe it was because he hadn’t seen Riku face to face for at least ten days. Maybe it was because Riku was even more useless with his phone than Sora was and didn’t text much. Maybe it was because he hadn’t done much more these past few weeks except think about Riku, and how Riku fights and Riku’s hair and Riku’s eyes and Riku’s biceps…
Or maybe it was the conversation he’d had with Donald and Goofy twenty minutes ago that had inspired him, but Sora had decided he was going to tell him how he’d been feeling recently.
Because apparently it was okay to day dream about another boy’s arms even if it did mean you crashed into asteroids. And maybe they couldn’t get married on some worlds or have a family or any of the usual stuff, but that was okay. All Sora really wanted to do was hold his hand wherever he wanted, and hug him for as long as he wanted and kiss him on the beach until the tide rolled in.
And maybe Riku didn’t even feel the same way but he was Riku and he’d always be Sora’s best friend and that was okay, too.
If it was okay to feel this way, then he owed it to Riku to be honest. Perhaps he should’ve been honest sooner, but it was somehow much scarier when he wasn’t sure if he was doing something wrong or not.
Riku was looking at him patiently, hands planted on his hips, one eyebrow cocked expectantly.
Sora opened his mouth, paused, and had a quick sweep of the gardens to check they weren’t being watched before looking Riku determinedly in the eye. “Donald and Goofy said it was okay to like the same side,” he said in a rush.
Riku’s other eyebrow made the journey up his forehead. “… What?”
“Boys!” Sora clarified quickly, feeling his face start to heat up. Why couldn’t he ever string a cool sentence together in front of Riku?
“Boys.” Riku repeated slowly, clearly not following.
“Well, you specifically,” Sora barrelled on. Best to just keep going. “I wasn’t sure at first, but apparently it’s okay! I mean, I don’t think Donald is too happy about me grazing that space rock because I was thinking about your arms – which are really nice by the way – but otherwise I think it’s fine.”
He reached for Riku’s hands, holding them loosely. Riku let him, of course.
“I just wanted to tell you! I’ve wanted to tell you for ages, especially when I noticed your eyes are more green now and I thought about that for three days last month. And I’m sorry I waited so long but…” Sora looked at their joined hands - Riku’s were quite limp. He held them tighter. “It was…” he paused, searching for the word. “Hard.” He decided, he didn’t want to say ‘scared’ in front of Riku. He peeked up at Riku, who had a very peculiar expression on his face. “Riku…?”
Riku suddenly gripped his hands back tightly. Sora jolted at the sudden pressure.
“Sora…” Riku started, his voice hoarse. “What are you getting at here?”
Sora blinked. “That I like you?” He offered, tilting his head.
Riku just stared at him silently, unmoving. His lips were pursed and brow furrowed, but his eyes were wide, pupils blown. He was pale.
“Ummm…” Sora shuffled where he stood. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.
Suddenly sucking in a deep breath, Riku closed his eyes for a long moment. Sora almost wanted to pull his hands away with his growing discomfort, but Riku was still holding on tightly. “Like… how?” Riku eventually said, his voice very small.
Sora stared at him. And people called him dense. “Like, well, ummm… like a princess and her knight!” He said brightly. “Except I’m not a princess, so… like a prince and his knight I guess.”
Riku was staring at him again. He hurried to explain.
“I mean! It’s like all the princesses we’ve met… like Aurora! She was asleep for ages right? And then Prince Phillip came and woke her up! Sound familiar?” He tilted his head and smiled at Riku, soft and warm and affectionate. “You’ll always be there, like my knight… right?”
“Yeah…” Riku agreed quietly. “Of course. I’ll always come to get you.” One side of his mouth quirked up in a small smile, but his voice sounded almost disappointed. “You never stop having naps.”
Sora huffed, feeling this conversation was starting to go off piste. He rubbed his thumbs over the back of Riku’s hands idly in thought. Clearly he wasn’t explaining himself well enough.
Before he could think too much on it and chicken out, he raised himself up on his toes and planted a tiny, sweet kiss on the corner of Riku’s mouth. When Riku didn’t shove him away, he inched round, directly in front, and gave him another small kiss.
Riku’s hands abruptly dropped his and came up to hold his upper arms. Sora leant back a bit and dropped back down on his feet, looking at Riku warily. Was that over the line?
Riku didn’t look mad however, or even slightly irritated. He was staring at Sora in something like wonder, his eyes bright and aquamarine. Like he couldn’t quite believe Sora was right in front of him. It reminded Sora a little of when Riku found him all those months ago in Shibuya.
Sora tried to smile, but it came out a bit wobbly. “You okay?” He asked gently.
“You…” Riku breathed. “You really… me?” He asked, his voice impossibly tiny, and full of hope.
Sora’s heart swelled his chest, full and warm. Finally, Riku seemed to be on the same page. “Well yeah,” he replied, reaching up with one hand and curling it around the back of Riku’s neck. Gently, he brought his head down so that their foreheads rested against each other. Really, Riku was unfairly tall. “Of course you. Who else would it be?”
Riku swallowed, taking a long moment just to stare back into Sora’s eyes. Sora rubbed his thumb up and down the skin of his neck, waiting.
Slowly, Riku tilted forward the rest of the way, meeting him for another kiss, hesitant and shy.
Sora couldn’t help the wide, silly grin that split over his face as his heart thrilled with joy. He buried his fingers into Riku’s hair (and, wow, it really was as soft as it looked), deepening the kiss with a sudden burst of daring. He felt Riku’s hands slip around the back of his shoulders to rest on his back, pulling him closer.
They broke apart slowly. Sora nudged his nose against Riku’s as the other boy exhaled shakily. He wound his arms around Riku’s shoulders, holding him close. Riku lifted his head to bury his face in Sora’s hair, allowing Sora to press his own against the hollow of Riku’s throat. Sora wasn’t sure how long they stood there, just holding each other, but as long as no-one was calling for them he didn’t really care. “A prince?” Riku finally mumbled into Sora’s hair.
Sora laughed brightly, pulling back just enough so he could lift the chain of his necklace. “I’ve got a crown, don’t I?” His heart skipped at Riku’s amused snort.
“I still can’t believe you’re still wearing this…” Riku said quietly, brushing his fingers over Sora’s and down over the pendant.
“Well I have to, or what am I gonna do in a meteor shower? I’ll get hit!”
Riku’s answering laugh was as warm and bright as the midday sun.
Donald had waited five minutes after Sora dragged Riku out of the library for their return before heaving a deep, long suffering sigh and relaying their report to the King. His Majesty still looked rather confused at Sora’s sudden instance for a private word with Riku and their abrupt departure but he didn’t comment on it, to Donald’s relief. He really didn’t want to be the one to explain the new development to him.
Goofy was looking rather pleased with himself.
Donald padded down the hallways of Disney Castle shortly after finishing his account to the King and excusing himself, looking for any signs of Sora or Riku. He knew he was being nosy, and Goofy probably wouldn’t like it, but he just wanted to make sure Sora was okay. Sora was so often reckless, and it was bad enough him dashing into battles with no planning, but if he had dragged Riku away to tell him what Donald thought he was going to so suddenly...
Donald liked Riku. He did. The boy had grown into someone strong and dependable and would do anything for Sora. But sometimes it was difficult to completely shake the memory of the boy who said such cruel things and wielded weapons for stealing hearts. And Donald couldn’t help but worry, just a little bit.
He found them tucked away behind a bush shaped like a goat in a tutu, wrapped in an embrace. Donald hid behind a pillar and peeked out, not wanting to disturb them.
Donald watched as Riku tipped his head back to laugh loudly and brightly at something Sora said. He looked back down at Sora with an expression so tender, Donald had to glance away, slightly ashamed. It wasn’t fair of him to doubt Riku for mistakes made years ago that he had more than atoned for.
Donald looked back up again to catch them in a more intimate embrace, and had to clamp his hands over his beak to stop himself from squawking and blowing his cover. Satisfied that Sora was definitely just fine, he turned swiftly on his heel and walked quickly back up the hallway, planning the best way to tease him about it later.