"There's my favorite cousin!" Kairi practically ran into Namine as she pulled the small blonde in for a bear hug. Namine groaned, but Kairi couldn't tell if it was from the bone-crushing hug or embarrassment. They were in the middle of the train station on a Friday afternoon after all. It wasn't exactly the most private reunion location.
"I'm your only cousin, Kai..." Namine awkwardly patted Kairi's back as she tried to balance her small, but stuffed, suitcase in her free hand as well as the backpack that was sliding off one of her shoulders. She had quickly slung it on to make sure she could make her stop in time.
"Hand me that bag, would you? You look like you're about to topple over!" Kairi didn't bother to wait for Namine to answer her as she gently pulled the backpack from her shoulder and pulled it onto her own back properly.
"Thanks, Kai. I probably over packed..." Namine looked a little embarrassed at her overstuffed bags as the girls made their way out of the train station and to the street to grab a taxi. Normally, Kairi would have walked them to her apartment, but she didn't want Namine to be exhausted from walking twenty minutes to her place while lugging 50 pounds of overnight bags.
Kairi waved down a taxi, and the girls were quickly on their way to the apartment. This wasn't the first time Namine had been to Kairi's home, but it had been about awhile since they had properly hung out or had a sleepover. Kairi was practically bouncing in the elevator as they arrived at her apartment's floor. Namine couldn't help but smile at the happy brunette's excitement. She was excited too, but she tended to keep hers on the inside. Meanwhile, Kairi wore her emotions on her sleeve, and her face could always reveal her real feelings.
Kairi walked quickly to her front door, Namine trailing behind closely. She threw open the door and ushered Namine inside. "Come on Nami. We got a lot to cover tonight."
Namine followed her cousin inside the small, but cute, apartment. "What are you talking about?" As far as Namine knew, this was just going to be a night of gaming and girl talk. She wasn't sure if she wanted to know what Kairi meant by "a lot to cover tonight." She gingerly set her suitcase in a corner of Kairi's room and turned to find Kairi opening her backpack to pull out her laptop.
As if sensing Namine's dread, Kairi smiled at her. "It's all good things! Let's get you set up to play HoW with the guys, and I'll explain." Namine watched curiously as Kairi started taking her laptop cords out and setting her up a space beside her bed, not far from Kairi's own desk.
"What's going on Kai?" Namine asked out of concern. Kairi had quickly finished setting up her gaming station and plopped down a cozy bean bag for Namine to lounge in while she played.
"Well... I might have a teeny, tiny, itsy, bitsy crush." Kairi said as she sat in her desk chair. She turned just enough to sign onto her desktop and let Heart of Worlds load while trying to put her thoughts together.
"On who?" Namine sat back against the bean bag chair Kairi had propped against the wall and pulled a pillow into her lap as her laptop came to life. Somehow, this crush had a catch to it, Namine could tell just by how Kairi was avoiding looking her in the eye.
"A guy..." Kairi trailed off purposely, chewing her bottom lip, drawing out the inevitable.
"And...?" Naime pressed, blinking dramatically at her a couple of times.
"Online." Kairi said, biting down on her lip and looking away from Namine. She was going to kick Kairi's ass for this one. Namine might have been small, petite and very sweet, but she was fiercely protective of Kairi. Ever since they were kids, Namine had been the one to stand up to all of Kairi's bullies and had no problem putting them in their place; most of the time, Namine used her words, but other times... Namine took matters into her own hands with the help of her black belt in mixed martial arts. This girl did not play games and used her small frame as a surprise advantage which Kairi had witnessed on multiple occasions as they grew up.
"Kairi! What have I told you about giving away personal information online? He could be literally anyone! A murderer! What is wrong with you?!" Namine grabbed a small decorative pillow from Kairi's bed and threw it at her head. She easily nailed Kairi's forehead which caused her to yelp in surprise. "Online dating is too full of unknowns. You could seriously get hurt or in trouble. And I'm not close by to save you, dumbie." Namine huffed the last word under her breath but Kairi heard her clearly.
"Look, Nami. I haven't given out that much private information. Just my name and that I am a writer." Kairi quickly corrected herself when she saw Namine's eyes flash in annoyance. "My first name only!"
"Well..." Namine said thoughtfully as sat back and let the beanbag envelop her."Who is it?" She didn't look up at Kairi as she signed on to HoW.
"Someone on HoW." Kairi said quietly. Namine's head whipped up from her laptop screen, a grin breaking across her lips. "Don't you even dare -" Kairi began but Namine had already cut her off with a screech of laughter. "...Laugh." Kairi's last word was barely audible over Namine's belly laughs. Kairi rolled her eyes and waited for the giggles to subside.
Finally recovered, but still a little breathless, Namine said, "Come on, Kai. He's probably thirteen with bad acne and a squeaky voice."
Kairi crossed her arms in an immature show of defiance. "I'll have you know that he's actually a game developer. His name is Sora." After saying it out loud, Kairi realized she had no way to know for sure that he spoke the truth. The developers at Paopu Fruit Studios didn't have much public information available. She was taking Sora's word at face value. Could he be lying about his identity...? It's possible, Kairi decided. But until she had reason to think otherwise, she'd continue to believe that Sora was who he said he was.
Suddenly, Kairi was aware of a pair of hands frantically waving in front of her face. "Kai? Earth to Kai!" Namine playfully smacked Kairi on the back of the head, and once Kairi's eyes shone with recognition, Namine sat back down in the cozy bean bag chair. "Stop day-dreaming about dating on a video game, and let's play."
Kairi shook the thoughts from her head and turned around to give HoW her full attention. Namine was here, and they were going to have some fun this weekend no matter what! She gave Namine a wide grin and punched the air, spinning in her chair once to give Namine the full effect of her overly dramatic reaction. "Right! Let's jump into the clan chat, and get this party started!" Namine shook her head and laughed at her as she logged into her account.
•| ⊱♡⊰ |•
Welcome to Heart of Worlds!
New Message to: Fainn
I really like you. I wish I could tell you in person...
Joining Kingdom Hearts clan chat...
Fainn, Geir, Godric, Ariae, and Lumi are talking in the clan chat.
[Ariae]: Lumi is my cousin and also a casual HoW player.
[Lumi]: Hi guys.
[Fainn]: Godric is my little brother. He didn't have much going on tonight so he's joining us.
[Geir]: Stalker alert.
[Geir]: In other words, Mika is online.
[Mika]: Geir, I'm not a stalker. :(
[Godric]: Mika... that name sounds familiar.
[Ariae]: Everyone needs to be nice.
[Lumi]: I'm confused...
[Fainn]: Don't worry about it, Lumi. It's a long story.
[Godric]: Mika, you wouldn't happen to play any other online games would you?
Their fingers shook as Their hands hovered over the keyboard. This could be their chance to come out and tell them who they were. Of course, Roxas, Sora's brother, was familiar with the character name they chose. It was the one they always used as an alias. Maybe that was a mistake...
Trembling, they began to type a message, but then suddenly thought better of it and slammed their laptop shut with a loud thud. They wouldn't be made to do anything before they were ready. And if Roxas wanted to rat them out or get in their way, they'd make him pay for it. No one was going to come between them and Sora. They’d make certain of it. Until then... they had some planning to do.
•| ⊱♡⊰ |•
Mika has left the clan chat.
[Ariae]: Can't you try to be a little nicer to her?
[Geir]: Nope. Now what are we doing today?
[Fainn]: Godric and I were thinking about skilling tonight. Something we can do to bond as a clan since we have some new-ish members. :)
[Geir]: We could use some more ore and metal bars... Should we mine tonight?
[Ariae]: I'm down.
[Godric]: Me too. Let's do it.
[Lumi]: Fine with me.
[Fainn]: Alright, sounds like a plan.
A little while later in Kairi's room...
Namine walked into Kairi's room with two bowls of buttered popcorn in her hands. She set a bowl beside Kairi then sat back down in the beanbag chair. Not missing a beat, Namine picked right up from the conversation she and Kairi were having before she had a craving for popcorn. "So let me get this straight: Fainn is the guy you have a crush on? And Fainn equals Sora? What does this guy even look like, Kai?" Namine popped a piece of popcorn in her mouth as she moved her character around in the mine the clan had gathered in to collect ore.
"Weren't you the one saying not to share personal information?" Kairi tossed a kernel at the blonde's head. Namine casually ducked it as she ate another handful of popcorn, her eyes not leaving the screen of her laptop. Like a damn ninja, Kairi thought with an internal eye roll.
"A picture is worth a thousand words. Besides, you're not asking for an address or phone number. Maybe just an email." Naime winked then shoved another handful of popcorn into her mouth, moving her character to the next open vein of ore with her free hand.
Kairi rolled her eyes as Namine sucked the butter from her fingertips. "That is soooo attractive."
"Who would I be trying to look good for? Geir? Godric? You act like they can see us. Although Godric does sound like he could be cuter than his brother Sora..." Namine tapped her chin like she was seriously considering it and grinned at Kairi mischievously.
Kairi puffed out her cheeks "Oh, Nami. Stop poking fun at my pixel love life."
"I will when you actually have a love life to speak of." Namine shot back quickly, poking out her tongue.
This, of course, earned Namine a handful of popcorn kernels thrown at her head which she just narrowly missed. "Damn ninja..." Kairi said under her breath.
•| ⊱♡⊰ |•
At the boys' house...
Roxas scratched his head in thought as he barely paid attention to the happenings in the clan chat. That name kept going through his head. It sounded so familiar. Mika... Mika... Who was this girl? Was it simply a coincidence that she used that name for her character? Or was she someone he knew?
Meanwhile, Riku had made himself at home on Sora's bed with his gaming laptop. Despite having a night owl's weekly schedule, weekends were still reserved for relaxation and hobbies like playing Heart of Worlds with Sora and Roxas. The boys worked hard so they played even harder. Riku tipped a bag of skittles into his mouth only to look up and see Sora glancing over at him in slight annoyance. "What?" Riku asked innocently as he chewed on the colorful candies a little louder than he meant to.
"Dude, you eat so loudly. It's like nails on a damn chalkboard." Sora huffed and rolled his eyes. This was a usual occurrence in the shared household. Riku just shrugged playfully as he set his laptop aside and continued eating the skittles as if Sora hadn't complained at all. Sora turned back towards his computer screen as Riku walked up behind him and half sat against his desk as he shook the rest of the bag of candy into his mouth again. Sora glared up at him.
"Uh... Sora?" He asked with a mouthful of skittles.
Riku pointed at his computer screen at the private message he had just received.
[Ariae to You]: I was wondering if we could exchange emails and maybe a selfie?... I kind of want to put a name to a face. If you don't mind. :)
"Fuck." Sora pulled at his brown hair as he looked at the private message Kairi had sent him. Picture? A picture of himself? Oh goddamnit.
Riku patted his shoulder as if to mockingly console him. "Where's your phone? On the charger?" He said with an evil grin.
Sora grabbed him before he could even step away from the desk. "Absolutely not."
Riku pried Sora's hands off of his shirt and shook his head at Sora's crazed expression. "What's the big deal? It's just a picture of your fat head."
Sora glared at him. "I'm literally in a shirt that's from high school, and these sweats have paint splatters on them. See the problem?"
"Well, tell Kairi she'll have to wait then." While Sora turned around to do so, Riku snuck Sora's phone into his pocket silently before climbing back onto Sora's bed.
•| ⊱♡⊰ |•
Back in Kairi's room...
"Whatdidhesay? Whatdidhesay? What. Did. He. Say?" Namine bounced up and down at the edge of the bed after she convinced Kairi to send Sora the private message requesting a picture.
"I got reply! He said... 'I'll see what I can do. Winky face.' Oh shit, what have I done? I'll have to send one back!" Kairi began to fret, twirling a lock of hair around her finger nervously.
"Shush, Kai. I know the perfect one to send." Namine stepped up beside Kairi, pulled out her cell phone from her back pocket, and opened Instagram. She picked out one of her cousin's IG photos which was taken at her house a few weekends ago. Kairi looked like she was feeling confident in her favorite outfit with her auburn hair loose around her shoulders. She was smelling a flower from one of the bushes in Namine's backyard. Her eyes were looking down at a blue flower which brought out Kairi's shining blue eyes.
"This is the one I think you should send." Namine held her phone up to Kairi's face to get her opinion.
She squinted at the photo then turned back to her cousin. "Are you sure, Nami?" Kairi was suddenly feeling insecure. She knew that photo was a really nice one of herself, but thinking about sending it to Sora felt... scary. What if he didn't find her attractive?
Namine nodded and interrupted the intrusive thoughts swirling around in her head. "We'll send it as soon as we get his picture. And not until then."
"Oh, oh! He sent another message. 'Here's my email. ' I need to send him mine..." Kairi began typing back quickly.
"Give him the professional one you made. Not the one you've had since you were thirteen." Namine hurriedly interjected.
"Yes, Mother." Kairi rolled her eyes. "And... sent. So much for not sharing private information. Now he knows my last name." Kairi drummed her fingers on the desk impatiently, as if Sora was going to send a photo right away.
"We know his last name now, too. You know I do better research than the FBI. Just forget about it for now. Let's play!" Name plopped back down with her laptop, enjoying the last few bites of popcorn left in her bowl. Kairi sighed and nodded and dove back into HoW.
•| ⊱♡⊰ |•
Back at the boys' house...
"Hey, Sora. Grab me a soda will ya?" Riku asked as he slowly slid Sora's phone from his pocket at an angle Sora couldn't see.
"Sure. Just watch my character for me." Sora clicked a few extra times on a rock he was mining then went down the hallway to their kitchen.
Riku quickly unlocked Sora's phone (of course, he knew the password) and began shuffling through his gallery photos, trying to find the perfect one to send to Kairi. Even though Riku would never admit it to anyone, not even himself, he was excellent at matchmaking. He would have Kairi and Sora falling even harder for each other before the end of the summer. Then they would be planning their wedding. Riku couldn't help but smirk to himself.
Riku swiped until he found what he was looking for. It was a photo of Sora from last weekend at the county fair. He was wearing worn-in jeans, a band t-shirt, and his favorite torn sneakers. He was leaning over the railing to one of the rides but he was looking right into the lens of the camera with a big grin on his face.
Riku quickly opened Sora's email and attached the picture to a message for Kairi. Sora had already added her to his contacts so it was easy enough. He smashed the send button with a smirk. Riku then placed Sora's phone back in its place on the nightstand right as he came back into the room.
Sora tossed a cold soda at him. Riku caught it with one hand and gave the unknowing brunette a wink. "Thanks, bro."
"No problem man." Sora said, sitting back down at his desk, all his attention focused on HoW (and Kairi).
Riku smiled to himself as he sent 'Lumi' an in-game private message. He was too impatient to wait for them to figure it out.
[You to Lumi]: So Sora is a little shy, but he sent Kairi his pic. You should get her to check it.
[Lumi to You]: Are we playing matchmaker??
[You to Lumi]: I mean... I AM. You can help me if you'd like.
[Lumi to You]: Hmmm... I'm still on the fence about whether or not Sora could be an axe murderer.
[You to Lumi]: I promise he's a safe bet. Besides, don't you want Kairi to be happy?
[Lumi to You]: Ya know, I never pegged you for the sentimental type.
[You to Lumi]: This is literally our first chat.
[Lumi to You]: I'll admit that I'm a harsh judge of character.
[You to Lumi]: I get it. I wouldn't let Sora continue this crush if I thought for a second that Kairi was a bad person. But it's obvious she's a nice girl. Give him a chance? Please?
[Lumi to You]: Mmm... I'll allow it. For now.
[You to Lumi]: Thank you. Now get her to open that email!
•| ⊱♡⊰ |•
Back in Kairi's room...
"Hey Kai?" Namine asked hesitantly, a smile slowly forming on her lips.
"Yeah?" Kairi replied distractedly, focusing on the game and typing to Sora.
"Check your email. I wanna see if he sent a picture." Kairi's head snapped up to meet Namine's smiling face, and she quickly pulled out her phone and went on to her email. Sure enough, thanks to Riku's hand unbeknownst to the girls, low and behold was a picture of Sora.
"Oh. My. God." Kairi said as her jaw dropped. She wasn't sure what she had expected, but it wasn't this. He was so handsome, and she could just get lost in his deep blue eyes. Kairi touched the screen, wishing it was real. What she would give to meet him in person... then Namine woke her up from her fantasy.
"He's good looking. Surprise, surprise. Your turn, missy." Namine snatched Kairi's phone from her hands and sent Sora back an email with a picture of Kairi, the one Namine had already picked out from her Instagram feed.
"Wait! Wait! Wait!" Kairi yelled, trying to grab her phone back before Namine could click "send". Namine was too fast for her though. Figures... damn ninja.
"Too late." Namine smiled in victory. Kairi puffed out her cheeks and pouted.
"I wasn't ready..."
"Nami..." She whined.
"Oh hush. You'll be fine. That picture of you is beautiful."
Kairi sighed and went back to her game. Namine did a silent victory cheer.
"I know what you're doing. You better stop before I tackle you." Kairi said without turning around. Namine put her arms down slowly.
•| ⊱♡⊰ |•
Back at the boys' house...
[Lumi to You]: Mission accomplished. Sora should have a pic in his email now.
[You to Lumi]: We could be a really good matchmaking team...
Riku stood up from his spot on Sora's bed and faked an exaggerated stretch complete with a big, loud yawn. He used it as an excuse to sneak up beside Sora and set his phone down in front of him.
"Why don't you check your email dude? Maybe she sent a picture already." Riku ruffled Sora's bed-head as he half leaned, half sat on the edge of his desk.
"She would have told me." Sora said distractedly.
"Maybe she's shy about it. Come on. Just check. There's no harm in it." Riku began to shake Sora's desk chair. "Come onnnnnn. Come onnnnn." Riku always knew exactly what to do to get on Sora's nerves. It only took a few seconds for Sora banged his fists on the desk and gave in to Riku's pestering.
"Alright! Alright! Sheesh." Sora pushed his best friend away and unlocked his phone.
"I bet you 10 bucks she sent one." Riku smiled mischievously. He was also curious to see what Kairi looked like. He wasn't expecting too much from the girl, but with how infatuated Sora was with her already, he didn't figure looks were going to matter anyway. He watched as Sora opened his email app.
"Spam, porn, spam." Sora read. "Coupons, Kairi... Kairi!" Sora almost jumped out of his chair. This was it. He'd get to see the real Kairi. Not just a 3D character model, but a girl with hair and a face and maybe a full body shot.
"Download it! Hurry!" Riku was shaking Sora's chair again with impatience. And then Kairi's picture filled the screen.
"Oh. My. God." Sora whispered incredulously. Kairi was beautiful, more so than he ever imagined. Her auburn hair was gorgeous and her smile was flawless. Were all girls on HoW this pretty? Nah, just Kairi, he decided as he saved her picture to his phone.
"Damn. That's all I have to say." Riku crossed his arms, a smug look on his face.
"Hey, wait a second..." Sora scrolled down a little on the original email, and there was the message Kairi had responded to with a picture of himself. "I didn't send this..." He looked up at Riku who had a devilish smirk on his face that he could no longer hide.
"You asshole!" Sora went for Riku's long silvery hair which earned him a quick punch to the gut. "Goh!" Sora went down in a heap on the hardwood floor, clutching his stomach.
"Chill, Sora. You should be thanking me. It got you a picture of Kairi, didn't I?."
"You... You... You..." Sora glared at him from the floor, unable to come up with an insult.
Riku just shook his head, still smirking. "Come here, lover boy." Riku reached out a hand to help his best friend off the floor, who looked a bit red in the face though Riku couldn't be sure if it was from the gut punch or Kairi's photo.
Sora accepted the hand held out to him and then mumbled, "Thanks for sending the picture."
"It's all good. Just don't ever go for my hair again, or I'll beat the shit out of you." Riku didn't sound like he was joking. Not even a little bit.
"Riku, you're starting to sound like a pretty boy."
"Chicks dig the hair. It has nothing to do with being a pretty boy." He said it like it was a fact. Sora just sighed and sat back down in his desk chair. He would wait a bit before telling Kairi he got the photo of her. He wasn't sure what he wanted to say yet, but he already knew the next thing he was going to ask her... Would she video chat with him?