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Over Oceans

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Kairi shifted the camera equipment bag further up on her shoulder as she waited for Namine to drag her rolling luggage toward the taxi that waited for them outside of the airport. She gripped the handle of her own rolling luggage a bit harder than she meant to, her stomach doing backflips.

She looked around at the beautiful scenery that had greeted them the moment they stepped off the plane: palm trees, water stretched out far beyond and between the cityscape, random sand, tropical flowers, and an ocean breeze. The sun was already setting low across the water, casting a gorgeous light over the island. It really was a paradise. Hopefully she could get work out of the way early and spend some time at the beach. This wasn't exactly meant to be a vacation but she'd make the most of her time in Destiny Islands.

Namine finally made it to the taxi, and the taxi driver came around to meet her at the trunk. As he offered to take Namine's luggage, Namine shook her head quickly. "I'll do it myself. Kai, you can put yours on top." Kairi nodded and took a step back. Namine always liked to do things herself and her way.

"Urghh!" Namine grunted as she picked up her luggage and set it into the trunk of the taxi like a weightlifter. Kairi thought she saw the taxi buckle a bit under the weight but shook her head and put her luggage and camera bag beside Namine's. The driver just scratched his head at Namine's antics then opened the door for the girls. They climbed in and soon they were off to the hotel Aqua's assistant had booked for them.

Kairi practically pressed her nose to the window as they drove through the streets towards the hotel. The sun had finally slipped below the horizon, and the city seemed to be coming to life. Neon signs were flashing; the streets were slowly becoming filled with teens and young adults eager to have fun. She could faintly hear the music from the clubs, talking and singing and even shouting from the citizens and tourists of Destiny Islands.

Kairi grinned at the thought of all the adventures they could have between the work she had to do at the convention: shopping, dancing, karaoke, trips to the beach... the list could go on and on. This would be a trip to remember, even if it was only for a weekend. "Oh Nami, we're going to have the time of our-" Kairi began.

"Zzzzzzz...." A soft snore came from her cousin. Namine had opted to stay awake during the entire 7-hour flight despite not having slept the night before. Kairi rolled her eyes and returned to watching the city life go by until they arrived at the hotel.

Before they knew it, they were pulling up in the hotel's entrance. Neither of the girls had bothered to look up the hotel, assuming it'd be a mid-grade, 3 or 4 star stay. This was... nothing like that. It was large and grand, made of marble and shimmering with gold accents. The driver put their luggage on a trolley while Kairi pulled a sleepy, but aware, Namine from the taxi.

Namine quickly woke all the way up once she realized where they were. The girls stared into the hotel's lobby windows from the taxi as they waited for the bellhop. There was a large chandelier in the reception area and an indoor pool and a hot tub visible from the walkway. A young man, probably close to their age, retrieved the trolley and followed them inside while they checked in. He then led the way to their room, room key in hand.

"Hotel my butt. More like a million dollar resort. Who the hell thought your job would pay for something this swanky, Kai?" Namine's question was rhetorical of course but Kairi shrugged anyway, unable to speak as she took in the posh surroundings.

Kairi and Namine followed the bellhop to their posh suite. The bellhop, "Axel" said his name tag, pushed their luggage all the way to the room. Kairi was pretty sure he was sweating underneath his hat from pushing the girls' heavy bags, mainly Namine's, but he didn't complain. Instead, he seemed to be checking out Namine's behind as she walked out in front of them, looking through every window as they passed by. Kairi noticed and inserted herself between them. Luckily, they finally arrived at their suite.

"Suite 112. Here we are ladies." Axel opened the door with the electronic key and pushed their belongings in on the trolley. The girls walked in behind him and stared around at their weekend home-away-from-home in complete awe.

The living room was designed in cream and gold colors with a modern kitchenette off to the side. The sofa was large and over stuffed as were the chairs all in front of a flat screen television which was accessorized with modern gaming systems. The kitchen cabinets were glass and full of snacks, dishes, and glasses.

The bedrooms with their own bathrooms were joined to the living space and opposite from each other. Kairi peeked into one of the bedrooms. Inside was a large white modern canopy bed with a matching dresser, chic bedside lamps, and a cute corner bookshelf with a fluffy papasan chair perfect for reading. Namine opened the bedroom door opposite of hers, and it was a mirrored copy. Before they could thoroughly explore their surroundings, Axel cleared his throat from behind them.

He had already set their belongings on the floor and was preparing to roll his trolley out of the room. "So, uh, you ladies seeing anyone? 'Cause, you know, I'm single." He winked, and Kairi shuddered.

"Yes." Namine and Kairi said in unison. Kairi shoved a $20 bill into his hands then pushed him out of the room. After locking the door, Namine stretched and yawned, flopping onto the comfy couch.

She reached into the side pocket of her athletic leggings, pulling out her phone. She turned it on and began checking her texts. "I'm just gonna give mom a call and let her know we made it safely!" Kairi nodded and grabbed her bags and toted them to one of the bedrooms that she mentally claimed as hers. She could hear Namine softly talking to her aunt, probably gushing about the fancy hotel.

Kairi unpacked the camera gear and plugged in a few bits that needed charging. She even folded and placed most of her clothes from her luggage into the dresser, and set up her toiletries in the bathroom. She decided to take a shower while Namine was chatting away with her mom. Kairi needed to wash away the smell of being on an airplane for 7 hours... She slid her phone out of her hoodie pocket and plugged it into its charger.

She quickly acquainted herself with the shower, turning on the water and letting it warm up while she pulled herself out a couple of extra fluffy towels. Finally, Kairi shed her travel clothes (a hoodie, a plain t-shirt and leggings) and climbed into the modern shower that was now the perfect temperature. She sighed contentedly and took her time to wash up. While she was finishing, the bathroom door slowly opened.

"Hey, Kai?" Namine called before she walked into the steamy bathroom.

"I'm almost done! What's up?"

Namine stepped all the way into the bathroom and whistled. "Wow! This is the fanciest bathroom I have ever been in."

"Right?" Kairi giggled as she finished rinsing off and shut off the water. Namine was looking around as Kairi stepped out of the shower and wrapped a big white towel around herself.

"Anyway, I told mom we made it here, safe and sound. I sent your mom a message, too, since I know your phone died." Namine began to make her way back out of the bathroom and Kairi followed behind, gently squeezing the water from her hair with a second towel.

"We're adults, and yet, we still have to tell our parents that we arrived at our destination." Kairi rolled her eyes.

"Better safe than sorry. Besides, we're super far away from home. I say this constitutes a phone call." Namine chided her cousin. Kairi just gave her a half-heartedly laugh as she sat down on the bed and wrapped her hair up in the towel.

"So... what are we doing tonight?" Namine asked as she continued to snoop around Kairi's room, opening drawers and checking out the books on the bookshelf.

"Well, it's already..." Kairi checked her phone, it finally lit up after being dead for the last couple of hours. "...7:30. We can get some dinner nearby and chill out tonight. The first day of the gaming expo is tomorrow, and I think it starts at around 10 in the morning. Might be a good idea to have an easy night since tomorrow will be hectic."

Namine hummed in agreement as she flopped down into the papasan chair. "I'll check to see what restaurants are nearby." She started tapping away at her phone while Kairi finished drying off and switched out her towel for a pair of comfortable, worn-in jeans and a band tee. "How about this place?" Namine flashed her screen towards Kairi who was now brushing out her soft auburn hair.

"Oooh, ramen! That looks yummy. Let's try it out. Wanna bring takeout back here and watch a movie?"

"Yeah! Let me get changed out of these clothes, and we can go." Namine grunted as she tried to escape the deep papasan chair. Kairi offered her a hand and Namine grabbed it, pulling herself out of the fluffy prison. The girls giggled, and Namine thanked Kairi before disappearing into her own room with her luggage.

Kairi picked up her phone and saw she had a few messages, but there was only one she was interested in.

Sora had been a little weird since she told him she'd be at Destiny Gaming Expo a few days ago, but he did sound excited to meet her in person when they were talking over voice chat. Kairi had a sudden invasive thought: what if Sora had a girlfriend? Or was there another secret he was keeping?

After all, Sora and Riku had kept their lives private for years despite going viral. It wasn't like she could do much investigating other than what she had already done for her job, but Kairi shook the intrusive thoughts from her head. She was nervous so maybe he was just nervous too. Besides, his texts seemed to lean towards excitement if that was anything to go by.

Kairi smiled as she crafted a text to send back. Once she sent it, she set her phone back down to finish charging while she slipped on socks and a pair of sneakers. Just as she finished tying her shoes, Namine, now in a pair of flared jeans and an off-shoulder white top, had made her way into the living room, mumbling something about how she should have taken a shower while she shoved her feet into a pair of sandals and pulled her blonde hair up into a ponytail.

"Ready?" Kairi asked as she walked through the living room and grabbed their room key from the kitchen counter.

"Mmmhm. I put my phone on the charger, but the ramen shop isn't that far. I can get us there without it." Namine checked herself in the mirror by the door, and then she and Kairi stepped out of their suite, out of the hotel, and into the nightlife of Destiny Islands.

•| ⊱♡⊰ |•

Sora's POV

"Hey guys!" called a red haired man in a black tank top, unbuttoned red checkered shirt, and blue jeans as he stepped from around the bustling crowd. He made his way towards a small table where Sora, Riku and Roxas sat outside of a small, but busy restaurant. It was their favorite weekend spot to have dinner together.

They all turned and greeted him. "Hey, Axel!"

Axel quickly sat down next to Sora, who was wearing a black face mask, a band tee, jeans with rips at the knees and torn sneakers. Roxas was dressed only slightly nicer in a plain white shirt, jeans that were actually bought with holes in them, and black boots that were well worn. Riku has his hair pulled back in a half-bun style, taking more care in his appearance with a white button up with its sleeves rolled up, slim fit jeans, and brown leather-like sneakers.

"Just another Friday night, eh?" Axel said, gesturing to the throngs of people making their way up and down the sidewalk of the busy strip which housed several restaurants, bars, and Karaoke spots.

"I hate the tourist season. And this week is worse because of the gaming expo." Roxas murmured, checking his phone for the tenth time since they sat down. He frowned and laid it face down on the table.

"Eh, the price we pay to live in paradise. Didja order for me already?" The red headed asked as he turned towards Riku.

Riku nodded. "Yep, your usual. How was work?"

"Ah, ya know. Same shit, different day. Yo, Sora, what's with the face mask?"

Before Sora could answer, Riku answered for him. "Ever since he did that interview, he's started getting recognized in public."

Sora quickly followed up with, "It's mostly because of the gaming expo... Once it's over, I'll probably stop wearing it."

"He already got recognized a few times yesterday." Riku gave a small laugh. "You shoulda seen his face, Axel. Red as that bottle of hot sauce." He gestured towards said bottle on the table.

Axel guffawed at the imagery, and Sora rolled his eyes. Yes, it was... different... getting noticed by fans, but once the gaming expo was over, no one on the island would give a shit who he was. The mask was really just so he could peacefully have dinner with his friends tonight without random people stopping at their table for pictures or to ask about Heartless.

"What have y'all been up to?" Axel asked, looking over at Riku and Roxas.

Sora began to tune out their conversation. His phone vibrated in his pocket and he pulled it out. When he saw Kairi's name flash across his phone screen, he smiled. Sora silently thanked the universe for his mask. The boys wouldn't see the dumb smile that had spread across his face at the sight of her name. He'd been waiting most of the day to hear back from her so he read her message and texted her back a flirty reply.

Meanwhile, Riku was discussing his plans for Sora's "big date" with Roxas and Axel, talking animatedly and nodding or shaking his head at the other two friends' suggestions while small groups of people wound their way around the fenced off area around the restaurant's tables. The dozens of conversations became white noise as Sora finally looked up from his phone to find the three guys staring at him expectantly.

"Uh... What?" Sora asked as he raised an eyebrow.

"I asked if you were nervous, geeze. Do you ever listen?" Axel didn't sound serious as he nudged Sora playfully with his shoulder.

"Ah... well, yeah. A little." Sora said as he blushed a little and tucked his phone into his back pocket.

"Just a little?" Axel prodded.

"Okay... maybe a lot?" Sora confessed. He sighed and looked down at the table.

"Pshhh, don't do that. Be confident. She sounds like a nice girl, and you're a nice guy. Just have fun this weekend. See where it goes." Axel patted him on the back and gave him a big grin. Sora couldn't help but lift his eyes and smile back at his friend.

"That's good advice." Riku said, putting his chin in his hand and eyeing the door of the restaurant where their food would be coming out of. Inside, Riku was patting himself on the back. His plan for Sora's date was a simple one: get reservations at the best restaurant on the island, put Sora in some clothes that didn't have holes in them, and let the magic happen...

Okay, so it was much simpler than what he had wanted to plan but Sora threatened to beat him with a bat if he went overboard. Maybe he could sneak in some flowers and order champagne for their table...

Roxas' voice brought him out of his daydream. "Food's coming."

All of the boys quickly put their phones away and cleared the table so that the waitress could easily set down their hot, steaming bowls of ramen. Sora also removed his face mask, stuffing it into his jeans' pocket. After she set them all down, and made note of who needed their drink refilled, the waitress turned towards Sora. "Let me get you some refills. Is everything good? Do you need anything else?"

"Nope, everything looks great, thanks!" He gave her a smile and she blushed, turning away to quickly go back inside the restaurant.

"You're gonna have to cool it with that thousand watt smile you have there." Riku joked as he watched the flustered waitress forget to push the door instead of pull it to go back inside.

Sora looked at him in confusion, completely oblivious to the waitress's reaction. "What?"

Axel snickered. "I think he means to stop flirting with people. Especially if you're going to be out and about with Kairi. Maybe you should keep the mask on at all times."

"I wasn't flirting..." Sora pouted and grabbed the bottle of hot sauce to generously splash onto his noodles.

"You don't mean to, but you kind of do." Roxas said as he grabbed a pair of chopsticks that the waitress had dropped in the middle of the table and began ripping the paper off and breaking them apart.

"It's just your extroverted nature. Take it down a couple of notches, and you'll be good." Riku tried to reassure him, but he could tell Sora still wasn't sure that what he had done was "flirting."

Sora pursed his lips, but let it drop. He'd have to ask Riku later what he meant. The last thing he wanted to do was make Kairi feel uncomfortable by "flirting" with someone in front of her.

Everyone else grabbed their chopsticks from the center of the table and began digging in. The conversation lulled into a comfortable silence as they enjoyed their meal. The world was still passing by as the crowd began to slowly thin out. Sora absentmindedly people watched as he slurped his noodles when he saw a pair of girls moving through the crowd. One of them looked familiar...

"Oh shit." Sora said with a mouthful of noodles and pork. As he tried to swallow quickly, he coughed, almost choking on his ramen.

Axel looked up in the direction Sora was looking and a pervy smile spread across his face. "Oh yeah! Hot, right? I actually showed them to their room tonight. I told them I was single, but they said they had boyfriends."

Without bothering to turn around to see what the commotion was about, Roxas cut his eyes to Axel and quipped, "Girls tell you that because they don't want to tell you no."

"Oi, don't be jealous." Axel winked at Roxas then tried to grab a piece of pork from Roxas' bowl. Roxas slapped Axel's chopsticks away with his own and continued to eat without bothering to give the redhead any more of the attention he obviously wanted.

Once Sora gulped down half of his water and he could finally speak again, he whispered to the table, "That's Kairi." At the mention of her name, all three boys looked up from their table, Riku and Roxas twisting around to get a look. "Don't look!" Sora whispered loudly, grabbed Riku's wrist to spin him back towards himself. Roxas quickly turned back around as well, a blush creeping up his neck when he realized there was a cute blonde with Kairi.

Just then, the waitress returned with the promised refills. Her blush had dissipated, and she seemed to be less flustered than before. "Here's those drinks, sorry about the wait!" The boys murmured a "thank you" but were obviously preoccupied with something going on behind them.

"Uh, can I get you anything else?" Sora shook his head without looking in her direction. The waitress looked a bit awkward as she walked away from their table and began checking on the other patrons around them.

Roxas tried to subtly peek behind his shoulder, hoping to catch a look at the blonde again. "Is that Namine with her?"

"It's gotta be. They were coming together right?" Riku was also trying to get a better look at the girls without being too obvious.

Sora kept his head down as his eyes remained on the pair as they made their way closer and closer to the restaurant. That was definitely Kairi. He had looked at her picture enough and replayed their interview enough times to know that was her.

"Yeah, Kairi invited her." Sora started to look a bit concerned now that he was positive that it was Kairi. "But you said they told you they had boyfriends, Axel? Are you sure those are the girls you helped at the hotel earlier?"

"Mmm yep. I never forget a pretty face- ouch!" Axel was interrupted as Roxas had tried to stab Axel's hand that was on the table with his chopsticks.

Riku tried to hold back a laugh as he watched Axel rub his hand and poke out his lower lip at Roxas. "Don't listen to Axel. Roxas is right; they probably just said that to get his pervy ass to go away. Besides, I've talked to Namine. Kairi is definitely single."

"You've talked to Namine?" Sora and Roxas said in unison. Sora sounded curious, but Roxas sounded a little angry.

"Don't get things twisted; it was only to get you and Kairi together." Riku said to Sora, then he bumped his shoulder into Roxas's. "There's nothing going on. She's all yours." Roxas's blush finally reached his cheeks. He quickly started digging back into his food as the other three boys looked at him with knowing eyes. "They grow up so fast." Riku sighed dramatically as he looked at Roxas who was avoiding all eye contact.

"Oh god. They're coming over here." Sora put his elbow on the table and attempted to hide his face as he quickly ate his ramen, hoping he could empty his bowl and high tail it into the crowd.

"Here? Like to our table?" Riku chanced a glance behind him again and saw the girls opening the door of the restaurant and walking in. So they were not coming to their table. He looked back at Sora who had finished his entire bowl of ramen in record time. He wiped his mouth and put his face mask back on. Riku shook his head at him. "Dude, are you okay?"

"Y-yeah. Just not ready to talk to her in person..." Sora's eyes were on the door of the restaurant, waiting for them to come out and sit at a table. He was extremely nervous, especially since he had sent that very suggestive text just a few moments ago. Had she read it yet? He hadn't felt his phone vibrate with a response.

"So when are you planning on talking to her?" Riku asked curiously as he finished up his bowl at a normal pace.

"I was thinking I'd meet her at the convention tomorrow. You know, after I've had time to figure out what to say."

"What to say? 'Hi, I'm Sora. Nice to meet you.' That's it." Riku shook his head at Sora's nervousness but gave him a smile. "Just be yourself, thousand watt smile and all."

Sora blushed a bit, but the mask thankfully covered most of it. "I'll try. I just want her to like me."

"She already likes you." Riku said simply.

Sora glanced over at him before looking back at the restaurant door. "You don't know that."

"I do, trust me." But Sora wasn't listening because just then, Kairi and Namine had opened the door of the restaurant. Instead of coming to sit down at a table, the girls were toting a carryout bag each that presumably held ramen in to-go containers. Sora felt himself start to relax and he slid his face mask down around his chin as he let out a big sigh.

"If this is how you act before you even meet her, I'd hate to see you tomorrow at the expo... you better take a chill pill or ten." Axel's joke sounded a bit more serious than he probably intended, but Sora had to agree.

He needed to get a handle on his nerves. He had never felt like this before with anyone. Usually it was easy to talk to strangers and he could make friends with just about everyone that he came in contact with. But there was something about Kairi that made him afraid that she wouldn't want to be more than just friends.

"Gimme your phone." Riku's voice interrupted his train of thought.

"Huh?" Sora watched as Kairi and Namine disappeared back into the crowd.

"Just give it to me."

Sora pulled his phone from his pocket, and slid it across the table to Riku. Riku easily unlocked it and looked like he was typing something. Once he was done, he slid Sora's phone back across the table. When Sora picked it up he saw that Riku had his text messages with Kairi pulled up. Then he realized what Riku had been doing.

"Dude! Are you serious?"

"You weren't going to do it, so I helped." Riku sat back in his chair, putting his hands behind his head like he had just finished a hard day's work.

Sora groaned and put his head in his hands. Roxas and Axel looked between each other then between Sora and Riku. Axel gently pulled Sora's phone from his hands and looked at the texts. Roxas leaned over the table to get a look as well.

The other three boys exchanged nods and began stacking their bowls and putting all their dishes in the center of the table for easy cleaning. Axel pulled Sora up by his elbow gently and Sora let him, following the small group as they made their way back to their home. Once they were close, and there weren't as many people, Riku and Axel began planning how they were going to help Sora with Kairi tomorrow.

"He needs some clothes that make him feel confident."

"I've got some ideas already. We're dressing a bit casual tomorrow since it's the first day of the expo. Then our panel is Saturday..."

Riku and Axel continued their back and forth as Sora trailed behind them, his hands in his pockets. He felt his phone buzz, and his heart began to race. Sure enough, there was Kairi's name. His hand shook as he pulled up their texts. As he read her response, he almost dropped his phone.

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