Riku and the gang work on the raft.
Unlike his companions, Riku wasn’t filled with delusions of grandeur. He knew that a no matter how buoyant the wood of a raft was, if it had holes, or unevenly distributed weight, it would sink: Riku highly doubted that he or his friends had the craftsmanship to manufacture a raft that wouldn’t, having had no prior experience in carpentry or shipwright.
By that logic, should they be moving to set sail, the raft couldn’t get very far off shore, let alone far enough for them to need food supplies to survive. There was a certain sadistic part inside of Riku that stopped him from explaining this to the others – really, like they’d understand anyway – and made him look forward to the day they’d try to leave, and fail. Or the day high tide came and stole the raft away, or the day when Sora admitted they’d have better luck getting somewhere in their separate little rowboat dinghies. Hey, maybe there’d be tears.
“What are you grinning about?” Kairi asked, leaning forward to examine him with her hands behind her back. She tilted her head to the side when Riku didn’t reply, like seeing his face from a different angle would somehow reveal a hidden rationality of his expression.
Sora. His face appeared from behind and above Kairi’s tilted back, and Riku silently regarded him. Now there was someone to smile about: expression ablaze, he put a finger to his lips before removing a slimy fish just caught for the raft trip out of his bucket and shoving it down the back of Kairi’s top.
“Sora!” Kairi yelled, angry but unable to resist a smile. “You are so dead.”
“Come and get me.”
Riku watched them play, sitting on the cement-rock shelf that separated the man made part of their island from natural beach. He could see Selphie over on the wooden shipwreck winding down from a swordsalshfightingslashskipping session with Tidus (was it just him or was something going on there?), about to come over and plonk down next to him to remiss. But Riku didn’t think about her.
Riku thought about the dark.
He’d been having a lot of these weird thoughts lately, about darkness. Not fully intentional thoughts, like he heard the word thrown around casually at the dinner table and it made him irrevocably think of all that black stuff, but from things that seemed utterly irrelevant like the weather in the paper or his mum talking on the phone about the latest in great grandfather’s triple heart bypass. “Does any more of this new information about Shinra turning up Mako reactors in Midgar sound plausible to you, dear?” his dad might be saying to his mum at the breakfast table one morning. Riku wouldn’t understand a word, and he’d think: well, the local paper’s always been a reliable source (understandable) though it’s a shame to say-- and who cares if Shinra’s killing the planet so long as the light’s a little brighter in the slums of Midgar?
Later, Riku would google ‘Shinra killing the planet’ to find a list of activist sites and some old news about a group called Avalanche, and then he’d type ‘Midgar slums light’ and learn that the poorer area under Midgar’s central plate was usually shrouded in constant darkness: but the light from a controversial Shinra last minute reactor blast to combat Meteor was reducing the dimness.
How could he know that, Riku wondered. His mind came up with reasonable enough solutions. It was all probably just a coincidence, stemming from workings of Riku’s paranoid imagination. He’d heard the word subconsciously sometime ago and his mind was simple retelling a story his brain thought he’d forgot. There was no reason to kick up a mental fuss.
Yet it unnerved him. Sometimes he thought to the darkness that his was as if it wasn’t his thoughts at all. Which was a scary thought to think, one that Riku tried not to think at all, but did. What made him think it? And then, what made anyone think anything?
Riku shook his head, and turned back to Selphie, greeting her with a monosyllabic grunt as she plopped down next to him. Tidus hovered beside her, unsure. Selphie smiled at him and patted the spot next to her. He sat.
They watched Sora and Kairi scramble in the sand for a bit longer, and struck by a sudden urge, Selphie threw her arms over Riku and Tidus’ shoulders, in blatant disregards of Riku’s personal bubble. He was touched though, especially at her following words:
“We’ve had some fun times together, you know. It’ll be a shame to see you both go.”
“Both?” Riku wondered aloud. Was Tidus going with them?
“Didn’t Wakka tell you?” Duh, no. “Jecht’s sending him off to the Balamn Gardens for the next year. I’m really jealous, I wanna’ meet some Seeds too…! But I don’t think Tidus should have to go if he doesn’t want to. ”
Riku heard the silence over the scramble of Sora and Kairi play-fighting.
It was unusual, he knew, for a 14 year old girl to call someone else’s dad by first name. Selphie was an unusual person most of the time, like Riku himself, like Tidus, and while sometimes her antics heavily annoyed Riku other times they just seemed endearing.
“When?” Riku demanded.
“Tommorow.” Tidus said thickly. “I was going to tell you this morning, but I thought it might ruin your trip.”
Tidus looked up.
Screw amateur psychology, Riku thought vigorously. Was he for real? One of his best friends was leaving for a whole year (not that Riku’d ever see him again if this trip lasted as long as Sora hoped it would) and there he was worrying about stupid thoughts that weren’t even his to worry about. That decided it, he decided, nothing was going to happen. Not on his island, not to anybody.
He wouldn’t let it.
To Be Continued