Times change, affections shift, and life becomes complicated. Is it still a love triangle if it involves five people?
Before, it was Sora and Riku who were always together, then Kairi came and fit right in with them to make it Sora and Riku and Kairi.
Before, Kairi liked Sora and Riku liked Kairi and Sora didn't know what to think.
Before, everything was easier.
Now, it's Sora with Donald and Goofy; and Riku with the darkness and King Mickey; and Kairi all by herself.
Sora thinks that he does like Kairi, after all; and Riku realizes that perhaps he (was jealous) only wanted to share something else with Sora.
Kairi waits, and loves Sora even when she can't remember him.
Now, there is a boy who is not Sora, himself able to feel only the empty part inside him where a phantom heart beats when he sees a blonde girl who is just like him. When she smiles, he feels his face twisting to try and mimic the expression, and wonders.
Now, there is a girl who is not Kairi, who knows nothing but what it feels like to be alone. She sees understanding in a boy who gave up his own self to the darkness, and thinks that maybe she can help him realize that he isn't going to be alone forever.
And somewhere along the way Roxas falls in love with NaminÃ©, the only one who tried to give him an answer, the only one who pulled him out of the darkness. He doesn't know what love is, and doesn't know how he can feel it, but he tries, desperately, to understand the foreign emotion.
NaminÃ© remains with Sora, and her admiration of him slowly dims in favor of the tall boy (man) who stays by her side, watching her work, and making sure she isn't lonely any more. She smiles more frequently, and dreams of how different it could be if she wasn't just a shadow.
Riku looks at NaminÃ© and sees Kairi, but he can see something that DiZ cannot: he sees where the similarities end, where Kairi's innocence gives way to insecurity, and unwittingly befriends the girl. Soon, it's clear that she isn't Kairi, she's someone else, and he admires her for it in his own quiet way.
In the time After, when the adventure has ended, Sora and Riku and Kairi are together again, and Roxas and NaminÃ© are not.
Sora feels his entire self gravitating to Kairi (her), and tries to contain the words he wants to scream out and let free to hang in the air between them. He smiles, and smiles, and pushes his emotions to the back of his heart, but the darkness in his heart pushes them back out. (I didn't come this far for her only to stop now, the cloaked shadow tells him in his dreams.)
Kairi feels as if she's being split in two, with part of her straining to reach Sora and another part pulling towards Riku, and it scares her because some days she doesn't know what to think. She's spent so long loving Sora and so long thinking about Riku that she can't tell where her thoughts end and Another's begins.
Riku breathes in the salty smell of the ocean, the blue of the sky, the sun on his face. He feels warm and sometimes lets himself dwell on the colder days spent in white rooms with the moon hanging outside, at NaminÃ©'s side, but tries not to. All that's left of that girl is Kairi, and that isn't the same at all.
But it doesn't matter.
(But everything matters.)
After, everything becomes different, and none of them really understand why.