Kingdom Hearts, The Seaweed is Always Greener

Title: The Seaweed is Always Greener [Sora/Riku]
Rating/Warnings: G
Summary: Sora and Riku have a standing date, and Sora’s been saving up Atlantica as a surprise to finally take Riku to. His date plans, like most of Sora’s plans, don’t exactly work out the way that he wants them to.
AN: Written for shiritori. Set during KH3 but no especial spoilers for gameplay, could be set any time Sora and Riku world-hop together.

The Seaweed is Always Greener

They had a standing date, once a week ideally, usually more like every two. Three at the absolute outside and Sora was not afraid to fight Yen Sid on it, not after Riku went facedown in Yen Sid’s star-spangled rug in the middle of a report and was out cold for nearly twenty hours afterwards.

The only reason Sora had known about it at all was because King Mickey had buzzed his Gummi Phone and said that maybe Sora “oughta cut your trip to Radiant Garden just a little short haha.” When Sora stumbled into the Tower hours later and ran up the stairs to Riku’s room, Riku was lying there like Sleeping Beauty herself, his face white from exhaustion, skin pulled tight and thin as tissue paper around the corners of his eyes. He hadn’t stirred when Sora had pitched a fit at his bedside, hollering himself hoarse at Mickey for not taking enough care and Donald for trying to shut him up, or when Sora had crawled into bed with him and passed out himself with his head on Riku’s chest, needing the reassurance of Riku’s steady heartbeat under his ear. It was close to sixteen hours before Riku stirred once, Sora knew because he’d woken up during every single one of them, and even then he’d only blinked at Sora, muttered, “So warm,” and cuddled closer before passing back out.

All right, Sora was a little afraid of Yen Sid, truthfully. But after that incident he’d dug his heels in anyway, feeling stupidly like a kid in the principal’s office while he demanded that he and Riku needed days off or he was going to end up with comatose keyblade wielders.

“And don’t you already have enough of those?” he’d demanded with venom, arms crossed.

There was a long silence, during which Sora couldn’t tell whether Yen Sid felt guilty or was about to banish Sora to the Lanes In-Between. All his expressions looked the same. “I suppose it wouldn’t be the worst idea if the two of you checked on some of the quieter worlds somewhat regularly.”

“You listen to me—” Sora cut off as it sank in that he’d gotten his way. “Wait, what?”

Riku was absolutely mortified once he was lucid enough to understand what Sora had done, and Sora had to carry about 200 buckets of water in punishment, but Sora insisted he’d carry two million more if that’s what it took.

As a result of that incident, once a week, or more like every two, Sora and Riku got to go someplace that nobody had checked on in a while, just to make sure everything was still peaceful. And if it happened to take a whole day, and it happened to be a world either Riku or Sora had never been to before, then that was just the way it happened.

Sora had been saving this one up for a while now, maybe too long, like when you save the last box of a limited edition candy that you love because you’re afraid you won’t ever see the flavor again.

“Can I open my eyes yet?” Riku asked, arms folded over his chest, slouched in his seat in the Highwind. “I feel ridiculous.”

“I told you, not until we’ve landed, or you’ll wreck the surprise,” Sora retorted. He only had half his attention on the argument, another third of it on making sure Riku wasn’t peeking, because landing a gummi ship in the right spot in Atlantica was tricky at the best of times and it had been a while since Sora had had to try. If ‘land’ was the right word for setting down in the middle of the ocean.

There were a touchy few moments where Sora was convinced the whole ship was going to get rolled right over.

“If you want some help, just say,” Riku said calmly while Sora was cursing quietly. “Noooo pressure.”

“Shut up, shut up,” Sora muttered. Finally the ship righted itself, settling into as anchored a position as it was going to get, and Sora heaved a sigh of relief. “Got it! See, nothing to worry about!”

“Right,” Riku said. Sora grabbed his hand and yanked him out of his seat, warning him not to open his eyes yet, but they were gonna jump on three. “Wait, what? Jump?”

“Three!” Sora called cheerfully, shoving Riku out the Highwind’s door in front of him.

Sora lost his grip on Riku in the ensuing turbulence of magic, bubbles, and sea foam, but he wasn’t that concerned about it. He had to blink a few times and give himself a good shake to clear his vision and sort out his tail fins before he could look around anyway, but it wasn’t like they didn’t often end up at least a little separated when world-hopping like this.

“Riku!” he hollered once he had sorted out which way was up. His frown when he didn’t see Riku after a minute or two was more about impatience than actual worry. He’d been waiting so long to show Riku his cool dolphin tail, his super fast swimming skills, and now that jerk had gone and got himself lost somewhere. Typical. “Rikuuuuu!”

As Sora dove deeper, a glimmer of gold caught his eye, and Sora recognized the trident marking leading the way to the palace. That was as likely a place for Riku to have ended up as anywhere, Sora supposed, and even if not, maybe King Triton would sense him in the ocean somewhere.

“Maybe?” Sora muttered to himself, relearning how to kick himself forward without driving himself directly into the seafloor. “I’m pretty sure that’s a thing.”

He was further out from Atlantica’s palace than he usually started out, so it took Sora a while before the landmarks started to look more familiar. He occupied himself as he swam by wondering what kind of ocean creature Riku ended up looking like. There was probably no hope Riku would be something ridiculous, like a crab, instead of looking ten times cooler than Sora did, but Sora had come to terms with that after they’d started visiting more worlds together. Riku always looked cooler, Sora thought, and there was nothing Sora could do about it, so might as well just enjoy the view. When he was younger, Sora had had these fish for a while, tiny ones with a neon stripe that matched Riku’s eyes almost exactly, so maybe Riku would have stripes like that? Or maybe more like a betta fish, with pretty swishy fins, the dark blues and reds a lot like Riku’s body armor when he went dark.

Sora was still daydreaming about the options when the palace finally came into view. Sighing a stream of relieved bubbles, Sora made a beeline for the gates. He was so focused on his goal that he ended up flipping head over fins when another person almost slammed into him from the side.

Well, another merperson.

“Sora!” Ariel exclaimed. Sora blinked at her, upside down. Laughing, Ariel grabbed him by the shoulders and flipped him right side up again. “Your swimming always goes back to terrible when you haven’t visited in a while. It’s so good to see you! Nothing’s wrong is it? I haven’t noticed any heartless in the area, or seen anything strange up at the surface!”

“Nothing major,” Sora chuckled, remembering how hard it was to get a word in edgewise with Ariel sometimes. “Not heartless or anything. But I came here with Riku, my friend I told you about? Only I kind of lost him when we landed. He hasn’t shown up at the palace, has he?”

“No.” Ariel shook her head. “I’m sure Daddy would have mentioned it, I just said goodbye to him a few minutes ago.”

“Oh.” Sora’s shoulders slumped as he looked backwards towards the distance he’d traveled. What if he should have looked harder where he’d landed? What if Riku was still lost back there? “Man, he could be anywhere in the whole ocean, huh?” Sora reached up to scrub his hands through his hair in frustration. “Aaaaagh!”

“I’m sure we’ll find him!” Ariel bumped shoulders with Sora, trying to cheer him up. “I was just about to head up to the surface to visit Eric. Want to come along? Maybe we’ll see Riku on the way? And if not we can ask Scuttle to look around for us, he can see so much more from the air.”

“Sure,” Sora agreed, still a bit downcast. This was not turning into the fun date he’d been hoping for, he sulked as he trailed along beside Ariel. The darting fish, weird crustaceans, and brightly-colored corals not exciting him as much as they usually did, since he’d really wanted to be showing them to Riku this time. Trust him to screw up something as simple as holding onto Riku’s hand while jumping off the ship.

If Ariel noticed Sora’s damp mood, she didn’t comment on it, keeping up a steady stream of chatter about the goings-on in the kingdom of Atlantica. Sora guessed that every royal court had plenty of gossip to go around, and a court with like a ton of beautiful sisters probably had more than most.

“So then Alana said those pearls weren’t Arista’s color at all, right in front of the whole whale delegation and—oh, we’re almost here,” Ariel interrupted herself, drawing Sora’s wandering attention back to her. “Ready?”

“Yup,” Sora agreed, then yelped when Ariel grabbed his hand and rocketed towards the surface like a dolphin gearing up for a jump. They cleared the surface of the water with a splash, and Sora had barely blinked the salt spray out of his eyes when a wave slapped down on top of his head, driving him back underwater. He came up spluttering, hair spikes matted flat to his head and face. “It’s not funny!”

Ariel seemed to disagree, giggling her head off and bobbing easily on the roll of the waves. “Come on, guppy, let’s get further into shore before another wave does the job for you.”

“I’m not a guppy!” Sora hollered after her as she dove into the next wave, using it’s momentum to carry her quickly towards shore. “And I’m pretty sure I’m older than you now!”

Ariel reached an outcropping of rock first, Sora struggling to follow without getting rolled by the waves, and pulled herself up onto it to get a better look at the shoreline. “Aha! Sora, I think I see your human!”

“My human?” Sora repeated, finally getting close enough to grab the edge of the rock. Dragging himself up the slippery stone was harder than Ariel made it looked, and Sora had about scraped his elbow raw by the time he heaved himself up to Ariel’s spot to take a look. Ariel was waving wildly at the shore. Sora squinted and saw two figures on a dock that ran out from the shore. One he recognized as Prince Eric, standing on the dock and waving back at Ariel, the other had a shock of silver hair that Sora would know on any world, sitting on the edge of the dock, jeans rolled up and dangling his legs in the water. “Ugh, what?

Sliding down off the rock was a lot easier than getting on it, although the salt water stung mercilessly against Sora’s scraped elbow, and he managed to get the rest of the way into the dock without any more humiliating accidents. When he surfaced close enough for them to see each other really, Riku was grinning down at him, infuriatingly smug. Prince Eric was climbing down into his rowboat, but waved hello.

“Hello again, Sora,” he said, pulling his rope off the dock tie and winding it up. “Everything all right?”

“Hi, Prince Eric. Yeah, we’re just visiting.” Sora turned to Riku. “Riku, you jerk, I’ve been looking everywhere,” Sora scowled up at him. “And you weren’t even in the ocean! What the heck are you still human for?”

“There’s plenty of humans in this world,” Riku said with a shrug. Prince Eric sounded like he was muffling laughter. “I think Donald was just having some fun with you.”

Narrowing his eyes, Sora cupped his hands together to squirt a jet of water at Riku, but Riku only laughed.

“Don’t get in any trouble, you two,” Eric told them, flipping a salute their way before he started rowing away, attention entirely focused on Ariel, still out in deeper water.

Sora slumped down in the water until he was low enough to blow frustrated bubbles. “Ugh, this date is a huge failure.”

“What? It didn’t even start yet.” Riku reached down a hand. “Can you get up here? I want a better look at this big secret you were so excited to show me.”

“It’s embarrassing when you’re normal!” Sora complained, but he grabbed Riku’s wrist and together they hauled him up the short distance to the dock. Sora landed about as gracefully as a seal beaching itself, and by the time he got himself rolled over into a sitting position, his cheeks were bright pink. He lifted his arm to show his scraped-up elbow, pouting. “This is your fault!”

“Don’t be a baby,” Riku said, covering the wound with his hand and murmuring a “Cura” that Sora felt shivering down to his bones as soft green light twined around his arm. Riku didn’t let go even when the spell faded away, eyes fond as they looked Sora over slowly.

“Quit staring.”

“Won’t,” Riku replied easily. He reached over to push some of Sora’s wet hair back out of his face, then looked down at his tail, the blue scales glittering in the sunlight, his fins long enough to brush the top of the water. “It’s pretty cute, I have to say.”

“Guess so,” Sora sighed, still downcast. He slumped against Riku’s side, Riku’s bare, sun-warmed shoulder crazy warm against his ocean-chilled skin. Riku ran fingers over the top of what would have been Sora’s thigh, making him shiver.

“The color matches your eyes,” Riku murmured, then kissed Sora’s cheek as Sora squawked, warmth warring with embarrassment in his chest.

“You’re so embarrassing!” Sora protested. Riku gave him a sudden shove, knocking him back into the water. “Hey! What the heck?! Riku!”

Riku ignored him, pushing himself off the dock to fall into the water himself with a more subdued splash. Riku treaded water, kicking slowly. “Hm? What? You want to show me around, right?”

“Well, I did,” Sora said, glaring to show exactly whose fault this all was. “But all the good stuff is at the bottom of the ocean! Man, I wanted to show you the palace, and there’s these glowing jellyfish things, and a really cool shipwreck and…aargh, this is just making me madder! I can’t show you anything!”

“Why not?” Riku tilted his head.

“Uh, because you need air, duh,” Sora answered.

“Uh, we do magic, duh,” Riku imitated Sora’s tone. Before Sora could argue, Riku said a firm “Aero,” making a bubble of swirling air wrap around his head, exactly the size to surround his whole head. Riku grinned at Sora’s surprised face, his hair lifting in all directions from the extremely localized breeze.

“You’re a genius!” Sora exclaimed, launching himself at Riku and wrapping arms around his neck. He leaned in for a kiss, laughing as the spell ruffled his hair spikes back up too from their water-logged, limp state.

“Nice of you to finally notice,” Riku chuckled. He kissed the tip of Sora’s nose and then spun him around by the shoulders to wrap arms around Sora’s neck instead, clearly intending to ride against Sora’s back. “Sadly, a great big dolphin tail didn’t come with this package, so you’ll have to do the kicking. Hi ho, Silver! Away!”

“I actually hate you,” Sora informed Riku, then dove in the water before Riku could answer. He couldn’t hear Riku laughing, due to his air bubble, but he could feel Riku’s chest vibrate with it against his bare back.

He’d already crossed half the ocean today, it felt like, but Sora kicked it into high gear. No time to rest when they had the entire ocean to explore!


When they arrived back at Yen Sid’s tower, it was long past where sunset would have been on any other world. Both of them were drooping from exhaustion, hair heavy with dried salt, but grinning ear to ear as they flopped down at the wood table that they ate at in the kitchen. Kairi had shown up when she’d heard the whine of the Gummi Ship engines landing, Lea trailing just behind with a look that said he wasn’t actually interested in their adventures, just getting a snack by chance.

“Seems like you two had fun,” Kairi said once Riku and Sora had coaxed a meal out of the magic kitchen implements. Riku had sensibly got some hot stew after his long day in the cold water; Sora on the other hand was eating an enormous PBJ made out of a nut butter none of them could figure out the flavor of and strawberry jam. They also had hot tea, because they hadn’t yet figured out how to keep the magic kitchen from giving them tea no matter what meal they were trying to have.

“Uh-huh,” Sora announced through his crammed-full mouth. “Ee ough oo esens.”

“Ew, close your mouth,” Lea protested, wrinkling his nose.

Sora swallowed hugely. “PRE-SENTS,” he enunciated, leaning across the table into Lea’s space.

Lea shoved him back with a hand planted in the center of his chest. “How about you memorize that nobody wants to smell your nut breath, geez.”

“Your mom wants to smell my—”

“No thank you, children,” Kairi cut them off cheerfully. She made ‘gimme’ hands at Sora. “Hand over my present.”

Riku fished his messenger bag off the floor and sat it on the bench for Sora to rifle through.

“Oh my god, what’s that smell?” Kairi demanded as soon as he opened the flap, waving her hand in front of her face.

“Brought a bunch of ingredients back for Little Chef!” Sora said proudly. Riku looked inside his bag with a frown. “Donald said if I left any seafood in the ship overnight again he was gonna turn me into an ingredient.”

“Ugh, so much for this bag,” Riku made a disgusted noise as he stuck his hand down into the depths of it. “Haven’t you ever heard of ziplock bags, you idiot? You’ve got like twenty pockets to put them in!”

“Huh, guess that would be a good idea…” Sora took another bite of his sandwich, chewing thoughtfully, while Riku rolled his eyes.

They’d brought Kairi and Lea back seashells, Kairi’s a huge conch of delicate pink shot through with purple stripes, Lea’s a bright red-knobbed sea star, the dark red forming a spiky pentagon in the center. Kairi was delighted by hers, holding it up to her ear to hear the ocean immediately.

“Oh, I miss that sound so much,” she sighed. “Thank you!”

“Yeah, thanks,” Lea echoed. He was offering them a smile but it was a bit strained, and Sora exchanged a look with Riku. They wanted to include him to try and make him feel more like their friend too, but Sora always felt like he was screwing it up somehow without really know what he was doing wrong.

“It made me think of your chakras,” Sora tried to explain. Lea shook himself a little and pasted on a brighter smile.

“Nice to be memorized, I guess,” he said. “Thanks.”

“Yeah,” Sora said, knowing the bigger smile was actually faker and not liking that very much. Riku nudged his knee under the table, telling him to let it alone. “No problem.”

“All right, you two get to bed,” Kairi ordered, standing up and ruffling their hair hard enough to send a small shower of sand in all directions. “We’ve all got a bunch of training tomorrow, Riku’s got a long trip back to Radiant Garden, and if you guys track sand all over the tower, Yen Sid is gonna make you carry a thousand buckets of water up every single stair.”

She was right, but at least they found a wandering broom they tricked into following them up the stairs, sweeping away the evidence, until they made it to their room and could shower off the rest of it. Sora could barely stay upright during the shower, yawning so big that Riku called him a clam. He was more than happy to curl up in Riku’s bed with him after, clean and warm, wearing one of Riku’s t-shirts as pajamas.

“I know you won’t expect this coming from me,” Sora mumbled against Riku’s shoulder. “Usually I’m all about being as naked as possible. But clothes feel really warm and soft after you’ve been basically naked all day?”

“Worlds travel has changed you. It’s like I don’t even know you,” Riku agreed solemnly, making Sora snort. “I had a good time today. I’m glad you got to show me one of your favorite places.”

“Me too.” Sora sighed. “But I’m still mad you weren’t some kickass merdude! I’ve been trying to guess for ages what kind of tail you’d have, and then you just had dumb old legs.”

“I don’t know,” Riku said, letting the hand he’d been rubbing up and down Sora’s back drift lower, palming the curve of Sora’s hip. “I’m pretty partial to these. Glad you got them back safe and sound. Anyway, if you’re so into form change magic, next time it’s my turn to pick.”

“Oh?” Sora asked, interested despite how heavy sleep was making his eyelids. “Got someplace in mind?”

“I do, in fact. Ever been to Zootopia?”

“No?” Sora yawned. “What’s there?”

“You’ll see,” Riku told him, and Sora groaned as he recognized the Riku who would never ever spoil a surprise early with hints. “I promise, it’ll be worth the wait.”

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