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Forever Love

The College Chronicles (1x1 with aoi hoshi)

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Kairi lifted her hands to her face, feeling how hot her cheeks were. Sora was proud of her...Namine was happy for her...and Roxas chuckled at her shy behavior. Just behind him, she saw Riku and Lightning coming over too. "Thanks, guys!" she chimed, smiling widely. She worked so hard, and she did it!

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"You deserve it," Riku said with a smile, "You worked really hard, and the girls both look really good." Though, even as he said 'both,' his eyes instantly drifted over to Lightning's lithe form. 

"We should go out to celebrate!" Naminé suggested cheerfully. There were plenty of little shops around where they could get a good bite to eat. 

 

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Lightning caught Riku's look easily. She sent him a wink at the compliment. That was how many times tonight?

"Okay! But, I need to go talk with the runway director first. Will you guys come with me? They'll probably want to see the dresses up close," Kairi thought aloud. This is so bizarre...

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Riku shot Lightning a sly smirk. Guess she noticed? "Yeah, that's cool." 

Naminé dusted invisible crumbs off her dress. "Right! I'm sure they'll want to see the detailing more closely."

Sora kept one arm around Kairi's shoulders. "Already there." He imagined Kairi was still a little nervous. She had won, but there was still so much to come!

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Kairi smiled and looked at all of her friends, though her gaze lingered on Sora as she tilted her head up slightly to look at him. His arm around her gave her comfort, security. "Okay," she said softly, then leading them toward the judges. While they took her information down, she imagined the professionals would examine her designs on Namine and Lightning.

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At the sight of their winner, the judges, who had been sitting at a long table together, all stood up. A taller and well-dressed woman approached first, offering Kairi a pearly smile. "Kairi, right? I absolutely loved your designs this evening. The color palette you chose fit your models to a T."

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Kairi's blush remained. "Thank you," she said with a small nod. She'd seen the fabric at the store and had to grab it while it was still available. It just so happened to be a little darker than her hair. "My models tonight were my two friends--Namine and Lightning." She motioned to them as she introduced them, catching Lightning nod faintly in greeting. She couldn't have done this without their help.

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After a brief conversation with the judges and offering her information for the display, everyone headed back. Of course, not everyone left together; Lightning and Namine changed out of the dresses and left with Riku and Roxas respectively, while Kairi hung back to carefully tuck her designs away into the suitcase she now pulled behind her. Sora sweetly stayed behind to keep her company. She glanced over at him as they walked back to the dorms, smiling faintly. Throughout the last hour or so, she saw so much joy in his eyes. How proud he was of her. And that meant the world to Kairi.

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"Soooo," Sora began with his hands tucked behind his head, "You'll have your own display, huh?" It was mildly chilly outside, so Sora had offered the red head his jacket. The others were likely close to campus by now, but Sora walked beside Kairi at a slow pace. 

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"Mm-hm," Kairi hummed. A brief gust of wind had Sora's scent overwhelming her, not that she objected. His jacket was nice and warm as they took their time getting back. The sun was nearly set by this time too, so the sky was beautiful in the fall weather. "How bizarre... I never thought I would get this chance." She thought she would never leave the Islands either, but here she was, back where she was born. It was insane how things changed.

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"I always believed in you," Sora murmured quietly. Back home, Kairi was always making beautiful things. Her mother, the mayor's wife, was a craftswoman herself and often sold things at the local markets on Destiny Islands. Kairi never participated, but Sora had expected her talent to shine through one day. 

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Kairi's smile grew. "I know. Thank you, Sora," she told him gently. His faith in her always meant the most to her. She believed in him too, since day one. "Still have to finish that suit of yours, though." She looked at him as she said this, lifting an eyebrow slightly. That suit was her final project for the semester. It had to be perfect, and who better than him to be her model?

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"We do," Sora agreed. He stuck his hands in his pockets then; his fingers touched the soft velvet of the jewelry box. The necklace. Drawing the box from his pocket slowly, Sora presented it to Kairi with a shy smile. "Um...I almost forgot, but this is for you. I thought it would look good on you."

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Kairi stopped walking at the sight of the small box. "Sora..." she said in disbelief, her voice soft. She released her suitcase as it stood upright, the sleeves of Sora's jacket brushing her knuckles since it was big on her. She looked to him in surprise as she took the gift from him. She didn't open it just yet. "You didn't have to do this..." Really. She didn't need anything from him but himself--his faith, his presence, and just...him. He was more than enough.

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Sora shook his head and placed a hand on her shoulder. "You deserve it." She really did. Kairi was the most kind, patient, and selfless person he had ever met. This necklace was barely anything comparable to what she really deserved. 

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Kairi felt her shoulder warm at Sora's touch, even if he touched the cloth of his jacket. Her smile grew slightly, but then she focused on the velvet box in her grasp. She slowly lifted it, and upon seeing the seashell inside, her lips parted in awe. "Sora..." she gasped. It was beautiful! Where did he even find this? It looks like a seashell from back on the Islands...

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Sora looked away, rubbing the back of his head. "I was at an antique shop a few weeks ago, and this old man. Er, the shop owner I mean. He just...came up to me and told me I needed to buy it. He said it's one of a kind, and um...well, it made me think of you."

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Kairi felt tears well her eyes. Not because she was sad, of course, but because she was touched by this gift. And Sora's words. She fingered the shell delicately. "It's beautiful..." she whispered, looking up at the boy with moist eyes. She couldn't believe he would go so far as to purchase this for her. All the munny he must have spent... Kairi didn't believe she was worth it. But Sora did.

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Kairi nodded a little and carefully lifted the necklace out of the box. She handed it to Sora and then turned, gathering her hair as she kept her back to him. She closed her eyes at how sweet this moment was. She would treasure this. 

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Sora's hands, as expected, trembled slightly, but he managed to open the clasp. The seashell moved along the chain as Sora wound it around her neck. Even as the sun's colors faded into night, the accessory sparkled. "Fits like a charm," he mumbled, pulling back once the clasp clicked shut. 

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Kairi looked down at the pendant, fingering it lightly. She giggled softly. Yes, it did fit well. It settled against her chest just below her teardrop necklace she'd had since she was little. "It's perfect," she agreed. 

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Sora's smooth voice touched Kairi in a way that had her wrapping her arms around him. "Thank you," she said near his ear, her arms around his neck as she held him close. This gift wasn't necessary, but she appreciated it all the same. It was truly beautiful, and coming from Sora, even more special. "You're the best."

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