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Hi! This is a fanfiction (Sokeefe) written by DressChimera and Luna. The story is done, but any feedback would still be appreciated. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Chapter 1 Edit

Sophie hurriedly packed her suitcase, wishing she had started packing a little sooner. It was too late to fold the pile of clothes swiftly building up in her suitcase. Her insides were butterflies with excitement for the trip with her friends. It had been next to impossible to convince the council to let them go, and even harder to convince Grady. Yet somehow, despite Sandor’s loud protests, they were going to Kauai, a beautiful tropical island in the Forbidden Cities. Sandor and their other bodyguards would’ve been just a little too conspicuous. As if her friends wouldn’t be conspicuous enough, they all looked like movie stars compared to most humans.

“Hey there Foster!” Keefe called with a smirk, looking doubtfully at the mountain of clothes. “You alright there?”

“Ummm… Not really.” She admitted with a sigh. “Could you fold these clothes? I need to pack everything else.”

“Anything to get us out the door faster. You know even Biana packed faster than you? And she pretty much packed her entire room. What’s going on?”

“Well… I’m just worried. We’re not exactly going to blend in with the humans, and we have to take an airplane. If we teleported, we would basically give elves away to everyone around us by falling out of the sky.”

Sophie stuffed the rest of the things she needed into her suitcase and dragged it off her bed. She was about to start out the door when Keefe interrupted her leaving.

“Aren’t you forgetting something?” He asked, waving a bright blue elephant in a Hawaiian shirt in the air.

Sophie turned around and exclaimed, “Ella! How could I forget you?” She grabbed Ella out of Keefe’s hand and ran outside, leaving Keefe standing in the middle of the room.

“You’re welcome!” Keefe called from her room as he started after her.

*****

Biana and Fitz glittered into view on the soft grassy lawn of Havenfield. As Sophie ran to greet them, she noticed the sparkly teal suitcases, there had to be at least ten. Walking closer, Sophie noticed the one large green suitcase hiding behind the mountain of shimmering teal.

“Wait- are those all Biana’s?” Sophie asked in disbelief.

“Yup. She decided to pack light for this trip,” Fitz remarked with a grin. Biana scowled, elbowing Fitz and knocking him back a step and into the suitcases.

“Hey I only packed what I needed and what Sophie needed. Let’s be honest she’s going to end up borrowing everything I brought for her,” Biana laughed. Fitz was saved from replying as Dex leapt onto the property. They exchanged quick hellos, and soon Marella, Linh and Tam joined them. Keefe walked up behind Sophie, putting his arm around her shoulders. Sophie jumped, not having noticed him creep up on her. Fitz’s eyes flashed with annoyance as the group awkwardly looked between Keefe and Sophie. 

Just then, Sandor marched over, glaring at Keefe.

“Are you ok Miss Foster?” Sandor asked, shoving Keefe aside.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just didn’t hear him come up behind me. I’m kinda dumb like that sometimes.” Fitz stepped forward, staring into Sophie’s eyes intensely.

“You could never be done Sophie. Never forget that.” Keefe snorted in background as Sophie flushed and awkwardly looked away.

“Smooth, Fitzy. Smooth,” Keefe butted in. 

“Do you think Sophie will like you more with those kinds of jokes? Because she doesn’t,” Fitz said with narrowed eyes.

“Uh Fitz you sure about that?” Keefe started to add.

“We should probably go now,” Sophie interrupted, saving herself from further humiliation.

“What’s the plan anyway?” Marella asked. 

“Well, we’re going to teleport to a sort of hidden part of the San Diego International Airport, I would teleport us straight to Kauai but I’ve never been there. Honestly, it’ll probably be in some field next to the airport. Sorry, it’s going to be the most private place there,” Sophie said with a small cringe. Keefe shrugged in acceptance as the whole group groaned.

“Whatever you want Foster. Well, are we waiting for something or are we going?” Keefe declared. Together, the eight of them walked over to the cliffside, held hands, and jumped. Sophie felt her mind stretch as she imagined the airport, and the next thing everyone knew, they had landed in a small clearing several blocks away from the entrance.

The group walked toward the entrance of the airport. A group of people waiting in line for luggage tags stopped and stared. Tam brushed his bangs over his face as the rest of the group smiled, causing even more people to gawk at them. Sophie blushed in annoyance as more people stopped to stare at Keefe while he ran a hand through his perfectly styled hair.

They managed to get through the security line without much trouble, though they did stop Dex when they saw the strange gadgets he was carrying in his suitcase. Thankfully he was allowed to mail them home, well, to Mr. Forkle’s human house.

Sophie contemplated pulling them into a Starbucks to order some drinks before their flight took off, but the idea of her friends with caffeine made her keep walking. Soon, they reached their gate, and found some seats nearby. Sophie sat and flipped through some human magazines, enjoying looking at what had changed in the years since she had left. Meanwhile, Biana, Dex, and Fitz wandered off to look at different parts of the airport.

“Gate 8 now boarding, all passengers of flight 16b to Kauai please report to Gate 8.” The attendant repeated, their voice amplified by the speakers overhead.

“Are you sure it’s safe?” Biana whispered to Sophie, looking doubtfully at the gateway.

“Don’t worry, it’s totally safe. I used to fly all the time with my family when I was younger.” Sophie reassured her friends, many of whom shared Biana’s concerns. Together, they walked to the jetway and boarded, ready to start a new adventure.

Chapter 2 Edit

As Sophie reclined her seat on the airplane, she reached into her suitcase and pulled out the airplane pillow she’d bought at the airport gift shop. On either side of her sat Keefe and Marella, who seemed to be pretty entertained by the tablet screen embedded in the seat in front of her. One row behind, Linh stared eagerly out the window, while Tam and Dex inspected their surroundings. Fitz and Biana sat across the aisle, next to a pretty human girl absorbed in her book.

Keefe leaned sideways and whispered to Sophie, “So.... what exactly are we supposed to do? This flight is like 6 hours.”

“Didn’t you bring a book? Or paper and pens to draw?” Sophie whisper-shouted back.

“Was I supposed to?” Keefe answered quizzically. Sophie let out a sigh. 

“Here,” she said as she handed him one of her earbuds, “We can watch some movies on my iPod.”

“Cool, I’ve kind of always wanted to try this iPod thingy,” He said with a grin. Keefe leaned closer as Sophie shuffled through the movies. His hair brushed her ear, and she stiffened, sure her cheeks were neon red. Keefe just smirked, but she could see a tint of pink in his cheeks too. Somewhere in her peripheral vision she saw Biana giving them a thumbs up.

“So what movie should we watch?” Sophie asked, trying to ease away the embarrassment.

“I saw a movie that looked kinda good, it had two dogs eating pasta on the front! It looked weird but I think I need to watch it!” Keefe explained.

 Shaking her head, Sophie pulled up The Lady and the Tramp. She had watched it at least ten times with Amy when she was a kid, but it had been years since she had last seen it. The intro credits began to play as the plane took off, and Sophie settled in for the many hours to come.

 *****

The drink cart pulled up beside Sophie, Keefe and Marella’s seat, just as the famous pasta scene began.

“Do you want anything?” She asked Keefe as Marella ordered her drink, “It probably won't be as good as what you're used to but you’ll probably get hungry or thirsty later if you don’t get something. 

“Ok, just get something you like, I’ll probably like it too.” He said, not looking up from the iPod. Marella smiled with her eyebrows raised. Sophie flushed bright pink in embarrassment.

“We’ll take two bags of potato chips, two bottles of lemonade and two chocolate bars,” Sophie told the stewardess pushing the drink cart. She handed Keefe his snacks as she opened the bag of potato chips. She glanced back at her friends to see how they were doing. Dex was tinkering, Linh was watching a movie about mermaids, and Tam was asleep, a few girls openly staring at him as he snored. Biana was reading a book and Fitz was talking intently with the human girl sitting next to him. Sophie felt a small twinge of jealousy in her stomach, but not as much as usual. That was strange, but something to think about later. She drew her gaze back to the movie, seeing Keefe looking at her. She looked at the screen.

“Oh no! I missed the pasta scene! Aww, that’s one of my favorite movie moments of all time!” Sophie mentioned.

“Do you want me to back it up?” Keefe asked with a small chuckle.

“Yes!!!” Sophie exclaimed a little too loudly. People around turned their heads as she whispered, “Sorry.” Keefe cracked up as she turned back to keep watching the movie. He stopped laughing for a second, staring at her intently. 

Sophie blushed as she asked, “What?” Keefe smiled.

“You have potato chip crumbs on your face,” He said as he reached up to brush them off her cheek. She felt her heart flutter, the same way it usually did for Fitz. But why did she feel this way about Keefe? He was her friend, teasing and joking with her. Sure they were close and she could open up to him more than other people, but she liked Fitz. Sophie sighed. She hoped they would be in Kauai soon. This would be one confusing trip.

Chapter 3 Edit

Sophie was sure that her arm would be crushed completely by the time the plane landed. Keefe’s grip had been clamped shut around her arm with a grip of iron since the descent had had been announced.  Even now she could hear him whispering words they weren't supposed to say under his breath. Across the aisle, Sophie could tell that the human girl was talking to Fitz and Biana, and she was glad that they weren’t freaking out like Keefe was. Dex was more interested than afraid, and she knew he would be full of questions when they finally landed. Tam was comforting Linh, but Sophie knew he was just as scared as his sister. Deep inside, Sophie felt something stir. It wasn’t fear, or jealousy, for once she didn’t mind Fitz ignoring her. What it was, she didn’t know, but she chose to ignore it, instead sinking deeper into the soft airplane seat and Keefe’s tight hold on her arm.

*****

The wheels touched the ground softly, as the plane screamed to a slower pace with an ear-shattering rumble. As the plane flew across the ground at a pace that felt way too fast to actually be slowing down, she could feel Keefe’s grip tighten even more on her arm, something she hadn’t thought was possible. 

“Keefe it’s okay. The plane is stopping now. I know you're afraid but I really cannot feel my arm right now,” Sophie whispered.

Keefe’s cheeks flushed with a twinge of red as he whispered back, “Sorry, this is just weird. I’ll take being carried by beams of light any time.”

As a few heads turned, Sophie quickly replied, “As much as I would want that movie to be true too, it looks like were stuck with airplanes, right Keefe?”

“Oh… Yeah, you’re right. I’m sorry,” he mouthed. Keefe swiftly nodded as people looked away again.

As the plane squeaked to a stop, the seatbelt sign disappeared. Sophie and her friends unbuckled their seatbelts and stood up on wobbly legs. They grabbed their carry-ons from the overhead storage and, very slowly, made their way to the exit in a single file line.

“Why is this taking so long?” Fitz remarked, turning back to look at his friends. “There’s no reasonable explanation for why we aren’t off the plane already.”

“Well, there's always one person holding up the line, it used to be the person having way too much trouble picking up their one suitcase. Right now though, it’s you.” The human girl smiled  with a small laugh. Fitz blushed neon red as he picked up his bag and hurried out.

The party started to the baggage claim, the human girl still close behind. Remarkably, it didn’t take hours for all of Biana’s bags to arrive, and they were on the shuttle to the hotel in no time.

*****

Sophie was surprised to see that the human girl had also boarded the same shuttle as her group. Realizing she didn’t even know the girl’s name, she gave a quick wave, motioning for her to sit near them.

“Hi. Thanks for calling out Fitz back there, he really needed that. My name’s Sophie, what’s yours?”

She grinned, her eyes sparkling, “I'm Cora! Thanks for inviting me to sit with you, I kind of needed somebody to sit with. My friend canceled at the last minute, they had family plans. I didn't want to cancel the whole trip so here I am.” She winked.

Sophie laughed, she really liked this girl, “I'm always glad to have new friends, my friend Wylie actually did the same thing to us! These are my friends, Keefe, Dex, Marella, Linh and Tam. And you already know Fitz and Biana of course.” Sophie pointed to each person in turn. The shuttle rumbled along through the breathtaking scenery as their hotel came into view. 

As they hopped out of the shuttle, Linh squealed, pointing at something just in view.

“Are those what I think they are?!” Linh asked, her voice several octaves higher than it was usually.

“Yep,” Sophie confirmed, amused by her friend’s reaction. “Those are chickens.” Without another word, Linh ran towards the flightless birds, leaving Tam with an exasperated look on his face, shaking his head at his sister’s behavior. They all walked over, and Sophie quickly explained the story of why the island was overrun by chickens. After that, it only took a couple more minutes to get everyone into the hotel to get checked in.

They said goodbye to Cora, planning to meet up for dinner. With one key each, the girls and boys separated to head to their double suites overlooking the gorgeous beach, speckled with palm trees and plants. Each suite had two bathrooms, two bedrooms, each with two beds, and a small living room and kitchen space.

“Why do I have to room with Bangs Boy?” Keefe whined. “Can't he switch with Foster?”

“You're not even sharing a room with him!” Fits reminded him, “You're rooming with Dex remember?”

“That's more like it!” Keefe exclaimed and stage whispered, “Were going to have to cause some trouble later.”

Dex snickered and whispered back, “I brought balding serums.” Sophie barely resisted the urge to groan and hit him over the head with a suitcase.

They took the next few hours to settle in to the hotel rooms and unpack. Sophie finished quickly, and sat down on her bed, listening to music. Marella lay on the bed next to her, taking a nap after having gotten ready to go. On the balcony, Biana stared out at the ocean, occasionally making comments about the breeze or the sunshine. Unsurprisingly, she had already changed into a cute pink bikini she had bought online with the help of Dex. Linh was in the process of changing, though she had needed to run down to the gift shop to buy a swimsuit. Across the hall, Sophie could hear the boys laughing, and knew that they were nowhere near ready to go to the beach. 

Sophie strolled over to the boy’s suite. She knocked on the door, and was greeted by Fitz. “Hey are you guys almost ready for the beach?” She asked with a sigh. 

“Yep, we're just waiting on Keefe. He's-” Fitz was interrupted as Tam clamped a hand over his mouth.

“He's doing his hair, you should go in and get him. Maybe he'll listen to you,” Tam explained.

“Okay....” Sophie said uncertainly and opened the door to Keefe’s room. Inside, she heard a cheesy pop song from her playlist blasting on the radio. She didn't see Keefe yet, so she ducked in more, just to see him styling his hair as he lip synced into his comb. He was in his bathing suit dancing, obviously not seeing her. He turned around opening his eyes, just as the song reached the highest note. He jumped back, dropping the comb. He flushed redder than she’d ever seen him blush before. Including when Lord Cassius had walked in on them talking.

“Didn't see you there Foster,” he mumbled, his eyes dropping to the ground in embarrassment.

“Yep,” she said nervously, biting her lip to keep from laughing. Keefe slowly looked up and met her gaze. He gave her a half smile, and she couldn't hold it in any longer. She burst out laughing, clutching her sides as Keefe joined in. They laughed for minutes, their laughs dissolving into giggles before finally stopping. “Soooooo,” she said awkwardly, “Are you ready now?”

“Yeah let’s go,” Keefe answered quickly, almost running out the door. Sophie followed him, a small smile tickling her face as they headed to the beach. She wasn’t sure why she felt so giddy, but something about laughing with Keefe made her feel warm inside. Nothing on this trip had gone perfectly so far, but this moment made all the hard things worth it.

Chapter 4 Edit

Sophie reclined in the soft white sand, relaxing to the sound of the crystal blue waves crashing against the shore. The gentle shade of a palm tree loomed over Sophie and Biana, who were sitting on the beach near their hotel. Everyone else splashed in the waves, Linh discreetly throwing arrows of water at Tam while Fitz, Keefe, Dex, and Marella pretended not to notice. Just then, Sophie notice a lone figure walking down the beach, looking around.

“Hey, we’re over here!” Sophie waved, calling Cora over. She scooted closer to Biana, making room on the towels they had haphazardly thrown on the ground. 

“Isn’t it beautiful here? I’ve been coming here every year since I was a kid, and it never gets old,” Cora remarked, settling down next to her newfound friends.

“You have? You’re so lucky. This place is the best,” Biana commented, sitting up. Even in the hot midday sun, she still managed to look effortlessly perfect. “Any suggestions on what to do next?” Biana asked.

“Well, they have a lot of farmers markets and fun stores, and fancy restaurants you could go to with your boyfriend, Sophie,” Cora said wiggling her eyebrows, “Y’know the blonde one, Keefe right?”

“My… Boyfriend?! No, you’ve got it all wrong. Keefe isn’t my boyfriend. We’re friends. Just friends, nothing more. Friends. Yeah, just friends.” Sophie stuttered, her cheeks suddenly on fire.

“Just friends? Are you sure? He been staring at you a lot, and you guys seemed pretty close on the airplane. But if you say you’re just friends, then… okay.” Cora continued, stopping only when Keefe walked up.

“Did I hear my name? Because I also answer to Lord Hunkyhair,” Keefe smirked and flipped his hair for extra effect as water sprayed out from his tousled blond strands, shining in the sun.

 “Uh… I’m gonna go get some human candy from the gift shop for us. Bye!” Sophie flustered and sprinted off down the beach, leaving her friends in the distance.

“Did she say ‘human candy’?” Cora questioned, breaking the silence that had formed in Sophie’s wake.

Keefe laughed, “You know Foster, always getting flustered and confused with her words, she probably meant Hawaiian candy. I have that effect sometimes.” Keefe stared off into the distance in a way that was probably supposed to be dramatic, even though he was only wearing swim trunks.

“Where did you get that scar?” Cora asked suspiciously, looking at the stab wound that Dimitar had given Keefe during their spar. “It looks pretty bad.”

“Ummm a....... car... accident. Yes, a car accident. I'm going to go help Foster with the candy search now. Bye,” Keefe said quickly as he ran off. Biana snorted, and tried to change the subject.

“Wanna come with us while we explore the town? I’m sure we could use the help getting Sophie to buy something, not to mention controlling the guys,” Biana said with a dramatic eye-roll.

“Sure,” Cora giggled, “I can show you all the best stores.”

A half an hour later, everyone met up in the girl’s hotel room. Sophie and her friends sat eating candy while listening to Cora as she went over the plan. “We’re going to go to a couple of different stores to shop, and then we’ll get a late lunch at my favorite place, and it’ll all be great. Ready?” she said expectantly, looking around at the group.

“Yep!” Sophie replied, standing up, “Let’s go.”

*****

The group strolled down the main shopping center near the hotel. Small boutiques and bigger chain stores were stationed on all sides. Clothes, swimsuits and souvenirs dotted the windows, drawing people in through the doors. Colorful awnings to shade the tourists swept across the large windows in front of each shop. As they passed a colorful booth, Cora squealed in excitement.

“OMG! They have shave ice here! I can't believe we forgot to get some earlier!” she called, her eyes wide. “You guys have to try some.”

Cora walked up to the ordering window, and quickly stated her order. “I’ll have on Tropical Twist please,” Linh came up beside her, and ordered the same thing, saying, 

“That also sounds good for me.” After that, it only took a few minutes to get everyone else their shave ice. Dex, Marella, and Fitz all ordered single flavors; blue raspberry, root beer, and vanilla respectively. Biana and Tam ordered piña colada and tiger’s blood, which turned out to be watermelon, strawberry, and coconut. Sophie went up second to last, still trying to decide what to have. The cool shave ice sounded perfect for the hot Hawaii climate. Sophie could feel her mouth water as she saw the array of flavored syrups she remembered from when she was younger.

“Why did you get blue raspberry Dex?” Marella asked, “It doesn't even sound like a real thing.”

“That's why I got it. We could all use a little more weird,” he said with a wink. The group laughed, remembering the many times that had been said before.

“I think I’ll have a rainbow flavor. I remember liking it as a kid the first time I came here.” Keefe sidled up next to her, still looking at the menu. Once he heard Sophie order though, he quickly made up his mind, similar to what he had done on the plane. 

“I’ll also have that. Rainbow sounds delicious.” Behind her, Sophie could hear Marella and Cora snickering. While everyone else chattered and laughed, she contemplated the events of the day so far, thoughts swirling in her mind. It didn’t mean anything that Keefe had chosen the same flavor, did it? He just though it sounded good, didn’t he? He had done the same thing on the airplane, but that was just a coincidence, since he didn’t know much about human food. And what Cora had said? Sophie couldn’t bring herself to analyze how that had made her feel. She locked up those thoughts in a corner of her brain to deal with later, like she had done with the others. She would deal with them when she had time. For now, they didn't exist. Instead, she turned back to her already melting shave ice, and vowed to just enjoy her vacation.

Chapter 5 Edit

“How about this one?” Biana asked, holding up a pink and gold floral floor length dress. After eating their shave ice, the group had split up, the boys exploring the shops while the girls, especially Biana, bought clothes. Sophie looked up and down at the dress incredulously. Though simple by elven standards, it was still too bright and shimmery for her tastes.

“Um, maybe not that one,” she said, and Biana put it down with a sigh.

“Sophie, we’ve been doing this for at least two hours, and you haven’t even gotten a single thing!” Biana gestured to Sophie’s growing pile of rejected clothes, which almost rivaled the stack of dresses Biana had picked.

“You know I don’t like this kinda stuff,” Sophie complained, “Why are you still making me do it?”

“Because unlike you, the rest of us are enjoying this.” Across the many aisles of clothes, Sophie could just make out Linh, Marella and Cora talking excitedly about something. “Besides, who knows what we’ll end up doing on this trip? You might need something nice to wear,” she finished with a smile. “Now, try this one on.”

As they kept trying on clothes, Sophie thought about what Biana had said. But after several minutes of confused pondering, she decided not to think about it, instead focusing on picking out a dress she actually enjoyed.

called from across the store.

“Wait here,” Biana instructed as she raced off in her  direction. Sophie was more than happy to wait. Another hour had passed, and they still had yet to find anything that worked.

Biana returned carrying a soft, wispy dress. It had small straps and was about knee length. A fitted Lycra dress underneath a layer of light flowy chiffon. Subtle gold embroidery climbed the neckline and hem. The dress was a striking, deep red. It seemed like a burgundy color. It was beautiful and unique, but not flashy. It was perfect.

“It's amazing,” Sophie breathed. It really was.

“Yessss!” Biana exclaimed. “We finally did it Cora!” Cora just smiled, her eyes twinkling with silent laughter.

            “Wow. That actually really suits you,” Marella commented, having followed Biana, and Linh nodded along emphatically.

“What are you getting Biana?” Sophie asked, shaking her head. Biana gestured to the stack of dresses on one of the changing room chairs. The stack could've outweighed half the store. 

Gathering all their chosen outfits, the girls went to the front of the store to check out. Everything went smoothly, though Biana did receive some odd looks from the cashier when she set down all of her clothes. A few minutes later, everyone exited the store with their purchases, blinking in the sudden bright light of outside, even as the sun began to sink lower on the horizon.

“Hey! What took you so long?” Dex asked, standing a few feet away with the rest of their friends. 

“Biana just had to find the perfect dress for Sophie, and you know how long that normally takes. I’m just glad we got out of there before nightfall,” Marella replied sarcastically, grinning.

“We didn’t take that long!” Biana protested, “Right Sophie?” Sophie stood silent, zoned out and staring puzzled at her friends.

“Sophie?” Cora said, waving her hand in front of her face, “Earth to Sophie…”

“Huh? Something just felt off, and I finally figured out what it was,” she explained, “Where’s Keefe?”

Just then, Keefe sauntered over to the group, holding a very full looking shopping bag. It was small, with a very classy logo indicating something fancy and expensive. 

“Did you miss me?” he asked with an exaggerated wink.

“Madly,” Sophie said with an obvious eye roll. However, she blushed seeing Cora softly elbow Biana with a wiggle of her eyebrows. “What did you buy at the boutique Keefe?”.

“Well... It's a pretty big surprise, kind of a memento for everyone of this trip. It's hard to describe, I’ll just show you,” He pulled out a small black box out of the bags, handing it to Sophie. He pulled out seven more identical boxes, tossing them to each one of his friends, even giving one to Tam, and saving one last box for himself.

“Okay, ready? Three… Two… One!” As he counted down, everyone prepared to open their gifts, and when he hit one, they all looked inside the black boxes. Their gasps and praise when they saw what was inside could be heard from across the shopping complex.

“I decided to get everyone rings, since we all have plenty of other jewelry, and I still wanted to get something to remember this awesome trip,” Keefe started, walking closer to his friends, “Biana, Fitz and your rings are amazonite, which is teal. Cora, I know we just met you, but I wanted to make sure you felt part of the group,” her ring was a striking green emerald, and she looked back and forth between it and Keefe several times before saying,

“Wow. These must’ve been so expensive. Thank you so much.”

“Dex,” Keefe continued, “your ring is made of tanzanite, since it was the closest to periwinkle I could find.” 

Dex grinned, “You got them to match our eye color! That’s so cool.”

“Yep! Having a photographic memory really comes in handy sometimes. Linh, Tam, your’s are this silver blue aquamarine, and Marella, your’s is made of zircon.” he finished. “Mine is of course a diamond, ‘cause we all know I’m the best.”

Sophie looked down at her own ring, which also glittered a perfect shade of ice blue. “Why did you choose mine?” she asked.

“Well, there aren’t a whole lot of brown gemstones, at least not at this store, so I got you something else.” He explained, but it didn’t quite feel like the truth, at least not the whole truth. Looking closer, Sophie found that the gem, tucked securely in a lattice of silver bands, was also a diamond. Keefe had gotten her the same ring as him. Not wanting to make more of a scene, or give Marella and Cora another reason to tease her, Sophie simply vowed to ask Keefe about it later. 

“I really like it. Thanks for taking the time to do all this.” She smiled what she hoped was a convincing grin.

“You're welcome Foster,” Keefe said with a forced smile. A glimmer of disappointment shined through his eyes. Sophie felt the guilt radiating off of her in waves, and she was sure Keefe could feel it too.

“Keefe can we talk?” Sophie asked. She pulled him away from their friends, who were starting to walk back to the hotel. 

Keefe gulped, “Okay.” He looked as nervous as she felt. Sophie was not looking forward to this conversation again.

Chapter 6 Edit

“Soooo.....” Keefe said after a nervous and awkward silence. “Wanna take a walk?”

“Sure, it'll probably be easier that way,” she answered, fidgeting. After a few more minutes of quiet, Keefe stopped walking, and squeezed his eyes tightly closed, taking a few deep breaths. 

“Is there something you want to tell me?” she asked, knowing deep down what he was about to say.

“I- I um...” Keefe stuttered, “I like you Sophie.” 

Sophie sucked in a sharp breath. She'd expected that, but it didn't make it any less intense. She gulped, hyperventilating a little, her heart pounding so loud she wouldn’t have been surprised if all of Kauai could hear it. Thoughts racing, Sophie tried to come up with a reply that would explain the way she felt toward her friend.

“I don't want to have this conversation again Keefe, but I think we have to,” she answered finally. “I.... really like you. As a friend though, and I wouldn’t want anything to change that. The last thing I want to do is hurt your feelings, but I don't like you quite like that. It's not you, it’s me,” she continued, cringing at the cliché line, “You are an amazing person and I could spend a lot of time listing the reasons why, but I'm sorry. I just don't feel that way about you.”

Keefe cringed, “Sorry, that was a nice way of letting me down gently Foster.” He reverted back to his usual name for her, and somewhere inside of her ached in sadness, though she didn’t want to think about why.

Sophie’s heart beat faster, rushing with guilt and sadness. She wished this hadn't happened. That everything was still normal. “I hope this doesn't affect our friendship, it didn't with Dex, though it did take a little while for the awkwardness to subside.”

Keefe laughed, but there was no humor behind it. “At least Dex got the chance to try and prove to you that you liked him,” he muttered softly.

Sophie’s heart stopped. She was sure she didn't breathe for at least a minute. She cleared her throat and bit her lip, a debate going on in her head.

“I'm sorry I brought that up,” Keefe said softly, “That wasn't fair of me. We’re good, Foster. We should probably get back to our friends now.” He turned around and started walking back toward her their friends, and though she wanted to, part of her couldn’t just let the conversation end there.

“No,” she said, stopping him from leaving, “It was fair of you to bring that up after I brought up Dex.”

Keefe could've won the contest for saddest smile in the world as he turned back to face her. He patted her shoulder as he started away again.

“No, don’t try to make me feel better. I don’t want any of your pity. This doesn’t need to go on any longer.”

Sophie walked quickly back up to him and grabbed his shoulder, forcing him to face her. She could see the confusion playing across his face as she took a deep breath for what felt like the 100th time during their conversation. “Well, this is happening.”

Before she could change her mind, she shoved her face towards his. Their lips touched, and she heard Keefe squeak, not that different from what Dex had done during her first kiss. But something was different this time. She felt her heart flutter like a thousand butterflies had been released all at once. Before, she had felt nothing special, just the shock of her decision, but this, this was something so much more. There was no awkwardness. It seemed like a thousand fireworks had erupted inside her mind. The stars twinkled above them, the ocean crashed beside them, and she could hear music softly whispering in the distance. All of that was gone now though, melting away as she closed her eyes. Nothing was wrong, all of her worries from the trip had disappeared, now everything was perfect. This was right.

They slowly parted, their eyes meeting as they broke apart. Keefe stepped away in shock, at a loss for words.

“I… didn’t expect you to actually go through with it,” he admitted, “But... I'm glad you did. It didn't seem the same as what you'd described with Dex.”

“It definitely wasn't,” the words were barely audible but they made all the difference. “You know everything I said before, about wanting to stay friends?” Sophie hesitated, but kept talking, “Well, I think we could be more than that. More than just friends, I mean.” Fumbling, she looked down, wishing the awkwardness of today could go away again.

“I'd like that,” Keefe said with the biggest grin she’d ever seen, and she relaxed. “I’d really like that.”

Chapter 7 Edit

Sophie and Keefe’s mood on their walk back to their friends felt completely different now than when they had first left to talk. Whereas before they had been silent and tense, now they held hands and laughed, sharing memories and inside jokes. So it surprised Sophie when Keefe quieted down, stopping for a moment.

“What do we want to tell people about… us?” he asked, sounding serious for once, “After all, they’re not as oblivious as you, so they’re bound to know something’s up.”

“I’m not that oblivious! But even if they suspect something, I don’t think now’s the best time to tell everyone. We don’t know how everybody’s going to react, and I wouldn’t want to ruin anyone’s vacation.” Sophie answered, wishing the thought of telling everybody would stop sending shivers down her spine. She liked Keefe, she really did, and she didn’t want to hide their relationship. But everything with Fitz had ended so abruptly, and she just couldn’t guess how he would take to the news. Right now, it just felt safer to wait and see.

“I guess that makes sense. But I don’t know how you’re going to hide your obvious love for me,” Keefe joked, cracking a smile. Sophie retaliated by lightly shoving him off the path, forcing him to grab her shoulder for balance. They crashed together, nearly falling in a heap, and they were so busy untangling themselves that it took several seconds for them to realize that they had made it to their friends.

“Hey, guys,” Sophie mumbled, face turning fiery red. “Sorry we took so long, we were…” she trailed off, staring at Keefe and hoping he would provide an excuse. Inside she was panicking, knowing their was no way her friends would let this slide.

“We were… We saw… a sea turtle!” Keefe blurted out, and Sophie resisted the urge to facepalm at his bad acting. It was a fine excuse though, as long as you didn’t think about it for too long. “Yeah, we saw a turtle, and we didn’t want to scare it away, but it was blocking our path so we had to wait for it to go away.”

“Ooh, did you take a picture?” Biana asked, and Sophie wondered if she was genuinely asking, or if she just wanted to find out what really happened.

“Oh, sorry. We were so surprised, we didn’t think to take out our cameras until it was too late. I have a photographic memory though, so at least I have some mental pictures.” Sophie replied, trying to phrase her words in a way that wouldn’t make Cora suspicious.

“You were out there for twenty minutes, and you’re telling us a turtle blocked your path, and it never once occurred to you to take a picture?” Fitz snapped, glaring at Keefe. “Seems pretty suspicious to me.”

“That is what happened, really.” Sophie tried one last time to convince her friends, but they weren’t having any of it.

            “You do realize none of us believe you, right?” Marella said, “So just tell us. What were you really doing?” Sophie’s mind spun with a million different ways to get out of this, but none of them ended well. The only way out now was to tell the truth.

“Dex, you remember our conversation? The one where we, y’know…” Sophie started talking to Dex, figuring this would be the least embarrassing way to spill the news.

“Yeah, I remember,” Dex muttered quickly, his ears turning as red as Sophie’s cheeks. “Do you mean that you and Keefe-“ he was cut off by Cora, who addressed Sophie,

“You’re not making any sense to the rest of us, so we would appreciate it if you started explaining.”

“Fine,” she replied, hoping that this would be over quickly, at the very least, “Uh…”

“Oh just spit it out, will you?” Fitz said, his tone harsher than Sophie would have expected.

“We kissed.” She buried her face in her hands, not ready to face everyone’s reactions. Someone started to slow clap, and Sophie realized it was Tam when he spoke up,

“Good for you, Keefe. You don’t deserve her, but I hope you’re happy.” He added on, wincing as Linh kicked him in the shins. 

“That’s so awesome!” Linh exclaimed, and Biana, Marella and Cora all agreed, each one of them congratulating Sophie and Keefe. 

“Bet you’re glad you didn’t take me up on that bet now, aren’t you?” Cora whispered to Marella, and Sophie couldn’t help but laugh at her friend’s antics. But not everyone had spoken yet, and she turned to face Fitz and Dex, wondering what they were thinking.

“Are we okay?” she asked them, “I really do wanna stay friends, even if it is a little awkward at first.” Dex only took a few seconds to reply, assuring Sophie that they would always be friends.

“Don’t worry about us. If I can survive you being with Wonderboy, I think I can handle a little Team-Foster-Keefe,” he answered. Fitz took a little bit longer to reply. 

“What about us? I was kind of under the impression you still liked me.” he finally said, his voice icy cold.

“I broke up with you for a reason.” Sophie replied. This hadn’t been exactly how she had pictured his reaction, but there was still hope about their friendship.

“Well, it hasn’t even been that long, it just feels like you’re rushing into this.” he said, and her heart plummeted. “I’m just looking out for you guys. You two are my best friends, and I want you to be happy.” he finished, and looked at Sophie expectantly. She was trying to figure out what to say next when Keefe strode up next to her.

“Dude. Fitzy. I get that you’re trying to be nice and all, but it’s coming off pretty harsh.” He draped his arm around Sophie’s shoulders protectively. Without another word, he steered Sophie away, not letting Fitz say another word. “Don’t worry about him, okay?”

“Okay,” she replied, too caught up in her thoughts to say anything more. She didn’t want to do anything to risk her already shaky relationship with Fitz. But how she felt with Keefe? That was worth so much more.

Chapter 8 Edit

The next day, Sophie and Keefe sat together at breakfast, their friend group sprawled out over several tables at the hotel’s restaurant. After avoiding a close call concerning the surprisingly small amount of vegetarian options on the menu, her friends had all ordered quickly, and their food was just now coming out.

“What did you order again?” Keefe asked. He had gotten a stack of waffles, piled high with fruit and whipped cream. When his plate had arrived, Sophie could swear his eyes got twice as big looking at the giant breakfast in front of him.

“I got crepes,” she reminded him, though she was beginning to regret her decision not to get waffles. 

“You sound unhappy. Do you want something else?” he inquired, noticing her staring at his plate. “You can have some of mine if you want.”

“Oh, it’s fine,” she assured him, pausing to thank the waiter as her food arrived. “But I wouldn’t mind having a bite if you wanna try mine.” The two of them traded forks, each taking some of the other’s food.

“Woah,” Keefe breathed, swallowing the piece of crepe and reaching for more. “This is really good, no wonder you ordered it.” Sophie couldn’t believe he preferred the crepe to the waffles, which she already wanted more of.

“Really? You prefer the crepes?” she questioned, wondering why she hadn’t ordered waffles herself. “I actually prefer the waffles, so we could switch if you wanted to.”

“You would do that?” Keefe asked in delight, grabbing Sophie’s plate and swapping it for his. He quieted down as he dug into the lemon and sugar dusted deliciousness, leaving Sophie grinning at his exuberance. She took a bite of the buttery, fluffy waffles. Syrup and whipped cream dribbled down her chin slightly.

“I guess my clumsiness spread to my brain,” Sophie muttered as Keefe laughed. She shifted her eyes over to where Fitz and Biana were sitting. While Biana seemed more focused on the food than on them, Fitz was glaring in their direction. There was obvious annoyance in his gaze, but something else too. Jealousy maybe? He hadn't been the most understanding the day before, so it would make sense. She made a mental note to talk to Keefe about it later.

*****

Sophie pulled Keefe aside once again as the group continued back to the hotel to discuss what to do that day.

“Are we having another one of these conversations Foster?” Keefe said, raising his eyebrows.

“No, Keefe this is serious,” Sophie scrunched out your eyebrows.

“I’ve said said it many times before and I’ll say it again, it is too easy to annoy you Lady Foss-Boss,” Keefe replied with a wink. Sophie rolled her eyes, but couldn't hold back a smile. Remembering what she needed to talk to him about, she regained focus, her smile disappeared.

“I think we need to talk to Biana and Fitz,” Sophie took a deep breath, “Fitz seems jealous and angry, which honestly isn't too surprising. Biana seems happy for us and over her crush on you, but I still think we should talk to her along with Fitz just in case she isn't fine.”

“Ok I agree. Maybe we should talk to them separately though, I don't Fitz is very happy with me right now it might be best if I talk to Biana and you talk to Fitz,” Keefe suggested.

“That makes sense, should we go do that now?” She asked, cringing at the thought of the conversation.

“I think we have to,” Keefe said with a sigh, clearly not looking forward to this either, though

 Sophie suspected he’d be in for a much easier discussion than she was.

*****

            Sophie ran to catch up to Fitz, tapping his shoulder to grab his attention. He started, turning around, then grimaced when he saw it was Sophie.

            “What do you want with me now?” he said sarcastically, “I though you’d be spending all you’re time with your new boyfriend. Or is our status as Cognates finally important enough to pay attention to?” Sophie could already tell this wasn’t going to end well, but she had to at least try.

            “I know yesterday didn’t go so well, but I really did want to talk and see if we can make things better between us.”

            “What’s there to talk about? You’re with Keefe now, not me. End of story. Have fun.” He started to walk away, and Sophie had to jog to keep pace with him.

            “I still want to be friends with you, and right now, this just feels awkward. Is there anything we could do to make it better?” she tried one last time to be friendly, but Fitz just wasn’t having it.

            “I already told you, if you wanna date my best friend, that’s fine. I just don’t know how I can stay friends with you if you keep bringing this up,” he added coldly, and Sophie finally snapped. She was sick and tired of Fitz acting this way, and she needed him to know that.

            “You know, I used to think you were a good friend, but I’m starting to realize you can be pretty selfish. You keep saying you’re happy for us, but then you go and act like you hate Keefe and I. We’re supposed to be Cognates, but I can’t remember the last time I felt like I could confide in you without worrying about how you were going to react. That’s not a healthy relationship, and if you can’t acknowledge that, then I don’t want to keep trying to be friends when I’m the only one putting in any effort. I hope we can be friends again later, but right now we both just need to give each other space.” 

            With that, Sophie walked away, ignoring the strange looks from everyone else in the restaurant. She was done letting him sweet talk her into giving him another chance. Even though she felt bad about being so harsh, it felt as if a weight had been lifted off her shoulders. Regrouping with Keefe, she felt freer than she had in years.

            “So, how did your talk with Biana go?” Sophie asked, trying not to think about Fitz anymore.

“It was good, you were right. She doesn't have a crush on me anymore, and she said she's happy for us. How did your talk with Fitzy go?” Keefe asked in response.

“It wasn't good. He was being a huge jerk about it and was obviously mad. It doesn't have anything to do with him, but he seems to think it’s his choice. I told him he was being selfish and that I didn't feel like we had a healthy relationship. Then I basically broke up with him for the second time. As a friend,” she added, and Keefe chuckled.

“I wish I could’ve seen the look on his face! But seriously,” he continued, “I’m glad you finally stood up for yourself.”

“Me too.” she replied, “But I should probably check in with Biana now that I basically shut down my friendship with her brother.”

“I’m sure that Biana will be totally cool with it, but you should talk to her at some point. But for now, just be happy.” Keefe said, and Sophie nodded, finally letting herself relax for the first time on this vacation.

Chapter 9 Edit

It was another day before Sophie was able to talk to Biana. She pulled her friend aside during a trip to the beach, asking if they could talk. 

“Of course. What’s up?” Biana asked as they walked down towards the water.

“Nothing huge, I just wanted to make sure everything between us was okay.”

Biana’s forehead crinkled up, her face confused. “Why wouldn’t everything be okay? Did something happen?” 

“No, not really. I mean, kinda…” Sophie trailed off. She was surprised that Fitz hadn’t told anyone about their argument, not even his own sister. “Fitz and I got in a fight yesterday, and I ended up yelling at him and I don’t know if we’re still friends.”

“What were you even fighting about? Keefe?”

“I wanted to try and salvage our friendship, but he started talking about being Cognates, and trust, and I just couldn’t take it any more. He’s become a less and less dependable friend, and with the way he’s been acting this trip, I just gave up trying to keep our relationship intact. I hope you aren’t mad at me,” Sophie finished, looking sheepishly up at Biana.

“Why would I be mad at you? If anything, I’m glad you finally stood up for yourself. I know better than anyone how my brother can get sometimes, and it takes a lot of strength to speak up. Good for you.” Biana took Sophie’s hand and walked her back to their group of friends. Biana’s approval made her heart feel even lighter, the recognition meaning more to her than she would’ve ever guessed. 

Sophie plopped down on the sand, feeling the warmth of the heat seeping into the sand from the sun. The ocean roared with life in the distance, waves splashing against the shore. In the distance, she saw Keefe and Dex swimming in the water. She closed her eyes, her mind finally at rest enough to relax.

Several hours passed, and when Sophie opened her eyes again, Keefe was nowhere in sight. She sat up, wondering where he could have gone. The rest of her friends were still nearby, some sunbathing liker her, and the rest splashing in the waves.

“Hey, Dex, where did Keefe go?” she called out to her friend, who was lying down on a towel a couple of feet away. He stretched, waking up from a nap, and looked over in her direction.

“I think he went back to the hotel,” Dex slowly began, “to get some… human candy.”

“Nice try, but I already used that excuse. Where is he actually? I’m starting to get worried.”

“I don’t know exactly where he is, he didn’t tell anyone where he was going, just said he had to go get some stuff from in town,” he admitted.

“Okay, that makes more sense. Kinda. I’ll probably walk over to the town and meet him then.” Sophie moved to get up and pack her bags, but Dex raised a hand to stop her.

“Actually, he did ask that I made sure you didn’t try and follow him, so…”

“That’s kind of weird, isn’t it?” she asked.

“I guess so. But it’s best not to question things when the person you’re talking to knows how to make your hair turn green. Now, I wanna go back to sleep, okay?” Dex mumbled, turning back around and falling asleep again. Sophie lay back down, but she was once again too plagued with questions and worries to actually rest.

*****

Keefe didn't return for over an hour after she had asked Dex where he was. When he finally reclined on a beach chair near Sophie, she decided to interrogate him on where he had gone until dinner time.

“Where have you been? I looked for you all over the beach! First you disappear, then you tell Dex an obvious excuse and to stop me from going after you? I’m not mad I'm just really confused,” Sophie told him.

“I’ll explain in a minute just come with me,” Keefe said as he pulled her away toward the town. As they strolled down the road, Keefe stopped. Sophie turned her hair in his direction and inhaled sharply.

“Why did you do this?”

Chapter 10 (The End) Edit

In front of her was a dazzling display of food and finery. A red and white checkered picnic blanket lay sprawled out on top of a wooden crate lying in a grassy clearing. Atop it sat a basket full to the brim with all the food Sophie could imagine. Bread, salad, tropical fruits, and even a bowl full of spaghetti. Off to the side was a carton of some kind of sparkling beverage. In the middle of it all was a single candle glowing with a pulsing light.

“Is this all for us?” Sophie was still in shock at the sight of the spread. “Did you do this all by yourself?”

Keefe’s mouth broke into a smile at the look on her face. “Yeah, this is for us. I wanted to do something nice to commemorate our last full day here. By this time tomorrow we’ll be on the plane back to San Francisco, so today was our last chance for us to be truly alone together. I got everything together by myself, but I couldn’t have gotten away for so long without Dex’s help. I feel kinda bad about not letting him know what was going on, but it was worth it. Wasn’t it?” 

With that, he looked up at Sophie, and she couldn’t help but agree. “Of course it was. This was so sweet of you.”

Keefe grinned a warm and slightly relieved smile. “I'm so glad you like it; your opinion is the only one that really matters to me. I really wanted today to be special,” he replied with a slight flush. “Please, have a seat,” he offered, helping her onto one of the plush cushions scattered across the clearing. The candle Keefe had set on the overturned barrel flickered softly in the evening light. 

Keefe reached over their makeshift table, identical to the one from the movie scene he had not so subtly recreated. He poured them each a tall wineglass of sparkling water, a slight foam building before subsiding into a crystal-clear drink. A slight steam drifted off the food as Keefe served them both spaghetti on one large plate. 

Sophie twirled a strand of spaghetti onto her fork. After a few seconds, she started to realize just how long the strand of pasta was. In fact, it didn't seem to end.

 “Keefe is this whole plate one piece of pasta?” Sophie asked suspiciously, as ridiculous as it sounded.

“Yep. I wanted to make sure it was accurate to the movie,” Keefe answered matter-of-factly as Sophie let out a laugh.

Sophie jokingly smiled as she started eating one side of the spaghetti. “How is it?” Keefe asked nervously.

“It's delicious Keefe, I can't believe you cooked this  all yourself! There is one thing though, is there nothing on this? It tastes just like plain pasta,” Sophie replied, a little sheepish for asking.

“Is something supposed go on top of spaghetti?” Keefe asked, his cheeks neon red now.

Sophie almost snorted as she laughed, nodding her head. “Mhmm,” she said softly. “There’s normally some kind of sauce or topping.”

“Oh.” Keefe looked embarrassed.

“It’s ok, I’m pretty picky about the sauce anyway, so it's nice to not have to worry about that.”

Keefe sighed in obvious relief, his previous embarrassment disappearing. There was a slight pause in the conversation as they ate the pasta. Soon, it became apparent that the pasta wasn’t going to stay in just one piece.

“Agh, I’m sorry, this wasn’t how it was supposed to go. I wanted to set up something like in that movie we watched, but it’s not working at all,” he explained, poking the spaghetti with a fork as if he hoped it would magically fix itself.

“I don’t mind, just the fact that you tried makes me happy. Besides, I’m not sure the kiss would’ve worked out as well as it did in the movie.”

“Thanks for understanding. All these human things are so confusing to me, and you know so much, I just feel so stupid and-”

“Keefe.” Sophie reached out a hand and rested it on his shoulder, getting his attention and stopping him from getting even more mad at himself. “For the last time, this is wonderful. And so are you. I couldn’t care less if you understand human things, what matters it that you tried, okay?”

“I know, but-” Keefe argued, not accepting Sophie’s praise.

“No buts. You are awesome, and sweet, and a great person. And nothing can change that.” Before he could respond again, Sophie leaned over the makeshift table and pressed her lips against his. The words Keefe were about to say disappeared, pulled into the void along with all of her concerns. Worries about their friends, their family and anything at all vanished. In that moment, it was just the two of them.

After a few minutes, they pulled apart, mouths tugging into identical sappy smiles. But it only took a second for Keefe to break the silence, his tone serious.

“So, I know it seems like we have forever before we head back, but I wanted to take some time to figure out what we’re going to do when we get home. What we’re going to tell everyone, mostly.”

“Ok,” Sophie said with a large sigh, not looking forward to this conversation.

“I know Daddy Dearest will be happy considering you’re basically the most famous elf in the lost cities and also already in the nobility as a regent,” Keefe said, easing her nerves a little.

“That's good,” Sophie replied, “I think Edaline will be at least ok with it, if not happy about it.”

“Yeah, there is one problem though. Grady isn't exactly my biggest fan.”

Sophie’s stomach felt like she had eaten rocks for dinner. “Oh no. I never considered Grady’s reaction. He didn't even like it when Fitz and I were ‘dating’ and Fitz is essentially his best friend’s son!” 

“Maybe he’ll warm up to the idea?” Keefe asked hopefully.

“I don't know,” Sophie replied, “The last time one of his daughters had a serious relationship it ended in her murder.” She winced at both the harshness of the words and the reality.

“Well, you have to admit 'daughter’s love interest joins the Neverseen and it goes wrong’ does sound familiar,” Keefe conceded. They both shifted their eyes to the ground, unsure of what to say after that.

“It does sounds kinda bad when you put it that way.” She replied, but went on when she saw the dejected look on Keefe’s face. “But it’s totally different. For one, you’re not a Pyrokinetic whose power broke him as well as hurting the one’s he loved the most. Besides, he’ll warm up to you eventually once he gets used to us. We’ll just have to wait it out.”

“Of course. I don’t mind dealing with Grady as long as I can be with you.”

“There’s one more thing we have to address as well.” Sophie continued, wanting to end the conversation, but knowing they had to talk about it.

“What is it?”

She took a deep breath, gathering strength for the next few minutes. She hated talking about this, even more than she hated talking about telling Grady. “You know that I’m unmatchable. You were so helpful when I tried to find my biological parents. I don’t want to find out who my biological dad is though, which means there’s no chance I’m every going to be able to be matched. I want to make sure you’ve truly thought through what that means. We’re going to be a bad match.”

“Foster, Foster, Foster.” Keefe took her hand in his, and she could tell how fast her heart was beating. “D’you remember what I told you when you first said you were unmatchable?”

“Yeah.”

“Good. I said that I didn’t care if you wanted to find your bio parents, or if you didn’t want to think about them ever again. All I cared about was that you felt okay. That hasn’t changed. I know it’s not going to be easy. I can accept that. But as long as we can be together, I don’t care at all what the world thinks. And I never will.” Keefe finished, letting go of Sophie’s hand. She felt better now that they had talked about tit even if it hadn’t felt good in the moment.

“I'm a little cold,” Sophie shivered, “I didn't even know that was possible in Kauai. It must be getting pretty late.”

“Why don't we go get some of those human coat things you made us bring,” Keefe suggested, “In the meantime... here. Take my jacket shirt thing. Why do humans wear button down shirts as jackets over other shirts? It makes no sense why not just wear a jacket or no jacket if it’s too hot?”

“It’s a human style thing, I don't know I haven't been here in Hawaii like 10 years,” Sophie stuttered “Thanks for the jacket shirt thing though,” she said softly. They turned back toward the hotel and started back.

At the hotel, they walked up a twisting path through the perfectly trimmed and preened gardens. They walked past the overly expensive but totally worth it gazebos, and up past waterfalls, fountains, and pools to the main hotel. After taking the elevator up to their floor, Sophie and Keefe split up to their respective rooms to get their sweaters. Sophie was about to go back outside when something in her suitcase caught her eye.

It was the dress she had bought during Biana’s shopping spree several days ago. She hadn’t touched it since, figuring there would be a time for it eventually. She had been right. Now was the perfect time. Quickly, Sophie changed out of her beach clothes and into the flowy red dress. It seemed even more magical now, in the warm light of the room, than it had before. The gold accents twinkled, and sh just knew she had made the right decision in buying it.

Grabbing a sweater, Sophie left the room and entered the hallway, where Keefe was waiting. He had changed back into his button down shirt, but he hadn’t grabbed any sort of jacket.

“Why didn’t you get a sweater?”

“Oh, that,” Keefe started, but then he paused, looking at Sophie. “You… look beautiful.”

“Thanks. You too. But aren’t you going to be cold?” she inquired, not letting him change the subject.

“I wasn’t actually cold, but I could tell you were, and I knew you wouldn’t go back to the hotel unless we both needed something. Besides, it was getting a little chilled without my second layer, so it worked out.”

“Oh. That’s so sweet.” Sophie’s heart melted, and she couldn’t even muster the strength to be mad at him. Just as they were about to leave, the door to the boy’s room opened, and a familiar voice called out.

“Hey, Sophie? Can I talk to you? It’s okay if you can’t right now, but I just have something I wanted to say.” Fitz stepped out into the hall, hands fidgeting nervously.

“Umm, okay. Can Keefe stay here?” She didn’t know what Fitz was going to say, but he seemed sincere.

“That’s fine, I was going to talk to him later anyway.”

“Okay, Fitzy,” Keefe said as he moved closer to Sophie protectively. “Foster here might be willing to give you a second chance, but we have somewhere to be, so spill it.”

“Yeah, sure, that makes sense.” Fitz mumbled as he took several deep breaths to calm himself. “After we last talked, I took some time to really think about how my actions have affected you guys. I’ve come to realize that whenever I get angry, I tend to take it out on you, and that’s not okay. And however much I want to, I can’t just give you some custard bursts and a half thought out apology. I have to put in the work to actually start trying to be better. When you started talking about how I’d become a bad friend, that… really hurt. But now I understand that you were right. It wasn’t cool of me to put pressure on you about matchmaking, or about anything at all. It’s your choice, and if you don’t want to sign up for your match lists, then there’s nothing I can do to stop you. I hate to admit it, but I do have a lot more work to do, and I get if you don’t want to be friends again right away. But I don’t want to lose our friendship forever, and I hope you’ll accept my apology.” Fitz finished with a sigh, looking down. 

Sophie didn’t reply immediately, wanting to work through her feelings first. “Wow. Thanks for all this. I’m glad you’ve come to the same conclusion I did.”

“Yeah, me too. Anyway, now that I’m cool about the whole matchmaking thing, d’you think we could maybe…”

“No.” It wasn’t Sophie that answered, but Keefe. “Sorry Fitz, but you’re too late. Just be happy Sophie decided to even let you be her friend. You messed up majorly, and sometimes there’s no going back to how things used to be.”

“I know, I know. Just thought I’d give it a try.” Fitz started to walk away, then stopped, turning around again. “And Keefe? I’m sorry. I’ve been a really bad friend recently, and I want to get better at that too.”

“It’s gonna take quite some time for you to redeem yourself, but you can do it. I believe in you, and so does everyone else.” Keefe replied, sounding serious for once. “Good night, Fitz. See you later.”

“Good night,” Fitz echoed, seeming exhausted from all the talking, “Thanks for hearing me out.” He left, and then the two of them were alone in the hall once more.

“That was… something.” Sophie didn’t quite know what to say now that Fitz had left.

“That's one way to put it,” Keefe replied, looking slightly puzzled, “On the bright side, it would be nice to have my best friend back. The pre-drama version at least.”

“I'm so sorry Keefe, I caused so much fighting and drama between you and Fitz. I don't know how you can stand to be even friends with me,” Sophie said softly, her gaze shifting to her shoes.

“It wasn't your fault- really,” Keefe said when she looked away, “It was really mine and Fitz’s, we could've made the choice to not let it come between us. And even if it was your fault, which it isn't in any way, you’re worth it Foster. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You are amazing. I’ll tell you what's wrong with you: absolutely nothing.” After finishing, he turned and walked down to the elevators, pausing several feet away to let her catch up.

 Once again, Sophie was left speechless. She felt like a huge weight had been lifted off her shoulders. Now lighter than air, Sophie turned to follow Keefe back to the beach.

*****

“I can’t believe it’s already so late” Sophie remarked, looking up at the night sky. It was filled with millions of stars, almost as many as she was able to see from Havenfield. Back in San Diego, even before the fires, the light pollution had made it near impossible to see any stars at all. High above them, a crescent moon glowed, illuminating the water. After leaving the hotel, they had walked down to the beach, which was now significantly emptier than it had been when they had left several hours ago.

“The stars are beautiful, aren’t they?” Keefe sat down on a piece of driftwood, looking up at the sky.

“They are.” Sophie agreed, sitting down next to him. “You see that one? The bright one, above that cluster? That’s Orroro.” Even though she knew Keefe also had a photographic memory, she couldn’t help but show off a little.

“Yeah, you’re right. And that one’s Amaranthis, isn’t it?” Keefe pointed to another star, and Sophie saw that he was indeed correct. Countering with yet another star, they went back and forth several times, until Sophie found an opportunity to win.

“Actually, I do know some star names better than you,” 

“Yeah, which ones?”

“Well, I’m guessing you don’t know human constellations very well, do you?” she grinned, pointing out several stars. “That’s Pegasus. It’s supposed to be a flying horse, but…”

“That’s supposed to be a pegasus? It’s nothing more than couple of dots!”

“I know. It doesn’t get much better than that. Those stars, those are Centaurus. Like, the myth of the half horse, half human? Yeah, it doesn’t look much like a centaur. And those ones over there, to the left, those are Lupus-”

“Okay, okay, I get it. You’re better at human constellations than I am.” Keefe held his hands up in mock defeat, but he was struggling not to laugh. 

“And don't you forget it,” Sophie told him, in mock seriousness, though she might've been just a little smug about beating Keefe. Keefe smiled at her, the kind of grin that lit up his entire face and made her smile with him. Sophie leaned into his shoulder, surprised at how normal the motion seemed. She felt Keefe stiffen in surprise before he relaxed, draping his arm around her shoulders. There were a lot of trials to come with matchmaking and less difficult, but still incredibly trying, with Grady.  But, in that moment, the world seemed to sit still just for them. This moment couldn't last forever, but Sophie was determined to make it last as long as possible. Even with the night growing later and the moment fleeting, it was and always would be a perfect vacation.

       

The End

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