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Sora is appointed part of Riku's team, the Seagulls, in the children's game of Island War, alongside Selphie. Even though Selphie defects to the other team, Riku and Sora easily defeat Tidus, Wakka, Kairi, and Selphie.
After the battle, Sora has a race with Riku. Riku begins to tease Sora, leading both of the boys to admit they have a crush on somebody, although neither elucidates further.
That evening, Riku, Sora, and Kairi discuss the raft trip and other worlds. As the children head home, Riku tosses Sora a paopu and is dejected when Sora throws it away.
After contemplating his feelings for Riku, Sora retrieves Riku's paopu from the play island. Riku goes to stay at Sora's house for the night for safety from his abusive parents. Soon, the two begin to tease each other, and Sora falls asleep in mid-conversation on top of Riku.
The next day, Sora collects raft materials, then has a race with Riku, who suggests the reward for the race be to share a paopu with Kairi. Sora wins, but Riku claims that his heightened stakes were just a joke. During a second race, the boys end up falling into the water below, and Sora catches Riku looking at him with one of his "stares". Sora goes to get a towel, returns with Riku's paopu, and confesses his love. The two boys share the paopu and have their first kiss.
Sora and Riku continue to kiss and almost go all the way before they are interrupted by Tidus. After Tidus leaves, the two discuss their relationship, Riku's "Plan A", and Kairi. As the two relax on the beach, Sora is alarmed to realize that Riku has been giving him a hickey.
When Sora finds out how late it is, he runs back to the boats, followed by Riku. They return to Sora's house together, where Sora's mother Seiya allows the boys to eat alone in Sora's room. After dinner (and a little play), they return to the play island.
Although planning to separate Sora from Kairi, Riku accidentally overhears their conversation. Kairi expresses concern at Riku's manner and suggests leaving him behind on the raft trip, before quickly clarifying that she is "kidding". Neither Riku nor Sora is amused. After standing up for Riku, Sora goes to the secret place, where Riku follows him. Kairi witnesses their intimacy and interrupts, feeling hurt that she is suddenly a third wheel. Although she leaves quickly, Sora reassures her that she can come with them on the raft if she shows up. When he returns, he and Riku share an intimate moment that is interrupted by Sora's grumbly stomach.
On the night that the darkness attacks the Destiny Islands, Sora meets Riku on the paopu island. He asks about Kairi, but Riku waves aside the questions and urges Sora to join him in going through the darkness to other worlds. Just before the darkness swallows them, Sora takes Riku's hand.
Riku dreams of a demonic Sora, which emits a horrific sound and sprouts two black wings before falling off a cliff.
The two boys find themselves in a town covered in snow, and by the time Riku awakens, Sora is already suffering from frostbite. The boys run from the spawning Heartless, but when Sora trips they are attacked. Riku is surprised to find that now the Heartless are focusing on him instead of Sora. They are saved by a boy on horseback who offers to take them back to his camp.