Standing in front of the high school I took in a deep breath then trudged forward, ignoring all the odd looks and the way people keep smirking when they look at me. Odds are, the rumor mill has had a lot of fun with me lately. But anyway, that doesn't matter because in the end I'm here and that means that I'm ready to prove a point I should have proved a while ago.
I'm just a kid.
Shuffling into the school I began to walk to my classes, ignoring the snickering students and whatever they've been taking about behind my back. It doesn't matter though because Riku is beside me looking much tougher than I could ever look and he's... he's got my back. Isn't that fucking fantastic? Because there's no one else in the school who knows me as well as this punk does. My bag banged against my thigh in a steady rhythm making me thank God I have no classes where I have to take textbooks to school daily but I do have Chem and I will probably die before ever figuring out percentages in Stoichiometry.
"You're smiling," Riku said softly as if I hadn't noticed. Instead of being a dick I just nodded and smiled wider.
"I'm thinking about how badly I'm going to fail Chem." I explained making him sigh but look at me warmly, he's probably missed this. I've spent so much time overthinking the porn company issue that we haven't really acted like best friends.
"I'll come with you to your work. From what I've heard it's mostly you running away from people so if I protect you from them then you can study and I can teach you how to do this. It's not too bad when you have a tutor." He said slowly, as though unsure of my answer. Honestly I'm not sure if Sephiroth or Cloud will agree but if I fail anything then my parents pull the plug on my having a job. They have that right and since I do more work than ten of their employees put together, they should keep me around.
"You're offering to do a lot... protect me and teach me? It's hard, you should talk to my brother, he had to buy a gun..." I trailed off there remembering how easily Axel had taken the gun from my brother's hands. Ah yes, love at first taking of gun. It really should be a movie with those two. Perfect for each other... they're absolutely perfect.
"Will you let me?" Riku asked again, obviously changing the subject from my brother.
"Yes." I answered softly then walked past him into my Chemistry class. We have a test in two days... I should spend more time thinking about that then my brother and Axel. The rest of the day passed by slowly, I got to spend time with Kairi and listened to her as she talked about her latest crush, during lunch I went outside with Tidus and Wakka to play blitzball. It was a fun and normal day with everyone acting normal and no one trying to jump me. No one from the office came by to embarrass me at school and for the most part I was only called into the office three times to see if I was a drug dealer, in a gang, or gay. The last one I went ahead and admitted it to them only to get a bunch of packets and asked if I want to have one on one sessions with the counselor once a week. Obviously I declined their offer, as considerate as it is.
At the end of the day Kairi hooked her arm in mine while Riku stood stoically by my shoulder. "It's good to have you back." She smiled widely, making me grin in response.
"It's good to be back! I forgot how much I like school..." I said with a musing air then turned to her and rolled my eyes. Kairi giggled in response and held on tighter, as though not willing to let me go be on my own. The sun is setting... it's setting at a ridiculous time but it's still going down which means it'll be dark when I leave from work. But I won't be alone when I do, I'll have Riku with me and I won't have to worry about Axel because he's getting along so well with my brother.
"Remember when we were kids and we used to play in that cave?" The question... it's rhetorical, both Riku and I stared at her for a moment but she just smiled. "Back then we used to tell each other we'd stay together forever and that you two would protect me. But you know... I honestly thought you were leaving us behind Sora. You're always working so hard, trying to be everything to everyone. Doesn't it ever get tiring?" She asked but didn't wait for a response. "I think we're all beginning to grow up. Next year we'll be seniors and then we'll go off with our lives and probably rarely see each other. There's a... college I want to go to in Florida." She explained softly, her long red hair creating a curtain to cover her face.
"We're growing up." Riku shrugged then ruffled her hair a bit. "I'm thinking about going to college in Maine." He added, almost as if it's an afterthought. They both looked at me afterwards as if I could have something to contribute to this awkward conversation.
"I... I haven't really thought about it."
"Oh so the one who works and does so much in the adult world is the one who doesn't know what he'll do when he gets into it?" Kairi asked in a teasing voice but it's true. I really don't know what I'm going to do with my life.
"That's okay." Riku said softly and ran a hand through my hair. "You can take your time."
It's a lie. But that's alright because it's a nice lie and nice lies should stick around.
God, I miss those summers at that cave.