Chapter 12

Riku was the first person to visit me.

"Hey," he said with a sad look on his face, and his voice sounded a little broken.

I was spooning a huge glob of yogurt into my mouth as he came in the door, and I don't think I'd ever been as excited to see his face.

"Oh, hi," I slurred through my classic vanilla. "I died!"

My voice held a sort of childish excitement that I realized it probably hadn't for a long time, and I saw the shadow of a smile cross his face.

"I know," he replied. "We thought you were dead."

"I was! See see!"

I shoved the certificate at him, and he laughed, but it sounded kind of humourless.

"Wow, some very bitter and cynical nurse must have been there, to write down the time of death and such while they were still trying to save you."

I scoffed and a little bit of yogurt went flying. Riku didn't say anything more, but he didn't really need to. That was one thing I had always loved about him; he didn't press me on shit that he knew I wasn't going to answer about (usually; sometimes he did just to get under my skin.) We didn't need words, because we understood each other fine.

The strange thing was, for one of the first times ever, it made me feel awkward. Suddenly I was desperate for his voice. I felt as if I needed to hear it again, or else maybe I never would.

I cast my thoughts around for something I could talk about, something I could nag about, God some stupid joke would have done.

"Why were you guys late the other day?" I burst out. "When I was walking? With the scarf? You said you'd tell me!"

This came out as a cry of despair, and Riku looked a little shocked at my passion on the subject. But I didn't care; I just wanted him to speak to me! Didn't he want to speak to me? I wasn't that bad to be around!

I realized before blurting all this out that I was practically losing my mind, being over dramatic, and with this I calmed quite quickly. I waited for an answer.

"Oh, well, it was nothing really," Riku said casually, though I sensed that he was trying to figure out why I wanted to know so badly. He cleared his throat. "You know that Wakka's older brother is pretty heavy into drugs and shit, along with that one friend of his, the guy who practically lives with them. He's pretty much Wakka's other brother."

"Yeah. Reno. Friend named Axel. Hardcore heroin fests."

His voice was a little quieter next.

"And of course you know Roxas."

Of course I knew my cousin. I wasn't particularly close to him, because we were related through my father's family, and Dad didn't associate with his relatives.


"Ugh, the poor kid is all messed up in some gang, and, I don't know, I guess Axel's become pretty good friends with him or something.." Riku seemed reflective at this. "Well, anyways, when Tidus and I got to Wakka's to pick him up– and, I mean, let's face it, he lives pretty far out– this kid was on their living room floor, stoned out of his goddamn mind and pretty much bleeding everywhere. He'd gotten beat up pretty bad. So Reno was trying to fix him up and Wakka was trying to calm Axel down... His parents are okay people, but I can't believe they're so involved in their work that they don't notice this stuff happening in their home! But, of course, they've been that way ever since Chappa..."

His parents had been workaholics ever since his little brother died. He'd been in a car accident, and they were so busy trying to get their minds off it that they ended up getting their minds off their other two kids.

"So, anyways," Riku concluded, "We were helping out. That's why we were late."

He sighed and looked away to the gifts sitting next to me. He smiled lightly but then glanced towards me again.

"Sora..." he started, and I cut him off.

"It was my fault, Riku," I told him quietly. "Ugh, I got in a fight when I came to school Monday morning, right off the bat; it's why I was coughing and hurt in first period." Surprisingly, the words had started to come out in a rush. If I was going to lie to him, I wanted to do it quick, and at least I would be partly truthful. "I guess I fucked my chest– well, er, my lungs, specifically. Anyways, I went outside for some fresh air during second period and ended up getting in another goddamn fight with the same asshole, and–" I shrugged. "Now I'm here."

He stared at me pensively. Then we heard a throat clearing.

There were two police officers standing at the door. One smiled gently and said, "So that's the official statement?"

I knew I was bright red.

"Er, if it needs to sound more official than that, I can edit out the swear words, but that's what happened, yes."

I hadn't realized there would be cops involved, (though I suppose I should expect no less; the hospital staff was probably appalled at my bruises when I came in that day) and now that they heard that, I couldn't change my tale in front of Riku. Besides, if Dad realized I had told on him, WHOOOO.

"Well," the second cop said, clearing his throat, "We do need to, sorry. I mean, you need an official transcript to press charges."

"I don't want to press charges."

The eyes of everyone in the room bugged.

"But, Sora–" Riku began, sounding choked.

"No," I continued, "It was my fault. I provoked him, and I lost the fight... Both fights, and, to be quite frank, I'm an idiot and hit my head on a sink as well– just don't ask–" I cut Riku off before he even started on that one. "I consider all my injuries to be my fault entirely, and I could probably have gotten them just as easily on my own. I'm not pressing charges."

The first cop sighed.

"Doesn't matter. We still need a statement. The police can press charges by themselves, without the victim's corroboration. We don't usually but sometimes it's necessary. It has to go through a panel. So, we'll need this guy's name and–"

"No!" I must have sounded like a child refusing to let Mommy put my blocks away.

"No," I repeated, and turned my head to look out the window. For some unfathomable reason, I could feel fury rising hot within me. I knew it was visible on my face. I didn't want to press charges, dammit! Hell, I was lying! I heard my heart monitor's speed increase radically as I grew more and more angry.

The cops were quietly protesting and trying to explain to me the seriousness of what was happening.

Suddenly a nurse came in. "Is there a problem?" she demanded, and said to the cops, "I'm sorry you'll have to leave. You're distressing the patient."

And I was about to protest, but she ushered Riku out too. I was alone again.