Disclaimer: I do not own Kingdom Hearts, nor am I making any money off this fic. Seiya belongs to Uzumaki-sama.
:D This one's a little late, but it's also for Susie. Happy Birthday!
Dedicated to Susie and everyone else who has had a stuffed animal that they love or have loved dearly
"Sora, honey! Look what I found!"
Sora blinked and looked up from the box he was searching through. His mother was holding up a teddy bear. In fact, it was a very familiar teddy bear.
"Holy crap, is that—?"
Seiya nodded with a little laugh, pushing her bangs out of her eyes. "See? I told you that searching through this stuff before we decided to sell it would be a good idea."
"Yeah, but I had forgotten…" Sora trailed off, guilt tugging at his heart. How could he have actually forgotten Mr. Flufflesworth, the bear that had been with him since the beginning of this place?
Holding out his arms, he accepted the worn teddy bear and ran a hand over his head. He smiled faintly at it, something warm chasing away the guilt as those button eyes stared back up at him.
"Mr. Flufflesworth…" he murmured.
"Well, I think it's time to take a break," Seiya announced, closing the box she had been fishing through and standing. She winced a little, rubbing her hands over her knees. "I'm getting old…"
"Hey." Sora frowned at her. "You are not getting old, Mom."
"Thank you, sweetie," she said, placing a kiss to his forehead. "I'm going to go and make some lunch. We're beginning to move our things over to the new place tomorrow, so I want you to make sure you have everything, all right?"
"Okay," he replied, smiling.
She placed her hands on her hips. "What do you want for lunch?"
"I dunno, whatever you feel like making, Mom." He grinned.
"Ai, Sora, always have to make it hard for me, don't you?" she muttered, shooting him a dirty look as she began to climb back downstairs from the attic.
"Heehee, you know it!" he chimed after her.
As soon as she had disappeared from view, the eighteen-year-old turned around and placed Mr. Flufflesworth up on a stack of boxes. He watched him for a moment, tilting his head a little to the side, and then smiled.
"You and me—we had it rough, didn't we?" he asked it, even though he knew that, like hundreds of times before, it would never answer him. "Riku made our lives a living hell."
The bear watched him silently.
"Well—come tomorrow, we'll be moving. And then I'm heading off to college and sharing a dorm with Riku. Crazy, huh?" He smiled faintly. "Crazy how we've come this far…"
He picked the bear up, hugging it carefully. "I'm too old for you now, though. Makes me kinda sad, stupid as it sounds…" His smile faded to be replaced by a little frown. "Might as well go and help Mom cook lunch. She'll never let me live it down if I don't. It's our last time cooking together in this house, after all."
He set the bear carefully back into the box his mother had found it in. After a moment, he said softly, "Don't look at me like that. I'm taking you with me to the new house. It's just—you'll have to be put away. You're so fragile that you'll easily fall apart if I don't."
The seconds ticked past, birds chirping outside the house, and still Mr. Flufflesworth gave him those sad, silent eyes.
He leaned down, kissing its forehead. "We have some good memories between us, Mr. Flufflesworth. It'll be all right. I won't forget you again."
And as Sora headed downstairs to help his mother, Mr. Flufflesworth stared silently up at the ceiling, bathed in gentle rays of sunlight.
"Hey, Ri-ku! Riii-kuu!"
"What. Is. That?"
Sora frowned, clinging to his teddy bear tightly. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Riku's eyebrow was raised, his mouth open in something akin to disgust. He pointed to the bear. "It's hideous, Sora, not to mention girly." He waved his hand. "Go put him inside so he doesn't get fleas."
The brunette's frown deepened. "You're just jealous! Mr. Flufflesworth is coming with us on our adventure for today!"
"Psh, yeah, right." Riku placed his fists on his hips and glared. "Go put it up, Sora!"
"No!" the shorter boy cried rebelliously, pouting. "Why are you being so mean, Ri-ku?"
"I'm not being mean, I'm being logical. It's going to get fleas or something if we take it with us. And what will you do if we come across a monster—?"
"I'll protect him!"
Riku stared at Sora for a long moment, then shook his head. He turned, beginning to walk away. "Hey, Wakka, Tidus! Let's go on an adventure!"
"Eh? I thought you and Sora were goin', ya?"
"Yeah, well, plans changed. He's being a sissy."
"All right! Adventure!"
"Calm down, Tidus, make sure not to wet yourself."
"Yeah, well, I'm not going, Ri-ku!" Sora yelled to Riku's back, clutching the teddy bear to his chest.
"Haha, that was the point, Sora." Riku smirked over his shoulder, waving a hand in a gesture of farewell. Then he turned back around and wrapped his arms around his friends' shoulders companionably. "Today's a great day for adventure."
Sora glared as his three friends headed off towards the shore, laughing and having a gay ol' time. After a moment, he stared down at the bear his mother had just given him for his birthday. Lower lip trembling, eyes filling quickly with tears, he whirled and ran back inside.
He cried for the rest of the day.
"Hey, Sora—check this out!"
Riku took his wooden sword and brought it forward with a sharp whap to Mr. Flufflesworth, knocking him cleanly to the side. But the teddy bear was tied to a rope hanging down from an old tree, so he just came flying forward again. Riku hit him again, and again and again, until Sora was tugging at his arm with teary eyes.
"Stop it, Ri-ku! Stop!"
"You're such a wuss, Sora! When are you gonna learn that teddy bears are for girls!"
"Then again, you are a girl," Tidus laughed, and together with Riku, he shoved Sora so that he fell down.
"I'm not a girl!" Sora cried, tears streaming down his cheeks. "Just gimme back my teddy bear, you guys! What'd I do to you!"
"Just having it is enough, Sora," Riku drawled, tapping his wooden sword along his shoulder and rubbing his chin. "Hey, Tidus, what can we do next that'll piss Sora off?"
"Heh, we can bury its body in the sand and take turns throwing Wakka's blitzball at its head."
"Great idea." Riku smirked and whirled around. He tossed his sword to the side, climbing up the tree and to the lowered branch so that he could untie the bear.
Sniffling, Sora eyed the sword, and surreptitiously began crawling towards it as Tidus laughed up at Riku. When the silver-haired boy had jumped back down, the teddy bear collapsing into the sand beside him, Sora got to his feet and charged with a "Ha!"
"Whoa, Riku, look out!" Tidus cried, but it was too late.
Riku fell face-first to the ground, clutching his side and hissing in pain. The tiny brunette had managed to jam it sharply into his ribcage.
"You little shit!" Riku raised dark eyes to Sora's teary ones, the boy already clutching his teddy bear against his chest and staggering back.
"Hey, Riku, you said a bad word!" Tidus whined.
"Shut up, idiot!" Riku snapped at him, and then he whipped his head back around to Sora. "I thought we were friends. Friends don't beat each other up, do they?"
"Screw you, Ri-ku!" Sora yelled, voice filled with the tears rolling down his cheeks. "You're just a stupid jerk!"
And he ran off into the dying sunlight.
"Rikuuuu!" Sora shrieked as Tidus held his arms behind his back to prevent him from jumping on the silver-haired boy. Said boy was holding Mr. Flufflesworth over the side of the paopu island.
"Hahaha!" he laughed. "Sora, Sora, Sora—when are you going to learn not to carry this stupid thing around all day?"
Sora's bottom lip began trembling. "Riku, give him back!"
"Hmmm…" Riku hummed thoughtfully. "What will you do for me?" His lips stretched into something that closely resembled an evil grin. "Be my slave all week, and you'll get your bear back!"
"NO!" the boy cried furiously, struggling even harder against Tidus's grip. "No, no, no! You big stupid-head!"
Riku faked a shocked gasp, then looked to Tidus. "Did you hear him? Me! A stupid-head! Well, I can't say I'm called that every day."
Sora wanted to cry. Riku kept making his life so miserable…
"Well, if you're going to be like that about it," Riku continued on, "Then I guess we have no choice."
Panic swelled up within Sora—panic and dread. Riku was actually going to—!
Riku whirled and took a few steps back. And then, with a great heave of his arm, he sent Mr. Flufflesworth flying out into the horizon. The bear landed all the way out to the dark blue of the ocean, and Sora watched with horrified eyes as he floated for just a few moments before he grew too soaked with water and began to sink beneath the choppy waves.
Somehow Sora managed to tear out of Tidus's hands, and he rushed across the little island and to the edge. He was about to jump after his bear, but Riku grasped him around the elbow and hauled him back.
"You don't know how to swim, Sora!"
"GET HIM BACK!"
"Psh. I don't know how to swim out there, either."
"I HATE YOU, RIKU! I HATE YOU!"
And Sora ran all the way home, sobbing uncontrollably, barely able to see where he was going.
The next day Sora found him washed up onshore. The teddy bear had managed to get to the sandy beach sometime during the night, and when Sora saw him, he immediately burst into tears and ran over to him quickly, feet splashing through the water.
His mother gave him a bath in the washing machine, smoothing fingers through Sora's hair and cooing that it was all right. He clung to her leg, hiccupping with the occasional sniffle, and when Mr. Flufflesworth was finally well clean and completely dry, he threw his arms around him in a tight embrace.
He loved his bear.
Mr. Flufflesworth really didn't deserve the horrible things that Riku did to him.
Sora was never going to forgive Riku, he resolved.
But the next day his friend bought him ice cream at the local parlor, and Sora forgot all about it.
"Sora, your chest is so girly. Just like that stupid teddy bear you carry around all the time."
Blushing furiously and pouting, Sora flailed his arms up and covered his chest. "Shut up, Ri-ku!"
It wasn't his fault Riku was developing a lot better than he was. In fact, Wakka and even Tidus were, too. The former already had biceps while the latter was gaining some abs in the stomach region. Sora's chest just looked like a… well… a girl's.
"Except for that pudge." Riku poked it, lips spreading into a sharp smirk. "That's definitely yours, Sora."
"Leave my pudge alone!" the brunette huffed, slapping his hand away.
"Feisty, aren't we?" The older boy laughed. It sounded rather obnoxious to Sora's ears, causing him to bristle. "Give it a rest, Sora—you'll never develop."
"Yeah, well, at least I have a great personality!" Sora huffed, puffing his chest out.
Riku immediately burst into laughter again, this time more sincerely, and shoved Sora's forehead back. The boy collapsed in the sand, staring up at Riku with flaming blue eyes. "Oh, man, what a riot! Who told you that? Selphie or Kairi?"
"Kairi did!" Sora's lower lip stuck out. "So what!"
"Loser." Riku placed his fists on his hips and smirked again. "That's what you get for hanging out with girls all the time." He leaned close with a teasing grin. "Pretty soon you'll be wearing dresses."
"Hey, Riku, give it a break, ya?" Wakka said, shaking his head and tossing his blitzball into the air. He caught it seconds later.
But Tidus shook his head, clutching his stomach because he was laughing so hard. "Leave him alone, Wakka. Riku's so funny!"
Riku smirked, and if anything, he looked like even more of a stupid jerk in Sora's eyes.
"I don't feel like swimming anymore." He sniffed and raised his nose into the air. "I'm going home."
"Oh, the baby's gonna go home to cry," Riku mocked, with "Wah, wah!" from Tidus. They high-fived one another, then collapsed against each other, laughing.
"Hey, Sora, I'm sorry," Wakka apologized, even though he hadn't done anything, and held out his hand to Sora. "Riku's just a jerk, ya?"
"Don't bother consoling him, Wakka," Riku said darkly with another smirk plastered on his lips. "He's just being a baby."
"Yeah, there's nothing you can do about that!" Tidus chimed in, and they started sniggering all over again. "Someone… who wears diapers… doesn't need to swim in the ocean, anyway…" he managed to choke out.
"I hate you!" Sora cried, eyes quickly welling up with tears. "I hate you, Ri-ku! We're not friends anymore! Don't ever talk to me again!"
"Whooo!" Riku said sarcastically, waving his hands about in the air. "It's not like it matters, you'll be back tomorrow, anyway. You've got no other friends besides those girls."
But he wasn't back tomorrow, or the day after. In fact, Riku didn't hear a word from him for one week. This was because Sora stayed up in his room, playing video games, reading, building paper airplanes. In all actuality, he was quite content without his best friend breathing down his neck, taunting him all the time, the biggest bully on the island.
Kairi and Selphie came by to see him, but Sora eventually managed to get out of them that they were there because Riku had sent them to see what he was up to. And of course he told them that he was having a great time all by himself, and that they could tell Riku he meant what he said. Whether they did or not, Sora never knew.
He carried around his bear—whom he had named Mr. Flufflesworth in memory of his goldfish that had died—with him wherever he went. Rain or shine, snow or sleet, he was with Sora one hundred percent of the time. Things like friendship didn't matter when it was just him and Mr. Flufflesworth—the teddy bear was the only thing that he needed.
They went on adventures together about the house and through the old, stuffy attic. And sometimes, when the coast was clear of the Obnoxious Duo and Wakka, he would sneak outside with Mr. Flufflesworth and have a grand adventure all by himself—and Mr. Flufflesworth, of course.
It wasn't until Riku's birthday, which was two weeks after Sora's, that the brunette was forced to visit his so-called "friend". Seiya was friends with Riku's mother Yukiru, and it was required that Sora come with his mother to visit Riku.
Like all mothers do when a child is young and can't afford to buy his friend a present, Seiya had already wrapped a package and given it to Sora. But the boy hadn't cared what was in it, so it was going to be a surprise for the both of them whenever the older boy got around to opening it. Although, with how he was treating Sora lately, he might not even open it at all just to spite him.
Mr. Flufflesworth under his arm, he waited beside his mother anxiously, wondering what he was going to say to his not-a-friend. He had been waiting for Riku to apologize to him, actually, but as the days passed, it became more of a stubborn insistence that he meant his word more than anything else.
"Well, hello, Sora." Yukiru knelt before the boy and smiled, reaching up a hand to ruffle his hair. "How are you?"
"I'm fine," he said, giving a little nervous smile. "Thank you for asking, ma'am."
"Aw, he's such a sweetie, as usual, Seiya," Yukiru gushed, and kissed his cheek.
Sora beamed a bright smile. "Thank you, ma'am."
"You're certainly welcome!" Standing, Yukiru looked to Seiya and tucked her silver hair behind her ears. "How are you, Seiya?"
The two began to discuss adult stuff, disappearing inside the house, leaving Sora alone on the doorstep. The boy contemplated actually staying here and refusing to go into the party, but he knew better. His mom would just find him later and scold him, anyway.
Fearing a scolding and her spatula, Sora hurried into the house. It was breathtakingly beautiful, as always. A painting was in the foyer, and further down the hallway was little bits of furniture. At the far end was a bay window that looked out to the backyard, and to the right from there was the room that the party was most likely being held in.
Sora moved into this room, the dining room, and placed his gift with all the rest. There was a huge pile already, something Sora had never really had the chance to experience. Riku came from a wealthy family, while sometimes Seiya and Sora had to fight just to get by. It was something that the boy had always envied about Riku, but he had never said so. Riku would have just used it against him.
Wakka and Tidus were in the next room, playing with toy lightsabers and laughing hysterically. The former was kicking the latter's butt, but neither seemed to mind, just enjoying themselves. Not seeing Riku anywhere, the brunette headed up the staircase, wondering if he was in his room.
He met Selphie and Kairi on the staircase, who exchanged looks with one another at the sight of Sora. The redhead put her hand on his shoulder and whispered that Riku was being grumpy and that he should be careful, and then the two clasped hands and hurried back downstairs.
Sora blinked and looked down at them. They began chatting with Wakka and Tidus, and he wondered why Riku would be grumpy on his birthday. Shrugging and deciding to find out, he continued onwards towards his destination.
It was quiet upstairs, except for whispering from Seiya and Yukiru. Sora got the impression that they were talking about a surprise for Riku, but he couldn't make out anything more than that, because when they saw him, they shut the door.
Riku's room was at the end of the hallway, apart with all the others, and Sora knew that the minute he stepped inside he would be bombarded with paper airplanes even better than the one Sora had in his room. There would also be the TV system, and all the game systems, and the cool posters of their favorite singers. Not to mention all the legos and G. I. Joe dolls.
Pursing his lips just slightly, Sora gathered up the courage to knock on his friend's door.
"Go away," was the immediate response.
Huffing, the brunette opened up the door and stepped into the room. He found Riku on his bed, staring down gloomily at a small package that had yet to be unwrapped in his hands. At the sound of the door opening, he looked up with a glare already on his face.
"Hey, didn't I tell you two to go—oh." Surprise flickered through those green eyes. "Sora." But then his expression darkened a second later, and he tossed his present onto his pillow, avoiding his friend's gaze. "What do you want?"
"To tell you Happy Birthday," Sora replied politely.
"You shouldn't say crap you don't mean, Sora." The other boy waved his hand towards the door. He stopped when he saw Mr. Flufflesworth, who was dangling from Sora's hand. He scowled. "And you also shouldn't put freakin' teddy bears before your friends."
Sora frowned at him. "Maybe you should treat your friends nicely."
His not-a-friend frowned at him. "What the heck are you talking about, Sora?"
"You're so stupid, Ri-ku!" Sora blurted, holding his bear to his chest now. Before Riku could get a chance to respond—his face was darkening rapidly—Sora continued, "Maybe I'm younger than you, and maybe I am girly looking, but at least I know how to treat people. My momma brought me up right."
Riku got to his feet immediately, eyes flashing dangerously. "Are you talking about my mother, Sora?"
The brunette took a step back despite himself. "That's not what I'm saying at all, Ri-ku. I'm just saying that…"
Riku turned his back on him. "Go away, Sora, leave me alone."
Sora huffed, wanting to say something more, but Riku shouted, "Get out!" and Sora did, hurrying quickly down the stairs so that the older boy couldn't beat him up for not listening.
They were friends again the next day.
"Hey, Ri-ku…" Sora asked, tugging at the boy's shirt. "Have you seen Mr. Flufflesworth anywhere…?"
Riku frowned at him. "Why the hell would I know where your dumb bear was, Sora?"
The younger boy bit his lip and looked uneasily to the side. "I-I know, but… Yesterday, after we came back from our adventure, I… I couldn't find him anywhere… I lost him…"
"Tch, that's your own fault, now isn't it?" Riku said unsympathetically.
"But, Riku! It's starting to rain outside!"
"I repeat—your own fault! Maybe next time you should take more care of it." Shaking his head, the silver-haired boy began walking off, tucking his hands into his pockets.
Sora ran after him, grabbing onto his arm this time. "Are you sure you haven't seen it anywhere?"
Frowning, Riku harshly yanked his arm away. "I told you, dork. I don't know where it is!"
"You don't have to yell!" Sora cried, clutching his hand from where it had caught on a sharp piece of Riku's spiked bracelet.
"Whatever, leave me alone!" And Riku stormed moodily off into the depths of his house, leaving Sora alone in the living room.
They were supposed to be spending the night together, but Sora knew that he wouldn't be getting any asleep unless he found his bear again. And as he watched through the window, the rain began to pour in heaps, thrumming against the roof and window, gathering down the gutter.
Lightning flashed, illuminating Riku's dismal backyard, and thunder rumbled shortly afterwards. Sora tried hard not to cry, clenching his hands into fists at his sides, and wondering where Mr. Flufflesworth was at that moment. If he was scared and lonely, if he needed Sora.
Riku's right, it is my fault, he couldn't help but think, bowing his head and biting his bottom lip hard. But… I just got so excited when we found that secret cavern in the cliff face that I…
Abruptly, Riku came back into the living room, wearing a rain slicker and a flashlight. He cast Sora a disgruntled look before opening the door and slamming it shut behind him.
Sora immediately rushed to the door and screamed out into the storm, "Riku, what are you doing!"
"JUST STAY INSIDE!"
And then Riku disappeared into the thick, pouring rain and was gone.
Sora waited on the windowsill for his friend to return, legs curled up to his chest and arms wrapped around his shins. He rested his chin on his knees, swallowing hard and watching the rain create designs on the window as it streamed along it.
An hour passed by, and still Riku hadn't returned. Sora was worried for him—what if he tripped in a hole he hadn't seen or something? Or maybe he got struck by lightning! More than once he debated going into the rain after his best friend, but each time he remembered Riku screaming at him to stay inside the house, and his body refused to move.
Sora bit his bottom lip hard, suppressing a whimper. He hoped that Riku was okay.
Eventually, Riku did return, when Sora was nodding off to sleep. The door burst open, carrying with it a howl of wind and water. The brunette jerked awake, climbing off the windowsill to hurry over to Riku, who was dripping wet. His hair was hanging in dreadlocks, and he was gasping for breath, chest heaving. Every inch of him was just soaking.
"Riku…?" Sora asked tentatively, wringing his hands together.
And then Riku held up an old, raggedy bear, which was just as soaking wet as he was.
Sora burst into tears again. But instead of grabbing for Mr. Flufflesworth, he ran forward and threw his arms around Riku in a fierce hug.
He cried on Riku's shoulder for the first time.
"Give me the damn bear, Sora!"
"No! And you shouldn't say words like that, Riku!" the brunette cried, clutching Mr. Flufflesworth to his chest tightly.
Riku's eyes narrowed, a low growl escaping from his throat. He thrust his hand out, placing his other fist on his hip. "Sora. I'm warning you," he said softly, a dangerous edge to his tone. "Give. Me. The. Bear."
"No! You're just going to do something bad to him!" Sora's lip jutted out into a fierce pout, and his eyes were watering as he backed up quickly. He knew that if Riku really wanted the bear, there was no escaping him—he was stronger and faster than Sora.
Abruptly, Riku lunged, wrapping his hands around Mr. Flufflesworth and attempting to tug him from Sora's grip. The smaller boy let out a shriek of fright and protest, managing to grasp onto his legs before the bear was ripped completely away from him.
Riku's hands landed on its neck.
It became a sort of tug of war, with Riku yelling at Sora to let the bear go, and Sora yelling at Riku to let the bear go. Back and forth, back and forth—yank, tug, yank, tug, yank, tug—
And then something awful happened.
Sora stared in shock. He looked down at Mr. Flufflesworth's body—and then at his head—which Riku was holding with an equally stunned expression.
"I HATE YOU, RIKU!" Sora screamed, so upset that he threw the body at Riku before turning tail and fleeing.
Another week passed in which Sora didn't speak a word to Riku, curled up on his bed when his mother wasn't forcing him to play outside. He could only think numbly how Mr. Flufflesworth was dead—how he hadn't deserved such a fate. How Riku was mean, and stupid, and—
And how he, Sora, was never going on an adventure with Mr. Flufflesworth again.
But on the eighth day after Mr. Flufflesworth's demise, Riku knocked on his door, and Seiya let the boy up into her son's room. Sora almost considered not letting him in, but he knew his manners. However, he just lay on his bed, curled up into a ball, back facing his so-called friend.
"Sora… I… didn't mean to… do that…" Riku said softly to his back. "…And if you never forgive me again… that's fine… But—I just… I'm sorry… I won't ever mess with your bear again—I didn't know that he really… meant that much to you…"
A long exhalation of breath. "…I realize now how immature I've been all these years. I shouldn't have been so cruel to you, Sora. I should have let you grow up the way you wanted to grow up. But the truth is—I was so jealous of that damn bear. And… Well… It's up to you to interpret that how you want to…"
A long moment of silence passed, in which Sora's bottom lip quivered.
"I'm sorry, Sora…"
And the door clicked shut softly.
It wasn't until much later, when the sun was sinking beneath the horizon, that Sora finally rolled over to get up and take a shower. It was then that he noticed the worn bear at his feet, patched up entirely and looking good as new, if not a little threadbare.
His eyes welled up with tears, and he clutched it to his chest as he slumped to his knees and sobbed.
"Happy Birthday, Sora!" With a broad grin stretching across his lips, Riku shut the door behind him and kicked off his shoes before rushing over to plop down on the bed with Sora.
The brunette giggled excitedly, lips stretching into a matching grin, and as he shifted on the bed to accommodate space for his best friend, Mr. Flufflesworth balanced precariously on the edge.
Sora barely paid him any mind.
"Ri-ku, you have to tell me what my present is!" He tugged on the silver-haired boy's arm. "C'mon, I've wanted to know all week!"
"Weeeeell, you're fifteen now, right?" Riku murmured, a soft smile crossing his face at the brunette's excitement.
Sora bobbed his head up and down in a happy nod.
"Good. Because I told you that I'd tell you how I really felt…" Green eyes rose slowly to blue, and the brunette's smile faded. "I love you, too, Sora."
"Riku…" Sora whispered, tears welling up in his eyes. He sniffed as his nose burned, and he opened his arms, wrapping them around his best friend's neck and drawing him closer. "Thank you…"
Finally, he thought, glad that Riku was reciprocating his feelings. Finally.
Their lips pressed softly together, and they slowly fell back onto the bed, eyes slipping closed.
The thump knocked Mr. Flufflesworth off balance, where he fell to the floor and landed in a pile of Sora's dirty clothes. The brunette didn't notice, humming deeply in his throat and parting his lips as Riku's fingers pulled on his chin gently, coaxing them to part.
The teddy bear laid there for the remainder of the afternoon, forgotten, button eyes staring up at the ceiling blankly.
"Good-bye, Mr. Flufflesworth…" a soft voice murmured, and the teddy bear was slowly lowered into a box that he was small enough to fit in.
And then the flaps of the box were closing, and Mr. Flufflesworth caught sight of two blue eyes peering down at him sadly before he saw no more.
Sora's fingers drummed along the armrest of the passenger's seat as Seiya began pulling the SUV out of the driveway, glancing into the rearview mirror to make sure that she didn't bump into anybody.
"Are you excited?" she asked.
Her son turned, flashing a brilliant grin. "Well, it's time for new beginnings, right, Mom?"
"Yes, honey, but…" Slender fingers moved into his hair, rustling it affectionately. "You're going to miss all your friends, aren't you?"
Sora shrugged, leaning into the touch. "Well, I said good-bye to everyone earlier this week, and Riku's going to be at the dorm with me. So I'll be fine. I just need you and Riku, Mom. That's it."
A soft chuckle and a kiss pressed to his temple briefly before the fingers slipped away. "I'm glad, honey."
The late afternoon sun shined through the windshield, turning mother and son's hair deep reds and oranges before the shadows shifted and rays touched upon an old, worn teddy bear buckled up in the back seat.
Sora gazed out the window and smiled.