Disclaimer: I don't own them. I don't care if it's OOC, it's an important message.
I know this probably won't change anything, but I can't help but try.
Recommendation: After/during reading this, listen to the song 'Alyssa Lies' by Jason Micheal Carroll.
It was an uneventful afternoon like any other as Cloud Strife sat on the couch, flipping through the channels waiting for Sora to get home. Nothing was on TV, as usual around this time. There were shows for the little ones that Sora watched, and there were old folks' soap operas and those stupid infomercials. He glanced to the clock, hoping that his brother would get home soon, it was always more cheery and fun with the kid around.
The door opened slowly, being shut quietly in that way Sora did. Cloud heard the drop of a back pack, the thunk of shoes, and the padding of little feet. Turning towards the doorway, he smiled, holding his arm out to Sora as he entered the room. The brunette shuffled over to his big brother, his lips curled in a small smile as he buried himself into his sibling's chest.
"Hey kiddo. How was school today?" the blonde asked, rubbing Sora's back.
The little boy glanced up at him, eyes puffy from holding back tears, although some had slipped by anyway. It shocked him for a moment, he'd no idea what was wrong.
"Well, you know how I met my new friend Riku a couple days ago? And now we're, like, best friends?" he said quickly, in the small voice he had. Sora's voice had always been cute, it was so small and soft compared to the other boys his age. Nonetheless, he nodded, "Yeah, why? Did you two get in a fight?"
Sora shook his head vigorously, burying his face back into Cloud's chest, hugging him tighter, "No, Riku lied to me."
Cloud frowned, "Well, that's not very nice." Tapping Sora lightly, he got up, shrugging it off. It was just a little grade-school argument; if Cloud knew Sora, he'd be over it by tomorrow, if not in a couple minutes. Grabbing a glass, he filled it with milk and got some cookies from the cupboard, Sora's after-school treat.
Coming back into the living room, he saw that his baby brother hadn't gotten any better. In fact, he'd gotten worse. Setting the glass of milk and plate of cookies down on the coffee table, he sat down next to the boy's huddled figure, gently petting his hair. "Sora, are you okay?"
The brunette shook his head, face wedged in the crook of his elbows. "Uh-uh."
The older sibling sighed, frown on his face, "Well, what's wrong? You can tell me."
Looking up, tears were now pouring down his face like waterfalls, cheeks red. "He lied, to me, and he lied to the class, and the teacher. He lied to everyone, Cloud," he choked, desperately trying to hold back his sobs.
Cloud frowned deeper now, "Oh, come now, that's nothing to cry over," he said, after all, they were only in the second grade. The brunette let out a choked disagreement, "No, big brother, he lies… And he's got bruises… And… He doesn't wear short sleeves like he used to anymore…"
At that moment, Cloud's heart dropped into his stomach. He hadn't been ready for something like that, he'd assumed it was a little spat over a toy, or being first in line for lunch. But bruises? This was something big.
He looked wide-eyed at his little brother, feeling the blood drain from his veins. Taking a stolen glance at the clock, it was about six, almost Sora's bed time, but he doubted either of them could get to sleep. "Sora…"
Later that night, as Cloud tucked a more calmed-down Sora in, he made sure not to say anything about the incident of which the little boy had spoken of earlier. As he kissed his forehead and left the room, he heard the brunette mumbling to himself. Pausing outside the door, it sounded a bit like a prayer; something he was surprised Sora was doing.
"Dear god, or whoever you are. I wanna thank you for everything. My brother Cloud, our house, all my friends, and especially my newest friend Riku. We're really good friends, and wherever you are, if you are, I wish you'd share some of my luck and love with him, cause I know he needs it bad. More than me, or anyone else I know. I won't ask for anything else ever again. Just this one thing, okay?"
It was so sweet and softer than normal, his voice partly muffled by his blanket. Resting his head lightly against the frame, Cloud waited another moment yet before heading off to the worst night of sleep he'd have in years. Plagued with the thought of Sora's little friend, he knew exactly what he needed to do tomorrow. If he didn't do it soon, something worse might happen.
At school the next day, Cloud walked into the classroom, an alert Sora grasping his hand at his side. Before he could confront the teacher about anything, he'd already had a sneaking suspicion at what was going on.
"…We're very, very sorry. All of us, we can only pray for him wherever he is."
Blinking, Cloud couldn't help but be surprised. Sora tugged on his hand, looking meekly up at his older sibling. "Cloud, why does everyone look so sad?" he asked, having not heard his teacher's announcement. No doubt he'd been looking around the room for his friend.
Cloud looked down at him, eyes wide in disbelief. Tears slipped down his cheeks, and as he knelt down to deliver the blow, he gave Sora a weak smile. With every utterance on Sora's part, the lump in his throat grew bigger and bigger.
"Sora, Riku won't be coming to school today," he said, stroking his little brother's cheek. "He won't be lying anymore, not in the classroom, not ever."
As Sora listened to Cloud tell him this, he felt his eyes grow hot from the tears pouring down his cheeks. He knew what had happened, he was too late, and no one had done anything.
"Big brother, why did Riku lie? Tell me why…"
An estimated 906,000 children are victims of abuse and neglect every year. The reate of victimization is 12.3 children per every 1,000.
Childrean ages 0-5 are the most likely to experience abuse, although that doesn't mean it can't happen to someone 6 and above. The rate of victimized children ages 0-5 are 16.4 per every 1,000.
1,500 children die every year from abuse and neglect. That's just over 4 deaths every day.
79 of the children are younger than 4.
These statistics vary year to year. If you know anyone who is suffering from child abuse or any sort of abuse or neglect, please, do the right thing and contact your local authorities.