Dedication: Satski
Happy birthday, my new friend whose theme was 'language', and as always, i put my innovative twist to the classic ... language barrier. Enjoy! Read the notes, please in the author note!!

Ever since I've started writing this in the beginning of November, I've taken a strong liking for the language that is Italian. So much that I sought out the aid of my Spanish Teacher, who also speaks Italian, to help me in my goal to learn the language. So basically, I'm learning it by myself. But I'm not going to put fluent Italian in this. Basically … just read the small notes below.

"Italian" (simply because I cannot speak the beautiful language)
/Thoughts/ (
because we want to be able to differentiate verbal sayings and mental… and yes, riku mentally thinks in English )

"Speech" (because frankly, I felt the need to state that)

word emphasis (as you have come to learn… I may use /these/ occasionally. You all know my style already)


Sometimes it is commonly said that cultures are worlds apart. Our traditions are different, our clothing, our language, and sometimes even our morals. When one moves to another continent, it is not uncommon to have to adapt to the new culture. While there, one will encounter countless cultural experiences, and hopefully, in the end, learn from that other culture. Although adoption is anticipated, fear is also expected. Who wouldn't be afraid of delving into an entirely diverse world? Who wouldn't feel the restraining strings of their own culture? Fear; it is a common human trait that we all overlook, thinking it is a twisted sin. The ironic part is that we all feel fear at some point in our lives. The intensity differs but one thing is certain … fear is an unsettling emotion.

His name was Riku Karada. Seventeen, single, attractive, and brilliant. Being born in Italy, it was only natural that the silver-haired Adonis acquired that certain Italian charm. It was also to be expected that the silveret received a pair of stunning viridian eyes. Along with intelligence came a shining attitude. Flirtatious, humorous, and sometimes seductive. These were all traits that Riku possessed and used to his advantage.

Oh, and bilingual—fluent in both Italian and English, but don't tell the students of Myou High that.

You see, Riku Karada was a common tourist to America. His mother, being full-blooded American, had traveled to Italy on an architectural study and soon after fell in love with a smooth-talking Italian scholar. It was a match made in heaven consisting of passion and knowledge. And it was to be expected that their son learned both of their native languages so that the family could easily traverse back and forth between the countries.

Riku Karada was accustomed to the American culture. At a young age, Riku's mother had taught him many American customs—such as Halloween and giving thanks of Thanksgiving (not to sound redundant, of course). It was safe to say that Riku was not only fluent in both languages but fluent in both cultures.

Now you see, that will be our little secret. Don't tell a soul and I'll divulge more… All right? Deal.

Riku was moving to the United States for a year during his junior year (eleventh year, as it was commonly referred to as). Both of his parents had taken jobs this year in America, so it was likely that their silver haired son would have to attend high school. The Karada family decided upon moving to the quiet, residential Connecticut town based simply on the fact that they had friends there—the Kasai family.

The week before Riku started high school (a week after the actual school began) the Kasai's youngest son, Axel, had proposed a brilliant idea. Why not pretend that he was unfamiliar with America? Why not pretend that he could not speak English? Wouldn't it be fun to live a year with special treatment and a personal tutor? Wouldn't it be amusing to try and communicate with the locals when you actually knew everything they were saying? Especially if they were talking behind your back right in front of you. Oh, that'd be pleasant indeed. Somehow, the brilliant teenager had convinced his parents to allow him to participate in this experiment, claiming he would reap in the educational benefits. Somehow they agreed and believed him. After all, Riku Karada had never done anything wrong before.

So that is where we are now.

The lean silveret made his way through the maze of students. Slung on his shoulder was a crimson, diminutive backpack. Behind a veil of silver bangs rested two vigorous aquamarine eyes, complimenting his pale skin nicely. Riku's pale skin broke the cultural cliché of all Italians having tanned skin. He liked his porcelain skin, if anyone was asking.

Wordlessly, the slender teenager entered the vast school-building. The difference between Italian schools and American schools was evident at once. Back in Italy, all buildings were intricate and complex. It wouldn't be surprising to see wainscot adorned on every wall. However, the schools in America were far more simplistic and basic. There was change, yes, and Riku wasn't sure whether it was a positive or negative one, so he decided upon a neutral feeling.

/Let's see… One-thousand fifty five. Locker 1055. Where would that be?/ Riku glanced around the hallways. The silver haired male was about to ask where his locker would be located but quickly remembered that he was supposed to be playing along with his little trick. So speaking in perfect English would be pointless.

"Are you the exchange student from Italy?!" squealed a random student as they quickly came rushing up to the male.

Riku swiveled his head to the right, quirking his brow. He figured that shaking his head in a yes motion would do just fine. So, therefore, Riku nodded and watched as the girl grinned and latched onto his arm, dragging him down the hallway towards the right.

"What's your name?" she asked cheerfully, turning to look at him as she continued tugging him along.

/I can't believe I'm pretending to not know any English. Oh my god. They're going to think I'm incapable of doing this… Splendid…/ Riku blinked in confusion at the brunette girl. A frown appeared on her face as she motioned to herself. "My name is Selphie." She then gestured to Riku. "And you?"

With as much of an accent as he could conjure up at that precise moment, Riku stated, "Riku."

"Oh!" Selphie exclaimed and clasped her hands together. "My god! You have such an amazing voice and name!" she cooed in pleasure and then giggled. "Oh right, you can't' speak English! Oh well!"

/Actually, I can. I'm fluently speaking it in my head right now. In fact, I prefer it over Italian for some odd reason. Oh well…Beggars can't be choosers…/

"Do you know how to say yes?" she wondered, tilting her head to the side curiously.

/Good question. I suppose I should know how to say yes. But would I know that question?... Er, this is harder than I thought it would be./ Riku thought dismally as he eyed Selphie with a fake baffled look. Selphie chortled and clasped her hand onto Riku's shoulder, motioning to her face. First, she shook her head up and down. "Yes," she stated and then she shook it left to right, "No."

"Yes," Riku echoed. /Yes. I would like to beat these people's heads in. But I'll pass. Just for now. I wonder how she'll react if she knew I could speak fluent English. Oh god. This is getting too good!/ "Yes," Riku repeated, pretending the word was foreign on his lips.

Selphie giggled and beamed at the silveret as she led him down the hallway. To where? Who knows. "What words do you know?" she asked and then paused, attempting to simplify what she had said. "Uh. English? Say? Words? English words?"

Riku groaned and raised his free hand to swipe his nimble fingers through his hair as they traversed down the crowded hallway. "Yes…No…Please…Hello…" /What else should I know?.../ "You…Me…" Riku trailed off, desperately wracking his brain to distinguish what words a foreigner would know. Perhaps he would just start with those basics.

"Well, that's a start," Selphie murmured to herself and offered a bright smile back at Riku. "Say something in Italian."

/I love how they all obsess over the fact I can speak another language. Oh well. / "I can't believe I'm going through with this prank. Quite amusing," Riku stated and then smirked, folding his arms to his chest. His Italian statement was followed by a squeak from Selphie. The brunette girl continued to haul the silveret down towards the end of the hallway. At the last door on the right, Selphie shoved Riku inside and promptly turned to him.

"He's here!" she declared as she ushered Riku into the library.

As expected, rows of bookshelves lined the area, towering far above their forms. The size of the room was quite intimidating. Yes, this library was far larger than his one back home in Italy. The Italian-born male followed Selphie through the soaring bookshelves until they came to the center of the room. At the heart of the library was a cluster of tables. At each table was a cluster of four students, totaling fourteen in all. All Americans, as predicted. Selphie tugged on Riku's sleeve and gestured for him to take a seat at the vacant, fourth table. Riku graciously took the seat and watched as Selphie took the seat beside him.

"He's cute," one girl said giggling from another table.

"Do you think he speaks English?"

"I heard he doesn't! He'll need a personal tutor! Maybe I can—"

"But you can't speak fluent Italian!"

"So?" argued the black-haired girl with annoyance.

"Ahem," said a teacher from a podium. At once, all the student's heads turned to glance at the blonde teacher. Her stern eyes stared out at the group of students, silencing them with one look. All of the students, excluding Riku, shifted uncomfortably and pretended to appear attentive. "As you all know, we have a new student for this year. He is an exchange student from Rome and it is my pleasure to introduce him. Riku K—" the teacher began but was cut off when a brunet boy rushed into the cluster of desks, tripping over the leg of one at once.

A round of laughter was heard as all eyes fell upon the fallen brunet. A groan was heard from the skinny boy who had his face planted against the ground. Weakly, the teenager pushed his body up into a sitting position, blue eyes wearily looking away from his peers.

"Sora…so glad you've finally decided to join us," mumbled the teacher as she fixed her glasses. "Take a seat, Sora, and I'll get on with the introduction."

Sora quickly took a seat across from Selphie and sheepishly looked down at his laced hands. It wasn't until he noticed another person sitting at the table did he raise his gaze. At once, confused blue eyes met aquamarine. The brunet sheepishly smiled.

"Hello," Riku stated slowly in his thick accent, offering a brilliant grin at Sora.

Sora flushed a nervous red and glanced quickly away from Riku and back to the teacher at the podium. /Aw. He's adorable…and not all obsessive. That's cute…/ Riku laced his hands together beneath his chin and averted his gaze over to the teacher once she began speaking again.

"Now, as you all know, our new exchange student can only speak a limited amount of English. I have taken it upon myself to make it a point to assign him a private tutor who would be able to slowly teach him the basics of our language." The teacher's eyes glanced around the area as several hands shot up into the air all too quickly.

/Wait…I don't want a lovesick girl teaching me something I already know! How am I going to get out of this one?... What can I possibly say? I'm not supposed to understand what she said. Ah crap. Ah crap. Crap. Crap. Crap/ Riku began to mentally kick himself over and over.

Sora, noticing a look of sudden anxiety in Riku's eyes, shyly lifted his hand into the air. Riku pried his glance off the table and over to the timorous brunet who sat across from him. "I know some Italian so I'm sure we can help each other," Sora said quietly.

Envious eyes at once shot themselves his way. Sora blanched and apprehensively laughed as he held his hand weakly in the air. His looming death expired when the teacher chuckled and declared, "That's a wonderful idea, Sora. Besides, it'll give you a chance to broaden your horizons considering you don't do any after school activities." For some reason, the teacher sounded resentful.

"You speak Italian?" Riku asked.

Sora's attention at once bowed back over to Riku. The brunet blinked, as if slowly processing the Italian-spoken words. "A little," Sora answered laconically, a small blush creeping onto his cheeks.

Riku chuckled at this. "You're cute," he said in a whisper, completely ignoring what the teacher was rambling on about. Besides, he wasn't expected to know what she meant anyhow. Maybe this prank was going to play out for the best after all.

"C-carino?" Sora repeated, as if he did not understand the word.

Riku pretended to ponder the question. "You don't know what that means in English?"

Sora blinked. The brunet had heard the words English and mean from that statement. Was Riku referring to the unknown word. "Yes?"

Riku, figuring that he couldn't come out and say the word, snagging a piece of paper from his bag along with a pen. Quietly, Riku drew a puppy and an arrow pointing at it, and then at Sora. Sora stared at it for awhile before repeating the Italian word, "Cute…Oh! Carino! Cute! I got it," Sora giggled and then paled. "Me? Cute? Heh…er…" Sora looked off to the right and blushed a dark red.

"Now, Sora," the teacher's voice boomed through the area. Sora shot his head up and glanced curiously at his teacher. "It is your reasonability to make sure Riku feels comfortable here at Myou High. He's going to be shadowing you seeing that you both are in the same year. If he doesn't understand something, it's up to you to help him understand. Is that clear?"

Sora swiftly nodded and glanced timidly back over to Riku. "I guess I'm going to be teaching you English from now on," the brunet chuckled before blinking uncertainly. "But I doubt you understood that, huh? Er… I…teach…you…English?"

/I already know English, but hell, why not, give it a try./ Riku nodded. "Teach," he repeated, pointing flirtatiously at Sora and then himself. The blush that adorned Sora's face was downright adorable. "Cute," Riku stated with a smirk before turning his attention back to the teacher, ignoring his flushing tutor. Oh, this was going to be a great year. He could already sense it.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

First block.

For some reason, Riku wasn't surprised to discover that his beautiful brunet tutor had art as his first class of the day. Art in the morning. It had a nice ring to it.

Sora quietly led Riku into his spacious art room that seemed to give off an airy glow. Windows lined the right wall, offering a view to the outside world. Inspirational. Just what you wanted in an art room, right? Paintings were also hung upon the grey walls, adding a splash of color to the otherwise dreary room. Sora paid no heed to the ornamental room and quickly made his way to the back table. The brunet quickly sat down and gestured for Riku to sit beside him.

"No one ever sits next to me anyhow," Sora mumbled under his breath, a pang of remorse evident in his voice. Sora quickly shook away the angst and turned to the gorgeous exchange student. "This," Sora motioned to the area around him, "is art."

"Art," Riku repeated slowly. /More like makeshift art if you ask me…/

"I must look like a complete idiot," Sora laughed to himself, glancing around the classroom as he eyed a few sniggers sent his way. "Trying to teach someone English when I barely know it myself," Sora murmured, lowering his gaze as his brown locks of hair covered his gaze. "Why did I put myself up for this humiliation."

"Your name," Riku said with forced difficulty. "Is…Sora, yes?" /My god I sound so retarded. It would be so much easier to converse with these people if they actually knew I spoke English. Oh well…/ Riku's mind continued to play a vicious battle weighing out the pros and cons of the choice he had made.

"Yeah," Sora said with a nod to prove his point. "And your name is Riku?"

"Yeah," Riku answered, digging into his notebook for a piece of paper and pencil. As the pair awaited their instructor, Riku began to draw. /If I can't speak to the boy in English or Italian, I'll draw what I want to say. That shouldn't be that hard, right?.../

"Frog?" Sora asked, glancing at Riku's drawing.

/He did not just call my house a frog. Oh he did. Twerp…/ Riku gestured to the house, poking it a few times. "House," he said in Italian, hoping that the brunet would at least know that word. Did Sora know any Spanish? Perhaps he could say it that way?

"House!" Sora repeated with triumphant, fretfully shifting in his seat. "House… what about a house?" Sora wondered as his eyes fell back down onto Riku's quick drawing. "Oh… right. You live in a house."

/No fucking duh. Of course I live in a house. What the hell?/ Riku groaned and jabbed the picture again, gesturing to the small flag outside the home. Sora surveyed it for a moment before smirking, as if he had just captured the meaning.

"You moved here for the year?" Sora guessed, watching as Riku drew a calendar with the numeral twelve on it. Riku briskly nodded and glanced back at the brunet. "Man, this is going to be so hard to talk to you. I guess I should start teaching you basic things now, huh?"

/That would be helpful, Sora/ Riku thought dryly and looked onto Sora with curiosity.

"Uh…in English…food is food."

Riku nodded.

"Pencil is uh…pencil?"

Riku gestured to the pencil in his hand and Sora nodded, thankful that he had gotten another word right.

"Homework is…oh what's that word… homework! Homework is homework!" Sora grinned at Riku and then laughed to himself, muttering under his breath about how unqualified he was for this job. Riku shook his head in disbelief, silently enthralled by Sora's gregarious disposition.

The art teacher soon emerged from the backroom, chattering on about their assignment. Once given, she hurriedly fluttered over to the back table where Riku and Sora sat. Her brown hair was pulled up into a provisional bun and her glossy blue eyes were outlined with thick, smoky eyeliner. "Sora, this is the new exchange student from Italy, right?"

Sora nodded quietly. "His name's Riku."

The teacher turned to him and in perfect Italian she said, "It's a pleasure to finally meet you, Riku. My name is Mrs. Dobrocki and I'm the art teacher here. I take it you don't know that much of English, correct? If you need any assistance, feel free to come to me for help. I'm sure I'll be able to lend a hand. I hope you enjoy your stay here."

"Thank you. I'm sure I will. I'm already picking up on a lot so far," Riku answered with a brilliant smile. The silveret glanced to his right, noticing the bewildered look on Sora's face. How much of that had Sora picked up? By the dumfounded look, Riku figured nothing. They were probably speaking too fast for Sora to catch anything.

"If you want, I can give you the assignments in Italian if it'll make things easier, along with their English translation so you can compare?" she suggested as she folded her slender arms over her chest, her smile never once fading. In fact, it was a bit unsettling.

"That'd be helpful. Thank you," Riku said with a sharp nod.

Mrs. Dobrocki chuckled to herself and skittered off to attend to the other students. Sora sat there, in complete stun, before murmuring out loud, "Geez, make me feel uncomfortable why don't you?'

/It's not my fault your teacher can speak perfect Italian, Sora/ Riku thought with a wicked smirk before glancing back down at his paper. /Crap. I have to pretend I don't know what the assignment is. Uh…/ Riku tapped the paper and nudged Sora in the arm. On the paper he drew a big question mark.

"Oh uhm…" Sora thought for a moment on how he could explain the assignment to Riku. Quietly, Sora took the pencil from Riku and drew an apple. Moments later, he drew an arrow pointing to said fruit. Sora lifted the pencil into the air and motioned over to the bowel of fruit on the table. It was the everyday, simple drawing exercise.

"Thank you," Riku said graciously and reached over, lightly taking the pencil from Sora's hands.

/Yes. This is definitely going to be a great year…/

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x


"You wouldn't believe how hard it is to resist speaking in English," Riku complained as he returned home from school on the second day. The silveret tossed his backpack onto the couch before promptly marching into the kitchen to speak with his mother. Usually, when speaking with his mother, he would speak primarily in English, and with his father in Italian. Regardless, Riku sauntered into the kitchen and leaned against the counter, rubbing his temples with frustration.

"It's too late now, Riku," his mother answered with a soft laugh. "I warned you. Your father warned you, but you didn't listen. Now you have to deal with it."

Riku groaned and shook his head. "At this current point in time I can only say one word sentences. Maybe two, if I'm lucky. Isn't that wonderful?" Riku said with mock amusement as he proceeded to smack his forehead with his palm.

"Don't worry, hunny. Just pretend to be a quick learner and the English will fly by," she answered with a sloppy grin, thoroughly enjoying her son's self-given torture. "Just be eager, that's all. If you're willing to learn, they're willing to teach."

"Speaking of teaching, my tutor is coming over in a few minutes to help me learn more English phrases. Would it be too much to ask if you don't speak English the entire time he's over? I think he'll catch on if my mother speaks fluent English," Riku suggested, licking his lips with anticipation.

The silver haired woman chuckled as she went back to tending with her vegetables. "I think I can manage that," she answered and smiled back at her son. "Your tutor, is he a nice boy?"

"From what I've seen, yeah," Riku said and then leaned his chin into the cup formed by his palms. "He's sort of an outcast though. He doesn't really have that many friends. I feel sort of bad for lying to him, but eh. It's not like he's going to figure it out or something."

"Unless you slip," she pointed out, wagging a carrot in his direction.

Riku scoffed. "Which I won't."

"Don't be so cocky," she chuckled and went back to slicing. Moments later, the sound of a doorbell being rung caught Riku's attention. Wordlessly, Riku made his way to the front door, which he opened at once, knowing it would be Sora.

"Hi," Sora said quietly from outside, smiling up at the silveret with a beaming face. "How are you?" he tested.

"Good, and you?" Riku answered. /A test, huh? To see if I remember what we went over yesterday? Ah. Too easy/.

Sora grinned ear to ear upon hearing this knowledge. "Wow, you're a fast learner. If only I could learn Italian that fast," Sora laughed to himself and walked inside, watching Riku close the door behind him. The thin brunet fiddled with the straps of his backpack before glancing up to the silver haired exchange student. "Room…Where is your room?"

"Room," Riku repeated and nudged his head towards the stairs. "Up there," he said simply, snagging Sora by the wrist and leading the timid boy up the stairs, not noticing the faintest blush appearing on his new friend's face.

The two boys entered the bedroom. Riku closed the door behind them and watched in amusement as Sora took a seat on the bed. The brunet crossed his legs and took out a book. An English book. Go figure. "I figured we'd do some common English phrases and stuff so…er…"

Sora blushed a darker red when the attractive male sat down beside him. "Everyone thinks you're amazing," Sora whispered under his breath, shaking his head. "If only I was half as good-looking as you…"

Sora sighed and then turned his attention back to Riku, poking a page. "I speak."

"You speak," Riku answered with an arched eyebrow.

"Oh, wow! You know that, huh? Uh…" Sora thought for a moment. "I like…"

"You like…" Riku said hesitantly, not understanding where this was going at all.

"To play," Sora said slowly.

"To play," Riku repeated just as slowly.

Sora leaned over on the bed and snagged a small game controller. "Games," he concluded, gesturing to his fingers pressing the buttons.

"I see," Riku answered and then paled. /Maybe I wasn't supposed to say that? Uh… Er… Fuck. Fuck Fuck Fuck. This was easier when were speaking in Italian. Argh/.

"You know that too, huh?" Sora grinned and smiled fondly at Riku. "That's good."

"Your fake Italian accent is very amusing," Riku said with amusement before shifting his gaze out the window. "English… it hard?" /I still feel like an idiot for saying these sorts of things. Oh well. No turning back/. Riku's sharp aquamarine eyes flickered back over to the brunet beside him on the bed.

"Yeah," Sora answered with a sharp nod, lacing his fingers together nervously in his lap.

"Do you have a girlfriend?" Riku wondered, arching his eyebrows in curiosity as his silver hair pooled over his shoulders.

Sora's eyes snapped up and met Riku's. "Did you just ask me if I had a girlfriend? If I had a girlfriend?" A nod. "Uhm…no." And that word was universal.

"What a pity. You're adorable. A boyfriend then?"

"B-boyfriend? Boyfriend?"


"N-no…" Sora swallowed hard and glanced down at Riku's rug. The brunet's shoulders stiffened as silence swept through the bedroom. "Why would he expect me to be dating someone?... I'm just the no-name face in school. No one's interested in me…I'm a geek."

Riku frowned at this, sea green eyes sweeping over the brunet's body. "Sexy…" he murmured to himself and then blinked in surprise. /Well, that's wonderful, Riku. You were just checking out your tutor. Now let's stop that. It'd be impossible to date someone at this rate. Duh/.

"Let's uhm… just get back to work," Sora mumbled embarrassedly and went back to helping Riku learn the basics of English.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x


"Isn't that new Italian student hot?"

There they were all four of them crowded around a lunchroom table. It had only been a week since Riku began attending Myou High school and girls were already engaging in heated quarrels over him. There was just /something/ about him that gave him an irresistible edge. Whether it was the thick accent or the stunning eyes, he mesmerized them. Regardless, by now Riku had barely mastered common English. However, the silveret made it a point to inform Sora that he was better at understanding the language than speaking it himself.

"R-riku?" Sora sputtered as the words Kairi had spoken reached his ears at last.

"Yes!" Kairi cooed enthusiastically as she looked across the table from the flustered brunet and then to the seemingly dumbfounded Riku. Oh, what a contradiction.

"He is!" Selphie swooned from alongside her red-haired friend. "He's a god that's come to grace us with his presence!"

/They're acting like I'm not even here. Anyway, sorry girls, I don't swing that way…/Riku looked over at Sora innocently, wordlessly asking for a translation.

"Nothing," Sora murmured uneasily.

"Don't you agree?" Kairi asked, her gaze settling on Sora. "He won't understand if you say that he's hot. So just admit it," Kairi stated, all the while beaming as she egged her brunet friend on. Her bluish eyes fluttered at him, hoping to convince him to spill his guts.

"Okay," Sora groaned embarrassedly. "He's hot. I won't deny it," Sora stated quickly. The brunet soon after cleared his throat and nervously looked to the right at Riku, as if trying to change the subject immediately.

/So he thinks I'm hot, huh? Well…/ "So are you," Riku stated slowly and quite flirtatiously.

Kairi and Selphie blanched. The redhead, in an embarrassed flurry, glanced away, now sporting a dark blush. Selphie, however, stated, "Riku's gay?!"

"Maybe he didn't understand what we were saying…" Sora attempted, randomly stuttering as his cheeks scorched bright red. "At least, I assume." Sora nervously looked to Riku with a look of sheer confusion.

/Do they honestly think that?/ Riku thought weakly. /The boys cute, I won't deny it. But hot? Perhaps that's a stretch/ "What?" Riku asked simply, his thin eyebrows forming a heavenly arch.

"Nothing!" all three said in unison and quickly looked off to the right.

"…Okay," Riku stated and glanced off to the right as well. "What do they take me for? A fool? Oh well."

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

"Riku…I need to talk to you for a moment."

Riku tiredly pushed his body off the couch and made his way into the kitchen. Sora had left ten minutes prior and now Riku was relaxing before getting to work on his homework. Of course, his mother ushering him into the kitchen was not something he had planned on. Regardless, the silver haired male sauntered into the room, arms crossed to his chest. When he did such, his mother motioned for Riku to take a seat across from her at the table.

"What's up?" he asked calmly, raising his hand to brush through his silver hair. Aquamarine eyes locked with hers and at once he knew something was wrong. "Mom?..."

"…I don't want you to date any boys while you're here," she stated bluntly and simply. Her gaze at once tore from Riku's. Silence shrouded the pair.

Riku tensed and then quirked a brow. "Excuse me?... Why not? I'm completely comfortable with my sexuality… We already had this discussion Mom, I—"

"I know that, Riku," she said quietly, waving her hands dismissively. "It's just… this isn't Italy, Riku. The people here in America are far less accepting than they are back home, which is hard to believe… But you must understand where I'm coming from. I'm looking out for you, Riku."

"Who cares?" Riku groaned, shaking his head. "If they don't accept it who cares?'

"…I've heard stories," she admitted, chewing her bottom lip. "Even when I was back in school… in this country… I saw it. There are people out there who take offense to such things and hurt those who are different. I understand that it does happen back home, but here it's more prominent… My culture isn't as accepting as these things, Riku."

"…I can only speak Italian, anyhow, at school, so dating someone would be difficult," Riku confessed and shook his head at this mother.

"Riku…" his mother warned. "I saw the way you were looking at that boy earlier. And I know what you're thinking… but don't risk it. Keep your attraction to yourself. Just this time, honey."

Riku blinked in sheer surprise. /Me? Like Sora?... All I said was that he was cute! Is it a crime to think a guy's cute and like his body? It's not like I want to marry or screw the guy. Or even date him! My god!/ "I was just looking at him," Riku groaned.

"Isn't that how it always starts?" she sighed sadly, eying her son with concern.

Riku sighed as well, a bit disdainfully. "I'll think of something, Mom," he promised.

"I know…you always do."

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x


"How are things going, Riku?"

"Horrible," Riku confessed as he sat in second block between his tutor, Sora, and a blonde haired girl. On the first day, Riku had discovered that the reserved blonde girl could speak fluent Italian as well. Thus, she was an easy person to converse with, especially when he needed to translate something to Sora.

"What's wrong?" she wondered sadly, tapping her pencil on her paper with a concerned look.

"My mother made it a point that I can't date boys this year. Which really sucks because I really don't like girls… and I really hate being alone." Riku shook his head furiously and glanced over to the brunet beside him who was currently absorbed in a book. "And I can't talk to Sora about this because he can't understand me."

"You've already had three girls ask you out, Riku… and you turned them all down. People are going to assume something after awhile," Naminé admitted as she frowned.

"I could say that I have a girlfriend back home?"

"That might work," Naminé agreed.

"You have a girlfriend?" Sora wondered as he turned his attention over to Riku, blinking curiously at the student.

"What do I say, Naminé?... Should I lie or—?" Riku wondered nervously, glancing wearily from Naminé and then to Sora. It was a simple question Sora had asked and Riku was hesitating. Wonderful.

"Tell him…uh…" Naminé paused. "I am," Naminé said with a soft blush, looking over at Sora with an embarrassed look.

"You told him you and I were dating?!" Riku demanded as he stared at Naminé and then to Sora, trying his best not to speak in English. "How could you do that?! I—"

"Why are you acting like it's the end of the world if Sora thinks you have a girlfriend?" Naminé wondered, lacing her hands under her chin as her light blue eyes glanced between the befuddled Sora and then the flustered Riku.

Riku groaned in defeat. "Yes." Riku pointed at Naminé. "Is my girlfriend."

"O-oh…" Sora stated slowly and then glanced down, a healthy blush on his face. "That's nice."

And that was how it all started.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x


"So, Riku… do you want to go out on a date or something now that we're dating and all?" Naminé asked expectantly as they walked from first block to second, Sora trailing behind them. Today was their first official day of dating and Riku was already holding Naminé's hand and carrying her books with his free hand. The pair would constantly talk in Italian. Riku didn't even stop to consider how left out he was making the brunet in back of them feel.

Riku looked to the pretty blonde beside him. "If you want. Where do you want to go? Movies? Park?" Riku asked, tightening his hold onto the girl's hand. And even though he was consumed by the girl beside him and their 'pretend dating' he couldn't help but hear the snickering from his sides and the jealous glares they sent Naminé.

"Movies are fine," Naminé answered with a sharp nod. "Should I get my dad to pick you up? Or will your parents drive us? Or are we meeting there?" She tilted her head curiously as her fingers began to toy with Riku's, a blush on her face.

"Doesn't matter. We can meet there. What movie?..." Riku wondered.

"Wait…you don't know English that well. How will you be able to watch it?" A frown appeared on Naminé's lips as she squeezed Riku's hand. Her lips twirled down into a frown. "Would you be okay with that, Riku?" she questioned.

"I'm fine with that," Riku responded as they neared their second block class. The couple walked into the classroom, adjoined at the hands. Sora quietly walked in behind them, gaze cast downwards. Something furtive flickered in Sora's eyes as he dejectedly took the seat beside Riku, silently watching as the Italian silveret spent the entire time talking with Naminé.

That was when Sora decided he would do anything to learn fluent Italian. Anything.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x


It was Friday night and Riku and Naminé's date had just ended. Riku secretly understood every single phrase ushered by the actors but of course he played dumbfounded and kept his gaze on his 'fake' girlfriend the entire time. Hopefully the school was convinced by now that he was straight. Very much straight, even though, in actuality, he was very much gay. Regardless, Riku returned home just in time for his one hour study session with Sora that had been earlier planned that week.

"Hi, Riku!" Sora exclaimed when Riku entered the living room, yawning. Riku's gaze lifted up and stared at the brunet curiously. "How was your date?"

"Good, thank you," Riku replied hesitantly, eying Sora as he took a seat beside the brunet. "Past… you know it?"

"Yeah," Sora said quietly with a soft blush, nodding profusely. "I studied."

/He studied Italian to converse with me better? Aw, that's adorable… Wait, why does he look so sad?.../ "Sora…" Riku paused, attempting to look contemplative. "Are you… okay?" he guessed, hoping that he would sound like he was having difficulty with the words.

Sora glanced up curiously and stared at Riku, blue eyes blinking. Sora looked away, a fake gleam of happiness glittering in his eyes. "I'm fine," he lied, hands flexing by his side as Riku poked Sora's shoulder. "Really, Riku… I'm fine," Sora murmured.

/What's wrong with the kid? … Argh Language Barries. God Damnit. I suppose I'll just…/ Riku sighed and hooked his arm around Sora's shoulder. The brunet tensed and then looked nervously over at the silveret. Blue eyes stared skeptically at Riku for a moment before he laughed apprehensively. Sora swallowed and looked down, his hands gripping the cushion beneath him.

"I'm glad you found someone," Sora whispered under his breath. "I'm glad that everyone can find someone except me…"

Riku frowned instantly and tightened his hold around Sora's shoulders. And before he knew it, Sora was leaning into his chest, silently sobbing. The sad part was, Riku didn't know that the beautiful brunet was shedding a tear… He had no idea.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x


When Riku's lips met Naminé's in the middle of the hallway between third and fourth block, the world came crashing down. Riku found no satisfaction in the kiss, but for some reason, he felt that his 'girlfriend' was enjoying it far too much. He didn't ask her. He just kept kissing her, hoping that this display would earn him a place in everyone's heart. It did, for the most party, anyhow… and for some reason he felt bad. He honestly felt bad for kissing his friend, faking a relationship, when he was starting to acquire an attraction for someone else.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x


Sora laid curled up on the far right end of Riku's couch. It was a Friday and the stress of the week had built up far too much for the brunet to handle so he decided upon napping as he waited for Riku to return from the movies. The silveret had apparently gone with his girlfriend to see the current blockbuster and had promised to return by nine. It was eight forty five, and Sora had already passed out, a pillow tightly in his grasps as he nuzzled the armrest in his sleep. So many things were plaguing the poor brunet's mind that it would take a highly qualified therapist to sort through that jumbled up mess.

Riku entered the quiet and dark house, softly closing the front door behind him. A frown was plastered onto his face as he inaudibly traversed through the hallway and down into the living room, a throbbing headache making itself known at once.

Tonight had not gone well at all. First, Riku had slipped two times with his English at the snack line. Second, he had bluntly refused to kiss Naminé during the movie, and then, finally, the confrontation. Apparently Naminé had acquired feelings for him during the course of a few weeks times. This was supposed to have been fake. Something to make people think that he was straight so that he could please his mother. And of course, the kind Naminé just had to fall for him. So Riku ended it. No matter how painful it was to see the tears in Naminé's eyes as she swore at him in English (that she didn't know he understood), he just had to do it. He couldn't continue hurting her when he knew, in his heart, he didn't feel the same.

And it took the breakup for Riku, the beautiful Italian exchange student, to realize that he had been neglecting the most benign person he had ever met. The shy, modest, helpful, and beautiful brunet who was currently hogging his couch, lightly snoring. Riku's heart actually hurt to think how neglected and outofplace Sora had felt when he pointedly blew off their lessons to hang out with Naminé or when they conversed in Italian right in front of Sora, knowing full well Sora couldn't join in.

God, how could he have been such an ass? How could he have dug such a big freaking hole?

And that wasn't even the worst part. Sora was the worst part.

Riku sighed and entered the living room, kicking off his shoes as he went. Aquamarine eyes stared at the slumbering teen. "I'm sorry," Riku mumbled and ran a hand through his hair, feeling like a complete and utter moron. "You deserve a better friend than me. I'm such a moron," he concluded and gingerly placed his hand on the slumbering teen's shoulder.

Sora shifted, falling in and out of twilight. Blue eyes lazily opened and stared at the silveret. "R-riku," Sora slurred in barely coherent sleep-talk. "W-when…get back?" he asked.

Riku didn't bother masking his skills. Sora wouldn't remember anyhow. "A few minutes ago. Just go back to sleep," Riku urged, gently stroking the brunet's shoulder.

Sora realeased a quiet pur and repositioned himself, snuggling against Riku's sitting form. Sora emitted a pleased sigh and closed his eyes, muttering, "Your English is getting really good. That's…good."

And within two minutes Sora was asleep.

The practically friendless, but so kind, Sora had fallen asleep on him…

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x


Riku had had enough of this. Enough of these fake lessons, re-teaching him what he had already known since birth. Enough of Sora staring at him with a blank expression everytime he said something flirtatious in Italian. Enough of not being able to express his growing attraction to the brunet. Riku was just sick and tired of having to look at his tutor from afar when he was so desperately falling for the boy. He had gotten himself into this horrible mess of languages, and he was going to get himself out of it if it was the last thing he did here in America.

And it just so happened to be a Sunday, and Sora just so happened to be curled up on his bed, nose into an Italian book, reading feverishly.

Riku sat at his computer desk, boredly flipping through an Italian website. Lord, these things were boring. They were more diverse in English. But Sora was in the room. Riku mentally groaned and slumped back in his chair.

"I don't get this," Sora complained as he tapped the pages. "I'd rather be doing something else. Riku? Uh…" Sora gestured for Riku to sit beside him, not knowing if Riku knew the term in English or not. Obediently, Riku got up from the chair and marched over to the brunet, sitting beside him.

"You've been here for almost a month now… wow… it's gone by so fast, and yet it feels like I've known you forever," Sora mumbled under his breath and then lifted his gaze, smiling at Riku. "You are a great friend," he said slowly, beaming at the silveret with a sincere smile that only he could possess.

"So are you," Riku answered.

"I wish I could talk to you more freely," Sora muttered to himself, leaning his back against the headboard. The brunet was, regretfully, getting tired of playing word games and pictonary with his new best friend to figure out what they were trying to tell one another. Now only if Riku spoke fluent English. It'd be so much easier… so much better.

Riku stared at Sora for a long while. /God, he's so fucking beautiful. Why doesn't he understand that I really like him? My god! How obvious can I be?.../ Riku, to prove his point, reached out and gently began to play with the ends of Sora's hair.

Sora flushed a dark red. "R-riku…no," Sora mumbled embarrassedly, swatting his friend's hand away with a growing red color in his cheeks. "…Don't do those sort of things if you don't know what they mean in America…"

Riku frowned. Relentlessly, the silveret hooked his arm around Sora's shoulders, as if to bring comfort to the tense brunet. It worked…partly. "I really like you," Riku said in Italian, hoping that Sora would pick up on the phrase.

He didn't. "Huh?..."

"You," Riku pointed at Sora. "…I…" He pointed at himself.

"Yeah, we're best friends," Sora stated slowly with a bright smile, though the blush was still there.

Riku shook his head and tapped his head, trying to think of a plausible way to express what he wanted to. Riku proceeded to point at himself, then Sora, then his chest. Sora blinked in confusion.


Sora wasn't getting this at all.

Riku groaned, a bit frustrated. Riku furiously drew a heart in the air and then jabbed his finger in Sora's direction. "Love," he said in Italian, wishing that Sora knew that word. "Love." And of all the simple words in Italian for Sora to not know, that just had to be one of them. God, Sora!

"…You like Naminé again?"

That was a no.

"You… like another girl and want me to help you go out with her?"

A fierce no.


Riku stiffened. /Oh god I can't handle this any longer. I just can't! I-/ "No, Sora! No!" he said with the lack of his accent. "No, I don't like Namine again. No, I don't like any other girls. In fact, I don't like girls in general. I find them to be unappealing. I like guys," he deadpanned in a raised voice. "And I'm trying to explain to you that I think I'm falling for you and you're too dense and … I don't know! And I want nothing more than to kiss you and argh! And I—" Riku blinked. /Oh fuck. That wasn't in Italian./

Sora's eyes widened in shock and befuddlement. Riku swallowed hard and beckoned Sora to respond. Slowly, Sora said, "Oh my god… I can speak fluent Italian…"

Riku tensed and shook his head. "No, you moron! You can't speak fluent Italian. Your Italian sucks, actually, no offense. But..argh! You know what?" Riku said and placed his hands squarely on the flustered brunet's shoulders. "This is what," Riku muttered and yanked Sora closer to him.

Sora squeaked as their lips met. It was odd…Riku hadn't expected Sora's lips to be so soft. So…soft, like a petal or something. At once, the silveret relaxed as his muscles loosened from their tense state. Aquamarine hues slid shut along with blue. Riku's tight grip on Sora's shoulders soon after loosened as well, making it so that his arms could more so loop around Sora's torso, holding the brunet close.

Sora sighed peacefully against Riku's lips, his breath hitching. The brunet simultaneously leaned closer as he returned Riku's tender kiss, rolling his lips back against Riku's ( loving the wet feeling that sent shivers down his spine), as Riku pressed closer. Their foreheads bumped and Sora quickly recoiled, licking his lips in the process.

"R-i…k-ku?" Sora stammered and stared perplexedly at his friend.

Riku blanched. Right. English. "Uh…s-surpise?" Riku said an cleared his throat, sheepishly scratching the back of his neck.

"Since when could you speak English?" Sora demanded as he leaned closer, inspecting Riku as if he were another person all of a sudden.

"F-funny story about that," Riku chuckled and then sighed. "Acually, you know, it's not that funny. It was actually really stupid… I thought it'd be fun. God… Why the fuck did I even think that in the first place? Not being able to talk freely with you and everyone was torture. And it still is…" Riku confessed and lowered his gaze before blinking in realization.

"Sora, you can't tell anyone," Riku begged, his hands planting themselves again on Sora's shoulders.

"Y-you… why didn't you… argh, Riku! You made this so hard!" Sora complained with a pout as he stared at the silveret in confusion. "You could have told me from the start! I would… have gone along with it. We could have talked! We could have been better friends… we could have…erm… well y-you know…" Sora trailed off.

"Kissed sooner?" Riku guessed as his hand abandoned its post on Sora's shoulder and fled up into the soft brown locks. "I'm really sorry for not telling you, Sora. I just couldn't go back on what I had started, you know? And you really fascinated me, and I figured if you didn't think I understood you…you'd open up more. It'd be like talking to a diary or something."

Sora nodded. "I suppose…" Pause. "Hey, wait… if you don't like girls, Mr. I-Can't-Speak-English, then why'd you date Namine?"

Riku blanched, again. "…My mom didn't want me to date guys," Riku admitted with a sheepish shrug. "So I figured if I dated a girl for awhile people would think I was straight and wouldn't hurt me or something like that. And then… and then I met you and god. How could I not want to date you?"

Sora blushed. "I… I'm nothing…special," Sora stammered as he began toying with the bed sheets. "Y-you said it yourself, I can barely speak Italian… that says a lot."

"I can privately tutor you know, you know," Riku commented as he poked Sora's nose with the hand that wasn't in Sora's hair. "Now that we both have a common language, that is," Riku chuckled.

"S-so…you really…do like me?" Sora squeaked and stared nervously at Riku.

"Afraid so," Riku concurred, his gaze softening at the brunet.

"O-oh…then I suppose…I can keep your secret," Sora went on to say, the blush growing as he poked the bedhseets beneath them. "That is… for a price."

"What? Doing your Italian homework?" Riku guessed lamely, chuckling as he continued stroking Sora's hair.

"K-kiss me again?" Sora whispered shyly.

Riku blinked in sheer surprise. "Gladly."

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

"It's like they're speaking their own language or something!" Selphie barked as Riku and Sora passed by, chattering in something that was a mixture between Italian and English, no doubt.

"I know!" Kairi complained as she watched the pair of beautiful boys walk down the hall. "It's like… they suddenly can talk to each other!"

"I bet they're faking it," Selphie sneered as she folded her arms to her chest. "I mean, Riku does all of Sora's homework and Sora does all of Riku's. It's kind of funny. And sick. And, I don't know. It's weird. They're weird."

"But they're our friends," Kairi concluded as she eyed the pair as the bell sounded. Selphie scurried off and the people in the hallways dispersed. Kairi lingered, curiously staring at Riku and Sora who were alone in the hallway, making no effort to move away from one another.

When she noticed Riku's hand in Sora's backpocket and his lips tightly pressed against Sora's, she knew at once what was happening.

They were speaking the language of love.