All characters mentioned in this story belong to Square Enix and/or Disney. This fan fiction is a fanwork and is written for non-profit entertainment purposes.
The sun had stopped just at the edge of summer. The green of the grass and trees were blindingly bright, and the sweet scent of greenery at the peak of their growth made one's heart throb with premonitory excitement. Light spring breeze carried faint fragrance of spring, and faded away. Poplar trees stretched their arms towards the boundless sky with all their might. Mingled with the love songs that birds chirped, children's laughter and shouts also threatened to reach the sky.
"What do you want to play?"
"I don't know; What do you want to play?"
"Sora, any ideas?"
The child addressed as Sora turned to the speaker, his piercing blue eyes automatically training on him. Messy mob of chestnut-colored hair threatened to spill into the solemn eyes that reflected the sky above. However, smile quickly lit up his rounded, babyish face, changing his eyes into sparkling shades of water.
"Let's play dodgeball!"
High-pitched cries of assent greeted this suggestion, and the children quickly started to split into two teams.
"No fair! You guys have one more person," a child pointed out, his normally warm brown eyes darkening slightly.
"Your team has Wakka, so isn't it fair, Tidus?" Sora asked. Tidus shook his head stubbornly.
"You guys have Selphie, though."
Seeing the justice of this protest, Sora turned to survey the playground. Not all children were playing dodgeball. For the most part, girls were amusing themselves with other activities, and some boys opted to play with cards, toys, or game systems. Sora's eyes rested on a boy sitting under an oak tree, and a smile lit up his briefly troubled eyes once more.
"Hold on, I'll get someone else for your team, then."
With that Sora turned and ran towards the inert figure. Hearing Sora approach, the boy turned his head slightly to look at him. For such a small boy, his clean face was amazingly expressionless. His greenish-blue eyes tilted upwards slightly, giving him a sharp look in spite of his silken white hair that fell softly across his eyes.
"Riku, right? Do you want to play dodgeball with us?" Sora asked. The excitement seeped from his voice. Clearly, from his tone one could infer that to Sora, playing dodge ball was an ultimate pastime that no one could refuse.
Except maybe the child called Riku.
"It's okay if you're not good," Sora said, sudden understanding flashing across his mind. "Come on, it'll be fun! Let's play together, Riku!"
"I don't want to."
With that Riku turned his head away. Clearly the interview was over. Sora was too young to know how to counter this kind of response, so he was only able to say, in a weak voice, "Oh, okay… Then."
Sora started to walk back towards his waiting friends, but he turned and said, "You can come and play with us anytime if you change your mind."
"Change my mind. I won't change my mind."
A smirk accompanied the last remark. Sora stared at Riku, who steadily stared back at him. Clear ocean-colored eyes crashed into depthless river-colored eyes briefly before Sora suddenly felt as if Riku had mocked him. His face flushed, causing slight smile lingering at the corners of Riku's mouth to widen.
"Oh. Um, okay."
Sora turned once again and ran back to the small group waiting to play. As soon as Sora reached within a hearing range, complaints erupted.
"Why'd you ask him?"
"Even though he just moved, he doesn't want to be friends with us at all! Last time I asked him if he wanted to share my book and he didn't even answer me!"
"He's a meanie!"
"Ah..." Sora's slightly clouded eyes looked serious. "I thought it'll be nice to be friends with him…"
"Forget that jerk. Firion said he wants to play tag and left, so our numbers are even. Let's just play," Tidus cheerfully said. Sora nodded, and then turned to glance at Riku one more time. Riku was staring at the sky. The sun's thin rays highlighted the high cheekbones and neat profile, dying his hair silver and his skin ivory-white.
"I think he'll be really nice once you get to know him…"
The conversation turned into an unexpected direction rather suddenly.
"You know, Riku?"
Selphie looked around the classroom to make sure the subject of their conversation could not overhear, and then leaned towards them, changing her voice to a conspiring whisper.
"Don't you think he's a bit weird?"
"Weird?" Sora asked. His big, round eyes became rounder, and Tidus messed up his hair affectionately.
"'Cause. Even when you talk to him, he doesn't really pay attention. It's like… He's staring right past you."
"Maybe he's looking at that ghost that's hanging behind your back."
"Wakka! Stop that!" Selphie yelled, looking scared. Sora, Tidus and Wakka burst into laughter. Selphie's cheeks puffed up into a pout, making her resemble a chipmunk.
"It's true what Selphie's saying, though," Tidus said, handing Sora one of his cookies. Sora, who had already finished off all his snacks and was eyeing his friends' food with hungry eyes, happily stuffed the cookie into his mouth. "He's like, totally spaced out. Even when Mr. Wolfe asks him a question, he doesn't know what Mr. Wolfe just taught us."
"It's not like he doesn't know the answers, though," Sora said, reaching for Selphie's cookie. She swatted his hand away. "He knows the alphabet, adding stuff, everything. I think he already knows how to read."
"Still, he's a total space case."
Sora attacked Wakka's cookie and this time, he was met with more success. Just as Sora polished off his apple juice, the bell chimed and the subject of their discussion walked into their classroom.
"I have to return to my class. Bye guys," Wakka said, gathering up the remains of his lunch. As he stood up, Sora, Tidus and Selphie chirruped their good-byes.
"Did you enjoy your lunch, Riku?" Sora, who still haven't given up on being friends with Riku, turned and asked brightly. Selphie nudged him at his side and Sora nudged her back. Riku looked startled, but his face quickly resumed its normal stoic look.
"What's it to you?"
"Oh… Er… Well, you just left as soon as lunch started, so I was wondering if you ate at all," Sora explained, flushing slightly. "You can have my apple if you want."
"No thanks. Why would I want your leftovers?"
Amusement danced across Riku's eyes, which shone brightly as he looked at Sora, who was nearly crying by now.
"It's not leftover… I like apple!" Sora protested, to which Riku simply replied, "You eat it, then," before he returned to his seat. Sora scowled and muttered about how Riku hates only him before he realized that his other two friends were staring at him.
"He was actually looking at you," Selphie said, opening her big eyes still wider. "I mean, he was being a jerk and all that, but still."
"Maybe he does especially hate Sora," Tidus cheerfully added, making Sora's scowl deepen. Sora shoved the apple into his book bag as the second bell chimed and their teacher came into their room. As he pulled out his textbook, Sora was started to see something small and green fluttering to the floor. He bent down and picked it up.
It was a young leaf, still small and shaped perfectly. It was a bright yellow-green in color, with its edges just starting to deepen in darker green. Sora would have thought the leaf had gotten stuck in his book accidentally, except this one was neatly pressed and dried. Clearly, someone had preserved it and had stuck it inside of Sora's book.
'It's pretty,' Sora decided. He put the leaf back inside the back of the book so that he could put it away on his desk drawer when he got home. Among the contents of his desk drawer, there were already lots of treasures—-clear blue marble with green stripes, a shiny munny coin made the year he was born, a gil coin that Mr. Wolfe had given to Sora for being extra good.
Sora opened the book to the page that they were on and promptly forgot about the leaf.
The next day, Sora found another leaf after kindergarten was over. This one was bright scarlet, which probably meant the sender had been keeping this leaf since last fall. Puzzled frown creasing his forehead, Sora picked up the leaf and turned it this way and that. The clear red color caught Selphie's eye. She skipped over to where Sora was.
"What's that, Sora?"
"I don't know," Sora replied, placing the leaf on Selphie's out-stretched hand. Selphie examined the leaf while Sora started to pack up to go home.
"This is friendship leaf," Selphie said, handing the leaf back to Sora. Sora stuck the leaf inside his book and turned a questioning glance towards his friend. Selphie elaborated, "Sending this leaf means that you want to be friends with someone. Whoever gave you this leaf wants to be friends with you."
"Why don't they just come and tell me so?" Sora asked. Selphie shrugged.
"Maybe she's too shy. Also, they say if you give a hundred of these leaves to someone, you will automatically become friends."
"That'll be nice," Sora said. He stuffed the book into his bookbag and looked at Riku, who was just leaving the room. "You think this is from a girl?"
"Probably. Don't you think so, too?"
It'll be nice if this was from him, Sora thought to himself. I want to be friends with him.
It had been a week since Sora had started to receive the so-called "friendship leaves". Every day Sora found a leaf stuck inside his book. Try as he might, he never caught the culprit, even though he even stayed inside during the recess on Friday. On Monday, before heading to his school, Sora placed all five leaves in front of him. On top of the desk, they looked like five little stars. They were of various sizes and coloring, but they were all equally preserved with much caring so that they retained their perfect shapes and vibrant colors.
"I'm sorry, whoever you are," Sora softly said, fingering the beautiful leaves. "But I am also going to be brave like you are, and try to be friends with him."
Picking up a leaf, Sora placed it inside a tiny envelope and carefully placed it inside his book.
"Sora! Let's go!"
"Coming, Selphie, Tidus!" Sora yelled back as he hurriedly slung his bookbag over his shoulders.
Another week had passed. Sora had diligently placed the envelopes containing "friendship leaf" in Riku's bookbag. The mysterious friend-to-be had also continuously placed leaves in Sora's book. Even though Sora felt a bit guilty, he placed those leaves inside small envelopes and left them for Riku.
'I wonder if these work at all,' Sora wondered as he fingered the envelope that contained the leaf. 'I don't think Riku and I are friends yet... And I didn't get any new friends, so I don't think the other person's leaves are working yet either.'
Resigning himself to the fate of leaving 100 leaves in Riku's bookbag, Sora stood up. The classroom was nearly empty and Riku had left to the closet room to wear his coat, so now was the best time to slip the envelope in Riku's bookbag while heading out to the coat rack himself.
After taking a quick glance around the room, Sora reassured himself that everyone else was too busy talking to each other or getting ready to leave. He stuck his hand inside the front pocket in Riku's bookbag and paused. He felt something.
'What... is this thing?'
Dry, small, and smooth... It felt familiar. After taking another look around the classroom, Sora pulled the entity out and his eyes widened.
Red, yellow, green, and brown of all shades. They were of all shapes and sizes, but they all looked like little stars in his hands.
'Are these... What I have given him? Did he collect them?'
But no, Sora was fairly sure he never had leaves that looked like this.
And anyway, right underneath the leaves, Sora saw envelopes that he had given Riku, all neatly tucked away.
'But that means... Riku...'
Sora whipped around, the leaves tightly clutched in his hands. Riku looked as startled as Sora felt. Riku's blue eyes took on a greenish tint like a cat as he gazed at Sora, then his eyes caught the bright scarlet in Sora's hands and his eyes widened.
Bright red suddenly flooded Riku's cheeks. Sora was amazed. He thought he would never see Riku looking like this, yet...
Brief silence settled in the room. Far in the distance, Sora was able to hear the children screaming and laughing as they headed home, but in the classroom, only his own and Riku's breathing filled the enclosed space. In the light of the late afternoon Sun, Sora was able to see the dust particles dancing around before they disappeared from the view. He felt his own cheeks heating up.
"Let's be friends!"
Sora's voice overlapped Riku's slightly huskier voice. Riku's eyes, which were fiercely glaring at the leaves clutched in Sora's hands, met Sora's eyes and they both burst out laughing.
"Tidus and others must be getting really mad by now. Let's go home together?" Sora asked, holding out his hand.
Riku's eyes gazed straight towards his own as Riku gave a small nod, smile tugging at his lips.
The hand that held his own felt warm, like the blue color of the sky painted outside the window.
[ END ]
Thank you for reading. :)