A/N: I have discovered the most zen phrase in the world. I don't care what your problems are, just say this and everything falls into persective, ready? "Ex-president Bush." Whoosh. And everything's okay. "Ex-president Bush. Ex-president Bush." See? Calm. Happy. Ex-president Bush. Zen.
Obligatory Disclaimer: I own as many copyrights to Kingdom Hearts as I do working moral compasses.
Riku Tepes was probably not human.
At least, that was the conclusion almost everybody drew from him after initial introductions.
The thing about Riku Tepes, see, was that nobody wanted to be his friend, but everybody wanted his approval, the way cats always act more affectionate around people that clearly don't like them. And Riku Tepes didn't like anybody. It wasn't that he said anything mean or rolled his eyes, but every time somebody sat down next to him, he fixed them with this
His eyes were an unusual color, but that was to be expected, anyways. Blue-green wasn't really unusual on his particular archipelago, and that wasn't what struck the people who looked at them, really. Anybody can have teal eyes, but it took a special person to wear them the way Riku wore his eyes, like they were weapons, like he didn't need x-ray vision to see right through you. And he always saw right goddamn through you, too. A person could walk away from Riku Tepes feeling like their soul'd just been strip-searched.
The thing about Riku Tepes, see, was that when you shouted something at him like "Hold up, wait, let me explain, it wasn't like that!" he'd pause, turn around, and look at you expectantly, waiting for you to talk. He never reacted the way a person was supposed to, the way a guy who's just walked in on his girlfriend fooling around with come random guy isn't supposed to hold up and let her explain herself to him because really, she didn't have anything to say. He's supposed to walk off in a huff and ignore any pleas to wait up.
People sought his approval, though, in spite of or because of it, because he made it so obvious he didn't need or care about anyone.
Everyone harbored that secret fantasy that they'd catch the attention of the guy with the soul-stripping eyes, because it was so very nearly a high school cliche come true, that the secretive pretty boy was secretly pining after you and secretly writing poetry for you or secretly composing love songs for you, and the day you two got together the whole school would be in an uproar and everything and -
The thing about acting like you don't care either way about anybody is that, usually, the only reason a person might do it is because he doesn't care either way about anybody and likes it that way.
That's what everybody told Sora when he transferred to their high school.
They said things like "Seriously, don't bother with Riku. I know that's what people usually say and then it turns out the loner's a really nice guy and everything, but we already had the resident cheerful dude try the whole 'just talk and see if he opens up' bit. He just glared at Zack and went back to listening to his iPod or whatever. Guy is such a prick."
But when someone claims that a door they've just tried is locked, their comrades can never help but say "Really?" and try the door themselves, just to see if it's really locked, even if it always is.
In this same vein of mind, Sora sat down next to Riku Tepes and grinned, kicking his backpack under his desk.
Riku didn't look up, or flinch, or start to purposefully ignore Sora. He just took down some notes on the board and listened to the teacher.
"So hey," Sora said to him casually.
Riku pulled a bit of whitish hair behind his ear, and began to doodle something in the margin of his notebook. It looked like he was organizing his homework for the day.
"You're Riku, right? Man, I'm so bad at names it's not even funny, but apparently we're the only two white dudes in the school with Japanese names."
If Sora thought this shared trait gave him an edge, he was sorely mistaken.
Riku glanced up at him briefly, the way he might look up to see what just fell after hearing a quiet crash in the room, just to take stock of the noise and its lack of importance.
He saw a boy with a haystack of brown spikes for hair, and eyes a color he'd never seen before. Blue-green wasn't uncommon on the Destiny Islands, but eyes the color the sky should be...no, Riku hadn't seen those before.
After meeting Riku Tepes a person could assume he was the one with the problem. He seemed to just dislike people on principle, just because they had bothered to talk to him, just because they were there. A person could assume he made a habit of not liking anybody at all. Which wasn't true, really, at all. But Riku didn't believe in just talking to people because they were there, either. If he didn't find you interesting enough to talk to, he'd glare you away as easily as most people would say hello.
Riku just had standards, was all. He didn't have more standards than any other person would have about friendships, but they were in very different places.
"I'm Riku," he said in affirmation to Sora's probably-rhetorical question.
Sora grinned and nodded. From the way he was sitting on his chair, angled slightly towards Riku to talk to him, Riku could see that he was wearing a zip-up hoodie with some sort of complex picture on it and that his pants were well-loved.
He looked at the picture with mild curiosity, because it didn't appear to be a generic logo. He saw on one of the white sleeves what might have been the brand of the company: an acrobat of some sort, dressed entirely in red and yellow stripes - including his skin - with hair like vertical squid tentacles. The brand was grinning with his arms crossed, and underneath him it read "Démon de rêve," in curly, old-fashioned script.
Riku frowned. The actual picture on the shirt was a drawing of what might happen if you bred an elephant with a boar, a great surly beast, ridden by a faceless man with spiky red hair and tatoos underneath the spaces where his eyes would have been.
"So are you actually part Japanese, or did your parents just name you that?" Riku met Sora's eyes again, now mildly more curious.
Riku took high school French, and anyone who bought clothing from a company called "Dream Demon" was Interesting Until Proven Normal.
But, in his mind, there was a fine line between acceptable curiosity and asking questions for the sake of asking questions, and Sora was walking on it.
"My mother is Japanese," he said, sounding clipped.
"Really? Cool. My grandfather on my mom's side was Japanese, but I don't really look it." He looked down at himself, his white and curious sweatshirt and all, and smiled. He looked back up at Riku. "I don't really look anything at all, huh?"
He didn't pretend not to hear him, but Riku didn't respond, quickly growing tired of this new possibility. He looked at the hoodie one last time, regaling it to the corner of his mind where he'd ask questions he didn't really care for the answers to, and turned back to his notes. He looked up to the latest slide on the overhead.
"You wanna know what it is?"
Not entirely surprised, Riku slid his gaze over to Sora disdainfully, preparing to frighten him off with a glare if necessary. Riku hated people who didn't know when they were being ignored.
That was one kind of person he hated.
"My sweatshirt, I mean," Sora explained, gesturing to it. "It's from Démon de rêve, which is a pretty obscure clothing company, even in France." Riku gathered from Sora's perfect accent and his proceeding comment that he must have come from there before moving. Riku hadn't ever met a person from France before.
He found it didn't affect him too much, really.
"Do you wanna know?"
Riku stared at him, but he didn't turn his glare on full-power. It was a disinterested gaze. If Sora wasn't smart enough to pick up on the fact that it was as close to a yes as he was going to get, being so far teetering on the edge of talking for talking, he wasn't worth listening to.
Sora smiled. "The guy is riding on a Bob."
Riku's little glimmer of hope that maybe this person, at least, would be interesting, would have things to say, would have his head so far in the clouds he'd duck airplanes, died. 'Bob' was the name people gave things when they wanted to give something a funny name, the way people thought saying "I like cheese" was being random.
Riku also hated people like that.
"A Bob," he said, his voice completely flat. He started to turn away.
"Yeah. You know, all capital letters. It's an acronym. B-O-B," Sora smiled at him. "Beast Of Burden!" he said, punctuating the air with an index finger for each word.
Riku had turned back to his notebook and jotted down another bullet point, but he looked back up at Sora. For once, his eyes were just there. "Beast Of Burden?" he asked quietly.
"We-ell, I don't technically know that, because they never explain their designs, tu sais, très équivoque - hey, how do you say that in English? Is there a word for..." he trailed off quite abruptly, staring at a space about three inches to the left of Riku's nose. Sora shook his head, as if clearing it, and dove into his backpack for something, giving Riku a good look at the expanse of his back. This side of the sweatshirt was mostly plain, with the exception of a drawing of a chain, from which hung a pendant like a heart tacked onto the bottom of a cross that he thought he almost recognized.
Sora came back up with a notebook, frayed beyond recognition at the edges and half of the pages halfway ripped out along the perforations. It was bright green, and the cover said, in sloppy sharpie, "Le Dictionnaire français-anglais de Sora."
He looked up momentarily, notebook still open to a page filled with the sloppy, disjointed, half-cursive chicken scratch that Riku thought belonged to people unused to holding pencils. "Hey," Sora said, and Riku found himself staring at BOB-boy with an impassive stare, "uh, is there a word in English that means...something...that's kind of vague, that could have, you know, more than one meaning? Uh, I guess that's kind of hard to answer- "
Sora blinked at him, as if questioning if he'd just been interrupted. As if questioning whether or not Riku had actually just bothered to offer up information for a question that he could have easily dropped with a slightly angrier stare. "Yeah! That sounds about right. A - am - I can never pronounce words like that. Keeps me from sounding like a native."
Riku didn't ask why Sora knew casual English slang like 'yeah', 'you know', 'wanna', and didn't know words like 'ambiguous'. Riku didn't really care all that much, because Sora was still talking.
"Ahmbugwuss...aw, that's not right. Ahm-boog-ewe-"
He rolled his eyes fiercely, leaning back in his chair and motioning for Sora to stop. "It's like..." he thought for a moment. "Am - big - you - us. Just those four words."
Sora screwed up his nose for a moment before trying. "Am...big...you...us. Am-big-you-us. Ambiguous. Was that right?"
"How do you spell it?"
Riku shook his head, grabbed Sora's notebook, and wrote it down for him it his neat, narrow handwriting.
At this point, however, the teacher had long caught their conversation. He'd been holding back yelling at them because Riku never even talked this much to anyone, and Sora was new, and all his teachers had been informed of the unfortunate circumstances under which he'd moved to the Destiny Islands. But it was getting out of hand, and the tacit, white-haired one was the first to notice the warning glare he sent them.
Riku looked at Sora with a sort of finishing glare, and Sora just mouthed 'thanks' and put his notebook away.
Sora didn't say anything to anybody for the rest of class.
In fact, Sora started to take down some notes, looking quite satisfied with the silence.
So Riku forgot about him, because a French kid with weird clothing didn't interest him all too much, and he looked at the other people in the classroom.
A person could have pointed out any given one and Riku could remember some time over the last three-or-whatever years that they'd approached him with some dumb question, or offered him a friendly smile in advisory, or sat next to him on the bus and tried to start a conversation. Maybe not that one group of nerds, over there, whispering to each other about the lesson. They'd always seemed content to learn. Riku wondered why nobody else saw the wisdom in that - it was halfway through junior year, they had a year and a half before the mass diaspora at the end of senior, the spread across the country and out of it to college, and even if you exchanged emails or phone numbers or what-ever, everyone knew you wouldn't really keep in touch. Parents always mentioned friends from college, that they'd met each other in college, that they'd been offered jobs in college, not high school.
Everyone kept acting like these years were going to last forever, and that they should still be making friends.
What a Goddamn lonely person Riku Tepes was. He didn't even really have a right to be.
Riku looked at his biology teacher and nearly sneered. Dr. Zexion - that's what he made everyone call him, and nobody actually knew if it was his first name or his last name - was another kind of person that Riku hated. The kind that tried way too hard to be intellectual.
He'd say things like "Please regard the three-hundred-twenty-first page of your textbook whilst I write down the day's homework on the white board." There was no reason for him to talk like that, and it didn't make him sound smarter, not at all. Anybody could arrange their words to sound pretentious, but he didn't even sound like that, he sounded like he was trying to be pretentious without having a feel for how intellectual people spoke. A real intellectual let you know it without having to try, or use big words, it was just a feel you got from some people that you might not be expecting to - that was one of the things Riku looked for in a person. Dr. Zexion didn't have it. He was smart, but he wasn't smart. He couldn't answer any questions that hadn't already been answered by someone else a long, long time ago.
Riku hated people like that.
He hated it even more that he did things like that sometimes.
But then the bell was ringing and everyone was leaving the classroom and shouting at each other about what period was next and who had what lunch and notebooks were being shoved into backpacks were being zipped and flung on shoulders were shrugging and leaving Riku and Sora in the room.
Sora looked mildly dazed, and Riku just figured that wasn't his problem, putting away his own things and heading for the hallway, then the stairs.
He stopped, wincing inwardly. Oh, Sora, you were so close to making it past the first round, of not getting eliminated from the white-haired wonder's radar, and now he was going to ask if they could eat lunch together, wasn't he.
"Well, it's just," he said, jogging up to stand next to him. "I used to go to this tiny high school and you had like - well, it wasn't this big," he said, hastily cutting his story short after a warning glare from Riku, "And right now I'm three kinds of confused about how to get around here. So, um, how do I get to the lunchroom from here?"
Riku sighed. "Um, just go..." he thought the directions out in his head. 'Down the stairs, go to the third hall from the right, past the front doors, down another hall and take your second left then follow that hallway up the ramp and take a right and take the set of double doors on the right.'
"Just...follow me," he said, with no little resentment tinging his offer. "I'm going there too."
"'Kay," Sora smiled at him like he'd just done him a huge favor. Riku just rolled his eyes and clopped down the stairs, with his new French parasite in tow.
The rest of the whole day was like that, too, of Sora sometimes asking two or three needless questions and falling completely silent, almost thoughtfully, just enough to keep being interesting to him.
And then he'd throw Riku these curveballs of imagination that made no sense, and weren't genius or terribly observational. Sora didn't have anything hideously introspective to say, which was good; to Riku - knowing that in all likelihood, when you're seventeen, you're only rediscovering all the old depressing things about humanity - you shouldn't say anything sage unless you'd thought about it.
But at the end of school, there was this period of time when the buses were dropping off the middle school students, so everyone had about forty minutes to waste talking to teachers or each other or going to clubs. Riku just sat on the wall and waited the forty minutes for the his bus to come. He hated those useless forty minutes, and how his bus never showed up less than fifteen minutes after it was meant to. He hated how peoples' parents would pull up in the places reserved for the buses to pick up their precious little bumpkins a few minutes early, and then drove off immediately. But he'd started off listening to his mp3 player, and then -
"Hey, Riku? Does it rain often in the summer?"
"Hey, Riku? Are our schedules the same all year round?"
"Hey, Riku? Is there a word for fée in English? I thought it was fairy, but apparently that means a homosexual person?"
Another kind of person Riku hated were the people who couldn't tell that you were listening to your iPod and not only couldn't hear them, but didn't want to.
Riku just gritted his teeth, fighting back some sort of primeval growl of the Antisocial Pretty Boy, and pulled one earbud out.
"Fairy is just slang for a gay guy. The stereotype is that gay men all act like teenage girls or fashion divas or something, so..." With that second sentence, Riku calculated, he had officially broken his record for things said to one person, outside his family, in a day. Sora didn't know it, but if he had, he might have taken a little pride in the fact.
"Oh. I see." Sora screwed up his nose again. "That's silly." He stood up then, standing on the big brick wall that surrounded the school in the front, even though it was only about three and a half feet tall and didn't even go all the way around the front. He started to walk down it, towards Riku, who was leaning up against it looking disinterested again. Sora spread his arms out to the side, not like he was balancing, but like he expected wings to just grow out from his shoulders.
"Do you know what, Riku Tepes?"
Riku didn't say anything, but stared at him without anger.
"Tomorrow, I think I'll fly to school instead of walking."
It was things like that. How he'd just say things like that, completely deadpan with that tiny, unnoticeable almost-accent of someone who grew up speaking two languages and mostly using the other one, that always knocked Riku out. He found himself smirking a little, and he didn't try to hide it. He was getting stared at so honestly by those eyes-the-color-the-sky-oughtta-be, and Riku thought, maybe this one'll really do it.
He didn't say that, but instead he asked Sora, "Yeah? You'll fly, huh?"
If Sora noticed how Riku'd finally said something with being asked a question, he didn't show it.
"Yup! Icarus did it, and let's face it, quelle nouille! So it should be a snap for me if I don't fly next to the sun."
Riku frowned, and looked at Sora with a little apprehension. " 'What a noodle'?" he asked dubiously.
"Yup," came the reply, and Sora looked content to leave it at that. "Hey Riku, wanna fly to school with me?"
He laughed and shook his head, not in a 'what a moron' way, but in a 'I haven't laughed in too long' way. "Fly to school...with you."
"Yeah, just drop by my house around seven fifteen," he grinned. Another car pulled up, one that looked vaguely like one of those smart-car things, or maybe just a hybrid - Riku never had known much about cars.
"I don't know," Riku said, smiling a little. "I've never been much of one for flying. Maybe I'll float to school and meet you there, Sora."
Sora jumped a little at hearing his name, his name called out in that low voice that seemed unused to social interaction, and couldn't help but feel a little happy. He started humming a tuneless tune for a couple seconds, before, "Oh! My ride's here! Glad she works her own hours."
Riku frowned, looking at the tiny hybrid-thing with slightly tinted windows, which appeared to be the only car in the lot that hadn't already picked up its cargo.
He could see a woman inside with hair of some light-ish shade, could have been anything from blonde to red to tan, and she was talking with someone on a cellphone. She looked upset about something. But then she glanced up and, seeing Sora, offered him a watery grin, waving him over. Sora waved back at her.
"See you tomorrow, then, 'kay Riku?" he laughed. "Maybe I'll land on the roof."
He jogged over to the car and got in, and he left Riku leaning up against the wall, one earbud dangling by his side and the other one blasting too loud in his other ear, tallying up the pros and cons of the ambiguous French kid with eyes the color the sky oughtta be.
Riku also kinda hated people who got picked up by their parents earlier than the buses.
At least, he thought he did.
A/N: Everyone knows what an overhead is, right? I hope that isn't/wasn't just a cultural thing in my area or something.
I feel like it's fair to warn: if I do continue this story, it may or may not turn vaguely shounen-ai (literally translated as 'boy love' in case nobody knows that), because I want to see if I can, really, and let's face, it there have never been more likely candidates for it than these guys.
You know, originally I made this story's Sora German, then Spanish, and finally settled on French. I figured he looks more French than he does German or Spanish, and he's obviously not Japanese (sorry). Plus I've never seen French!Sora in fanfic. It amuses me. As such, I now know how to say 'Dream Demon' in like four languages counting English. Um. If you have any questions ask and please don't kill me if I butchered any characters this is just an intro?
Also: you know how when you post a story it lets you pick two characters who are the focus of the story? Okay, I am sorely tempted to just write a story that somehow has the two main characters be 'Anti-Sora' and 'Riku Replica'. Seriously. They're options. THAT WOULD PROBABLY BE THE MOST CRACK PAIRING EVER. NOT THAT I WOULD PAIR THEM TOGETHER, but seriously. It would be. So funny. And awkward.
"Hey, so I'm a clone."
"I'm an antithesis."
"Let's be friends!"
"What? Aren't you blind?"