Sora was already well into his tuna salad sandwich when Riku walked into the cafeteria. As usual, several pairs of eyes followed his progress from the door to the lunch line. Riku never had to wait long, someone always let him cut, and he was usually in and out of line before most people had even decided what they wanted to eat. Today was no exception. One moment Riku was in line, the next he was heading over to where Sora was seated next to Tidus and Wakka.

Sora had met them in junior high school, and they were the only other students he really considered his friends, besides Riku. Tidus was playful to the extreme, never letting a little thing like good taste prevent him from saying what was on his mind, and laughing at whatever amused him, which was namely, everything. Wakka, on the other hand, was surprisingly laid-back despite his colorful appearance, and had an annoying habit of knowing other people’s true motivations before they had even realized it themselves.

Sure enough, it was Wakka who first picked up on Riku’s foul mood. “Hey Riku, man. Something the matter, ya?”

Never one to let an opportunity go to waste, Tidus also expressed his concern with Riku’s sour disposition. “Yeah, what’s with that face? You look like somebody just took your ass without giving you a reach-around.” he chirped.

Riku gave the blonde a dirty look, and slid into his seat. “I don’t want to talk about it.” he said simply, starting on his chicken pot pie.

“Hey,” said Wakka, changing the subject. “You guys had Miss Hall for first period, right? What do you think of her replacement? I had him for third period, and he barely said ten words. Kinda rude, ya?”

Sora considered for a moment before answering. “Well… I can’t tell just yet. He doesn‘t seem mean at all. He just seems reserved.” Maybe after this week, I’ll change my mind.

Tidus nodded enthusiastically. “Anyone who hasn’t sent me to the principal’s office yet, is A-okay in my book.”

“We all know it’s just a matter of time before that happens.” replied Wakka. “You practically go to that office like it’s one of your classes. I swear you’re getting a grade for it, ya.”

Tidus sniffed. “I can’t help it if not everyone appreciates my unique sense of humor.” He turned to Riku, who was ruthlessly digging at his food as though it had offended him in some way. “And what do you think of Leonhart?”

“I hate him already.” announced Riku, between bites. “But I’d still fuck him.”

Tidus snorted. “Like that’s news. Tell me when you find someone that you wouldn’t molest.”

“Well, I wouldn’t touch you, not even with someone else’s hands, Goldilocks.” Riku retorted. “Especially not since you’ve started getting fat in the face. Pretty soon you’re going to be looking like the Kool-Aid man.”

“Oh yeah!” cried Tidus, in perfect imitation of the fictional character.

Sora burst into laughter, nearly choking on his food.

Riku immediately looked up in alarm, and Sora lifted a hand to signify that he was okay. Only when he resumed eating did Riku visibly relax. “Good God Sora, don’t scare me like that.”

“Oh please Sora, don’t scare any of us like that.” mocked Tidus. “I know that I, for one, shit my pants, I was so afraid.”

Sora started giggling again, which caused Riku to glare at Tidus. “Watch it, Blondie. You’re the reason he was choking in the first place.”

“You started it!” accused Tidus. “Calling me the Kool-Aid man. I mean, who wouldn’t laugh at that?”

“I didn’t laugh.” Wakka pointed out.

“Quiet, you.” replied Tidus.

Sora gave up and simply laid his head down on the table, laughing until his shoulders shook.

“Hey Sora. What’s so funny?” asked a female voice.

Sora recognized the voice and lifted his head, struggling to keep the giggles under control. “Hey Kairi. Nothing really. You got registered okay?”

Kairi nodded. “Yeah, your mom helped me out.” She looked over Sora‘s group uneasily. “So… I was just eating my lunch, when I spotted you, and thought I’d come over to say ‘Hi.’ I’m not intruding on anything, am I?” She scratched her arm, looking slightly uncomfortable.

“Of course not.” assured Sora, before Riku could protest to the contrary. “Let me introduce you to my friends. The big guy is Wakka. He’s probably got the most sense out of all of us.”

“I certainly won’t argue with that. Nice to meet you, Kairi.” said Wakka, with a friendly grin.

“The goofy-looking one is Tidus. Watch your back around him, he holds nothing sacred.” warned Sora.

“Don’t listen to him, Kairi. I’m a perfect angel.” Tidus claimed, giving her a deep, soulful look. “In fact, just the other day, I saved a puppy from drowning and-”

“Riiiiight.” interrupted Sora. “And the one that you… met this morning, is Riku. He’s my-”

“Soul mate.” finished Riku, giving Kairi a look that clearly told her just how much he thought she mattered in the grand scheme of things.

“Best friend.” corrected Sora gently.

Kairi blinked, wondering at what Riku said, but decided it probably wasn’t a good idea to question it right now.

Riku looked away, clearly dismissing her.

She decided to take the hint. “Well Sora, I’ll see you at home, okay?”

“Sure, Kairi.” Sora responded. He watched her walk off, and then turned back to his friends. “That was my cousin, by the way.”

“Ah. I figured it was something like that.” said Wakka. He knew that Riku’s reaction to her would’ve been much more hostile if she wasn’t directly related to Sora by blood.

A silence fell over the group as they finished their meals, mentally preparing for the last three classes of the day.

“This pumpkin pie tastes like ass.” Tidus announced, finally.

“You would know what ass tastes like.” quipped Riku.

“Oh no, I am but an amateur compared to you, Riku. Here, open up. I want a second opinion from a qualified assmuncher such as yourself.” Tidus waved his forkful of pie in Riku’s scowling face. “Here comes the airplane! Down the hatch.”

“Cut it out, little boy.” growled Riku.

“That’s my cue to leave.” stated Wakka, rising. “I’ll see you simpletons around. Later, ya.”

“I’d better get going myself.” said Sora apologetically. He stood up, trying to ignore the unhappy look Riku was giving him.

“Hey,” whined Tidus, feigned fear in his blue eyes. “Don’t leave me alone with Riku. He might try to grope me or something!”

Riku rolled his eyes. “You wish.”

Sora sighed. “I’m sure your virtue will be safe, Tidus.” He paused and gave Riku a sympathetic look. “I’ll call you as soon as I get home, okay?”

Riku frowned and looked at the clock, resigned. “Fine.”

Sora caught up with Wakka just as he exited the cafeteria. “Those two pick on each other so much, I swear they’re crushing sometimes.” he announced.

Wakka thought about it for a moment, and then shook his head. “Nah. Tidus isn’t Riku’s type. Too childish. Not that Riku isn’t immature, but he’s not childish. There’s a difference, ya.”

Sora nodded. “I guess you’re right.”

“Why was Riku all sullen anyway?” asked Wakka.

“Oh, he’s just mad because I got detention with Mr. Leonhart all this week, even though we were both late.” explained Sora. “Riku just feels like he’s been had, probably.”

Wakka blinked. “That was pretty smart, ya.” he said with admiration. “Riku is so in love with you, he can’t even stand it. He’s going to be looking pretty sad walking home by himself, ya.”

“Come on Wakka, don’t be weird.” protested Sora. “It isn’t even like that.”

Wakka stopped outside his class and looked at Sora for a moment. In that moment, Sora saw the intelligence in his hazel eyes just as clear as day. “Someday when I have the time, I’ll explain it to you. Until then, be careful. You underestimate Riku a lot, ya.” He turned and went into his class.

As Sora continued on to his own class, he pondered on what his friend meant. There was definitely a lot more to Wakka than he ever let on. “But isn’t that how it is with everybody…” Sora sighed, entering his classroom.

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