Chapter 2:

Together with The Mother, The Boy Wept

Where The Sky Meets The Land

According to the address his mother has permitted me to bring him to, their house was double-storeyed bungalow with red roof and verandas. Even from the first glance, I estimated it must have cost hundred thousand or even a million to buy, renovate and maintain. I could say they were not just a regular family, and my view confirmed my instinct.

I carefully carried him on my back and paced into the compound. They must have known my presence there that the lamps along the lane were lighted up, indirectly aiding my sight. I was thankful that they were very considerable to a typical commoner like me. The guy on my back hasn't even woken up from his faint, but I could hear his soft ticklish snores against my ear.

I've never thought the lane would be that long, but I strongly believed it might because I was carrying a guy. The number of lamp posts I counted along the lane denied my whine regarding the long journey. I was wondering if this guy's family had maids and/or butlers, therefore they should have lent a hand to me. This guy's weight was a no joke despite possessing quite thin build.

Meters from the (actual) entrance, I noticed the presence of a lady in oversized sweater. It seemed like she was waiting for something or someone, and as soon as I got myself near enough to her, I immediately assumed her as this boy's mother, judging from the aura she emitted. She had fine wrinkles and slender limbs yet she seemed gentle and kind.

"Are you the one who called us just now?" She rushed to me when she saw us.

I blinked in confusion. This lady talked very nicely to me that I felt like I was talking to a grandma. I nodded to her question before turning around to prove that her son was all right with me. Or actually, I was all right in carrying her son back home.

"Gratefully Sora has come across someone as reliable as you," the lady bowed a little. She made a hand gesture in the air to call someone, and it took less than one minute for a suited man appeared before us. "Can you please carry Sora for me instead of this young man? I think he has worn himself out."

The suited man came to me, without a single word and smile. He helped me by replacing the boy onto his back and carried him into the mansion. I watched how sturdy the suited man was, really suitable with his role as a butler of this rich family (he was, wasn’t he?). I gradually shifted to the lady who I figured out as the boy's mother.

Deep inside, I praised how humbly her speech was. Despite being the lady from the richest family (that I've seen in my life), she spoke tenderly as if I was her son too. Perhaps she was the type to treat people nicely regardless the background. I was purely gratified for the chance to encounter such astoundingly beautiful lady as her.

Maybe bumping into that boy wasn't a bad idea after all.

"Please come in," the lady's sweet voice manageably penetrated into my eardrums and unknowingly dragged me back to reality.

Hesitation might have displayed too clear on my face that the lady suddenly touched my arm. The concern on her face replaced my insecurity after being invited to such mansion, to a puzzled look.

"Are you feeling sick? If that so, please rest here for tonight."

This lady was indeed that boy's mother! I just realized whom that boy's weird behaviour inherited from. I slightly frowned because I kept on thinking what I should do. Her idea wasn't bad but still... I was just a mere commoner.

The lady gazed at my face. Well, I haven't gone home yet when I saw her son. We played slides on the hill slopes until we crashed onto the ground, and that was the moment when I realized that boy has fainted instead of laughing like how he did every single time. In short, my entire being was a shame! Dirt spots were everywhere on me including my face, therefore I wouldn't get mad at her if she mocked right at my face.

"You guys must have had some fun on the way back," she commented while chuckling. "I'm glad that Sora found a friend like you."

I couldn't really hide my perplexed face when I heard her. As a mother, I didn't think she wouldn't know whom her son befriended with. It was our first encounter, so she must be aware of the fact that I wasn't her son's friend. "Uhm, Madam. I'm not his friend, frankly. I just happened to pass by. I was walking back home when he asked me to play with him at the hill slope."

It felt like a dream. Her demure countenance switched to terrorized fear in addition to pallid face. Even I could say she was scared but I didn't know what she scared of. She averted from looking at me.

"I'm sorry. I've misunderstood you. No wonder you look so foreign," she blushed a little. So she was embarrassed. "Anyhow, thank you for bringing my Sora back home. I wouldn't know what would happen if the delinquents met him instead of you."

"It's okay, Madam. It was my fault that we crashed onto the ground while playing slides. He's lucky because there was no wounds on him."

"You guys crashed onto the ground? While playing slides?"

"Yes, Madam. I'm so sorry. He was the one playing alone at the hill slope on my way back home. I saw his position on the cardboard box was quite dangerous, so I told him to mend his technique a bit. I think he was satisfied and enjoyed the game too much that he didn't seem to stop."

"So do you mean you guys stopped playing because he has fainted?"

"Yes, Madam. Again, I'm so sorry for the mess I've caused incidentally. I don't mean to harm him, especially when I don't know even his name. I've only acknowledged what he was called after I found a card in his bag. I was looking for his identification card to send him home or at least to seek help."

"I accepted your description, and you do talk very finely, young man."

Frankly, I was surprised of myself too. I never thought I would be that talkative to this lady. Trying to guess what possibility caused my chatter, I found none even suited my personality. I smiled half-heartedly as my subsequent action, along with the motive to cover my embarrassment.

"I'm sorry if you were uncomfortable with me, Madam. I don't mean to lower your pride by conversing with me."

"Why did you call me Madam and what's with lowering my pride in chatting with you?" The lady tilted her head on one side. She was about to burst to laughter.

It should be soothing my uneasiness, however my mouth has freely spoken my mind out. The lady must have labelled that I was nosy.

"I'm sorry-"
"Young man."

In less than a second of interval, I took the chance to avert my eyes further from hers. She still smiled but I was afraid if it wasn't authentically portraying happiness. Especially after I've continuously divulging my shameful self.

"I like how mannerly you are. You explain everything to me and you can't stop yourself from apologizing. Too bad that you're not Sora's close friend. I hope you guys could befriend well," She naturally rubbed my forearm, surely on the sleeve, but it was enough to give me goose bumps. "As you've seen, Sora is... a special boy. Despite his peculiarity, he always stays positive and never ceases from delivering the sweetest smile to anyone around him."

What was with the reservation? The lady did not seem like a bad woman, yet why did I sense dishonesty in her words? But at least I figured out I wasn’t the only one calling the boy as peculiar.

"We've lost Sora's father when Sora was still in my belly. He never knows how his father looks like, but he slowly learns it by picture gazing. He has already considered Hanamaki like his own father, and Hanamaki doesn't hate the idea as well. That's most probably why Sora has such personality."

I softly gazed at the lady, attempting on figuring what she was actually telling me. She basically disclosed a part of their family background, yet I did presume it had other hidden meaning from her disclosure. Luckily this time I thought thoroughly before voicing my mind out, or she might hate me then.

"Sora just wants to feel love, young man," The lady gestured her hand towards the door. She was inviting me in, "He was bullied in every school he has gone to. Today was supposed to be his first day at his new school, but it seemed like he didn't make it."

The interior design of this family's house was astoundingly mesmerizing. I could only gape once I stepped into its inner side. It looked tall enough from the outside, but I doubted if I've accidentally entered a wrong world since I realized its inner side was much taller than its outer appearance. I marched in hesitation while the lady kept our conversation going on.

"Hanamaki might have sent him to his room," The lady skimmed around, maybe to find whoever among the maids or butler available near us. "We've been chatting stuffs but I didn't ask your name. How silly I am."

This time, her laughter wasn't faked. To me, she was hiding her embarrassment. This lady never failed to allure me to look at her, and it enhanced as I saw the resemblance of the boy in her. I curved a small smile more to myself.

"My name is Junko. Drop the Madam. Just call me Auntie, okay? So, what's your name, young man?"

The anticipation on her face flustered me, but I guessed I backed myself up well. "I- My name is Riku."

"Riku? Riku, is it?" There was a genuine contentment displayed on her face. "All right. I like you, and I like your name too."

I frowned a little at her exhilaration. Why should she like my name? It was just a normal nature-related name, just like her son's name. She giggled at my puzzled expression, and called the suited man again.

"Tell me you mother's number. I will contact her so that she will let you stay here."

From this moment onward, I should be addressing the lady as Auntie Junko. It felt much warmer and more ordinary than Madam. It was her request after all, hence I would just need to obey the wish.

The suited man who believably was named Hanamaki appeared out of nowhere and assisted me to a room. Auntie Junko was rather insistent to let me stay here for a night. I didn't dislike the idea but I didn't want to sleep in this mansion too. I suspected that I would be able to even nod off tonight.

I was engrossed examining every inch of the furniture in the room when I was accosted by someone from behind. Typically, I would get shock, but this time I managed to handle my stun. I gradually turned around to confront the caller, while Butler Hanamaki only stood by the doorframe.

"Are you going to sleep here?" The boy named Sora asked happily.

Definitely it was the correct time to be stunned. I was the one carrying him back home, and he never woke up from his faint along the way. When we have reached his superior mansion, he couldn't stay asleep? He was indeed a special boy.

"Weren't you passed out?" Instead of reacting to his question, I replied with also a question.

He giggled and strode forward. I hoped he wouldn't get too close to me, but he surely didn't know how to read the room. It was my very first time to be able to enter this kind of castle (mansion), thus I would definitely get culture shocked by the new environment. The alienation was including his treatment towards me.

"I just slept for a while," Sora grinned ear to ear as he spoke, "I was pretty tired either. Thanks to you."

"I barely spent 15 minutes with you, Sora," I crossed my arms, foretelling him to mind his distance to me. I didn't think he was willing to be in my range, plus I was rather messy myself. "You must have played longer than before I came across you."

The boy named Sora stared at me. His eye expression was gloomy but his lips parted for a smile. It was as if he tried telling me something and he wanted me to grasp it, but surely I couldn't. Although I still pondered over his faint, I didn't think he would act irrationally to me.

"Father, can you help cleaning my friend's school uniform? He got dirtied because we played at the hill slope."

His flipping emotion amazed me at some point. How could he be like that? I saw his cheerful side since he has been playing on the hill slope. Minutes ago, I saw his hidden side yet I couldn't figure it out. Currently, he was so contented that I didn't reject Auntie Junko's offer of staying over.

Butler Hanamaki nodded once and gestured his hands, instructing me to take off my clothes. He even handed me a clean set of pyjama. He never talked to me, moreover his facial seemed like he disliked my presence there. So I was a little afraid to disobey him. The butler then left the two of us in the room.

"The reason I came here to meet you is to thank you for saving me," Sora lowered his gaze from my face to the floor beneath his feet. "I'm sorry if it discomforts you, but my mother only wants the best for me. She trusts you," I saw him kept on looking elsewhere but me. "My classmates in my previous school have always bullied me. They stole my stuffs, and they never stopped. My mother knew all those, thus she transferred me to other school."

I buttoned up the pyjama. It smelt nice and the size fitted me perfectly. Glancing at Sora's stature, we were not that far in sizing. This pyjama must be his then.

"You don't have to thank me, Sora," I scratched my back of head though it wasn't itchy at all, "You fell before my eyes. I would be the worst if I just left you there. Luckily I found the number of your mother in your bag."

Sora blinked while curling his fists under his pyjama. He acted like a kid, plus with that pouting lips. I frowned, thinking whether he was mad or I've misspoken unnecessarily.

"Maybe we won't meet again after this, Sora," I murmured in contemplation. I didn't want to hurt him, but I wanted to be fair to both him and myself too. This was too much even to me. I wasn't used to such environment, therefore I shouldn’t give him fake hope too.

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