Chapter 3:

Of Guilt, Pride and Insecurity

Where The Sky Meets The Land

Instead of concentrating on the hottest topic of the class, my classmates immediately shifted to me at the back row. I ignored the attention I've incidentally gained from my own astonishment. There was far more shocking news surfaced in the class, and I was looking at it at the moment.

The one standing beside our homeroom teacher beamed brightly. The entire class focused back to him, while me still standing with gaping mouth. I really couldn't believe my eyes.

For the entire morning, I believed I wouldn't have another chance to be in that mansion. In order to avoid ungratefulness emerged in my heart and soul, it would be better if I left first. I felt dumb for thinking there would be no one awake at 5 in the morning, neglecting the fact that I've slept in a mansion with a large troop of maids and a butler. The Butler Hanamaki himself was the one assisting me after I clarified everything to him. As how he was on the day before, he didn't talk anything and just sent me off.

This wasn't April Fool, was it? I slowly sat on my chair and wiped the beads of sweats on my forehead. I didn't think I've done grave mistake, however I did feel I was insolent for leaving without informing whereas Auntie Junko and Sora were treating me astoundingly nice. The urge to jump off the class window elevated, but surely I held myself for the sake of my longevity. I still have many upcoming plans in the future though.

I wasn't sure if it was a karma to me or it was a pure coincident that I met again with the Sora boy on the same day I fled from his house. I didn't steal anything though. In fact, I couldn't even nod off for the whole night. I hope I could secretly sleep while the teacher was teaching, however the drowsiness faded away together with the entrance of the rumoured transfer student in our class.

The girls of my class didn't bluff. They did gossip when one of them saw a new student walking with their homeroom teacher. Never ever once I thought it would be Sora.

"Nice to meet you! My name is Sora!"

It was obvious that the girls were really captivated by Sora. I couldn't guess if it was because of his carefree personality, his handsomeness, his thin build, or his name. While the class was preoccupied by his existence, I took my own time to calm myself down.

"Okay, Sora. Welcome to the class. You may sit beside Riku over there."

I wouldn't have to lift my head up. Our homeroom teacher was granting him the empty seat beside me. There was no other Riku in our class but me either. I directed my pupils to other course but Sora when he has already taken his seat. His twinkling smile did lure a few pairs of eyes to focus on us - No. It was actually to him.

"The weather is nice today, Riku."

Somehow, I heard the unknowingly familiar voice right by my ear. There was no vacant seat beside me anymore, but I was flustered as the sitter chose to accost me first. I contemplated over numerous unanswered questions wandering in my mind.

"Yeah," I replied half-heartedly without even catching a glimpse of him. I even propped my chin as if I was bored and moody thus I couldn't treat him nicely.

"You seem not good. Are you sick, Riku?"

I heard screeching sound on his side. He forcefully dragged his chair closer to me, so that he could talk to me more properly. I didn't mind much about his action but the disturbance he caused in the lesson undeniably attractive to the class. The teacher has already stared at him in squints when our distance was only inches. Along with embarrassed giggle, he pulled his chair back to his seat and focused on the class.

There was no conversation going on between us after that. The lesson proceeded smoothly without the need to think of finding reason regarding my mindless decision in that morning. I didn't bother to ask what Auntie Junko said about my disappearance from their mansion.

The serenity was temporarily calming my throbbing heart until recess time. I've never been stalked in my sixteen years of life, thus I officially announced Sora was my first stalker. He kept on following me from behind, but he didn't talk anything. All I could say was that he was in good mood despite my negligence. Even when he was shoved by other students while we were buying snacks in the canteen, he never pleaded for my help. He did great by persevering the harsh realism as a student.

I was a big fat lie if I was to deny my concern. It really bothered my heart and soul, and I eventually felt bad for pretending not to notice him. My action at his house was on my own accord other than enduring unnecessary guilt for staying a night there. He and Auntie Junko were not the ones getting the blame either.

"Do you want to ask me anything?" Rather than disclosing my deed, I chose to act natural and approach him.

The glittering eyes Sora possessed somehow allured me to be extremely honest. I didn't plan to create up stories, but I didn't plan to hide anything either. I led ourselves to the school rooftop since I believed we would talk about something that should not be made public.

"I was wondering if your disappearance this morning was because you didn't tell your mother about your stay," it was funny because Sora even pouted.

That was it. The awaited question. Finally I heard it myself from him. I faced to other direction to avoid him from seeing me covertly laughing at him whereas the mood was quite solemn. "No, it's not like that," After ensuring my tone was stable enough, I replied. "I don't have anyone waiting for me though."

Both of us were noticeably bringing our own bento boxes. I had the chance to return to my own condo and prepared myself a bento for lunch, meanwhile Sora must be readied by his maids. Sora’s was much fancier than mine, but it had lesser portion. Even though my food was medium size, I never sought of comparing my bento to anyone’s, but in Sora’s case, I couldn’t help but to correlate. Was he purposely eating less, or was he sick? It might be the side effect of the falling on the day before. Once such thought came to my mind, an infinite guilt accumulated in me.

Sora's tilting head depicted his interest. I peeked him at my eye tips, hoping that he wouldn't draw his face too close to mine. But we were about to eat, so I guessed he wouldn't do that. We then threw our view affront while indulging the calming wind blowing against us along with food consuming. The vast sky was utterly relaxing.

"I told my mother that you left very early in the morning because you haven't told your mother about your stay," Sora revealed his reasoning. To me, it was logically acceptable.

I sighed. The entire day of the beginning of our friendship was already like a joke to me. "I don't have a mother, Sora. She passed away right after she gave birth to me. I have only my father, but he has remarried and lived with his new family."

I must say Sora's complexion was too precious that I didn't want anyone else to see it. There was an urge emerged from my within that I must be the only one to witness every of his bizarre countenance. He raised his eyebrows until his forehead wrinkled, his widened eyes seemed goggling, and his gaping mouth was later covered by his own palm.

"I'm so sorry, Riku. I shouldn't mention anything about your mother though," Sora slowed down his chewing.

"You don't have to apologize, Sora. I've heard about your late father from Auntie Junko too," I finished up my meal until my bento box completely empty.

I was about to close the lid of my bento box when Sora suddenly handed me a tissue. I stared interchangeably at the tissue, to him, and to the tissue again. "What's with the tissue?"

"My, uhm, my mother always reminds me to wipe the bento box after finish eating so that it won't stink," The mood in Sora's tone informed me that he was worried. "I have extra, and it's for facial. So," he fidgeted with his fingers, "If you're going to cry, you can ask some tissue from me. It's safe to wipe your tears."

This time, I really failed miserably to curb my laugh. I literally guffawed at him after I've been holding it. Sora did seem like a good boy, however I've never expected him to offer me tissue, out of the blue. Perhaps he thought he has surfaced a sensitive issue regarding my late mother, hence he tried to recover me by displaying his own concern.

Fundamentally, I didn't know who my mother was. All I could figure out was her old pictures with my father when they were newly married, and her grave with her full named carved. Sora's and my fate were almost the same, but I had no idea how Sora felt upon that. Despite getting denounced for being the sole cause of my mother’s death, I've never despised myself. My father didn't really show it, but I could say he loved me dearly. We only had each other in our lives, and I still didn't hate him after he remarried and left the condo to me. He had his own destiny, and so did I.

"I'm not used to such pamper," I said while both of us were swayed by the wind. "My father took the best care of me since I was a baby. I love him, and I know he loves me too. He's a strict man, I seldom play with toys because he encourages me to play outside. He doesn't always give me gifts, but he always buys me delicious food. We live in a small condo, but it's enough for my own comfort." I paused to peep over his reaction. "Your house is too big to me. With the butler and maids, with the pretty attire, with the way your mother treated me, I'm sorry. I'm not used to it. I just couldn't cope instantly. Plus, I felt bad. I've only contributed small matter, and you've fainted because of me. I should be guilty instead."

There was a lingering awkward silence between us, but I didn't dare to break it. I waited for Sora to respond but he too was engrossed in his own thought. I wouldn't get mad at him if he chose to not talk to me because I've done really grave mistake to him and his family.

I was packing my bento box in my bento bag when Sora suddenly stood, shielding me from the wind.

"Riku, you can come to my house anytime you want!" he proudly announced while fathoming his arms. "You can live in my house, and you can call my mother Mama too!"

"I won't reach to that extend, Sora," I brushed it off. Sora’s resolve was utterly astonishing, "I appreciate it that your family, even your butler and maids, treated me excellently. I was so embarrassed since I didn't do much."

"Riku!" Sora thumped both his hands on my shoulders, "Feel free to do so! You're my only friend, and I want to help you too! I won't feel at ease if you're enduring such pain alone!"

"But I'm not suffering though," I gently pushed his hands off my shoulders. I couldn't react positively to his determination. His serious expression told me that he was serious about it. "So far, I'm living well. My father sends me monthly expenses, and I'm grateful that I've never run out of food. I eat well, and I study well."

Sora's teary eyes shut my mouth. He seemed like he was about to cry. I was panic because I didn't know how to persuade a crying kid, let alone coaxing big boy like Sora. Sora did seem spoilt but his kindness replaced that weakness. I couldn't get annoyed at him either.

The ringing bell notified us that our recess break has ended. I hurriedly rose and asked him to return to the class. He didn't say anything but he nodded to my offer. We walked together to our class and continued the lesson for the day.

For the entire second half of the session, I kept on peeping him while propping my chin. The culpability in me uncontrollably grew after seeing him all quiet. He didn't even look at me when I got up to throw rubbish, and he swiftly packed his belongings once the end-school bell rang through the building.

I tried waiting for, at least, a wish from him. I wanted him to wish me 'Goodbye' warmly. I liked his enthusiasm, therefore I hoped he would do so even for a bit. I could be his friend, but I couldn't provide him the same treatment like how he and his family did. Our friendship might be awkward due to my insecurity.


Instead of a warm Goodbye, Sora accosted me aptly. It seemed like he wanted to talk to me, so I shifted my view to him. All of our classmates have already left, thus only the two of us remained in the classroom at the moment.

"What can I do to repay you?" Sora inquired.

"You don't have to repay me, Sora," I scratched the back of my head. "I don't know why you are so insistent, but it's not a big deal."

"It's a big deal to me!" Sora cried and startled me. I saw his hands trembling on the table, and his hoarse voice was a sign that he tried refraining his eyes from weeping. "You saved my life! I wouldn't get home safely if it weren't you!"

Sora huffed and puffed, then he melted into his chair. He bit his lower lip, but his tears have already rolled down his cheeks. I became speechless because I never thought I would trigger his tantrum, but I still didn't know how to persuade him.

"Riku. Do you ever hear about the inability to control sleeping time?"

I blinked in bewilderment. What did he mean by that? Was he now playing riddles with me? "No. I've never heard of it."

"All right, Riku. Congratulations! You're confronting its patient now."

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