Chapter 4:

Unveiling Truth Wasn't Always Soothing

Where The Sky Meets The Land

Our journey back home felt a little awkward, but I didn't really mind. In fact, it might be better for us too. I just figured out persuasion wasn't the best solution in Sora's case, hence I chose to keep quiet until he broke the silence himself. We paced side by side but neither of us faced towards each other. I gave him space to calm down, and he probably provided me time to think thoroughly.

Befriending him was one thing I've never come across to. Come on, he was the son of the richest family among the students in our school! Meanwhile, I was just an average student who lived alone in a small condo. Despite the loneliness, I was still lucky that my father didn't abandon me, and that was the reason I shouldn't be ungrateful for in my life.

Our background differed too much. Honestly I was embarrassed to get close to him - I mean, closer than how we were. I was afraid that I might get accused of conquering his wealth although it usually happened in manga or drama. I've never befriended people to bully them, but I was scared of gossips too since it would give me unwanted attention. The girls in my class were into Sora either, hence they should be the ones befriending Sora.

Who knows? Sora could get warmer to girls better than the boys. He was kind hearted, and he prioritized friendship very much. Furthermore, there must be at least one girl who was almost as rich as Sora, hence they would make a good couple. Definitely Sora wouldn't reject anyone confessing to him.

"I'm sorry if I've burdened you with an unnecessary issue," Sora at last broke the silence, but he was more to murmuring.

I peeped him at my eye tips. He was pouting and kept his hands in his pockets. Maybe he regretted for what he has done right before he left our classroom. It didn't burden me at all, in fact it bothered me.... Sounded like the same but I meant it.

The syndrome Sora has just disclosed to me wasn't going to be cured just simply. In fact, I've never heard of it in my whole sixteen years of life. I acknowledged what insomnia was, but I never thought there was a thing named narcolepsy. Sora said the cause was vague in his case, therefore he should be extra careful in his daily routine so that he wouldn't get mishaps in the future.

The best example was the slide incident. I thought he fainted due to his head bumping onto the ground while crashing or such. The truth was quite unbelievable yet it was still a fact. Even Sora didn't expect that he would fall asleep in the middle of gliding downward. Of all time, why should he sleep at that time? He was really fortunate because he didn't injure himself or I might need to make up story to tell Auntie Junko.

"I should be the one who apologizes," I replied without even glancing at him. I wasn't that brave to figure out how he looked like. "I shouldn't be rude to you."

"No, you weren't rude. I was," Sora emphasized himself. "You see, I might have hurt you or your pride or both. That's possibly why you refuse to accept my thankfulness."

According to Sora, I was the MVP. I did great job by contacting Auntie Junko after scrabbling into his bag. None of his belonging went missing, and everything remained untouched in his bag, except the wallet.

"I'm not rejecting your method to say thanks," I scratched my nape. "It's just that to me, it's too much. Normal people usually treat the helper with food, give him gifts, or solve a math equation for him. But you and your family had it beyond my expectation. So, I was embarrassed."

I never realized since when our pace matched. I could see his shoes beside mine while walking with ducked head.

"Am I abnormal because I'm having narcolepsy?"

Sounded like joking, but he didn't. His serious face halted my laughter from bursting, hence I gulped the emergence in.

"I didn't mean it that you're abnormal though," I accidentally snorted. He didn't respond to my snort, so I assumed he didn't hear it. "It's just that it feels like... I'm a princess of a royal family."

"Are you saying that you're isekai-d into a parallel world since you've met me?"

"Your humour level is sometimes unpredictable, Sora."

Then, he chuckled at my furrow. I was perplexed by his abrupt reaction, yet we kept on walking. My mind rotated over topics I should kick off, and his quietness told me that he might be pondering over the same problem. Both of us didn't want to end our conversation just yet.

I never realized when it started, but I felt it tingling - I didn't feel awkward around Sora. Even though it has only been roughly two days of encounter, plus his weirdness at first irritated me a little, currently I didn't hate being with him. Or I must say, I liked being with him. On what motive I was saying that, I didn't know. Maybe because I didn't pretend to be someone else while having him by my side.

Frankly, I was pretentious at school. It became my habit to act all cool, and I really did it notably when my classmates praised how cool I was. It wasn't that I loved attraction. It was just that I hated being judged. I disliked discrimination. I was an introvert, but I was fully aware to the fact that people around me disliked introverts.

I grew up without a mother. Although I was raised by my father, we had less time together. He was busy with work, but I knew he did it in order to raise me well. Even if he was secretly dating my currently stepmother, I didn't really mind. He deserved his own happiness too.


A roll of the movie of my life flashed back in my mind, fortunately Sora was with me. His calling brought me back to realism. I stopped immediately and blinked in confusion, while Sora peeping over to figure out what I has gotten my emotion into. His concern face came to my view, maybe because I didn't answer him.

"Are you okay? Do you feel sick?"

Sora put his hand over my forehead, comparing my temperature to his. Then he pursed his lips because I didn't have a fever, but I seemed in daze. Honestly I wasn't. In the middle of our journey, I had my memory resurfaced. I didn't aware how long I've been abandoning him.

Out of the blue, Sora stepped forward and blocked my course. I was puzzled by his sudden action, but I couldn't ask him. He started his part first.

"I'm sorry!" Sora bowed his upper body, "I'm sorry for burdening you. For the divulgence, for the syndrome, for the enforced friendship. For everything!" He paused, but then I saw him trying to peep me. "I'm sorry for the nuisance my mother and I have caused to you. We didn't mean to annoy you. It's just that we have finally found someone we could rely on, although our relationship has begun just yesterday. I don't mean to hurt you, physically and mentally. It just that... I'm so glad that I've found someone I could call friend."

"Sora," my mouth naturally spoke his name out, but my mind went blank. I couldn't think any suitable line to portray myself.

The friendship we were about to cherish was a kind of relationship which might be eternally remaining in us. It might enthral us, or it could torment us. Depending on how we handled ourselves, this friendship wouldn't be a nuisance.

In my opinion, Sora was afraid of unfaithfulness and betrayal. He wasn't the type to lie, but he wasn't also the type to blurt his mind out. All he wanted to prove to the world was that he survived. Yes, I must say he did. In this harsh world, only strong ones lived, and the weak ones would either wilt or die.

Sora was a living proof of positivity. He smiled unconditionally. He treated people evenly. The most important part was that he chose to keep on living, gaining more happiness from time to time.

Who could guess a slide game on the hill slope would bring us together? Fate might say so, but still we didn't know. If our meeting was already written since the beginning of our lives...

I was thankful for it.

The Sora before me was bowing his head. Still. I didn't want him to bow at me. There's nothing much I wanted from him.

"Sora, how about if we do this?" I tapped his shoulder, signalling him to straighten his body back. "We can befriend each other, but I don't have to come to your house. Is it good?"

The sparkles in Sora's eyes tickled me. His mood lit up instantly, like a small kid being offered an expensive train toys. I curved a small smile, but then he ogled at me.

"R- Riku! You smile!"

Huh? Didn't I all these while? I raised my brows in pure confusion, yet he reacted nothing but giggling non-stop.

"Hey! Are you teasing me?" I grumbled while trying to smack him.

It wouldn't be hurtful, but he evaded it well. He ran a little, leaving me dumbfounded.

"Catch me if you can!" Sora yelled, then he continued running away from me.

Somehow, we played tagged. Miraculously, like small kids. It felt like I was playing with my neighbours when I was a small boy once upon a time. Sora seemed too fine to be said as a patient, running here and there and successfully gotten himself away from my reach.

"Sora! Wait! You cannot go too far! Or-"

"Or what? I'll faint like yesterday?"

I was jolted at Sora's correct presumption. I slowed down my running and eventually ceased. I huffed and puffed, recovering my oxygen level so that I could chase him again. As for Sora, he half-ran towards me.


"I'm fine. No need to worry," then I panted again. "So it seems like my stamina has depleted already."

Sora burst into laughter. I was about to smack him again, but I chortled instead. Our laughter resonated together, utterly contented and satisfied.

The sun was about to set. The altering colour of the sky depicted the end of the day. Night time would fall in a few more minutes. I wanted to go home already, but Sora tugged my wrist.

The scene felt familiar though.

"Let's watch the sun set!"

The furrow I gave him displayed my unwillingness, nevertheless him freely landed on the hill top showed his ignorance. I rolled my eyes in displeasure.

Yet I carefully sat beside him.

"Your eyes said 'I don't want to join you'. Why did you even sit then?"

"Because if I didn't, you'll seize me again and again," I folded my knees and propped my chin on my lap.

Sora chuckled at my straightforwardness. "You're so true."

Both of us threw our gaze towards the blindingly setting sun ray. There was a lingering silence between us. Compared to before, Sora's eye expression went droopy and gloomy. He hugged both his knees and rested his chin on them. That expression was undeniably unexpected.

Just what his mind thought of to the point that his cheerful side faded away?

"Sora, I just want you to know," I mumbled without looking at him even a glimpse, "I can befriend you, but not because of your wealth. I befriend people that I want to trust, and I don't find it hurtful to make friend with you. I want you to know that," I paused to peep at his reaction. He was staring at me! "The anime I like is about to start. I must go home now."

I rose in panic while he stared at me with widened eyes. "Oh, man! Are you freaking serious, Riku?" He shouted in dissatisfaction.