Riku and Sora's mum have a conversation they should've had earlier.
Riku rang the doorbell with these thoughts in his head, so he might’ve looked mildly annoyed as the door opened too quickly and Mrs. Strife’s head poked out. But her face looked worried, and her immediate thought was for “Sora?”: Riku immediately changed his demeanour.
“No ma’am.” He replied, “but you haven’t seen him by any chance, have you?”
“Not since last night,” She chattered, and an odd look came about her face. “I came home late and dinner was a bit later than usual that ngiht, I’d just finished making it for him, and I called him downstairs so he could eat it, but when he came down he told me he wasn’t hungry. He was yelling something urgent about a raft and needing to save it and when I told him it was too late and the weather was too bad, probably would’ve destroyed it by now – I’d never believed that raft could go far at his hands, anyway – but all in a panic he said he wasn’t hungry and sped out the door, not even telling me how long he would be gone, which is strange. Even if we’re fighting he tells me how long he’ll be gone and where, so I don’t worry.”
Woah, information overload much? “I see. Can I come in?”
Sora’s mum started, as if she hadn’t realised her impoliteness. “Go ahead.” She allowed.
Riku entered, and hesitated, unsure at where to sit or if just to stand, when he decided that at their dining table was impersonal enough. He drew a chair and Mrs. Strife moved to the kitchen, turning on the kettle. “Is there anything you’d like to drink? Tea, juice, hot chocolate?”
“Tea sounds fine thanks,” Stuttered Riku, struck by the unusual kindness.
Mrs. Strife prepared the drinks while Riku started at his hands, starting to feel a bit guilty for calling her a bitch so many times in his head over the years. Maybe she had a sensitive side, but only let it show when she wasn’t herself? Maybe she had that characteristic mentioned in the Series of Unfortunate Events books he was reading for English, the one when they said a lot of unlikely things and acted weirdly when they panicked?
Oblivious to Riku’s inner turmoil, Mrs. Strife set the tea and what Riku presumed to be her own strong coffee on the table, and started conversation again. “So I presume by what you said earlier that you haven’t seen him either?”
“The last time I saw him was last night,” Riku replied, “at the islands.” He took a sip of his tea to stall for time, unsure of whether to confide in her or not. On one hand, she wasn’t as dumb as Wakka and Selphie, and might see through any reassuring excuse he threw at her. On the other hand, this worrying niceness could just be a charade to make him tell the truth, and then spout an estranged version of it to the rest of the islands.
But he knew he’d told enough lies that day, so once he swallowed his tea he muted the conclusions the evil Mrs. Strife in his head would be throwing at him and said, “I wasn’t there for the raft, unlike Sora, but something else. I’m not sure I can explain what that something else is, to you, really; I’ve tried with others and they’ve never understood, not completely.
“ She nodded. “The most I can say is that something not to do with Sora brought me there and when he showed up I wasn’t at all myself. I felt possessed, maybe a little mad, which is something I’m dealing with personally, but when I talked to him I wasn’t quite there in the head, and somehow ended up summoning a dark portal that he fell into. I don’t know how to recreate it, how to follow him there, trust me I would if I could, anything to get him back, but even if I knew how I have only a vague idea of where he ended up, and have already made plans to go there myself.” What? When had he decided that? “I- I would prefer if you don’t tell my parents. I don’t think they’d understand.”
“I see.” The only thing Mrs. Strife threw was Riku’s own words back at him, intentionally or no he couldn’t tell.
There was a brief silence, until Mrs. Strife spoke again.
“You’re a very mysterious boy, Riku, in some ways you remind me of one of my own children—not Sora, and Roxas was always more of a follower than anything else, but maybe a younger, more open version of Cloud.” A pause. ”I know there are a lot of rumours amongst you younger kids about Cloud: that in his younger years he was spoilt and arrogant, that he didn’t love anyone, that he had a death list because planet forgive he was a cold-blooded murderer,” a laugh, “but let me tell you, that wasn’t the case at all. Sure Cloud didn’t get on very well with some of the kids his own age, and he had a unique perspective of looking at things sometimes, but he had a good reason to go to Midgar and sure, I didn’t like the idea of him leaving us, but I understood it. What I never understood was why Roxas ran away: he was so young, not young enough to make that decision all by himself and I’m always afraid he might’ve been taken against his will or forced into going. Unlike Cloud, he had friends, ones that Sora must’ve been slightly aqquainted with, but they weren’t ones I ever approved of, despite having his best intentions at heart.” She let out a breath, “I approved of Sora’s friends, and you, before Roxas left us, but I think him going must’ve changed my perspective. I didn’t want anything to happened to Sora, didn’t want to be left by myself, so I became possessive. Sometimes unfairly so, I see now.”
A single tear rolled down her left cheek.
“I’ve been far too harsh on you, Riku.” She said. “I’ll understand if you don’t forgive me-“
Riku immediately protested to the otherwise.
“-but I think you understand now why I can seem at times. Are—is there anything I can do to repay you? Anything at all?”
Riku’s first thought was to shake his head, thank her anyway for the offer, pat her on the back and leave, but then he remembered the car ride. He was about to open his mouth and when he also remembered that Sora’s mum didn’t have a car, preferring like most to walk to places everywhere.
Then his mind struck shallow gold and he found himself asking without ever intending to: “Is it true that Cloud owned a motorbike?”
To Be Continued...!