Lesson One: Naked Bundles of Joy?
Riku groaned as someone shook him, "Not now, I’m trying to sleep!" He tried to say, but what came out was something more like: "t’ow, m’ing t’SLEEP!"
Someone… giggled? And shook him again.
"Hrm?" Riku finally forced his eyes open to find himself looking into the grinning face of a very small boy with two very large blue eyes. Riku frowned, squinting to see if he was seeing right. The little boy giggled at the face he was making.
Riku jumped back as if the small child had tried to attack him and his mind raced as he took in the whole of the toddler’s naked body. He knelt down in front of the little boy, leaning his head close to the boy’s face and looking at him intently. "Sora?" He asked hesitantly, almost fearing the answer.
It was ridiculous, of course. Sora was only a year younger than he was. While the younger teen may act like it sometimes, he certainly was NOT three years old. And so it was to his great surprise that the small child actually responded to the name.
"Riku!" The little boy exclaimed, grinning happily and attaching himself to the older boy’s leg. Riku fell backwards in surprise, trying desperately to wrench the clinging child off his leg from where he now lay on his back. At length he did manage just that and was able to stand up again, making a futile attempt to restore the shreds of his dignity.
"What’s your name, little one?" Riku asked, looking at the little boy again, but this time keeping himself alert in case the child decided to jump him again. He just couldn’t believe it was Sora, that didn’t make any sense. Maybe Sora had a little brother he didn’t know about. They probably kept him locked up in the closet or something. Yeah, that was much more plausible.
The child laughed as if he had just said something extremely funny and responded matter-of-factly, "I Sora! Riku silly."
"That isn’t possible! Is it?" Riku asked, more to himself than to the little boy in front of him. He glanced around himself; they were in the tree house where the two of them—plus Kairi—had decided to sleep the night before. Another one of Sora’s childish ideas, he had thought it would be great fun to sleep out on their island, and now he was… a three-year-old?
"Kairi," Riku whispered, then looked down at… Sora, and said in a louder voice, "Where’s Kairi?"
The little boy giggled again and ran to the corner of the tree house, he pointed at a little girl wrapped up in a blanket, short red hair framing her tiny face as she slept, " ‘Iri sleepin’!" He exclaimed giddily, bouncing up and down.
"Kairi?" Riku asked desperately, this couldn’t be happening!
The little girl’s eyes slowly opened to look at him, " ‘Iku, Sora," she greeted happily with a small smile on her face.
Riku physically felt it as his entire knowledge of the fundamentals of time and space collapsed around him. It simply couldn’t be that Sora and Kairi were toddlers while he was a teenager, and yet… there they were! He didn’t realize he was staring at the wall in shock until there was a frantic tug on the leg of his pants. He looked down to see Sora with an undeniably cute pout on his face, jumping around a little. He was just about to admit that it wasn’t the worst thing that could of happened when…
"Riku! I hafta go to da baaathrooom!" The boy complained, quickly explaining his pout and ‘dance.’
Riku’s thoughts froze. No, this was definitely the worst thing that could have happened. He took a bracing breath before facing the toddler again, "Well don’t do it in here!" He snapped a little too irritably though the boy didn’t seem to notice, "Come on let’s get outside."
The children followed him out of the tree house, Sora eagerly climbing down the ladder right after Riku, and Kairi, presumably, right after him. Riku was about to hurry Sora away when the young girl’s crying reached his ear. He stopped and looked back to see the toddler that was Kairi still standing at the top of the ladder, wailing miserably. As if things couldn’t get any worse…
Riku sighed and climbed back up the ladder, "What’s wrong, Kairi?" He asked once his head was level with Kairi’s—in other words he was most of the way up the ladder but had stopped on one of the top rungs.
"I’m scared!" The girl cried.
"Riku! I hafta gooo!" Sora complained, dancing around at the bottom of the ladder again.
Riku tried very hard to contain his annoyance. He was not exactly well-known for patience, "Are you scared of climbing down the ladder?" He asked Kairi, who miserably nodded, wiping the tears away from her eyes as she did so. "Then I’ll just carry you down, okay?"
The girl quickly jumped back, shaking her head emphatically, "Too scary!" She said.
"Because it’s too high?" Riku asked with only a hint of the exasperation he felt in his tone. Kairi nodded. Riku took a deep, calming breath, "I promise I won’t drop you, Kairi, okay?" Kairi remained uncertain at a safe distance. "Please," the word came out more pleading than the teen would have liked, "Sora has to go to the bathroom, just let me carry you down this once, alright? You can close your eyes and we’ll be back on the ground before you know it—safe and sound!"
Kairi looked at him hesitantly, "Pwomise?" She asked quietly.
"I promise," Riku replied with a small smile as the girl slowly stepped back towards him, happy that at least something was going right.
"Kay…" Kairi reluctantly agreed, stopping once she was in Riku’s reach and holding out her arms for him to pick her up, as well as closing her eyes tightly. Riku just rolled his eyes and pulled the small girl into his arms, carefully making his way back down the ladder to join the frantic little boy. If his mind wasn’t already fried with the problem of Sora he probably would have felt incredibly embarrassed about carrying the naked three-year-old girl but as he was so busy thinking about Sora’s problem the thought didn’t even register in his brain.
"Sora, just go in the bushes over here," Riku directed as he set Kairi down beside him who opened her eyes again once realizing it was safe. He was fairly certain the boy would never be able to wait until they’d gotten back to the main island.
The toddler’s bottom lip stuck out in a pout, "No!"
Riku’s shoulders drooped noticeably, "Why not?" He demanded.
"It’s rude!" Sora said emphatically, "An’ you an’ ‘Iri’ll watch me!"
Riku rolled his eyes in an attempt to turn the frustration he was feeling into simple annoyance, "We won’t watch you, Sora," he assured the boy, "we’ll go down to the beach. And besides, no one cares if it’s rude when you’re out here."
Sora shook his head again, "Wude, wude, rude!"
Riku took a deep breath and counted to ten in his head, "Fine. Can you wait until we get back to the main island?"
Sora nodded, "I wait."
"Okay, come on." Riku scooped up one hand from each toddler into either of his hands and led them back to the dock—and thusly the boats—as quickly as their short legs could run.
They piled inside, Kairi standing in the front, griping the side tightly so as not to fall out, and—after a quick argument that ended in Sora throwing a fit and Riku giving in—Sora sat on Riku’s lap on the small bench. Riku quickly took up the paddle and rowed them away from the small island as fast as he could.
Kairi sang a little song as they went along—Riku wasn’t sure if the words were meant to be intelligible or not, but he couldn’t understand them. Sora bit down on his bottom lip, trying hard to hold it in, and Riku… Riku had just realized how strange it would be for him to walk into town with two naked toddlers and no sign of his friends.
As soon as they reached the little dock, he pulled off his shirt and gave it to Kairi—it was large enough to almost be her dress and she complained that it was uncomfortable and ugly, but at least it was something.
"Alright, Sora, get off me and let’s go."
The three-year-old looked up at him with watery blue eyes and Riku’s mind immediately jumped to the worst possible case scenario, his now alert senses quickly confirming it. The child’s bladder had not held.
"I’m sowwy Riku!" The boy sobbed.
Riku sighed, closing his eyes and repeating the mantra ‘he’s only a kid, he’s only a kid,’ several times over in his head before he felt suitably calm to proceed. He opened his eyes again and looked down at the crying child—behind him Kairi was eyeing them wide-eyed in her comical improvised shirt.
"It’s okay," he managed to grind out although it sounded very much like it had hurt to do so.
Sora didn’t notice it was forced and grinned happily again, "Where we goin’ now?"
Riku again had to squelch his instinct to beat his friend—now miniaturized—soundly over the head before replying, "We’ll go to my house and find some clean clothes."
And so Riku found himself walking his worst nightmare—well, it would have been his worst nightmare had he ever dreamt up something so bizarre—and was walking down the street with a naked toddler in his arms and another one by his side, clinging tightly to his hand as she walked in the overly large shirt. His face was red with embarrassment the entire way, although the few people who saw them had the courtesy not to ask questions.
They managed to make it into Riku’s room without running into either of his parents—which wasn’t so strange since they would both be away at work by now. Riku set Sora on the floor while he found a change of clothes for himself—something he was desperate to do since his pants were starting to smell—and left them there while he changed in the bathroom.
It was upon Riku’s return, clothes fresh and clean, that he learned the most important rule of raising toddlers. Never leave them unattended. His room was a complete mess and he had no way to fathom how the two small people had managed to cause so much damage in such a short amount of time. Kairi had crawled out from under his bed when he had walked in, covered in dust and had stood quite still upon seeing him. Sora was still ignorantly sorting through his CDs, throwing them over his shoulder to crash to the floor in turn.
"Sora," the teen growled menacingly. Sora yelped in surprise, dropping the CD he held and spinning around. Upon seeing his angry friend, the toddler’s lip immediately stuck out in a pout and his blue eyes again began to fill with tears.
"I’m sowwy, Wi’u!" The boy wailed before opening the flood-gates on his eyes, sending tears streaming down his face. This, in turn, caused Kairi to start sobbing as well, her friend’s plight triggering her like a chain reaction.
Riku looked at them helplessly, his anger quickly giving way to panic. First he tried to stop Kairi, speaking to her comfortingly but to no avail. If anything she screamed louder. Then he turned to Sora, telling him it was okay and he really wasn’t mad anymore. The boy cried on.
Riku was at a loss and this brought his frustration bubbling to the surface again until he joined in the little screaming match as well, "Shut up! Just shut up, already! I said it was okay!" Of course, this did little but double the children’s own screaming. Riku felt about ready to burst and spun around, slamming his fist into the wall.
Both toddlers immediately silenced at the loud thud, staring at him wide-eyed, their cheeks still wet with tears. Riku glanced behind him at the silent children and as soon as they saw his eyes they started crying again. Deciding to try the same tactic as before, if it worked, Riku punched the wall again, trying to ignore the pain that shot through his arm as his knuckles impacted with the hard surface. Silence again followed.
Encouraged by this change of events, Riku punched the wall again with his other hand. Everything was going well until his fourth punch broke through the plaster, the sharp edges peeling off the skin on his fingers. All three figures stared at the whole in the wall in shock. None of them dared to move or make a sound until Riku finally muttered, "Shit."
As if taking this as their cue, the children broke into noise again, although rather than crying, this time they were almost singing. "You’we in twouble! You’we in twouble! You’we in—" Riku didn’t have the heart to snap at them and risk starting the whole mess again. Instead he grabbed Sora’s hand in his good one and led both toddlers back into the bathroom where he cleaned and bandaged his bleeding hand while trying to ignore the toddlers’ taunts.
"Okay," he interrupted after finishing, "Let’s find something for you two to wear now… I think my mom might have some of my old baby clothes in the attic somewhere."
"I’m not a baby!" Sora shouted indignantly.
Riku rolled his eyes, "You sure look like one."
And then the pout appeared again, eyes welling up with tears. Riku was quick to head off the potential fit and quickly scooped the boy up into his arms, "Just kidding, Sora! You’re so big I can hardly carry you, anymore!"
Sora grinned, completely appeased and enjoyed the ride as the teen carried him to the attic, leading Kairi by holding her hand. The three of them stopped inside, scanning the dusty room for any indication of where the old clothes might be. There were many boxes, but none of them had labels. Riku sighed.
"I should’ve known it wouldn’t be that easy," he commented, setting Sora back on the floor. He turned to the small children, "Okay, everyone start looking through boxes. Tell me if you find some clothes that look your size."
The children’s eyes widened in excitement—after all, there were so many boxes to look in, it sounded like a grand adventure to them. They quickly agreed and the three of them split up to look for the baby clothes, Riku keeping a wary eye on the two toddlers as they progressed, having learned his lesson last time.
They did eventually find the clothes—Sora was the one to find them, actually. He loudly reported this to Riku, "Riku! I found ‘em! I found ‘em!" Riku came over to see the box full of his old clothes.
"Good job, Sora," he praised, kneeling down to get a better look at what was in the box while Kairi joined them.
"Where’s my prize?" Sora demanded when the teen’s attention turned away from him.
Riku raised an eyebrow as he looked at the minute boy, "Your prize?" He repeated.
Sora nodded resolutely, "Prize." He repeated.
"I’ll give you a snack after we get you and Kairi dressed," Riku offered, "how’s that sound?"
"Cookies?" Sora asked.
Riku shrugged, "Sure, cookies." His mom would kill him if she knew he was giving cookies to toddlers for breakfast… good thing she wasn’t home.
"Yay!" Sora said, grinning, "An’ ice cream, too!"
Riku wasn’t as quick to agree to this, but the small brunette didn’t seem to need his consent this time and was already celebrating his fortune. Riku rolled his eyes and turned back to the box, in search for some proper clothes for his two shrunk friends.
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