Lesson Two: Warning, Explosive with Sugar.

Sora and Kairi were both being quiet for the first extended amount of time since Riku had woke up to find themÖ miniaturized. Riku had a feeling that was only because they were both working as hard as they could to eat more cookies and ice cream than the other. Their faces were covered in the sticky substance and cookie crumbs, Riku was pretty much resigned to the fact heíd have to take care of that later.

Sora was wearing a dark blue shirt and red shorts Riku didnít remember ever wearingóthe combination was rather odd, but he hadnít felt up to fighting with the toddler over what he could or couldnít wear. Kairi was wearing a long sleeved white shirt with a pair of jean overalls over topóRiku, obviously, hadnít owned any dresses or pink clothes at the age of three, if ever, so there wasnít a lot for the young girl to choose from that sparked her fancy.

Riku wasnít thinking about the clothes now, though, or the mess. Instead he was thinking about what would happen next, and what he should do. There are few truths in life. One of them is that no matter how much money you have it will never truly make you happyóbut that is rather inconsequential to the moment. The more important truth for the white haired teen at the moment was the second truth. Friends never spontaneously de-age for no good reason. The law said nothing about how to reverse the effect if such a thing were to happen, and therein lied the problem.

For once in his life Riku had absolutely no idea what to do. He could run the children back to Soraís house, and explain what he knew of what happenedówhich wasnít an impressive compilation on his partóto his mom and hope that sheíd help rather than freak out. Then again he knew how he felt when he saw the two toddlers and highly doubted a sane adult would believe the story. The other option was for him to look after the two himself, and try to figure out exactly what had happened so he could reverse it. This option did not look particularly promising either.

"I really wish Kairi was here," he mumbled out loud without realizing it.

Sora tilted his head, giving Riku a strange look, " ĎIriís right here, Riku," he informed his confused friend.

"Yeah, Iím right here!" Toddler-Kairi added helpfully.

Riku sighed again, "Donít you two find it even a little strange that youíre so small while Iím so much bigger than you?"

The toddlers pondered this for a moment before Sora came out with the most logical answer, "Rikuís turned inta a giant!" He pronounced, staring at the teen wide eyed.

Kairi rolled her eyes, "No, idiot, heís jusí old."

Sora immediately saw the truth in his friendís words and his eyes widened more, "Howíd you get so old, Riku?"

"First," Riku started, "Iím not old. Iím fifteen. And up until this morning, you were both fourteen."

Sora looked at Riku like he was an idiot, "Riku, Iím tree." He said, holding up three ice cream-sticky fingers.

Riku again did his best not to clobber the boy, "Yes, now you are. Yesterday you were eleven years older."

"Iku," Kairi said, now looking at the idiot as well, "three comes before fouwteen."

"Yeah," Sora agreed, "One, two, three, four," he started.

"five, six, seven, eight," Kairi joined in.

"nine, ten, eleven, twelve," they continued together, helping each other out as they got stuck, "thirteen, FOURTEEN!"

"Fourteen comes after three," Sora reiterated.

"Which is why I need to find out what happened to you," Riku explained calmly, "what do you remember from last night?"

The two children, having momentarily forgotten their sweets, scrunched up their faces in deep thought. They thought for quite a while, trying to remember exactly what they did remember last. It wasnít working very well, as their memories, they found, were quite jumbled up and confused. They werenít sure what was last night and what was a long time ago.

At length Kairi replied hesitantly, "WeÖ went to sleep in the tree house?"

Riku nodded, "Thatís right, do you remember anything after that?"

Sora, now that he had been given something to work with, concentrated hard on remembering sleeping in a tree house. Kairi, as well, seemed to be thinking very hard about this. Riku waited expectantly, anxiously holding out for a revelation to pour from one of their mouths.

"I donít remember," Sora finished lamely.

"Me, neither." Kairi added. Riku sighed.

"More ice cream!" Sora exclaimed animatedly, turning his attention back to the treats in front of him and quickly shoving another messy spoonful into his mouth. Kairiís attention was brought back to the sweets just as quickly and Riku was left to his pondering alone again.


Sora and Kairi were literally jumping off the walls. And the couch, the table, any chairs they could findÖ you get the picture. Riku had successfully learned the second most important rule of raising a toddler. Never, ever give them two bowls of ice cream and handfuls of cookies in one sitting no matter how quiet it makes them. Mini-Sora and Kairi on sugar high was not a pretty sight and it was doing even less pretty things to his house.

"Why donít we go for a walk outside?" Riku bellowed to be heard over the high pitched screaming of his young friends.

Sora dropped the phone and Kairi jumped off the couch, both agreeing with a resounding "Kay!"

So Riku led them outside, one toddler in each hand, releasing Kairiís for only a second to lock the house door behind him, and grabbing it again before she had time to escape. Riku walked down the sidewalk with one child skipping along on either side of him as he tried to decide exactly where to take them. Not the candy store, that was for sure.

"Do you want to go to the park?" Riku asked, deciding all the equipment there was the ideal place for the two energized toddlers to work off their excess sugar.

"Yeah!" Sora and Kairi exclaimed as one, although chances are they would have agreed just as readily to any other location he had chosen.

So Riku took them to the park. Once arriving he allowed them free reign while telling them to stay together and not to wonder away without him. They shouted back their understanding, although how much they really understood was debatable, and quickly ran to enjoy the equipment. Riku walked over to one of the benches and sat down on it heavily, already tired out and it was still early in the morning.

The thing about living on a small island for all of your life is everyone knows who you are. All the kids at school know your name and played with you at some point in time, all the parents had each otherís numbers and checked in on each other quite often. All the elderly people chastised every kid for running on the sidewalk, or riding their skateboard recklessly. Everyone knew everyone, and Riku was no exception to this rule.

"Riku?" A young woman asked as she sat down on the bench next to him, having just released a five-year-old to go play herself, "What are you doing here?"

"Hi, Richelle," Riku greeted after glancing up. He recalled the girl had been his babysitter when he was little, and Sora and himself had ganged up against her several times in their youth. "Soraís cousins are visiting, and I was nominated to baby-sit." He answered.

The girl smirked and looked across the playground until she found the two young children, "That little boy and girl?" She asked, "What are their names?"

"Er," he couldnít very well answer Sora and Kairi, that was for sure, "Sota and Karie?"

"Was that a question?" Richelle asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Um, no, thatís their names," Riku decided, "Sota and Karie."

If Richelle suspected foul play she didnít mention it, after all, who in their right mind would believe two teenagers had been transformed into three-year-olds overnight? "Theyíre cute," Richelle said.

"Theyíre monsters." Riku corrected.

Richelle laughed, "In other words theyíre just like you and Sora when you were little?"

"Er, not exactly," Riku said, "Karieís usually pretty good. She only got bad after the ice cream they had earlier."

Richelleís eyes widened as the meaning of Rikuís words sunk in, "You gave three-year-olds ice cream for breakfast?" She demanded. Correctly taking Rikuís embarrassed look to mean yes she continued, "What kind of an idiot gives kids ice cream for breakfast?"

"The same kind of an idiot that gives kids cookies for breakfast?" Riku asked.

"Well no wonder they were being so awful then," Richelle commented, "I canít believe you actually gave toddlers ice cream and cookies for breakfast." She paused thoughtfully, "You and Sora didnít eat sugar before I came over to watch you, did you?"

"Nah, we were naturally rambunctious." Riku replied.

"What other horrible things have you been doing to them?" Richelle wondered.

Riku shrugged, deciding not to relate their entire morning to her for sake of retraining whatever was left of his pride. "So Iíve made a few mistakes. Iíve never taken care of kids before! Itís a lot harder than it looks, too."

Richelle smirked, "Now you know why babysitters get such good money," she commented, "the jobís horrible."

"Youíre telling me," Riku mused.

There was a brief silence during which the two watched the playing children, then Richelleís eyes turned back to Riku and she noticed his bandaged hand, "What happened?"

Riku looked down to follow her line of sight and noticed his hand, "Oh," he said quickly and then explained, "it got a little scratched up when I punched through the wall."

"You punched through the wall?" Richelle asked, raising an eyebrow.

"It was an accident," Riku said quickly, "it made them shut up when I punched the wall and I guess I did it too hard."

"You punched the wall to make them shut up?" Richelle asked more incredulously than before.

"They liked it!" Riku defended quickly, "It worked a lot better than yelling at them!"

"You were yelling at three-year-olds?" Riku didnít seem to be getting anywhere good with this conversation.

"Iíve never dealt with kids before!" Riku defended again, finding the whole conversation a little redundant, "I donít know the first thing about kids, so sorry if I mess up a little!" A brief silence followed and then Riku decided he might as well turn this conversation to something helpful, "Any pointers? I could be stuck with these two for most of the day," Ďor moreí he added under his breath, "any advice for someone whoís never looked after toddlers before?"

"Well," Richelle started thoughtfully, "never leave them unattendedÖ"

"Done that," Riku said, "they completely destroyed my room."

Richelle failed horribly at hiding a laugh, "If you do have to leave them alone for a little while, to make dinner or something, make sure they have something harmless to occupy them, like watching TV, and check on them often."

Riku nodded, "TV, check."

"Kiddie shows," Richelle added, "like Barney or Sesame Street. Donít even try getting them to watch something you like, itís not worth the effort. Plus their parents would be pissed to know you had them watching Cops, or something like that."

Riku rolled his eyes, "Fine, kiddie TV."

"Kids have really short attention spans, so try to keep any rules you give them short and to the point," Richelle continued. Riku nodded in understanding and she continued, "Donít yell at them when they frustrate you, as that will just make them more upset." Riku nodded again, remembering how Sora had fallen apart earlier and not wanting to go through that again. "Patience is really important when youíre dealing with kids," Richelle added, smirking at the boy in that annoying way that meant she knew he knew he had no patience.

"I do have patience!" Riku countered hotly before he realized what he was doing.

"Right," Richelle said not sounding at all like she believed him, "just try not to kill them, Iím sure their parents wouldnít appreciate that, either."

Riku glared, but didnít try to defend his point further as in retrospection he had already destroyed the very thing he was trying to protect. That is to say the fact that he had patience.

Richelle left long before the two toddlers had effectively worn themselves down. In fact it was a good two hours later when they finally showed signs of slowing. It was almost noon and the shadows were negligible under the hot sun, Riku was in just the right mind set to believe the heat was merely another way of punishing him as he was forced to watch the toddlers at their play.

Thatís right, there werenít even any shadows to hide in because the sun was straight over headÖ Riku peered carefully at two long, ink black shadows stretching towards the equipment from the edge of the sandbox. And stretching even further as he watched. In fact, if he werenít very much mistakenówhich he might have been from the heatóhe would swear those shadows were moving toward the equipment Sora and Kairi were playing on, as if by their own free will.

He quickly rubbed his eyes and sat up straighter. Sure enough, the shadows were still there and longer than ever. Riku leapt to his feet, positive that moving shadows like that werenít a good thing although he wasnít sure what it was from.

"Sora, Kairi, get down here right now!" He commanded, eyes glued to the strange black shadows.

Sora and Kairi looked at him in surprise before obeying the sharp command, deciding if the older boy was talking like that it meant something serious. As Riku watched the shadows recoiled instantly and disappeared completely, leaving everything as it should be. Sora and Kairi were at his side a moment later, both looking suitably concerned.

"Whatís wrong, ĎIku?" Kairi asked, somehow managing to slip her hand into his clenched fingers.

"Nothing," Riku snapped quickly before catching himself. In a softer tone he continued, "donít worry about it. I think we should get back inside, though, you two have had too much sun today already and I donít want you to burn."

Kairi regarded him silently for a moment before deciding whatever he was worrying about was an adult thing and thus none of her business, "Kay!"

Riku took Soraís hand in his other and the three started back for Rikuís house. "Riku, Iím hungry," Sora complained as they began what promised to be a very long walk back home.

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