Lesson Three: The worst story ever.

"I donít like peanut butter!" Sora complained, looking at his sandwich in disgust.

"Just eat it," Riku sighed, "look, Kairiís eating her sandwich." And making a mess of it, too.

"I like jelly," the girl stated, licking a bit of it off her fingers that had squished out of the bread.

Sora made a whining sound and pushed his plate away stubbornly, sticking his tongue out at Riku when the older boy glared at him.

"Well Iím not making you anything else," Riku said equally stubbornly, "youíll just have to starve if you donít want to eat that sandwich."

Sora crossed his arms and glared at Riku defiantly, "Fine," he said, "and then my daddy will kill you for making my mommy cry after Iím dead!"

Riku was understandably taken aback by such a morbid thought coming from a three-year-old and had to do a double take to ensure his friend really was still that small. Yep. "Youíre not going to die, just eat it."

"No!"

"Yes!"

"Make me!"

Rikuís eyes flashed dangerously at the challenge and he snatched the sandwich from Soraís plate and proceeded to do just that, trying to force the sandwich into the toddlerís mouth. Kairi sat eating her own sandwich quite ignorant to the boysí plight.

As might have been predicted, the end result was very messy. There was peanut butter and jelly everywhere, although mostly smeared all over Riku and Sora. Riku had managed to get one bite down the smaller boy who had then managed to bite his previously uninjured hand. Riku had said a few words that made the children giggle and tell him he was bad, and now Sora was happily eating what was left of his sandwich. Riku couldnít think of any way the world could have been crueler to him, and was now involved in trying to figure out what he had done to make God so angry with him.

He didnít have long to compose a list, however, as the children were very soon done with their lunch and ready to go on a rampage again, thus forcing him to clean them up if he didnít want to clean the whole house of peanut butter and jelly stains laterówhich he didnít. After getting cleaned up they went back into the living room where Riku decided to take Richelleís advice and try putting on some TV to entertain them.

It was a sickening sight really, to see such strange characters dancing around and singing in perfect harmony. It twisted his insides like nothing could, but the two toddlers seemed completely enthralled in it. Oh, how cruel fate can be. Riku decided to busy his eyes by straightening the still messy living room. Then, since they were still behaving, he cleaned up his own room a littleówhile checking on them frequently as he had been told.

Riku stepped back into the quiet living room once he had finished and plopped himself down on the couch, looking at nothing in particular. A nagging thought in the back of his mind told him it was too quiet, thatís when he realized the TV had been turned off. Another thought quickly followed that one.

"Sora? Kairi!" He called, jumping from the couch and spinning around as he surveyed the whole room at once. This left him with the knowledge the two small people definitely werenít in the room. He cursed under his breath and went to the kitchen to try to find them. Then he went to the bathroom. He searched every single room in the house and couldnít find them anywhere! He was really getting nervous now, too, as he was very much dreading how much damage they could be causing at this very momentÖ and he might have been a little concerned for their safety, also.

At length he made his way back to his room. They couldnít be there, since thatís where he had come from earlier and they hadnít been present then, but he didnít really have anywhere else to look. Imagine his relief when he saw the two artists kneeling on the floor with crayons in their hands, looking up at him guiltilyÖ it was a short lived relief.

"What are you doing?" He demanded, probably too loudly, not that he cared at the moment. He came around the corner more to see their masterpiece upon his wall. His expression turned to one of pain as he saw the badly drawn figures of the characters they had watched on TV.

"Pretty!" Kairi told him happily.

Sora nodded agreement and echoed this sentiment, "Pretty!"

"Thatís.. my.. wall!" Riku informed them, trying to force his voice to maintain as even and calm as possible.

The children blinked up at him. Then Kairi decided to point out the only thing that was truly important at the moment: "Pretty!"

Riku shut his eyes, counting to ten in his head as he had long been told was a good way to relieve stress and alleviate anger. He then counted down from ten. Deciding maybe ten wasnít a large enough number, he counted to twenty. Then decided he really ought to make it fifty.

When he opened his eyes again he wished he hadnít as the two kids were scribbling on his wall again and the patience he had managed to collect by counting was gone just like that. He snatched the crayons right from their hands, glaring sharply down at them, "We do not color on Rikuís wall!"

That was a mistake. He knew it was a mistake even as Soraís bottom lip began to tremble, and Kairiís eyes filled up with tears. But there was nothing he could do to stop it now. He covered his ears in a vain attempt to keep the screaming out. Sora and Kairi screamed louder, as if sensing his efforts to block them out.

Seeing as how both Rikuís hands were still sore; his left from when he had punched through the wall, and his right from when Sora had bit it, he wasnít able to try the same tactic as before. So he quickly devised a new oneóignore them and theyíll stop. And it was then that he learned the third lesson of raising toddlers. They do not like being ignored, and will thus take steps to ensure they are not.

It was almost half an hour later, Sora and Kairi were still screaming with no less enthusiasm than they had when they started out. Riku didnít know how their tiny lungs could produce enough air for them to scream so loud for so long, but by some miracle of science, they did. Riku was also quite sure he was going to die if they didnít shut up. Soon.

He had tried leaving the room, of course, but they had followed screaming louder than ever. He tried covering his head with pillows, they had put their heads right next to his. He had tried hiding, they had found him. He was seriously reconsidering just telling Soraís mother what happened and getting it over with.

There was only one thing he hadnít tried yet. And that was begging. Riku did not beg. To anyone. Ever.

"Sora, please, please just shut up!!!" Riku begged, literally on his knees in front of the small, wailing boy. It had to be the lowest moment of his life, he reflected, but just then he didnít really care. "Kairi, for the love of God!!!"

And then a miracleÖ the screaming lessened, and the two children sniffed miserably as they regarded him, making if clear that they were ready to start crying again at any moment.

"Thatís it," Riku said, allowing himself to sound a little hopeful, "Iíll do anything you want, just please donít start crying again!"

"Will you gib me aní ĎIri howsey wide?" Sora asked innocently as he sniffed back his tears, beside him Kairi doing the same.

Riku cringed, a horsey ride? That was almost worse than begging. Reluctantly, he nodded. The boy brightened like magic, "Yay! Horsey ride on Riku!"

Riku considered the last miserable half hour and decided the humiliation was worth it. He plucked the small child from the ground and placed him on his shoulders. Not the most traditional Ďhorsey ride,í but Riku wasnít about to crawl around on the floor. Sora enjoyed it anyway, laughing for the entire tripówhich was only twice around the living room. Then Kairi enjoyed the same. As he placed her back on the floor, both children had completely forgotten their woes.

After their rides, all three friends sat down on the couch, the house momentarily silent. Riku was tired and his mind was frantically attempting to form a plan as to what to do with these two. He hoped they would go to sleep. Kairi interrupted the silence, "Tell us a story, ĎIku," She requested, snuggling up to his side.

"Yeah, a story!" Sora agreed, placing himself on his friendís lap in expectation.

"A story?" Riku repeated, "I donít know any stories."

"You have to know some story," Kairi told him, "old people like you always know stories."

Riku glared at the small red-headed girl, "I am not old." She met his eyes with green, accusing orbs of her own. Riku sighed, "Fine, a storyÖ"

He tried very hard to think of a story, but failed to come up with anything imaginative. "Once there were three friends who lived together on an island," he said, "one day an evil magician" every story had to have an evil magician "decided to torture the good-looking friend by turning the other two into little kids. The good-looking boyís friends made his life a living hell and drove him insane. The end." Riku finished lamely.

Sora and Kairi looked at him silently for a long, long moment. At length it was Sora who broke the silence, "That was a dumb story, Riku."

Kairi nodded her agreement, "The worst story Iíve ever heard."

Riku sighed, "Oh, give me a break! You two have had me running around all day and now you expect me to come up with a good story?" Their glares spoke for themselves.

"What did he do to help his friends?" Kairi prompted.

Riku rolled his eyes, "Put them in a pie and ate them for breakfast."

Sora glared at him, "Thatís not right! Tell it right! He has to save them!"

Riku glared back, "So, the good-looking boy went on a quest to find a beautiful princess who had magical powers that could restore his friends back to their original ages," every story had to have a beautiful magical princess, too "but the evil magician found out about his plan, so he sent evil creatures after the three friends." The two toddlers were looking at him wide-eyed, apparently enthralled by the story.

"The good-looking boy fought off the beasts with a sword, leaving a trail of dead bodies behind him on his path. Despite the evil magicianís efforts, the boy finally arrived at the castle where the princess lived. He spoke with her father and told him he wished to return his friends to their original age with her magic. The king laughed at him and said he was crazy because people donít turn into little kids all of a sudden. Then he locked the beautiful princess in his tallest tower, telling the good-looking boy heíd never be able to save his friends now, and laughing at his plight.

"The good-looking boy killed the king and scaled the outside of the tower, finally reaching the room the princess was inside. The princess was so happy that the good-looking boy saved her from her evil father that she happily returned his friends to their original ages, and returned home with him so they could be married. The good-looking boyís friends were very jealous of the beautiful princess, and the good-looking boy and his magical wife lived happily ever after."

Riku looked down at the two children to see that they were already asleep. He rolled his eyes, "Sure, beg me to tell you a story and then donít even stay awake for the best part." He looked at them again, Sora was sprawled across his lap, and Kairi was leaning against his side. He sighed, "Great, now Iím stuck here."

 

"Oh, shit," Riku said out loud as he heard the front door unlocking. This could only mean one thing, his mother was back. Well, it could mean his father was back, too, but it was more likely that his mother was back since she usually got home before her husband. And there Riku was, sitting on the couch with two toddlers sleeping on his lapóKairi had somehow managed to force her way onto him despite Sora hogging most of it.

He heard the front door open and close as someone entered. He stayed very quiet and watched as his mother, a small, white-haired woman, passed by the opening that led from the living room to the hall. She didnít pause and continued walking like she didnít see him. Riku let out a sigh of relief.

Then the woman paused on the stairway and back tracked until she was standing in the doorway again, looking at her son with a strange look, "RikuÖ?" She let the question hang.

"Er, hi mom!" Riku greeted, giving her his best innocent grin.

The woman stepped into the room, "Who are these two?" She asked.

"Who, mum?" Riku asked back, still doing his best to look completely innocent. It always worked for Sora.

His mother narrowed her eyes at him, "Gee, who could I possibly be talking about?" She asked sarcastically. Yep, thatís all Riku got for his trouble, sarcasm. "Maybe the two toddlers asleep on your lap!" His mother finished, "Riku, what is going on?"

"Oh, you mean them," Riku said, the innocent grin vanishing as he tried to think up a plausible lie. "Er, see one of the neighborsó"

"Which neighbor?" His mother wanted to know.

"Um, well I guess he isnít so much a neighborÖ" Riku said, "Um, he lives all the way across the island. I donít think you know him." The woman raised an eyebrow but didnít interrupt. Riku continued on bravely, "His, er, nephew and niece were visiting from another island andÖ um, he had to go to the hospital causeÖ cause his wife was shot. Yeah, and so he asked me if I could watch them for a while."

"Why did he ask you if he lives across the island?"

"Er, because I was at the hospital. And thatís when he asked me." Riku replied.

"What were you doing at the hospital?"

"Sora was doing something stupid and fell out of the tree house. He needed stitches," Riku answered quickly.

The woman looked at her son through narrowed eyes for a brief moment, and he gave her a weak smile. At last she spoke, "There are a few flaws in your story, son of mine. First is that on a small island like this I would have heard about anyone being shot. Second is that Soraís mother would have called me if Sora needed stitches. And your third, and biggest mistake, is overlooking the fact that I work at the hospital. If I hadnít seen you and your friends come in, someone else would have, and they would have told me all about it."

Riku cringed. Thatís right. His mom was a nurse, he didnít know how heíd forgotten that. "I was waiting outside!" He blurted out quickly, "So they wouldnít have seen me go in!"

His mother looked at him skeptically, "So, your best friend falls out of the tree house and somehow injures himself enough to need stitches. You go with him to the hospital, and then wait outside without going in to see if heís going to be okay. Some guy youíve never met before comes in with his wife whoís just been shot, and asks you to watch his visiting niece and nephew. Thatís the worst story Iíve ever heard." She narrowed her eyes, "I want the truth, now mister."

"Er, rightÖ" Riku paused, "Would you believe that my best friends magically got transformed into three-year-olds and now Iíve got to watch them cause thereís no way in hell that I could explain this to their parents?"

The woman did not look like she would, "I was wrong before," she said, "Thatís the worst story Iíve ever heard."

"A dying woman washed up on shore clutching them and asked me to take care of them with her last breath?"

"Fine, just keep your little secret," the woman sighed, "but if the police show up Iím not going to bail you out." And she left the room in a huff.

"Gee, thanks, mom." Riku said sarcastically.

"Whatís wrong, Riku?" The tired voice of Rikuís brunette friend asked. It would have almost been normal had the voice not been coming from his lap. Apparently all the talking had woken the boy up, but Kairi was still sleeping soundly.

"I really have to find a way to fix you two," Riku sighed.

"But weíre not broken," Sora said with a small frown.

"I guess the first step would be to go back to where this started," Riku reasoned, ignoring the small boyís comment. "So weíll go back to our island tomorrow."

"Oh." There was a brief pause and then Sora looked up at Riku with big, sad eyes, "Riku?"

"Yeah?" Riku asked tiredly.

"I got to go to da bathroom."

Riku sighed, "Alright, itís upstairs." He scooped Kairi into his arms when Sora slid onto the ground, and followed the boy as he scampered up the stairs, finding the bathroom right away. Riku paused in the doorway, could three-year-olds use the bathroom by themselves? He really hoped they could.

"Donít watch me!" Sora squealed when he saw him.

"Iím going to close the door," Riku told him, balancing the groggy Kairiówho had woken up when they movedóin one arm and reaching for the handle in the other.

"No!" Sora squealed again. Riku quickly let go of the handle and froze, "What if I fall in, then! Iíll get sucked down the toilet and my mommy and daddy will be sad cause you closed the door and couldní save me!"

Riku blinked, and his mother, who just happened to be walking by at that moment, chuckled. Riku shot her a glare, he knew better than to think it was coincidence. She had probably heard them talking and came out to observe her son interacting with the two small children. Which, in truth, she had.

"You canít get flushed down the toilet!" Riku shot back, "Youíre too big!"

"I am not!" Sora returned loudly, "Iím just a little boy, youíre big and donít understand!"

Riku felt himself growing frustrated again but his mother placed a hand on his arm, cutting off his response. She smiled condescendingly at the little boy, "Thatís alright, sweetie, weíll leave the door open and be just down the hall if you need us, okay?"

Sora nodded and watched as Rikuís mother pulled him a little ways down the hall before turning back to the toilet. She laughed softly at the look Riku was giving her, "You know, Sora used to be afraid of falling in the toilet when he was little," she said. Riku just shrugged, setting the now squirming Kairi on the ground. A humorous glint appeared in the womanís eye, "You used to think a monster lived down there," she said with a smirk, "you refused to go in the bathroom for a whole week until Sora explained that the only danger was falling in."

Rikuís face turned hot and he was very, very glad Kairi wasnít her normal self to hear that. As it was, the toddler was giggling. He hoped they wouldnít remember any of this when he got them back to normal. Because he would do it. Even if it killed himÖ Especially if it killed him.

A flush was heard and then Sora came out. Rikuís mother looked down at the smiling boy pointedly, "Did you wash your hands?"

"Canít reach," Sora said. The woman looked at Riku expectantly, and with a sigh he accompanied the boy back into the bathroom, holding him up so he could use the sink and get at the soap. They returned to the two girls moments later.

"I hafta go, too," Kairi said.

"Well, you know where the bathroom is," Riku all but growled, earning himself a pointed look from his mother.

Kairi, too, sent him a small glare before running off into the bathroom and shutting the door behind her. The woman turned her attention back to her son, and the boy he was still holding in his arms.

"So, whatís your name, little one?" She asked, smiling at Sora.

"Soó"

Riku quickly clamped a hand over his mouth, "Itís Simon. His name is Simon."

Sora had managed to pull Rikuís hand away, "No itís not, itísó"

"Samuel," Riku interjected quickly, returning his hand to itís place, "sorry, his brotherís name is Simon."

The woman looked at Sora thoughtfully, "He doesnít really look like a SamÖ"

"Well thatís too bad," Riku said hastily, "cause thatís his nameóow!" Sora had grown frustrated when he was unable to move Rikuís hand again, and bit down on it. Hard. Riku quickly let go and put the boy on the floor, where he glared up at Riku.

Luckily for Riku, Kairi chose that moment to come out of the bathroom. She smiled up at Rikuís mom, "Hello Mrs. Ikuís mom," she greeted.

"Hello," the woman returned with a laugh, "and whatís your name?"

"Itísó"

"Kaysey," Riku interjected quickly. His mother looked at him suspiciously, then looked back at the girl.

"Is that right, dearie? Is your name Kaysey?" She didnít notice Riku nodding fervently behind her. Kairi, however, did.

She giggled and then responded in the affirmative, "Yep, Iím princess Kaysey!"

Riku slapped his forehead in pain, causing both young children to giggle again. Rikuís mother wheeled around to look at him, and he quickly moved his hand to appear to be scratching his head. She narrowed her eyes and looked back at the children.

"Do your parents know youíre here?" She asked suspiciously.

Luckily for Riku, both children nodded, "My mommy said I could play with Riku all day!"

"Me, too!" Kairi giggled.

"And, um, their mom wanted them to stay the night, too," Riku quickly added.

"A sleepover!" Sora exclaimed, "Iíve never been to one of those before!"

"Can we please stay, Mrs. Ikuís mom?" Kairi asked, giving Rikuís mother a pair of wide, pleading eyes to look at.

She smiled and nodded in response, "Of course, as long as your parents know where you are," she said, glancing pointedly at Riku. "Cause Iíll kill my son if I find out heís been kidnapping little children."

"Please, mom," Riku said, "does it really look like Iím having fun here?"

The woman looked her son over, he had a toddler in each hand, both of whom were jumping up and down cheering about their sleepover. The boy in question looked positively miserable. She couldnít help but laugh, "At least now I wonít have to worry about you getting involved with any girls. Thisíll probably scar you for life and youíll never want to even risk having kids, eh?"

Riku looked at his mother, appalled, "Mom!" He glanced down at Sora and Kairi who didnít appear to have noticed his motherís comment, "Please, there are children present!"

His mother laughed, "Iím just teasing, Riku. What should we have for dinner, I assume there will be two extra places at the tableÖ"

"Ice cream!" Sora suggested immediately.

"Cookies!" Kairi added.

"Anything but peanut butter and jelly," Riku added.

The woman laughed again, "Well, how about I order some pizza? Your father can pick it up on his way home from work." She looked down at the two little kids, "How does that sound? Do you two like pizza?"

"Yay! Pizza!" Sora cheered.

"Pizza!" Kairi echoed.

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