Better Left Alone
Rays of light slowly basked the island as the sun began to creep its way into the sky. As it rose small streaks of sunlight began to stream through the glass window on the wall leading into Riku’s bedroom. Feeling the morning warmth hit his face, Riku quietly groaned before raising his hand to shield his eyes from the blinding light. Reluctantly, he opened his teal eyes to see his once darkened room lightened by the sun outside. He rubbed his eyes with his hand as he yawned and looked over at the clock which read that it was five in the morning.
“Just once I would like to sleep in.” He mumbled under his breath as he pushed himself to sit up.
Stretching his stiffened muscles he slowly got up from his bed and begrudgingly began getting ready for the day. As he rummaged through his closet he grabbed his school uniform, even though he still had at least three hours before he would need to be in class. He got dressed and made sure to place his pajamas into the nearby laundry hamper as to not mess up the clean floor. His parents would be back from their trip later that day and Riku had made sure to clean up the mess from his rampage a few days prior. Once he was finished preparing for the day, he grabbed his backpack and a quick breakfast before heading out of the house. Closing the front door behind him he took a deep breath of the salty morning air. He was the only one outside as every other person that was not attending their daily job was still slumbering in their beds. The early mornings were the only peaceful times on the island and as much as Riku complained about waking up he would admit to enjoying the quiet.
Riku began walking along the dirt road to leave his neighborhood and headed towards the shore line. As he walked he looked up at the brightening blue sky and closed his eyes to feel the warmth of the sun on his face. Exiting his neighborhood, he looked back to the path he was taking and caught sight of the local hospital. He momentarily stopped walking as he looked at the tall yet small building. The population of the island barely hit over a couple thousand so the hospital was barely over four floors tall. The bright sun reflected off the multitude of shining windows, causing Riku to slightly shield his eyes.
“I wonder if she’s awake yet…” Riku asked aloud. “It’s been three days.”
He stood right outside his neighborhood staring at the hospital seemingly lost in thought. Taking a deep breath he tightened his hand that was gripping a strap to his backpack and made his way towards the hospital. Reaching the glass double doors he pushed them open and heard a small bell ringing him welcome. A young brunette sat at the front desk in the lobby typing away behind a large computer screen leaving only her eyes and forehead visible. As she heard the chime of the bell she sighed and glanced over the top of the screen to see who was interrupting her work.
She raised a thin eyebrow as she noticed Riku approaching and asked “Are you here to visit someone?”
Riku uncomfortably rubbed the back of his neck replying, “Um yeah, I was wondering if that girl I saved a few days ago is still here.”
Without saying anything, the brunette got up from her seat and straightened her tight button down blouse before walking out from behind the desk. Motioning her arm down a hall she told him shortly, “Follow me.”
Turning quickly, she began walking down the hall, her high heels clicking on the tile floor with every step. Riku followed close behind unusually fidgeting his hands in front of him in a nervous manner. The hall was lined with rose colored doors with numbers plastered along the frames as various nurses and doctors came in and out of the rooms in a hurried fashion. The uptight receptionist stopped abruptly, catching Riku off guard. She turned around in front of one of the doors in the hall and motioned her hand towards the handle.
“She’s right here. Keep in mind that visits from non-family members should not exceed thirty minutes. Is that clear?” The woman informed him.
Riku slightly glared at the woman and looked as if he was about to say something when he took a deep breath. Closing his eyes for a moment he simply nodded and told her, “Yeah, I get it. Don’t overstay my welcome.”
The brunette placed her hand back down at her side and strained a smile, telling him, “Perfect. Now enjoy your visit.”
With that she walked briskly past Riku to make it back to her post as her clanking high heels echoed through the halls. Riku sighed after she left and rubbed the bridge of his nose before reaching for the doorknob. Once his hand was wrapped around the knob he hesitated before turning it. He momentarily loosened his grip before shaking his head and swiftly turning the knob without a second thought. Pushing the door open he looked into the bare room. The walls and tile floor were a dull white as a single bed sat against the opposite wall next to a large window overlooking the shoreline outside. A wooden chair stood beside hospital equipment that was maintaining the vitals of the girl lying in the bed. She lay in a peaceful slumber, unaware that Riku had entered the room.
Her red hair was free of the sand and was untangled as it flowed softly off the side of the bed. Her relaxed state was a complete contrast to the chaos Riku had associated with her after he brought her back to life. Riku examined the girl as he slowly made his way to the wooden chair and sat down. As he sat he noticed an IV tube tucked into the girl’s hand that was lying on the edge of the bed. He stared at it for a moment before redirecting his eyes towards the window to watch the ocean waves lapping the sandy shore.
After a few minutes of silence he mumbled, “I’m not sure why I’m even here. It’s not like she’ll even notice.”
Despite his doubt he didn’t move from his seat and sat beside the girl in silence until there was a light knock on the door. Riku looked over as the door to the room opened and a stout female nurse came into the room pulling a small cart of medical equipment.
She slightly startled when she noticed Riku and laughed, “I’m just here to check her vitals! I’m surprised she has any visitors as no one seems to know who she is.”
Riku forced a welcoming smile to the nurse but stayed silent. He watched as the woman began performing various tests on the girl. After a couple tests he broke the silence, “Do you know when she’ll wake up?”
The nurse shook her head as she grabbed a stethoscope that was around her neck. “There is no telling how long it will take her to awaken.” She told him, “After the ordeal she went through I don’t blame her wanting to take her time.”
Letting out a half laugh, Riku looked at the girl’s face before reluctantly getting up from his seat. “I should go.” He sighed as he turned around to walk out of the room.
“Oh, well that’s interesting.” The nurse mumbled under her breath causing Riku to stop walking.
“What’s interesting?” He asked as he turned around.
“Her heart rate has accelerated.” The nurse informed him as she placed the stethoscope she been using on top of her medical cart. “That’s a good sign that she’ll wake up soon.”
Riku’s eyes widened as he rushed to the girl’s side and beamed louder than he intended, “Really? How soon do you think?”
“You’re being so loud…” An unfamiliar voice whispered.
Both the nurse and Riku looked down at the girl in shock as they saw her slowly waking up. The girl’s golden eyes fluttered open as she took a moment to awaken. Her eyes widened as she realized that she was in an unfamiliar place. She gasped and pushed herself up onto her elbows looking around the room. Her eyes rested on Riku and she cocked her head slightly to the side as if she recognized him.
“Don’t be alarmed Miss, you are completely safe.” The nurse spoke up, causing the girl to look over at her. “You are on Destiny Islands and you arrived here three days ago when you fell unconscious into the ocean. Since the incident you have been in the hospital.” She paused to allow the girl to take in the load of information. “Can I ask for your name?”
Slowly pushing herself to completely sit up despite the look the nurse was giving her, the girl hoarsely responded, “Hinata.” She cleared her throat to try again, “My name is Hinata.” Giving a quick look around the room she asked, “I don’t suppose you have seen my sister Aiko?”
The nurse gave a worried look at Riku before shaking her head. “I’m sorry Miss Hinata, from the best of our knowledge you are the only person who came from wherever you came from.”
Hinata’s eyes saddened as she heard the nurse’s words. She gazed absently at her hands that were fidgeting in her lap. Sighing, she looked up at Riku and asked, “Have I met you before? You seem familiar…”
Riku opened his mouth to respond when the nurse chimed, “Why, he’s the one who saved your life!”
Both Riku and Hinata looked over at the nurse after her outburst causing her to sheepishly smile and say, “I better go tell the doctor that you are awake Miss Hinata.” Making her way to the door she told her, “I’ll be back in a few.”
As the door closed behind her, Riku and Hinata were left alone in the hospital room. Riku stared towards the door in silence until Hinata spoke up.
“You saved my life?” Hinata asked.
Riku turned around and looked into Hinata’s confused eyes. His cheeks dusted a light rose as he stammered, “Um… yeah. I was with my friends on the beach when we saw something fall from the sky and land in the ocean.” He sat down in the wooden chair by Hinata’s bed as he continued, “I wanted to know what it was so I swam after it and it ended up being you.”
“Really?” Hinata asked in almost disbelief.
“Do you not remember how you got here?” Riku asked her.
Hinata shook her head as she replied, “I’m not sure… everything is a blur to me right now.” She paused as she looked over at Riku and gave him a sincere smile. “Thank you… for saving me.”
Riku’s cheeks darkened as he rubbed the back of his neck and told her, “Don’t worry about it. Anyone else would have done it in my place.” He smiled at her for a moment before asking. “I don’t know if this is too soon to be asking but… do you remember where you came from?”
The smile on Hinata’s face swiftly diminished as she brought her knees to her chest and leaned her chin on top. After a moment of silence she began, “I do, but…”
Before another word was said the door to the room burst open, allowing an overflow of various doctors and nurses to pour into the room. Riku sat back in his chair and watched as the doctors swiftly began overwhelming Hinata with tests and questions. He tried to stay out of their way and wait for everything to quiet down when he felt a hand wrap around his arm and was pulled out of his seat. Whipping his head around he saw the brunette receptionist as she dragged him out of the room.
“Hey, wait, I’m not done!” Riku argued, slightly trying to pull away from the receptionist.
The brunette rolled her eyes as she told him, “What the doctors are discussing involves patient confidentiality; meaning, that unless you are immediate family to her you cannot be in there.”
Riku glanced back at Hinata and caught her eyes in his. Stopping momentarily, despite the force of the receptionist, he called out to her, “I’ll be back after school!”
He noticed her smile before the door to the room was shut in his face blocking her from his view. Turning his head he glared at the receptionist as she half-heartedly put her hands up in surrender and defended, “I’m just doing my job.”
She turned around from Riku and began clicking her heels back to the front desk as Riku stared back at the closed door in front of him. Lightly kicking the bottom of the door, he turned around and made his way out of the hospital; shielding his eyes from the bright sunlight as he got outside.
Sighing he asked aloud, “Well now what am I supposed to do?”
“Hey Riku, what are you doing out here?” Sora called out.
Riku’s eyes adjusted to the light as he noticed Sora and Kairi jogging towards him. A smile crept on his face as they approached him and he asked, “Hey guys, what’s up?”
Sora crossed his arms and replied, “Wait, I asked you first!”
Kairi clasped her hands in front of her as she giggled, “We were out looking for you actually!”
“Looking for me?” Riku cocked his head to the side, “What for?”
Sora sighed when no one addressed his earlier question and shrugged as he informed him, “Well ever since that girl got here, Kairi has been wondering about her own past and how she got here.”
Riku looked surprised at Kairi as he remarked, “Really? That’s out of the ordinary.”
Kairi pushed a few short strands of her dark red hair behind her ear as she admitted, “Seeing the way she got here and how she almost lost her life… Well it just got me thinking about how I got here and where I came from.”
Placing his hands behind his head Sora added, “Yeah, and we didn’t know where to start so we thought we would find you!”
Riku nodded as he listened to his friends before asking, “Why didn’t you ask me earlier when the girl first got here? It’s been a few days.”
“We wanted to make sure things died down before we go asking questions.” Kairi shrugged as she responded.
“You got any ideas?” Sora asked.
Placing his hand to his chin, Riku thought about it. After a few seconds of silence he looked up at Kairi and offered, “The best place to start would probably be to write down everything that you do remember.”
“But I don’t remember anything about where I came from.” Kairi pointed out confused.
“Well yeah, but do you remember anything about when you first got here. Like how you got to live with Hana and Shin?” Riku suggested.
“I guess that’s true.” Kairi agreed before looking at Sora and asking, “What do you think?”
“If Riku thinks it’s a good idea, I say we do it!” Sora grinned.
Riku laughed, “You weren’t even listening were you?”
Sora shot Riku a glare before defending, “What? Was too!”
Kairi and Riku laughed as they began walking away from the hospital leaving Sora behind.
“Hey wait up!” He called after them as he ran to catch up. As he went up beside Riku he asked, “So what were you doing at the hospital?”
Riku was silent for a moment before reluctantly admitted, “Oh, um, I was visiting that girl.”
“You were?” Both Kairi and Sora exclaimed in almost disbelief.
“Are you okay?” Sora teased knocking Riku on the head.
Riku laughed in an annoyed tone as he swatted Sora’s hand away. “I’m fine, I didn’t have anything better to do this morning so I went to see if she woke up yet.”
“And…” Kairi pried curiously.
“She did.” Riku informed them, getting a beaming smile from Kairi.
“Oh really,” Kairi exclaimed, “I can’t wait to meet her!” She stopped walking causing her friends to do the same. “Can we go see her now?”
Riku scoffed, “No, not long after she woke up the doctors came in and made me leave. I told her I would go see her again after school.”
“You did? What about us?” Sora asked before smirking as he placed his arm around Riku, “I see how it is, trying to get some alone time with her before you have to share her!”
“No, that’s not it at all.” Riku defended pushing Sora away with a small smile. “I wanted to give you and Kairi some alone time that’s all.”
“Alone time,” Sora repeated, “Why would we need that?”
Kairi giggled as she reached her arm behind her back and grabbed the forearm of the other. Leaning forward so Riku could see her face she asked, “So what’s her name?”
“Hinata,” Riku told them with a smile before noting, “She told me she remembered where she came from.” He looked over at Kairi and noticed her widening eyes as he continued, “After you write down what you remember, it might be worth trying to see what Hinata remembers. Maybe you guys came from the same place.”
Kairi smiled at first before looking down at her feet and mumbling, “I wonder why I don’t remember.”
“You were really young when you came here Kairi.” Sora comforted her as he placed a hand on her shoulder. “Maybe you were too little to remember.”
Kairi sighed as she looked up at Sora and nodded. “Maybe you’re right.”
Sora smiled before asking, “Um, where are we walking to anyways?”
Riku gave him a confused look, “To school? Why, where did you think we were walking?”
“Oh I don’t know…” Sora laughed, “I just thought I got up earlier today so I wouldn’t have to go to school right way.” He sighed disappointed. “Is it really time for it already?”
“We are still a little early,” Kairi told him. “But that gives us time to talk and write down what I remember.”
Sora shrugged as they continued to walk up the steep hill up towards their school. The sun was higher in the sky and the streets were beginning to fill up with hustle and bustle of the day. They were the first students on the campus when they reached the top of the hill. Approaching a nearby picnic table the three of them sat down and set down their bags. Riku sat on top of the table as Sora sat beside Kairi on the bench. Kairi opened her cream colored satchel and pulled out a green journal with a gold outline of a cricket in the corner. Before she could open it, Riku grabbed the book from her and held it up so he could get a good look at it.
“Why do you have a journal with a cricket on it?” He asked.
Kairi giggled as she grabbed it back and defended, “Because crickets are cute!” She placed it on the table and opened it to the first blank page before mumbling, “And it was the only style left in the store.”
Riku laughed under his breath as he looked away from Kairi to the layout of the island from the top of the hill. The sun glistened blindingly off the surface of the ocean causing Riku to swiftly avert his gaze. He looked over to Sora and noticed him sitting close to Kairi as they chatted away about something. Smiling to himself he watched them laugh as Sora grabbed his own pencil and began doodling in the corner of Kairi’s page before she swatted him away.
“So what do you remember?” Riku broke in, wanting to get to work.
Kairi looked up at him as she tapped the end of her pen on her chin. She went back to her journal and began to read aloud as she wrote. “I don’t remember the actual fall or anything like that, except for what my parents told me. From what they said it doesn’t seem much different than the way Hinata got here; except they didn’t tell me if someone had to save me.”
“How did you begin living with them?” Sora asked, peeking over Kairi’s shoulder.
“I remember I was staying in the mayor’s home for a while. I don’t remember how I got there or if I had been in the hospital at all. The mayor and his wife were never at the house so I was always really bored. Then one day Hana and Shin came to the house and asked if I wanted to live with them. And after I said yes they just packed up the things the mayor had given me and I went with them.”
“I wonder where Hinata is going to stay.” Riku mumbled as he heard Kairi’s recollection.
“Maybe I could convince Hana and Shin to take her in.” Kairi offered with a smile. “It would be like having a sister!”
“I wonder if you have any siblings.” Sora mused as he turned around and leaned his back against the table.
Kairi stopped writing and noted, “I’ve never thought about that before.” She tightened her grip on her pen. “What if they are looking for me or wondering whatever happened to me?” She paused for a moment and when she spoke again her voice broke. “What if they think I’m…”
Sora immediately noticed Kairi’s tone and spun around as he wrapped an arm around her and pulled her into a hug. “Don’t blame yourself Kairi. You’re here now and you have a new family.”
Riku watched Sora hug Kairi and comfort her as he sat uncomfortably on the table. Seeing that Kairi was beginning to get emotional, he grabbed her journal and hopped off the table to give them some space. He walked to the edge of the top of the hill and let his gaze fall on the hospital near the shore line of the ocean as he heard Kairi continuing to talk behind him.
“But what about my real family?” Kairi’s voice cracked as a tear fell down her cheek. “I’ll never see them again and even if I did, would I even recognize them?”
Sora tightened his arm around Kairi as she cried into his chest. He looked over at the island below as Riku turned around and they made eye contact. Neither of them knew what to say as Sora silently comforted their crying friend. Riku noticed a few students beginning to make their way up the hill to the school. He went over to Kairi and knelt down to her level, placing a hand on her shoulder.
“Come on Kairi,” He told her softly, “You’ve got to pull it together. What happened in the past wasn’t your fault. We are going to get off this island one day and then we will find your home and your family. I promise.”
Kairi sniffled as she looked over at Riku and pulled one of her hands away from Sora to wipe her tear stained cheek. She looked into his eyes and began to calm down. Taking a deep breath she strained a smile and told her friends, “Thanks.”
Riku smiled as he patted her shoulder and stood up. He waited for Sora to let Kairi go before handing her the green journal. As she took it he firmly held onto the book until she looked up at him. Once their eyes met he asked, “Are you sure you want to keep looking into this?”
She looked down at the journal in her hand and momentarily closed her eyes. After a few seconds of silence she nodded, “Yes, I need to know. I can’t hide from it forever.”
Accepting her answer, Riku released his hold on the book and absently watched as she put the journal away. The three of them stood from the picnic bench and Sora was at Kairi’s side as Riku walked a few steps ahead of them to get the glass door that led into the school. He smiled as his friends entered the school as he held the door open for them. Before heading in behind them he looked one last time at the island below until he caught sight of the hospital below. He was going to have to wait quite a few hours before he could head down there again. Sighing in resignation, he turned and walked into the building leaving the island behind him.
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