Alright, guys and girls, since everything is picking up, including school, work, and tempers (some more than others, understandably and respectfully speaking), I thought I'd start this story a little early to help relieve some of the stress. This story takes place after 'Sora's Christmas': *DIIING...DIIING...DIIING...DOONG...DIIING...DIIING...DAANG...DOONG* As the school bell sounded and the sun starting to set a little, Sora landed face first on the dirt road ground with a loud THUD, his book bag sliding a good pace ahead of him. Dirt clouds formed and settled around and on his blue school uniform. While lying there, he coughed, spat out dirt and wiped the small line of blood coming from his mouth. He turned a little to face the group responsible. They were taking a big risk in doing this in the woods just outside the school, but the group didn't care. There were three of them altogether. The one who threw Sora was a good three heads taller than him, and about twice as wide. His head was shaved and his black sunglasses reflected a good deal of light the sun was emitting towards. His blue school uniform barely fit him, while his custom, black, fighting gloves fit him rather well. Rude was a guy of few words, but then he barely needed to talk anyway. The second guy was about as wide as Reno, but only two heads taller than Sora. His unusual bluish-purple hair hung down in large spikes/dreadlocks. Although he was almost as strong as Rude, Seymour was more the brains of the group rather than brawn. He didn't talk that much either, since their third member did almost all the talking for everyone. The third member was looking down at Sora, smiling coyly at him. He was only a couple of inches taller than Sora, and his unkempt, brilliant red hair extended to a ponytail from behind him. Reno could never resist shooting off his mouth, and whenever he smiled, it only showed that his pride and arrogance was as large as the sky itself. Reno walked a couple of steps towards Sora, still smiling coyly and playfully taunting, "Well, Sora, you certainly didn't spend a year away from us to train. You going to tell us why you were gone, really, or are you just going to continue to cause trouble?" Reno raised an eyebrow a little, "Keep in mind that if you decide to keep it a secret from us, Rude will have to give you a few swimming lessons out on the beach." Rude cracked his knuckles, while Seymour rolled his eyes. Why am I here? Seymour often thought these things whenever kinds of situations appeared. He certainly wasn't needed... Still on the ground, Sora stared at them defiantly, calmly saying, "I already told you guys why I was gone." Reno tossed his head back and laughed, "I can't believe you! What makes you think I'd believe something so stupid as that story?!" He lowered his head back down and shrugged, "Oh well, you had your chance. Let's prepare him for his dip, Rude." Rude slightly smiled, cracked his knuckles. He started to proceed to Sora, when Sora's book bag flew and hit Rude in the head. Thing is, Sora didn't throw the bag. The three of them looked to where the bag flew from, a shadowed area just outside the trees next to the road they were on. Riku stepped into view. His uniform's jacket was being held one-handed, over his shoulder, while the other hand was holding his book bag. The white sleeves of his shirt were rolled up to his elbows, and one of his eyes (the only one visible) showed an erie calm through his long hair. Riku set his book bag down, and began rummaging through it, looking for something, "You guys having a party without me?" Reno's smile faded just a bit, "Stay out of this, Riku. This is between us and the kid. Besides, you can't take on all three of us!" Riku didn't even look up as he continued his search, "I beat you guys, both at 1-1 and 3-1, just the other day at the beach. Did you get smacked so hard that you don't remember, Reno?" Reno's coy smile was now replaced with an angry glare. He snarled, "The only reason why you won was because we just got done with our training! We had been going at for five hours straight with no breaks!" Riku found the white, arm guard he was looking for and pulled it out of his bag, "If by 'training' you mean 'napping', then, yeah, I can believe that. Can it, Reno!" Riku snapped as Reno was about to object again, "You've been making excuses for as long as I've known you, whether it's about training, homework, or bullying. You three have been gone for the last five years at the Shinra Military School, or as I like to call it 'Shinra Bootcamp', and the only thing you've accomplished is losing a few pounds." Riku slipped the arm guard on, and placed his jacket down, "Since I've returned, I've been deemed the hall monitor of our grade, and this is still technically school grounds. You say I only won on a technicality? Well, the teachers have all left for the day, and you three seem to be brimming with energy. So here's your one chance, Reno," Riku assumed a defensive stance he often used on Sora, "either put up or shut up." Reno grinned again, and simultaneously the three of them pulled out large, wooden batons and charged Riku, Reno leading the charge. Riku ducked as Reno took a swing at him with the baton, and kicked Reno so hard that he flew back, leaving the baton behind, and collided into Seymour. The two of them flew back a few more feet and then landed hard, both knocked out. Rude turned as the two flew by, and when he turned back, Riku jumped in the air and landed a good kick to Rude's head. Proving to be made of a little stronger stuff than Reno and Seymour, Rude wasn't knocked out by that kick, but instead was a little dazed. Riku picked up the baton, jumped in the air again, and broke it against the stunned Rude. Rude fell to the ground with a loud THUD, everything shaking as he landed. Now he was out. Riku shook his head, picked up Rude's leg, and dragged him to where Reno and Seymour were laying, and placed him next to the two of them. Riku thought for a moment, then said, "Oh, what the heck?" He rearranged the positioning of Rude and Seymour, so that the looked like they were hugging Reno in their sleep. Riku rubbed his hands a little, "That ought to keep them out of trouble for awhile," he turned to Sora, a little annoyed, "You alright?" Sora's head drooped a little. He looked away, "...yeah. Thanks, Riku." Riku sighed, "Come on. The others will be worried about you." The two of them started walking down the dirt road, which led the way to their homes. Riku spoke up again while they were walking, "Why are you letting them push you around? You can beat them a lot faster than I can, so why aren't you fighting?" Cnc?