He realizes that something is going on when he enters his workshop, his hair still a little wet because of the recent quick shower and a white towel on his shoulders, just to find his father already looking at him with that kind of smile.
Mickey has never been a discreet father. It has taken at least twelve years and a lot of indulgence for Riku to forgive him for that time, when he was about six, when he basically blabbed to his crush’s parents that he kept her photograph from the year book under the pillow and kissed it every night before sleeping. He isn’t bad, and he has never seriously tried to embarrass or bother him. Still, Riku can just guess that he hasn’t realized yet that he’s almost an adult and that it’s not nice or even funny to keep talking about him like he’s a six year old child fallen for a schoolmate of his that secretly brushes his sister’s doll.
Riku identifies that kind of smile as a I’m-trying-to-not-embarrass-you-but-actually-I-don’t-know-how-to-do-it-and-I've-never-known smile. And this means, that if his father is smiling at him like this right now, there’s someone in his workshop that could potentially be the main character of the next embarrassing story to tell to their relatives during the Christmas dinner, because, yep, targeting Riku is, apparently, the funniest thing to do in family reunions.
Mickey is a lovely father, though, probably the person he respects the most and the one he's most afraid to lose, together with his mom. Still, he can't help but be insanely scared by him and by what his brain may be popping out.
He keeps rubbing the back of his head, a slight edgy suspect running the marathon among his neurons, and looks at his father with a nervous worried gaze. It’s just, like, nine in the morning and he isn’t ready to be crucified, already.
His father raises his chin towards him (the height difference between them is what should actually be funny to their relatives) and, joining his hands behind his back, says “you’ve got an affectionate customer this morning” then leaves with his creepy pathetic smile still on his little round mouse-like face.
“Again” Riku hears from the lobby, before a spooky laugh reaches him and makes his skin crawl.
He wishes he and his father could have that little speech about how to be a discreet and normal parent, again, but he has to wait at least for lunch right now.
He sighs, then runs his fingers through his hair, trying to get at least fit to be seen before lifting the rolling shutter of his garage just to find Sora’s Gummi ship in it, a middle-sized red ship parked in his workshop for the second time this week. He would be surprised, maybe, if this wouldn't have happened so often by now that's almost routine. He isn’t pissed off neither, since work is work and Sora seems always so happy to pay, like his money isn’t actually his. He’s just confused, because he has never figured out how can a simple courier bug his ship so often.
He first met Sora last June, when his Gummi ship arrived at the workshop literally in pieces after a not-so-nice ice storm along Starlight Way: the engine mumbled loudly, half of the propulsors was gone and the body was totally devastated, scratched and bruised all over. It took more than a week and a tank of elbow grease to fix it up as new, and Sora has stayed nearby the whole time, him and his…unusual partners, a dumb goofy dog and a hostile cracky white duck that tried to cut off Riku’s fingers more than once with his evil beak.
Starlight way is often a bitch and Radiant Garden is a good place for a pit-stop and a refuel, and it's not that strange that Sora stops in the city regularly. The thing that scares Riku and that suggests him that, soon or later, Sora will unavoidably kill himself in a ship accident, is the number of times he needs to stop at the workshop, way too often for an intergalactic courier.
When Riku sees him, hismost affectionate customer, as his father would call him, is desperately trying to ensure that his duck doesn’t eat a bunch of bolts from a toolbox he left on the floor yesterday night. He needs to draw his attention by clearing his throat more than once for Sora to realize that he’s there and abruptly grab the duck neck and shut his beak closed.
“H-hi Riku! W-wonderful day, isn’t it?” he says, mumbling.
Riku could swear that his face has turned from his natural coloring to every shade of red in a pair of instants or so, and he can’t do anything but find him cute. Sora actually is really cute, he cut his hair too from last time they’ve met, and he’s even cuter.
He rubs his face with the towel to hide the stupid pathetic smile that is spontaneously springing up on his lips, while Sora approaches him, just to trip in his own giant shoes and risk to meet the floor with his cute face and squash his duck.
“Oh, hell, I… I’m sorry” he stutters, turning even redder, “you… you look good- wet, good! You are wet and you look good.”
This time, it’s Riku’s turn to blush, heavily. His heart goes for a trip in his throat and a swarm of butterflies begins to dance the twist in his stomach. When Sora is around, he feels like nothing more manly than a thirteen-years-old school girl on her first crush. That’s why his father had that kind of smile when he entered the workshop: he knows.
Sora gasps. “It’s not like you don’t look good when you’re not wet, I mean, you always look good, it’s just that today you are wet, too. I meant you look wet, not good. But you’re good too, just to be clear! Oh my, could I shut my mouth down?!” he concludes lowering his voice and speaking at the duck in his arms.
Riku throws the towel on his workbench and lowers his gaze towards the floor. “Yeah, just showered.” He’s so embarrassed that he just turns his eyes to the ship, hands on his hips, while Sora starts coughing like he’s suffocating.
Wait, that’s not Sora. It’s his duck.
“I think he’s eaten a bolt” he says, pointing the animal as he starts rolling his little devil eyes and hacking so much that he looks like he’s going to spit his lungs on the floor.
Sora, who’s been just staring at him for the whole time, realizes what’s going on only when Riku asks him to hand over the damn duck and gives him the Heimlich maneuver, making it spit the bolt like a bullet right into the Gummi ship left wing.
“Donald! Are you okay? You did it on purpose, right?! I- I...” Sora winces with embarrassment, then he looks at Riku, even more embarrassed. “He doesn’t like Radiant Garden, I guess. He tries to make me change direction everytime we head here.”
Riku lets the duck go before he can rip off his fingers and he falls on the floor like a sack of flour. “You head here often.”
Sora blushes. “Yeah, I know. You- just saved Donald, thank you! Have you done that already?”
“Never saved a duck’s life before. Not so early in the morning.”
Sora laughs, then he crosses his arms behind his head. “Is there something you cannot do?”
Riku scratches his hair, then turns towards the Gummi ship with a thin worried smile. “Well, I won’t probably be able to fix up your ship if you reduce it in pieces, again. But we could always use them to build a mixer, once it’ll be gone.”
“A mixer. Nice. For… juices. I love juices!”
“Yeah, but you probably won't be able to work without your Gummi ship.”
“Guess I’ll learn how to do juices, then!”
They both laugh, while Sora’s duck sticks, again, his long neck inside the toolbox and gets its beak trapped in the tube of the duct-tape. Riku rolls his eyes, but instead of making comments on it, he just moves his gaze on the ship, looking for any kind of visible issue, just to check that it’s clean and integer. That old rickety carriage has arrived in his workshop in worse conditions than those.
“What’s the matter?” he asks the owner.
Sora tilts his head a little, squints at his Gummi ship, then kicks the floor. “Well, it does this strange noise when the engine is on. Like, you know, bzzzzz, pem-pem, fchuuuu.”
“That’s a lot of noises.”
“Yeah” he laughs, scratching his cheek, “it’s not good music, though. Donald hates it.”
The duck squawks angrily, the duct-tape now around his neck, and Sora scolds him like he has said something really wrong.
“Watch your language!”
Riku just ignores them to open the ship hood and… well, that’s strange.
“Did something happen to the ship? Before it started with those noises, I mean.”
Sora mumbles. “Such as…?”
“Well, anything.” He picks up his tool belt from the workbench and then returns to the hood. The fire-G explodes in smoke as he unscrews a bolt from it, and he's glad he has cut his hair too, because it would have already been bursting into flames, otherwise.
He can't figure out what could have happened to reduce the ship in those conditions, but it sure wasn't an ice storm, an accident or a bird in the wing turbine. It is more like…
“It is like… somebody beat the shells of the motor with a...?” he mutters, as Sora's strange dog runs out from the ship unsheathing in his mouth a…
“Goofy!” Sora screams, leaping on the animal and landing on him. The wrench flies towards the rolling shutter of the workshop and smacks into it with a metallic din that echoes in the whole garage.
Even if squashed between his owner and the floor, Goofy starts to wag his tail and bark happily, his big odd eyes gazing directly at Riku. As if the uproar isn’t enough, even the duck starts to quack and flap his wings, jumping carelessly on Sora’s head.
Riku just stares at them.
“Is everybody okay?” Mickey says, entering the garage, a smirk on his face. “Oh, am I interrupting anything?” he giggles, eyeing at the weird triplet laying on the floor.
Riku slaps his own face, half hiding behind his hand, while Sora begins to argue with his odd squad about how much they are bad friends. Mickey gets closer to his son, fondly looking at them, and Riku realizes right away that he’s going to do it again: being creepy.
“Looks like his friends are trying to say you something.”
He crosses his arms across the chest, closing his eyes and bowing his head. “What are you talking about?”
“Maybe, they’re tired of their friend to wreck intentionally their ship just to come and see you.”
Riku winces, blushing fiercely, but he can’t do anything but look away when his father, again, looks at him with that kind of smile and just leaves as he’s arrived.
Sora screams when Donald pecks his hair out and Goofy starts pulling him towards Riku, biting the sleeve of his hoodie. This can’t be, he thinks, swallowing. Still, he’s got his heart hammering his ribcage when he just puts down the tool belt, closes the ship hood and holds out his hand to Sora. His companions freeze, as their owner blushes and tries to put himself together.
Riku coughs, his cheeks slightly purple. “Would you like to grab a coffee with me before fixing this mess up?”
Sora gets even redder, but he gives him the best and most beautiful smile ever.
“I’d be happy” he says, grabbing his hand.
Riku’s not sure about what his father has said, but he lets his doubts fall when Sora rises up and leans towards him to kiss his cheek.