The Inner Child - Chapter 7 - Squirrel_Face (2024)

Chapter Text

At the mall, Riley was having fun with her friends, looking in various stores, and chatting happily with her teammates.

By now, the rest of the team had also heard of Riley's scholarship news, so Riley got many congratulations as well.

Riley's Inner Child sat patiently on the sofa, watching the screen with intense fascination.

The emotions all stood around the console, professionally pushing buttons and turning knobs as Riley went about the mall.

Occasionally, an emotion would turn back to Little Riley just to check up; the girl would give a small smile and a thumbs up in return, before bringing her attention back to the screen.

It seemed that Riley's (near) grown up life was a subject of pure wonder to the little one.

But, as Riley and her Friends walked by a large children's play structure in the mall, Little Riley let out an excited gasp and hopped off her seat excitedly.

"Let's go play on that!!" She exclaims, as a few of the emotions turned to the girl in surprise.

Joy looked from Little Riley stood behind her, to the mind's eye lingering on the play structure.

"Definitely not. We're way too old, we'd be kicked out immediately!" Anxiety denied after a moment.

"Yeah, sorry, not happening." Disgust confirmed.

Big Riley took her eyes away from the play structure and back towards her friends.

The Inner Child sulks, defeated.

"Hm." "What about this?" Joy hummed.

Before any emotion could protest, Joy pressed a button and slightly turned a knob on the console, and Big Riley spoke up in a lighthearted tone;

"Hey, did anyone else have a funny urge to go on that play structure back there?" Riley said with a small chuckle, pointing back with her thumb.

"Joy," "No other seventeen year old is going to want to go on a play structure!!" Anxiety lamented.

But before Joy could respond, the rest of Riley's friends replied;

"I was thinking the same thing actually!"

"Oh my gosh I would LOVE to go on a play structure again!"

"I wish they would let us!!"

This prompted Riley and her friends to dissolve into a fit of giggles; the console lighting up a glorious golden light.

Joy let out a chuckle of her own.

"Huh." Anxiety marvels after a moment.

"Maybe they have Little Riley's in their heads too!" Suggested the Inner Child, to the emotion's amusem*nt.

As the conversation with Riley's friends continued, the rest of the emotions had to turn back to the console. Sadness took a moment to turn to Little Riley and explain.

"I don't think they have little Riley's, exactly." The teardrop emotion started with a chuckle and light pat to the girl's head.

"But, I think they do probably have little versions of themselves as their Inner Child in each of their heads. Does that make sense?"

The girl nods softly.

"So Lou has a little Lou, Sasha has a little Sasha, and Maggie has a little Maggie?" The little one asks, reciting Riley's core group of friends.

"Yeah, I think so." "Everyone listens to their Inner Child a little differently, but everybody has one. " Sadness confirmed with a smile to the girl.

Just then, Big Riley's friend Lou spoke up after another fit of giggles from the group of teenagers.

"Hey actually," The teen started. "I know we can't play on the play structure, but you know something we could do?"

"What?" Big Riley asked excitedly.

"My brother works at this trampoline park nearby." "Do you guys want to go next weekend?"

This earns an excited gasp from Joy, Little Riley, Big Riley, as well as her friends.

"Yes!!"

"That sounds so awesome!"

"Let's do it!" Confirmed Lou with a fistpump.

Plans successfully made, the friends head to the food court for a bite to eat before heading home.

__

Riley is able to get a little more essay work done before she gets ready for bed that evening.

Joy, Ennui, and Fear at the head of the writing committee this time around.

By the time the lights dim in headquarters, Joy and Sadness feel like they could collapse and get a full night's sleep right where they stand.

But as they turn away from the console as Big Riley closes her eyes, all of the emotions are greeted with the adorable sight of the Inner Child dozing on the sofa with her head drooping onto Nostalgia's shoulder.

"She was watching the minds eye like such a good girl, I didn't want to disturb the little tyke when she started to doze off." Explains Nostalgia in a quiet voice; fondly.

"Awh." Joy can't help but say as she puts a hand to the side of her face.

The star emotion approaches the sleeping child and kneels to her height on the sofa.

She says with a quiet chuckle; "You got a lot of excitement for one day, didn't you?"

As if sensing Joy's presence, or more likely being woken by Joy's soft blue glow, the child rouses and opens her eyes, sleepily smiling at the sight of the emotion.

"Joy!" The girl reaches out for a light hug with the yellow emotion.

Joy gladly reciprocates, giggling happily. "Hi Riley." "What did you think of your first day in headquarters?"

"It was good!" The girl responds after breaking the hug. "Big Riley had a lot of fun and also did a lot of important grown up things."

The other eight emotions approach the sofa, curious about how the Inner Child thinks of their jobs.

"That's right, Riley." Sadness adds. "And you helped Big Riley too today, by helping her realize she still wants to play on the play structure."

"And now we're going to a trampoline park with our friends next weekend because of you!" Envy jumps in excitedly.

"Hear that?" "You did amazing today, Riley." Joy confirms to the girl with a smile.

"Wow." Riley whispers, in wonder. She then lets out another yawn, head drooping a little.

The emotions all chuckle, relating to the girl's exhaustion.

"*I* think," Joy suggests after her own laugh, "That we should all get some rest."

Agreements come from everyone.

"Nostalgia, are you okay to take her to her room in Cloud Town now?" Joy asks the white emotion.

"Of course, dear." She responds to Joy.

Joy then turns her attention back to Little Riley, "Alright." "What do you say, Riley?" "Are you ready to head down to Imagination Land with Nostalgia?"

The girl responds with a sleepy nod; "Yeah." She ends with another yawn.

Joy takes the girl's hand as they get up off of the couch.

As the emotions all approach the recall elevator, Joy offers Riley another hug, which the girl accepts.

"Goodnight Riley." "Thank you for your help today." Joy says to the girl fondly.

"Goodnight, Joy." She softly responds.

Sadness goes next, likewise going in for a hug.

Everyone else follows; Anger offers the girl a fist bump, which they share a laugh at.

"Goodnight!'' All of the emotions call, as Nostalgia and Riley wave and the elevator starts its descent to Imagination Land.

Joy smiles softly and follows the others as they make their way into their sleeping cubbies for the night.

__

The next morning brings the start of a new school week; finals week, and their second last week of school.

The Inner Child visits during the afternoon on Monday while Big Riley is studying during her free period.

The little girl asks the emotions what Riley is doing that day, and all they have to answer her is "Studying.", and "Working on Ms. Graham's essay.", From Fear and Anxiety, respectively.

"Oh, ok." "What after that?" The girl asks in renewed excitement as most of the emotions turn back towards the console to focus.

"Uhm," Joy thinks about how to respond for a moment.

Before she can, Anger interjects. "Well, right now it's looking like we're going to have to work on this essay until late tonight."

"And tomorrow we have to study all day for our finals on Wednesday." Anxiety adds.

"And finish the essay, it's due on Thursday." Fear reminds the group.

"Oh," Little Riley slumps. "Okay."

"But hey, we can't forget!" Joy jumps in.

"We're going to the trampoline park with Lou, Sasha and Maggie on Sunday!" She says triumphantly, pointing to the air.

Little Riley perks up at this.

At the same time, a song that Big Riley really likes comes through her headphones to echo quietly through headquarters.

Joy's reaction is immediate, rushing over and pushing a few buttons on the console as it lights up yellow.

Big Riley bops in her seat a little as she continues to study; now also thinking about how she's looking forwards to her trampoline park outing.

Joy smiles softly at this, proud to help Riley even in her time of stress.

Seeing how busy everyone is, Nostalgia soon takes Little Riley back down to Imagination Land after a fond greeting from all the emotions and a promise to visit the next day.
__

The next day may as well have been a carbon copy of the previous day.

Riley wakes up, exhausted from the late night working on her essay. She goes to class, takes notes, studies during lunch, studies during her free period, and soon enough, it was time to take the bus home.

Joy had only touched the console three times that day so far.

Once when they had greeted her parents in the morning,

Once when Riley glanced over to a sunbeam shining perfectly through the library's window,

And again when Riley automatically recalled a memory from the mall the previous weekend, reminding them of their plans on Sunday.

While Riley was on the bus, the recall elevator whooshed, alerting the emotions to the arrival of Nostalgia and Little Riley once again.

All of the emotion's faces light up upon seeing the girl, who runs and gathers Sadness and Joy in a quick hug.

Joy exclaims; "Hey Riley!!" excitedly as the three break the hug.

"What have you been up to today, buddy?" Anger asks as everyone settles.

The girl thought for a moment, before remembering. "Nostalgia and me went to Trophy Town to play hockey!"

"Woah really?" Joy teases the girl with a light tone. "Did you win?"

"She beat me nine points to two!" Nostalgia adds with a fond chuckle.

"That's my girl!" Joy giggles as she ruffles Riley's hair.

"Anything after that?" Disgust questions after a beat.

This gets a small sigh out of the girl. The emotion's faces fall a bit in confusion.

"Oh," Nostalgia explains. "The poor thing has been saying more and more, that she's getting bored." She finishes in a sympathetic tone.

"Oh, Riley, I'm sorry." Sadness says, crestfallen.

Joy looks down at the ground for a moment. "Our Riley has been the busiest she has ever been the past few weeks, and it's all really important, exciting things."

"But I know she's so stressed." She says, shaking her head.

"And now it's affecting you too." "I'm sorry." Joy apologizes in her own sad tone.

Just then, Big Riley reaches her bus stop and hops off to walk the short way home. Anger takes watch at the console for the time being.

"It's okay, Joy." the Inner Child reassures the emotion, approaching her and looking up with a smile.

"Big Riley is almost a grown up, and grown ups have to do a lot of stuff." The girl states wisely.

"You got that right." Anxiety joins. "We have a lot to do, maybe too much for us to handle." With a stressed sigh.

"But," After a pause. "We're still glad you're here." "Both of you." The orange emotion states seriously, gesturing to the child, and then to Joy.

Joy smiles fondly at the two of them. "We got this." She reassures them all with a nod.

"Why don't we come for a short visit down to Imagination Land tonight?" Sadness suggests as Big Riley gets home.

"Yeah!" The little girl jumps, and several of the emotions nod.

"We'll be there!" Joy confirms, winking at the girl with a smile.

Soon after, Nostalgia takes the Inner Child back down into the mind so that Riley can focus on editing and submitting her essay, and then gets a bit more studying in before the end of the night.

The Inner Child - Chapter 7 - Squirrel_Face (2024)
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