A/N: This section is too small. *pouts* Behold my pathetic attempt to fill it out.

You know, I've noticed that I tend to stick my words in characters' mouths during first person POVs- not always my opinions, just words and phrases I don't think they'd usually use, or changes in their speech patterns. So this fic is one of my attempts to get over that and try for a really in-character story (or at least what I perceive as the character ^_^;;). If you see anything you think I've gotten wrong, please tell me. That's why I'm writing it, after all.

Oh, some yaoi-ish things and hints of angst are in here. But we're all tolerant people here, right? ^_~

Arashi's POV. Set after volume four, and a gift for my darling Katalyst, because I know she loves this series and I think I ought to keep her happy while I'm grounded for my idiocy. ^_^;; So, if you know my writing and know my Katalyst, you'll know I was reading her poetry on fictionpress.net while writing this and a few of the more kick-ass lines are inspired by said poetry and other various Katalyst-isms.

*

"Coloring In the Roses"

"You know, I love listening to you talk. I hate living with you, but your conversation is first rate." ~ Garfield; "The Goodbye Girl"
*

It's raining. My head hurts, and I'm thinking of you again.

Fought with my mother tonight, and chose to storm out into the lousy weather rather than into another room like a sensible person. That's never a good thing, but it's worse than usual this time.

The deal: the apartment's off-limits- Yukari spilled a bottle of green dye on the floor, and George, being George, somehow wound up talking us all into going out, buying paint and fabric, and redecorating the whole place to match this one freaking tiny stain. I'm all for cheering Yukari up, but I would've preferred if it hadn't meant the paint fumes would chase me out of my home for a week.

Plus, I'm pissed at Miwako again, so I can't crash at her place; Isabella's out God knows where and I'm not begging her butler for a bed; and George and Yukari are probably screwing again- and even if they aren't, I'm not running to him (he'd molest me, the bastard!) and there's no way in hell Yukari's mom would even let me through the door.

So I'm outside, in the rain, like the idiot I am.

It's cold. I didn't even grab a coat. And God DAMN it, but I hate spring. It was warm this afternoon, but now I'm freezing my ass off and I wouldn't be surprised if it started to hail any minute now.

I sneeze and wrap my arms around my stomach, feeling generally miserable and pretty pathetic to boot. At this rate, I'll catch pneumonia, and oh, wouldn't George LOVE that. I think he'd gut me for being so stupid, to be honest. But as for right now, I'm too fucking stubborn to get off my ass and go crying to any of the usual suspects.

I suck the chain that attaches my lip ring to my earring into my mouth and gnaw at it thoughtfully. For some reason, I think of George's painted roses again. They were beautiful onstage, all pinned up with Yukari and the dress, but if you got really close to them, they were cracking and brittle. When they were still Isabella's, they were soft and smooth. But George took them away and made them into a gaudy centerpiece- attractive and appreciated, but easy to break.

He seems to do things like that a lot.

The rain increases: sidewalk toccata of the pedestrian's lonely soul. Your phrase, not mine.

But I don't want to think about you and your strange, poetic blurbs. I used to think you should be a writer. You said once that you'd like to, but I don't know if you still think that way. Miwako says we don't know you anymore, but I don't buy it. Thoughts change, opinions change, but the soul is forever. Your face is older, but your voice is the same. It broke and deepened, but the inflictions haven't changed. I still know you, beneath it all.

And I loved the way you spoke to me, the tones you told me your secrets in. The way your eyes glittered when your lips shaped those sacred, deluded stories. They'd never believe that you could tell jokes that could make even George do a double-take.

But I don't want to think about you right now.

Though that may be a little hard to manage, since I'm right outside your building. I'd love to say I'd gotten lost in the rain, but I don't lie well. That's your talent, though you rarely take advantage of it- could've gotten us out of so much trouble when we were kids if you had. I never really minded getting punished, though, unless the punishment was being separated from you and Miwako. You two have always been my most important people.

Fuck it all. Why am I here? I could be in bed with Miwako, or crashing on George's couch, or in one of Isabella's million spare rooms.

Instead, I'm on a bench in front of your apartment, getting wetter by the minute.

Or not.

For some reason, the rain has just stopped, and when I tip my head back to look up, a gaudy pink and green umbrella is hovering over me. I tip it back further, and find you standing behind the bench, lips quirked in something that might be a smile, or might just be nerves.

"Nice brolly," I tell you with a faint smirk.

"Present from Miwako," you reply distantly, twirling it slightly. You've used it to cover me and left none for yourself, which means you're getting as soaked as I already was. Pointless- but so like you.

I've never known anyone so innocent as you. Even Miwako can take the bad things in stride, but your expression of pain every time you hear something even remotely unpleasant is enough to make me feel guilty every time, like it's my fault.

Sometimes it is, of course.

But this time I won't let it be. I won't let it happen.

Tell me another story. I'll listen and ask questions when you want me to; "ooo" and "ahh" in all the right places; do exactly what you need and be absolutely fucking brilliant if you can't figure out part of the plot.

Paradise is cheap, you know. You can buy it with anything- all you need is to get one thing right, and the rest follows. The right smile in the right place at the right time, and the most perfect person you have ever seen is suddenly standing in front of you and sending out "date me" signals.

You, unfortunately, are bringing us a little too close to Paradise for me.

I realize we haven't said a word in at least ten minutes, though you seem un-phased. You're drenched now, and smiling very faintly at me.

"I missed you," you say quietly when you see that my attention has returned to the present.

I just shrug. Your expression saddens, but the affection in it doesn't fade. I look at you for the longest time.

Do you know why I asked Miwako to stay away from you? I was afraid that if she stayed friends with you, it would mean I could too. And I didn't want that. It wasn't enough, so why torture myself with the possibility?

You smile at me again.

Why, when I always knew we could have this, did I do everything I could to get away?

"I saw the show," you tell me happily. "Yukari looked so beautiful, and the dress was gorgeous. I just wish you hadn't painted the roses," you add with a sigh. "It seemed like such a waste, you know? They would've been just as stunning left to themselves- just in a different way."

I am suddenly aware of every tattoo and piercing on my body, each one burning like a Roman candle against my skin, and then I think your poetry has corrupted me into this state of existence. And you smile yet again, and your fingers lightly tug at the chain draped across my cheek.

"I ever tell you how cool I always thought that looked?" you say.

"Why don't you get one, then?" I ask dryly.

"I like yours," you reply softly, earnestly; and move in closer. You're still outside the umbrella's reach, and rain drips down your face in a thousand tiny waterfalls, taking the path towards your lips, dying there when you lick it away- a death I'd love to share.

You will never be like the blue.

*

* ende *

*

. : I'll take them all to paradise . . . : .