Disclaimer: All the characters from D.N.Angel and the manga/anime itself belong to Yukiru Sugisaki. I am in no way taking credit for anything she has created, nor am I gaining profit in any way from writing this fanfiction story.

Fleeting Images

Story One: Silken Snow

By Lucere

"I love you."

Riku stared in disgust as Risa clung to the man's every word. She was doing it again, sighing and making dreamy faces at the 'romantic' scene displayed on the screen, complete with glittering ocean background, hazy sun, and dramatic music that made her feel as if she had swallowed vomit oozing with slime. How could her sister like this stuff?

"Could you keep it down, Risa? I'm trying to study, but I can't think with all that noise."

"Yeah, sure," her sister replied vaguely, groping for one of the larger warts on the television and nudging it in one direction. The girl's sobs of joy didn't lessen.

"Risa, could you please lower it?" She glanced up from her homework again, a touch of impatience in her voice.

"Yeah, yeah." The girl's, "Oh, John!" got louder. Oh great. Sappy, tear-jerking, and poor acting; it was enough to make the lion shoot itself.

"Risa…" It came off as a warning.

But her sister wasn't listening anymore. She was off in moon-moon land, where everyone had soft voices (even men) and declared everything in the name of love.

Sighing, Riku rose from her seat at the desk, took a pencil and the last of her paperwork under her arm, and told her sister, "I'll be going outside." Unsurprisingly, she didn't respond, and Riku exited the room with a shake of the head. She didn't want to stay in that room any longer, not with her sister watching movies about people who didn't have anything better to do than make girls, and even some men, swoon over dramatic romances. Didn't she have better things to do, like studying for the math test that was coming up at the end of this week?

YYYYYYYY

It was funny, really. Those three words, "I love you," had all the effect of opening doors to chambers that had always been unlocked. It wasn't as if anything changed when you said those three magical words to the one you adored. It was only you thinking in your mind that something had changed, that now you were left to roam the sweet green meadow beyond that had always been near.

Riku twiddled her pencil idly between her index and middle finger, gazing at where she knew was her homework but seeing only slurred words in the faint light. Her mind had gone blank after she had finished the rest of the problems; the only thing that was able to pull her out of her reverie was to contemplate this musing that had been triggered by Risa's drama. She couldn't help it either. It was something that had all of a sudden sprung on her brain, and she couldn't seem to shake it off.

The more she thought about it, the more she found it to be true. Telling someone that you love him or her doesn't change a thing between you and that person. All it does is tear down that barrier that was never there.

If you never told someone that you loved them, that did not mean you could not hug them or kiss them or speak caringly about them. If you did, the result would not differ. You were as free to kiss someone when you said you loved that person than when you said nothing. People only thought otherwise.

It was disgusting, really—Riku grimaced as the movie scene returned to her head—that some people actually thought that everything could be made perfect by a few words that meant absolutely nothing. So what if they had said they hated each other instead? The same shock would have been displayed, the same tears would have been produced, and the same "Oh, John!" would have been cried.

If you'd said you hated the person, you could love that person more than you could ever hate them. Hypocrisy, some might declare, but you weren't a hypocrite if what you said wasn't what you meant.

That was why she didn't like dramas, she thought with an unexplained flare of anger. They led a person to believe in something that wasn't true—that to express yourself, you had to show it through words. And if that person didn't like so and so, so and so had to get all depressed until out of no mist they find another person who meshed perfectly together with them, or died somehow in a traumatizing incident. Either the golden snake's tail coiled round its diamond-shaped head to make a tight ring, or there was no snake and no human at all.

But now she was stereotyping. Not all dramas were what she had described. And certainly it would take a lot of courage to say what you felt in words instead of actions; actions were natural to the eye and body, words were a foreign language that was learned as you grew up.

She imagined the three infamous words again. However, this time she added in emotion, truthfulness, and—above all—sincerity. The product was astounding; her mind lurched with a pleasant, breathless shock, and her heart constricted with a lifting surge of painfully sweet happiness. It would be bliss, Riku mused with her eyes still closed and her hands still fisted, if a person could ever experience such a thing in his or her lifetime.

There were some things that required words, after all, then. Not the words themselves; it was the heart that mattered. You only needed them to start communication, something to approach a person with. Actions were loud, but sometimes they were uncontrolled and could be interpreted different ways.

Words that had become so well known that they were understood in all languages, even the heart, were a different matter altogether. They could be the medium in which all your emotions were centered upon. Turn the key, say the words, and all that feeling, raw and pure, comes gushing out like water from a river stemmed too long. In that words were one of the most powerful weapons in the world—being the focus, which always carried with it a hint of hidden, revealed, stored, reluctant, or even guarded emotion from inside the speaker. You could tell a person from their choice of and way with words, even if their tone of voice were muted or their features were wreathed in shadows…

"Who's there?" Riku growled into the night, painfully shocked out of her trance-like state. For the first time since she had arrived, she noticed the one spot where it was darker than normal. It was up ahead of her, on the other shady side of the street, and she wondered that she hadn't seen it before. She must have been off in moon-moon land, too…

"Riku-san?"

Only one person would call her such. She relaxed the tight grip on her pencil and calmed.

"Yeah. What are you doing over there, Niwa-kun?"

"I wanted to ask you a question on today's homework, but you were working on something and I didn't want to bother you."

Riku frowned. "How long have you been standing there?"

"Ever since I saw you sitting on the bench. An hour or two, I think." She could practically see the embarrassed smile on his face and picture the hand rubbing sheepishly against the side of his head.

"You idiot!" she exclaimed, shifting hurriedly to one side of the bench. An image of Daisuke standing in the same position for a couple hours, fearing to draw attention, flashed through her mind. "Your legs have probably cramped up by now! Come over here and sit down.

"You could have just said something," Riku admonished as he settled himself at her side. "I wouldn't have minded."

"I didn't want to bother you," Daisuke repeated, with the embarrassed smile she had imagined on his face.

"It wouldn't have," she responded firmly. "If you need help, just ask. Why didn't you call my house instead of walking all the way here? Not the bothering thing again, right?" she said dryly.

"No, it wasn't that. You weren't home when I phoned you. Harada-san had said you had gone off for a walk, so I came here."

Risa had actually remembered what she had said? Now that was surprising. She shook her head. "Anyway, we should probably go back home if we're going to work on homework. There's not enough light to see properly out here, so we shouldn't strain our eyes… Are your legs all right though, Niwa-kun? Will you be able to walk?"

"Yeah, I'll be fine. Thank you for worrying about me, Riku-san." He smiled brightly at her, and she could feel a flush worming its way to her cheeks.

"Nonsense," she scoffed, glad of the night's protection. "If it weren't for me, you wouldn't be standing here right now, cold and cramped. Here…lean on my arm if you have to."

They made their way to her house in silence. The door creaked lightly as they entered the building, and it took Riku a minute or two before her eyes adjusted to the sudden change in brightness. Risa padded by them as they made their way to the living room. Upon seeing Daisuke, she let out a delighted squeal and walked quickly back where she came. Her destination was unmistakable. Run! Riku mouthed at him, the unique scent of Risa's food drifting to her poor nostrils, and she all but dragged the reluctant Daisuke to her worktable.

The seat and table were placed just as she had left them, so all she did was pull up another chair beside hers. They commenced their work the moment they sat down, Daisuke asking questions, Riku pointing things out and leading him towards the answer, but never telling directly. Twice she saw Risa at the corner of her eyes. Once, she was holding a tray, glancing at her and Daisuke. The second, she noticed her come back with the mentioned tray bearing cups of water instead of the doubtful smells of 'pastries'.

It was a relief to sip the cool drink. The tingle it gave as it settled down her stomach was pleasant, and the coldness helped re-sharpen her mind.

As Daisuke began to get across more problems that he understood and could solve, Riku gradually sunk back into her previous thoughts.

A medium to store emotion—that was the purpose of words. All words had definitions, but none meant anything. That detachment from feeling was the perfect way to harness emotion; the meanings would affect the structure of the sentence, but it would do nothing to tarnish what was written behind the lines.

"Ah, Riku-san, I believe I'm finished. If it wouldn't bother you, could you please check my work for any mistakes?"

In answer, she carefully scanned the contents of Daisuke's paper and compared it to hers. She scowled as every so often strands of hair fell across her cheeks. A haircut would be called for soon…

"Here, use this," Daisuke said suddenly, holding out what seemed to be a cloth.

"Thanks. Could you do it for me?" She didn't even bother to glance at it as he swept her hair back into a ponytail, the very softness of the ribbon teasing the nape of her neck. Pursing her lips in concentration, she continued to study the black mass of answers before smiling slightly and announcing that she was done.

"You missed only one question, but that can be easily solved if you check over your work again."

"What did I do wrong…" he mumbled to himself, temple crinkled, two upward marks at the ends of his eyebrows facing inwards, to the center of his face. She grinned at his unwavering concentration.

In the blink of an eye, Daisuke's head shot up, causing Riku to start. Quickly, he listed what he did incorrectly and what he could do to fix it. His excitement was contagious; even though her head had begun to throb from all the questions, she eagerly assisted him whenever he got confused. A weightless light danced across her fingers, and her body felt giddy. A moment later and they were finished.

She was almost disappointed when it came for him to leave. "Did you understand all the problems? Was there anything you were unsure of? The test's tomorrow, so if there's even the slightest thing, don't be afraid to ask."

"I got everything down. Thank you, Riku-san!" His gratitude warmed her from inside out. "Good night, Riku-san!"

"Night! Remember, call if you don't understand."

Whatever answer he might have made was lost on Riku as her sister, eyes half-lidded with fatigue, appeared at the end of the hallway. Recalling the water and the way Risa had steeled herself against that box with warts, Riku called out her gratitude.

She was about to retire to the bathroom to brush her teeth, when Risa was suddenly behind her and pointing with her wide eyes at something at the back of her head. Twisting this way and that, she failed to see what had captured the girl's attention. When she still didn't say anything after a full minute had passed by, she started to get irritated. The good, excited feeling was rubbing off now.

"What is it, Risa? Do I have something on my back?"

"…When did you get a white ribbon?" her sister asked in a whisper.

She raised her eyebrows pointedly. "Why, what's wrong with a white ribbon?" (1)

"It's St. White's Day!" Risa was gaping at her as if she had been living in a painting all her life. "Didn't you know that if someone you like ties a white ribbon on you, your love will come true?"

"Only you would know about those weird things. I'm going to bed."

"Did you just call me weird?" was Risa's indignant shriek as she continued the walk to the bathroom, ignoring the rest of her sister's ranting.

Inside, Riku faced the mirror. She fingered the ribbon thoughtfully. "'Your love will come true'…huh."

It was amazing how many people actually believed those superstitions. The white ribbon had most likely meant nothing. Besides, it had been an action, and actions could be interpreted in more ways than one. What were the chances that the reason behind the act was what she actually wished for?

Nevertheless…

Perhaps one day she would be able to work up enough courage, and allow the Infamous Three to pour out the feelings that threaded through her heart every day, silky as pure snow.

ZZZZZZZ

(1: "Why, what's wrong with a white ribbon?") Alliteration tends to butt in when least expected. (Sorry for the completely irrelevant note.) ;

A/N: laughs That was amazingly fun to write! It felt wonderful to have finally released some of the thoughts that had been clogging up my head. Riku's thoughts about the Infamous Three are some speculations I have been harboring ever since I read Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne. Kamikaze had really wonderful characters, but the one thing I couldn't shake out of my head was how some of them confessed, saying that they had loved that person the moment they had first laid eyes on them. (Though it sort of makes me disappointed in myself by saying this) I admit that I am a romantic at heart. But I do not believe in love at first sight. How can you possibly love someone you don't know?

Anyway, that was the main purpose of the fic, and it was only coincidence that it was about Valentine's Day when I wrote this (I finished this yesterday). Also, if you hadn't noticed already, I had based this story slightly on the St. White's Day chapter in the manga. The way that it hadn't shown anything about Riku's thoughts after the white ribbon had been tied on her had kind of disappointed me. Thus, the birth of a fanfic that is parallel to the world and day of DNAngel but is different from what had actually happened. grins I should just call this an alternate universe in the same universe.

Well, hope you all enjoyed reading, and happy belated Valentine's Day! ØØ

Lucere

(2/16/04)