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.
Note: This story is my own take on what would happen after Riku were to learn that Daisuke really was Dark. I haven't read the manga's or seen the anime's ending, so my idea on what happens is all conjecture. Other than that, this is a continuation fic, if the ending were to happen my way.
Story Three: Ashes to Ashes
She was beautiful. Men who looked once could not look away. Women who saw would narrow their eyes in envy or widen in acknowledgement. Every move she made was followed by a mass of white.
She countered those eyes with a gaze of her own. From her rich dark eyes radiated a diluted sweetness, a promise of confections and intoxicating wine. The cherry was her lips; the corners thin as stems yet rounding gently into a lush cherry stained heavily with lipstick. Makeup brushed her face with a snowy touch, though blush perched itself on top high cheekbones in sullen defiance.
It had become heavier than in earlier years. Soon, the makeup would be thick as a layer of generous cream. But would anyone ever want a taste?
As she passed through the crowd, waving cheerily at a person here, winking at a person there, I listened to her talk.
"Miss, will you take a picture with me?"
"Absolutely!" A flash. Her brilliant smile alongside the stranger's smirk froze forever on black.
"Ah, miss! Will you buy my book?"
"Depends on whether it's made of paper or dirt," her voice drifted across to where I stood, the joking tone belied by a sudden twist of disgust and revulsion. I looked to where her eyes pierced, and I closed my eyes. The man was stricken. No doubt the man was poor, for dirt clung to his clothes as lice to hair, and no doubt it was what had prompted her mockery. But, once, she would have smiled gently and told the man she would keep an eye out for the work, regardless of how much she disliked literature or his look. Now, that kindness had whittled to a dagger's point, and it would not hesitate to lash out against any soul gentle or harsh.
I opened my eyes. "But of course, if it was made of soil, you would doubtless buy it, wouldn't you?" I had promised myself that I would not speak out, but I wanted to see. I wanted to see if I could do the right thing.
Her head whipped towards my quiet voice, her autumn-brown hair a comet's streak. I could see recognition—then annoyance—widen and narrow her eyes. The cherry lips soured as she drew them together and wrinkled the perfect skin. As one the crowd swung their eyes towards me. They were angry, angry that I had marred their beautiful one.
Couldn't they see she had already been scarred?
"Only if the soil were well-toiled." Her face was still as expressive as it had been years ago; wariness made its mark in her dipping eyebrows.
"Why then, it would sift through my hands." The crowd tittered.
"As the ashes of a painting would?"
In my mind, I saw her hands scrunching into fists. A glance would doubtless have told me true, had there not been people between us. Nevertheless, I leveled my gaze to meet hers.
"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, what does it matter?" she uttered. A tiny tremble shook her, but the crowd did nothing. It saw only a thick layer of makeup and blush, after all.
"For some people, it means nothing. I know someone that has scattered ashes to the wind, forgetting that once it had been something. Or someone."
A murmur rippled over the crowd like a night's breeze. It stirred in confusion, the conversation quickly losing sense in its one-track mind. Where was their beautiful one's radiant smile? Why was she stopping to listen to this girl, this girl with plain eyes and plain face?
"She hasn't forgotten."
"But she has lost herself."
"The ashes were everything to her. What they had been." The face, the perfect white face, was marred by two thin streaks. "She sees them everywhere. In paintings. In the night, when the sky is shaded dark purple. In darkness itself. Everywhere."
The words came out as whispers, though they carried on the wind as if by magic.
I closed my eyes, and I opened them, slowly, seeing in my mind the image of a boy with red hair and twinkling eyes. "I know. Her sister sees them too."
I met her gaze—which had lowered—solidly. She had gone still, but now her face crumpled as if it turned to ashes. Five years, and still she had not let go.
"Does she?" The words were a choking sob. Motionless till now, the crowd moved as one to encircle her. There she was safe, sheltered by the attentive gestures and comforting words of the people. She did not have to think for herself; all she had to do was let herself be borne away, and she would drift and be happy. And she would be lost to me.
"Yes." I swallowed. "But her sister also remembers that those ashes made up one person alone. And those ashes are gone."
"What should she do, then? The girl?" Her plea was a thread of sound that threatened to topple all semblance of thought.
I shook, the wind chilling the sweat on my forehead to icicles. "She should stop this silly charade for attention." Fear weighed down my lips, but somehow, despite the twisting, twisting cold, I managed to continue. "Only one deserved it, and he's scattered to the wind now."
A howl sundered the air, though it came from neither one of us. The crowd swarmed around her, throwing me back as it surged as one great tide. Stumbling and falling to the ground, I saw her stricken eyes flash once.
Without hesitation, I climbed to my feet and plunged into the crowd. It snarled at me, bit at me with stinging words, clawed at me with whirling arms. Yet I bore it all, wading deeper and deeper. Like one massive, continuous wave, it yanked me backwards with so much might that I swore I would wash up on shore again, where I had begun. But I knew that if I let the current take her, she would be swept away from me, and the crowd would fill the space around her as tightly as grains of sand. So I pushed on.
I pushed and shoved until, suddenly, a hand snatched my ankle and I crashed to the stone floor with an agonized cry. Hot tears of frustration rolling off my cheeks, I spun to lunge at my assaulter. A split second before I collided with the person, I saw that the person had opened her arms wide…and a radiant smile shone on her smeared cherry lips.
We skidded across the stone floor, but all the while two hands firmly grasped my own. When we finally ground to a halt, I took a full minute to regain my breath. The two small hands never let go of mine. Slowly, once the tremors from nerves had slowed to an occasional shake, I allowed myself to look up.
Somehow, all the bruises and cuts I obtained from the crowd no longer bothered me.
Because, even though her makeup was blotched and she no longer looked immaculate, she was smiling a smile that far outshone the darkness.
Hesitating, I rasped, "Are you all right, Risa?" My throat tightened. So long, it had been so long since I called her by her true name.
She hugged me fiercely. "Yes, I will be. I'm sorry. I'll do my best to start over, I promise. Dark wasn't everything…"
"But he was something. Even if he wasn't the best of people."
She laughed shakily. "I can't get him out of my head, Riku. But, I won't…won't…" She gestured helplessly.
"I know. I believe you. Let's just start slowly, okay?"
I stood and helped Risa up. I was so caught up in relief that I didn't notice—not until later—that the crowd had dispersed when Risa had smiled.
AN: It's been a while since I wrote something and actually loved it. Parts of the story felt weak and not as imaginative as other parts, but overall, I'm pretty happy. I hope it inspired something in you, and I hope it wasn't confusion. If it was though, I'd be glad to know what parts were confusing. Constructive criticism is always appreciated. :)