Dedicated to tk293 and Jedi Takeru - Thanks so freakin much for your comments supporting me all this time. :D I know this story doesn't suit your personalities, but this is one of my personal favourite fics, and you guys are two of my favourite reviewers. :)
I pick up the phone. "Hello?"
"Hey, Takeru, you busy?"
"Not for Hikari."
She laughs softly. "There's something I want to discuss with you.
"Tell me now."
"No. Meet me outside."
"Night walk again?"
The raindrops fall slowly to the ground, washing the day's happenings away and preparing it for what tomorrow's sun will bring. The roads are full with loneliness, dread, and a hint of fear; while the wind blows freely, unable to clean the road of depression, swaying the trees of autumn under the glow of the midnight streetlights.
September nights are always like this.
The moonlight has disappeared behind walls of dark clouds as if it senses something in the atmosphere it would rather not see.
I sense it too. Something is wrong.
I sensed it the moment she laughed. I know her laugh, and that wasn't it. She is hiding something from me. I just hope that her confession is not anything like my last one.
In the stillness of the night, not a living thing moves – even nature pauses its growth – as if it predicts me walking towards my doom.
That's just silly; I'm just going to meet my best friend.
Yet, every breath I take feels like a string of needles ripping through my lungs all because my gut perceives a misalignment in the planets. I am not one who believes in astronomy, but today I wish I had glanced at the horoscopes. I just know that I'm not going home the same way I left it.
A dim light strikes out from behind the corner, and I squint my eyes and look above. There I see my graceful angel standing atop of the stairs, a fake smile dancing on her lips.
I make my way towards her, taking cautious steps – as if worried one wrong move will initiate a disastrous chain of misfortune for tonight. But when I turn and look up at her beautiful face, and watch her gracefully walk down towards me, I feel as if she had been waiting for me all her life; I feel as if she were my Cinderella – so lovely, so rare, that I had to get her home by midnight or else her charm and perfection would be spoiled by the presence of my insignificant soul.
And as if to increase the delicacy of her sheer aura, a priceless ringing echoes throughout the dense night air breaking all that once was loneliness, dread and fear.
She notices the daze in my eyes, under the spell of the captivating sound. "You like it?" she asks, her voice no gentler than the fragile sound trapped in my ears. "I just bought them the other week." She stands beside me. "It reminds me of you," she whispers, I sense sadness in her voice.
I raise an eyebrow. "How do wind chimes remind you of me?"
She laughs faintly – a genuine one this time and she slides her hands into mine. "It calms me; like you do. It soothes my thoughts when I'm going through a tough time."
I turn away shyly. "Then I guess I need to get wind chimes too."
"Because it reminds me of you."
She smiles. "Come, let's go." She leads the way and we begin our walk down the empty wet road.
"So what'd you call me out here for?" I look down at her. The raindrops slide down her cheeks.
She faces me. "Takeru," she starts, I love it when she says my name. "You love me, right?"
I nod unsteadily at the abrupt question, and then lean in to kiss her on the forehead. "Of course; you're my friend."
She stares at me emotionlessly, her eyes looking past mine; it's almost as if she's silently pleading me. She hesitates."Are you sure, friend?"
I look away. "Yeah..." Does she know?
She slowly releases me and slips her hands into her pocket. I think she's gripping onto something in there. "Okay then." And she continues to walk unbothered.
I place a hand on her shoulder, stopping her. "Why did you ask?"
She glances down at her worn out sneakers and slowly shakes of my hand. "Come, let's go to the pier."
My mouth impulsively twitches in confusion. But I don't press the matter further. She knows me well enough to know what I do and don't want to hear. I trust her to tell me whatever would concern me as does she. If she wants to go to the pier, I'll go with her - no questions asked.
Though, it does stir my curiosity.
I absentmindedly rest my arm around her shoulders and pull her close to me, but I sense resistance – like I sensed something was wrong earlier.
She pulls away.
I quickly check myself, making sure it wasn't my body odor or something that scared her away.
"I'm just wet, and you're wet… that's all," she assures me.
But I'm not assured. I take off my jacket. "Here, use it as an umbrella."
She reaches out for it, but then hesitates and turns away. "No, keep it."
I stare at her strangely. "It doesn't matter to me," I tell her, although she knows that already. Being really close friends, we aren't like other people and reject random acts of kindness. We take it as a generous offer that could only be returned by accepting it without hesitation. I'm welcome to use her stuff, as she is to mine. This time though… something's wrong.
"Don't worry. I'm wet already anyway."
I put on my jacket again. "All right then."
We reach the pier and she immediately runs to the rail, staring out at the vast navy blue waters tumbling about.
I follow her and naturally slide my arms around her waist, my head on her shoulder. "What's on your mind?" I ask her, I know she has something she wants to spit out.
She tentatively places her hands on mine and pushes them away. "Nothing." She escapes my grasp and makes her way to a vacant bench.
The rain continues to fall.
I trail behind her footsteps slowly – unsure of whether or not she wants me around. Why was she constantly distancing herself from me tonight? Was it something I did? Was it something I said? Had my worst nightmare come true? Did I annoy my precious angel?
I knew it. I knew the mood this night was all messed up. I knew something was wrong. I knew it the moment I heard her masked laughter.
I decide to confront her, even though my heart didn't want me to. "Kari… do you want me to go or somet-"
Her head shoots up instantly and her face is screaming with plead. "No!" she exclaims. Then she looks down guiltily. "It's not that…"
I sit down beside her, careful to not get too close. "Then what?"
I think she senses my isolation from her and she kicks her shoes inattentively. "Nevermind." She fakes a laugh again. "I'm sorry for dragging you out here for no reason."
I hide my frown. "It's alright. I don't mind spending time with you."
Her happy expression disappears at the sound of my words, but she covers it well. "Let's just… sit here… watch the waves... listen for wind chimes."
I look at her mopped down hair and her soaked clothes. "You might get sick."
She looks at me, an appreciative glow in her eyes. But then it fades away into realization. "Maybe I deserve it," she mumbles.
I stare at her, bewildered. "What?"
She shakes her head. "Nothing. It's only raining a bit."
"Still," she answers.
I lean back, and watch the waves... the faint sound of wind chimes at the back of my mind.
She's been resting on my shoulder for a while now, and my jacket has been soaked right through. I lift my jacket from protecting her lovely head. "Hikari," I whisper, and move slightly.
She doesn't respond.
I look down at her face and realize she's asleep. Sighing, I cover her head once again and continue to let her sleep her troubles away.
All this time I've been wondering why she was acting so strange. I've been wondering what she was hiding from me. She was confusing me like the rainfall that night – off and on, a little shower here, a big downpour there.
And then I saw it; a tiny white piece of paper sticking out from her pocket.
I'm curious, too curious. And so I take it out. Glancing doubtfully at her sleeping figure, I wonder if this sheet of paper would explain her weird behaviour. Somehow, I sensed it did. I sensed reading it would be alright. I unfold it and read it in the dim streetlight, careful not to get it wet. There, in scribbled writing was: Daisuke Motomiya, 345 – 2323, Love you babes.
My mind stops for a moment in time as I gather all the feelings I had harboured for her since my past sickness. I rewind and freeze the image of my Cinderella walking down the steps towards me. She was mine for a while, but the clock had rung midnight long before I heard it.
I shake my head. "Damn."
I fold the crumpled sheet back again, and drop it into her pocket. I then observe her untouchable beauty in the now moonlit sky. "Hikari," I whisper again. This time, I purposely nudge her arm.
She moans slightly. "Yeah?" she whispers back, her eyes still shut.
"You love me, right?"
Her mind is still a bit unconscious. "Of course."
I look away. "Okay then."
"Takeru?" her quiet voice mumbles.
"Don't worry - " I pull my jacket closer to her. "- friend."