And Also Love
by the Black Rose
AN: I mimicked the style of the anime, when it would have Neya (she's not human, btw, she's the human representation of the Ryvius's navigation system, and she reads people's thoughts and emotions) sort of narrating the emotions of students on board.
In the scene with just Juli and Neya, when Neya is talking at first, she is voicingJuli's thoughts and emotions - similar to the 'conversation'Neya had with Blue (only in novelized form).
In the scene between Juli and Blue, the italicized words are in Neya's voice as she 'interjects' into our narrative how the characters both feel. It's a back and forth, so one line isBlue's and the next is Juli's – very similar to the episode where Kouji and Aoi finally discover their feelings for one another, and Neya narrates by speaking their thoughts. That's what I went for, anyway. I hope that it makes a fair amount of sense. If it doesn't, please email me or comment with any questions. Thanks for reading! Love, Rose
To Understand Love
Juli pressed the maroon cloth against her chest, and fought back tears. Her breath came in short, winded gasps, and her feet throbbed in her high-heeled shoes. The back hallway was deserted and dimly lit, but she couldn't remember how she had reached it. After Yuki left, the room had blurred and so did everything else.
Where are you?
She bent her head and sagged back against the wall. The metal felt cool against her bare skin.
"I'll never forgive you for this. I won't!"
He turned and looked down at her - his expression wasn't angry, like she expected. Rather… Rather…I can't stand you. So then why…
Blue glanced away. He took another step to move passed her, then stopped; he didn't bother to look back. "I don't know if Hyperion's government will take us in."
"What? What are you--"
"The Vice-Minister of Defense won't exactly be happy to see that I'm still alive." His voice sounded flat, distant. She didn't think she had ever heard him be anything else except aloof or angry.
"How can you possibly expect me to believe that? He's your father!"
He turned to glare at her over his left shoulder. "And maybe that's a discussion you should have with him."
Now, he was angry. She could see it in the deep-set scowl and the tight line of his mouth. She lowered her gaze to the floor. "I…I'm sorry."
"Don't give me your pity."
"It's not pity. I'm sorry, about what I said before." She looked up; he was facing her again. "But I don't understand…If you don't think they'll take us in…"
He stuffed his hands in his pockets. "You want to be rescued, don't you?"
She met his gaze for just a moment and felt her cheeks warm. "Of course, don't you?"
He shrugged and turned his head. "I'm not worth saving."
"You were always the one that wanted to be rescued."
"Me and everyone else on the Ryvius."
"I don't care about people who can't help themselves."
"If that's what you believe…" She took a step towards him. "… then why--"
He turned his back to her again. "You're a smart girl. You'll figure it out."
Juli clutched his bandana in both hands and slid down the wall to land on the floor. She brought her knees up and buried her face in her hands. "Airs Blue."
"I was always alone." A feminine monotone sounded from the far end of the darkened hallway.
"I had to prove to people that I was good enough."
Juli glanced up and saw the platinum-blond sphix materialize from the wall of the ship. Her outlandish, metallic-purple outfit seemed to gather light even in the shadows.
"I had to convince them I was strong." Neya locked her gaze on a point in the distance as she paced towards Juli; her voice and her words continued in an even, rhythmic sound.
"But the truth is. I've been afraid. Knowing you. I knew real strength and courage.
"And I believed in you." Neya stopped in the middle of the hallway and turned to focus on Juli. The physical incarnation of the Ryvius's navigational system stared with glassy eyes, and it was like she didn't see the girl curled up on the floor, even as she voiced Juli's thoughts as clearly as if Juli was saying them herself.
"You make me believe I can be strong. I need you. I want you to stay with me."
Juli felt something trickle down her cheek. "Please…"
"I want you to be by my side." Neya's voice continued.
The assistant captain of the Ryvius pressed her face into the cloth she held in her hands. "Please stop."
"But most of all, I want to be with you." The monotone seemed to soften, and she spoke the sentence again with some inflection. "I want to be with you."
"I've never felt these feelings. I've never been…"
"It hurts…. Please stop." Her voice was weak against the tidal wave of feeling that was pouring out of the strange girl's mouth. It was like the sphix took a knife and spilled the entire contents of Juli's heart on the floor.
"I love you. Airs Blue." The words echoed down the metallic hallway.
Juli rested her forehead against her knees and cried.
It hurts to face it, and yet all that time… Juli gasped for air against the sobs that tried to force the breath from her body. I knew…it took me so long to face the fact that I cared. But it was more than that. And he--
"You're crying." Neya's voice always sounded calm, logical, unconcerned.
Juli wiped her eyes and glanced up at the sphix. "Yes."
"Are you hurt?" The girl asked; she remained standing. "Do you need a doctor?"
"I'm not physically injured. I just…" Juli took a deep breath and brushed away fresh tears. "Feelings like this can be painful. Especially when they're ones I'm…I'm afraid of."
"Yes, I know! That's why. That's why I wanted to see you." The strange girl's face lit up.
"Yes! I wanted to approach you before, before the period of isolation. I felt strange emotions from you. Many times, I could sense your feelings, your fear, your strength. But there is one emotion inconsistent with the others. And I do not yet understand it."
"Of all the colors of emotions, the strongest is the one to survive. Humans fight and yearn to live, to keep living, to keep from dying. Sadness, pain, longing, fear, all of these support their will to survive.
"But there is one that does not, and it is stronger at times than even the desire to live. It takes many forms and has its own spectrum of colors. Between two people with much in common. Between two people who desire each other. Between the two brothers who carry much anger, but beneath it, they still care. Between two strangers who know what it's like to be abandoned. Between two people who are strong on the surface but are still afraid of being hurt.
"This emotion can be selfless and selfish at the same time. I want to be with you. I want you to only be with me. I don't want to be hurt. I want you to live. I'll fight for you. I forgive you. I want to protect you. I'd give my life for you.
"It defeats the will to survive. It causes people to take risks that defy reason and logic, that counter self-preservation. I don't understand what it is, and yet when I feel it, I know exactly what it is.
"It is love."
Juli leaned her head back against the wall. "Love. Is…hard to explain."
Neya gasped and a smile appeared on her features. "I knew it! But you love him, don't you?"
The sub-captain felt a shiver run up her spine. "Yes."
"Why? What makes you love him?"
Juli closed her eyes. "There's no reason. It…it just is. There's something about him - his strength, his loneliness that I can identify with." She felt her heart twist in her chest. "But it's more than that. I want…to feel his arms around me, to hear his voice tell me he cares. And I want to, I want to hold him, to share his pain, to tell him he's loved." More tears escaped and ran down her cheeks.
Juli opened her eyes and climbed to her feet. "Neya, can you find him on this ship?"
The sphix shook her head. "I cannot. But he is here. And he thinks of you. I catch glimpses of your name or your likeness, and I know it's him - thinking of you. Remembering you." She clutched her arms around her body and shivered. "But his emptiness leaves a hole inside me, and I cannot fill it. I feel hollow, I feel pain."
"But you're just--"
Neya bowed her head. "I know what it is to be alone. When all the people on board the Ryvius left, I was alone. The men that came to repair the ship, they were cold, mechanical, I could not feel their colors. So I sat in darkness. Waiting." She fell back against the opposite wall still holding her sides. "I was lonely. I was sad.
"What point is there to surviving in darkness? I called out to Kouji Aiba and the others, but no one came. For a long time." She looked back at Juli.
"There is pain in loneliness. Pain with no color. Only…despair. You understand this, Juli Bahana."
"Yes, I do," Juli said.
Neya nodded. "So do I."
Juli gripped the bandana tight in her hand as her arms pumped back and forth at her sides. She sped down the hallways, turning corners and pushing people out of the way. I was always alone.
She threw open the door to the cafeteria and yelled: "Airs Blue!"
The remaining partygoers turned to stare, and she could feel their eyes scorching her skin. Juli's eyes searched the room, but she saw no one with a mane of blue hair and small scar on his cheek.
I had to prove to people that I was good enough. I had to convince them I was strong.
She spun on her heel and ran back out of the room. "Where are you?"
But the truth is. I've been afraid.
She paused at every dark corner; peered in every nook. And throughout the back corridors of the ship, she called out his name: "Airs Blue!"
I need you. I want to be with you.
She felt a waft of air hit her back and spun around. Shadows melted and reformed into darkness. There was a time, when it wouldn't have been safe for her to be here alone.
"I'm not going to give up. I'll stay here until I find you - and I don't care if it takes hours, days, or weeks - you're going to talk to me!"
"Is that an order?" His deep voice sounded from somewhere just behind her.
Juli swallowed and her left hand came up to her chest - it still held his bandana. "Yes, it is."
He shoved her from behind; she pitched forward, both arms shot out to catch her before she hit the wall of the corridor. Blue grabbed her left arm and spun her around. He pinned her against the metal partition - one hand held her wrist, the other was planted palm side down on the wall, not far from her waist. He leaned close and she breathed a small sigh of relief to see his face, to feel his touch and know he was real.
"I don't take orders from you."
She raised her chin and stared him straight in the eye. "I know you don't really want me to be afraid of you."
Blue narrowed his gaze. "You don't know me."
"I…I do, though. Maybe not everything. But I don't believe you enjoy hurting people."
He snarled at her and she felt his grip tighten around her wrist. Juli hissed at the pain.
"Please….You're hurting me."
His face changed: his eyes widened from their hateful gaze and the lines around his mouth tightened his lips into a grimace. He looked disgusted for a moment, and then he was glaring at her again. His grasp grew tighter. "There goes your theory."
Juli winced and her eyelids clamped shut. "All the times I asked you not to hurt people or do violence, I…I wasn't asking for their sake." She opened her eyes again. "Just like I'm not asking you now for my own."
He let go of her arm with a grunt; it fell to her side. Blue placed his free hand against the wall beside her head.
"It hurts you." She brought her right arm up and rested her fingers gently on his elbow. He flinched and glanced down at where she touched him. "It kills a little more of you to act that hard, to be that tough."
He shoved away from the wall and stood up. "What do you know?"
He turned his back to her, reminding her of a stone wall - tall, resilient… She imagined his skin would feel like cold stone as well. He was, had become over his lifetime, the equivalent of polished granite - hard, strong, the coarse areas that exposed his emotions had been worn, scraped, and pounded smooth, then sealed inside.
"I know what it's like to be alone. To feel…abandoned."
His shoulders hitched, and his head rose to stare, she could tell, straight ahead.
"M-my parents died when I was very young. I never knew them. I never had a family, or brothers and sis--"
"You were better off. You didn't have a father to always call you a screw up, or siblings to blame you for things that weren't your fault."
"I don't think so. I-I've always wanted--"
He whirled around. "They sent me to boarding school after boarding school. Anything to keep me out of the way." His eyes flashed, and every muscle in his face and neck strained against his skin. "You don't need people like that. And I stopped needing anyone a long time ago."
"I'm sorry. I-I didn't mean…." She tried to say anything right, but her voice kept sticking in her throat. He looked so angry…
"I just wanted you to know, that I understand your--"
"Why were you at the Hyperion memorial?" He shouted at her.
She cringed. "I was there…to pay my respects for your family. And I--"
"I don't need your pity." Blue stopped looking at her then. He turned his head and scowled at the darkened corridor.
Heat rose up from her stomach and burned its way through her chest. "It's not pity! I don't feel--"
"They hated me. That's why they sent me here, there, to Liebe Delta." Blue's lip curled up into a snarl and he practically spit out the words. "He gave up on boarding schools and paid to get rid of me another way, because he was ashamed. So don't feel sorry for them or for me."
"Airs, I don't feel sorry for you." She took a shaking breath. "I…I care about you."
He threw his head back and laughed. The sound was tinny and hollow as it echoed throughout the hallway.
Tears sprung to her eyes and she had to fight them back. "I don't see what's funny about that. I--"
He turned back around and came towards her. He put his hands flat on the wall to either side of her shoulders and leaned close. "How can you care about someone who's a criminal?"
"I don't believe that. And you telling me that won't--"
"Isn't there something in the Zwei code of conduct about associating with delinquents?" His voice was low, and deep; he let his gaze rest on her chest before dragging his eyes up to lock with hers.
Her stomach turned over.
"Your perfect attendance record might get marred." A smug smile played on his lips.
"Don't make fun of me."
He pounded his fist against the wall. "Don't give me orders."
"I'm not giving you orders! Why can't you accept what I'm saying to you?" Her fingers gripped the sleeves on his jacket. "Are you that determined to live your life alone, with no one to care about you?" Her throat burned and her face was wet with tears. "Why can't you believe that I love you?" She gasped and brought a hand up to her mouth.
Blue stared at her. "Because no one ever has."
He turned away. "Don't give me your sympathy. It makes me sick."
"Then what will you let me give you?"
"Nothing. I don't need charity. Go back to your captain and your good-girl life. You don't belong in the dark with me."
Juli brought a hand up to rest on his shoulder. "You don't belong here, either."
"Like I said, you don't know me." He shrugged out of her grip and began moving down the hall. First, one step. Then another. It was like he was moving in slow motion.
Fear caught her heart in its grip. "Airs Blue, don't you dare leave. Or I'll--"
He stopped several feet away. "Or you'll what?"
"You're a smart girl. You'll figure it out."
She swallowed against a hard lump in her throat. "Perhaps I will go back to Lucson and my good-girl life. Maybe I'll--"
Blue reeled around and stomped back towards her. He grabbed her shoulders and shoved her back against the wall. Pain was momentary as the movement more caught her off guard than really hurt.
"Do you know how I got this scar?" He growled. "Do you know the things I've done? I've killed before." He ducked his head and half-turned away. "I've caused people to die."
"So have I. When I was captain, after you left, it was my fault people died on board this ship. It's something I struggled with, but I've had to accept. It doesn't mean you have to keep punishing yourself."
"It was my fault they killed all those people. My home…"
"But you're still alive." Juli drew close to him. He glanced down; her eyes locked with his.
Blue started to lean closer; Juli's heart pounded loudly in her ears. She felt some force between them magnify, and her head felt light.
He stopped and stepped back; Blue shoved his hands in his pants pockets and bowed his head. 'I don't want to be hurt.'
She moved forward, and grabbed his elbow. "Blue…" She ducked her head to peer up at his face. 'I don't want you to go.'
'I don't belong.' He looked away.
'I just want you to accept me.' Juli moved nearer, and brought one hand up to smooth the hair out of his eyes. "Don't go," she whispered.
'I don't want to be alone.' His right hand settled on her waist; she closed her eyes and felt her lips begin to tingle – wanting, waiting for his kiss.
'I love you.'
'I'm afraid of hurting you.'
Juli peeled her eyelids open at the same time he released her. "Why?" She saw him turn away. 'I want to be with you.'
'I don't want to be hurt.'
She placed a hand on his shoulder and leaned into his back. "Please…" 'I love you.'
'I'm not good enough for you.'
'Please stay with me.' Juli wrapped both arms around him from behind and just held him.
'I can't escape you. You're on my mind all the time.'
'I know you've been hurt.'
Blue jerked out of her grasp. He turned around to face her. 'It hurts to stay away from you.'
'I want to try.' She raised her eyes to meet his, but his were closed.
Hard lines dug into his features, around his mouth and in the exposed skin of his forehead. Blue opened his eyes and looked at her. Her heart jumped into her throat.
The lines of his face softened and he stepped closer. Juli brought her palm up to his cheek. 'I don't want to hurt.'
'I love you.'
She stood on tiptoe to nibble at his bottom lip. He drew in a breath; his hands remained at his sides. Juli felt her heart fall; she pulled away.
'I want to… be with you.' Blue bent forward and caught her lips in a rough kiss. One arm wound around her back and pressed her tight against him. His kiss and his embrace were harsh and bruising, but it was him… Holding her, telling her in his own way he cared for her. And as hard as it was to--
Blue broke away. She stepped forward and hugged him. Juli laid her head on his chest and listened to the sound of his heart. It was fast, but it was strong, and maybe he wasn't made purely of cold stone after all. His hands came up to rest on her shoulders. She let out a sigh and just continued to hold him. "I love you."
She felt his grip tighten on her shoulders.
"Don't." His low voice had turned almost to a whisper.
The way he said that made her heart cry. She felt its tears on her cheek. "I love you."
He leaned forward until his forehead rested at the juncture of her shoulder and her neck. She moved her hands to thread through his hair. His arms slid down to grasp her waist.
She felt his body shudder, and then she was being crushed against him - almost as if he was trying to engulf her completely. Her feet somehow lifted off the ground, and she held on to him for dear life. "I love you." She whispered again, and then she was falling, but he still held her - they ended up both kneeling on the ground.
Juli could feel him breathe, could smell that comforting scent that was so familiar… He trembled and then pushed her backwards. She found herself sitting on the floor with her back against the wall and Airs Blue kneeling over her - his face buried in her neck and holding her like he would never let her go.
I still don't understand it, this emotion called love. Its color changes from person to person, though its brilliance never diminishes.
I love you. I want to be with you. I want you to stay with me. I forgive you. I want to make you happy. I want to know you. I want to give you my body. I want to show you how much I care. I want you to love me. I don't want to be alone. I need you. I want to be yours. I just want to be close to you. I want to protect you. I never want to be apart from you.
It is somehow strong and fragile at the same time. It is selfless and yet selfish. It makes sense to those who experience it, and yet they cannot seem to define it. It defies logic and is logical. It is so many contrasts at once, I am awed by its beauty and empty when it's gone.
I can feel it all around me, and even growing inside me.I don't understand it, and yet, I love…