Disclaimer: D N Angel belongs to Yukiru Sugisaki.
Don't Tell Anyone, But...
Sakura-Angel: Here it is!
Holy crap, am I ever excited. I am a little sad, yes, but finishing
this story feels more like an accomplishment for me than a sad
goodbye. I have enjoyed writing every bit of this story, and all of
you readers have made the experience better. Thank you.
That said, read on, and enjoy.
After Dark had left her in the parking lot, Riku knew she wouldn't sleep that night. She tried desperately, but her bed seemed to know her plight and set up lumps in every available space. Her blankets wound too tight in fitful minute-bursts of rest, waking her. The part of the pillow beneath her head emptied itself frequently. Her sheets unstuck themselves from tucked-in corners and tangled her feet.
Over toast and orange juice the next morning, Riku conferred with herself. The decision was unanimous: buy new bed crap.
She was barely awake as it was, but she couldn't help but think that if she'd resolved it with Dark, she would've slept like a baby.
Oh come on, who was she fooling? She'd have been too excited to sleep probably. While he was probably curled up on his mattress, inhaling that secret smell she never got the chance to place her finger on. Dark in his bed as the light fell over his lips slightly parted--
Oh. No. Bad Riku. That was not a rabbithole she wanted to go down.
This further convinced Riku of her stupidity. She was still so taken with him that she could think of him in a lovelorn fashion, not even considering what had happened last night...
She was going to depress herself like this.
Before she could moan into her orange juice, the phone rang. She plunked a hand down on the handset.
"Oh no. What happened?"
She loved and hated Risa for her natural ability to read her mood. Right now, she didn't know what she felt, nor did she care. "You interrupted my breakfast."
"I think it's safe to say that since you're not having breakfast with him, it's not a terrible thing."
This comment, which would normally have made Riku blush fiercely, made her slouch and groan into the crook of her elbow. The phone hung limply from her right hand, not even to the side of her face by this point.
Still, the groan seemed to carry through the receiver. "Oh no. Something did happen. Riku. Riku!"
"He hates me," she said into her sleeve. Hearing it, her tears gathered quick in her eyes. She placed the phone down, the receiver up, to free her hand. She buried her face in her bent arm, not even wanting her empty kitchen to see her tears. "Oh, Risa. He just... I didn't even do anything..."
Risa wished she could pour sympathy through a phone. "Oh 'Ku... was it really--"
"So bad," Riku said with miserable decisiveness. She was fighting with herself - no, don't cry, don't sob, don't tighten that throat. "After... all that time. We talked. We talked, and he was mad. And it's no wonder! I was such a... such a bitch to him..."
"No, you weren't--"
"I was! I know I was!" Her nose leaked, the skin around her eyes was moist and cold. "He walked away from me, and I couldn't even..." - somehow, her eyes produced more tears - "I didn't even call out. Didn't even ask him to stay," her voice lowered itself to a whisper, "When that was all I needed."
All she could hear was static.
"God, what kind of a person am I?"
And then she hung up, afraid of hearing an answer.
Dark did not wake up that morning. In fact, he had not slept.
"You look terrible," Satoshi told him.
"Thanks," he thanked Satoshi.
"Bagel?" the younger man asked Dark, didn't listen for an answer, then proceeded to ask the cashier for a cinnamon swirl and a poppyseed.
They shuffled along the counter to wait for their coffee. Satoshi seemed almost happy that morning, too distracted by something to read his paper.
"What's up with you?" Dark yawned, not caring enough to cover his mouth, and so flashed a mouthful of teeth and a pink tongue.
"I took myself off the night shift. Permanently."
"One black coffee, one double-double!" an employee yelled, clearly too hyped up on coffee herself.
"How nice for you," Dark yawned again, reaching for his 'two sugars two creams'. Just for today, he'd soften the mixture. He led the way to the back half of the café, dragged out a chair, and sat down. His bagel hung out of his mouth by a half-bite, but he was honestly past caring what he looked like.
Satoshi seemed to read this. "You have crumbs on your coat," he said, testing Dark.
Dark's response was to chew more vigorously.
"So," Satoshi said with a mild interest, the way he said most things, "I take it something has happened with Miss Harada?"
Purple blurred in Satoshi's vision. A small nod of the head, some scritchy noises with a plastic knife and butter. As if it was all hardly noteworthy.
Dark worked the butter over the bite of bagel that was not there. He speared a raisin in his bagel with the knife. He glared at it, half-mumbled half-said, "Who thought of putting raisins in bagels anyway?" And did not look up at Satoshi.
"So I can also take it that you're not telling me what happened?"
Dark stopped buttering his cinnamon-but-not-supposed-to-be-raisin bagel. He peered at Satoshi with a red eye, supposedly scrutinizing how much his friend really deserved to know this information. Naturally, Satoshi did not react. They were both at a stalemate for awhile, but Dark didn't feel like chess.
"She spoke to me." He broke their stare and went back to scraping butter along his bagel. "I wish this place had cream cheese."
"An event that I thought would have more bearing on you," his blue-eyed confidante intoned, obviously being his subtle kind of snarky.
"Ohshutup," Dark said under his breath.
Satoshi's chin was cupped in his hand now, elbow to the table. He slouched to combat Dark's slouch, and they met eye-to-eye. "I do give advice, you know. You just have to tell me."
"I was a jerk, okay?" he bit at the end of Satoshi's sentence, anger bubbling at medium heat. His fatigue was the only buffer between himself and a near-blowup. The knife clattered dainty plastic. "I was an ass to her. She tried to speak to me. I was pissed, and I walked away." His hand landed on the table loudly, not quite a slam. His chin jutted out as he spoke these words, as if daring someone to say otherwise. Eyes flashing empty.
Satoshi sipped his black coffee.
Dark shook his head now, at himself, at the utter stupidity of the entire situation. "I was mad. I am mad." His expression said he was sad. "But damn, if she knew how much I wish she was here..." His fingertips pinched the skin between his eyebrows.
Satoshi did his version of scooting forward in his chair. He waited, not biting into his bagel or drinking his coffee or even breathing it seemed. Then it came. "Advice?"
Dark held his hand out, as if he could physically palm it. "Please."
"Don't listen to anyone but yourself."
"Taking that advice would mean listening to you."
"That doesn't count."
The swimmer pinched a little harder, and wondered, just to get his mind a tiny bit off of her, if his skin would sag because of so much pinching. "Right."
They sat, and sighed (Dark), and sipped (Satoshi, Dark had lost his appetite).
"I'm going to go home."
"You're sure," said Satoshi, sounding as indifferent as ever. Right now, Dark was grateful for that. Everything else seemed so charged with emotion, he could've hugged Satoshi for this. But that would be expressing emotion.
"Yeah. I need to sleep. Not think."
Dark knew he meant it, and left the coffeehouse, running his hands over his face. He'd purposely walked today, no car. He might fall asleep at the wheel. At least this way, he wouldn't injure anyone. If he did, there'd be guilt and fines galore. (He filled his head up with psychobabble like this, to keep his mind away from her.)
Once the lock turned and he hit his empty apartment though, there was no avoiding it.
He boiled a kettle of water. Took out a tea bag. Wild sweet orange something. The same stuff he'd had with her. He'd avoided it for the past month, not even looking at it in his cupboard.
He sat down at his kitchen table.
What did it take to make something work? Was there some sort of checklist, some sort of compatibility test you took?
What happened when something didn't work? Like this. There were good times, beautiful times. But there were blowouts, hard times, ugly ugly ugly times. Could you weigh them out? The good against the bad?
He wondered and wondered and wondered. The kettle whistled, steam rising. He moved mechanically, pour, dunk, stir. Sit. Sip.
It was just as the tea hit his lips that he figured it out. It burned a little, the first few layers of skin, but he could not lift it away because he was having an epiphany.
There was no math. None at all. Because what it took to make something work was what they had been doing all along. The laughing, the crying, the dancing, the running, the fighting. It worked. How had he not seen that?
Now all they needed was the making up.
Sometimes, when she wanted to think, Riku would take a walk to a park.
Sometimes, when she wanted to not think, she would take a walk to the park.
Right now, when she wasn't sure what she wanted, she took a walk to the park.
It was the big city park, bursting full of semi-exotic blooms. The paths were paved, not dirt, the ground was flat, not almost-flat. She hadn't danced there in low heels. But whatever.
She turned onto a large path which led directly to an elaborate water system. A mini waterfall flowed from who-knew-where into a little basin. Lilies floated on the surface. She'd told Dark she liked lilies. Her collarbone complained, and her skin showed the bruise.
She settled herself on the edge of the little pond, facing away from the main path. She couldn't really deal with other people right now, and the less she saw of them, the better. As she sat, she remembered that she'd also told Krad she'd liked lilies.
It was just too much. There was so much that had happened recently that it lay above the surface, refusing to sink in. Her fear sat stubbornly on top of her, crushing. She was immoblie.
A couple months was all it took to turn her upside down. As long as you were a champion swimmer and could dance a mean foxtrot and probably fell from Mount Olympus, it wasn't hard.
She felt listless. So when someone sat next to her, she hardly reacted.
Satoshi smiled a little at this. He knew she wouldn't start, so he did. "I suppose I don't need to ask how you are."
She summoned a weak smile somewhere from the soles of her feet. "No, it's kind of a given, huh?"
"He messed up," he said surely. Whether this was his opinion or not was unsure, however. She rebuked him anyway.
"No, it was me. I had to run that night. I started it all." Afraid. Afraid. Always afraid.
"You know this... for certain?" his voice was serious.
She slouched further. "Yes," it felt like the only straight answer she had given in a long time.
He leaned backwards on the ledge on the pond. A rueful smile formed on his lips, and he seemed to clench his jaw behind it. He switched gears completely. Or maybe he didn't. "It is so stupid, what people do to themselves because they're afraid."
Her breath cut itself off abruptly. What...? She looked up at him from behind shameful eyelashes, and knew he had read her in so much as a few stories, a chance encounter. She was tense over what he might say. Oh, please don't, she silently asked of him.
"It's not about what's right or wrong. It's not about how much you know. It's not about anything else but you and him."
Her initial shock at his speaking so much died away. She wanted to protest, no, there's more to it than that.
"It's not that complicated," he read her mind.
"But," she said before she could think, "It'll be... hard."
He surprised her then, let out a small, short laugh. "No one ever said it wouldn't be." And then he trained his eyes on her, ice blue and hard and beautiful. Their intensity reminded her of Dark. "But you have to get out of it. Only you can fix what you've done out of fear. Because even if you reconcile, you won't be happy with yourself."
She knew he was right. She shifted her weight from off her arms. "I have to go think."
He seemed to approve and nodded. He told her with certainty, "Everything balances itself out in the end."
She absorbed this. She had just stepped onto the path that would lead out of the park when she thought of something. She whirled around, glad to see him still sitting on the edge of the basin. "Satoshi! Can I ask you something?"
He looked up slowly, nodded.
"Were you ever friends with Krad?"
His answer came to her on the breeze. "No."
And she left for home, his words telling her truths.
She had been sitting at her desk for over an hour now.
She gulped, thinking and thinking and possibly overthinking. She thought of him.
He thought of her. He bit down hard on nothing, as if it would resolve this whole thing.
He got up out of his chair with unintentional gusto and promptly left his apartment. He was headed for the park.
She was headed for the park. She had thrown on a pair of jeans and a nice shirt, barely checking her reflection in the hall mirror before closing the door without much care.
She ran. She knew it wouldn't do much for her appearance, but she did it for her mind. She needed to get there as fast as she could.
He got there as fast as he could. He booked it to the park, a modest stretch of grass paired with two swings and a bench. The landscape was near-perfect, the kind that a person in say, low heels could walk on.
He felt this need, this pull for the park where they had danced. Where they had shared so much, thoughts and feelings, embraces, twirls. And he couldn't deny that he hoped he'd find her there. Maybe it was irrational, maybe it was crazy to think this. But who could say the past few months he had with her weren't?
She arrived to find a man sitting on the lone bench in the park. She took a deep breath in, summoning the courage not to cry at the sight of him.
He turned at her voice. She was here.
She moved to sit next to him, making sure they wouldn't touch.
"Nice shirt," he commented, noting the nice black material, four sizes too big for her and one too small for him.
"Thanks," she replied, and tugged at a cotton cuff.
"I'm sorry," he said, quick and sincere, as if scared that she would leave again. It was funny though, because he knew she wouldn't.
"I am too. I'm not even sure how to say it... how sorry I am for--"
"You don't need to. I know."
They weren't facing each other entirely yet. They were both turned a little inwards, so they could see something other than each other to ground them. They couldn't get lost in each other again. At least, not the way they had before. Both their minds had cleared now, no more hesistation. Just meeting like this had lifted so much away. All of this was felt. It didn't need to be expressed.
In the silence, a question niggled at Dark. His eyes followed the path a few petals made through the air. "Can I ask you something?"
She breathed in sharply, but she knew this would come. "Yes."
"What did you mean? That night at the dinner?"
She gazed into the middle distance. "Before that girl interrupted?"
He nodded, and liked it that she had caught up with his thoughts so quickly.
She went on, "I was saying that you were. Everything. You were just... perfect." She was past feeling embarassed about saying what she thought of him.
He raised an eyebrow at her, getting them back to basics. "I'm flattered that you think so. But... that's a problem?"
"Yes!" she couldn't help but exclaim. She leaned forward on the bench. "I just felt like... nothing in comparison." Her eyes glazed over with a touch of melancholy sadness.
She was jolted out of her psuedo-reverie by his chuckle. She noticed his fingers tracing the cuff of her (his) shirt. "Riku... I am far from perfect. Haven't I proved that to you already?"
She smiled at this.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
Her smile froze, and she had to work up the courage to leap again. She gave herself a little while, because she knew he would wait. "... I was afraid."
His hand was on top of hers now. It seemed infinitely warmer than hers, the skin of his palm soft, his touch gentle. His eyes rested on their hands. (Those eyes that had seemed so perfect now revealed a hint of fraility, and she couldn't decide if this was better or worse than before.) "What were you afraid of?"
She turned her hand so their palms touched, and she felt brave for doing it. At this, he looked up. "You."
He seemed startled by this, but the look on his face faded into awe at what she did next.
She kissed him on the cheek, quick and chaste. She had to stretch a little more to speak in his ear, "But I'm not anymore."
He smiled. His smile reached all the way up to his red eyes, and as she pulled away and saw them, she thought, not for the first time, that they were indeed beautiful.
And they both stood up, hand-in-hand, to twirl and sway each other across the grass.
After the first twirl, Dark said, "My favourite drink is tea from the almost-bottom of the pot."
She spun back to him, the fabric of her (his) shirt swishing on her small frame. She just kept that same smile on her face - that same small, constant turning up of the lips. He went on.
"I wanted to become a veterinarian when I was younger." He thought a little more. "I hate the taste of artificial cherry."
She looked down at the hem of his (his) shirt, and knew that that night in the parking lot he had heard her. He was granting so many of her wishes, all at once. "Go on."
"I can play the cello. Not very well, mind you..."
She leaned her cheek against his collarbone, her head turned so that he could smell her hair. She moved her fingers a little in his grasp, settled in and got comfortable. They moved in a slow circle.
"My greatest fear is losing," - here he stopped to look at her - "Someone I love."
She turned her face up to him, that constant smile a little quirked. "Are you saying you love me, Dark Mousy?"
He grinned wolfishly. "What do you think?"
This made her smile even more, and she lifted one of her hands from his and slung her arms around his neck. She loved how he touched her waist. "Is that what love is, then?"
"Feeling right in your heart... that you're absolutely miserable? Yes," he laughed, and she laughed with him.
"It's also wonderful," she said, and he mm-ed his agreement, pressed their foreheads together.
"You know what?" she said again, and made him open those eyes of his.
"You don't have to be afraid of losing me." They moved still, though much, much slower.
"You know, on some level... I don't think I ever was. We're too much for that."
She loved that idea. "Is that what love is, then?"
And as they danced their own dance to no rhythm but each other, he answered their most important truth. "Yes."
She whipped around at the call of her name, hair flying into her mouth. Plbbftt.
"Hey!" her twin pulled up beside her and Dark, hands entwined, in the parking lot. She was looking quite happy in a white car. Satoshi, sitting shotgun in his own car, looked considerably less so.
"Hey, Risa. Satoshi," she cocked her head to the side in a friendly way, to greet the harder-to-see Satoshi. He nodded back. She thought about him that day in the park, and how she really owed him one.
"Hello, Dark," Risa smiled at him. She was possibly more ecstatic than Riku herself that Riku and Dark had finally gotten together.
"Hi, Risa. Satoshi, can I talk to you for a second?" Dark nodded towards some collection of shrubbery near the sidewalk. Satoshi complied and got out of the car.
Once the guys had walked a fair distance away, her sister turned to her. "So, how are you? Great, I take it?" Risa asked, sly tones back in her voice more than ever.
"Pretty much," Riku beamed at her sister, then let out a shy laugh. "I'm totally..." she trailed off, turning to look at Dark. He was so great today... he had tea waiting this morning, and kissed her on the forehead about a bajillion times. Takeshi teased and catcalled so much, they teamed up to make him feel guilty about it so now he owed them ten smoothies each. She thought about the pool - Atsuro was a little awkward today... God, how long ago had that fiasco been?
"Admiring your man, huh?" Risa grinned up at Riku. "I guess I can't blame you. He is a complete hottie--"
"Hey! Stick to your own guy!" Riku's eyes flashed with delight while she ignored Risa's protests. She laughed loudly and fully these days, and her laugh carried across the lot to Dark and Satoshi.
"She's not my girl," Satoshi said flatly against a conspiring Dark.
"Oh, and you think I can't see how much you want her to be?" Dark smiled at his friend, thoroughly enjoying this.
Satoshi's response to this was silence. There was no response, really. No response to such a ridiculous, ill-contrived, uh, silly... lie.
Dark shook his head at his friend's denial. They'd need to carry out The Plan. Those two needed to be shoved together. Desperate times call for desperate measures...
"Riku!" Dark called, and waved his hand in a signal.
"Got it!" she called back, and promptly opened the driver's door to Satoshi's car.
As Dark broke out into a run, leaving a confused Satoshi behind, Riku was just forcing her sister out of her seat. They both closed the car doors with such speed, Risa and Satoshi were both left speechless.
"Go, go!" Dark laughed, as Riku revved the engine and got her bearings. Risa was starting to look angry...
"I'm going, I'm going!" she laughed in return, her hand on the gearshift. "Risa's going to kill me!" she giggled, giddy.
Dark rested his hand on top of hers with casual ease. "Drive, slowpoke!"
And they sped out of the parking lot, partners in crime.
Dark and Riku... they could wait, hesitate, and falter all they wanted. They could circle each other, deny themselves the other, hide from the truth. But they'd tried that. And the thing was, they were so much better at this. Riku and Dark, Dark and Riku. There was no math in involved. There was no need for fear. Be it through a simple magic, a spilling of secrets, or an undeniable chemistry, they had found each other. They just were, and that was the best thing in the world.
Because the bare truth of it was this: they were great together. And that was all they needed.