Title: Sweet Surrender
Fandom: Detective Conan
Theme: #30 - kiss
Disclaimer: I don't own Detective Conan, nor do I own any songs that are used in this chapter. I'm a poor, starving author.
This story was heavily inspired by Tokyo Lights by embyr81788. Gorgeous Tezuka/Fuji fic, from Prince of Tennis and Road by yuki scorpio.
In the end, neither of them ever said anything about their feelings. There was too much involved, too many other things to do, too many things to risk. Oh, they were still friends, of course, regularly spending their days together, chattering about homework and other idle things. But thoughts of "love" and "marriage" and "forever" hardly crossed their minds anymore.
And if someone were to ask them exactly whose idea it was to share an apartment in downtown Tokyo while attending separate universities, well, they wouldn't have an answer. Only that it felt right, somehow, because after all, they were childhood friends and they did know almost everything there was to know about each other. They each dutifully paid their half of the rent, took turns buying groceries, took turns cleaning the rooms, took turns cooking. It was a comfortable living arrangement, one that satisfied both of their respective needs.
It made sense to both of them, and both of them were considerably content with their living space. That was all that mattered, in the end, wasn't it?
This may never start
We could fall apart
And I'd be your memory.
Lost your sense of fear
Can I be your memory?
"It's your turn to do laundry," Kazuha informs him, plopping her laundry basket in front of him. An annoyed scowl flitters over his face as he cranes his neck to watch the television, which she has deliberately blocked.
"I'll do it later," he answers, swatting at her.
"No, you'll do it now," she replies, marching over to the television and turning it off. She expertly ignores the curses and yelps that erupt from her roommate's mouth. "I have no more clean clothes left, and I need clean clothes. Unlike you, I happen to change my clothes every day."
Heiji looks like he is about to release a string of colorful – well, more colorful than usual – words when she arches an eyebrow and says, lightly, "Well, I suppose you could clean out the toilet bowls instead…"
He grumbles and picks up her laundry basket, stomping loudly for all the world to hear. Kazuha smirks when she hears their downstairs neighbor scream at them to shut-up-or-I'll-come-up-there-again. Heiji stomps even louder.
There's something strangely relaxing about watching Heiji fold the laundry. He always sits on the left end of the couch and places each of their clothing in separate piles. His is always the one closer to him, while hers is the one he has to stretch in order to reach.
Sometimes she'll question why she watches him out of the corner of her eye when she really should be studying for her chemistry exam, but she never quite gets to the answer.
He is distracted from reading when he hears her frustrated groans. He watches, amused, as she attempts to create a hole in her math textbook as she proceeds to stab it with her mechanical pencil. He doesn't say anything as she stands up, mutters unpleasant things under her breath, and stalks off towards the kitchen. Minutes later, the scent of hot chocolate filters into the room.
He contemplates helping her with the offending piece of homework, but decides that no, he likes his sanity intact, thank you very much.
He doesn't react as she walks back into the room, much calmer than before. By this time, he's already back into his reading, and doesn't look up as she takes her seat once more. He doesn't need to see that she holds two mugs of hot chocolate; he already knows.
She places his mug in front of him, on his right side, as she takes a sip from her own cup. He murmurs something that passes for a thank-you and reads on, intent on finishing the chapter.
He finishes within minutes, closes the book, and reaches for his mug. Before he takes a sip, he smirks, "The answer is thirty-four," and she glares sourly at him.
"I've gained weight," she announces tersely as she strides into the living room, a no-nonsense expression on her face. He barely looks up, not really very interested.
But then she sits down next to him, and he feels her eyes boring holes into his skull, and although he regrets it, asks, "How much?"
A pause. "It's not noticeable."
"I think it is," she plows on, eyeing the pint of ice cream Heiji had been snacking on with cold, cold eyes, "my shirts are a little tighter than usual."
"It's not noticeable," he repeats, because it's the truth.
She sighs before delicately snatching the pint of cinnamon-flavored ice cream from him. She doesn't even pause before sticking the spoon in her mouth, fully aware that the spoon had been in her roommate's mouth just seconds before.
"So," she says, frowning at him as he takes the spoon from her and licks it clean, "would you still live with me if I gained fifty pounds, grew a third eye, and had acne all over my face?"
Heiji continues to lick the spoon clean and doesn't look at her when he replies.
"I'm not that shallow."
She shoots him a Look, one that has made lesser men cry. "That's not an answer."
"It is to me."
She considers starting a fight, just for old times' sake. It would be so easy, she realizes, an insult here, an insult there, and they would be performing the dance of forgotten times.
But he surprises her, like he always does.
"I'd live with you even if you were two-hundred-and-fifty pounds, had acne over every millimeter of your face, had six arms, and had ADD." He takes the carton of ice cream from her, and she stares at him.
Then snorts. "How romantic," though she doesn't really feel relieved.
She stops and glances, at the book sitting on the table. She picks it up, War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy, and idly flips through the pages.
She's seen him reading this before, for his English class. She's never even touched the book. She frowns and attempts to read through the tiny print, but gives up almost immediately.
He walks back into the room at that moment and sees the book in her hands. "It's pretty good," he comments.
"I'm sure it is," she answers, quietly, and puts the book down.
He is half-asleep when he hears his door creak open, a gust of wind passing over his hair. He doesn't open his eyes, doesn't tense, doesn't say a word when she slips in behind him on the bed, forehead pressed against his shoulder. He waits to see if she will slip underneath the covers as well, but nothing happens, no movement, none. Her weight settles comfortably at his back, and he falls asleep, dreaming of nothing.
She leaves before the crack of dawn. He wakes up around nine, and wonders why the room feels so empty.
The scent of freshly cooked rice wafts across the apartment, filling his nostrils, and his stomach growls although it shouldn't, because he's mad at her, he's mad, mad, mad, and if he goes out there to eat, then he'll see her, and they'll talk, and they'll probably make up, because that's what they do, but that's the problem, he doesn't want to make up with her, not yet, not now, right now he wants to wallow in his anger.
He doesn't remember what it is that they're fighting about. He never does. But this is their dance, this is their song, they are simply people living within the euphony, doing what the conductor tells them to do.
He's a smart person, this he knows. And he knows that he'll only last twenty minutes, twenty-five tops, before he'll mutter angry curses under his breath, stalk towards the door, throw it open, pull out a chair so loudly and forcefully that it shrieks against the floor. He also knows that he will sit there, glaring at nothing in particular, and she will remain in the kitchen for exactly three minutes before walking out to the table and placing the dishes in front of him. And he knows that the meal will be silent; the clanging of silverware against porcelain plates will echo harshly throughout the apartment.
In addition, he knows that he will be the first to leave the table and he will go into the kitchen, stand in front of the sink, and wash his plates. She will follow soon after, depositing her own plates in the sink and leaving him to wash them for her. He'll think about complaining, he will consider yelling at her to start another round of their argument, but in the end, he won't, and he'll let her go to brush her teeth because he knows that she can't stand not brushing her teeth immediately after a meal.
Hours will pass before it's late and the homework is finished, for tonight, and it is time to go to bed. She will go upstairs first, and he will follow. He will then finally brush his teeth and she will retreat into her room to change for bed. And he knows, he knows, he knows that just as he exits the bathroom and starts towards his own room, she will come out of hers, and they will look at each other, listen to the silence, and stare.
He will be the one to break the silence first, he knows.
He enjoys mornings with her most of all.
They've known each other long enough to not have to worry about appearances at six in the morning. He's the early riser, always climbing out of bed dutifully when his alarm clock buzzes. She's the exact opposite, burying her head under her pillow in a desperate attempt to ignore the incessant ringing, not getting out of bed until the last possible minute.
He's never surprised when she stumbles out of her room, hair incredibly tousled, clothes immensely wrinkled. In fact, he'll smile to himself, sipping a cup of tea, and listen as she bangs around the bathroom, tripping and cursing the whole way. Later, she'll emerge from the bathroom, smelling of vanilla and soap, looking a tad more respectable.
And then, inevitably – the bruises on her arms from her clumsy adventures in the bathroom while still semi-conscious will catch his eye, and he'll sigh, and get out the first-aid kit.
She'll protest, of course, "It's fine, it's fine, it's no big deal."
It's an old ritual. He'll brush her off. "If you walk out of this apartment like that, people will think I'm abusing you."
She'll snort. "Oh, please."
But in the end, she'll relent, and allow his fingers to brush across fresh expanses of pale, creamy skin, applying ointments and band-aids and ice packs. And he won't wonder – won't allow himself to wonder – why he treasures the sensation of his fingers against her skin.
She stands there, pure disbelief etched across her face.
"What," she begins, "is that?"
"This," he replies, deliberately pausing, obviously relishing the moment, "is a dog."
"No, I thought it was a duck." She glares. "Why is there a dog in the apartment?"
"Well, I picked it up, of course."
"From the streets?"
"No." He looks at her as though she has three heads. "From the pound, obviously."
"From the pound?" Then there's a feeling of compassion tugging at her chest. She warily approaches the dog – to say that it is "dirty" would be a complete understatement.
"I know he's not much to look at now, but I'll give him a bath, and he'll be the most handsome dog on the block." He grins proudly as he scratches the dog behind its ears. "Right, boy?"
She should've said no, really. Because no matter how intelligent Heiji is, he isn't exactly the most responsible person in the world, and she knows that within weeks, he'll be dumping all the responsibility on her, he'll make her walk the dog in the morning, make her feed the dog, make her clean after the dog.
"And he won't bother you at all, because he'll sleep in my room, and I'll clean him and feed him. I'm serious. You won't even know he's here."
She might have laughed at the situation – one would have thought that Heiji was her son, from the way he was pleading and begging.
"Oh, fine," she says, making a big show of it and heaving a large, exasperated sigh and throwing her arms up in the air. Inside, she doesn't mind, not really, but she'd never give him the satisfaction of knowing that.
She wakes up the next day to the sound of frenzied barking and yelling.
"Tantei, sit. No, sit. Sit. Sit. SIT!"
Heaving a sigh, she climbs out of bed, opens the door, and simply stares as their newfound dog runs across the apartment, a roll of toilet paper clamped tightly between his teeth. Heiji chases after, swearing madly all the while.
She considers helping him, but decides against it. She retreats back into her room and pulls the blankets over her head.
Two hours later, freshly rejuvenated, she decides that it's time to face the world head-on. She steps out of her room and tilts her head, looking inquiringly at the black marks on the wall, the dog food splattered across the floor, and the streams of toilet paper decorating the couch.
She sits down next to Heiji, who has a currently sleeping dog on his lap.
"You'll help me clean, won't you?"
She lets out a cross between a snort and a laugh. "I thought you said that you'd clean up after him and that I wouldn't even know he was here."
"You're going to make me beg, aren't you?" His eyes are closed too, and for a moment, she feels sorry for him.
She decides to change the subject. "Why did you take him home?"
"Hm?" He opens his eyes for a second, then closes them again. "I don't know. I was just walking home, and then I heard barking, so I turned, and I saw the pound – you know, the one a few blocks away from the university… and then I saw him, and I wasn't really thinking about it, but before I knew it, I had him in my arms and I was taking him home."
"You really like him, though." It's not a question.
"Even though you've known him for less than twenty-four hours."
She stands up and pats him on the head. He opens his eyes, annoyed. She simply laughs.
"Did you really have to name him Tantei?"
Sometimes, she gets questions from the other girls in her class.
"Where do you live, Kazuha-san?"
And she'll tell them, the apartment building on the other side of the city. When they express amazement at the fact that she lives so much farther out than the rest of them, they ask, "well, why do you live so far?"
And she'll answer, "I'm sharing an apartment with someone. We split the rent. It's a nicer apartment than I could ever afford by myself."
Then, of course, they ask exactly who she's sharing the apartment with.
"Just a friend," she'll answer, evasively, "just a friend."
Because that is, after all, only what they could ever hope to be, and nothing more. She likes it that way. Really. She does, because they are different, they are worlds apart, and he is so much more than she could ever hope to have.
Kazuha has a pair of reading glasses that almost nobody knows about because she leaves them at home ninety-nine percent of the time. They're rectangular in shape, and the frames are a dark purple color that contrasts nicely against her pale skin.
Sometimes, he'll walk into the living room and see her sprawled haphazardly across the recliner in a position he's not sure the armchair is meant to hold. She'll have the glasses perched on her nose, and the textbook she's studying sitting on the floor.
He won't say anything when he walks into scenes like these. But he will lean against the nearest wall and just… watch her. Sometimes she'll see him and she'll stick her tongue out at him, and he'll make a face and leave. But then again, there are times when she doesn't notice him, and he'll stand there for minutes, just looking.
Heiji is sorely tempted to kick the doors down when the elevator makes a strange, creaky noise, comes to a sudden halt, and the lights go out.
The girl beside him sighs. "Looks like we're stuck, aren't we?"
"I didn't notice," he snaps, and feels sorry immediately after.
"It's not my fault," she snaps back, and he listens as she sits down on the opposite end of the elevator. They're alone, the two of them, and he's not quite sure if that's a good thing or not.
The silence is deafening, and he knows how cliché that sounds, but it's true. He contemplates what he can say so that it won't be so awkward, but she beats him to it.
"Why did you move to Tokyo?"
The question takes him by surprise. He starts. "What?"
"You heard me." He can vividly picture her smiling wryly at him.
"I – yeah. I did." He's stammering and he's uncomfortable and he wants to slap himself across the face, and he probably would have, if he wasn't so concerned about the attention he'd get from her. "Honestly?" His mind goes back to that day when he'd received his acceptance letters and how he'd easily picked one letter from all the others, "I don't really know."
"Do you think we'd still be in touch if we never moved in together? If I stayed in Osaka and you went to Tokyo? Or if you stayed in Osaka and I went to Tokyo?" He realizes that she's in a sort of strange mood, wistful and curious. He hates it when she gets into these moods because then he is forced to be honest.
"Maybe a little," he concedes, "since our parents…"
"No," she interrupts, "in touch on our own, without them."
He could lie, he could easily, easily lie.
But he doesn't. "No," he answers, and then the lights flicker back on and the elevator doors slide open. He stands up first, brushing dust off his pants, and offers his hand to her. She merely looks at it, and asks him, point-blank, "What happened?"
He wishes he knew the answer.
A young man and woman, living together in an apartment, unmarried, is fodder for the prying eyes of their neighbors, fellow classmates, and teachers.
"Disgraceful, really," a traditional middle-aged woman declares, "they haven't even graduated from college and they're already living in sin. They could at least have the decency to get married, young as they are."
"I don't really mind," a particularly loud and voluptuous girl who's had her eye on Heiji for ages, "because, you know, as long as she doesn't keep him all to herself –"
"I wish they'd just admit that they're shacking up already," a vulgar man Heiji barely remembers from his biology class states, "then everybody can just shut up and get on with their lives already."
"Well, it's certainly suspicious," his history professor, of all people, states, "but it's not really any of our business, now, is it?"
But it's his sociology professor – why did his teachers have such an interest in his love life, or lack thereof, anyway? – who inevitably stops the rumors with a simple and almost clichéd statement, "Well, it's not just a river in Egypt, you know…"
There are nights when she's done with all her homework and she's tired of watching T.V. So she searches for her roommate, wanting to spend time with him – maybe they'll go out and walk Tantei, or go out and rent a movie, or see a movie, or maybe eat out for dinner…
"Heiji!" she calls, peeking into his room.
He answers her with a distracted, "What?" while poring over three textbooks at once. She silently makes her way over to where he sits with papers and notebooks and different colored pens. She peers at a complicated looking diagram and a lengthy paragraph and wrinkles her nose. She listens as he murmurs formulas and intricate English phrases under his breath.
"Ah. Nothing. I'll leave you to study."
She leaves the room.
He's completely and totally taken aback when, one day, he sees her hacking mercilessly away at a watermelon. There's a voice in his head that tells him he ought to go and at least try to take the sharp knife away from her, but instead he leans against the doorway and contemplates his options.
In the end, he comes to the conclusion that the world is much safer without Kazuha holding a glinting blade in her hands, and he warily approaches her.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm cutting up a watermelon."
"…" Heiji decides not to point out that she hasn't even actually cut into the watermelon. "Do you need any help?"
"No," she grunts out while still trying and failing to cut the fruit, "I'm fine, I can –"
The knife drops to the floor with a reverberating clang and she lets out a sigh. He's immediately by her side, pulling her hand to him, inspecting the cut.
"It's not deep," he says.
"It's barely a scratch," she says, absently. "Don't worry about it."
He lets it go, but still frowns at her. "Go put a band-aid on it. I'll cut the watermelon."
She rolls her eyes as Tantei marches into the room, sniffing at the knife. Acts completely ignorant when the dog skillfully holds the knife between his teeth and begins skipping merrily across the room. Snorts to herself as Heiji begins to curse. It's his fault, she thinks, he's the one that brought home the dog in the first place.
He walks into the apartment, calling, "I'm home!" and frowns slightly when he doesn't get an answer. He turns and goes into the living room, and sees her curled up on one end of the couch – it never fails to amuse him because she never stretches out on the entire couch, preferring to simply squeeze herself in one corner – staring intently at the T.V.
He sits down next to her. Not too close, but close enough. "What are you watching?" He feels like he should remember this show… it takes place under the sea, and there are little fishes, and –
"The Little Mermaid," she answers, never once taking her eyes off the screen.
"Oh." He's not quite sure what to say to that, so he settles for saying nothing at all, choosing to watch as the little red-headed mermaid swims around and sings and laughs.
The last thing he remembers before falling asleep is his head, somehow making its way onto her lap, and her, singing, "But I can see, I'll never be… part of your world…"
She still remembers the pain she felt – heartbreaking, heartsplitting, like she was going to stop breathing right then and there – when she walks into the apartment and sees him with another girl. They aren't doing anything, just working on a project for his English class. She even remembers him telling her about it.
But she's not prepared for it.
She doesn't understand why she feels this way because she thinks that by now, she should be used to it, that the feelings should already be gone. She's lived with him for nearly two years now and if something was meant to happen, then surely it would have happened already.
So, she thinks, numbly, that rightfully, she shouldn't be feeling anything. At all.
The word epiphany crosses her mind and she stands, frozen to the spot, watching as the girl, nameless, leans over and snatches a gluestick, how she smiles at him and asks him a question or two, and how he smiles back and answers, and writes something down and points to something in the textbook.
And then she realizes that she can't handle this at all.
That night, she sneaks into his room and climbs into bed next to him. He's already in the deepest depths of slumber and doesn't start, shift, or acknowledge her. But she moves closer to him, just to inhale his scent, to make a memory, and closes her eyes. She departs after an hour or so, and he never realizes.
She leaves on a Sunday morning, and he does nothing to stop her.
Instead, he sits at the table, watching as she drags her suitcases out of her room, not saying anything at all. The moment replays itself in his head, over and over and over again.
"I'm moving out."
Maybe he should say something, he thinks vaguely, maybe he should try to stop her.
But trying to stop Kazuha is like trying to stop a train going downhill. Impossible. Futile. Pointless.
Minutes trickle by, the clock's ticks and tocks drowning in his mind.
It's far too soon, he thinks, seeing her standing at the front door, three suitcases and five, no, six boxes piled in a large wall, blocking his view of her. Because even though he doesn't exactly believe in forever, he thinks that they should have been together – longer.
Her father comes to pick her up. She's found an apartment on the other side of town, she tells him, and they probably won't see each other again. They go to different universities, after all.
As her father carries two boxes down the hall, and she picks up a suitcase and proceeds to haul it out of the apartment, he takes another suitcase – the second to last one – and walks silently behind her. He offers her father a polite, strained smile as he goes upstairs to pick up the last one.
It's when she's getting into the front seat, an arm reaching out to close the door, when flashes of the reckless seventeen-year-old he once was shines through, grabbing her by the wrist. She glances up at him, startled.
"Why?" he hears himself asking.
Her wrist falls limp in his grasp. "I'm giving you the life that you want."
Former detective or not, he doesn't understand. "What are you talking about?"
"I never belonged," she says, "not on your mystery cases, not in your honors classes, not in your prestigious university, not in your life. And I'm sick of tagging along." She laughs slightly at the look on his face. "I'll miss you too. And maybe we'll see each other again someday, who knows? But this is better. It is." And she cuts him off when he opens his mouth, "for me."
The door closes.
This is the fate you've carved on me.
Your law of gravity.
This is the fate you've carved on me.
Her new roommate is a short-haired girl with glasses. Ann, she says, when Kazuha asks her name, just Ann. She's a tad antisocial, gets decent grades, and does yoga in the mornings. She's polite, clean, a good cook, and attends the same university as Kazuha, majoring in English literature.
She's also more perceptive than Kazuha would have liked.
"So," she says one day over cold cereal and eggs, "what are you running from?"
Kazuha stiffens. "Nothing."
Ann smiles slightly. "Of course."
It takes a long while before it fully settles in – she's gone. And there are times when he still forgets, times when he'll sit at the table, eating breakfast silently, wondering why she isn't up yet, why she hasn't come to eat breakfast yet. And then he realizes that she's gone and he doesn't know what he's supposed to feel.
He finds that he can't sleep without her. Which is silly, really, and this he knows, because it's not like they ever made it a habit of sleeping next to each other. He vaguely remembers her sneaking into his room once or twice, but she's always gone when he wakes up in the morning, and he can never tell if it was a dream or not.
Weeks pass. The apartment feels cold.
For the third night in a row, she lies on the couch, staring blankly at the T.V. screen at three in the morning. She's not even sure what show it is, but she knows that she can't sleep. It's too cold.
Sometimes she wishes she could turn back time and change the ways things turned out. She wishes that she could go back to the exact moment in time when things started to change and twist it around so that they didn't change. She wishes she could go back to the moment where she'd given up, and make it so that she didn't. Maybe things would be different then.
And then she closes her eyes and dozes fitfully for two hours. She wakes up when the faintest rays of light hit her skin, and moves to make breakfast.
"It's too damn cold," he mutters bitterly under his breath, watching as Tantei darts around the large expanses of the park and barks at the smallest things.
He walks in large strides until the distance between them is gone. He wonders why Tantei is so happy, and then he wonders if he was ever that happy when he was younger.
They arrive home, and Tantei springs towards Kazuha's door – because it's still her room, although he's considered getting a new roommate – and makes himself comfortable on her bed. Heiji glares.
He is the first to break.
It's two-thirty in the morning, and he lies, wide-awake, in his bed. He stares at the ceiling and does everything he can to make him go to sleep. He counts sheep. He says prayers in a comatose, repetitive state. He tries not to think.
And then he reaches to his bedside table and fumbles for his cellphone. He dials familiar numbers. He presses the phone to his ear – the metal is cold, startlingly so – and waits.
The rings cease. He listens to the sound of her soft breathing.
"I couldn't sleep," he says.
I'd like to know if you'd be open to starting over
I'd like to know if you'd be open to giving me
A second chance
"I am running from something," she says, suddenly, and bites her lip in a moment of hesitation.
Ann looks up from Pride & Prejudice, a small smile on her face. "I know."
His grades, his professors have noted, are now exceedingly, wonderfully high. Not that they hadn't been before, but now, now, his work is flawless and breathtakingly perfect. Genius, they say, a brilliant genius.
He doesn't care.
And then he wonders when she became such a big impact on his life, wonders how she seemingly snuck inside without him ever noticing. Wonders why he even let her in the first place.
So when the doorbell rings, his heart beats and he walks, faster than normal, towards the door, and thrusts it open.
"Kudo," he says, blinking in surprise.
"Here's the truth about the truth," Shinichi tells him, "it hurts. So we lie."
She finds that in the end, she can't stay away, and shortly after Heiji breaks, she does too. Sometime between midnight and sunrise, she reaches for her cellphone and calls.
He answers after two rings. His voice isn't tinged with sleep at all.
"I couldn't sleep," she tells him, mimicking his previous words to her.
"Ah." A noncommittal syllable.
Silence. Comfortable silence. She imagines that they've probably been like that, on the phone, without saying a single thing to each other, for about ten minutes. But it's strange, because the sound of his breathing is soothing and already she feels herself being lulled to sleep –
"Tantei – he – misses you."
She opens her mouth. "I miss him, too."
When they run into each other at the mall, neither says anything. She tries to pretend she didn't see him. He does the same. But fate is cruel and twisted, and they find themselves in the same elevator going up to the second story.
They are alone.
There are so many things to say, he thinks, come back home, how are you, are you seeing anybody, do you miss me?
There are so many things to say, she thinks, what have you been up to lately, how's Tantei doing, has life been better without me, do you miss me?
But he doesn't say anything, and neither does she, and in the end it's just the two of them, with the sound of elevator music softly permeating their ears. They don't look at each other, and when the elevator doors slide open, they go in opposite directions from each other. It's better this way, they think, and try to believe it.
Later that night, she calls him. It's one in the morning.
"I saw you at the mall today," she says.
A beat of silence. "Yeah," he replies, "I saw you there too."
She wakes up at around five-thirty, but her first class of the morning isn't until nine. When she peers out her window, she sees that it's snowing. Snatching a thick coat, a scarf, and gloves from her closet, she pads silently out the front door, descends four flights of stairs, and makes herself comfortable on a particularly thick, snow-covered patch of grass.
It's chilly, but she doesn't mind. She's right in the middle of the lawn, and she's aware that she'll get some funny stares later on in the morning, but for now, she's content.
She's not sure how long she's been out there when she hears footsteps approaching her from behind. Maybe it's been an hour. The sun is rising now, coloring the skies a faint pink. She doesn't bother to turn around.
"Hey. Mind if I join you?"
"Sure." She pats the spot next to her, and Ann sits down, shivering slightly.
"It's cold," the short-haired girl says.
"Mm," she answers, "but it's a nice cold."
Ann tilts her head in curiousity.
"Because it feels so good when you finally get in front of the fire, you know? Then it's all warm and hot and nice. I mean, you can always sit in front of the fire any day, but –"
"But the only way to truly enjoy a good fire is when you know how it feels to go without heat, to sit in the freezing cold for hours on end. Otherwise, it doesn't mean anything. Right?" Ann smiles.
"Right," Kazuha replies, and then it's suddenly too cold and too black and she falls.
The phone rings.
When Heiji picks up the phone, it's cold and his fingers tremble from the temperature. When he hangs up, he feels ice in his veins and his entire body shakes.
"It's just a fever," a short-haired girl reassures him, "she should be fine in a few days."
"Ah." He doesn't know what to say, really. Doesn't know what compelled him to go all the way to the other side of Tokyo just to see her. It's just a fever, after all. And so he asks, "why did you call me?"
The short-haired girl, Ann, she tells him, simply smiles. "Well, you're her friend, aren't you?"
"I –" Isn't he? "Yes." The word almost doesn't come out. "But how did you get my number?"
"It was in her phone, of course." She points to a cream-colored door. "That's her room. Go in."
When he enters, she is sleeping. He closes the door silently behind him and tiptoes to her bed. When he reaches her, not a word escapes his lips, and he watches her breathe.
He raises a hand tentatively to her forehead. Still hot. Her breathing is a little more ragged than he'd like, but at least she's resting now. He kneels down on the floor and looks at her. Her eyes are still closed. She'll probably be out for the rest of day. She always slept like a log whenever she got sick.
His fingers brush against hers before he leaves the room.
"She'll only eat chicken noodle soup if there are actually noodles," he finds himself telling her roommate, "and she only likes the grape flavored cough syrup, in case you find yourself having to give her cough syrup… and she likes applesauce, too, when she's sick like this because it doesn't take a lot of effort to chew…"
Ann smiles – again. "I'll keep that in mind."
Eventually, of course, Kazuha's sickness comes to a close and she's able to get out of bed and fend for herself. She opens the refrigerator and stares at the copious amount of applesauce.
When Ann gets back home from class, she asks her about it.
"Well," the other girl replies, "Hattori-kun said that you liked applesauce when you were sick."
"He was here?" Drowning, falling.
"Yes. Yes, he was."
The next Sunday, she takes the bus to the other side of the city. She walks around aimlessly for what seems like hours, until she finds herself staring at her old apartment building. She's tried, three times, to go in, but each time her courage fails her and she turns away.
So she walks around the block and wanders around the park – the park where she used to take Tantei on his walks. She plops down on a swing, closes her eyes, and just swings.
A shadow falls upon her. She opens her eyes.
He stands there and stares, some sort of unknown emotion coursing through his veins. Anger? Disbelief? What? He tightens his grip on Tantei's leash and he feels like he should say something but he doesn't know what.
She blinks, clearly uncomfortable. "Ah… yes."
Tantei barks and darts forward to nuzzle against Kazuha's leg. She smiles down at him and scratches him behind the ears. Pointedly avoiding his gaze. He knows her body language.
Neither of them says anything.
He listens to the sound of her breathing. It's better, much better than when he saw her last, and part of him can't help but feel relieved. The sun is slowly setting.
"I heard that – that you came to visit me," she begins, "while I was sick."
A pause. "I did."
Tantei howls softly, a pitying sound. Heiji's eyes are glued to his dog, and he wishes he could howl, too, but he can't, so he sits in silence instead.
"So you're better now," he finds himself saying.
Silence. Painful, painful silence. He breaks it first. "How did we get here?" he asks, suddenly, "how did we get from being roommates who fought over whose turn it was to clean out the toilets to – to here, complete and total strangers?"
Her voice is distant. "People change."
"No. You changed." His voice grows louder, as if all of the things he's kept bottled up inside all these months have finally taken its toll on him and are now pouring out, out, out, unstoppable, "and I still don't know why."
"It's not you."
"Then, dammit, tell me what it is."
"You wouldn't understand." She's still not looking at him.
"Then make me." His voice is quieter, but steely, a testament of his maturity and his newfound ability to reel in his temper and change it into something more intimidating. "This isn't you. Back then, you would – you would have never run away, you would have never quit, you would have stayed and beat some sense into me until I did understand."
"And that is exactly what I'm saying. I'm not – I'm not that seventeen year old anymore. I'm not that same girl that tagged along on all of your little murder mysteries, that followed you around all the time. I waited. I did, I really did. I lived with you for two years, didn't I?" He still can't see her eyes, but he sees the slow, sad smile that spread across her lips, "and I got tired of waiting."
"And that's my fault. I know." He continues to look at her, despite the fact that she won't bring her head up to look at him. "I know. But I didn't – I thought it was okay."
Finally, she looks up, eyes brimming with tears. They fall down her cheek, one by one, and she makes no move to wipe them off. "It wasn't." She shakes her head. "And we're not worth it. There's somebody else better for you. One that won't run, one that'll be – be okay with just being okay and –"
It happens in a blur. He grabs the chains of the swings, pulls them, hard, and kisses her. Hungrily, with the intensity of too many years lost. Passionately, with the knowledge of too many tears cried. Forcefully, with the regret of too much unnecessary pain. He kisses her, he kisses her, and she kisses him back, and he tastes her, vanilla, and tears, and in that one moment, everything is perfect.
He pulls away, breathless. She stares at him, lips swollen.
"It's you," he says, "it's always been you."
That night, she sleeps at theirapartment. She sleeps in her clothes from that day, in her own bed, staring at the ceiling. It's the same, she realizes, it's still the same room and the same walls and floors and windows and doors. She feels strange, a little unsettled, yet happy.
Home, she thinks, fleetingly, home.
She climbs out of bed and opens the door. She crosses the hallway and stops in front of his door. Her eyes land on the doorknob, glinting in the moonlight. She turns it; the door creaks open. She shuts the door behind her. She walks slowly to his bed and hesitates.
He shifts from underneath the blankets. He moves closer to the wall, and holds the blankets up. She crawls in and pulls the blankets to her chin. He slips an arm around her and she presses her face to his shoulder.
They are asleep within minutes.
If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me
And just forget the world?
And this Kiss shall henceforth be known as the Kiss that took over my life. Literally. For weeks I was living and breathing this chapter, thinking of every possible way to write it, every possible way to end it. I don't think I'm still completely and totally satisfied with it, but as a writer, I don't think I ever really want to be satisfied. (laughs) Writer's masochism, right?
I almost hate to put such a long note at the end of it because I don't want to disrupt the mood, but I have to do what I have to do –
As has been said, this story was inspired by two amazing Tezuka/Fuji stories, Tokyo Lights and Road. If you're interested in reading them, say so in your review and I'll happily give you the link. They are shounen-ai/yaoi/BL stories, though, so be warned.
The first song used, way in the beginning (This may never start, we could fall apart…), is titled Memory and is sung by Sugarcult. The second song (But I can see, I'll never be, part of your world…) is titled Part of Your World and is from the movie, The Little Mermaid. The third song (This is the fate you've carved on me…),is titled Gravity and is sung by Vienna Teng. The fourth song (I'd like to know if you'd be open to starting over from scratch…) is titled Scratch and is sung by Kendall Payne. The last song, (If I lay here…) is titled Chasing Cars and is sung by Snow Patrol. (Wow. I do use a lot of songs in my work, don't I?)
This quote – "Here's the truth about the truth. It hurts. So we lie." is, once again, taken from Grey's Anatomy, from the episode Tell Me Sweet Little Lies.
Lastly – yes, the author's notes will finally end! – a huge thank you goes out to both Candyland, who listened to me rant and rave while this sucked the life out of me, and Lyn-chan, who did a wonderful job of beta-reading this for me.
And of course, to all of you, my oh-so-lovely-and-awesome-and-irreplaceable reviewers. I don't think I could have ever gotten this far without you guys. Thank you, seriously.
And so, Heiji and Kazuha: 30 Kisses has finally come to an end. It's been real fun.