Disclaimer: I don't own S-cry-ed.
The sun was high and proud, unbowed as it hung over the Lost Ground, beaming its presence down.
The church, though obviously it had been worked on in the past few weeks, was battered and damaged, but not unbowed, undefeated. Around it, scores of people clustered about, conversation flitting about, a time for celebration. Tables, covered with simple, but large quantities of food and drink, dotted the area.
"Mimori!" a man called out happily, smiling as he waved with one hand, his other linked with a young woman, holding a glass of wine.
"Mister Tachibana!" Mimori Kiryu greeted, smiling back as she bowed slightly, her own glass of water shimmering in the sunlight.
"Oh, come on, we're old friends now. You could at least call me Asuka." The former Holy member chuckled, grinning as he pulled the crimson haired woman next to him closer. "You remember Cammy."
"Of course I remember!" Mimori said, bowing to her as well.
"Oh please, don't bow. It's embarrassing!" Cammy Tachibana giggled, waving her hand and blushing slightly.
"Wow... it's been so long since we've seen each other... how've you been?" Asuka asked. He looked a bit older, his face more lined, but nonetheless, he looked about the same as when he had been a fierce member of Holy. He wore a pressed, crisp ash grey suit and royal blue tie.
"Busy, but it's good work. I've been working at the city hospital." Mimori replied, smiling, the crystal against her chest glistening in the sun. Her own face was a bit more lined and a bit more tired, evidence of her long, tireless work.
"You work with the children who developed Alters, right?" Asuka questioned, sipping his blood red wine.
"That's right." She affirmed, fiddling with her dress. "There are children with such incredible powers... helping them is such an amazing job."
"Wow, that's so cool." Cammy chimed in, grinning.
"So, where's the blushing bride?" Asuka murmured, looking around curiously.
"Inside, of course. She asked me to go outside for a bit... I think she's still secretly hoping for him to show up." Mimori sighed, sipping her glass.
"It's been over ten years, and still..." Asuka began, but saw the look on the dark haired woman's face. "Are you hoping Ryuho might show up as well?"
Mimori started, but then shook her head, her lip curling into the tiniest smile possible. "No... I don't need to hope." She tapped the crystal, and Asuka smiled back and nodded in understanding.
"Alright then... let's go inside."
Kanami Yuta frowned slightly, turning again and again, comparing herself in the mirror. She had blossomed from a cute little girl to a beautiful young woman. Her brown hair was no longer held by its bow, instead it was in strands, streaming down her backless, pure, luminous ivory wedding dress.
"Kazu-kun..." she murmured softly, her voice barely a whisper, like a prayer.
She had no doubts about the man she was marrying, nor that she wanted to. Shinji was a wonderful man, kind and strong and gentle. She loved him, and he loved her.
But she still wanted to see him, if only just one more time, on this day, of all days. To say something, to see him smile, to at least have a glimpse of him.
There was a rap on the door, and Kanami started, straightening. "Come in."
Mimori walked in, smiling as she looked at the younger girl with an sisterly look of pride. The two had lived together for a long time, united at first by their common love for their men, but then because of how much they respected and understood one another. "You look beautiful." She said, beaming.
"Thanks." Kanami replied, smiling back as she turned. "It's all so much..."
"It's your wedding!" Mimori said happily, clapping her hands joyfully. Her face turned serious for a moment. "Are you sure you have no regrets?"
Kanami shook her head, smiling back in a way that made her seem much older than twenty years old. "As long as he's alive, remember?" she reminded the older woman, shooting a look at the crystal necklace.
Mimori smiled in understanding, and nodded. "Right. Because we know they're alive, we can live our lives, because they would have wanted that." She finished their mantra, what dictated how they lived their lives.
"That's right. But..." Kanami's voice softened, and became a whisper. "I wish he would come... I wish I could see him, just this once. That's my one, selfish wish."
"It's not selfish." Mimori assured her, placing a comforting hand on the younger girl's shoulder. "Maybe he will come."
Kanami smiled a little. "Maybe."
Asuka smiled as he greeted a few people he knew, and was introduced to a few he didn't. "Urizane! Elian!" he shouted, waving as he grinned.
"Well, well, Tachibana. How've you been?" Urizane asked, looking rather different in a ceremonial robe that covered his usually exposed stomach. Next to him, a stocky, beared young man who bore a resemblance to the late Commander Zigmarl stood, smiling.
"Good. This is Cammy, my wife." Asuka introduced, smiling back as he pushed his wife forward slightly.
"Pleased to meet you!" Cammy said brightly, grinning widely.
As his wife and his former colleagues began chatting, Asuka's eyes drifted, and suddenly narrowed in realization as he spotted someone lurking at the back of the church.
"Excuse me, would you? I need to go attend to something." Asuka said politely, moving away. "I'll be right back." He kissed Cammy on the cheek and stepped away, passing Urizane.
Urizane, ever the perceptive one, flitted his own eyes to the corner. With understanding in his eyes, he nodded. "Alright. Hurry back."
Asuka easily slipped through the gathered crowd, muttering a few "Excuse me"'s as he passed through, until he reached the nearly deserted, shadowed corner of the church.
"Well, I can't say I expected to see you here." He said, his voice betraying nothing.
"Tachibana." The other man said politely, inclining his head.
"So, what are you doing here, Ryuho?" Asuka asked suspiciously, arching a critical eyebrow as he swirled the remnants of his wine in the glass.
The former Holy member had cleaned up a bit, but the evidence of the battle filled life he led was clear. The uniform of Holy, a relic of days gone by, had a few small tears in it, held together by old stitches. The man's forest green hair was long and unkempt, and a ragged stubble was spotted across his chin.
"I'm attending a friend's wedding." Ryuho replied easily, calmly as he leaned against the wall.
Sighing, Asuka leaned against the wall as well, not looking at his former teammate as he sipped the last of his wine. "You know, you could at least say hi to her." There was no question to whom he was referring.
"She's done well enough on her own. She doesn't need a guy like me in her life." Ryuho responded quietly, his voice a ghost's rasp.
"Well, I suppose that's true. What the Hell have you been doing with yourself?" Asuka questioned, glancing out of the corner of his eyes at the other man.
"Fighting injustice." There was no hesitation, no hint of remorse or weakness in that tone.
"Alright. Look... I know that you think she doesn't need you, and I think she doesn't." Asuka began quietly, staring at Ryuho with hard eyes. "But she still cares about you. That's all she wants you to know."
Ryuho said nothing, his face expressionless.
Asuka sighed deeply. "I've got to get back. The wedding'll start soon. Take care of yourself, Ryuho." He said, pushing against the wall and walking away, not looking back as he waved, just once.
After his former colleague was gone, Ryuho finally spoke. "I don't deserve it." He murmured softly, frowning. Without a word, he quietly slipped out the back.
As he stepped out onto the dirt, he spoke again. "It's rude to loiter."
"Go to Hell." The man growled, not looking at Ryuho as he leaned against the church wall.
"Kanami would want you to be there, y'know." The former Holy member commented, taking a spot next to the other man. With a piercing look, he turned towards the man. "Are you afraid, Kazuma?"
His clothes were the same, though in a bit worse for the wear. But his hair had changed completely, becoming completely bright indigo, like Straight Cougar's, without the single streak of white. "I'm not afraid. I just don't want to be inside, that's all." Kazuma replied slowly, grinding his foot into the dirt.
"At least see her, even if its just for a moment." Ryuho growled dangerously, eyes narrowing. "She deserves to see you."
"Take your own advice and talk to that rich girl." Kazuma shot back, leaning forward so that his back arched.
"This isn't her wedding." Ryuho muttered, glaring at his rival. After another moment, he spoke in a lighter tone. "Besides, wouldn't Kanami want you to give her away, at least?" he jabbed.
Kazuma frowned, and turned away, not away from the church, but towards where the groom's room was.
"Where are you going?" Ryuho asked, arching a single eyebrow.
"Nowhere." Kazuma replied, hands still in his pockets as he left.
Shinji fixed his tie nervously, looking at himself in the mirror again. His nerves were frayed and he felt jittery.
What happened next did not help him one bit.
"Hey. You the groom?" a deep, masculine voice growled.
Turning sharply, Shinji leapt back, fist raised as he stared hard at the orange haired newcomer. "Who are you?" he demanded.
"No one important." The man said nonchalantly, and stepped forward, until he was staring Shinji straight in the eye, incredible strength lurking in those brown eyes. "I just wanted to have a few words with the groom."
"Wh-what do you want?" Shinji asked shakily, feeling the raw, untamed ferocity that was radiating off of this man.
"Listen kid. If you ever, ever hurt Kanami, I'll put you through things nightmares can't begin to compare to." The man growled, grasping his collar and lifting him up with one hand. "You're going to protect her, care for her, and make sure she's never in any trouble. If you do..." the man's eyes narrowed, and a glowing, prismatic light shone for a brief moment, and Shinji's eyes widened.
"Got it?" the man rumbled, like thunder.
Shinji nodded shakily.
"Good." With that, he released the younger man from his grip, letting the groom fall to the floor, gasping.
"Take care of her. She deserves that much." The man murmured quietly, and then he was gone.
"Dearly beloved," the priest began.
"What's wrong?" Kanami whispered, her lips barely moving.
Shinji looked at her, and then his eyes wandered, towards the door. There, a lean shadow stood, and glared at him with brown eyes. Smiling, he turned back towards her. "Nothing's wrong."
The shadow nodded just once, and turned sharply and left.
"Since the groom's still alive, I assume you approve?" Ryuho said dryly, chuckling in a low voice.
"I'll be watching that kid. He hurts her, and I'll be there, to break him in half." Kazuma muttered, leaning against the church wall, hands in his pockets once again.
"She doesn't need you anymore, though." Ryuho commented, watching his rival out of the corner of his eye.
"I know." Kazuma said in agreement, his face expressionless for the moment. "But she knows that if she ever does, I'll be there." His lip curled, ever so slightly upwards, into what could have been a smile, in another time.
"She'll be okay. She's a tough girl." Ryuho reminded him, his own face carrying a hint of remembrance.
Kazuma wanted to say that, although she had found the strength he wanted her to find, although she was grown up and had a life of her own, she was still his Kanami and he was her Kazu-kun.
Instead, he merely grunted in affirmation.
Ryuho began to walk off slowly, his footsteps assured and measured, his stride proud and tall. "Well, I'm going to go head on over to the south. There's rumors of a gang of Alter users causing trouble." He turned back, and looked at his rival challengingly.
"You want to come?"
Kazuma looked at him for a moment. "Hell, why not." He muttered, pushing against the wall as he slouched forward, moving into stride with Ryuho.
Without looking back, he murmured, "You've grown so strong, Kanami."
I love you.
Kanami glanced back at the doorway for just a moment, and smiled she looked ahead.
And then she let go of the last vestiges of childhood.