Cataracta's Notes: This little ficlet of mine is going to be an interesting one. As one example, this is going to be multi-chaptered, but the chapters are going to be seperate one-shots. The idea of this fic, or the premise, I suppose, is a dance held at the rebuilt HOLY headquarters in honor of those who lost theirs lives to the mainland. Each chapter has a different point of view, from a different character, and each will probably start off pretty heavy (angsty), though by the end they should have lightened up. So, another little fic of mine, Dance Softly, Love.

Disclaimer: s-CRY-ed doesn't belong to me, I swear.

Summary: It was a dance to remember those lost. For the living, it was a chance to find something missing.

Chapter Pairings: Ryuhou X Mimori


Ryuhou straightened his tie as he watched his somber reflection in the mirror. He felt heavy with resentment, resentment for the very halls in which he stood. The HOLY headquarters had, of course, been refurbished and renamed, but that didn't change what they were or what they had once sheltered.

He didn't want to be here. He didn't want to get ready for a dance to remember those who had lost their lives to the mainland. He didn't want to remember the lives he had taken. It weighed too heavily, knowing that he had inadvertently been the cause of so much suffering.

It had been Mimori who had convinced him to come. She had been the one who suggested that the HOLY headquarters be rebuilt. It was to be used as a refugee house, there for those who were unable to help themselves or who were victims of the mainland's cruelty. Brilliant as the idea was, it still chafed him.

But Mimori had looked at him with pleading eyes and asked that he come. She had reasoned that the people of the Lost Ground saw him as their savior, that seeing him would boost their spirits and help give them hope. Ryuhou had agreed, but that didn't mean he wanted to be here.

Anywhere but here, He thought bitterly.

Ryuhou would rather be anywhere but here, where he had been so naïve as to unquestionably do what he was asked. Anywhere but where he was standing now, staring into his dead-to-the-world-eyes as they stared back at him. He would rather be anywhere, anywhere but here.

"You're not normally this stoic," Mimori's reflection appeared behind him in the mirror.

"This brings up things I'd rather forget," Ryuhou reminded her.

Mimori turned her head away so that he could no longer stare into her eyes, even if it was indirectly. While it was true to say that he had changed over the past few years, a dance such as this, a dance that brought up so many things that he had tried to bury, brought up harsh memories that carried with them so much pain.

"Thank you for doing this Ryuhou," Mimori finally said, "I'll see you out there."

He watched her until she disappeared from the mirror, and he knew that he had hurt her, too. When she had first come to HOLY, when she had first arrived at the Lost Ground and had her innocent views torn apart, he had hurt her by shoving her away and refusing to acknowledge her.

Ryuhou regretted it. He regretted ever joining HOLY, he regretted so much. Staring into the mirror for a few more seconds, he turned and walked out the door, stopping as it slid shut behind him. There were going to be crowds of people, he knew; refugees, alters, and various others, and they were going to be looking at him. They were going to be looking to him for hope.

Taking a deep breath, he walked and stopped only when he had reached the entrance to the ballroom, where the dance was being held. The sound of muted conversation and solemn music filled his ears. He fought down a new wave of resentment and grief and strode into the room, trying to look like leader.

Ryuhou wasn't sure if he succeeded, but either way the entire room turned to look at him. Nodding once, he searched the crowd until he found Tachibana, Urizane, and Elian. Walking to them, he tried to ignore the feeling of stares boring into his back and concentrated instead on the three he was trying to reach.

All three looked grave, and Ryuhou could tell that each was feeling what he was. Each was feeling self-resentment for the acts they had committed at HOLY, directly or indirectly. They glanced at each other, and with unspoken words, told their own story of grief and sadness.

"You never struck me as one to pity yourself," Kazuma's rough voice cut across Ryuhou's thoughts.

Ryuhou turned to look at him, ready to retort, when he noticed the expression on Kazuma's face and the look in his eyes. Kanami was looking at him, obviously worried, from where she clasped his arm. Seeming to sense her distress, he turned and smiled at her. Then, glaring at Ryuhou with no real feeling, he turned and led her away.

"He's right, you know," Tachibana pointed out softly, "We are throwing our very own pity party."

Ryuhou laughed bitterly, "Perhaps we are. But think about what we caused."

Tachibana and the others eyes immediately switched their gaze to the floor. Ryuhou clenched his fist and fought the urge to hit something, fought the urge to scream. He was supposed to a leader, a shining beacon of hope, but how was he supposed to give hope to others when he had none?

"Ryuhou," Mimori said softly.

She had come up behind him while he was absorbed in his thoughts, and now he turned to look at her. Dressed in a flowing blue dress that accented her eyes, she was a beautiful sight. He tried to smile at her, tried to convey some message that he was fine, but the result was a poor imitation of real happiness, and Mimori's eyes closed.

"I'm sorry," Mimori opened her eyes and looked at him, "I shouldn't have asked you to come, but I'm glad you did."

She turned to leave, apparently having said her piece, but Ryuhou grabbed her wrist and stopped her. There was a question in her eyes when she turned to look at him, and when he tried to smile this time, some of the happiness he had felt before shone through.

"I was wondering if you would like to dance, Miss Kiryu," Ryuhou explained.

Mimori's eyes widened and she nodded once, "Yes, I would."

He returned her nod and led her to the floor where other couples were already dancing. Placing his hands on her waist as she wound her arms around his neck, he tried to push the sadness from his mind. Mimori followed his lead perfectly, and he found that her presence was calming him.

Instead of an overbearing sadness, he felt a sense of serenity. As she moved with him, perfectly in sync with the beat and with his movements, he found the resentment he felt for himself and for the building, and for what this dance stood for, bleeding away. He felt it still, but it was duller, losing his hold on him.

Unexpectedly, he let his head fall to her shoulder and listened to her heartbeat. It sped up, but quickly quieted soon after, and Ryuhou found that it helped calm him even more. Suddenly the world wasn't such a dreary, God-forsaken place. There were the problems, but the occasional rays of sunshine made it all worthwhile.

And Ryuhou's ray wasn't so occasional. Mimori was always there, helping him and others as they tried to deal with staggering truth that had come with Mujo and his defeat. She gave part of herself to everyone she came in contact with, without expecting anything in return.

"You seem calm," Mimori commented as they continued to sway.

"Do I?" Ryuhou answered, his breath ghosting across her shoulder.

"Before you seemed," She paused, "you seemed like you were fighting a great sadness, one that you were having trouble forgetting or letting go off."

Ryuhou didn't answer for a while. When he did, he said, "I was. I am." Here he raised his head and looked into her eyes, "But the past is the past, and all that matters now is now. I can't live in the past, nor can I change it. I have to let go of it."

They had stopped dancing. Ryuhou's eyes were locked with Mimori's, and both found it impossible to look away. Mimori's eyes suddenly grew peaceful, as if she had been dealing with her own inner conflict and had managed to resolve it. Placing her cheek against his chest, she closed her eyes and just stood in his arms.

"There are some things that I don't want to let go off," She whispered.

Ryuhou glanced down at her, but he could only see the top of her head. Instead of questioning her, he slowly began to dance until they were once more swaying with the beat. She didn't move her head from his chest, and he made no move to change her position.

It was a nice feeling for Ryuhou; the feeling of her warmth seeping into his skin. For so long he had kept a no-contact rule between himself and others, and because of it, had forgotten how pleasant it was to feel the warmth of another. He reveled in it. Breathing deep, he placed his own head against Mimori's and concentrated on the warmth and the music.

Neither knew how long they stayed like that, but soon the song drifted to a stop and they pulled apart. Ryuhou stared into her eyes, trying to decipher the message he felt they hid, but found that he couldn't. She was as much of a puzzle to him now as when she had first walked into HOLY and refused to leave.

Giving into instinct, he leaned down and pressed his lips to hers. She seemed shocked, but accepted the feeling of his lips against hers and reached up to bury her fingers in his hair. The moment stretched for what seemed like forever before Ryuhou slowly pulled back and looked at her.

"The dead are dead," He said softly, though there was an obvious strain in his voice, "The living still live."

Mimori smiled a serene smile, "And the living shouldn't, can't throw away their lives before they absolutely have to."

"I love you," Ryuhou whispered.

Mimori's answer was a kiss and a squeeze, "I love you always."

"Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear."

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Cataracta's Notes: So there it is, folks, the first one-shot chapter of Dance Softly, Love. I will make no garuntees about when to expect the next chapter, but I would like to get it out within the week. Drop me a note!