Chapter 5

It took time, but eventually Roll stopped jumping at shadows. She stopped cringing every time she heard the crackle of electricity. She stopped screaming whenever someone sneaked up behind her.

It wasn't easy – she found that nearly everything around her reminded her of what had been done to her. But with a lot of patience, a lot of baby steps, and a bucket or two of tears, she found she was starting to get better.

But to her bewilderment, Rockman appeared to be nothing short of morose these days. He seemed to be brooding on something, at times he even looked...guilty?

Roll was nothing if not persistent, and she was absolutely determined to find out what was bothering him.

"Rockman?"

Rockman jerked as though given an electric shock. "Roll?"

She smiled and sat down beside him, on the rooftop of a cyber building overlooking Internet City. "So...what's up?"

She'd meant it to sound friendly and innocently inquiring, but Rockman's face grew dark, and he looked away. "I should be asking you that."

"I'm fine," she waved a hand dismissively. "No nightmares or anything – I'm really getting better."

Rockman nodded, but didn't say anything.

He couldn't shake the feeling that Roll's ordeal had been his fault. Logically, he knew there was no reason to feel that way – he hadn't known Dark Rockman would become obsessed with her, hadn't known that he would take advantage of her capture to try and force her to his side...

"Are you okay?" Roll asked, noticing the dark look on his face.

"Fine."

"Liar."

Rockman's head whipped up. "I'm fine!" he repeated, a bit more forcefully than he intended.

"And I say you're lying!" Roll snapped back.

And that was it. Rockman's guilt and self-hatred exploded.

"I told you – I'm FINE!"

"Then why have you been looking so guilt-ridden for the past few weeks?"

"Because what happened to you was my fault!"

"It was not!"

"Yes, it was!"

"How?"

If Rockman had been thinking straight, he would have censored his answer before he spoke. But he wasn't thinking straight.

"Because I'm in love with you, and that somehow transferred to Dark Rockman, and that's when he became obsessed with you!"

Oops.

Roll could tell Rockman hadn't realised the words had slipped past his lips until he finished speaking. She saw his eyes widen, his face flush, and he started to turn away...

But she was quicker. Roll snagged his shoulder and held him in place.

"There is no way you admit something like that and walk away," she hissed. "Especially not before I get to return the sentiment."

Whatever Rockman had been expecting, that wasn't it.

"You..." he murmured weakly. "You...me...you...?"

Roll grinned, fighting down a shy blush. "Surprised?"

Rockman nodded, the expression of utter shock on his face almost comical. Roll bit her lip and looked down.

"Do you really...?" the blue navi asked, as though not daring to believe this could possibly be real.

Roll nodded, then asked a question of her own. "Do you really think...it was your fault?"

She felt the shift in his stance, saw his eyes dart to the ground, and he didn't even have to answer. She knew.

Roll whacked him on the shoulder. "Idiot."

Surprised by the sudden attack, Rockman only blinked at her.

"It was far from your fault," Roll continued. "Can you see into the future? Can you read minds? How could you have possibly known what would happen?"

"I..." Rockman was lost for words.

Roll cocked her head, her expression seeming to dare him to defend his guilt.

"Well, anything sounds stupid when you say it like that..." he grumbled.

Roll giggled, and kissed him. Just because she could.

Whatever the future held, they were facing it together.

End.