Author's Note: This story is being told from three different perspectives. For the most part, it will be from Ryou's POV (that is, Point of View), though not always. The name of the speaker appears after each chapter title or act title (acts are for switching themes or perspectives).
I'd like to thank everyone who read and enjoyed "Dreaming in Color". I'm glad that even people not fond of fanfiction or my pairing choice (RyouxIchigo) were able to read and enjoy it, so thank you, and I hope this story will also be enjoyed.
There are spoilers here. Everywhere. Just so you're aware. If you don't know your Ryou or your Masaya, then be warned... you shall learn. I'm also happy to announce that this is a MASAYA-FRIENDLY FANFIC. No Masaya bashing here folks. :D
I have decided to start the story out with a preface which uses a song reference. The song is "Held" by Natalie Grant, which I immediately fell in love with after I heard it in Shynkichan's music video on youtube. The song is actually about a mother losing her son, but it can be tweaked to have an opposite meaning, I think. I knocked out a few lines that didn't apply. Either way, please go look for that Ryou AMV, or listen to the song when you get the chance. It is really lovely. I may use more song references in the future.
So... happy reading everyone. And review! Please support the "Save the Shiroganes" fund by donating a moment of your time to leave feedback. :O Thanks!
I do not own Tokyo Mew Mew. Tokyo Mew Mew is written by Reiko Yoshida and illustrated by Mia Ikumi. It is licensed by Kodansha Ltd. 4Kids licensed the animated series in America as Mew Mew Power, as well as in some other countries.
--- Preface - A Tale of Two Cities. (version. Ryou)
Two months is too little. They let him go. They had no sudden healing.
Papa had disappeared into his lab again. I would sit and stare at the door to the basement for minutes on end, wondering whether or not I should venture inside. Usually when I did, Papa would smile wearily, rest his large warm hands on my shoulders and direct me back outside, saying that he was sorry for being busy, but that he'd come up for tea soon. He was on the verge of a breakthrough, he explained. After a while I came to realize that breakthroughs took more than a few hours. It was May already, and in just two months Papa would be flying off to Brazil with a college friend to study some ruins they had found there. In any case, two months was two months. Even if it turned into one month - or a week - it was still time that I could eventually spend with my father.
That morning, before I followed Keiichiro out to the car to endure a thirty minute drive to school (one that should have taken an hour), I had returned to the basement. The door was open, and I found Papa slouched down in his office chair, looking very drained, memorizing one of the computer displays.
Tapping my knuckle lightly against the doorframe, I saw his gray eyes dart from the screen to where I was standing.
"I'm off to school now," I said simply.
His brown head slowly nodded, and he pushed his glasses up further on his nose - something I had noticed he did when he was in an awkward position and didn't know exactly what to say, "Have a good day."
I nodded. As soon as I turned to leave, I was interrupted by my father's voice.
"I'm sorry. Let's do something together when you get back, alright?"
I gave another nod. "Okay."
"I love you."
For the third time that day, I nodded, but couldn't bring myself to repeat his words back to him. The truth was, I was pretty hurt that my father was so absorbed in his work. But it wasn't just about me. Okay, so it was mostly about the lack of time we were spending together, but those bags hadn't formed under his eyes for no reason. He always seemed tired; it really wasn't fitting for the type of person he was.
"Just don't push yourself too hard, okay?"
My concern had finally overridden any negative feelings that Papa's work had called forth in me. Besides, one day I'd be old enough to help him out myself. Then he could spend more time with his family and less stressing over a bunch of old bones. I didn't hate science, no; it was fascinating, but there were other things that seemed to matter more.
There was a light, though tired, chuckle, and I saw that a little bit of the sparkle had returned to his eyes, "I won't, Ryou."
...that was the last time I ever saw him.
To think that providence would take a child from his mother while she prays is appalling.
Mama had been waiting at the top of the steps with my lunch. She had stroked my hair affectionately on my way out and apologized for my father being so busy with his work; told me to be careful. I knew well enough that she didn't like it either. The fossil my father was studying gave her the creeps, but he wouldn't get rid of it no matter how much she protested. Not just yet, he always said. After this, Mama walked over to where Keiichiro, my father's assistant, was waiting in the driver's seat of his new sports car and warned him that he'd better not speed or she'd have Shou shave off his hair.
I remember watching her waving figure getting smaller and smaller as we drove into New York City. No doubt she was praying that Keiichiro would discover the brake pedal today. And praying seriously. My mother was a devout Christian woman, and she prayed constantly about every little thing.
It must have worked, because that day, he DID find it.
Who told us we'd be rescued? What has changed, and why should we be saved from nightmares?
That evening is a blur. To this day I cannot think of it clearly. It makes me dizzy, and numb, and creates a loud noise in my head.
Oh, but I can remember that demonic figure as she rose from the flames. The nightmare.
Who knows why she didn't attack us too? Sometimes I think it would have been for the best, although I can't tell Keiichiro that.
Instead, the fire had claimed the lives of my parents and our pet dog, Daisuke. Not only that, but it had destroyed my home, my dreams, even a sense of security that I have never again been able to experience.
From that day onward I was on my own.
Well, no, I wasn't alone. I had Keiichiro. That guy never did leave my side, and he worries about me continually. Maybe he was always afraid I'd do something stupid.
We're asking why this happens, to us, who have died to live.
For months after the accident I blamed myself. If only I had been stronger. If only I had been something special, I could have saved the two most important people in my life. That's what I thought, anyway. How come I was alive... and they were gone? Surely they hadn't done anything at all to deserve this.
We travelled to Tokyo, Japan to finish my father's research. He had poured himself into the Mew Project, so the very least I could do was finish it. That's what I thought, anyway. It seemed like a natural thing: a son "continuing on his father's tradition". Or something like that.
This hand is bitterness. We want to taste it, let the hatred know our sorrow.
In just a few years I had managed to complete his research, although I was well aware that it had consumed my life. After the accident I avoided people as often as I could. If I didn't become attached to anyone, then I wouldn't be hurt if something happened to them. I would do what I had to for the good of the people, but I would remain an observer. From a distance.
At first I really wanted a social life, but it soon became apparent that there was no time for that.
The Mew Project came first.
Because it was Papa's dream.
And so... Tokyo Mew Mew was born.
Originally I was skeptical, though curious. Could five girls really save Earth? Perhaps I was expecting them to do the impossible. In the end, however, they proved themselves. I then realized that my heart had begun beating again when that was the one thing I had been trying to prevent.
This is what it means to be held.
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life and you survive.
This is what it is to be loved.
And to know that the promise was when everything fell we'd be held.
The wise hands open slowly to lilies of the valley and tomorrow.
It was springtime.
May twenty-fifth, in fact.
It was a day that I could not forget no matter how much I might have wanted to.
The air was surprisingly chilly as it whipped in and out of my fine hair, and the fog made it difficult to see. I could still hear the sounds of New York City below me. Even from this far away, on this hillside, it was as if you could catch bits and pieces of everything that was being spoken, every honk of every car, every dog barking, every cat meowing... every footstep and heartbeat. It felt that way. Muttering for not having thought of bringing earplugs before, I forced these noises from my mind and instead focused on the sound of my hiking boots squeaking loudly as they slid across the damp grass. I stretched my shoulders as I crested the top of the hill, straightening my back even though I was certain it wasn't neccessary. After all, neither of these people would expect me to act in such a polite and proper manner...
"You should have seen the weird look the shopkeeper gave me when I asked him for a bouquet of black roses. Apparently he's never heard about your antics, Papa," I remarked awkwardly, setting the unusual choice of flowers down between the two headstones. Frowning a bit to myself, I immediately began brushing dead leaves and dirt off of them with my fingertips. I'm known for being a neat freak, and while I might scatter books haphazardly over tables, chairs, and other pieces of furniture, I tend to keep everything else tidy and in order. However, it might have been better if I had tried washing the grave markers. The tears came soon enough. Large, hot tears that only surfaced on May twenty-fifth... and on holidays when I think about things too much. I don't allow myself to get too emotional otherwise, because a leader must be brave. Brave...? Ha.
I raised a hand to my face to quickly wipe these nuisances away, the leather strap around my upper arm tightening uncomfortably as I did so. Funny how I tried to act polite, yet I gave little regard for the clothes I was wearing - something my mother obviously would have scolded me about... if she were still alive.
"Sorry I'm late, Mama, Papa. Those girls have really become a handful, you know? You can't leave them unsupervised for a minute..."