Disclaimer: Don't own, don't sue.

Duality

(A.N.) Okay, the first thing you all should know is that this hasn't been beta'd. My betas are lazy and aren't online right now, so I proofread this story myself. This means that there are probably mistakes. Dont' hate me! And secondly, I was feeling a little philosophical or something when I wrote this. Also, this is rated T because I think that this follows a sort of advanced train of thought. If you don't think so, let me know and I'll change the rating. Either way, I kind of like it, so I hope you all do too.


Life is full of contradictions, hypocrisy, and dual natures. Light to dark, man to woman, water to fire, and so forth.

We fight wars, but pray for peace. Life and death, always separate but never apart. Never.

Risa toyed with these ideas idly, thinking back on her own life, her childhood to be exact. Why had she never noticed the dualities? Had she been that blind with her innocence and ignorance? With her schoolgirl love? Those days when fantasy had become so meshed with reality were the ones she both loved and despised the most.

Again, she found the inconsistency. The irony was not lost on here, either.

Risa Harada was no longer the upbeat little girl she had been those ten years ago. Time and experience had turned her into a wiser and more cynical being, twisting away all her illusions as a mugger snatches a woman's purse in a dark alley. All she had left of those more blissful days were her memories, and even those were now tainted with her more street-wise outlook. Memories, she thought, were not very helpful. All they did was remind her of what she had lost in her life.

First, it had been her parents as they traveled around the world, leaving Risa and twin sister, Riku, at home with only their butler for company. It was no wonder that Riku had thrown herself into sports while Risa attached herself to one romantic "hero" after another. Their reactions, Risa saw now, were just another example of duality. Riku had always been the stronger sister, strengthening herself so that she could fight her dragons. Risa had just tried to find someone to fight the dragons for her.

Dark had been another struggle. Her first taste of infatuation and, maybe, love. All of it unrequited. Now, at the age of twenty five, Risa had resolved that no woman knew the world, truly, until she had experienced something akin to the heartbreak of that never-to-be relationship she'd fantasized that she'd had with Dark. How foolish I was, she thought to herself sadly. Even to this day, she could not think of Dark, with his beautiful black wings, without feeling the old stab of pain in her heart. Pathetically, she'd push it away, determined to move on. Woman-Risa had decided to be stronger than Girl-Risa. And Risa was certainly a woman now, world-wise.

She watched the sunset with hooded eyes, cradling her glass of red wine wearily. Despite everything, Risa knew she had a good life. Her sister, and her husband, Daisuke, always made sure she was alright. She had a good job as a graphic designer that she actually rather liked. She had money enough of her own to support herself independently.

But what she was missing, and what she had always wanted, was passion. But she had given up on that by now. She went through the paces, sometimes with genuine joy, and hoped that she would be saved from a cold and lonely existence. She needed her knight in shining armor.

See? Nothing has really changed after all, Risa mocked silently, sipping her wine and smiling sardonically.

Thinking about her passionless life led her to another step in gaining her cynicism, though it would be a long while before that pessimistic philosophy took root. Her next try, her next risk, which she took with love. Once more with feeling, right?

It had been after…everything. Dark had disappeared, Daisuke, once recovered from his initial depression, and Satoshi Hiwatari had remained good friends, though Satoshi had never really gotten over his tendency to give everyone else the cold shoulder. Risa had been lost in those days after Dark's vanishing act, and only years later had Daisuke explained the whole story. Actually, he'd laid it all down the day before he and Riku had gotten married. She'd never asked why he'd kept it from her, or why he'd chosen that day to tell her. She'd known. She was the last one, the last piece, of that time in his life. Marrying Riku would bring about a whole new chapter, but first, he had to write the conclusion of his adolescence.

Satoshi had always interested Risa, for the sheer fact that he had been the strangest boy she'd ever met. Cool, reserved, and mature, he'd had a venire of adultness that she'd never encountered before at that stage of her life. Once everything had ended, Risa had gone to work chipping away the frozen layer of ice that he had covered himself with, determined to get to the heart of the matter. One thing that had not changed about Risa from her earlier years was her tenacity. Some of her co-workers would refer to her, jokingly, as Bull Dog. It didn't bother her.

And because of her stubbornness and persistence, Risa had eventually succeeded in her mission. She and Satoshi had become unlikely friends, and soon, still aching inside from Dark's disappearance, she wanted more from him. She pushed too hard. And one day, she opened the door to go to school and she found a white envelope on the doorstep addressed to her in plain, neat handwriting.

To this day, Risa could still see the words written on the single sheet of paper inside the envelope.

To: Miss Harada

I'm afraid I can't give you what you are looking for. Please forgive me.

From: Satoshi Hiwatari

From that day on, Risa had never even considered dating seriously again. And Satoshi had, like Dark, disappeared from her life. Heartbreak, silly as it sounds, shattered her heart into even littler pieces. There had been times when she had wanted to run away from it all and never look back, but she didn't. At the time, she'd thought she was being tough, strong. But, in retrospect, Risa decided that she'd been a coward. She'd never even tried to find Satoshi. Not even now, after ten years had passed.

The sky was almost completely dark now, the sun a bare sliver above the horizon. It was being swallowed by the night and shadow. It was the moon's time to reign in the sky, borrowing her glory from the sun. Risa swallowed the last of her wine, downing a large sized gulp. She stared at the empty glass, almost astonished. It had been her third glass. She never drank more than two, and that was only on bad days.

The loud, sharp ringing of her phone brought her out of her hazy consideration of her wine glass and her reverie. Padding lightly through her moderately large and very comfortable loft apartment, she grabbed the phone out of its cradle on the fourth ring. "Hello?" she said automatically, turning to watch the sun's last minutes as it fought to shine a little longer.

"Is this Risa Harada, originally of Azumano?" a man asked hesitantly.

Just as hesitant, Risa affirmed carefully, "Yes. May I ask who is calling?"

There was a long pause on the other end of the phone as the man gathered his courage and his wits. Neither had ever deserted him quite as completely as they tried to do now. "This is…Satoshi Hiwatari," he finally managed to say stiffly, almost formally.

Stunned into silence, Risa nearly dropped the phone. When she noticed that her hands had started shaking nervously, she immediately set down her glass. It wouldn't do any good to cut herself. "Hi, Satoshi," the brunette woman finally greeted, "How are you? I…I haven't seen you in a long…a long time."

"I'm alright, Miss Hara—"

"Risa," she cut him off quickly, "Call me Risa. No one calls me Miss Harada except telemarketers and my boss."

Missing only a short beat, Satoshi continued, "Risa. And yes, it has been a while."

"What have you been up to?" Risa asked, seating herself. Her knees had started to quake like her hands when he'd said her name.

"This and that," he told her. "Listen, Mi—Risa, I'm in Tokyo on business and I was wondering if you were, ah, busy tonight." There was a tight feeling to his voice, but Risa couldn't tell that it was because he was anxious for her answer. He wanted her to say "yes".

Dare he hope?

Risa bit her lip nervously, something she hadn't done since high school. Satoshi had always been able to make her feel so much more insecure. "No, I'm free tonight, and I know some good restaurants. Would you like to meet me for dinner somewhere?"

Dare she hope? After all, she reasoned, hope was disappointment's partner.

A heart beat passed, then Satoshi replied, "That sounds…nice. Where did you have in mind?"

Eagerly, she gave him the address of a small, quiet café that wasn't too far from her apartment. Before this, she'd never gone there with a man. She'd preferred to go alone.

"I'll meet you there. See you soon, Risa?" He made it a question.

"See you soon, Satoshi," she said quietly. And then they hung up.

Years ago, back in her innocent days, Risa would have run to her closet to change out of the casual black slacks and blue V-neck T-shirt into a nice dress or something. She would have pulled her hair out of its current pony-tail and styled it into softly flowing waves that fell around her face prettily. But that had been then. This was now. Now, Risa was a grown woman, and confident enough to leave her apartment to meet a man without any primping.

Now and then was a kind of duality too.

Shoving her feet into a pair of black shoes, she pictured Satoshi as she remembered, had always remembered, him. Fine blue hair, gorgeous sapphire eyes, and pale skin. His glasses. Much taller her, and stronger. Smarter.

She opened her door and shut it, twisting the lock closed. Not afraid of the dark, because of its opposite.

Knight in shining armor indeed.


(A.N.) Yes, another Author's Note. Just bear with me, it'll be very short: REVIEW PLEASE! Thanks a bunch!