Rebirth and Flight; Flight and Freedom; Freedom and Love...

Rebirth and Flight; Flight and Freedom; Freedom and Love…

It was over.

He was happy it was over, of course, but…

Now what will he do?

Well, he knew more or less what he wanted to do now.

Inness actually laughed when she heard his plan with the future.

Let them laugh as much as they want, that's what he felt was right to do.

Now they were having a party.

If Takto was here, he would have never even bother showing up, however, Takto was gone forever.

Ryu Soma was at the party.

Still, some of Takto still clung to him, and Ryu could be found leaning on a wall, watching everyone dance and laugh and have fun.

He wasn't going to dance.

He just crossed his hands over his chest, watching everything through asymmetric eyes.

Most of the music was either slows or waltzes. Everybody was dancing slowly and closely, enjoying each other's company as they shared the tranquil dancing.

The ballroom of Funeral was in actuality Frank's, or rather, Yuri Leonov's 'jail'. The place was so sorrowfully empty now that the celebration party had been wordlessly agreed to take place there.

Everybody was at there festive best; Lieutenant Simmons was drinking and laughing, putting his hand over Sue's shoulders. She was wearing a light blue dress that flattered her slim figure and he wore a traditional black tuxedo with two tails.

Sue gave a show of resistance, but it was obvious she was enjoying Dan's sudden attention.

All the other personnel, from Scarlet, the computer analyst, to the Sarc maintenance crew were there, dancing to the colorful music and happy decorations.

"Hello, Mr. Handsome…" A low purr sounded in Ryu's ears. He turned to see Lt. Gwenevere's face inches from his own. Before he could talk, she stole a brief kiss on his lips.

Even Sue, who Ryu was certain hated his guts, had commented that he looked dashing in his navy blue tuxedo. She had given Dan a mocking look, 'why don't you look so good in tuxedoes?'. A quarrel between the two had been inevitable afterwards, but amusing.

"C'mon, don't be so stiff!" She grabbed his hand and started dragging him to the dancing, "Dance with me!"

"W… Wait…!" He uttered, surprised, "I would think you'd prefer to dance with Lt. Simmons…? Don't you, Lt. Green…?"

She positioned herself in front of her reluctant partner, and ignoring his question, she interlaced her fingers in his.

"You do know how to dance, don't you?"

Much to her surprise, he frowned as if insulted by the insinuation, and started to lead the dance.

She never imagined the uptight Ryu Soma would be such a good dancer, and she started laughing with happiness. Her laughter had an ageless quality to it, and whoever heard it was infused with its careless joy.

Ryo smiled at her as her eyes twinkled with tears of glee.

The music played on and on, and the couples came and went.

Ryu and Gwenevere danced on.

One dance led to another, and another. Time had no meaning in the tunes.

The two were in perfect synchronism; following each other's steps in an intoxicating trance that both wished would last forever.

"I thought you'd be out of my mind,

And I finally found a way to learn to live without you.

I thought it was just a matter of time,

'Till I had a hundred reasons not to think about you.

But it's just not so,

And after all this time,

I still can't let go.

I still got your face, painted on my heart,

Drawn upon my soul,

Etched upon my memories, baby.

And I got your kiss still burning on my lips,

Your touch on my fingertips,

Your smell; so deep inside of me, baby.

I tried everything that I can,

To get my heart to forget you,

But it just can't seem to.

I guess it's just no use,

In every part of me,

There's still a part of you.

And I still got your face, painted on my heart,

Drawn upon my soul,

Etched upon my memories, baby.

And I got your kiss still burning on my lips,

Your touch on my fingertips,

Your smell; so deep inside of me, baby.

I still got your face,

Painted on my heart…

Painted on my heart…

Painted on my heart…

Something in your eyes keeps haunting me,

I'm trying to escape you,

And I know there ain't no way to,

To chase you from my mind.

I still got your face, painted on my heart,

Drawn upon my soul,

Etched upon my memories, baby.

And I got your kiss still burning on my lips,

Your touch on my fingertips,

Your smell; so deep inside of me, baby.

I still got your face,

Still got your face…

Painted on my heart…

Painted on my heart…

Baby…

…C'mon, C'mon, C'mon, C'mon, baby…

…On my heart…"

-The Cult. Painted on my heart.

At one point Dan poked Ryu's shoulder,

"Hey, you! I'm standing here waiting for a dance with Lt. Green for the last hour! Move over, Second Lt.!"

Using his rank as well as his weight to shove Ryu aside, he seized Gwenevere's hands and started leading her away, humming the song with awkward notes.

Gwenevere smiled apologetically at Ryu from over Dan's shoulder as Soma regained footing.

Sue was standing next to him, watching Dan and Gwenevere while pouting.

"Ehh…" She sighed after a moment, "Might as well…" She then turned to Soma.

"Are we gonna show that moron or what?"

Ryu smiled faintly at her and nodded, taking her small hands in his.

"Maybe you're not so bad…" She mumbled after a while. Ryu was silent, watching the other couple dance with his expressionless face. This dance was a slow.

Sue looked aside, not willing to face Soma's cold eye as she spoke,

"I guess I've always been a bit mean to you, but that's just because you were always annoying and scaring Hattie…! What I'm trying to say is…" She frowned deeply, "Is that I'm sorry… maybe you're not such a meanie after all."

Here a small smiled graced his lips, and without looking down he said,

"Don't worry about it. Although…" His smile grew slightly wider, "You have a powerful right hook. I don't envy Dan."

She blushed bright red at this, but said nothing.

After a short while, much to the men's surprise, both Sue and Gwenevere coerced their partners closer and the two girls left them and started dancing with each other, laughing and giggling as girls doing silliness should.

Ryu and Dan were left somewhat high and dry. They looked at each other, judging how to react to each other's presence.

The blond then bowed with a flourish of his tuxedo's tails,

"Shall we dance?" He offered his hand to Ryu, who regarded it coolly.

"Are you drunk, Lt?" He stared at the still bowing head of Dan, and tried not to smirk.

"Yes. But what do you care? C'mon, c'mon, you've got nothing to loose; no one could possibly like you less."

Ryu repressed any urges to smack the Lt, and instead took the offered hand and they, too, started to dance. They were both pretty sure to keep a safe distance between them while trying their best not to stumble on each other's feet.

"You're a pretty good dancer." Dan noted, his eyes fixed on Sue. She was having a great time with Gwenevere; the two were swirling each other around and laughing.

"Where did you learn?"

Ryu was simply looking aside, feeling like an idiot but keeping a straight face,

"I learned how to dance so I could take… Maki to the Universal University's party last year."

The blond was silent a moment, then asked,

"Did you really dance with her?"

"Yes."

After a short pause Ryu looked at the drunken blond,

"What about you? You're not a bad dancer yourself."

Dan laughed and looked at his dancing partner,

"I come from an English family of the old type; learning how to dance is part of my education."

Luckily for the two of them, the current song ended. Quickly, before the next one would begin, the two men let go of each other and addressed their former partners.

"Oy, Sue! Don't be so cruel! I don' wanna dance with a crummy guy!" Simmons pointed an accusing finger at Soma, whom regarded him coolly.

Sue gave him a dumbfound stare,

"You danced with him?? No one forced you two to dance with each other!!" Gwenevere was giggling and Sue was shocked, "You danced with Ryu and I missed it?! Eehh!"

"They make quite a handsome pair, don't you think, Sue?" Gwenevere covered her mouth with her hand, tilting her head and watching Dan squirm.

"Taking your relationship to a new level, eh? Eh? Eh? Eh?" Sue winked mischievously at Simmons, blowing him a kiss.

"Don't say things like that!" He shouted, face flushed, "I wanted to dance! He was just standing there! Don't give that look! I hate that look! Stop that look!" but that only made the girls laugh. He then gave Ryu a mean stare. As the later did not react, Dan scoffed and crossed his hands over his chest.

Ryu and Gwenevere tried to reach for each other again, but this time a great mass appeared before Ryu and seized Lt. Green's hands.

"…Privilege of rank…!" Captain Hartland winked at the slightly surprised Soma. Again Gwenevere gave him that apologetic smile and danced with the Captain, smiling at his amateur dancing.

At least he was having fun.

Ryu turned to leave when he saw the Commander approaching, and with her Hattie. The girl seemed utterly confused, looking around her as if seeing everything for the first time. She had been dressed in a cute and bouncy red dress.

Upon seeing Ryu, her confusion disappeared.

"Yousei-san!" She ran to him, and surprised him with a hug. "Ryu!"

He smiled down at her, placing his hands gently on her shoulders.

"Yours was the first name she called when she woke up." Inness smiled at him as she stepped nearer.

"How is she?" He asked, stroking the hugging girl's hair absently. Inness nodded,

"She's going to be fine." Her smile widened internally at the slightest sign on relief from Ryu's usually cold composure.

He looked down at Harriet,

"Do you know how to dance, Hattie?"

She looked up at him with astonishment, her green eyes filling with joy. Since she was relatively short compared to him, he settled for taking her hand and placing his other hand on her shoulder. She in return gave him her hand, but refused to let go of her hug with the other. She was still dazed and uncertain of what was going on.

He didn't seem to mind her embrace and danced randomly, not really by any steps as by his heart. He closed his eyes lightly and calmed Hattie by hummed along with the song with his calm bass voice.

As the song ended he opened his eyes. Hattie was still clung to him, but she was now crying.

"Are you okay?" He sat on one knee, checking her with a frown of concern.

She sniffed and nodded her head. Wiping her tears away with a balled fist, she asked with a shy voice,

"You're not really a fairy, are you?"

Ryu smiled gently, not removing his hand from her shoulders. He shook his head,

"No. I'm just a man. An ordinary man. I'm not 'Yousei-san', Hattie."

She looked at him and smiled her radiant smile,

"I think I like you better like this." He raised his brows with surprise at this, and she continued, "That means you'll probably won't be leaving for fairy-land any time soon, right?"

Ryu smiled wider and shook his head, "I don't have any plans in the direction." He assured her.

"May I have him for a while?" Gwenevere smiled at Hattie as she pointed at Soma. The girl smiled and ran off to tell Inness what a great time she was having just now.

Both Ryu and Gwenevere smiled as they watched the happy child.

"You don't seem like yourself today." She said softly.

Ryu's smile faded and his shoulders sagged ever so slightly, "Maybe you're right. I don't feel like myself at all."

Green smiled at him warmly, "I think I know the reasons for this." There was a touch of mischief in her voice. Ryu turned to her and listened.

"One," She took a step towards him, "I think you're happy. And I also think you weren't happy in a long while. Two," She took another step towards him, now her face was inches from his own, "I don't think you danced with me anywhere near enough tonight." She stole another brief kiss on his lips and interlaced her fingers with his once more.

"You must know something, Lt. Green…" Ryu said some time into their renewed dancing.

"Hmm?" She gave him a curious look, "What is it? Is something wrong?"

Ryu looked to his feet, watching as the hem of Gwenevere's magenta dress brushed against his legs as they danced,

"My heart… It still belongs to someone else." He paused, still not looking up, "I think it will take me a long time, if ever, before…"

Gwenevere laughed, but there was a definite tone of sadness interlaced in it.

"I'm dying, Ryu, I'm not looking for any long term relationships." Ryu raised his head and they locked gazes.

"I'm just looking for a good time and some love before it's my time to fly. Does it bother you?"

Ryu shook his head,

"I care for you very much." He solemnly said.

"As do I. Now be handsome and quiet." She leaned her head softly on his shoulder.

She then heaved a content sigh,

"Handsome, a great kisser and a marvelous dancer! Lucky me…"

Ryu smiled and they dance on.

"Round, like a circle in a spiral,

Like a wheel within a wheel,

Never ending or beginning,

On a ever spinning reel,

Like a snowball down a mountain,

Or a carnival balloon,

Like a carousel that's turning,

Running rings around the moon,

Like the clocks' hands are sweeping,

Past the minutes of its face,

And the world is like an apple,

Whirling silently in space.

Like the circles that you find,

In the windmills of your mind.

Like a tunnel that you follow,

To a tunnel on it's own,

Down a hallow to a cavern,

Where the sun has never shown,

Like a door that keeps revolving,

In a half forgotten dream,

Or the ripples from a pebble,

Someone tosses in a stream,

Like the clocks' hands are sweeping,

Past the minutes of its face,

And the world is like an apple,

Whirling silently in space.

Like the circles that you find,

In the windmills of your mind.

Keys that jingle in your pocket,

Words that jangle in your head,

Why did summer go so quickly,

Was it something that you said?

Lovers walk along the shore,

And leave their footprints in the sand,

Is the sound of distant drumming,

Just the fingers of your hand?

It's just hanging in a hallway,

On a fragment of a song,

Half remembered names and faces,

But to whom do they belong?

When you knew that it was over,

You were suddenly aware,

That the autumn leaves are turning to the color of her hair.

A circle in a spiral,

A wheel within a wheel,

Never ending or beginning,

On a ever spinning reel,

As the images unwind,

Like the circles that you find,

In the windmills of your mind."

-Michel Legrand. The Windmills of your mind.

"I'm tired…" Gwenevere mumbled into Ryu's ear, still not lifting her head from his shoulder. They were dancing together for almost two hours without a break. "Take me home…" She nuzzled her nose on his neck, as if going to sleep right there on his bony frame.

Without a word he stopped dancing and started escorting her out of the ballroom, supporting her tired body.

Once in the hallways, Gwenevere lost balance. Ryu tilted her so she would lean his weight on him.

"Are you okay, Lt. Green?" His face slightly frowned, his voice slightly worried.

Gwenevere smiled dreamily, half asleep where she stood,

"When we're alone, Ryu, you can call me Gwen." She looked up at his serious face through heavy eyelashes, "Call me Gwen, Ryu… Call me…" And she fell from her feet. Ryu, alarmed, grabbed her before she fell and tried to wake her up.

He started calling her name and patted her cheeks lightly. She mumbled in her sleep. As he patted her cheeks he suddenly realized that she was feverishly hot, and also, looking at her in the strong lighting of the hallways, she was very pale.

"Lt. Green! Gwen! Gwe------n!!!"

An hour later the main crew of Funeral sat outside the infirmary, waiting for news.

Everyone's worry showed only when the doctor came out and everybody bolted to their feet.

The look on the doctor's face told volumes, and the team members found themselves speechless.

Inness was the first to speak,

"How long does she have, doctor?"

The doctor shook his head, "I would say… Minutes."

Ryu gasped softly. The crew murmured between themselves. Dan then pushed past Sue and the captain to go in, but the doctor stopped him with a gesture.

"She wants a few minutes with 2nd Lieutenant Soma, she said."

Ryu raised his brows at this, but said nothing and entered the room, leaving Dan to mumble something in his wake.

She looked so dreadfully weak in Ryu's eyes, but also so beautiful. She was lying in the bed with all sorts of beeping machinery around her.

"Hey, Handsome…" She smiled, her voice not much more than a whisper.

He approached the bed and sat on his knees beside her. His usually emotionless face looking now miserable. She reached out her hand and he took it and held it firmly.

"…Warm…" She smiled wider.

"…I'm sorry." Ryu shook his head, his eyes twitching slightly, "I knew were ill, and I still danced with you for such a long time…" He looked down in self-hatred.

She pressed his hand, and Ryu felt a lump in his throat at how weak the squeeze was.

"…Do you really enjoy blaming yourself so much? I danced with you because I wanted to." She tugged his hand so he'll look into her eyes, "I had a great time, Ryu."

"As did I." Her eyes twinkled with happiness. She was used to knowing death at her door.

"Will you promise me something, Ryu?"

He nodded.

"I don't want anybody to cry when I die. I want to be remembered… Flying…" She looked up and got a far off look, "I want you to see me flying… Up to the sky with the birds… I don't want tears, or to be remembered with sadness." She turned to him, "Promise me, Ryu?"

Again, he nodded, swallowing the lump in his throat and tightening his grip on her hand.

"I promise… Gwen."

"So handsome…" She let go of his hand to cover half of his face, and much to his surprise; she covered the augmented part of his face. She tilted her head, trying to picture in her mind's eyes how he looked before the accident. She then removed her hand and examined his face in its current condition.

"You have such a good heart, Ryu… And such wonderful eyes…"

He was about to ask her something when she placed her hand softly on his mouth.

"Now give me a kiss, and do it like you mean it…" Her voice was peppered with mischief.

He smiled, removed her hand gently from his mouth and bent down to kiss her. Her lips weren't as warm as they were, and he tried to infuse her with his warmth of life in that kiss. This one was longer that all it's predecessors, and had the most emotion- From both of the participants.

When Inness and her crew came in, Ryu was sitting on the chair, looking his cold self.

Each member took his moment to talk to Gwenevere, each told her just how she meant to him or her, and how honored they felt to have met her.

When Ryu left the room, his face was emotionless, but his eyes showed all the emotion he had.

He promised her he wouldn't be sad.

Well, he was a known lair.

He closed his eyes, and wallowed in the darkness a long moment.

In front of his closed eyes he saw a bird. It was the purest white bird he had ever seen or imagined. The bird seemed to look at him a short moment before fluttering it's stark wings and took flight.

The darkness of his eyelids changed to the sky, and the bird flapped its wings easily and soared higher and higher.

Above the clouds, were there the shadows of the clouds could never interfere, the bird flew.

Ryu opened his eyes, a single tear strolled down his cheek, falling on his shoe with an unnoticed splash.

He knew that she had passed away.

He did not shed any more tears for her. Not at the funeral, not when he remembered her with all the fondness and care he had for her.

The reminder of her name would bring a smile to his lips, because he always saw that white bird, and he saw it flying forever.

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What do you think? This is my first Argento Soma fic. AS is one of my favorite Animes ever!

I hope that I managed to keep Ryu in-character, because I know it's really hard. He manages to be a total jerk one moment, and I really really sweet kid in the next.

I also liked that he didn't really have all that 'Maki-maki-maki' complex when he kissed Gwen. ^_^

Suddenly he just forgets her… Men! ^_^