Authoress' Notes: The last fanfic I wrote for the year 2007 was an AyuHiyo, and that makes me a little giddy, because doing something last at the last day of the year makes it all a little more special, and I think this pairing deserves that. Hee
This was originally for the all-around contest over at Spiraldestiny at Livejournal; the theme was "winter".
Its also dedicated to this bunch of awesome people: pengie-san, Kyoy-chan and Yuko-chan, who all helped me or inspired me in their own ways. Gotta love you guys!
Disclaimer: And oh? I don't own them.
By psychedelic aya
It is a normal winter day.
The start of December is cold. She decides to wear her jacket, her boots, her gloves. She does not tie her hair in their buns or their tails or their braids—she leaves it as is, because once upon a time she knew he liked older women with her hair that way.
In her dresser an earring sits, and she fingers it, the cold metal stinging her skin in the strangest way.
Between her thumb and her pointer the silver band is, then, a subject for due upon contemplation; but while thinking she finds herself idly wondering if December is too cold for earrings.
She decides that it is, and does not wear it.
(But she might change her mind, so she puts it in her pocket instead.)
She doesn't like to lie. (But her existence is of fraud—)
He doesn't like to believe. (But his existence is of faith—)
Hizumi was right;
(And they grasp each other's stare and sigh—I love you—it's the only believable lie—)
They were perfect for each other from the beginning.
"Ah. It's just you again."
("This time is proof.")
"Just? Mou, is that what you say to someone who has been visiting you everyday?"
("That without me—")
"…I never asked you to come."
("—Narumi-san is useless.")
He is staring at something through her, behind her, past her—within her. She tries not to panic under his scrutinizing gaze. Slowly, too slowly, she puts her chopsticks down and smiles, thinking it might ease both their minds.
Don't ask questions, she wants to say, and her heart constricts with each word she thinks. Don't ask questions I can't answer yet.
"Narumi-san is looking at me strangely," she comments, very knowingly, and glances at him with a smile. "Does he want something?"
He considers it for a moment, and never breaks his gaze away.
Suddenly then, he shakes his head, and she feels that her anxiety has gone. "I was just thinking of your hair for this job." He looks away from her and pokes on his food, looking so casual that it's as if he is merely saying a fact as simple as the sky is blue. His tone is as apathetic and as cruel as it always is, and because of this, she is already prepared for the insult to come. "It's an unnatural fake shade of copper. Hn, hair dye of the cheap parlor kind."
Some things never change, she thinks, even though so much already has passed between them. She is no longer the highschooler she was, but the rabbits and the bears were cute and easy to pack.
"Narumi-san is evil!" She exclaims, and hits him with good force—not too hard because the nurse will scold her, but not too soft because he doesn't deserve any pity. "This fake shade of copper was very expensive, I'll have you know!"
"Then you wasted your money on it."
He is as blunt as usual. She is not surprised.
She pouts, "Mou, Narumi-san!" In a habitual manner, she turns her head the other way, her lips already pursed into a thin line and her arms crossed with each other. "Hmph." She refuses to look at him. "What does Narumi-san know about hair fashion, anyway?"
He leans back on his hospital bed, and faces towards her. His comeback is at the top of his head, the tip of his tongue; but as he stares at her, pouting and pursing her lips as she did, he feels that for a moment—just a moment—that all the sentences have escaped from his brain. His mind has just realized what she is doing, what she is being; and somehow he tries to ignore how she looks so very like herself.
(This world of belief supposedly already stopped—)
He sighs to himself, and tries not to comment on this.
So instead, he gathers the words again and answers her with a straight face, "Probably nothing," and this causes her to aggravate even further. He feels that the bear and rabbit are coming again, but he doesn't move. This time, when she is angry and pouting and trying to punish him like she always used to, he can't possibly ignore the similarities.
(—you're still here.)
Sometimes he thinks that maybe he doesn't want to, anyway.
A silence falls between them, like a silk curtain in the middle of a confession box, a separator of sins and of forgiveness.
(She'd never know how to say she was sorry.)
He continues his words, then, cutting through that silence by opening the figurative curtain of pain. "It's just that…"
(He'd never know how to say it was fine.)
She is surprised now, that when she is looking at him, he is still staring, and not trying to defend himself from the puppets she has already readied. His eyes are deep—contemplating, calming, forgiving—and she knows it's that look again (don't give me that, Narumi-san; go away, Narumi-san; I don't deserve any of this, Narumi-san)—and she finds her breath hitching and her heart skipping beats.
He suddenly smiles a soft smile, and she finds her whole world fall apart and away.
"You looked better with braids."
"…And yet you come anyway."
("Narumi-san is never alone,")
"Does Narumi-san… does he want me to leave?"
("—because he's got me.")
"It's alright that you're still here."
("And its okay even if the whole world is against you—")
"…You're really a strange person, Narumi-san."
("—because you're still the strongest with me!")
Long ago, she was never afraid.
"You knew from the start, didn't you," she mumbles, and her eyes lock steady upon his, because between the two of them, she was the one who always had to be brave. She takes a deep breath before plowing through the thick silence with the painful truth of words. "That I lied."
He does not reply immediately, and for a moment she thinks she will be scared of what he has to say. This topic—even in the months long after their story—is still taboo to both of them. She knows, though, that they have to confront it before his time is over; because she knows that if fate takes him earlier on (and then the sorry will be long and gone) she would never be able to handle the pain.
He matches her stare with his own, even and blank. "I did," he says simply, and she doesn't know if the acknowledgement is supposed to make her weep or sigh. He does the latter for her, "You were too obvious to begin with, you stupid girl."
The air is thick for a moment, too thick—and she feels as if she cannot breathe. He has insulted her and she knows she should retaliate in her cute way, but somehow her mind has gone blank.
She does not know why, but she finds herself stopping her words.
"No," he then says, in the midst of her unexplained silence. He shakes his head, and she finds that he is looking the other way. "Don't say anything."
She finds herself looking down, and her heart tests her skills to hold back tears.
Still, she is a woman before she is a spy, and she cannot help but an emotion escape: her lip quivers, and her hands find comfort in each other.
"Don't do that," his voice is deep and kind, and it makes her whole body want to crumble. She feels his fingers on her face, his palm cupping her cheek, and when she looks up he is smiling so brightly that the feeling is overwhelming. "It's not like you."
Her eyes widen a little and she wonders if what he saying is true—but then she realizes that this is Narumi Ayumu, and what he says is always the truth.
"Yes," she exhales, and it almost sounds like a relieved laugh. "It's not like me, is it?"
The hand that is on her face seems gentler for a while, and she feels his fingers slowly move, until they have curled up like a fist touching her cheek. The area his knuckles touch is scorching and it makes her dizzy—but it is nothing compared to when his thumb grazes against the side of her eye, caressing down until it reaches her chin, leaving a trail of warmth in its wake.
For a moment, she wonders what he is doing—she wants to ask but her throat is dry from heavy breathing—and her senses overload when she suddenly finds out that he is leaning too close and that his breath is fanning her nose.
She doesn't know when he got there, in front for her vision, centimeters away from her face. He is invading her carefully guarded territory; the walls she took years to put up, severing intimacy with whomever she came in contact with, never ever opening her heart—every bit of that is gone, and his hold on her chin is like his grasp on her soul, tender yet desperate, a possession both of them knew already existed although they would never know how to begin.
Neither of them move, and she questions herself if his passing glance to her lips was only her imagination.
There is an issue of whether she will stay or she will leave, but much like the taboo-bound topic of faith and deceit they do not bring it up openly.
Each time she visits (everyday she visits) they talk about random things: she talks about how cold the weather is and about the latest fashion trends and what she sees outside; he talks about the horrible hospital food and about his latest piano pieces and what he experiences inside.
None of them mention the Blade Children, Narumi Kiyotaka or Mizushiro Yaiba (yet Mizushiro Hizumi is a topic sometimes simply because he was a friend who put a rather large dent in their lives); not because neither of them are afraid to, but because neither of them want to put a crack on the surreal reality they have created for themselves.
It is for this same reason that they do not mention if she will stay or leave.
(She will never say but she wants to stay.)
(He will never say but he means the same.)
Her voice is coated with the promise of saccharine smiles and sweet eyes, but he knows better (he knows her so much better) than to give in.
She makes a sound that sounds like something between a frustrated sigh and pleasant hum—a sound which he blinks at, by the way, because he doesn't know how anyone else can manage such an odd reverberation.
"I made something for you," she finally announces, as if it were a secret (which it was not, because she was too obviously hiding something behind her back). She reveals it with a flourish, looking proud, "Ta da I made lunch!"
He stares at the bentou she has made and does not make a comment about the food inside (like he usually would), but instead notices the quantity of the meal. His stare is apathetic and blunt, "Why is it only enough for one?"
Sometimes he sounds like he is blaming her, but she knows that is not the case.
She feels her heart stop, but she ignores the fact that she has been caught. Switching to one of her cute pouts, she crosses her arms and looks away, "Hmp! I only make lunch once in a while, and since my cooking skills are close to nil, I burned the other half. Here I am being kind enough to give you the edible parts and yet you look at me with that scrutinizing expression!"
She expects him to roll his eyes at her mini-rant, to berate her for burning food and wasting precious ingredients; but when she looks at him again he is only staring at her eyes with a look she isn't ready to face.
She is surprised he comes to the problem head-on. "You need to go," he says, and his voice is like an empty mirror that has been shattered into a thousand pieces. "Don't you."
She backs away, and ignores the cold that has suddenly bit her. (It is always warm in Narumi-san's room, and yet—) She staggers with herself for a moment, but is aware that she has to face him sooner or later. She closes her eyes and admits what is true, "I have another mission from Kiyotaka-san—"
Her brain freezes for a moment; she has never heard his voice sound like this while saying his brother's name—as if they were ice needles ready to fall.
She is sure she is the person who knows him best—even more so than Narumi Kiyotaka or Narumi Madoka or Mizushiro Hizumi—it is in this league where she knows she has beaten them all, where she has the first place pedestal all to her own. Still, this ability of hers is not perfect; there are times where she does not understand what he is thinking—why he is smiling, why is he frowning, why is he mad.
This is one of those times.
He shakes his head.
"If you can call aniki by his first name then you can call me by mine too."
It's such a direct leap of intimacy, but he handles it with all his rational stability—he does not even look away from her face, when she is fighting all her will to keep her gaze away from his.
Her mouth opens a little—the beginning of an admission, the start of repairing a just little broken faith—
(She can try.)
(She wants to try.)
The two syllables are barely out of her mouth when the door behind her opens—
It is Madoka squealing and though she knows she can continue it really won't be the same.
"I think I have to go," she tells him, and does not look his way. She stands up from her chair and faces the revealed white corridor outside the door. "Take care," she mumbles, and ignores the strange look Madoka is giving her. "…Narumi-san."
She is out even before he has the chance to tell her whatever else he has to say.
Once her heels have placed themselves on the tiles across his doors, she sighs to herself, although she knows it is more of relief than of aggravate.
With this broken chance hanging in the depths of her mind, she knew she would have to stay.
She leaves the hospital with a little smile on her face, and decides she will make lunch again tomorrow.
For two this time.
"Promise me something."
("You'll be alright, right?")
His voice is apathetic, commanding, and cruel—(soft, gentle, and desperate)—and when he gives her that look of his she knows she won't be able to break away.
("Of course you will. It's you, after all.")
"You'll be there when I come home."
Everyday she comes.
Everyday there is a chance.
It all happens all too suddenly—she comes in and smiles and tells him of her day—she listens attentively as he does the same—she says "I made lunch!" and he says "It's terrible." and they go along their little way—sometimes the bear and the rabbit come out and sometimes they don't—sometimes she grins as he laughs and sometimes he smiles as she pouts—sometimes they talk about life and about death and about pain and about love—
—and then the slip comes, and she knows once she has gone past that line there is no going back—
He suddenly kisses her and she does not know how to react—she has only said his name—his precious name—and everything comes falling down: the chopsticks in her hand, the bag on her shoulder, the blanket of his bed, the structured barriers in her heart and in her head. Everything comes loose and there is nothing else but the feel of his arms around her waist and his hair brushing against her nose, the taste of his lips against hers and the caress of his hands on her shoulder and in her hair—
"Stay," he suddenly mouths, when he has released her for air. He rests his forehead against hers and tells her everything he wants (and has wanted) to say (before she can stand up and leave and take due escape). "Stay."
He makes it sound clear that he is not asking.
She knows she should think about decisions like this. She knows she cannot say yes sure, that's okay because she knows she cannot stay because the lack of forever is in their way.
The silence haunts her (it haunts them both), and she does not say anything until Kiyotaka calls to take her away.
The cellphone rings in the silence of his hospital room, only slightly muffled by the thin layers of her bag. She does not move to pick it up but she does not move to throw it away, and the lack of attendance causes the Panasonic backlights to blink in their faces in a dozen colorful variations.
She does not know what to do.
He takes his chance and tells her something he ought to, "I'm having an operation tomorrow."
The phone shrills, but she does not blink in surprise because of that. "An operation?"
He lightens his hold on her, to the point that their faces are no longer touching and neither are their hands. "Hizumi's medicines are going to be put to the test."
She is not sure how to take that. "And what if it fails?"
She awaits his answer so much that her phone has been forgotten, and the lights are back to dim and the atmosphere is just as silent.
If the tests are unresponsive, she knows what to someday anticipate: he will tell her that he will have to go soon. (And then that sorry—that sorry she never said—will be so much long and so far gone—)
She knows she will not like the sound (nor the feel) of that.
He does not reply to her with a clear answer.
"You'll be alright," he says, and she feels like she has heard this all before. "It's you." He is smiling. "You'll be alright."
She only nods as he pats her head, and her eyes meet the floor.
The phone, once more, begins on ringing.
She does not think she will be alright.
"It's so like Narumi-san—"
"—to ruin a romantic moment by saying he has to go on an operation."
"Really! That could've been my first kiss, and you just—"
"…It got you to ignore aniki and stay, didn't it."
"…Yes, it did."
"Hn. That's all that matters."
The whole time he is in the operation room all she does is clutch her earring.
(It's the only thing remaining—the only symbol of what little faith she has left—)
The silver bites her skin like the winter outside, but it is a normal day, and she expects that.
She waits, and breaks all the walls left in her to bring out even just a little certainty amidst the bleak white world of the hospital. She is a woman before she is a spy, after all, and though once she was never afraid she knows now its okay to be less than a little brave.
(She really doesn't like to lie.)
(He really doesn't like to believe.)
Hizumi was right;
(And they grasp each other's stare and sigh—I love you—sometimes they wonder if it's still a lie—)
And when all is said and done, there will be another day.
She will be okay.
He cuts her off by holding her hand—it is the first thing he does when he recovers, and he accompanies it with one of those rare smiles he brings upon his face.
"Hiyono," he says, and it's all she needs to hear. "I think Hiyono is fine."
It is a normal winter day.
The end of December is not so cold. She decides to do without her jacket, her boots, her gloves. She ties her hair in their buns and their tails and their braids, because somehow in reality she knew he liked really cute girls looking that way.
In her dresser an earring sits, and she fingers it, the cold metal stinging her skin in the most pleasant way.
Between her thumb and her pointer the silver band is, then, a subject for non contemplation; she doesn't really need to think about it anymore. She wears it in less than a minute, smiles at the mirror, takes her bag and begins to leave.
As she is out of the door, her phone rings, and—
"Ayumu! I was just—"
"—Taking too long. Hurry up, I'm freezing outside your apartment."
She laughs, opens her door, and takes him an in embrace.
Hiyono thinks the silver earring stings her once—maybe twice—but really, it is a normal day, and that is all.
.//FINI - 123107
Authoress' Notes: As I have repeatedly mentioned in my LJ, I wrote a lot of this in an internet café the day before New Years (the eve was only hours away), so imagine how much the clerks wanted to kick me out by then. (I did get kicked out in the end, sort of.) So I apologize if there are paragraphs that seemed rush or something of that sort.
In fact—it's actually the rush's fault that made this little piece turn out to have a happy ending. I think if I had been in my room instead, slaving over MS Word and rushing for the contest deadline (wish was extended, lol) with my natural habitat and junk food + Swiss Miss in store, this would've ended much differently.
I really enjoyed writing this, though, that's for sure; so I hope you also enjoy reading it too, yes? I've always wanted to tackle AyumuxHiyono in a different light, since all I've written for them so far is in plots of crack-ish fluff. And so sad manga ending + obsession + depression + dokidoki + love this.
Enjoy and have a great 2008, darlings. (Smile, someone up there loves you!)