I watched the Spiral anime when it came out, and found myself interested in it –and with a heck of a lot of questions about it, too. At that time, however, the Spiral fandom wasn't too great, and I didn't want to write anything until I had at least some of my questions answered. So I got my hands on the manga this year, and have been reading it and...well, I do have some answers. (Yay!) Hence, I decided to finally write something.
This takes place after Kanone's death (...which was sad, especially after all the trouble that everyone went to, to make sure that they didn't have to kill him to stop him). When Ayumu leaves the hospital, we're told that Madoka had to remain for a month or so, and when he pays Rio, Kousuke and Ryouko a visit, they don't seem prepared to leave any time soon either. Besides, with the number of times Rio's been in hospital...I'd say they'd want her to remain for a bit anyway.
Right, so...that's it from me here...on with the one-shot.
Hope you enjoy it!
Disclaimer: 'Spiral – Suiri no Kizuna' does not in any way, shape or form belong to me; it's the property of Shirodaira Kyou.
To Hold on to Hope:
His boot-clad feet made no noise on the carpeted floor as he strolled down the topmost corridor of the hotel. With his gaze fixed at nothing in particular in front of him, he flexed his fingers in their cocoon of warmth, shoved inside the pockets of his black coat –it had been a cold day and an even colder evening. He couldn't for the life of him figure out why his agent had decided to organize an outdoor concert at this time of the year –not only would he suffer from it, but so would the audience- but it wasn't as though he could complain; he had needed something to take his mind off the depressing facts that it was dwelling on more than usual lately, and the effort of playing the piano in the freezing evening conditions had been just the thing.
But that didn't mean that he didn't regret it –his poor, numb fingers certainly seemed to regret his brash decision, as did the rest of him. His neck was cramping up and his back ached as though he had been stepped on quite a few times. And he knew that the wisest thing to do once he entered the lavish penthouse would be to have a warm shower and head straight to bed...but he couldn't do it, no matter how much his body pleaded with his mind. He would have the shower, of course, but as for the sleep...
He hadn't had a decent few hours of sleep ever since...well, ever since--
Ever since Kanone died, he thought, his pace slowing down unconsciously as his thoughts turned to one of the reasons as to the onslaught of depressing thoughts he was experiencing, no, ever since Kanone was killed, he corrected himself, for that was what happened. Whether or not the timid yet deadly dangerous brunet had allowed himself to be shot, whether or not he had welcomed it, the fact remained that he was killed.
Realizing then that he had stopped walking in the middle of the corridor, he quickened his pace –his feet still making no sound on the carpeted floor- and a moment later, he reached his front door. Sliding his key into the keyhole, he turned the handle and was soon inside. A feeling of mild relief washed over him as he closed the door behind him and promptly leaned back against it.
This was not 'home'...but still, it was as close to it as he could ever get. He moved from the door, starting to unbutton his long black coat and wondering at the same time if he had left the windows open the last time he was here, for it was somewhat cold inside the empty, dark place. Shrugging, he raised his arm to the wall to his right and quickly flipped on the lights, allowing the spacious area to be bathed in a warm, yellow glow.
It was then that he noticed them; the two figures lying on the floor. Blue eyes narrowing, he stepped towards them, intent on asking a question –or two- when, to his slight surprise, he noticed that the two figures were asleep, curled up next to one another with the brunette using the red-head's arm as a pillow. His eyes travelled from their somewhat peaceful sleeping expressions to the empty plates and cups that were on the floor next to them, and he sighed inwardly.
He should have known that giving Akazuki Kousuke a key to the penthouse was a bad idea.
Figuring that it was pointless to question them about their presence at that point in time –they'd only cause him a greater headache- he bent down and quickly picked up the two plates and accompanying glasses that were on the ground. Kousuke would probably laugh his head off, but he was not used to this kind of...untidiness.
And yet, despite his building ire at finding his penthouse otherwise occupied, the pale haired young man could not help but glance thoughtfully at his sleeping companions' faces. Yes, their expressions were rather peaceful...but the faces were also drawn...almost tired. Why-?
Shrugging the question away a moment later, he turned on his heel, intending on heading towards kitchen, when he was forced to come to another abrupt stop –although this time, he wasn't as surprised as before when he noticed the coat-covered figure curled up on the couch. He frowned, however, when he noticed how she shivered lightly, even under the warmth provided by her coat; but then again, she had always been sensitive to things like that.
Shaking his head, he continued on his way and dumped the dishes into the kitchen sink when he reached it, deciding that –for once- he'd leave them and wash them later. Or better yet, he'd get Kousuke to rinse them when he woke up. Turning his back to the sink, he headed towards the living room area once more, making a quick detour to his room to snatch the thick, navy blanket from the bed, which he then preceded to place over the lightly shivering girl after discarding her coat in a lump on the ground.
He stood over her for a long moment, blue eyes gazing down at her small form. His hand was moving, moving towards her face –probably to brush away the stray strands of silver-grey hair that rested on her cheek- when he checked himself and lowered the limb in a flash. What was he doing? He would...disturb the girl...
...And knowing her, she would wake up and simultaneously pull out a weapon of some sort on him –as one of the Blade Children, one could never be too cautious, and it was well known that Takeuchi Rio was not one to be caught unprepared. Kousuke had once said that she was probably the most dangerous of them all...and even though he had not made any comment back then, he had still known that the red-head was probably correct in his assumption...
And yet she is just a girl, he thought, impassively, a 'normal' energetic girl. Who, out of all of us, probably deserves this fate the least.
He stiffened as the girl mumbled in her sleep, and this time, was aware of his actions as he raised his hand to tuck the navy blanket around her shoulders. It was as his fingers fumbled with the material that he remembered his own exhaustion –both mental and physical. Despite the...curious fact that three people who should be in hospital were in his penthouse, it didn't change the fact that he was cold and tired and...not very happy with what life and Narumi Kiyotaka had thrown his way –their way-.
His blue eyes narrowed as his previously dulled mind whirred into action once more, drawing up scenes and images that he didn't particularly want to recall, especially when they seemed to be even more vivid in his mind than they had been previously.
This was what he had feared, this was why he had gone out of his way to stay away from the rest of the Blade children since the day Hizumi committed that murder. He had feared that the presence of those who had known the...brunet –like the sleeping individuals- would wring some sort of reaction out of him, whether by making him lose his cool or making him accept the fact that it had happened, that it was over.
"Damn," he muttered, softly, raising a hand to his throbbing left temple, before he abruptly moved away, heading towards his room. A long, warm shower sounded rather appealing right then.
When he walked out of the bathroom, clad in a long-sleeved black t-shirt and loose black pyjama pants, he was surprised to hear soft mumbling coming from the direction of the living room area. He debated with himself for a moment, for he was certainly not in the mood to interact with anyone, be it friend or foe...but soon enough, decided that a quick check would do him no harm.
It had better not be Akazuki, he thought, somewhat darkly, I do not feel like putting up with his silly antics right now...
It was a good thing, then, that it wasn't the loudmouthed red head who was making the noise in the living room. He stood still for a moment, watching the light haired girl as she struggled with the window. (Which explained why it was cold inside, then).
"Let me," he said, as he crossed over to the girl and, reaching above her head, pulled the window shut.
"Eyes-kun..." She gave him a somewhat tired smile, her large blue-grey eyes not-so-subtly taking in his appearance in an analytical manner. "You came back late..."
He nodded, stepping away from her.
"The concert was a longer one than usual."
"Oh." There was an awkward pause as silence descended upon them. Eyes Rutherford wasn't a good conversationalist on any given day, and he was certainly not in the mood to carry on even polite conversation then. A loud, out of the blue snore snapped him out of his dark thoughts, just as it was followed by a huff from the short girl standing before him.
"About Kousuke and-"
"-Ah, about that..." Rio scratched the back of her head sheepishly. "I'm sorry, Eyes-kun, I know –we know- that you don't like your space invaded, but we were just worried-"
"-There's no reason to be worried," cut in the taller male, impassively.
"Oh, but--" The silver-grey haired girl paused, looking first uncomfortable and then...hesitant, before she masked the expressions. "Of course there isn't..." she mumbled, as she lowered her easily readable eyes. "It's just we thought you would like some company and-"
He didn't know why, but he found himself bristling.
"-You thought wrong," he cut in, sharply. His hard expression softened somewhat when the girl looked up at him before quickly looking away.
"...Sorry, Eyes-kun," she mumbled, "I suppose we...weren't thinking properly." There was another pause. "If you'd like, I'll wake Kousuke-kun and Ryouko-chan up and we'll leave. It's not fair to intrude after all." And she moved as if to do just that, when he stopped her with a hand on her shoulder.
He said nothing for a moment as their eyes met, blue-grey clashing with vivid blue.
"No," he said, quietly, "It's alright."
The girl fidgeted, looking troubled.
"But if you-"
"-Rio, it's alright. I...it's alright."
Another silence descended upon them, one that was just as uncomfortable as before, and Eyes could tell that the girl was bursting to say something and that she was hesitating because...
Because she is afraid of how I will react, he realized, resisting the urge to break out into a wry smile, Is that really what has become of me? For my companions to fear me, no, for her to fear me...have I really...changed that much?
Finally unable to watch her while she was so clearly afraid, he averted his gaze. "You should get some sleep," he said, slowly. "It's pretty late." The Rio he knew would have put up some sort of resistance, but given the circumstance, he wasn't surprised when she nodded.
"Yes," she said, turning around to head back to the couch. "You should take your blanket, Eyes-kun, you'll need it," she commented, as she gathered the heavy item in her hands, pushing it to a side before she sat down heavily on the couch. "We'll be gone when you wake up, Eyes-kun." When she raised her head to look at him, there was a small smile on her face –a sad smile. "Good night, Eyes-kun."
All he could do was watch as she curled up again, on the far end of the couch, picking up her coat from the ground and using it in place of the navy blanket he had provided her with.
He continued to watch her in silence, his eyes as vivid as they normally were, as her words ricocheted in his head.
'We know that you don't like your space invaded...'
'We were just worried-'
'We thought you would like some company-'
So that was it? That was why they had decided to abandon their respective homes –no matter how temporary they were- to spend time at his penthouse?
He frowned. With her injuries, Rio was supposed to be hospitalized for five weeks, he recalled, which would mean that she has another week and a half to go. His blue eyes moved to the –blissfully- asleep figures of Ryouko and Kousuke. I am certain that they still have a week or two left in their stay at the hospital too...
Then why...? He didn't worry about the 'how'; they were Blade Children and there was no doubt that their plans on ditching the hospital had been as creative and logical as possible. It was the 'why' that unconsciously bothered him.
Rather, it was the realization of the 'why' part that bothered him.
In any case, it seemed as though there was nothing he could do in this situation. He was...not himself, and he could not even hope for them to understand, no matter how pure their intentions were.
He had to get through this on his own. No matter how...difficult a task it may be.
Quenching his thoughts, he moved towards the blanket, intent on covering up the girl's form with it once more. He was a cold character, he had been told by various people, cold and aloof...so shouldn't someone as cold as he was be able to stand the natural coldness of nature? What stilled his movements –blanket in hand- was when he saw that the girl was not trembling because of the cold...she was...crying.
There was no doubt about it; she was crying.
"Why, Eyes-kun? Why are you being like this?" she asked, aware of his presence beside her, although she still kept her eyes closed. "W-We're worried –about you a-and...about everything else...but you just...keep pushing us away." She squeezed her eyes shut tighter. "Is it because we're...not good enough for you? Or because you have deluded yourself to the point that you think you don't c-care?"
Vivid blue eyes were widened as they stared at the softly crying girl, and Eyes felt something tightening within him...to the point that he liked to think it pained him.
That is what I have been doing, he mused, pushing them away. Do I believe they are not good enough for me? For my company?
He thought back to the times he had associated with the three Blade Children; to the annoying distrust that Kousuke seemed to have in him –which, to be fair, he probably hadn't done anything to prove was unnecessary; to the mild hatred that Ryouko had towards him for being aloof and for tainting her life and that of those she loved –which was possibly correct, but had been done for a purpose, for them; to Rio, who had nothing but near-blinding trust in and affection for him...two things which he was fairly certain he had done nothing to earn.
Did he believe they were not good enough for him?
No, he decided, understanding dawning on him, I merely do not want to create another Kanone-like bond with them...for it is inevitable that all such bonds will be broken in the end.
He didn't want to be hurt by the breaking of such bonds. Even though those bonds were being offered to him, time and time again, albeit in different ways for the different individuals.
In short, he was being selfish...just as much as he was being a coward.
Rio...I'm sorry. Kousuke and Ryouko too.
Half a moment later, he was seated on the couch and had the navy blanket wrapped around its current occupant. He sensed her figure tense for a moment, but he said nothing, choosing instead to place a hand on her arm.
It wasn't much; it was just his still somewhat cool, weighty hand on her arm; but from him, at that moment, it came across as a close equivalent to one of those 'I'm sorry. It'll be alright. Don't be upset's that normal people liked to say to comfort those who were saddened with good reason.
"I wish it didn't have to happen, Eyes-kun." Her voice snapped him out of his strangely enlightening thoughts. "I...I wish it didn't have to happen to Kanone-kun." He knew that the reason why she tensed this time was because she wondered if she had said too much –which was true, but it had to happen somehow.
She had opened her eyes now.
"Why did it...have to happen? After everything, after everything we did..." she stifled a sob, "after everything Ototo-san did to make sure that we didn't kill him...why?"
"... ... ..." How could he tell her? He may be cold and aloof, but he wasn't that heartless.
She was trembling even more now.
"A-And...they told us, Hiyono-san and the others that...that this 'Hizumi'...that he did it." This time, it was his turn to stiffen. 'Us'? They were told about this...matter? "Eyes-kun...from what they said, Kanone-kun was in a very secure, guarded place, under constant surveillance..."
He closed his eyes, knowing what was coming. She was known as a genius, and had proved it on numerous occasions...even though it probably wouldn't take a 'genius' to make the connection he was sure she would make –a well-informed person would certainly be able to make it too.
"There is only one person who...could have given that information to this...'Hizumi'." Her voice was barely a whisper. "I always understood his reasons; I never hesitated when carrying out his wishes, but...why? Despite how much he cared –or appeared to care- for us and our wellbeing and possible future...are we all really that 'expendable' to Kiyotaka-san? Does he really care for nothing but preparing Ototo-san to...save us?"
The hand on her arm moved up and down the limb slowly.
"-What is the point of bringing Ototo-san to the point where he can save us, when there aren't any of us left to save?"
Don't say that, he thought, for you to say that...you who always believed...
"I don't know, Rio," he said, at last, after a long moment. "I don't know the answers to any of that. But...we believed in Kiyotaka-san, in...Ototo-san, this far, didn't we? Would it really hurt us if we tried to continue to do so, at least for a little longer?"
She was quiet for a while, no doubt pondering on his words.
"But I don't want to lose anymore, Eyes-kun..." she said, sounding tired, far too tired for a girl of her age. "You, Kousuke-kun, Ryoko-chan...even Ototo-san and Hiyono-san...I don't want to lose any of you anymore..."
His eyes softened as he glanced down at her, catching a glimpse of her big blue-grey eyes filled with tears.
"I know," he said, softly, surprising himself as he moved his hand to stroke her head. "I know, Rio...so we will have to do our best to keep things as they are..."
He felt her nod against his leg, and they were swallowed by silence once more, although this time, it was not as awkward and uncomfortable as it was before. She used the silence to hurriedly wipe her eyes with the sleeve of her top, trying to regain her composure, and he respected that.
"I'm sorry that we barged in here without your permission, Eyes-kun," she said, at last. "We really did know that you wouldn't like it, Ryouko-chan half wanted to give you the space and time you needed, but...we were worried. When they told us that Kanone-kun...that Kanone-kun was killed..." She trailed off for a moment. "...And you didn't drop by for a visit, and Hiyono-san told us how you reacted when you watched the surveillance video...and we knew that you wouldn't deal with this in the best way possible because you're Eyes-kun, and no matter how many times we called you, you wouldn't answer..."
She paused to take a breath. "Which, on hindsight, we should have expected...it was only natural for you to avoid us. But it still...stung." She shook her head. "It was Kousuke-kun's idea to visit...except we didn't know that you were having a concert...so...we ended up waiting for you to return, falling asleep in the process..."
He nodded, still looking down at her.
"I have one question..."
She shifted her position and was now lying on her back as she stared up at his face.
"How did you manage to leave the hospital?" He noted the sheepish expression on her face. "Can any of you even...stay upright properly, for long enough?"
"Well, about the hospital...we sort of...just left."
He raised his eyebrows at her. "What?" she asked, defensively. "Kousuke-kun brought the idea up suddenly and...we didn't have time to plan anything. We didn't even feel like coming up with a plan; we just snuck out and did our best to go unnoticed."
"...So, right now, there are nurses and other hospital staff running around in a frenzied state due to the disappearance of three patients?"
"Probably," she said. "But Kirie-san's number was put down as our emergency contact...so she would have been able to come up with something. She's good at that kind of thing, isn't she?"
He said nothing to that. "Eyes-kun?" He nodded to show her that he was listening. "I really am sorry that we...did this. It's just, we were worried and scared too. So much seemed to be happening without our knowledge...and then to discover the existence of this 'Hizumi' person...it confused us..."
"It's only natural," he commented, as he unintentionally and unknowingly played with the silver-grey strands of hair that fell into the girl's eyes. As he stared into said eyes, however, he knew what he had to do –despite his previous hesitation. "Rio?" She stared at him. "Tomorrow. When we've all had some sleep and woken up...I'll tell you everything."
Blue-grey eyes widened. "I'll tell you what you want to know –provided that I have the answers- and...I will certainly try and clear up the confusion regarding Hizumi." His eyes moved to Kousuke and Ryouko's peaceful forms. "I promise."
He looked down once more when she took his hand in hers, and was somewhat relieved when he saw the smile on her lips –the familiar smile that her face had been missing.
"Thank you, Eyes-kun."
He only nodded, closing his eyes for a moment as he struggled to say what he wanted to say in a...mature and...calm manner.
"I...miss Kanone." He cringed inwardly; if that wasn't the biggest understatement of the century, he didn't know what was.
The hold on his hand tightened, and he moved his fingers slightly so that he could squeeze her hand back. "I miss him a lot." Was it him or did his voice...quiver? "But he...had hope, in the end. In Ototo-san; in what he could do for us. So I will hope too..."
"Because Kanone-kun can't be wrong if he started to hope, can he? Especially when he didn't hope before?"
"...Something like that." He looked down when he felt the girl fidget and was surprised when she held out a corner of his navy blanket to him. After a moment of staring at it, he quirked an eyebrow at her smiling face.
"It's cold," she said, offhandedly, "And I would feel bad if you turned into a frozen lump while I hogged your blanket."
He stared at her for another moment before he accepted the item –or corner of the item- offered, and pulled it over his seated figure as best as he could, taking care to make sure that she was covered sufficiently.
"Wouldn't you feel bad if Kousuke and Ryouko...froze too?"
"Kousuke-kun is too thick-skinned to be frozen," said Rio, as she turned her head to look at said sleeping figures. There was no mistaking the underlying affection in her voice, however. "And since Ryouko-chan's with him, she'll be kept warm."
Eyes smirked at her...'logic'.
"Good night, then, Rio."
She turned her attention back to him.
"Good night Eyes-kun," she said, with a soft smile, before she snuggled further into him both for a sense of comfort and for more warmth. He allowed it without saying a word.
"Oh, and Rio?"
"After we have that talk, you, Kousuke and Ryouko are going back to the hospital to complete your advised stay there."
The corners of his lips twitched upwards slightly at her groan.
Kanone, he thought, as his eyelids felt extraordinarily heavy, I'm sorry I couldn't keep you safe. He lowered his head against the onslaught of exhaustion, But I'll try my best from now, I'll try harder than before, to keep Kousuke, Ryouko and...Rio safe. No matter what, and no matter how futile it might seem.
I will continue to hope, and will continue to fight.
And it's DONE! It was unbearably long, I know, but I didn't think it would be right to separate this into two chapters...so I left it as it was. I have only read up to Chapter 68 of the manga, even though I did find out what happens in the end...but I didn't want to speculate on any of that because I'm not sure –not until I read the rest, at least.
Well, that's it from me. Hope you enjoyed this, despite its length.