Those Left Behind
Disclaimer: I do not own Bokurano and am making no profit from this.
Notes: Those Left Behind is a collection of short fics focusing on characters after the deaths of each pilot. How do they deal? What is their life like now? Some chapters focus on missing scenes while others take place post-series. I incorporate a mix of anime and manga canon, and the degree I use each will differ for each chapter. I'm writing these short fics for the LJ community 31 days on a daily basis. If all goes as planned, there will be 31 chapters in all. I'm usually not a very fast writer, so churning these out every single day means that these aren't as well thought out as they could be, but I hope you enjoy them anyway. There needs to be more Bokurano fic!
Day 1: Trace
Summary: Nagi, Tsubasa, and Moji. The three who were always together. And now...
"I want you to transplant my heart into his body."
Nagi's surgery was a complete success. When he opened his eyes, he saw Tsubasa leaning against his bed, fast asleep. He could feel the donated heart pumping strongly inside him. He didn't know if it was the thought of having a healthy heart or the fact that he did have a new heart that made him feel healthier than ever. For the first time in months, Nagi believed in the future ahead of him.
When Tsubasa woke up, Nagi greeted her with a wide, carefree grin. She immediately threw her arms around him, and he placed a reassuring hand on her arm. He was healthy again. The three of them weren't going to be separated anymore. They could go back to how things were before he fell sick.
The two chatted for the next hour, laughing and reminiscing about the past. The corner in the large hall room back at their orphanage had been their special place--Nagi remembered carving their names onto the wooden table and getting scolded by the matrons. He always seemed to be getting the three of them into trouble, but Moji and Tsubasa were always there to back him up.
He fondly watched Tsubasa gesture as she spoke, her soft voice brimming with quiet contentment. They would have continued chatting throughout the day if not for the nurse that dropped by.
As the nurse fussed over him, Nagi glanced towards the door and then back to Tsubasa.
"Moji didn't come today?" he asked. He felt a twinge of guilt that he had been so happy that Tsubasa was by his bedside that he hadn't even thought to ask about the absence of his other friend before now.
He watched as Tsubasa's eyes shifted away from his.
"No...I haven't seen him today."
For some reason, his heart seemed to pump faster at Tsubasa's words. Nagi had prepared himself to confess to Tsubasa if his surgery turned out successful. Here he was, healthier than ever. Moji wasn't here for some reason either, or maybe Moji was even deliberately giving him the chance to confess. That day at the hospital, Moji had been full of encouraging words. Nagi felt guilty for taking advantage of Moji's absence--he was almost entirely sure that Moji liked Tsubasa too.
He placed his hand over his chest, feeling his strong heartbeat. He felt guilty, yes, but he had waited too long for this day to come, a day when he'd finally be healthy enough to confess to Tsubasa without causing her pain for not being able to answer his feelings.
"What's wrong?? Does your heart hurt?" asked Tsubasa hurriedly.
Nagi shook his head. "No, it doesn't hurt. Rather, I'm amazed at how healthy I feel. It's all thanks to the donor of this heart."
He took a deep breath.
"Tsubasa, I like you."
Every time Nagi watched the news, he'd be amazed all over again at how he was still alive. He didn't know how much time he had left to live before, but he knew it hadn't been long. Whoever his donor had been, Nagi was grateful.
Lately, all the news ever reported were the fights of Zearth against other giant robots. The number of people who died in those battles were countless, numbers far greater than Nagi could grasp. All those out there had never expected to die prematurely, and yet they had died in masses. And here he was, still alive and healthy. Then one day, the fights stopped, and everyone rejoiced that Earth had been saved. Nagi had lived through it without being affected at all.
Tsubasa still came by everyday, much like how she had before, but now she always came by alone. When Nagi asked her about Moji, she would just shake her head. Nowadays, she seemed more subdued than usual. She looked at him with sad eyes when she thought he wouldn't notice. Sometimes, he wished he had never confessed.
Like Nagi had expected, Tsubasa had rejected him.
Nagi merely thought that Moji was avoiding him.
At his release from the hospital, Nagi fully expected to see Moji hover around Tsubasa, wowing them with his deductive reasonings and sixth sense about something or the other, but Moji never came. Nagi shrugged it off, expecting to see Moji at school.
Even there, there was no trace of the other boy.
It was then that Tsubasa finally told him.
"M-Moji has disappeared."
It was crazy. How could someone disappear like that? There was no family to ask, for they were orphans. They knew all the same people, and everyone he could think of to ask had not seen Moji for the past month. Nagi put his head down at the table in their corner of the hall room, blinking his eyes to stop the blurriness. He watched their carved names sway in front of him.
He traced the characters with his finger, following the strokes in Moji's name. Just where had Moji disappeared to? Why had he left without a word?
Tsubasa confessed that Moji had been distant the days before Nagi's surgery. Nagi swallowed and placed his hand over his chest. Nowadays, he often found himself touching the spot above his heart in reassurance whenever he doubted himself.
That day at the hospital...Moji had been adamant that he confess to Tsubasa. Had that been his goodbye, his way to look after Tsubasa? Why hadn't he noticed anything out of the ordinary?
"He..." started Tsubasa after the strained silence, her face earnest. She fell silent right after she spoke up. Her eyes strayed to his hands, but when he looked at her questionably, she quickly shifted her gaze away.
"What's wrong? Did you think of something?"
Tsubasa shook her head. "No..." she answered shakily. "It's nothing."
He always suspected that deep down, the one Tsubasa liked was Moji. If it hadn't been for his weak heart, Tsubasa would have ended up with Moji a lot sooner. But because of his illness, both of his friends felt that they needed to support him. The three of them were always together, but he knew they couldn't be together forever. His illness had only suspended their time.
With Moji's disappearance, Tsubasa was less lively and less joyful, prone to staring off faraway. She often fell silent in the midst of their conversations, and Nagi knew who and what she must've been thinking about during those times. Her eyes always wandered to Moji's empty seat. The absence of the other boy was sorely felt.
Then one day, Tsubasa turned to him, her eyes bright.
"I met someone yesterday," she murmured.
His heart skipped a beat.
"N-no...it's someone who knows him from the summer camp. Anyway, I've decided to stop looking."
"Why? Did that person tell you where Moji is?"
"S-sort of, but I think I always knew." Tsubasa smiled sadly, her smile not at all like what it used to be.
"If you know, then-"
"Anyway," she continued, cutting off his question. "I just wanted you to know not to worry about Moji anymore. I-I was wondering if your offer still stands?"
He blinked, the sudden change of topic throwing him off.
Then it hit him.
"Of course!" he blurted. "Y-You're agreeing to be my girlfriend?"
"Y-yes," she answered softly, placing her hand against his chest. "Yes..."
His heart raced at her words and her touch. He wondered if she could feel how fast his heart was beating. He pulled her against him and held onto her tightly. They were only two now, two left out of the three who were always together. He didn't know why Tsubasa finally agreed, but he wanted to be the one to make her happy.
Tsubasa blinked rapidly, glad that Nagi couldn't see her expression. She laid her head against his chest, soothed by the feel of the strong heartbeat that connected all three of them together.
Next chapter: Visceral Love.