eri / ai ; kicking up dust with D+B heels. Shiki is growing less and less of a memory (and even less of a ghost).

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Eri isn't the kind of girl to mourn. She misses Shiki constantly, pangs of sharp sandglass shards shrieking why did you those horrible things just the day before she died, you always ruined her to the end (and that's the literal truth; Shiki fell into snow white & slush sleep and that was honestly like branding a scorching crimson the end onto the chronicles of their friendship & all things more) before slashing deeper and deeper and one day it stops.

Eri doesn't mourn. She gets on with life, albeit repetitively & monotonously; and the pain fades away one day to be replaced with a sort of sinking hollowness – which is really much much worse. But she can live with that. Cerise shocks of hair swing over her mahogany eyes – needle clutched in trembling and clumsy hands, glinting sharp white & silver against the dim gamboge of her desk lamp – Eri knows she can learn to live with it.

--

The door creaks open, platinum light streams in and wanders over Eri's still silhouette and Ai seriously begins to regret coming by.

Eri has literally become a shadow of herself at this point; charcoal black & dim exaggerations of profiles cast across the freshly polished floorboards with a sickly stench of sweet lemon, and Ai warily eyes the microscopic point of the sewing needle swinging from between her friend's steady hand. There is silence in the stifling air and Ai almost makes to leave after moments of painful hush, but then;

"Why are you here, Ai?"

Eri's tone is not harsh or prying or accusing – she speaks in monochrome monotone, which hurts so much so much more. Ai stands steady, hands held loosely behind her back and brushing at the lower back of her schoolshirt sticky with veiled sweat. The world is completely silent (all the world – not the room or the hallway where Eri's parents lie dead asleep in the middle of the afternoon, but for a second Ai can swear everything in Shibuya & Japan & the world has stilled to a stop for this one excruciating aching second) until Eri sweeps stray strands of bubblegum cerise hair behind her ear and speaks up again.

"Why are you here, Shiki?"

Ai frowns softly; with care and concern and confusion; and she bangs the door shut on her way out.

Eri thinks only of Shiki – you aren't meant to be a designer- and how the door smashed shut in her stunned face no matter how she looks at it / she slips the lime plaid miniskirt down on her heavy hips.

--

"We're all worried about you, you know. And we all miss Shiki."

The second after this sprouts out of Ai's cherry lips she regrets it, wants this stem of slip-ups and gaffes to wilt back down and down to where she can coil the emerald & petals into her mouth; but she can't, and the look of complete unadulterated disgust on Eri's perfect face (makes a difference from the usual robotic neutrality, though).

"You all do? Well, how well did you bother to know her? Do you even know why she died?"

Ai shakes her head uneasily, brunette tresses swinging over her slack shoulders and puffy short sleeves.

Eri slams the door shut on her this time; Ai still stands disorientated on the porch for a few surreal seconds afterwards.

--

The girls at school pry and question and demand answers and updates; the entire school is obsessed with the melodrama that is the enigma that is Eri & Shiki.

Then the day after next, Eri comes back. She struts through the charcoal gates with gaudy PVC cowboy boots and the usual getup, pear green skirt seeming even shorter and rose strapless top showing peeks of pale shoulders and a skeletal waist.

Ai stares at her all through class, and wonders despairingly why she was chosen to be the messenger (bullet holes & a calibre she can barely count before the shots ring out in her hollow head).

--

Eri continues sketching her blue-ballpoint designs. All the time; literally, through every class and at home and at lunch and whenever she can find time to breathe.

Everything is more than empty without a partner to bring life to her static art.

--

Ai continues the stream of sheer masochism and follows Eri home on the way back from school; uninvited, as per usual.

"Nice shoes," she mutters, trying to sound casual & offhand, "Didn't think you had it in you to go shopping again."

"You said you were worried."

Ai can see the link. She understands vaguely that Eri is most likely worse than she was nearer to Shiki's –the word is somewhere close to taboo, not quite but on its way- death.

"Shiki saw them in a shop window and loved them the moment she saw them."

Eri speaks sharply and quickly and harshly but somehow she just isn't there anymore. Ai knows she's a mile in the sky & in a place Ai could never reach or comprehend.

"They're garish and awful and I hate them but Shiki loves them and that's enough for both of us."

--

Ai stays the night and Eri doesn't sleep or change or take off the scarlet shine boots that she seems to hate so much.

--

When she wakes up in the morning, it's early on a Saturday and the rain is heavy outside. It almost seems heavier than what Ai feels is nearly everything; maybe Eri's carrying Shiki and herself and the sharp pangs of thick blurred rain on her skin.

"Morning," Eri doesn't say good, "You might as well stay here for the day. The rain's coming down hard out there."

What Eri does not admit, even to herself, is that it was raining when Shiki ran out of this same house, weaving between tincan dragons and metal monsters; and she tugged limply at Shiki's dripping chocolate bangs and placed a weak hand to her chest and wished oh-so-desperately that once again she could feel a heartbeat that is more than thumps of splattering rain (and in that case everything – even the world – has a heartbeat but her & Shiki; the rain is piercing on her bare back but bent over, never on her chest where she needs the cleansing).

Eri is somehow more human this morning; but when she clicks her scarlet heels and pounces on the bed leaving dirt & grass & snailslime on the covers (Ai thinks she must have been out while she was still sleeping - Shiki's grave seems morbidly likely) and presses her peach lips to Ai's strawberry and buries her still maladroit hands into Ai's light brunette locks & snakes up to her chest and mouths Shiki Shiki Shiki Shiki too many times to count, she tastes of arctic cold and there's very little either can do about that. Ai scrambles up and shoves her off to the ground, checked skirt swinging and thin sleeves ruffled and eyes wide and hair tangled with wild distress, and Eri tumbles to the smooth floorboards & everything in her eyes screams shock & disappointment & a kind of anger that Ai can't quite place.

Then it's gone & she's indifferent again and Ai's walking away – running away, stumbling along in haze and disgust. A lot of things come to mind, what Eri should do or what to say but the strongest is the vivid memory of Shiki doing the exact same under completely different circumstances (crashing ringing in her aching ears and the floor tipping dramatically before she lurched out to follow but just not fast enough because that was the end).

"Leave the door open on your way out, Shiki," she calls out softly and dazedly; but she hears the smash of the front door slamming shut anyway.

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a/n; yeah, more twewy; & and an author's note! now i'm just spoiling myself, but ah well – definitely not spoiling any of you lovely people with this substandard crap. the title sort-of refers to Eri's unpredictability now that Shiki's, like, dead. the eri/ai is pretty cracky & impossible, but it's really just Eri being OOC & thinking Ai is Shiki, who she was in love with or something. the ending is really the only bit of this i think turned out okay; and by that i mean, like, the very last line. arghhhh i was trying a new style here & failed.

i also had more than a little trouble with this trainwreck of a fanfic in progress; the entire thing poured out as smoothly as yanking out my fingernails with chopsticks. is that even possible? D ':