~ 30 Kisses, Neku and Shiki ~

A/N: Well, here I go again. 30 Kisses, Neku and Shiki, using the Delta List. Those of you who look at Livejournal and don't see this posted, I'm still waiting for my claim to be approved. Well, without further ado…

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Delta 05: Mind's Eye

Neku couldn't scan anymore.

He walked through the streets of Shibuya, the black and white player pin in his hand. It was just an ordinary pin now, dead and void of any special power, except for the fact that it was a pin designed by CAT. He stared at the pin, listening for a moment at the music that his headphones were blasting into his ears, drowning out the noise of Shibuya. He still wore them, not to block out people anymore, but just for the purpose for which they were intended—listening to music.

He slipped the pin into his pocket without even thinking about it, his fingers gently brushing over its surface as he looked around. It was almost a relief to have to move out of the way as people passed by, knowing that if they bumped into him, they wouldn't just pass through him. He was alive again, completely alive. The pins that decorated the outside of his school bag were nothing more than accessories now, no longer having the powers that they once possessed. He could no longer read minds and attack Noise, move things with only his mind, sync with his partners or see other Players,.

And he wouldn't have it any other way.

For a moment, he thought he could feel the pin in his pocket, weighing him down, reminding him of those three weeks he had spent in the Reaper's Game. Yes, those three weeks were horrible, traumatic weeks, but that didn't mean he wanted to forget them, because in forgetting them, he would forget the things that he learned and the people that he met. He would forget all he had lost, and all he had gained.

Because even though he lost everything, he had gained so much more…

So lost was he in thought and in his music, that he didn't notice where he was until he felt something jump on his back, its arms wrapping around his neck. He pitched forward from the weight of it, only to have a strong arm encircle his neck and ruffle his hair. Neku looked up and pushed the headphones back so that they fell around his neck, actually smiling when he saw that his attacker had been none other than Rhyme, and the second person was her older brother, Beat.

He looked around, noticing that he was on Cat Street, and in front of WildKat, no less. Even when he wasn't really thinking about it, he guessed that his feet carried him there of their own accord.

"Hi, Neku!" said Rhyme, letting go of him and dropping to the ground behind him.

"Yo, what's up, Phones?" asked Beat, letting go of him as well.

He looked at the two of them. Rhyme had never really been his partner, and he hadn't had much of a chance to get to know her in-game. He had only really met her a handful of times, and she was erased really early on. Still, she was Beat's partner and sister, and an honorary member of their circle. Nakama…as Shiki would say it. She was sweet, nice, and intelligent, and kept Beat in line much better than any of them could.

Beat was his partner in the third week, and even though Beat could be an annoying loudmouth who acted before he thought, he was still his partner…no, his friend. And he trusted his friends. Even though being partnered to Beat in the third Game made him a little bit nervous, he didn't think that he would have it any other way, because if it wasn't for Beat partnering with him, he wouldn't be standing here today.

"With that distracted look on your face, I'm impressed you found the way here, Neku," said Joshua, leaning against the doorframe and turning his eyes away from his phone to smirk at Neku and tuck a strand of silvery hair behind his ear.

Joshua…Joshua had used Neku as his proxy in all three rounds of the Game. It was because of Joshua that Neku even had to play in the first place. He didn't think he could forgive Joshua for that, but at the same time, it was because of Joshua that he was even here, and not going back to his old way of living, so he supposed that what Joshua did wasn't all bad. And no matter how hard it was to forgive him, he trusted Joshua. "Trust your partner," after all. He raised a hand in greeting.

"Hey, Josh, Beat, Rhyme," he said, "Am I late?"

"Just about," said a voice from behind him.

He turned around, smiling as Shiki came into view. It was still a little strange seeing her like this, with brown hair and glasses, but appearances aside, it was still the same Shiki, still the same annoyingly cheerful girl who had dragged him around Shibuya for the first week. He didn't need to be able to scan to know that she was still the same person inside. She smiled back, and for a moment, the day seemed just a little brighter. It was Shiki that had brought him out of his shell for the first time, Shiki that taught him how to care for other people. All of these people made him into what he was now, but it was Shiki that had started it, and Shiki at the center of it.

"Shiki…" said Neku, smiling and nodding at her.

"Hi, Neku," said Shiki, smiling as well. "I have something for you…"

She pulled out something from her bag, pressing it into his hand. He opened his hand, smiling again when he saw three brightly wrapped Hershey Kisses sitting in his palm. He watched as Shiki distributed some to Beat and Rhyme, and (reluctantly) to Joshua. In the past, he would have thrown these away, saying that they were too sweet…

…But now he wasn't stupid enough to throw away Shiki's kisses.

It was almost funny, how much his world had changed. And it was ironic, in a sense, that after his mind's eye closed, his real ones opened…

…It was ironic how he had to die before he could truly learn how to live.