Disclaimer: I don't own either Shugo Chara! or Shugo Chara! Doki, much to my disappointment. D:
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It was inevitable and unavoidable that I when saw her recognizable red x-shaped hairclips on top of her pink head in the distance, the clouds became more white than gray. It was normal, wasn't it? Friends were always happy to see each other.
I approached her, my steps increasing their speed the closer I got. But when I saw that her shoulders were trembling and that clear drops of liquid were falling from her bowed head down onto her red skirt, darkening the cloth where they landed, I slowed down. Like a friend would feel, concern replaced my cheerful expression.
But there was something different about this worry… There was a possessive kind of edge to it. That didn't make any sense, though. Amu didn't belong to me.
Amu didn't belong to me. Something in those words inflicted a subtle – it was there; though tiny, I could feel it – pang on me.
I shook it off. Not this again. Not now, at least.
I stepped closer, making sure my tone wouldn't bother her.
She looked up, face flushed, tears streaming down her red cheeks. Immediately after making eye contact, she used her sleeve to wipe the wetness from her face and sucked in a gulp of air. Forcing a wobbly smile, she greeted me, trying so hard not to make her voice shaky, but it came out unstable. "N-Nagi…" And then she ducked her head again, managing a garbled "Sorry" in between the sobs.
What should I say? "What happened, Amu-chan?" But then she'd be forced to remember whatever was making her hurt, and that might just make it all worse. So instead, I sat down next to her on the bench and patted her back lightly, a small gesture that illogically made my fingertips tingle. In the next minute they began to ache with the desire to run through her strawberry locks; my arms desperately wanting to throw themselves around her shaking self.
No, I scolded myself. There was no time for that. I should be thinking of the right soothing words to say, or perhaps a joke to get her laughing. I should not be longing for such…irrational actions.
"It's okay," I whispered in a comforting voice. I clenched my free hand's fingers into a fist before they could touch her skin – her creamy, smooth skin. Shaking my head, I added, "I'm here, your friend. You can tell me anything." I denied the feeling as the pang – only this time, it was more of a stabbing pain; stronger and less subtle than before – returned when I'd said the word friend.
I unfolded my fist and reached out for her hand. That would be all right, wouldn't it? Friends held each others' hands, right?
She placed her hand on my palm and intertwined her warm fingers with mine. I bit down on my bottom lip.
Friends' hearts didn't leap happily, didn't feel that electricity, when they held hands with each other.
Shut up, I thought, annoyed at myself. I was doing this, comforting her, because I was her friend. And her friend only.
"What is it? What happened?" I squeezed her hand gently but firmly. "You don't have to tell me if it hurts worse in doing so."
Without warning, she turned her body to face mine and buried her face into my chest. It was all happening at the same time: my breath hitching at the unexpected movement, my shirt getting wet with her tears, my arm flying to wrap itself around her, and unintelligible words pouring from her lips. All I could make out was "Tadase" and "gone".
The park around me turned red, the nearest lamppost suddenly looking like a nice target for my fists. I felt the heat of my anger practically boiling my blood. So she was hurting over him. The popular, kind-hearted blonde who I'd always been secretly jealous of.
And this envy was fueled with her all-too-understandable love for him. I'd take the pain silently, always pasting an amused smile when the two of them would blush around each other, would gaze at each other with pools of affection for eyes.
I'd do that right now, put on yet another mask. Anger slowly fading, I took in an inaudible breath. I'd take the knife in my back without a single scream from my mouth.
"It's all right. He'll be back. It's only a year, Amu-chan." He doesn't deserve you crying over him – he shouldn't be causing you this!
"I-I know." She'd gotten herself together enough to straighten up and jerk her head away from my chest. She didn't care, or rather, didn't know that I hadn't minded, maybe had even enjoyed, the close proximity.
That friendly smile stretched out along my face again, without me telling it to do so. I didn't need to anymore. It didn't require my agreement. It was the correct thing to do, and I'd do it, whether I felt like it or didn't. "Hotori-kun wouldn't like it if he saw you crying over him." He doesn't realize how lucky he is that you love him. Did she hear how I uttered Hotori-kun through my gritted teeth? "I don't like it either. I prefer your smile. It's quite day-brightening, y'know."
Amu laughed. It was a harmless compliment to her ears. She didn't hear it the way I did – didn't realize that I worded it differently, inadequately compared to how I would've liked to.
I realized in unspoken, foolish bliss that I was still holding her hand. I wasn't going to let go just yet. I'd let her pull her hand away when she wanted to, and if she did, I wouldn't complain – just keep smiling.
Her golden eyes turned a little shameful, and when she spoke, her voice came out quiet and shy. "I'm sorry you had to see that, though. I shouldn't have let everything out on you like that."
"Well, do you feel better?"
"Then that's all that matters."
She smiled, and I felt some twisted sense of pride in the knowledge that I'd put it on her face, that it wasn't Tadase who had, for once.
It was so wrong.
Everything that I felt in the next second was all criminal: a small pierce of disappointment when she let go of my hand, replaced with undeniable delight when she threw her warm arms around me, even though every cell of my body knew that she meant it in a friendly way, nothing more. A way that I knew, but never really wanted to accept.
"Thank you, Nagi-kun! For everything! I know it sounds so corny, but I really am lucky to have a friend like you." I wish she wouldn't say it like that, like she actually meant it. It only made the guilt pile up inside of me; it only made the wound deeper.
Because I wasn't as good as she'd described me. Because sometimes I had evil, immoral thoughts, of being with her as more than a friend, of being able to tell her "I love you" freely yet truthfully and hearing the same response with the same amount of sincerity within it.
And because she'd said friend – no matter how she'd said it, I was her friend and exactly just that.
So, like always, I didn't say anything, for the sake of the friendship I shared with her. And though it wasn't enough in the eyes of my selfishness, though I wanted more than anything to rip this tape off from my mouth and yell out the words that ached to be voiced, I'd keep quiet.
I always have.
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Note: Well, it didn't turn out as long as I'd hoped, but I'm really happy with it, and I hope you enjoyed it! Reviews are loved! :)