I don't know if an apology is even enough for almost a year with not update :/ sadly I was really busy or if I did have time, couldn't find myself motivated enough to write D: spring semester was busy with classes, homework and work, right after that, summer school was filled with even more homework and work, causing a very sleepless month :( and the last half of the summer was spent visiting long time no see family members in new york with the empire state building, rockefeller center, central park, and everything that made manhattan manhattan! :O (yes, I took a picture of times square with a kodak xD ) needless to say, I loved New york! such a big city compared to small one :( so I am now planning to move over there hopefully in the future, if living expenses over there ever go down D:
Anyways, I had actually started this chapter months ago I believe, but never had the chance to finish it up since my laptop decided to stop working for a while. And taking advantage of the time that I have now before crazy school starts again and takes away my sleep, I decided to finish it and post it! Sadly I can't promise if I will finish this story because of other demands , but if I do, it will probably be a while, though I really do want to finish this story. So enjoy the chapter!
Disclaimer: I forgot what goes here, haha something about me not owning the characters from shugo chara I think...
"It's amazing how you can destroy such a beautiful thing so easily."
The person was lazily sprawled out on a couch, staring up at what used a perfect model of a rose, now being reduced to a mere stump as he plucked out with delicate fingers the many petals it held, casually dropping them on the floor.
"But," he spoke, his tone and expression becoming serious, "maybe not really beautiful if its beauty can be taken away that easily."
With an angry frown, he threw what remained of the rose against the wall across from the couch, where it helplessly fell on the floor.
He felt the glare of a blue, dark haired boy who was a few feet away from him and turned his attention to him.
"I'm sorry, I guess I'm boring you right?" He asked, his voice quickly changing to an apologetic tone and an amused smile appeared on his face.
"What did you want?" The boy asked in a blank voice, though his eyes filled with pure hatred directed at that person said otherwise.
"As you might already know, I went to check out those so called 'guardians', the ones you said that could be a match for me," the person spoke, staring up at the ceiling, "but, I think I need not worry about them. "
He turned his attention back to the dark haired boy, directing a condescending smile at him, but did not like what he saw in his expression.
"Don't stare at me with such hate-filled eyes!" The person raised his voice at him, sitting up in anger. "She stared at me exactly the way you did," he continued, letting out a scoff. "But," he suddenly said with narrowed eyes and a smirk in the boy's direction, "we know what happened to her….right?"
Fury and pain blazed in the boy's eyes, but turned his glare away from that person.
"Can I go now?" He asked in an emotionless tone, though a bit of a strain was noted.
"Yes go," the person spoke casually, dropping back down on the couch and stared at the ceiling. "I'll call you again when the plan will be set in motion."
He heard the door slam before he finished his last sentence but simply giggled. How ignorant was he? It was pathetic. The guardians weren't going to stop him. They were but an easy obstacle to get past. Besides, he had something on that annoying boy. He twirled the pendant on his necklace between his slim fingers with a small smile set on his face, before turning to face the couch and closed his eyes. He was getting sleepy.
It was getting chilly, I thought, shivering a bit. We were doing some cleaning around the garden and in the storehouse, fixing up everything for the coming of fall. It surprised me how the semester was coming to an end, how our surroundings were changing, changing from a bright green to a warm orange. It also deeply frightened me at how time was ticking away rapidly, but fear was such a constant feeling with me, that I almost didn't mind its company. I definitely didn't welcome it, but I had no other choice than to endure it with me.
A few days had passed since Nagihiko's sister, "Nadeshiko", had accompanied me to my fearful doctor's appointment. It seemed surreal, almost like a dream now, but I knew it had happened. It had also made me painfully realize what I had to do, but…I couldn't bring myself to do it.
I took a quick peek behind and saw Amu cleaning some old furniture while Nagihiko was organizing books, moving them back and forth to different places. We were assigned the task of cleaning and organizing the store room, something I would reluctantly do but with him, I couldn't find myself feeling comfortable.
Other than words of greetings and farewells, we haven't really talked at all with each other. I knew the guardians noticed but it didn't matter to me. I almost felt…an awkward tension between us, and I didn't like it one bit. I didn't mention about his sister accompanying me to the doctor and he didn't as well. I felt as if I should thank him for somehow keeping his promise, but the words wouldn't come out. I knew I had to say something else first, but I could feel the words stuck in my throat.
Was it always this hard to say sorry? I frowned as I absentmindly cleaned the same spot in a lamp over and over again, lost in my own thoughts.
"Rima, I think that lamp is not going to get any cleaner than what it is now," I heard Amu say with a giggle.
"Is that so?" I said simply, stopping to examine the lamp before moving on to the next item to clean.
"You seem really distracted, Rima," Amu said with a hint of concern in her voice, "is everything okay?"
"Yes," I spoke nonchalantly, turning my glance at her and trying to ignore the other presence near her. "I was just thinking about…the x-character from that other day."
Amu's expression turned to that of a concerned one, her eyes filled with a bit of worry. "I think that was just random x-character, we haven't any these past few days….right Nagi?"
"That's true, but we still shouldn't assume that there won't be any more," I heard his voice reply to her, though I didn't dare glance in his direction.
"Don't worry, Rima" Amu replied, smiling reassuringly in my direction.
Before I could smile back in return, I let out a small sneeze and placed a hand on my head which had begun to throb painfully.
"Uh-oh, are you getting sick Rima?" Amu questioned, her tone again becoming worried and frowned at me.
"No, it's just the dust," I lied, trying to make it seem like an unimportant thing. The truth was, the past few days I had also been feeling a bit weaker than usual, but I shrugged it off, at least I wasn't having those excruciating headaches which tortured me in the beginning; those I wouldn't have been able to deal with. Today though, I felt as if my whole body ached and I could feel chills running through it. I knew I was getting sick, but had the mind that once I got home, I would just get under the covers and that would be the end of that.
However, right now with my head throbbing, I wasn't sure if I would be able to last till we finished cleaning the storeroom. But I couldn't just leave; I knew that he would know something was wrong. This was nothing, I could put up with a little cold till after we finished. I had to.
"If you want, I'll bring more paper towels with water to clean the dust, Rima," Amu suggested, her uneasy eye meeting mine, though a smile was on her face, "it's easier to get rid of dust than with a duster and have it fly all around, right?"
"No you don't-"I started to object but she was already on her way to bring more paper towels. Oh well, I could probably get the job done faster with paper towels anyway. But that also briefly left me alone with him. I wonder if Amu left just for that reason.
I turned my back to him and winced at the pain my headache was causing me. The shivers that I was having didn't help either. I felt completely awful and just wanted to go to sleep. With my hand still on my head, I closed my eyes and tried to relax and seem casual. I had to get it together.
"If you are cold," I heard Nagihiko speak nonchalantly from where he was, "there's a spare jacket by that table that you can use."
I didn't acknowledge him, and instead kept my back turned to him, ignoring my current weakened state and continued cleaning a table.
I threw all my attention at trying to scrub the table that I didn't hear his footsteps and felt the jacket swung over me.
I was taken back but I still kept my back to him, staring down at the table. Why was it so hard and painful to say it? I clenched my hands on the table, trying to muster up the energy to face him but couldn't. Why?
"You need to start taking better care of yourself, Rima," I heard him say in a softer voice, this time his tone sounding pensive, "If not for anyone, then for you."
I felt my hands starting to shake, but I knew I couldn't break down here. Telling him not to care was useless. Telling him to leave me alone was useless. If he would never leave me alone, then there was only thing left that I could do. I took a deep breath and turned to face him.
"Nagihiko," I spoke in a steady voice, my mouth set in a firm line. He had started walking back to his spot but he turned around at the sound of his name. His expression was emotionless but his confused but sorrowful eyes met mine, those eyes that I hated to see in that form and caused me to falter.
"…"I couldn't find my voice and could feel my determination start to weaken. "I-I…" I started, as his eyes continued to gaze into mine, but I still couldn't get the final words out.
"I found paper towels!" I heard Amu exclaim as she came running back to us. "They were kind of hard to find…"She said a bit sheepishly, then noticed the jacket I had on.
"Are you cold, Rima?" She asked curiously, eyeing the piece of outerwear that I had on.
"Yes," I said, a bit uncertainly. I quickly peeked at Nagihiko but saw that he was already back to organizing the books from before.
"…Did I interrupt something?" Amu asked quietly in an apologetic tone when Nagihiko went to the storeroom for some books.
"No," I said quietly, staring after him as he moved some books but quickly turned my attention to Amu, her bothered eyes meeting mine, "there was nothing to interrupt."
"We finally finished," Amu spoke with an accomplished expression on her face. She took a look around the storeroom with a small set smile before I heard a small poing and turned to us with excited eyes.
"Let's start cleaning more places! How about the classrooms? Or the basement? Or the whole school? Let's turn everything sparkling clean!" She flashed a sparkling smile at us along with bright eyes, a bit too bright for me.
I actually stared at her, wondering if she was all right in the head for a moment before I noticed a green clover pin on her hair and rolled my eyes.
"Chara change all of a sudden, Amu?" I heard Nagihiko chuckle near me and Amu's green hair pin suddenly disappeared.
"Suu!" She exclaimed, facing her small guardian character with a pink flush on her cheeks and with an annoyed frown.
"So sorry, Amu-chan," Suu replied with an innocent smile, not at all disturbed by her owner's potential explosive frustration, "I just thought you might need a hand with cleaning the rest of the place."
"We just needed to clean here though, don't go on adding more tasks for us," she muttered, relaxing a bit though a frustrated frown still remained on her face, causing Nagihiko and the other guardian characters to chuckle once more at her expression.
We walked back to the garden, where the other guardians were waiting for us. I was feeling the same, if not a bit worse than before, my whole body aching along with chills and a throbbing head. It was just a cold though, a simple cold, nothing to be worried about. However, I made sure to hide that I was feeling sick and feverish.
"Amu-chan, Rima-tan, Nagi!" Yaya squealed, running over to us. "Don't you agree with Yaya that cleaning is not as fun as everyone says it is?" She asked with a small pout on her face.
"But Yuiki-san," Tadase came over with a small smile, "It's still something that the guardians must do."
"That's right, Yaya-chan," Nagihiko replied, "I'm sure you can find a way to make cleaning more fun next time."
"Maybe seeing if you can clean the fastest?" Amu suggested but Yaya shook her head quickly.
"Yaya would rather clean by eating all the sweets that she can!" She exclaimed with a bright smile.
"That would just be cleaning the refrigerator…" Amu muttered crossing her arms, trying to keep a firm expression but failing as a smile fought its way.
"But it's cleaning!" Yaya said happily and clung to my arm. "And Rima-tan will help Yaya in this fun cleaning task!"
"Yaya-chan," I said, also trying to remain firm with her, "You know I don't like sweets that are too sweet for their own good."
"That's what scares Yaya!" She exclaimed with a distraught expression, causing everyone to laugh.
After some words regarding the matter of the X-character, the meeting was over. We've decided that it might have been a random x-character that emerged from some person but also decided to keep an extra watch for anything suspicious just in case.
I didn't pay much attention to that, I was just relieved that the meeting was over and could go home and crawl into bed, hoping tomorrow I would feel at least a bit better.
"Rima, it's been a while since we've hanged out," Amu spoke as we gathered our book bags, "do you want to go shopping with me? I just need to get something for my mom quick but we can take our time and browse around."
As if on cue, my head throbbed and I did my best to not wince in front of her. I knew I hadn't been spending much time with Amu, but right now I wasn't at my best and I was afraid she might realize something was wrong.
Nagihiko was still here, gathering his stuff as well. He was a few feet away from us but I knew he was listening. If I denied Amu's invitation like recently I was always doing, he would just secretly keep on worrying and that wouldn't be good. But maybe if I accepted this once, he would stop…
"Okay." I said, meeting Amu's eyes.
"That's great!" She replied, a soft smile appearing on her face and her eyes brightening though I could still detect a bit of worry in them…No, I wouldn't, I couldn't make her worry as well.
I hoped I wasn't being too cold to her.
I walked slowly to school the next day, my book bag slung over my shoulder as I contemplated on events that had happened these past few days. She wanted to be alone? Fine.
But…for some reason, something prevented me from disobeying that requested. I could tell by her pain-filled eyes that it was a lie, a fake truth. I frowned to myself as I crossed the street, hearing the voices of other students fill my surroundings. No one should battle this alone.
I gave her the distance she wanted just to satisfy her though. But, I couldn't completely. Or can't. She did not know I worried about her almost constantly. Especially after learning about her family situation at home, I probably worried more than what I should've. But if not me, then who? I even went as far to dress up as my "twin sister" Nadeshiko just to be able to keep the promise I had made to her before we had our little argument. But it was because she was my friend, even though she wouldn't want to admit it.
Or was she? We weren't as close and when I had first met her, it almost seemed as if she considered me an enemy. But if she wasn't my friend, then what was she? Why did it distress me so much to see her suffer because of her illness? Why did it disturb me so much when I truly saw how terrified she was? And why did it anger me so much whenever she pushed anyone that was willing to help her? Why did she seem as an important person in my life?
I saw that I almost approached the school and shook my head discretely. Noo, I didn't need to think of such thoughts at school. Wearing an unhappy face was not acceptable for me.
Today I managed to be one of the first ones to arrive at the garden for the guardian meeting. I was arranging some papers when I noticed that Amu walked in. She had worried, distant eyes and a uneasy frown before noticing me and quickly plastered a smile on her face. Rima, however, was nowhere in sight.
"Nagi! You got early here today," she spoke, trying to be upbeat but I could see that something was troubling her.
"Hey there, Amu-chan," I replied, smiling at her, "Yup, I got out of class early today…I didn't see you around school today."
"Oh yea, sorry I ate lunch in the classroom today," she quickly said, letting out an uncertain giggle, which only increased my concern.
"Is everything okay?" I asked, meeting her troubled eyes.
"Yes, yes," she replied taking a seat next to me and shooting a smile in my direction before she turned away and ended in a more softer voice, "why wouldn't it be?"
"…Where's Mashiro-san? I noticed there was a small person missing when I saw you." I asked, trying to end it in a light tone, though I sensed something unpleasant and tried to ignore that feeling.
Amu did not respond right away and instead a frown replaced her smile. "…She didn't come to school today."
A knot immediately formed in my stomach but I tried to ease my concern. I knew she was sick yesterday but had things turned for the worst?
"Did she tell you why?" I asked, trying not to seem anxious.
Amu again did not respond right away but then turned her glance to me.
"Yesterday…" she started speaking quietly, her worried eyes meeting mine, further increasing my worry, "Yesterday, after shopping I walked her home, but as we almost reached her house, she suddenly collapsed."
All I could do was stare at her, unsure of how to react, but I knew that the fear in her eyes mirrored in mine as well.
It was blurry, but I could still see her next to my bed. I felt awful and weak, but seeing her reassured me that everything was going to be okay, and also, it had been a long time that I've seen her truly smile. It warmed my heart.
"I missed you, Mom," I whispered, taking her soft hand, making sure she was truly there.
"Rima," I heard a voice speak softly, a voice that I would recognize even from the numerous ones from my dreams.
I managed to slowly open my feverish eyes and stared up at the person different from the one in my imaginary reality. He did not wear a surprised look since I mistook him from someone else but instead smiled at me kindly, though his eyes were sad. I slowly let go of his hand and closed my eyes, the only sound for a moment was my soft breathing before I heard him kneel down on the floor next to me.
"Were you expecting your mom?" I heard him speak quietly after a while, his tone sounding distant and thoughtful.
"No," I murmured, still keeping my eyes closed, "I found out it's useless to keep hoping or expecting something that isn't going to happen."
"…Does it trouble you?" He asked softly.
"Not anymore," I spoke quietly, "I learned that I have to accept things as they are."
It was true. There was nothing I could do for what I had, except endure it for as long as I could. There was nothing I could do for not telling the rest of the guardians, except endure the consequences of the façade that I was putting up for them. There was nothing I could do for my parents, except endure the pain and suffering that I was causing them. And there was nothing I could do for him….except endure and accept the fact that I've been turning a blind eye to all the trouble I've been causing for both of us all this time.
"You know," he started, his tone becoming a bit lighter, "you had us all worried after Amu told us what had happened."
"Even after I told her not to tell," I spoke softly, feeling a small defeated smile appear on my face.
"Don't be angry at her," he muttered, "she was just really worried, especially after your mother took you to the hospital."
I still didn't have a clear memory of what had happened. I remembered collapsing as we were near my house since I started feeling worse and wasn't able to pretend anymore. After that, it was just blurry flashes. A flash of a worried Amu somehow helping me walk into my house, a flash of being in the car, a flash of a person in white, telling me I was going to be all right, a flash of my mother's face…her face which I felt as if I haven't seen in forever, her face which actually held some of life in her eyes, even if it was pure fear and distress. After I came back from the hospital my recollections of events were clearer. My mom made sure I was resting, instructing me to tell her for anything that I needed. But by then, she had gone back to her previous state, her eyes dead and lifeless, making it unbearable for me to look in them. Amu came by later at night to make sure that I was okay and I put her at ease. I hated seeing her in that troubled state, it frightened me.
"It's okay," I murmured, "I'm causing Amu so much worry and trouble, it's not fair."
"I believe I said this before," he spoke softly, his tone containing a hint of sorrow, "how can any of this possible be your fault?"
I did not respond, instead I just kept my eyes closed. Maybe what was happening wasn't my fault but I still had control over myself, the person that I was. Yesterday I wasn't even able to talk to Nagihiko but right now he was here in my room, talking to me as if nothing had happened between us. He also had control over himself and did everything according to the person that he was. It pierced my heart painfully.
Before I could give this anymore thought, I suddenly felt a cool hand pressed softly on my forehead. I opened my eyes to find him wearing a worried expression on his face.
"Amu said it was just a cold," he spoke in a concerned voice, "but you're feeling awfully warm…"
"The doctor mentioned something about the cold hitting me more severely…" I said softly, noticing his eyes become dull, understanding what I was trying to say.
"I see," he muttered quietly, before slowly removing his hand from my forehead, "you'll just have to get plenty of rest than usual then." He smiled softly at me, his eyes remaining the same.
"Nagihiko," I murmured after a small pause, looking up at him as if I was seeing him for the first time, "Why are you here?" I could not understand it. After that last fight we had, after I had said or almost said horrible things to him, after everything, he was still here, why?
He did not respond to my question immediately, instead he turned his eyes away from me, his expression becoming detached and distant.
"You ask why…" he trailed off with a small chuckle, not fully answering my question. I was not satisfied with that answer.
"But you know what I want, right?" I stared up at the ceiling, noticing how white and blank it really was.
"What I wanted," I spoke softly after he did not reply, trying to keep a steady voice, "No…what I wished for was if I had to have this illness… then I wished to be by myself."
Again, not a word escaped from him; instead he turned his dark eyes on me as a downcast expression hung on his face.
"I would be okay with being alone," I continued quietly and slowly, "You see, before when I was a little girl, I saw being alone as one awful thing that could happen to a person. In school, I was viewed as a cold person. Girls wouldn't want to talk to me or be my friend thinking I was stuck up, boys were boys, confessing puppy love crushes to me but in reality not wanting to actually get to know me. Because of that, instead of crying to myself away from everyone, I decided to be distant and not care about anyone, becoming the person they actually thought I was. I was cold. Being alone was not something that I chose but something that I just had to deal with. It wasn't until I met the guardians that I realized I didn't have to be alone anymore. I finally had friends that liked me for who I was. I never expected that there would be a time in life where I wished it was like grade school, where no one truly liked me and I was alone, when I didn't have anyone to hurt."
"Then you…wouldn't comply," I accused almost in a whisper, already feeling my energy drain and wanted to do nothing more than to close my eyes, but I had to say this now. "You somehow found out when you were not supposed to and made everything harder for me, harder than what it had to be."
"…You could be one of the most selfish persons I have ever met," he finally spoke in a serious tone after a brief moment, as I widened my eyes at him. I was not expecting that response at all.
"Did you know…" he started clearly, "that no one belongs to themselves?" I could only stare up him, not knowing how to react.
"Everyone has ties to many people in this world, some stronger than other," he murmured in a warm tone, his eyes becoming thoughtful as a small smile appeared on his face, "so for you to just cut all of them off like that for just your benefit…I think that's pretty selfish of you, Rima."
I could not get any words out; I could only meet his soft eyes, though I felt anything but warm and content inside. For this person to say that, for him to say such words as that….
I turned my back to him, facing the wall, not wanting him to see my expression. "What should I do then?..." I asked quietly to myself, almost a whisper in a wavering voice. What did I need to do? I felt my heart clench knowing the answer to my own question.
"Do what you need to do," I heard him speak in stern but soft voice, "Do whatever helps you to keep on moving forward."
"Then-" I muttered before he cut me off.
"But, "he continued in a solemn voice, "don't just move your friends forward while you stay behind."
I didn't speak anything in that moment; I knew once I did, I wouldn't be able to stop them from coming out.
"I'm sure they will all notice when you are not there moving along with them, don't cause them more loneliness than what they need do."
It was then that I felt the wall trying to hold them back break down completely and they started falling down my cheeks, without my permission. I couldn't hold them back, which in turn made more fall. I stiffened for a moment when I felt his warm hand on my shoulder while I sniffled, but then relaxed, it felt comforting. I still refused to turn around to face him.
"Amu's very worried for you," I heard him say in sorrowful voice, "Do you think pushing her away will do you both any good? Everyone's worried for you…I'm worried for you."
I knew I caused him trouble too. Even after all the horrible things I had said and done to him, he was still here…but why? I didn't respond to him, instead I let all of my worries and troubles pour out, intensified by my fever. I was glad he didn't speak for a while after that, only his warm hand gently rubbing my shoulder, letting me know that he was still there. He was always there for me, I thought through my tears, no matter what, and I never even said…
My eyes started to open before I realized I had actually fallen asleep. What had happened? My body still felt achy and feverish though my head wasn't as pounding as it was before. I was still faced to the wall and it wasn't until I noticed the dry tears sprinkled on my cheeks that I remembered that I wasn't alone. I quickly sat up and turned around, becoming dizzy in fast action, but was surprised at what I was saw.
His eyes were closed as his breathing was slow, sitting down on the floor while his head leaned against the mattress of my bed, close to me. He had fallen asleep. I had never seen him look as defenseless as he was right now; it made me a bit uneasy. Still I didn't want to wake him up; I didn't want to trouble him anymore.
Trouble him anymore, trouble Amu anymore, trouble anyone anymore. I wondered how many times a day that type of thought crossed through my head, probably more than enough times for it to be permanently etched there, no longer removable no matter what I did.
But I had to try, no matter what tools I had to use; I had to remove that thought permanently from my mind. He had opened my eyes and made me see clearly that what I was doing to everyone was causing more damage than what I had meant to prevent. Him sleeping uncomfortably in my room late at night instead of sleeping in his cozy bedroom back at his house was the proof of that.
I felt tears start to swell up again in my eyes as I quietly observed him but I quickly wiped them away with my sleeve. No, no more crying for me. I had never cried as much as I had these past few days and I was done with it. I was a big girl. And big girls didn't cry. Or at least not as much as me.
Still I felt my heart tighten as I remember what I had been trying to tell him. I realized that maybe he was right; I couldn't control what was happening to me. But I still had control over my own actions. I was me, Amu was Amu, and he was he, we were all our own person. We all had to bear each other's actions, not matter how sad, funny, happy, or annoying they were. He especially had to bear painful actions from me, and I knew I had to bear some from him as well.
There was a difference though. He was still here. I, on the other hand, was trying to walk away from him. He was determined to stay behind with me, keeping my secret from everyone else while everyone else moved forward. Meanwhile, I was making it even harder on him by pushing him away, troubling him, worrying him, distressing him, all the things that were not okay to do to a person.
My head began to painfully ache again so I laid down back to my bed, this time however, I laid down as close to him as I could without waking him up, his head near mine. Already I felt a bit warmer than when I was facing the wall, he had an aura of peacefulness which I liked. I closed my eyes and felt a hole in my chest about how he would have to keep bearing with my cold actions though they did not have bad intentions. It especially hurt that I wasn't able to tell him this. But I was going to try. Little by little I was going to erase that permanent thought in my head that all I did was trouble for everyone else.
I whispered the words that I've been wanting to tell him this whole time, no matter whether he heard me in his dreams or not.
"I'm sorry, Nagihiko."
Thank you everyone for your reviews! they are really helpful! :) again I will try to update asap but I can't exactly promise when =/ I also want to figure the plot+little plots in this story...hehehe.