Soft Silence

Unless I've gone kooky, I haven't done a Neku and Shiki story have I?

~***~

Soft silence.

I used to think the silence was bad, you know? That he wasn't comfortable, and because of that, neither was I.

We said nothing for the longest time, just sitting on his couch. It's beyond me why he invited me to his house, but said nothing besides hello once I got there.

He looks different without his headphones, but now he no longer blocks the world out, and he got rid of them. I've seen them, gathering dust, in his room.

I'm sitting beside him on the couch, the TV isn't even on, but the gentle pattering of rain can be heard outside. It's soothing, and I'm almost falling asleep, but I can't.

Because I'm uncomfortable with him sometimes, he's just so-

"Shiki?"

I blinked, crossed my arms around Mr. Mew and smiled at him. "Hmm?"

Neku raises one eyebrow, his dark blue eyes amused. "Are you tired?"

"No," I lie. "Why?"

He folds his arms behind his head, leaning back onto the white sofa. "Because you keep nodding your head, and then you jerk back up."

"Oh…" Crap, I can't get anything past him. "I'm just wondering why you're so quiet."

"Waiting for you to say something."

I blinked, never thinking of that. "What?"

"Usually when I feel a little lonely," Here he looked straight at me, and strangely I felt my heart skip a few beats. "I like to sit with you, because you usually always have something to say."

I shrugged, fiddling with Mr. Mew's ears. "Well, what do you want to talk about?"

He moved his eyes away from me and my heart slowed down just a little. That's so weird, because it's never happened before. I must just be jumpy or something.

Now that I think about it, it makes no sense that-

"What are you doing with Eri lately?"

"Designing clothes. I still can't get a decent one done, but I've got to go make some of hers later…" I trailed off, not sure what else to say. Usually fashion sets me off on a long tirade, but today there's nothing.

Soft silence.

The silence crept back in, cool and light, the flickering patterns of water moving across the walls of his empty home.

"Where are your parents?" I asked at last, glancing at him through the side of my glasses.

I saw him tense slightly, just barely, but I saw it. He relaxed, fingers brushing through his untidy orange hair, eyes trained somewhere I couldn't see, somewhere in the past.

"My parents are out," he said shortly.

I had enough sense to not ask where they went, but I apparently have no sense of self-preservation because then I said, "Want to talk about it?"

I shouldn't have expected him to actually-

"That's why I asked you over here."

I blinked, biting my lip. "Neku…what's the matter?"

He crossed his arms, lowering his head so his hair shed a patchy shadow across his face. "My parents are getting a divorce."

A pause.

"Oh, Neku." I reached out to touch his arm. "I'm sorry." When he didn't respond, I continued. "You know what? Just…tell me all about it."

So he did. He told me about his father, whom was mean and over controlling, to his mother, whom usually let him get his way.

"Were you ever…hurt by him?"

"No. But almost." Averting his eyes, Neku then said, "I'd rather go with my mother, but…if she's leaving Shibuya…"

I nodded, understanding. "Is there…anyway you don't have to go with either of them?"

"What?"

"Neku, if I could, I'd get my parents to let you stay with us." I smiled at him. "Because you know I'll always be there for you, right? Just call."

He turned his head, arms still crossed, but I know I got to him. I nodded, satisfied, and it wasn't until then that I realized I never had moved my hand from his arm.

I still didn't. I wrapped one arm around my cat; otherwise we just sat together again.

Soft silence.

The pattering rain outside had increased, and I asked Neku if he had anything else to tell me.

"Life isn't fair," he informed me, though I already knew. "I finally have friends, and I might have to leave Shibuya?" His voice had risen, and I blinked in surprise. "Sometimes I wonder why I came back, and if I should've just become Josh's Conductor, like he asked."

"Joshua-"

Neku jerked his head in a nod, sighing bitterly. "The question I have to ask is: Is it worth staying with my father to be with you guys?"

I waited, because honestly I don't know the answer to that. I wanted it to be yes.

"Shiki," my name doesn't sound as rough in his voice as the other words he uses. "What do you think?"

I carefully word each sentence. "Neku, I want the answer to be yes, we're worth it. But it's not worth you possibly getting hurt and being unhappy just to stay with us."

Neku's blue eyes flash so intensely and confused, that for a moment I'm thrown back in the past to where his icy gaze had frozen me in fear, trapping me as he strangled me slowly…

I involuntarily flinch back, and the anger at his parents, himself, possibly just life itself, vanishes from his eyes and he reaches out to touch my arm. "Sorry."

"It's okay." I mumbled. I found myself blushing, because I don't think Neku's ever actually touched me before, and he's leaning forward on the couch slightly, looking me in the eyes.

"Wait," he sounded incredulous. "Do I scare you?"

I've hidden this for a while, but before I can do anything it flashes again, him, choking me to death…

Seeing the confirmation in my silence, he squeezed my arm, gently. "You know I would never hurt you again, right?"

He's uncomfortable talking about this, but Neku's the type to get something out of the way and not beat around the bush.

It's what I always liked about him, his harsh but kind way of comforting you. I needed a kick like that to get over Eri.

"Shiki?" He asked, worried by my silence.

"I know." I tell him.

Placated for now, he averts his eyes again but didn't move his hand.

Soft silence.

"Thanks," he blurts out.

"Huh?"

"Thanks for coming. I think I just had to tell someone about this, you know?"

I nodded, sitting up from where I had been sort of slouching against his couch, dropping Mr. Mew in the process. I was about to bend over to pick him up, but Neku beat me to it, gently picking up my cat and handing him back to me. I accepted the precious feline, hugging him to my chest as the silence continued.

"You're worth it," he informs me.

I looked at him, turning my head, and was surprised to see he had moved closer, (or maybe I did?), and we weren't even five inches apart. My heart leaped into thundering action, and I smiled nervously.

"I'm worth it?"

"I'll find some way around it," Neku said dismissively, as if it wasn't a big deal. "But I don't want to leave Shibuya."

"Good, because I don't want you to go. There's so much I couldn't have done without you."

He nodded in agreement, and then pulled back, crossing his arms again, blowing an irritated sigh.

"What's wrong now?"

"I'm a coward." He griped.

"How so?"

He made a strange gesture with his hand, a sort of wave, as if trying to get the point across with that. Then he just shrugged again, repositioning himself to face me better. The rain and dim light from the window cast strange, dark patterns across his face.

Soft silence.

Neku didn't respond, and I leaned back, closing my eyes, loosely holding Mr. Mew. I was getting kind of sleepy, to be honest, and I thought this would be a nice time to try a trick of Eri's…

Just like she said, he started talking to himself, almost inaudibly.

"Shouldn't be that hard, Sakuraba." He grumbled. "Just say it, or maybe if you just get it over with, you don't even have to say anything…"

My heart flip flopped. What?

"Shiki?" He asked, raising his voice. I blinked open my eyes.

"Yeah?"

"I think you should stay over until the rain stops." The thunder rumbled to emphasize his point. "Unless you just want to walk in the rain, you're more than welcome." I didn't miss the sarcastic lilt to his words, and I smiled.

"Sure."

I was beginning to realize something, and I told him as soon as I thought of it. "The silence is good, with us anyway."

"Really?" He said sardonically.

"Yeah. I mean, oh my God, usually it's bad. But in our case, it's like a comfortable silence. Why's that?"

Neku shrugged. "How the heck do I know?" He inquired.

I yawned, wondering why neither of us had flipped on the TV, and I decided to save Neku the trouble so he wouldn't keep stalling himself, which he strangely doesn't do, for another two hours. "Do you have something to tell me?"

"Yeah," he said, surprising me. "Shiki, are you aware of what you mean to me?"

I pondered that. "I was your entry Fee."

The thing you valued most.

I remembered the embarrassment of that, because that's just how it was. I mean me, being the most important thing to him?

Preposterous. There had to be a mistake or something, like not taking the same thing twice in a row.

"You were," Neku agreed. "Which means…well, Shiki…?"

I decided to save him the trouble, and I whispered the words, clutching my cat to my chest. "Neku, do you love me?"

Soft silence.

He cleared his throat, self-consciously touching where his earphones would be. He then nodded, uneasy.

I laughed; laughed because I knew he had been trying to say this the whole time we had been together today. "Neku, I love you too."

The surprise that had been on his face at me laughing only intensified, and then he did that thing he can do, clearing his facial expression into a smooth mask. "Heh, that shouldn't have been so hard, huh?"

I leaned against his shoulder, and grinned at him. "I've seen a lot more awkward things than that."

I had a feeling I was blushing, and it only deepened when he kissed the top of my head.

Oh well, blushing was good in some cases.

~***~

Made as a spur of the moment thing, I might do this like an oneshot collection on Neku and Shiki.

Beats me.

Review?