This is a tribute fic to one of my good friends. I hope she can forgive me for being so late, seeing as it was supposed to come out this summer. It was harder than I thought since I wanted it to be perfect.
Forgive me, Kimsa-chan. Okay, so it's a little angsty in the beginning but it gets better, scouts honor!
I don't own Kingdom Hearts.
Ashi had asked Riku to come and visit her on her home. As he walked up Sunset Hill he could see her standing there, waiting for him to come. He almost felt bad for making her wait. Even though he still wore the cloth over his eyes he could see she was dressed in a gray hooded cloak that cut off at her knees. Underneath the cloak he could see her white cargo pants and gray slip on shoes. Her dark hair seemed to glimmer in the dying light of the sun. He didn't need her to turn so he could see her exotic skin and bright eyes. He knew her eyes were hidden by a pair of wire glasses.
"You came…" Ashi said in her soft as ash voice.
The surprise was evident in her voice. She had yet to go to turn around to look at him, almost as if she were afraid that if she did he would simply vanish and his presence there would have been a cruel illusion caused by her memories. He felt slightly crestfallen at the mere thought of her doubt. He liked her, her presence, her intelligence, her understanding. She was by far one of the nicest girls he had ever gotten to know, yet she didn't know that he wasn't from her world.
"You asked me to," Riku responded.
Ashi nodded. She was still watching the sunset. The sun would set soon, and she wanted to get this off her chest before then. She knew Riku had no idea what she knew. He believed that she was just some girl living on her small world, as if she didn't wonder what was out there, as if she didn't already question why she was on her tiny world, of all worlds to live on. She would have hated living there if she didn't have good friends like Hayner, Pence and Olette.
"Hayner told me about Sora…" She told him.
Riku stiffened at the use of his best friend's name. He shivered, despite the fact he wore his Organization thirteen cloak. The wind made the cloak whip around in the wind. Ashi brushed her hair behind her ear so that she could still watch the sunset without being interrupted by the wind. Riku didn't have to stand by her side to know she was smiling as she looked out at setting sun. He knew her as well as he did Sora and Kairi so he knew all of her mannerisms and quirks.
"I guess I missed him then," Riku replied.
"Missed him…" She said dazed, "Or avoided him…"
Riku tensed, knowing she had hit it dead on. He couldn't let Sora see him, not when he had Ansem's body. However, that never scared Ashi. She met him once before he turned into Ansem and yet she knew it was him when he bumped into her afterwards. She didn't talk about his appearance change nor did she pressure him into telling her what happened. He appreciated the fact that she could take those things in stride with a smile.
He hung his head, unable to look at her. She still hadn't turned around to look at him but he could almost see the accusation in her eyes. He felt guilty for lying to her as he always did for lying to her. She was a good friend and he didn't want to loose her, no matte what, even because of his own feelings for the girl weren't going to make him act as anything other than her friend. He heard her sigh softly, trying to keep emotion out of her voice.
"When he's done, everyone will go home," Ashi continued.
Slowly she turned to look at him. And she saw the moment it started to sink in. Riku's shoulders stiffened, just slightly, and she knew her fears were true. Tears welled up in her eyes as she looked at him, waiting for his answer. She clasped her hands tightly, almost in a praying gesture, over her heart. She didn't want it to be true. For a moment he feared she would burst into tears and start screaming at him. But she didn't
"This isn't your world," She asked, "Is it?"
Those words struck something in Riku, because where he was able to hide his thoughts a minute ago, his face looked stricken now. He struggled to put his mask up and when he realized he couldn't do it quickly enough he looked away from her heartbroken gaze. It was that moment where he hated how perceptive she was of everything around her. She had to have realized this long ago and yet she still became his friend.
"Is it?" She asked, almost begging him to answer.
"No…" He responded, "It isn't."
"You'll leave," Ashi whispered.
Riku couldn't meet her gaze. Silent tears rolled down her cheek as she realized he wasn't do anything to defend himself. It was true. She felt her heart breaking as she stared at him, expecting him to say something, anything. Her heart felt like it was bleeding in her chest. She wanted the ache to stop, to end, even if it meant loosing it to the grim reaper or a Heartless. She wanted to still the painful thudding of her heart.
"And I'll never see you again," She whimpered.
His eyes widened as he stared at her, and then he understood. He took that one step forward, closing the gap between them. He enclosed his hand with hers, and decided he would make the most of his time, that he could. But it wouldn't matter, he thought with a sad smile, because it always seemed to happen like this. He was always stuck in the wrong story. For a moment she just stared at him but then she turned to face the sunset as well. She couldn't bear to look at him for much longer. It was too painful.
"I'm sorry, Ashi," He whispered.
"Yeah, me too…"
It only took a month and a half for Sora to come back. Riku wasn't there. The boy had gone of in search of Kairi. There was a portal in between a virtual world lead him to the hideout of the infamous Organization XIII. Ashi had cried that night, knowing she wouldn't see Riku after Sora left. She didn't even get to say goodbye to her friend. Hayner, Pence and Olette didn't understand. They believed she wept from joy that Sora would reunite with his beloved.
They didn't know she loved Riku or that she was being separated from him. So instead of comforting her they told her the things that she did not what to hear. She worried about Sora but her heart went out to Riku more. She wanted to hear him laugh, see his smile, talk to him, tell him goodbye. She'd never get to tell him how attached she had grown to him, that she had fallen in love with him. And with that thought, another round of sobs overtook her.
"You okay?" Hayner asked.
She flinched as she heard he was unable to keep the concern out of his voice. Ashi shook her head, wiping tears away from her face. She hated making him worry. He had enough on his plate and she hated adding more to that. Pence and Olette had enough to worry about and they didn't need her adding her issues to the mix. She'd keep to herself and make it through whatever was bothering her like she always did.
"I'm fine, Hayner," She lied.
"Wanna talk?" He pressed.
She shook her head, trying her best to forget but it had been six months since she last seen Riku and she wept less and less often. Her friends just caught her on a bad day. She had been sitting on the clock tower, waiting for them to come and as she sat she thought back to the times she and Riku shared. Her thoughts had brought about tears, thus causing her to sob as soon as they came up onto the landing and offer her Sea Salt ice cream.
"N-no," She said in a shaky voice.
"Sure you do. Just not with us anymore," Pence muttered.
She looked up at him, with shocked and watery eyes. He simply shook his head and turned away. Olette sat down next to her, draping a comforting arm around her shoulders. Ashi knew she couldn't tell them why she was sad. She had promised Riku she would never tell. Black hair flailed around her shoulders as she shook her head in denial. Her eyes were wild but she didn't move as Hayner slowly and carefully approached her. He looked into her eyes and saw that her eyes were brimming with tears that she wouldn't let fall.
"Never mind, forget I said that," Pence said.
Her friends looked like strangers in her eyes. She hadn't spoken to them about anything in a very long time. Even her parents noticed that something had happened. She wasn't the same after Riku left. She hadn't been the same for a very, very long time. They wanted the old her back, the one who made jokes about penguins and laughed at the little things, instead of the depressed on of whom they feared would commit suicide at any moment. They hated seeing her suffer the way she was. Her pain was like their pain.
"Guys?" She asked in a soft as ash voice.
"It isn't of our business," Hayner said, "We get it."
Hayner moved, to leave her but she placed a hand on his arm. Her eyes were begging him not to leave her. She wasn't sure if she could bear it if anyone else left. Her heart ached enough. She felt each and every painful beat, pounding against her ribcage like a drum. There were some moments where she wished she was born a Nobody, so she could not feel the dull aching stab of each press. She could barely sleep, hardly eat, and there were moments when she couldn't recall what happened even though it just happened.
"It's okay to cry," Olette said quietly.
Ashi shook her head vigorously, closing her eyes, as if it would help hold in the sadness that stung her heart. She had shed many tears over Riku and yet more came. She couldn't stop the overflow of tears that bombarded her heart and struck her deeply. She was sure that her heart was so scarred, torn and ugly that no one would ever accept it, even if she tried to give its affections away. She didn't want to give it to anyone but Riku. Not like he would accept it. She would never see him again.
"No!" Ashi sobbed, "I can't… keep crying like this… If I do…"
"Keep crying?" Hayner demanded in disbelief.
"I can't!" She cried, startling her friends.
Hayner stepped forward quickly and wrapped his arms around Ashi, tenderly pulling her into his embrace. Ashi's slender body vibrated violently until at last a single sob escaped her. Once she started, the tears came easier and soon she no longer fought Hayner's grip but leaned into his strength. Hayner held her there, against his chest. Pence wrapped and arm around her as well and Olette leaned her head on Ashi's shoulder.
Hayner's hand no longer held her head against him but stroked her hair soothingly. She clung to him, one hand clenched in the front of his shirt and the other in the material at his back. He rocked slightly in place as she cried. At last, Ashi's wrenching sobs had faded to silent tears punctuated by an occasional sniffle. For a moment they all just sate there and listened to her sobs and wails. She was lucky to have such good friends and she realized this. But they couldn't replace her beloved.
Thus is the fate of a heartbroken somebody.
Riku had been staring off in space. Ever since he had gotten back to Destiny Islands things hadn't been right. Nothing seemed to make him happy and he longed for going elsewhere, a place were someone waited for him with Sea Salt ice cream and a kind, heartwarming smile. Here, on the islands, he couldn't get that. Sora and Kairi didn't understand why he went off on his own to brood. He missed Ashi, almost painfully so.
He regretted never telling her how he felt or how much she meant to him. He never said thank you for the times she paid for their ice cream or listening to his problems, offering advice when she had it. She had offered him the best of advice and without her help he wasn't really sure what would have happened. She helped line the pieces up for him. She had helped him more than he could ever dreamed of helping her and he never got to repay her.
"You need to think about how you can learn to be yourself, Riku. If you can do that then you should have nothing to fear."
He nodded, recalling the memory. It had been one of the first days that he revealed himself to her in Ansem's form. She didn't panic and she didn't start screaming. Instead she smiled, asked if he was who she thought he was and went about chattering with him about how he needed to be himself instead of someone else, despite the fact he tried to explain himself to her a few times. In the end he just shook his head as she scolded him.
He turned, seeing Sora standing next to him. The older warrior hadn't even notice the younger sneak up on him. Riku nodded his head, gesturing for Sora to sit next to him on their tree, overlooking the ocean. It brought back memories that Riku found hard to forget. Some of the best and worst things had happened because of an event that had occurred at that one spot. It was bittersweet being back there.
"I'm… sensing some issues here," Sora said half teasing, half serious, "Shouldn't you do something?"
"It's not that simple…" Riku replied.
Sora jumped up so that he was sitting on the tree next to Riku. He sighed and looked out at the water. It had been six months since they had come back. Everyone noticed that he had changed. He didn't really talk that much anymore. He hardly ate, barely slept, and was late for almost everything. Kairi and Sora couldn't help but worry for their friend and they feared that he was sinking into depression. They didn't want to lose him, not after just reuniting after so long.
"Nothing ever is simple, Riku," Sora replied, "Want to explain what has you so depressed?"
Riku contemplated it for a moment. Sora had come to him when he was going to ask out Kairi, pleading for advice. The young man was his best friend a person of which he could confide in with everything. And yet Riku hesitated when deciding to tell him about Ashi. Part of him wanted to keep her a secret, forever buried in his heart. The other part demanded that he tell Sora, explain himself to the young man and ask for his advice for once.
"Remember how we were separated?" Riku asked.
His choice as made up. He was going to tell Sora everything. Sora had the right to no since he was Riku's best friend. They had done everything together, even going as far as saving the worlds, twice. If that didn't mean they were closer than ever Riku didn't know what did. He couldn't believe their adventures were over, for that would be accepting that their travels had ended and he'd never see her again. His heart clenched at the thought.
"How could I forget?" Sora responded.
It was hard to forget. It was some of the best and worst moments in his life. He had been lucky he had such good friends who stood by him and understood him as he underwent some of his character development. He had changed because of what happened, whether or not that was for better or for worse he couldn't tell but he had changed. Sora and Kairi had changed as well. Kairi was no longer the shy and timid girl they knew but now a more confident princess. Sora was no longer the clumsy, naïve boy but he was still naïve.
"I met this girl…" Riku began
"So that's what has you down!"
Riku silenced him with a glare. Sora chuckled at his friend's sour expression, finally glad to get something of substance to him and as to why he was in such a bad mood all of a sudden. He knew better than to keep taunting Riku or else his friend would never open up about what had him so depressed. So the smaller brunet was silent, waiting for his friend to continue. Riku took a deep breath, struggling to find words to explain what he was feeling.
It was hard since he and Sora never spoke about their feelings. They were taught that to cry was a sign of weakness. When they fell they were to get back to their feet and try again. Emotions were mere words and weaknesses for those who wore their heart on their sleeves. But Riku was fond of his emotions. They marked him, making him different than Nobodies. He'd rather deal with the emotions than have no heart to feel with at all.
"It's not like it matters," Riku muttered, "We can't see each other anymore."
"It obviously matters since you miss her so much," Sora said.
He shook his head. Sora would obviously find it so simple. He should have gone to someone else for help, like Kairi. She would have known what to do, or at least helped him get over the dull ache in his chest. Each breath hurt, each intake of air burned his insides to ash. Sora watched his friend, unhappy with his suffering. He didn't understand why the silver haired boy was so intent on torturing himself like this especially when he missed her so much. It was almost like a piece of him died after they came back from the castle.
Sora had thought nothing of it, since he thought it was because his friend grew up, grew older. But it wasn't that simple. Nothing was ever simple anymore. He thought Riku had changed because of their journey, because of his experiences but it wasn't just that. It was that girl Riku had mentioned. She had helped change him in a way that even Riku wasn't aware of. Riku didn't see the look on his face as he sulked, nor did Riku notice how much his eyes lit up when he even mentioned her to Sora, even though it had been mere seconds ago.
"What is it Riku?" Sora asked, "A memory or her?"
Riku didn't answer. Sora was now angry at his friend. This girl had been waiting for Riku, patiently, heartbroken. Riku didn't even seem the least bit sorry. When Sora had to leave Kairi behind he apologized to her a hundred fold over because he felt so guilty for making her wait for him. She had assured him that she didn't mind but Sora knew she still carried the ache of that separation with her and she always would.
"Which is it?" Sora pressed.
"Give me some time. Understand?"
Sora shook his head. He had kept the girl waiting long enough. Who knew what the girl was feeling at the moment. Riku didn't know if what he had done had made her suicidal, or if she was slowly dying somewhere, or even if she had moved on with her life like he had wanted her to but didn't want her to at the same time. Sora knew that Riku would never say anything to change the path that he had forced the girl to take, even if it meant his own happiness.
"Riku, she's been waiting a really long time," Sora chided, "What if something bad happened to her? How would you be able to live with yourself if you never got to tell her how you feel?"
Riku fell silent, unable to express himself with words. He didn't know what to say. He hung his head, looking down into his lap. Sora watched his friend, pained. For a moment when he mentioned the nameless girl, Riku's eyes lit up, making him look like the young man Sora knew before their world was lost to Darkness. It was painstakingly obvious that Riku missed her. It was almost like a part of him was missing with the girl.
"It's not like I can go visit her, Sora," Riku said, avoiding the topic.
Sora grinned at this. He jumped to his feet. Now this was something he could fix. He had good friends who could help him out. They'd be thrilled to help him and Riku with Riku's girl problem, mainly because he had helped them so many times and never asked for anything in return. Cid had always told him to go to him for help if he needed it and besides, Cid loved to fly the Gummi for no reason. That and it would be a good excuse to try to contact everyone in Radiant Garden. He jabbed a thumb to his chest with a grin on his lips.
"You leave that to me!"
Riku looked up at his friend confused. An ever present frown on his lips. The silver haired boy could tell just by the smile on Sora's lips that he was going to regret what Sora was going to do. It was going to cause a lot of problems for him in the end. Somehow he couldn't bring himself to care. He would take whatever Sora dished out and deal with it as he always had, Ashi at his side or not.
Ashi tried to smile for her friends the next day. They knew she still hurt and were trying to be gentle around her. They didn't want to do anything that reminded her of Riku but everything she had done with him she had done with them. They couldn't go to their usual struggle matches, they couldn't eat Sea Salt ice cream, they couldn't go to the clock tower, and they couldn't go to the abandoned mansion. They couldn't go to the forest, or visit Sunset Hill. So she decided to stay home while they went out.
She'd rather be isolated than ruin her friend's good time. She sat in her room, hiding out in her room. She was curled up in the window seat of her bedroom. She wrapped her arms around her knees and hugged them to her chest, a look of saddened depression sitting on her face. She felt tears prickle her eyes as she sat there, trying her best not to cry or even think about Riku. It was much harder than she thought. She didn't know when he became such an important part of her life.
"Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your long hair," A voice from below called to her.
She looked down, wiping the tears away from her eyes. Someone was standing below her window, staring up at her. She didn't know the boy. He was clad in black with puffy black pants and a black vest. His spiky hair would have made him an easy person to remember had she ever met him before but his bright blue eyes were so familiar, like she had seen them somewhere before. He was smiling at her as if they had been good friends, merely separated for a while.
"Sorry, Romeo," She called down to him, "I don't take house calls."
The boy grinned, going along with her sense of humor. He bowed, mockingly, despite the fact that half the street was now watching the boy with mild amusement. She couldn't help but smile at his infectious grin. It had been the first time she smiled in over six and a half months. Her cheeks hurt from the unusual activity but it felt good to smile like that. When he straightened up she could see his bright eyes twinkling with mirth, even from the second floor of her home.
"That's too bad…" He sighed, "I had a friend who really wanted to see you."
The boy nodded, still smiling up at her. She stared at him confused, unsure of what to think of his statement. People were now watching her, waiting for her reaction. It had been the most expressive they had seen her in months and they wanted to see how much further she would go. She tilted her head to the side, trying to figure out what the boy meant. She wasn't sure she shared any friends with him. Hayner, Pence and Olette never mentioned him.
"You don't remember him?" The boy asked.
"I'm not sure who you're talking about…" She admitted.
"Come on, you know…" He said suggestively, "Tall, pale, silver hair, emo?"
Her eyes widened as realization dawned on her. Her breath caught in her throat as she leaned out the window to get a better view of boy below. He had caught her attention the moment he said silver hair. There was only one person she knew who had silver hair. There was only one other boy that silver haired boy ever spoke so fondly and so teasingly about. She almost didn't want to believe the boy standing below but now that her memory had been jogged she couldn't just deny who he was and go on with her life.
"You're Sora!" She gasped.
"We have a winner!" Sora cheered, confirming her accusation, "Riku, tell her what her prize is!"
Out of the shadows of the alleyway below her house a tall boy stepped out. Her breath caught in her throat, tears welled up in her eyes and that accursed lump had reformed in her throat, this time from happiness, not from sobbing until her voice was rubbed raw. She had lost all coherent thought as she just stared at the boy who had left without a goodbye, the very one who pushed her away. She couldn't form words as she sat there and stared, unsure of what to do, let alone say.
"Good to see you, Ashi," He said in his deep voice.
"You came," She whispered.
Though her voice was soft she knew she heard him, even if the other townspeople didn't. She was glad they didn't. She couldn't bear to let them see her break down in front of them. She tried to smile but it looked as pathetic as she felt. Her heart lurched when she saw Hayner, Pence and Olette watching from the crowd with looks of shock and curiosity on their faces. They didn't know what was going on but they were worried for her so they started pushing their way through the crowd to get to her house.
"I heard you were in the neighborhood," Riku replied.
She gave a light laugh, trying to keep the hysterical edge out of her voice. It worked. Riku smiled up at her as she brushed a lock of hair behind her ear with a small smile. It was almost as if he had never left and she would have believed that if she didn't have those months of lonely memories and the dull ache in her chest as she stared down at him. She swallowed, trying to bottle up the raw emotion she felt inside her heart.
"Why did you come?" She asked.
"I wanted…" He said, almost timidly but that wasn't like him so boldly he said, "I wanted to say I was sorry. I was wrong for not telling you goodbye."
She could see the regret in his eyes. She could hear it in his voice. She could almost see it as every being of his self practically oozed it. She hung her head, feeling bad that she was the one who caused him to feel that regret. They'd both have to live with some feelings for the rest of their lives because of the actions that the other had done, Riku in leaving and Ashi in not letting go. He had come to ask for her forgiveness, but she had none to give for she already forgave him. She just shook her head as she looked down at him.
"It's you who has to let go, Riku. I never blamed you, not once," She told him, "So, why ask me for something I already gave you?"
It was Riku's turn to grow nervous as he looked up at her. He wasn't sure how to admit how he felt to her and he didn't think he could do it in front of a large crowd like the one standing around. He glanced over at Sora, hoping his friend could do something. Noticing his tension Ashi vanished from her window. There were soft footfalls followed by a soft thump as someone jumped to the bottom step. The door was slowly opened and a slightly windswept Ashi stood in the door.
"Come in?" She asked.
"If you wouldn't mind…" Riku said softly.
She opened the door wide enough that he and Sora could come in. She wouldn't leave Sora to the townsfolk. The people were good but once they saw a juicy piece of gossip they were on top of it faster than you could say 'Moogle.' She smiled as the two young men walked towards her door, away from the hazard that was the now interested crowd. If she left Sora on his own they'd eat him alive out there. She smiled at them.
The two of them looked up, surprised to see Hayner, Pence and Olette standing at the edge of the crowd, finally managing to push their way through to get to her. Sora smiled and held up a hand, preventing the three from just charging at Riku, to get him away from her, to prevent him from hurting her again. Hayner looked like he wanted to lunge at Riku and beat him for making her cry like she had. Pence was torn between yelling at the top of his lungs and staring. Olette just stared, unsure of what to do.
"Come in…" Ashi said.
Her friends followed Riku and Sora in. She closed the door without looking at the townsfolk. She faked a smile as she glanced at her friends. Her heart was beating like a drum in her chest as she looked over at Riku, casually leaning against the wall of her living room, as if he belonged there or had done it before. She swallowed. She looked out the window, trying to find anything to focus on besides Riku. He was just too overwhelming, even standing there as innocently as he was.
"May I speak with you privately?" Riku asked.
She nodded, keeping her eyes on the window. The sky was dark, showing signs of rain coming. Without looking at Riku she motioned for him to follow her up the stairs, back to her bedroom. Hayner tensed, stepping forward, just in case Riku tried anything when her back was turned. The silver haired boy was going to have a hard time convincing her friends he was there on good terms since he had made her cry the way he had.
She didn't look at him, even when he entered her room and gently shut the door behind him. She stared at the window, closing it so no one down below could hear what was going to be said. Slowly, almost hesitantly she turned to face him. Her heart rate spiked. She was alone with him for the first time in a very long time. She didn't know how their meeting would turn out but she knew it was going to change their lives for good.
"Ashi… I…" Riku began, "I'm done running away… I… I've come to realize that I can only handle some things by myself…"
"What do you mean?" Ashi couldn't help but ask.
Their eyes meet and for a moment it seemed as though the world has stopped. Riku felt his mouth go dry. He had practiced what he would say to her, how he'd admit how he felt about her but as he stared into her deep eyes all words, all his practice was lost, along with any coherent thought. He forgot how much of an affect she had on him. She stood, waiting anxiously for his answer. She fidgeted, nervously.
"At first I wanted your forgiveness…" Riku admitted, "Then I realized I shouldn't be so selfish. I can't ask you for something like that…"
"Then what do you want?"
He let out an awkward laugh and rubbed the back of his neck. Ashi walks forward slowly, almost hesitantly, her eyes locked with his the whole time. He hated how she was treating him, much like a wild animal that may very well attack her the moment she made a wrong move. He wanted to reach out and shake her, telling her that he wasn't like that but it would scare her, terrify her into shrieking in fear. Hayner and her other friends would come running up the stairs and ruin everything. Then he'd never get another chance, not as long as Hayner, Pence and Olette would have something to say about it.
"I've wanted to tell you this for so long… But I've never found the right time…" Riku explained, "The right words to say it…"
She watched him, feeling tortured as every second rolled by almost painfully slow. She wanted to scream at the top of her lungs, wordless and angry. She closed her eyes and took a deep, cleansing breath. When she opened her eyes again, they were blazing, determined, like fire. Now it was his turn to stare. She reached for him, taking his hand in her smaller petite fingers. Electricity shot through his hands, numbing his mind. All words were lost in the wind as he looked into her eyes.
"I love you, Riku," She admitted.
The power and conviction in those words is enough to make his jaw drop. This couldn't be real. After all he had been so convinced she would never feel the same. What's makes it even more unbelievable is how she can even remotely love him after how he just left her, pushed her away, as if she meant nothing. His prolonged silence seems to make her nervous and unsure of herself, a side of Ashi he had only seen the day they met. She had been so quiet and so unsure that he almost didn't even talk to her but something compelled him to do so.
"Riku… If you don't feel the same I understand…" She said, though the hurt was still there in her voice.
There are a few more moments of silence, he still couldn't find words. He was speechless. All logical thought had left his mind the moment she said 'I love you.' He didn't understand the power those words had on him. He had expected that if they were to admit that someone loved one another it would be he who admitted his love first. He hadn't expected her to be so bold in that one moment. He just stared at her with an unreadable look in his eyes.
"Please say something," She almost begged.
When he didn't answer she started to let go of his hand. Instead he squeezed tighter, not wanting her to leave. She stared at him in surprise, not understanding. He gently reached up, touching the side of her face with careful, hesitant, fingers. He could feel her pulse throbbing in her neck as his fingers gently brushed the skin of her neck. She stared at him, now more confused than ever that he was being so gentle with her. He was treating her like a glass doll, one that would break if he was too rough.
"I don't get it. I left you, let you down and pushed you away…" Riku said, "How can you still feel this way for me? You should have given up on me a long time ago Ashi…"
"I tried…" Ashi said, "But I couldn't stop thinking about you."
He smiled weakly, thinking of multiple things he could say to tease her. But the way she was looking at him so seriously that he couldn't say any of those taunting things. He just smiled as he brushed a lock of hair behind her ear. A small, weak, smile danced across her lips as she looked up at him with watery eyes. She looked so afraid, so hopeful at the same time. He felt like his heart was going to explode as he looked at her. She could feel hers fluttering like a humming bird as she stared at him.
"Ashi… I love you too… But I can't always be here…" Riku said.
A single tear falls down her cheek before she throws her arms around him. The unexpected hug seemed to set every single one of his nerves on fire, and before he knew it, he was returning the embrace, holding her as tightly as he could to his chest. They stood like this for several seconds, unmoving and silent. When she let's go of him, he found that he was missing the connection. Instead he leaned his forehead against hers, trying to convey the feeling.
"As long as I still have you it doesn't matter how far away you are," She said, "As long as you come to visit a little more often."
Riku gave a light chuckle at this. Ashi smiled as she hugged him again. She was glad he came back, that he didn't just let her drift away like some useless forgotten memory. She didn't want to let the memory of their times together haunting her for as long as she lived where she would wonder what ifs. She was glad she took the chance to tell him how she felt. She hadn't been that happy in months.
That was fun. Although I'm not too happy with the end.