~*.A Dream, A Wish, A Hope.*~

Raimu Bito was, simultaneously, both naïve and very wise.

When other girls her age would be chatting about the newest movie and going crazy over the boys at school, she would be sitting just close enough to the conversation to hear and occasionally speak, but her eyes would be set somewhere far away.

When other girls her age were wandering Shibuya looking for the newest fashions, (Shiki and Eri in those numbers), Rhyme could be found walking delicately on the railings, hands outstretched, almost like she was daydreaming about flying.

Her mind would register and react to anything the girls were saying, supplying an automatic answer—"That's a cute outfit!"—but in reality, she quietly questioned why someone would pay so much for a name brand shirt when an identical one was available elsewhere at half the price. As much as she adored Shiki and Eri, the girls were anything but shallow; she couldn't bring herself to wholeheartedly include herself in their fashion high conversations over The Prince or new clothes.

Rhyme drifted amongst several people in their group, and of course she was often found with her older brother. She kept an eye on him, like she was the eldest, all the while she continued to smile, and her happy demeanor was contagious. Any fight that her brother started, any insecure moment or thought shared in secret, she had phrases and adages aplenty for every occasion.

When it came to Neku, Rhyme rarely said anything. He was quiet and a loner by nature, and she knew when to speak and when to be silent. He appreciated her company, she could tell, and occasionally he'd ask for her advice. Once about his family, twice was just to see if he was doing this "friendship thing" right, and one single instance, about Shiki.

Strangely, despite Shiki's uneasiness, Eri's confused wariness, Neku's halfway hostile and partly friendly attitude and Beat's outright disdain for the last member in their group, Rhyme felt no pain or sorrow or apprehension.

In Joshua's case, Rhyme felt a sort of odd joy. He could answer almost any question she had with a kind of infinite patience, and despite the moments when he disguised a comment as an insult, she never took offense. More and more he accompanied her on her usual tours around Shibuya, her head in the clouds but her heart in the earth.

Rhyme knew of love and war and anger, of hate and kindness and joy, and although she hoped and prayed for the very best in the world to happen, she knew people were capable of terrible cruelty. In a sort of overgrown park between two towering buildings, she sprinkled some crumbs for the birds, her eyes distant.

"Thinking?"

She didn't stir from her trance, though she felt the strangest prickling on the back of her neck. Joshua must have slid in from the UG. "Yes," she said at last.

"You always are. About what? It's almost as if your body is here but your mind is in the stars." He gestured to the blue sky above them, the stars invisible for the moment. A gentle wind stirred her hair and Rhyme closed her eyes again.

"It is. Joshua, do you think the world will get any better soon?"

Joshua pushed his hair from his eyes and kept his hand there, studying her, violet orbs narrowed. "Do I? Honestly no. I lost all hope in humankind a while ago, dear."

Rhyme faced him with a shocked gasp. "Why? Humans may be horrible, but there is just as much good, if not more, in the world."

"You speak like I'm not a human," said Joshua indifferently. His expression was still and as she studied him, this ancient boy with the intelligent, world weary eyes, she shook her head.

"You're not human," she said quietly. "When did you stop?"

There was a long pause, and Joshua finally lowered his hand, and his pale hair slid back into place. The silence stretched uncomfortably, and Rhyme turned her gaze back to the sky, with Shibuya's only Composer quiet beside her.

Only one set of breaths went in and out.

At last, when Joshua spoke again, she heard a strange note in his voice she couldn't identify. "Have I told you before what I think of you?"

An uneasy feeling stirred in Rhyme's heart, and the pensive girl placed her hand on the back of her neck, resting it lightly around the chain of her bell pendant. "No."

"You are, to be honest, so prudent and yet so incredibly idiotic it astounds me beyond all measure." Joshua smirked at her, and his expression became somewhat shocked when she laughed.

Rhyme twirled a strand of blonde hair around one finger, eyes half closed, looking at the ground. "I take that as a compliment."

Joshua stepped closer to her, and he looked her in the eyes. She stared back unflinchingly, and she had the feeling he was watching something inside of her, like her eyes were windows.

Eyes are the window to the soul, she thought to herself. She let her hand drop and turned to face the sunlight again, tapping the side of one cheek with her finger thoughtfully. The noise of Shibuya seemed farther away here in this tiny garden amongst a city of stone and metal.

"Oh? And why is that a compliment?" He asked her quietly. He formed an arch with his fingers, and his alien eyes were still fixed on her face.

Her shoulders lifted and fell. "Because I still have hope, Joshua. If that makes me idiotic, than I'm the happiest fool in the world."

"Ignorance is bliss," Joshua said slowly, as if trying to get her to understand something. There was scorn in his tone also, though. Rhyme looked at him, and once again she knew that despite his appearance, he was much older. But not wiser, she thought. No, definitely not wiser.

"It is. I guess." Here she sighed and let her shoulders droop. "So much anger and pain and death. When will it all stop? If I had a single wish, just one, before I wished for anything else, I'd want world peace. That'd solve everything. If people would stop killing one another, everything, like the environment and world hunger, could be solved."

"People are scum," the Composer's tone was acidic. "Don't work yourself up over idiots, Raimu. I find more peace in death than in life. As it should be."

Rhyme said nothing to that, instead she was stunned to see a single tear had gone down her face, and her heartbeat was thudding faster. Joshua had sensed that, and he touched her shoulder lightly. A cold energy infused her being, but it was relaxing and calm, and when she closed her eyes, she swore she heard music. Like a classical orchestra.

"Peace, dear. You shouldn't be worrying about stuff like this, not at your age." He removed his hand. "Do you know what they say about wishes?"

Rhyme shook her head, lifting her eyes to look into his.

"A wish is a dream your heart makes. Your Entry Fee was your dreams. It seems they've found their way back to you."

"Then I guess my heart has never stopped dreaming." Rhyme answered carefully. "And I hope it never does."

There was silence once more, a tranquil one though, and the birds lifted into the air in a flurry of musty gray and white feathers. The wind teased Rhyme's skin, and she crossed her arms, rocking on her heels. She smiled suddenly, and Joshua glanced at her from the corner of his eyes.

"Something funny?" He asked.

"No, not really. But life goes on, and so do I, and on that note I shall see you later Joshua." Rhyme waved good bye to her friend, taking a few steps down the gray path.

"Rhyme?"

She paused, facing him again. The Composer walked toward her, hand in his pocket, twirling his cell phone with his free hand. "I can see you have big ideas to change the world."

"Not ideas. Not yet. I just have a wish, a dream, and a never ending hope." With that she smiled and turned to leave again, and this time Joshua let her.

"Then go on a wing and a prayer," Joshua murmured, turning around also. The sakura blossoms from the trees fluttered around him, the leaves also, and when the pink petals settled, the Composer was no longer there.

~***~

A gift for every one of my friends down at Joshyme's Hachiko.

To everyone else, want to review?