you sure are something

notes: hello! what better way to spend my time than writing for a somewhat dead fandom? :D anyway, i started this about a week ago and just got around to finishing it. sorry the ending seems rushed, i tried to make it flow better with little (aka: no) avail. sorry for any out-of-character interactions and grammatical/spelling/etc mistakes, and, otherwise, enjoy! :)
summary
: it's easier this way.
disclaimer: tales of vesperia is obviously not mine.

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Sometimes, when no one's looking, Rita Mordio will walk just close enough to lock pinkies with him.

And he never asks any questions – he doesn't even look at her. He simply looks straight ahead and gives her hand a squeeze and smiles about nothing in particular, because it's easier this way. They don't have to pretend if it's like this.

When Estelle turns to glance behind her, Rita abruptly removes herself from her place and walks a tad further away, so it doesn't look strange. So she doesn't feel strange, because, really, locking pinkies with someone shouldn't feel so weird. And then she notices the ring he still wears on his finger, and even though it didn't mean anything at the time, it means something now because he hasn't taken it off since.

(And, what, it's been about a year now? Is there even a use for it anymore?)

"Yuri," Estelle says, smiling at both of them even though she's tired, "Can we take a break?"

"Yeah, we can. We should probably just find a place to camp out for the night," he answers, nodding at her and picking up his pace to walk beside her. They all know how Yuri and Estelle feel about each other, even if Yuri says, coolly, she's like his sister and Estelle blushes and says that they're not a couple. Rita knows better. She may not be sociable, herself, but she knows better than anyone when someone likes someone else.

That's one thing she has felt, on this journey.

And, sometimes, she doesn't know whether to feel jealous or relieved because part of her wants him and part of her knows she's way better off without him.

She sits next to the old man and he mumbles something about the food being too spicy and she really just wants to smack the back of his head because he's got nothing to complain about. She holds herself back, though, because Yuri glances at her and gives a smile that probably has some deeper meaning to it that Rita's too lazy to find (or too scared to look for because it might not even exist), so she just crosses her arms and stares at her fingertips.

"Hey, are you gonna eat that?" Karol asks, pointing to the bowl of curry beside her legs, and she glances at him and wonders why he's become so easygoing and normal and Karol around her, when he knows that she's just going to hit him.

"No," she says, and he scoops up the bowl into his hands and pigs out like he won't have another meal for days. Rita covers the sound of her stomach growling with a cough, and she grabs the book she keeps with her and leafs through the pages even though she has every single word memorized. She'll just memorize them again and again until she can fall asleep.

.

She can't sleep, so she sits with her back against a tree and stares out across the grass until the ground meets with the sky a ways away.

"You're still awake?" His voice cuts through the air and makes her jump. She plays it off like she's not startled.

"Yeah, I am. What do you care?" She snaps, even though she doesn't know why she's so angry (except for the fact that he keeps looking at Estelle that way and he keeps touching Estelle that way and keeps talking to Estelle that fucking way). He holds up his hands in mock defeat and laughs and says he doesn't care. He sits down beside her and places his elbows on his knees without her permission.

"You didn't eat much," he points out, and she wants to spout a thank you, captain obvious! but refrains by biting her lip and plucking out some of the grass beside her (and not beside Yuri).

"Wasn't hungry." She mumbles, fingering the turf in her fingertips and drawing in the newly exposed dirt. He leans a little over her shoulder to see what she's drawing, but she wipes it away before he can get a good look.

"Not eating, not sleeping, twice as unfriendly as usual…Something wrong?" Yuri asks, leaning the side of his head against the tree when he turns to stare at her. She glares at him through overgrown bangs and presses her lips together, bringing her knees up to her chest.

"Just leave me alone. You're not making it any better." She answers, casting her eyes downwards and wishing there was a way out (but she doesn't even know what she really wants to escape from). Yuri lets out a breath and clenches his hands into fists, and Rita thinks about her spiral notebooks back at home and wonders if Yuri cares what's in them (even if what he thinks doesn't even matter).

"Was it something I said?" He asks, and she says no even though she doesn't really see the point in lying to him when he can see right through her. "Sure," he says, but he doesn't say anything else, so it's almost like he believes her and it's easier for her to pretend he actually does.

When he reaches for her hand and locks his pinky with hers, it takes all of her willpower not to say those three words, eight letters, and the whole mess of bullshit that comes with them.

"I'm sorry," Yuri says, and it sounds so much like he's apologizing for something else that she has to close her eyes and clench her jaw and take a breath so her heart doesn't burst.

They both know an I don't love you when they hear it, but neither of them let go, because, maybe, they can't.

Maybe they can be in love for just one night.