"What's your name?" she asks.
"Death," he replies.
"What a weird name."
There is a silence, as he ponders. To inhabit a human, he must relate to a human.
"Do all humans look the same? Do they all look like you?"
"No," she answers, and pauses for thought. "Everyone is different. What do you look like?"
"I don't know," he says, "What would you want me to look like?"
She hums. "I've always wanted a brother."
"A boy. Older or younger doesn't matter though."
"Well then . . . I'll look like your age. What do humans look like?"
"Two eyes, two ears, a nose, a mouth . . ." and she continues to list various body parts.
"So . . . like this?"
Before her, out of the shadows steps a dark haired boy. His hair is wavy but short, and he is impossibly pale – as white as the stripes on his black-and-white pajamas. Surprisingly, he has a mole under one eye – but both eyes are an amazing, reflective blue. They are as deep as the ocean, but something about the humanity in their luster is shallow.
She nods. "You look just like a human boy."
He . . . smiles. Then frowns, and smiles again. Like the reflex surprised him.
"Thank you," he finally says. "You . . ." and frowns again.
"What's the matter?" She asks.
"I don't know what to call you. But you helped me, so you are important. You are . . ."
She seems to smile back at him, and take his new hands into her own. His are cold and formless – hers are warm and living. "Mama told me that when you find someone very important to you, you call them 'dearest'. That's what she calls Papa."
He stares and opens his mouth, and closes it, and opens it again. Like he's unsure if he can say the word. She smiles again, encouraging him to mimic, which he does.
"Dearest," he tastes the word for the first time. "My dearest."
And then she woke up in the hospital that morning, and was told her parents had been pronounced dead.
The first night she returns to the island, he re-awakes. He has been waiting for this. From behind her eyes, he has watched and learned and felt. His mind is so blank – all that is in it is her, and a dictionary of words to communicate, and a 'name' he has decided for himself. The moon phases send shocks through his being, whatever it may be. Ordeals and 'the end' and so many disconnected things.
But when he sees her again – not through her eyes, but through his own – she is not the same. Her legs are longer and her torso is shaped differently and her hair is still wavy and copperish, but pulled behind her head. Her face is still soft and warm and her eyes bright with honesty, but her face has matured.
But he is still a little boy. He did not know humans changed so drastically.
The way she looks at him is the same. There is no malice or any trace of negativity. She tilts her head at him the same way she did before – unsure of his presence, but not unwelcoming in the least. It seems he must wait to see her smile again. The twenty-fifth hour is their only medium of contact, even though he will always sleep within her. The closeness between them contrasts how incredibly far away she feels.
"You're late," he says, "I was waiting a long time for you."
She molds into her role quickly, adjusting to the twenty-five hour clock over time with relative ease. He tells her everything he remembers. And with each ordeal she triumphs over, he finds he has more to tell her. On nights when he has no newly recovered memories, he can't seem to find a reason to make his presence known about her.
She moves very little while asleep, he notes, watching the silent rising and falling of her chest as she breaths. A curious thing, the difference in human boys and girls. Something about her grown up body makes him ache and smile at the same time. Through her eyes, he has seen many other girls. Tall, short, thin, thick, etc. They had as much variety as boys, which he had come to categorize himself in. But none of them, boy or girl, were like her. She was a category of her own.
He can feel their time coming to an end. There is the end of course, but he feels their relationship will reach its personal halt much before that. He doesn't know how to handle that. He even found proper name for himself to her to call him. But she doesn't seem to remember their first meeting, all those years ago.
Even when he spoke to her as his dearest.
In the morning, she will wake, and it will be the first time he's spoken to her outside of the twenty-fifth hour. He will have to say goodbye, and thank her for bringing his memories together. Thank her for her friendship and everything she's done, even if he wishes he could be more. He will leave her be until the end follows through – she forgot their first meeting, so he will forget too.
But in the midst of disappearing, he has 'doubts'. A human thing that makes one rethink their decisions they were steeled to do only minutes before. He wants to see her again. He wants to see her smile – but not so simply. He wants to see her smile for him, to smile because he's made her happy. She has smiled to him on nights before, but like what he could assume was a 'mother'. Because she sees him physically as a 'child', no matter how anomalous he may be in her dreams of the twenty-fifth hour.
His final thought as 'Pharos' echos in the space where his thoughts used to occupy. She can almost hear them as he fades into the morning sunlight pouring through her window.
I want to be your dearest.
Curious, to be looking above her, like his tall frame shouldn't be so high up. There is something awkward inside him that churns when she looks his way. He wants to be near her, to touch her, to taste her – it feels so obsessive and he doesn't know why. He says easy things to other girls – things to make them smile and laugh. He says the same things to her, but it's not the same. He wants something genuine from her, not a sheepish blush from another girl. There's something he isn't getting, like a gap in his memory. He can almost picture her taking his hand like she would a child's, telling him that it's okay not to cry, telling him it's okay, Pharos.
The chair he sits in skids back about a foot, bumping into the desk behind him. She's before him, smiling, though a little concerned by his jolt. He smiles easily.
"What is it, Kouko-chan?"
She smiles again, seeing her concern unwarranted for the moment. "Junpei-kun, Yukari-chan and I are going out to karaoke. Do you want to come?"
I want to be with her, he thinks, and nods almost too quickly.
He has every reason to desire her. She's pretty – beautiful, enticing, pure, adorable – and a sweetheart. He's only been in this school for days, but has already picked up on the gossip of the male population. She's not only holding his unknown affections. But something in him feels almost haughty, like he has a step above the rest of her admirers. Like he knows her better, even if he only laid eyes on her as he was introduced. He wants to be the one to confide in her – to be the one she confides in. His initial approach was rather superficial – like how he talks to everyone else. A light smile, a charming sentence, a bat of the eyelashes.
But when he talks to her, nothing but raw honesty spills from his mouth, whether he warrants it or not. Not that he really lied before, but she seems to reach a deeper level within him. He wants to be serious with her. His throat lumps, seeing the silver-haired third-year come to talk to her, or when she's in the Student council, or even when it's just her and Junpei. He knows it's irrational – he has no control over whom she's with. But he wants it to be him.
In one instance, he almost wished everyone else in the world would disappear, in a fit of selfishness he kept to himself. He retook the thought, being more disgusted and distressed by the idea than he would've thought.
He can feel his love for her growing and twisting. Every time he reaches a little farther out to her, he feels the excitement within him building, and at the same time he feels like all of a sudden, the hand that wants to caress her is going to strangle her. Nobody said love was guilt-free, but it's overbearing. It makes him feel rather masochistic – wanting her love, and being racked with pain whenever his affections are returned.
"Ryoji-kun, have you ever had a crepe?"
She asks one day, as they both finish looking at the souvenir stands. Kyoto is a beautiful place – he feels like he's seen a lot of places, but not this one. It's interesting.
"I think I have, once. But it was just a strawberry one."
"Really? Me too," she replies. "Strawberry's –"
She laughs. "Yeah. Can you tell?"
"Call it intuition."
He realizes the conversation was brought up by the older woman selling crepes and ice cream just off the riverside. "Why don't we get some then?" He offers. It's the least he could do.
The stand offered a variety of colours and flavours, some sounding more appetizing than others. She's eyeing the greenish-coloured flavour, he notices – green tea. They gave a dessert a bitter drink flavour? It nearly claws at one's curiosity. He chuckles a little. She's so honest about her curiosities.
"Two green tea crepes, please," Ryoji asks.
She smiles next to him. "I was thinking of trying that one, you know."
"I do know," He smiles in return, "I want to try it too."
Their parallels are almost frightening, but he can't tell if it's a game of copycat, or a painful string of coincidences. Everything she knows, he knows – and he knows no more than she. Like they learned from one another, though something tells him he's the one doing the learning. It ties into that same hot air inside him that made him feel superior to the other boys who fancy her, like a string keeping a balloon full of his feelings tethered to his wrist. That step ahead that he has, like he knows her inside and out. He doesn't wonder what the world looks like through her eyes, he already knows that. (For some reason.)
But he does wonder just . . . just what she sees him as. That is the only thought he can't seem to trace.
I am the bane of your existence, in every sense you could possibly fathom. How many people in one's life can you say that to?
Yet those were the kinds of words waiting at the edge of his throat. You should hate me. Don't look at me like that. I'm the cause of all your problems. I used you. Dirtied you. Don't say it's not my fault; it is. I masked my memories, my pieces as 'ordeals' for you to face. I scattered the mess and told you to pick up the pieces.
"And yet I still have the gall to want you." He could remember her expression when she learned the truth.
He is death, and now she knows. He was a parasitic existence on her humanity. 'Death'. Even Aigis' monotonous speech program made his real name a sound that would plummet to the bowels of his stomach. The word as a noun – not as a name – already brought dread to many. He was the embodiment of that dread, wasn't he? How fitting for such a 'name'.
"Ryoji- . . . kun?"
Ah. There's the other name. Don't turn around. Don't turn around.
Behind him was her, warming her hands with her breath. Though she stopped, noticing his presence.
He shouldn't have turned around. The month of December he had meant to keep his presence unknown to Iwatodai. Uknown to her. Quickly, he turns away, dashing down the road, to disappear. She follows, picking up her own pace. He disappears around a corner, but once she reaches the same point, he's no longer in sight.
But he's still there. He's still watching, as she looks around in all directions.
"You're still there, aren't you?" she says. How intuitive, he thinks, and can't help a soft smile that nobody can see.
"I. . . I miss you, Ryoji-kun," she says quietly, talking to the air. He can't tell if she knows he's a mere foot away from her, invisible like a refraction of light. (In a way he was grateful for the abilities his unearthed memories gave him.) But she talks anyways. "We all do. Junpei misses hanging out with you, and the girls at school are all upset that you just disappeared like this."
He frowns. What about you? Do you miss me as much as them?
"You know what?" she says, grinning a little. Her gaze is a fraction off of facing him completely, but she doesn't know that. "I finally finished a knitting project I was doing with a friend – you might have seen him, the French Exchange student, Bebe-kun. He's so funny. Even when he sews, he asks how to say different things in Japanese. His pronounciation is a little funny, but he's a good person," she shakes her head, "but anyways, do you want to know what I made?"
I want to know, he mouths out the words.
She digs around in her bag, and takes out a neatly folded baby blue knit. Unfolding the long article, it's a scarf. She holds it out, passersby thinking she's a bit less than sane. "When Bebe-kun showed me the wool, I remembered how blue your eyes were. How they almost glowed in the dark hour when we would talk quietly in my room. Do you remember?"
I remember. He feels almost ashamed. I remember everything. Now that I finally do – I almost wish I didn't.
She neatly folds the scarf up again, and puts it back. "You didn't have to disappear, Ryoji-kun," She says, even quieter than before. "I wanted to spend Christmas with you. I wanted to give you this scarf, but now I don't know. Will you accept it at New Years instead, for me?" she gave a tearful laugh. "We could go to the café again, and get a cake to share. And whatever was left over could be brought back to the dorm, and we'd share with everyone else. It would be a lot of fun."
He can't take this. I love you, his silent voice croaks, I love you so much, I can't stand it. I can't do this to you. Stop it, stop doing things for me. Stop accepting me. If you hated me, it would be so much easier! But she never took the easy way out of things, did she?
"I've already made my decision, too," she says suddenly. "About it all. I won't hesitate, not any more. So, if you're alone on Christmas—" she reaches out a hand, though there is nothing there, "—Come see me, okay? Don't cry."
He notices the hand would be about face level for him, as if to caress his cheek like a crying child's. And dammit, his tears are falling, though there is nowhere for them to fall. Instinctly, he reaches out to the hand before him – and shrinks back. He can't.
She's crying too – and it hurts more than the sting of his own tears.
"I love you too," she says.
She did it. Somehow he just knows. She triumphed, she actually did it – she managed to keep the world's end at bay. Nobody could truly destroy Nyx, but keeping her at bay was accomplished. He finds his humanity simply existing in an expanse of nothing. The gate holding Nyx being the only thing present in the scenery of pure white.
He touches the door – his hand is small again. He's reverted to a little boy in black in white pajamas. 'Ryoji' was only a temporary state; 'Pharos' was a design all on his own. (With her help of course.)
He can feel her presence on the other side. She is the same as he – a soul without a real 'form', but existing. Bodies cast aside – though hers was still in the real world, he knew.
"Is that you?" he asks experimentally.
"Of course," she replies. He can hear the smile in her voice. "But that voice – 'Pharos'? Or 'Ryoji'?"
The familiarity of the situation makes his face light up. "What do you want to call me?"
At first he hears nothing, only the hint of a whisper. He leans an ear against the door – and has a feeling she's doing the same.
I did it. I finally wrote something with Ryoji. And it doesn't even make sense. He's an amazing character, I love him so much. His social link killed me – if you'll forgive the pun. Just as badly as Shinjiro's. The way both he and Pharos say 'Dearest' just makes my little fangirl heart melt every time.
Ps. Out of all the fanon names for MShe, I like Kouko the most. Hu hu hu,
Reviews make this pie-eating writer a happy camper. 3 I hope you all enjoyed!