Wanting More Than Just a Memory.

Eiko lays disoriented on her bed, for a moment unsure of what woke her up. Then, the buzz of her cellphone, and a glance at her alarm clock says that it's 1:30 am, barely an hour after she finally came home.

Work, she thinks, but then she frowns when it's Ryou's cellphone flashing on the screen. Ryou has been trying from day one to keep her away from this case, after all. Still, if another corpse was found, she's to be informed, and Eiko refuses to thik that it might be an emergency, even though she feels fear coiling in her belly, her worry about Shin, about Jun, and as she answers she's already sitting up, throwing blankets away so she can reach for her clothes.

"Ryou? Is everything alright?"

"... I'm sorry, I shouldn't have called."

"It's alright," she answers. It's not a job thing then. He would never hesitate if it was. "What happened? Are Shin-kun and Jun-kun alright?"

There's silence on the other side of the line. Eiko shivers, slipping on her robe, turning on lights as she walks from her room to her small living room. She has always hated darkness, ever since she was young. One of Ryou's first gifts to her was her own flashlight, something she could always carry with her, just in case. Eiko is sure that she still has it inside a box.

"I'm sorry," Ryou says again, and it sounds both as an apology and a dismissal. She can picture Ryou hanging up.

"No! Wait," she swallows, still worried, but nervous, too. "Where are you, Ryou? Can I see you?"

Silence, again, and then: "Outside."

Eiko frowns for a moment, but then she walks towards the windows of her apartment and... there, on the curb, his car. She feels herself worry again, even as her curiosity is picked. She could count in one hand the times Ryou has come to her place since she moved in. Probably more if she doesn't count the times when she had asked him to come.

This time, she waits for a moment, doubting, before she speaks. "Why don't you come upstairs? I'll make us some coffee."

Ryou doesn't answer, but from her window, the lights of his car die out, and he hangs up before he opens the door, stepping outside, his breathing visible on the cold air. Eiko moves away, too, towards her kitchen, so that she can buzz the door open for him.

There's something troubling Ryou, she has known that for a while. Even if they're not as close as they were when they were younger (mostly because Ryou has built steel wall around himself since his parents and Yuki died), she still knows him the best. Ever since his two brothers came here, he's been different, worried, more distant than he already was. But he coming here, is... different. Ryou tries not to depend on anyone, not even on her, no matter what. Not since his parents and Yuki died.

When he walks inside he glances around discreetly. He looks cold and lost, a little like he looked in the hospital, ten years ago. Eiko approaches him and makes herself smile, makes herself ignore that she's worried, now.

"You should take off your coat, Ryou," she says, waving a hand towards the rack with her own coat as she goes to the kitchen again. "Tea or coffee?"

"I don't-"

"I feel like having tea," she interrupts him, putting the kettle on the stove. "But I think I have some instant coffee, if you don't mind."

Ryou says nothing for a moment, and Eiko fears he might go away. But he sighs, shaking his head a bit before he moves to take off his coat and his gloves. Eiko turns towards the stove just so that she can hide her victorious grin for a moment.

She talks while she waits. She's never been good with heavy, pregnant silences, not with Ryou. With Ryou she's always the clumsy, overeager teenager she used to be, and she talks about her life and family, the little things, nothing about the Reverse cases, nothing about Shin's concern and Jun's quiet acceptance of things. When the water's ready she pours it on two mismatched cups, mixing Ryou's coffee black, cinnamon tea for her.

And still Ryou doesn't say why he came, what is it that's worrying him so much tonight of all nights. He sits at her couch, not looking at the pictures on the walls, at the bits of her life he doesn't know. Eiko keeps her hands around her tea cup and she tries to guess what's happening, the same way she has tried to understand for the last ten years.

"... is everything alright, Ryou?" she asks finally, resisting the urge to bite her lips or fidget. "You seem..."

"I should go," Ryou says instead, putting his empty cup down. Eiko gets this awful, terrible feeling in her stomach that if she doesn't stop him now, she won't see him again.

"Don't," Eiko says. It feels as if she's been waiting all her life to say this. She approaches him as he's putting on his coat, moving a hand to his back, and then, when he turns around, moving that hand to his face. She can feel the faintest hint of stubble on his cheek s she cups it. "Don't go."

And before she loses her courage, before she loses this chance the way she lost so many chances when she was young, she stands on her tiptoes to press her lips against his.

Ryou trembles at her touch, a faint thing that would have been lost if her lips weren't against his, and Eiko thinks of the boy he was once, uncertain and shy and so sweet, without all the steel that the Ryou that is before her has added to himself.

Her arms wrap around his neck and, slowly, his move to her waist as if to push her away, before he trembles again. His glasses touch her face and her arms wrap around her waist, kissing her, kissing her finally, at last.