City Fog and Brave Dialogue

Whenever I close her eyes, all I can see is blue.

It's not the transparent colour of the sky, more like a bad imitation of it, whirling and whirling and whirling behind my closed eyelids until Junpei would poke at my side and tell me to look, he's just seen this amazing shaped cloud that looks either like a turnip or an onion; he can't really decide, and I want to tell him that they're both practically the same but I can't, because I can't find it.

"It's there, right next to that other cloud that looks like a bigger turnip." Junpei's hand is lazily flopping in front of my face, pointing at other useless clouds instead of the one that I really want to see.

"It's not there," I insist, eyebrows colliding into a frown and Junpei laughs, seeing how tormented I am about this.

"Well," he says, rolling over to his side. He pokes and pushes my head here and there til it's at the right angle and I'm giggling now and telling him to stop so he says, "Just... tilt your head and squint. It's right there."

So I squint my eyes and tilt my head all sorts of angles, but even then I still can't see.

It's autumn now, and the trees start showing their wear and tear after six months of staying fresh and green and I'm just wandering around Naganaki Shrine with Junpei, pointing out how everything's red and orange and gold, even more so now that he's dumping a sky's worth of leaves on top of my head.

We take turns shoving each other into the neat piles of leaves that practically begged to be kicked around and it's only when we're tired of running and when our laughter subsides and we're just lying there in a pile of leaves that Junpei says, "I'm scared."

I lie there, the side of my face cushioned by fallen cherry blossoms and I realize that Hey, I'm scared too, but I'm the leader and I'm supposed to be strong and happy and cheerful so I grip his hand and try to believe it as best as I can when I reply, "It's going to be okay."

New Year's passes by in a tinge of green.

Yukari and Fuuka are nuzzling Koro-chan and stroking his fur while Aki's feeding him scraps from his Beef Bowl takeaway when he thinks no one is looking and Mitsuru-senpai's sitting in a corner with Ken tutoring him on fractions and the sense of normalcy is almost overwhelming. The only reminder that we aren't frozen in time is the countdown blaring on the muted TV and Shinji's leather watch gripping and biting away at my wrist.

I feel Junpei's hand on my shoulder and he's saying Hey, there's a few minutes left of this year, come on let's try this new game Okami and then suddenly the world dims and turns a shade of moss and suddenly the door swings open and Ryoji's standing there, an eerily apologetic smile on his face and somehow, even when the world stops spinning for an hour, ours whirs to life.

I walk slowly, avoiding puddles left behind from the early morning rain, and it's still reflecting the stormy indigo colour of the sky.

Junpei's walking beside me but we aren't talking as much, but it's okay since Junpei and I barely talk about anything other than games, it's not like we're best friends or anything. He comments on the weather, the colour of our matching rain boots, how he is so screwed for Finals next week. I nod when required, laugh more than necessary, shake my head disbelievingly when he tells me how Kenji's been going out with Ms. Toriumi but all I'm thinking is Where the hell is Yukari, why isn't she here, why am I stuck with Junpei when suddenly—

"Sorry." Junpei and I look down at our hands, which he's just wound together so tight I'm not sure where his fingers began and mine ended. "I kinda need this."

He starts to let go but somehow I cling on even tighter, and we walk into Gekkoukan High with matching orange boots and perplexed faces.

Looking out at the dusty grey of the sky, I wrack my brains trying to remember what exactly it is that I'm forgetting.

I have a feeling I'm forgetting a lot of things lately, and I force my eyebrows into a frown and twirl my hair til it creaks around my finger and curl my toes til there's a snug little cave inside my loafers, yet it still refuses to come.

And then it hits me, Oh, of course the right hand rule relates to the Lorentz Force, and I quickly scribble down the answer and when the bell rings my answer sheet looks so white and pristine, a stark contrast to the crumpled mess Junpei's holding up to his glum face.

I walk home alone today, avoiding cracks in the pavements and tripping past black cats, and as I bump shoulders with people in Iwatodai Station I can pick out the scent of ramen in the air, and I can't help but wonder why my head is a swirl of thoughts, but not the ones that truly matter.

I'm trying not to lose my head, but I've never been this scared before. There's a difference between things I don't need to know and things I don't want to know, but lately I've been burning through both of them like a flame to gasoline, trying to figure out the ball of yarn that's unravelled itself before me, tangling and twisting and intertwining with things I barely know about.

I close my eyes and see dark blue, a poor imitation of the night sky that seems too peaceful, too quiet at times. Behind my closed eyelids I see the golden strands of the strings that need to be made sense of, and I kick and pull and tug and wound myself deeper and deeper into it 'til the world could be burning and there would still be nothing but dark blue.

The sky's a shade of pink that only appears before the sun and the blue chases it away.

I am tired. The silver chill of morning is all around me; the cold concrete wetting the hem of my skirt and pricking my legs and biting at my palms and settling into my weary limbs. It's too early for birds, too early for the grind of traffic, and certainly too early for clouds, but I don't mind because it's all coming to me now.

The door leading to the rooftop creaks open, letting in the noise of Mitsuru-senpai's valedictorian speech. The face that appears isn't the one I'm expecting but I can't say I'm surprised; we are best friends after all. Junpei's rooted to his spot just outside the door frame and he's just looking at me and I'm looking back at him until the cold, the silence, and the earth's rotation nudges him towards the empty space beside me.

We sit in silence for a while, looking out into nothing until I can't help it, the strands of yarn I've been trying to keep balled tight starts to come loose and—

"I'm scared."

The stretch of pink above us fades to pink and then glows into blue as Junpei places his hand on my shoulder, like he had done in a different room, in a different situation what seems like so many years ago. "It's going to be okay."

And it's only when we're half leaning, half lying against the benches like we used to and Junpei's pointing things out like look, he's just seen this amazing shaped cloud that looks either like a turnip or an onion; he can't really decide, that I start to believe him.

"Do you see it now?" he asks, and he doesn't sound like Junpei at all, more like a shadow of himself, quieter and more likely to look back and hold his hand out if you ever get tangled up in the truths and untruths of life. "It's right there. Can you see it?"

It's a struggle to lift my arm to push away the hand that's flopping in front of my face, pointing at other useless clouds instead of the one that I really want to see. "No, I can't."

"Well," he says, rolling over to his side. He pokes and pushes my head here and there til it's at the right angle and I'm giggling now and telling him to stop so he says, "Just... tilt your head and squint. It's right there."

So I squint my eyes and tilt my head all sorts of angles, but even then I still can't see. Maybe if I close my eyes...

disclaimer – i don't own it.

this has been stuck in my head for days and days like you could not believe. BROFIST IF YOU LOVE JUNPEI/MINAKO BROMANCE. if you don't you're not a bro.

jokes.

props to Meow Factory for making me realize i'd totally ship these two given the chance.

k bai guise.