Well, I know I really shouldn't be doing this kind of stuff, what with other things I desperately need to update. But this had been sitting on my hard drive since the beginning of school, and I really needed to finish the darn thing. So I did. It's strange and I really don't know if it went much of anywhere, but I kind of liked it so I decided why not and posted it. Tell me what you think, and thanks for reading.
Always With You
They were always crying. Always, always crying.
Riichi rested her elbows on her knees, and placed her chin in her palms. Her fingers curled, gently pressing into her cheeks. She stared at the scene unfolding before her, seemingly entranced by the jerky movements of the white-clad nurses and the constant prodding of the equally white doctors. Her ears were able to pick up the sound of desperate sobs and the occasional shout from just beyond the door to the hallway. But even if she was only successful in picking up bits and pieces of what was going on outside, she was always able to hear that one question. The same question that the doctors, nurses, surgeons, and every other member of the medical field was always asking.
'What's wrong with her?'
The girl sighed, fidgeted in her seat lightly, and then went back to staring. It was somewhat heart-rending, when she really thought about it. Or maybe ironic was really the word she was looking for. For all the times she had found herself crying in the past year, particularly these past few months, there wasn't a bone in her body that really found this whole scene sad. Perhaps she had simply become desensitized to these situations. One could only be given so many hints of what might become of the future before they become pretty numb to the whole thing.
She found herself being jolted violently as a frantic nurse collided with the back of her chair, sending it skidding a few inches to the left. Riichi jumped, hissed rather inappropriate curses at the women, and then settled herself back down. None of the current occupants of the room paid her any heed. Though she supposed that was a lie. In fact, she was the only thing in the room that captivated anyone's attention. Riichi let her gaze wander back to the bed and settle on the peaceful expression of a sleeping brunette.
Was that how she looked when she normally slept?
Riichi had known exactly what had happened to her on graduation day. When she had fallen asleep, only to wake up to a face she had never dreamed she would ever see again, everything had made sense. He had apologized profusely, went on a tangent about how he would one day fix this, and she had to shut him up after he spoke about disappearing from her life forever as repentance. She hadn't wanted that, and while he thought it was because she would have been lonely, the real reason had been she didn't want to lose him again. Not for the third time.
With a light huff, the girl pushed herself up and out of the chair and crossed the short distance to the bedside. Riichi laced her fingers together behind her back, and bent over to get a better peek at her face. "I suppose you're a naughty girl," she spoke, ignoring the bustle of the people around her. It was made easier by the fact that they could neither see, touch, nor hear her. "Making everyone outside that door cry. But for some reason, I can't blame you."
She sighed, straightened, and allowed a soft smile to grace her lips. "Is it selfish of me to want this?"
Pressing her lips together in thought, she scowled down at the girl. At the shell of herself. "I was told that I smile like a fool when I sleep," she griped, "I don't see you smiling. And you're really supposed to be very happy right now."
Riichi stuck out her tongue, and then turned on her heel and strode towards the door. It would be rude of her to simply visit herself. The girl reached for the knob out of habit, and was almost shocked when she all but fell through the door and out into the hallway. Even after so long she couldn't get used to it.
Her head swiveled to the side, and she was greeted with the figures of five people. Despite a week having passed, they had been unable to come in to see her face-to-face. Instead they had all been made to stand outside and wait for the impossible.
Rio was the one who caught her attention first. Probably because it was a surprise to see the girl there. Riichi strode over and bent over slightly to get a better look at the girl's face, hidden behind long bangs. She winced slightly when she noticed the long tear tracks that littered her cheeks. "You'll be a great tennis player, I know it," she chirped. Riichi pumped her fist lightly before she spoke again. "So don't cry okay? Professionals aren't supposed to cry."
Though Rio showed no signs of hearing her, she moved on to the next occupant. The girl plopped down on the bench, and kicked her legs childishly in front of her. The small, crying boy at her side didn't move. "Ken," she called, her voice lilting prettily. "One day, you'll find a girl who'll stick around." Riichi nodded sharply, her lips pursed in a way that made her look as if she thought this was incredibly wise advice. "And she'll totally be some hot bombshell too. You sly dog." For some reason this made her giggle for a few minutes. Riichi finally managed to settle down, and when she did her smile was soft. "Be happy, 'kay Ken. You have your whole life ahead of you. One permanently comatose senpai shouldn't hold you back." She reached over to ruffle his hair, and showed only a hint of distress when her long fingers passed through.
Riichi retracted her arm as she sighed and picked herself up. The brunette strolled languidly over to the side of the bench. She halted to a stop by clicking her heels together and slapping her hands on her hips. "Well, well, well," she snipped. "If it isn't my old pal Junpei. What kind of expression is that? Jeez, I've only seen you cry twice, and they were both for Chidori. You'll make the poor girl jealous if you start bawling for another girl you know." Despite all her jabs the boy continued to look on the verge of tears. Riichi scratched the back of her head and managed to look increasingly troubled. "We're friends right? You promised back there we'd be best friends forever, so don't you dare argue with me otherwise. Friends, shouldn't show those kinds of faces at funeral-like things. Don't you know it makes the ones who left feel bad?" The girl crossed her arms arrogantly, "Now, make Chidori happy got it! She's a good girl." A teasing smile crept across her lips and she leaned foreword. "I bet you're thinking I should be saying that to her. Well I'll let you in on something, I know how you are with girls."
She sniffed and allowed a genuine smile once more. "And most of all, be happy will you. As your best friend, I'm begging you to be happy."
A little nod was the last thing she gave before she twirled on her heel and stalked over to Aigis. The android looked positively lifeless. Riichi bit her lip and prayed that this was simply another part of the girl's transformation to human. A stepping stone if you may. If Aigis reverted back to the way she had been when they had first met, Riichi would never forgive herself. This was the only regret she would hold.
"You're looking good," she lied. This was painful even when she knew the android couldn't hear her. "I'm, really sorry that I won't be there." She rocked back on her heels and focused her gaze on the ceiling. "That was really sweet, graduation day I mean. It was reassuring to know you remembered. Though I suppose that makes the rest of us jerks for leaving you alone in your memories." A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth and Riichi found herself unable to keep it back. "Keep changing Aigis," she ordered cheerily. "Because being human is so much more than what you have experienced."
And now the last person. Riichi sucked in a breath and slowly let it out as she took delicate steps towards the boy's tall frame. She couldn't help the smile that emerged, shy and mischievous all at once. "Well Senpai," the girl spoke, her voice teasing. "Are you here everyday? That can't be good for your health you know." The brunette clasped her hands behind her back and leaned back teasingly. "Ah, you're very devoted. Oh that's right," she unhooked her hands to clap in front of her in revelation. "You're still in the hospital aren't you! The doctors were pretty mad when you finally got back. I'm surprised they let you out to come visit me." She giggled and bowed her head.
"Really," and now she was once more serious,"looking like you have all these regrets doesn't suit you. Didn't you once say that's the last thing you wanted to have?" Riichi pursed her lips and cocked her head cutely. "We said goodbye didn't we? Twice if I remember correctly."
She wanted to laugh. She wanted to giggle and smile, and act like the cheerful beam of sunshine she had become to them. But she found she didn't have it in her. Riichi sighed again. "Smile for me, okay." She nodded lightly, though it was more a reassurance to herself. "Shinjirou, I'm sorry but I'm selfish and needy, and I want you to smile for me." The girl raised herself on her tiptoes, and positioned herself just so it seemed as if she was hugging him, her arms looping loosely around his neck.
"I want you to know," she whispered into his ear. "If Aigis had never sealed him within me - if Pharos hadn't become everything - it would have always been you."
"For me, there was only ever you."
Riichi jumped back so fast she almost tripped over her own feet. Her eyes widened considerably as she stared at his now pale face.
The boy raised one tentative hand and slowly patted his shoulder. As if he expected her to simply materialize right there. When that didn't work, he gritted his teeth and swore under his breath; his arm falling back to his side limply.
Riichi, by now having gotten over her shock, bit her lip in excitement. If she could communicate-
"You can't stay anymore."
Her train of thought was cut off by that familiar voice. All her thoughts went towards the boy who was currently behind her. She turned gently on her heel and focused her gaze on his down turned expression. "I'm sorry," he whimpered.
She felt a smile flutter across her lips. "It's fine. It's enough that you're able to get me here for this amount of time. I know it takes a lot of power to uphold the seal when I'm not there." Her hands clasped once more behind her back and she leaned foreword. "I'm grateful, really."
Ryouji trembled and allowed his head to dip further. "No," he said, his voice constricted as he dug his face further into the yellow material of his scarf. "I'm sorry, for making you go through all of this. Even though you could have…"
Riichi sighed as the boy trailed off. She took a step foreword, then continued to walk when it appeared as if he wasn't going to shrink away. When she had positioned herself in front of him, the girl bent foreword in order to get a better look at his face.
"Ryou-kun," she whispered, and he shuddered in response. "I never once thought like that." Though this admittance was true, he nonetheless looked at her doubtfully. Riichi clucked her tongue and straightened back up. "If I blamed you, I would be a lot less loving than I am. You should know that by now."
Despite how much he fought it, the boy peered up at her and gave a small smile. "I know you don't," he spoke up. "I just," and his voice dipped again as his gaze traveled to land on Shinjirou. "I feel like I have stolen everything you could have had."
Riichi managed to allow a soft smile to grace her features. "And I wouldn't have had you," she told him simply. This statement made the boy stand at attention, shock apparent on his innocent features. Riichi's lips curved even more. "Well," she began as she stepped past him and walked down the hallway. "I suppose we should be going then. Having both of us here has to be a big strain on you."
"Rii-chan?" Ryouji called. Even with his confusion, he still followed after her.
The girl didn't bother to look back at him, even as she heard him catch up and felt the burning of his presence come ever closer. "You know," she began, waiting for his silent attention to continue. "I already forgot how to live without you, a long time ago."