A/N: I hope we get to see more of Rio Hikari someday soon. I particularly want to know how she died, and when. Satoshi was already dealing with the curse when we see her, so her death must have been fairly recent, which leads me to wonder how Kei got involved so rapidly. Did Rio and he have some sort of connection which allowed Satoshi to be involved in the police's effort to capture Dark? Oh, the possibilities...

Disclaimer: I own the straw. Scintillating character development to come. Maybe.

As she ignored the crowds drifting past the food court, Harada-san, her forearms leaned against the tabletop, pulled the bent straw up and down through the plastic flaps of her cup's lid. Out of the blue, without looking away from her drink, she inquired, "What do you want to do with your life, Hiwatari-kun?"

Lifting his gaze from the bouncing straw, Satoshi examined her calm expression to ascertain that nothing amiss drove her question, then he responded, honest, "Fulfill my mother's expectations."

"You want to, right?" she asked, her eyebrows arching as she glanced up at him. "You shouldn't chain yourself to one plan just because it was your first. That's not healthy."

His mouth twisted in a wry smirk as he echoed, "Not healthy."

"No, I mean it," she said emphatically, straightening in her chair, her countenance firming in earnestness. "Since you've been without her so long, you must have been very young when she told you what she wanted you to do. Your interests can change a lot in that time—and besides, what you knew yesterday isn't necessarily what you know to-day. If you're too stubborn to admit you might have been wrong, you can't change; and if you stop changing, you start dying."

He folded his arms across his chest, smirking as he pointed out blandly, "By that logic, you could outgrow that philosophy tomorrow."

"I might stop believing it, but it's not like me believing something makes it true or not," she replied, releasing her straw to defiantly cross her arms. "I'm not silly enough to think that I'll always be right. I just think we need to be willing to listen and think—about what others say, about how we feel, or about what we believe."

Not at all interested in explaining why he could not abandon his mother's expectations, he tried to distract her with a dry chuckle. "You are feeling philosophical to-day."

"Yes. Yes, I am," she said with a toss of her head, bouncing her shoulders in a shrug. "That's why I asked you what you want to do with your life." She lifted her eyebrows again, prompting. "Do you still really want to do what your mother wanted for you?"

Refusing to his show hesitance to answer, he held her gaze, unflinching, and hummed noncommittally in the back of his throat.

"Well," she laughed, rising from her seat and grabbing her cup, "think about it, then. I won't pry."

As she strolled off to find a place to dispose of her cup, he followed her with his gaze, and a solemn smile finally touched the corner of his mouth. Though he could never tell her, he had already discovered what he wanted to do with the rest of his life, quite apart from what his mother had told him he must do: he merely wished to stay near Risa until the end.