A/N I didn't think I was going to continue this story, but this suddenly popped in my mind so I had to write it. I hope you like it!
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Tadase's eye twitched as the infuriating sound of Amu's tapping fingers started up again. Twisting his lip in frustration, he fought to lean closer to catch a glimpse of the distracted rosette's expression, but her twisting pigtails blocked his view. Growling, it took every particle of patience to not snap in the middle of class and scream in frustration.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Practically snarling, he turned desperately to Nagi who merely shrugged unapologetically in response, before turning back to gazing thoughtfully at the anxious girl.
Amu sighed. Why was the day passing by so slowly?! Every minute seemed to fight against the clock as every hour passed by like a year. Unable to contain herself anymore, Amu snapped the tip off her pencil and was startled back to consciousness. The incessant tapping noise stopped and almost everyone in the class heaved a breath of relief. What the coolest girl in school could possibly be thinking about eluded all of them, but one thing they knew for sure was that Hinamori Amu's way of thinking had to be the most annoying one yet.
Durout the rest of classes, the only thought on Amu's mind was Ikuto. Was he okay? Was he still there? Did he leave? Did he listen? Ikuto, Ikuto, Ikuto. The tears she had never seen before streaming down his face. His terrified whimpers and agonized expressions. The way he curled into her like a freezing man to warmth. How he stopped shivering and screaming on the inside the instant she touched him. How soft his hair was. How sweet his sleeping expression looked like.
Was he still there?
Ever since she had met him, the mysterious blue haired boy had been saving her. Whether it was from X-eggs, Easter, her stupidity or even her own self. When Ikuto hadn't been leaping off of high rise buildings to catch her from midair, he was poking through her dozens of characters and peeking inside to what really mattered. Whenever he was around, Amu always felt important, she felt wanted and needed. She felt like the center of his whole universe, only focusing on her. And she could never repay him enough for that.
Easter was gone now, only the memories remained. And that, she supposed, was probably what he was dreaming about. Destroying X-eggs, being forced to be the enemy, doing horrible things that she otherwise had no clue about, not to mention what he did during his time as Death Rebel. Inside his mind, Ikuto was probably in his own cage, the memories of the past barring him in.
That night, when she had eased him back into a comforting sleep, a strange feeling had overtaken her. The strange, unknown feeling of not wanting to be protected, but wanting to protect the person in her arms with all her strength. She wanted to hold him tightly to her chest and soothe him until every nightmare dissolved in his mind and all he had left where the sweet things of Eden. She wished she could take it away, take all the horrible things that happened to him and make them disappear.
But it was then she realized that it was all those things that made Ikuto who he was, that gave him a reason for living each day. In the end, she couldn't take away his parentage; the one thing that made is life a living hell. It was part of who he was, it was what made him stronger, it made him Ikuto.
It was then Amu realized that she could never erase the past, no matter how hard she tried. It didn't matter how undeserving Ikuto was of the past that was given to him, all that mattered was how hard she tried to make his future that much better.
Maybe she couldn't reach into his memories and pluck out the bad ones, but she could buy him a taiyaki and offer it to him tail side up. She could smile at him cheerfully and take them to their own private carousel rides where she'd make him spin around in the dainty teacups and aim darts at rigged balloons. She'd help him create thousands of new memories full of colour and light until they completely blocked the ones he tried so hard to forget.
Smiling for the first time that day, Amu's fingers lay still against her desk and she gazed out the window thoughtfully, wishing she could feel the cool breeze on her cheeks and hear the birds' hopeful melodies chirping from above.
"Finally! The lunch bell!" all around her, class-mates whooped and cheered as they burst out the doors like starving missiles and headed straight towards their bags to grab their lunches.
Looking around hurriedly, Amu walked up to Nikaidou and smiled nervously. "Err…"
"Would you like something Himamori-san?" the gentle teacher asked kindly, looking curiously down at the timid rosette.
Mustering up her courage, Amu heaved in a breath before blurting out her words. "Please let me go home early today!"
A surprised expression graced her teacher's face before an apologetic one replaced it. "I'm sorry Amu-chan, but you know it's against the rules without a good reason…"
"Please sensei! I'll be going straight home, I have a…guest over." She finished lamely, missing the amused sparkle in his mossy eyes.
"A house-cat of sorts?"
Blood rushed to Amu's cheeks and she flushed heavily. Waving her arms around manically, Amu stuttered. "Waaahh? What are you talking about sensei? We don't own a cat! Hehehe…"
Smiling kindly down at the defensive girl, Nikaidou nodded, "Fine, but just this once. I expect you to do double the math questions tonight though."
Nodding her head down depressingly, Amu mumbled her thanks before grabbing her things and opening the door.
"Amu-chan?" Tadase's confused voice clashed with his pink cheeks and hostile eyes.
Looking away quickly, Amu muttered the same excuse she gave Nikaidou. There was no way in this world or the next would she ever tell Tadase about what was happening in her room. After the whole sleepover fiasco which thankfully her parents had never found out about, Tadase had been hurt for days before finally getting over it. She knew at the time that she had been opposed to Ikuto's staying over but she understood why he had to and she was empathetic to his pain. All Tadase saw was his rival in his friend's/ potential crush's room; he didn't see anything past the Tsukiyomi part of his name.
"I have a guest over so I have to leave a bit early today." She laughed awkwardly before running out the door, trying to burn all her awkwardness into sweat.
Honestly, must he know EVERYTHING about her life? Was she not allowed to leave in peace anymore? Huffing to herself, Amu walked quickly down the familiar paths and down the worn out roads. Finally arriving at her house, Amu braced herself for anything as she turned open the doorknob slowly. Failing to see anyone downstairs, she wondered if that was a good thing or a bad one when she heard a small boom coming from upstairs. "Ikuto?" she asked hopefully, hardly daring to breathe.
Sprinting up the stairs, she flung open the door to her bedroom and scanned around hurriedly. Shoulders slumping in defeat, Amu's eyes slanted downwards and her steps became heavier. There wasn't a blue haired pervert in sight. Tossing her bag carelessly into a corner, Amu clutched at her right arm tightly.
Well what did she expect? That Ikuto would actually listen to her and stay? Please. This was Ikuto; he had a sense of nobleness and self-sacrifice that could rival anyone's. He probably thought he was just pulling her down when all she wanted was to help him thrive.
Sighing, Amu was about to throw herself onto her bed and have a good long pity party when a small boom sounded again, this time bursting from her wardrobe. Cocking her brow curiously, Amu trudged forward warily, wondering what exactly could be banging around in there. Holding out her hand hesitantly, Amu's fingers curled around the handle before opening the wooden door slowly. There, in all his tired glory, was a curled up Ikuto whose mortified expression brought tears of laughter into the younger girl's eyes.
"Hahaha!" bursting out into hysterical laughter, she forgot to help him out as she clutched her stomach and laughed heartily. "Oh you…you should have seen your face!" she guffawed loudly, ignoring the teenager's glare.
"Well who was I supposed to think was here? In case you've forgotten, you still have school." He reminded her snarkily, his familiar cool expression on his face.
Turning away from him, Amu crossed her arms boldly. "I asked to leave early; the day was dragging by too slowly."
Leaping from behind her, Ikuto's arms wrapped around her waist, pulling her closer. "Oh? So my little Strawberry missed me?"
She knew what he was doing. He was avoiding the subject. Whenever anything of importance or discomfort arose, Ikuto would always manage to turn the tables and walk away without having answered anything. It was just the Ikuto way of doing things; but not anymore.
Deciding to be blunt and to the point, Amu turned around, stepping out of his embrace. "I came to see if you had gotten my note." She stated boldly, ignoring his sharp intake of breath.
Snapping his head away from hers hurriedly, she saw his hand fly towards his left pocket before falling to his side again. Ha. He had read it, and he kept it too!
"I don't know what you're talking about." He muttered quietly, a tremor of discomfort running up his bones. Eyes softening at his lost demeanor, Amu suddenly found herself reading his every thought and emotion. Like a book that had just been flipped open, Ikuto bared his heart to her through that one glance of vulnerability and helplessness. And with that sudden look, everything that had happened to her and everything she thought she wanted suddenly swirled in her mind before shattering at her feet.
She had always thought she wanted a prince, someone dashing and brave. When what she really wanted was the hero in the shadows, the one who played the bad guy just to make sure you didn't. There was a reason she wanted to protect him that night, it wasn't because of some debt that she owed, or because she felt like it was the right thing to do. It was because that's what you do when you're in love, you protect each other. Maybe it was in that moment when she discovered that her touch had a soothing effect on his sleeping soul that opened her eyes to what was there all along. Or maybe it was the fact that she was worrying above and beyond the normal range of anxiety. But then again, it could just very well be this urge deep down inside to grab him in her arms and shield him from the world she now knew to be so cruel. After protecting him from Easter and from their plans to use him for evil, she was going to protect him from himself, just like he did with her.
Stretching out her hand, it lay there, hovering in midair, just out of his reach. A soft smile spread across her lips as she held her hand out patiently, waiting to be picked up and held tightly by the one she held most dear.
When her mouth opened to speak, there were so many things she wanted to say that she didn't know where to start. She wanted to ask him to be hers forever. She wanted to tell him she loved him from now until eternity. She wanted to ask him to let her in and never let her go. But mostly, she just wanted to ask everything that was in her heart. "Will you let me?"
The ending was unfinished, so many words left unsaid, but Ikuto could fill in the blanks as precisely as though she had uttered the words out loud.
Will you let me protect you?
Will you let me love you?
Will you let me in?
Will you let me be yours?
Standing there, on the precipice of happiness and loneliness, Ikuto stood shock still, his eyes glittering painfully as he bit his lip. He didn't want to let her in, didn't want her to see all the darkness that lurked inside of him like monsters feeding off his soul. He didn't want her to have to call someone like him hers, to have someone like him love her and cherish her when she deserved so much better. He didn't want her to dive into his fears and pains and shield him from his own horrors. He didn't want her to discover just how twisted he really was.
He knew the right thing to do was to just walk away now and never look back, to let her find someone better to call her their own and someone who didn't carry the burdens he did. It would be the selfless thing to do, the princely thing.
But Ikuto never really was the princely type.
After an hour of constant prodding, Yoru had finally confessed as to what had transpired that night while he was asleep. Imagining her stroking his head while he was caged in a nightmare made him want to hug her tightly and never let her go. Maybe she had already seen the darkness, maybe she already knew about the violent shadows that lurked in his consciousness.
Ikuto looked up, desperate to find anything to hold onto in the raging storm that was his mind. Her hand, her smile, her shining, shining eyes. And that's when it hit him. She knew.
She knew and yet she was still here. Still here with her hand outstretched and her heart upon her sleeve. He should have known, Amu knew everything.
The selfless thing to do would be to let her go and never come back, but Ikuto was done with being selfless, done with caring about everyone other than himself. This time, he wanted to be the one being held under the moonlight. He wanted to be the one who she sang to at night, he voice a soothing lullaby. He wanted to hold her hand and be able to say that this girl, this beautiful, wonderful, amazing girl is mine.
Reaching outwards, he grasped her hands firmly in his and pulled her in roughly, hugging her tightly against his chest, memorizing every contour of her body, every curve, every slope. He wanted to stay like that forever, in her arms, her loving smile against his heart, where it would stay, hopefully forever.
That night was spent doing exactly what Amu planned, making new memories to replace the old. She made the two of them a light dinner and brought it up to her room cheerily. Sitting down beside him, she hugged him tightly before taking his hand and plunging into his fears together.
She would stay there, stay with her hand clutched tightly in his, until every one of his fears went away. Until all those memories of broken dreams and haunting voices fled him for good. Until the nightmares of Utau being taken and Amu being killed were finally gone and all he had left was his sister's magical voice in his head and Amu's heartfelt smile and the note he kept in his pocket for some lonely, rainy day.