Title: Regret

Author: JadeHeart

Fandom: Shigofumi: Letters from the Departed (anime)

Rating: Teen

Warnings: none

Summary: Ayase reflects on what she had lost.

Author's Note: This is small follow-on from the events of Episode 2.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or concept of the story, they belong to the creator of 'Shigofumi', nor am I making any profits from it.

-o0o-

There was darkness; thick, cloying, almost enough to make her choke. She could see nothing around her, could feel nothing yet felt that she was standing upright. She lifted one hand and stared at it. How could she still see in all this darkness?

"Do you regret?"

The quiet voice at her side startled her, making her jerk in surprise. She turned her head slowly to see that strange girl again, dressed in a postal worker uniform. Fumika she had been called.

"Why are you here?" Ayase asked. She looked around her again. "Where am I?"

"Where do you think?"

Ayase could see nothing, no matter how hard she tried to peer through the darkness around her. "I'm dead, aren't I?"

"Yes."

Ayase closed her eyes for a moment and a short sharp laugh. "Well, it's what I expected." She looked around this again. "So this is Hell?"

"No."

"Oh."

"Do you regret?" Fumika asked the question again.

"Regret what? Killing my father?" Ayase answered sharply. "No, absolutely not. He deserved it for what he did to me. If I could kill him again I would. Over and over again. Killing him once wasn't enough to balance out what he made me do." Her hands clenched at her sides, fingernails piercing her skin.

"And Shouta?"

"Shouta?"

Ayase paused, her gaze dropping to her feet. She could see the darkness underneath her shoes. Shouta; bright, cheerful, earnest Shouta. She had met him accidentally one day as she had tried to escape for a moment. She had half been thinking about suicide, jumping from the roof top and ending it all but even as she thought about it she knew that she wouldn't. That would have left Miku all alone and she couldn't do that. She would never do that.

So even though she had been going to the roof top to escape from being with people she suddenly found her self confronted by someone, and one of the strangest people she had ever me. She couldn't recall there being anyone like Shouta at her school. Although he was quite clever, she thought, he seemed so stupid. I mean, look at his writing! Come on, even a grade schooler had better handwriting than him!

But he believed her, everything about her, no matter what she told him. It was all lies but he still believed her. Stupid Shouta!

She squeezed her eyes shut tightly, teeth clenched. He shouldn't have believed her! He should have been suspicious of her, of why she was there, of why she would be hanging out in such a place. She wasn't some sort of science geek like he was with a secret lab. She was supposed to be an upstanding school president so why did he think she was there? He was stupid!

But… when she was there with him she felt good. She felt calm, relaxed. She could laugh, truly laugh. They could talk, argue, tease. She learnt to smile again – really smile. Not that false smile she would have to wear for everyone in the world outside. There, in that hidden place, it felt like she was a different person, the person she really wanted to be.

"Do you regret?"

"What are you talking about?" she snapped, swinging to face Fumika, hands raised in fists, face distorted in anger. "I killed him! He found out the truth somehow so I had to kill him!"

"Do you regret?" Fumika's voice remained calm and steady, her golden eyes gazing steadily back at Ayase.

"Why should I regret it?" Ayase screamed. "It was his fault! He would have found out who I really was!"

"Did you kill him to stop that?"

Ayase froze, staring at Fumika.

"Did you kill him because you didn't want him to know that? Is that the reason?"

Ayase began to shake, lips trembling. "I couldn't let him know," she whispered, voice quivering. "I couldn't let him know what had happened to me, the things I had done. He would have known then how dirty I was, how filthy. He would have known how many men I had been with, what they had done to me, what I had done with them. All the dirty, sordid details, he would have learnt every single thing."

Ayase's hands rose to grip each side of her head, fingers tangling in the ragged ends of her shorn hair. "I couldn't let him know any of that, I couldn't!"

"Why?"

"Why?" Ayase looked at her dumbly as though unable to understand the question.

Fumika gazed back at her evenly. "Why did you go back to the rocket?"

"The rocket?" Ayase dropped her hands to her side again. "I wanted… to see it fly."

"Why?"

"Because… Shouta had worked so hard on it. And he had said it was ready. That this time it would really fly."

"What did it matter anymore if it did? Shouta was dead."

"I… wanted to believe," Ayase's voice dropped to a whisper. "I wanted to believe what Shouta had said. I wanted to believe it was true."

"Believe what?"

"Everything. That everything he had said was true."

"That the rocket would fly," Fumika paused for a moment then added, "and he loved you."

Ayase began to shake again, tears now forming in her eyes and running down her cheeks. "Yes! Yes, I wanted to believe it! I wanted to believe that he would have loved me no matter what I had done! No matter what had been done to me! I wanted to believe it!"

"That is why you killed him," Fumika stated quietly. "It was not to hide the truth that you had killed your father. It was to stop him from learning the truth of why you had done so. You feared that he would not say he loved you after learning that. You wanted to keep that love he gave to you at that time. You couldn't bear to lose it."

Ayase continued to cry, arms now clasped around her.

"Did you love Shouta?"

Ayase dropped to her knees, throwing her head back, wailing. "Yes! Yes! Yes! I loved him, I loved him, I loved him!" Gulping sobs choked her. "I loved everything about him. I wanted to see his dreams come true, I wanted to see that rocket fly into the sky. I wanted the three of us to be on that rocket and let it take us all far away so we could be together forever where nothing could ever hurt us! I loved him but could never tell him because I knew he could never love the dirty me."

"You doubted him."

"Yes," Ayase buried her face on her knees, sobbing still.

"You never gave him a chance to prove it to you."

"No," Ayase continued to cry.

"So why return to the rocket? You could have stayed on that train, vanished and been safe."

Ayase swallowed another sob and slowly looked up. "He still believed in me," she answered in a small voice. "He… thanked me." She met Fumika's gaze, face crumbling again. "He… thanked me even though I killed him!"

"You didn't kill the love he had for you."

Tears coursed down Ayase's cheeks again as this time she cried silently.

"So the rocket?"

Ayase slowly stood, swaying a little unsteadily. "Shouta still believed – in everything," she said quietly. "In the rocket, in us. I… wanted to believe again too."

"Do you regret going back?"

Ayase slowly shook her head, a small smile on her lips. "No," she answered. She lifted her face, looking upwards although there was only darkness above. "I saw the rocket fly. It really flew, so high, so very high. And we were all there with it; me, Miku and Shouta; all of us. Just like I had wanted."

"Do you regret?"

"Yes," Ayase said quietly. "I regret that I stopped believing."

Ayase closed her eyes against the darkness. Behind her eyelids there wasn't any darkness, there was an image of a shining silver rocket, climbing through the brilliant blue sky, breaking the clouds.

Fumika reached out and grasped Kanaka's stave as the form of Ayase broke apart in a thousand small dark motes that fell downwards, fading away.

~End~