A/N Oh my God, my first multi-chaptered story for Shugo Chara, I'm slightly excited.
This story is going to be taking a more serious theme than my usual light fluffy pieces. The theme of child abuse will be apparent in this story in the chapters that follow so be warned if you aren't the type to read these things.
Otherwise, I hope you all will like this story and the Amuto that will be evolving in front of your eyes as the story progresses. Well here we go!
She could still remember. Of course she did. How could she possibly forget? How could she forget the sweet melody of joyful wrens and rustle of the leaves against the wind? The smell of chlorine that still hung on her skin and the happy-beyond-belief smile that clung to her face like a ray of sunshine. Amu had just completed seven consecutive laps in the large scale pool without breaking a sweat and she was proud. Especially because she did it all without Ran's cheery help. "Amu-chaaannnn! You did it! Yay Amu-chan!" the pink cheerleader cheered enthusiastically and winked cutely.
Laughing freely, Amu picked her little chara up and spun her around like a child. No one was around, so it was okay if she acted like herself a bit. "Having fun twirling around Strawberry?" a sly voice asked teasingly from the trees to her right.
Standing up pin straight, Amu brushed invisible dust from her skirt and stared stubbornly at the older boy. "What are you talking about you perverted cat. You must be seeing things." She retorted, jutting out her hip and waving her hand coolly.
Smirking, he cocked an eyebrow up and stalked towards her menacingly. "Amu, I thought we said we weren't going to lie to each other anymore." He whispered in her ear.
This time, a blush the size of Kansas gushed over her cheeks and she stuttered to formulate a proper response, giving Ikuto enough time to pick her up and plop her on the community centre's steps. "So what brings the great Hinamori Amu to the local pool?" he asked, leaning back on his hands and staring intently at her face, watching as the sunlight hit her nose and cast shadows on her cheeks.
"Swimming lessons stupid. You should try some; you never know when you'll need them."
Crinkling up his nose in disgust, Ikuto shuddered. "Cats and water don't mix, end of story," his tone putting an end to the discussion.
She giggled a bit before sighing. "I wonder why Mama and Papa are so late. They should have come an hour ago." She murmured worriedly into her hands.
Staring at her with an incredulous look on his face, Ikuto burst out in a rant, "You've been here for an hour? Are you stupid Strawberry? No wait, don't answer that." Her hissy fit after that made him burst into laughter as he picked her up, ears and tail popping out a second after.
"Let's go baka." He nuzzled her hair affectionately and was pleased when she merely sighed admonishingly, a little smile on her face.
It only took fifteen minutes to reach her house by shortcuts and alley ways and soon enough, Amu was on her familiar bed and looking around in barely disguised worry. "They're not here Ikuto! Where are they?" she panicked, whirling around and running about as if that would solve anything.
"Amu! Stop!" he yelled over her panicked voice. Not listening, or ignoring the older boy, he frowned before grabbing her arms and pulling her close to him. Putting his face down towards hers he smiled comfortingly. "Have you tried calling them?"
Her gaping face told him she hadn't. Well what could he say? It WAS Hinamori Amu. Chuckling softly, he handed her his cellphone and waved his hand to tell her to call. Thirty seconds later a haggard sounding woman picked up the phone. "Amu?" her mother's tired voice asked.
Siren wails and screams pierced the duos ears from the phone and Amu's eyes widened in fear. "Mama? Mama! Where are you? You're okay right? What's going on?"Amu was shooting questions faster than bullets and her grip on the phone tightened so that her skin turned white and every once in a while, she shook her head.
"I'm sorry Amu-chan. I'm sorry we couldn't come get you." Shaking her head furiously, Amu whimpered.
"No, no, it's okay Mama, it's okay. Just come back home okay? I'll forgive you if you come back now." She begged pathetically, as though already sensing the truth.
"I don't think I'm coming back home today Amu, I love you Amu. Never forget that. One day, I'll see you again, but for now, I'm sorry I couldn't say good-bye properly. Take care of your Papa okay sweetie? Me and Ami have to go now. We love you." The line went dead, just like Amu's eyes.
Silent tears rolled down her smooth cheeks and fell to the floor like broken dreams. Her hands shook and the phone fell from her hand. Lifting her head with considerable effort, Amu stared at Ikuto as though he could give her the answers she needed to make sense of the mess her world had just become. "Ikuto?" she whimpered weakly and before she knew it, she was in his strong embrace, being squeezed within an inch of her life.
"Oh Amu." He whispered in her ear.
Quivering with sobs, she tried to hold them in as he hugged her tightly; rubbing circles on her back while her own arms lay unmoving by her side. "It's okay Amu, it's okay. You can cry. I'm here. I'll always be here." And with that, the tears broke through the dam and poured out like they would never stop. Bringing her arms around him she screamed. "WHY? Why Ikuto? Why! Why them, why them, why them!" her sobs echoed far into the night and all through her tears, Ikuto held her like a rock in a waging ocean. He couldn't leave her, not like this, not now, not ever. He would be there for her, until the very end.
Sometime between midnight and two a.m. Amu's father had stumbled through the door as though drunk and slammed it shut. Tensing in the double bed, Ikuto glanced down to make sure once again that his precious Amu was sound asleep before getting up soundly and opening the balcony door quietly. He was just in time as not just three seconds later her father walked into the room and stood at the edge of Amu's bed. "Oh Amu. What are we going to do?" he asked pitifully, stroking her cheek lightly before leaving her room with tears streaming down his face.
Looking sadly into her room Ikuto hurriedly scribbled a note and taped it on her desk where he knew she would see it before bounding into the night.
Waking up in the morning was probably the hardest thing Amu ever had to do in her entire life. Waking up proved that everything wasn't a nightmare that she could just wake up from, but was actually a stark reality. And she had no idea what to do with that knowledge. Especially since she was alone. Last night was only bearable because she had someone there with her, she had Ikuto. Ikuto who had held her while she cried and let her hit him on his chest. Ikuto who comforted her and told her that eventually, it would get better and that it wasn't like her mother and sister were gone forever, she would see them again someday, in heaven. But now he was gone. She sat there; sitting like an idiot with nowhere to go until she spotted the green note taped to her desk and proceeded to walk glumly over to it. She recognized Ikuto's messy handwriting and was tempted to throw it out in anger until her eyes caught the first three words.
I'm sorry Amu. Your dad came in and I had to go. I didn't want to put him finding me on your plate. Go to school Strawberry, you'll feel better, I swear. When someone you love dies, the best place to be is where everyone else you love is. You're not alone Amu, so don't be stupid and start thinking you are.
School? He wanted her to go to school? How was she supposed to go and pretend that everything was okay when it most certainly wasn't? Her disbelief quickly turned to anger before she really thought about what he was saying. Ikuto was never really good at saying what he wanted to say but even she could tell what he really meant. She still had people who loved her and who she loved around her. She hadn't lost everything, she still had people she loved and that was where she needed to go to try and find a semblance of happiness and comfort.
She understood. So with a heavy heart, she went through her normal routine of brushing her teeth and combing her hair. She tugged on her skirt and blouse and pulled on her jacket and leg warmers. Trudging downstairs, she sipped a bit of water before leaving the house, not bothering to pack a lunch. She didn't have much of an appetite that day.
Walking with her head hung low, she was surprised by the sudden hug she received and the sparkling laughter of the youngest of the Guardians. "Amu-chi! Guess what? Kukai's coming to visit us today! He even said he'll bring cookies! Isn't that great?" she smiled happily and squeezed her arm.
Amu wanted to tell her, she really did, that half her family had just died, but didn't want to dampen Yaya's mood. She didn't want stares of pity or fake condolences from people she'd never met. She just wanted everything to go back to normal. So she kept her mouth shut and tried to find a smile deep within her. "Yeah, it sounds great Yaya."
"Is Amu-chi okay? You're not smiling like usual." A worried look blazed in the younger one's eyes and a true smile spread across Amu's face.
Despite how immature and babyish the youngest of the Guardians seemed, she really was a sweetheart and really did love her friends. Maybe Ikuto was right, maybe she could become happy again. "Don't worry about it Yaya, I'm just thinking about something."
In class, she could feel Nagihiko's eyes boring into her skull and tried her best to ignore it until the end of the day when she would have to confront all the Guardians. All of them noticed the downcast expression on her face and the aura she emitted. The kind that dampened people's moods and hung low and heavy. She arrived last and sat down delicately, grabbing hold of her teacup and taking a dainty sip from the rim. "Amu-chan? Are you alright?" Tadase's kind voice asked from her left and she set her cup down hesitantly.
"I'm-"she was interrupted by the rambunctious laughter of her middle-school friend who zoomed into the Garden on his skateboard and skid to a stop in front of their table. "Guardians!" he greeted warmly.
Knocking fists with Nagi and ruffling Tadase's hair. Kukai shook Kari's hand and steered clear from Rima. Bending low, he hugged Yaya from behind before handing her a cookie, smiling at her squeal of happiness. Turning towards her, Amu wondered if he was going to ruffle her hair again when he suddenly skated over and picked her up bridal style, ignoring her protests. "Sorry guys, I'll be borrowing the Joker for a bit!" he hollered over his shoulder, laughing all the way.
Setting her down on the bench outside the school, Amu crossed her arms and stared at him in her Cool-and-Spicy way of hers. "You didn't have to do that Kukai." Ignoring her, he sat down beside her and turned his body to face her.
"What's wrong Amu?" he asked in a gentle voice.
Kukai had always helped her with her problems and was always there when he needed her. From the time about Dia's X to boy troubles, he was always there. Always kind and gentle. And it was that same gentleness that caused her to burst into tears because it reminded her too much of her mother. "Hey, don't cry Amu." Wrapping his arms around her in a comforting hug, Kukai was shocked that Amu was actually crying in his arms. The strong and tough Amu never cried, not ever.
"My…my mama and my sister…they died in a…in a car-crash yesterday. And I…I just don't know what to do! I miss her, I miss her so much!" She sniffled before wiping the remaining tears from her face.
Green eyes widened in shock and the hands that held her tightened. "It gets better Amu, it gets better I swear. When…" Kukai gulped visibly, "When my mom died, I thought I would be miserable forever. I was so angry at everyone and everything. Everything was at fault for my mom's death and I was depressed. But then I joined the Guardians and slowly, I started to forget my pain and overtime, the anger and sadness I once felt turned into acceptance. Humans die, that's a natural part of life. Letting go is the hard part. It's good to be sad, to remember them and let your emotions out, but…don't be stuck in the past forever. If there's anything your mother and sister would want, it's that you can still smile. Because if there's one thing everyone loves about you Amu, it's your smile. So please, don't stop smiling forever." He stroked her hair and together, they sat like that until the sun set like paint spilling over a canvas and they had to go.
When she arrived home, her father wasn't home and she hoped he was okay. Throwing open her door, she was surprised to find the perverted cat on her bed, until he looked up and smiled. "Someone's late."
Tossing her bag in the corner, she shrugged before coming to sit next to him. "I was talking to Kukai." She answered softly.
"It helped didn't it. Going to school." He twirled her hair in his fingers as he spoke, smirking a bit as he did.
"I think so." She murmured, closing her eyes and enjoying the feeling of his hands playing with her hair.
"Ikuto?" she asked quietly.
"Do you…do you think they're in heaven?" she asked, a vulnerable quiver in her voice.
Smiling, he placed a soft kiss on her forehead. "If they're anything like you, then definitely." She looked up at him with shining eyes and stayed in his embrace for the rest of the night. Talking about idle things and things that made no sense all the way until she slept, a half smile on her face.
A/N Thanks for reading!