A/N: This was arguably the most difficult rewrite I did, as it was pretty all over the place in terms of structure when I looked back at it originally. Luckily, I managed to make it slightly less atrocious in that department, at least hopefully. In any case, I feel like the emotions get across okay and the characters are, well... I mean, I did the best I could. The way I wrote this way back when I finished Katawa Shoujo for the first time, I clearly had an idea and wanted to put it into this horribly broken format of writing.
But that's all behind me now. I apologize again for the wait, and present to you the last of this crazy ride of whatever you might call this. Despite everything, I hope this is something worth reading.
All the best, and I mean that sincerely.
Tell me what you think, if you can. It took a lot for me to get these where they are today.
Infinite thanks, people of FanFiction. I salute you.
. . . . .
I was feeling a little sluggish today. After yesterday's activities with Rin, I don't think I'll be up for another outing in a while.
I decided I'd visit Rin's room anyway, to see how she was doing. She really has been seeming uncharacteristically lonely lately. As her friend, I felt I should at least find out what was going on.
When I got to the hallway, I noticed the door was partially opened, and an unusually depressed-looking Rin was splayed out on her un-made bed, her messy auburn hair looking messier than usual.
I took the liberty of pushing the door open all the way and letting myself in. I wasn't sure what she was trying to achieve with the partially-opened door, but knowing Rin, it could've been either an observational self-project she was working on or she was just too tired to close the door fully before falling on top of her bed.
She shifted around on the bed before fixating her head in my direction.
"Oh, it's you."
This was all I received in terms of acknowledgement.
I was no judge when it came to personal inflection on words, but her usual deadpan tone sounded more… broken than normal. I think she may have been crying.
"Hey… are you okay?" I asked out of genuine concern. It wasn't like Rin to seem so depressed. Aloof, maybe, but certainly not forlornly so.
She shrugged the best shrug she could without any arms in that particular position. It almost looked like she was trying to come off as unbothered, despite the obvious contradiction of that.
No, she wasn't.
"Rin, please tell me why you look sad."
I definitely could've worded that better, but it was out now and all I could do was hope for a response.
She opened her eyes wide and tried her hardest to arch her eyebrows in such a way that made her appear surprised and confused.
"I don't look sad."
She looked down, then back up.
"... Do I?"
No point in defying it.
She rubbed her cheek on her sleeve. I wondered if she hadn't changed clothes since yesterday. The ones she was wearing now looked wrinkled and worn, as though she had slept in them. It certainly wouldn't surprise me if she had.
"I... I guess I've just been feeling like there is a lot of empty space, like when you yell into a cave or a big hole and you hear an echo but there is no response, I mean there is, but an echo is not a response, it just means that you are yelling at yourself, like talking into a mirror. There is no point. It is like there is nobody there. Except for the clouds. And butterflies. I like butterflies. Although I don't get to see them very often."
She let herself speak freely, being very wide open about her troubles. It made me happy to think that she trusted me enough to feel this comfortable in my presence, but her words worried me. It certainly sounded like she was implicating loneliness by the way she explained herself.
Now that she was looking at me, her eyes looked pretty wet. They were even showing a bit of redness. If my eyes didn't deceive, and neither did hers, she had to have been crying either very hard or for a very long time. I decided the latter made more sense, as Rin really didn't seem one to express very much. Come to think of it, this was the first time I'd seen her like this. It was the most emotion from her I had seen since the day I first met her.
"So… you've been lonely?"
"No, not really. I just wasn't feeling like I was not alone for the time I have been here since last night."
"I haven't seen you with Emi much lately. Did something happen?"
Rin looked away from me for a moment, then back.
"Well, she came up with a cold, I mean down, why is it that when it sounds like that, I do not think there is a particular direction to catch a cold in but it is there..."
Her voice trailed off, losing herself in her own thoughts.
"... and regardless of what way her cold came to her, she caught one, and she didn't like that, so she kept telling me to stay away from her. And now I'm here."
Rin and Emi weren't connected by the hip, I knew that. But it was unusual to think of a day where they wouldn't be together at least once.
"Rin... you haven't been seeing Emi at all?"
She looked at me quizzically, as if I had just said something completely out of the blue. Fancy that.
"... Hisao, this isn't about you. But I suppose it can be if you want, although I don't think I'd like that very much. Or maybe I would. But right now, it's not, and I don't have to say anything to you."
Rin sounded very hurt. She was trying to push me away. It was as if there was no replacement for Emi even if she tried, and anything else other than her was just pointless.
I couldn't help but feel utterly and pathetically useless to her. There was no way in which I could be Emi, or retrieve her somehow, or make her not be sick, or take back what she said to Rin, which may or may not have been delivered as harshly as she said it.
I took her bemusing words into consideration, trying to place my response as orderly as possible.
Rin looked at me expectantly.
"... You don't have to say that in front of me. I'm your friend, and I'm here for you, okay?"
I wasn't sure if it was the way I said it or just my insatiable persistence, but something out of that got through to her, and she became softer.
Rin struggled to get up for a minute and pushed herself towards me.
"... Stay with me for a while."
I bent down and pulled her into a warm hug.
"I'll stay with you for as long as you need me to."
She brushed up against me, indicating a hug back in terms of her lack of arms.
"Thanks, Hisao. You're a good friend."
I smiled to myself.
"I can't say I don't try."
"… You just said it."
There was a long pause, and finally, I started to laugh. Rin remained silent, as expected of her. She was never really one to get jokes so much as not realize how funny she sounds at times.
Regardless of that, she held a steady gaze somewhere in or around me, trying to arrange her face into something she liked. She looked deep in thought. I could almost see the cogs turning in that mind of hers.
Finally, she spoke.
"I'm sorry I said-"
"Don't worry about it."
I interrupted her, knowing exactly where she was going with that. For the first time in a while, I felt like I understood her, to a point - at least in this instance.
"Listen, Rin. You don't have to say you're not lonely if you are. If you feel something, you should be allowed to tell people."
I had a sudden flashback to that day in the snow, before I was hospitalized.
My smile dropped, if only for a moment.
"... I learned that too late, after I had my heart attack. But I'm telling you now so you don't have to feel what I felt."
I looked into her watery eyes, seeming more like muddy puddles than anything. But I didn't expect immediate understanding from her, anyway. I was just glad I told her. I guess she could interpret what I said any way she wanted. But now was not the time for that.
"You are not alone, Rin. It's okay to feel lonely sometimes, but when you do feel that way, you don't have to be."
I precariously brushed a tear away from her cheek with my thumb.
"I'm here for you, so don't be like this. Okay?"
I got up from the floor and joined her on the bed, sitting in the best position I could without being directly on top of her.
"I'll let you stay with me no matter what, for as long as you need, even if I have a cold."
She craned her head to meet my soft and gentle gaze, now with the faintest smile on her features, looking like a mixture of amusement and thankfulness.
"... Okay," she replied, snuggling into me. This felt remnant of that night we spent together during the festival, when she fell asleep on my shoulder and we watched the fireworks together.
I wrapped an arm around her, happy that she was here next to me, letting her feelings out, and trusting me with them.
If she could trust me with hers, then I could easily trust her with mine.
I closed my eyes pensively, as if to re-confirm what I had already confirmed a good, long while ago.
I turned my head ever so slightly, to meet her gaze once more. Before I had a chance to go back and second-guess myself, I leaned in and kissed her on the lips.
"… I love you, Rin."
She looked up at me in bewilderment, her deep, green eyes staring into mine like wells, emotion lurking somewhere below the surface. She blinked.
"Well, no one's ever done that to me before."
I pulled her in close and stroked her hair. I couldn't help but smile goofily as the weight of the entire situation dissipated into thin air.
"Well, I did it just now, didn't I?"
There was a brief pause.
"Yes, you did."
She reached up to me and kissed me back. It took me slightly by surprise.
"... And now I've done it to you."
I faltered slightly.
I felt momentarily unable to say anything other than 'yes'.
"Let's stay here like this."
I looked down at her and smiled.
She looked right back up at me.
"… There is no such thing as forever, Hisao."
"Sure there is."
"Come on, Rin. Nothing's impossible."
"Are you sure?"
"Of course I am. We're here, aren't we?"
She looked away and thought about this for some time.
"… Yeah. I guess we are."
I looked out the window, where the sun was still beaming brightly.
"Still think the sun tastes like skittles, Rin?"
"Maybe. Although there is only one way to find out. What do you think?"
I looked at her and grinned.
"I think if we went up there and tried to find out for ourselves, we'd both be burned alive before we got to taste it."
She closed her eyes thoughtfully and leaned into my chest.
"I guess it's a good thing we're here on the ground together, then."
It was so hard not to feel at ease when something so utterly Rin-ish made the long journey from her mind to the open air.
I just hugged her tighter.
"It sure is, Rin."
As we sat there, wrapped up in each other's embrace, I couldn't help but wonder if Emi was in her room somewhere, smiling.
. . . . .
Have you ever wondered if anything in life was truly an impossibility?
This has been a mixed bag of great and horrible and everything in-between. I'm just happy to say that my work is finally complete in terms of this side-story installation. I'll be taking some time to rest now. But this has been fun. I credit each and every one of you for giving me the courage to face this thing and finally do something about it. There is nothing quite like rewriting an entire series of old fanfiction and releasing it to the public. I sincerely hope that you've gotten something out of this experience as well, as I have so very much. Stay beautiful, my wonderful readers. I hope to hear again from you soon.
"What is the word for when it feels inside your heart that everything in the world is all right?"