Title: Twinkle
Characters/Pairing: Kamishiro Rio, Thomas Arclight
Rating: K+
Words: 561
Summary: "I'm alright now, you should be alright too."
Warnings: None.
A/N: This disregards all of ZeXal II.

He looks at her, and can't help but be captivated. Her smile is warm as a hearth in winter, her light laughter as gentle and carefree as the breeze that lifts her long locks of violet-blue hair into a dance in the air. Those magenta eyes of hers sparkle, regarding the world as if everything is new and refreshing, eager to take in all that's around her, but they're hard too, having seen more than her fair share of harsh realities. She's all the more astonishing to him, that unwavering tenacity of hers despite having been through an obstacle that would have knocked any ordinary person to their knees, but ordinary was a word that barely began to describe her. Their eyes share an identical hue, yet hers seem to glow with the passion of life; there was a time when he looked in the mirror, and it's all he can do not to claw out his own, such hateful irises that had borne witness to the destruction of his family, his opponents… her.

So what if everyone's mended? The cracks remain, and he can't forgive himself for creating them.

But when her eyes are reflected back in his own, a spark seems to light aflame within him, because they look so similar, yet they exude emotions so different. There's not a single trace of resentment or loathe in them when she looks at him, and sometimes he thinks that they're telling him, I'm alright now, you should be alright too. His eyes always seem anguished, the skin around them always taut and creased, unable to relax, and he's not sure whether it was the trick of the light or his own misgivings towards himself; yes, he's conceded that it's all in his head, but someone had still been hurt, by his own hands, even if not by his purpose, and he's come to terms with the fact that it's going to take a while—a long time—to reconcile his feelings.

The bitterness towards what blinks back at him in the mirror is fading slowly but surely; he can't deny he's been noticing it, and he's still not sure if it's a good thing that the weight in his chest is lighter with each day that passes. The scar that cuts down the side of his face, it's a constant reminder, a symbol of the mistakes he'd never repeat. The day that he finally stops blaming himself, starts forgiving himself even, will it ever arrive?

Thomas glances down at the hand that squeezes his wrist gently, pulling him out of his musings, and up at Rio's eager gaze; she's chattering about a new mall that opened recently across the city, her walls completely unguarded as she drags him down the street. He listens closely to her every word delivered by that strong, breathy voice of hers, nodding and giving the occasional comment, and it is still a surprise, how much he loves her presence, how much he enjoys her company, and it's almost certain to him that she returns his sentiments.

Rio looks up to him and smiles then, and it's difficult not to smile back.

It may be foolish of him, but Thomas wishes for that smile to be protected always. He wonders if it's okay with Rio—okay with himself—if he picks up that role in secret.