Author's Note: This story explores Goto's past (thanks to Voltage for leaving it open ended enough for me to jump in with full creativity). Where surnames or first names have been omitted by the creators, I have taken personal liberty. The MC's name is Fallon, by the way. ;3 (Dedicated to Tomey from tumblr - otomesweetheart.)
Goto's Past I
"You're going to visit her grave today, aren't you?"
His back was facing her, but she could still see his head bobbing. "Yeah..."
"I want to go," Fallon told him anxiously, wringing her hands. She knew it seemed like an odd request, but she had already resolved herself. Kazuki was a big part of his past and although she some times found it difficult or painful, she wanted to know more. On top of that, she did not want to feel as though she was taking Kazuki's place in Goto's heart.
When he peered back at her, there was a surprisingly gentle smile on his face. "Alright, let's go together. She won't mind an extra visitor." Those eyes of his looked melancholic for a moment as he shifted his gaze and stood abruptly.
"O-okay, I just have to slip on my shoes real quick."
It was a somber day not alone because it was the anniversary of her death, but even the sky had clouded over. The sunlight was muted and it seemed as though it could rain at any time. Fallon had an umbrella tucked under her arm just in case, her hand linked with Goto's. He seemed to be deep in thought the entire way to the florist.
"What kind of flowers are you getting her?" Fallon asked curiously as her gaze swept across the varying assortments, all of which had beautiful complimentary colors. As she silently admired them, he suddenly let go of her hand as he stepped up to the clerk.
"A dozen yellow daylilies?" The woman behind the counter guessed knowingly.
Although Fallon could not see the expression on his face from behind, she watched as he gave a stiff nod. It seemed as though he had visited this same shop many times before, especially considering that the woman was so easily able to guess his order – she must have recognized his face.
"Here you go," the clerk said finally as she passed over the carefully wrapped bouquet.
"Thank you," Goto responded as he gave her the appropriate change in return. His voice sounded muted and plaintive. However, when he turned around and approached Fallon, he offered her a smile. There was still something sad about the look in his eyes, but he seemed far less doleful than when they had first met and the wounds from Kazuki's death were fresh. He had largely managed to move on, though she still occasionally caught him with a far-off look in his eyes.
"Should I get her something too? Maybe... a favorite food or..."
"Yeah, we'll stop by the convenience store on the way."
"Okay," she chirped back cheerfully, slipping her hand back into his as they started down the street.
When they arrived at the convenience store and entered together, rather than peruse the aisles, Goto headed straight for the front counter without pause. And then, to Fallon's astonishment, asked for a packet of cigarettes.
"Kazuki-san smoked?" she remarked in surprise.
"Yeah. She said 'bad habits die hard,' or something like that." There was a wry smile on his face but it quickly dissipated as the warmth of his hand, which had been enveloping hers, suddenly left her again as he dug into his pocket for his wallet.
Once they were back out on the street, she offered to carry the flowers, to which he obliged her. And while their hands were linked once again – the umbrella dangling loosely from her wrist – his gaze seemed to be focused on the package of cigarettes he was carrying in his other hand. It was an old brand and not necessarily popular – renowned for being rather strong. In fact, Fallon did not know any of her friends that could stand to smoke that brand.
"We are almost there," he stated abruptly.
"Oh, alright..." It was strange, usually there was active conversation between the two of them but she could not think of any words to say. And similarly, he seemed quieter than ever. Granted, it had not been many years since Kazuki's death and this was the first time that he was spending it with someone rather than alone with a bottle of liquor – at least, that was how Fallon pictured it in her mind. He was not the type to confide his feelings in others. That facade of his was too perfect.
As they maneuvered through the rows in the cemetery, Fallon kept a strong grip on his hand. His expression remained unreadable the whole time, until they came to a stop in front of one of the graves. It appeared as though it had already been cleaned – a thin wisp of smoke was still rising from the incense stick that had been left behind.
"Her mother must have visited," Goto commented quietly as he leaned forward, setting down the box of cigarettes. The way his lips twitched seemed to give some indication that there was more he wanted to say but he stood up without murmuring another word.
"Her mom didn't leave flowers?" Fallon queried.
"They weren't... on good terms." His gaze shifted down to the ground, as though remembering something unpleasant.
"Oh, I see." Although she really didn't understand – but it seemed like voicing as much would be stating the obvious. It was probably not something he was keen on sharing with her. She still felt like she was intruding where she didn't belong. "Well, we can split these flowers and put six in each vase then."
That one word of gratitude felt strangely hollow but she gave him a soft smile before setting to work. Once she was finished putting the flowers in the provided vases, she leaned back to admire how beautiful they were. He had impeccable taste – though she wondered if that was actually Kazuki's taste. Feeling a little antsy, Fallon finally said, "I'll go get some water for them." Using that excuse, she ambled away, peering over her shoulder to look back at him.
A shadow had fallen across his eyes, cast by the ebony tendrils hanging like a curtain across his forehead. She could not make out his expression but she could visibly distinguish the whites of his teeth as his lips curled back and his fists clenched – frustration. No doubt he was reflecting on his own powerlessness.
"With you, I think that he can move on and stop living in the shadow of Kazuki's death," Subaru had told her.
I don't think it's that simple, she thought to herself sullenly. Kazuki was a phantom that Fallon suspected would continue to haunt Goto for some time. Pain gripped at her heart as she assured herself that everything would be okay despite that.
"I brought your favorite smokes." The smell had always sickened him, honestly, but now that she was gone, they brought a sense of comfort. His fingers tore through the package as he pulled a single cigarette out. "I'll light it for you." There was a brief pause as he dug into his pocket, finally producing her old lighter. It was silver with an engraving of a snake on the front.
A thin wisp of smoke rose from the end of the cigarette as he set it beside the incense. The familiar scent flooded his nose and coaxed a smile out of him. As he stared down at the lighter in his hand, he wondered if she had purposefully selected one with a snake on it.
"Um... do you mind if I ask how you and Kazuki met?"
His head jerked. When had Fallon returned? He had not even sensed her approach. "You really want to hear?" His brow cocked.
"If you don't want to talk about it..."
"No. I don't mind." That was a lie. But if he was being honest, he relived those memories every year around this time anyways. "It might bore you."
"I don't mind. I would like to hear."
He bowed his head, thinking for a moment before closing his eyes. "That day... it was raining..."