*; quick with a camera, and more so with a gun. i was the youngest of our beloved prince's entourage, and the least experienced to boot. nevertheless, the others welcomed me warmly, and i found family in them.
*; if noct was the white winter, gladio fall and ignis spring, then consider me the summer sun. i couldn't offer much in the way of skill, strength, and tactics, so i tried my damndest to keep up morale. i cracked jokes, looked at everything through gold-tinted glasses.
*; and why shouldn't i? these were our glory days, young and invincible. we had every right to feel unstoppable. so we did.
*; ("behind all the quips and laughs, i'm a mess of hang-ups.")
*; incompetent. unworthy. insecure. unintelligent. unlikeable. undeserving. fake, fake, fake.
*; anxious rubbing at my wrist. never knowing why, only knowing that no one could ever learn the truth.
*; (the truth forced down my lungs as steel closed around my wrists and ankles, musk and iron in the air, distant footsteps and clang, clang, clanging, his awful, awful laughter an inch away.)
*; (purple and red bloom on my body, silver chains me to the wall. i remain gold, but for how much longer?)
*; (knowing i'm not worth it, knowing that he's right—still, clinging, desperately, to the memory of wings: nightingale, crane, hawk, sparrow.)
*; noctis lucis caelum : heir to the throne, prince of a nation, and still only one place below me on the arcade leaderboards.
*; (the nightingale. warmth. serenity. the fading farewell of the setting sun.)
*; noct and i had more than just "friendship" between us: what we had ran deep, like it'd been embedded in my veins the moment we met. not quite "friends," and not quite "lovers," destiny tied us close. swordsman and sharpshooter, sunshine and star.
*; heavy is the head that bears the crown, and heavy is the weight of lucis on his shoulders. when noct needed a break, i'd drag him all over the place: down to the beach...out to the arcade...
*; no matter what noct tells you, i am not a cheater. i'm just good at games, be it shooters, card games, or even mindless arcade games, you can expect to find "PRT" at the top of the board.
*; ...we don't play strategy games together without ignis and gladio to keep us in line, though. things get...heated.
*; sometimes i even took him dancing.
*; commonborn as i was, i didn't really know the high-class dances noct had been learning since he was a kid. his were structured, refined, emphasized the regal air he already carried with him. my dances were more instinctual, moving my body to the music, however felt right. even if it meant making a fool of myself in front of the crown prince.
*; i'm sure we made an interesting picture, dancing together, half waltz, half freestyle. regardless, having him so close to me, watching his face light up with laughter when we spun—there were no castles, no soldiers, no barrier of blood between us, then. just two young men, dancing the night away.
*; noct never made fun of me for my hobbies, eclectic though they were. i mean, really, photography, gaming, dancing, guitar...those just don't usually overlap, you know? ...but he never called me weird for it. never even looked at me strangely.
*; it felt nice to be myself around him.
*; of course, if we did all my favorite hobbies together, we had to do noct's favorites, too.
*; fishing is boring. i'll just come out and say it. i don't see the appeal in sitting for hours at the dock, just watching. waiting. i could barely sit still for a 5 minute drive in the regalia!
*; fishing with noct, however, now that's a different story.
*; while he liked his peace and quiet while he fished, he'd mutter to himself, quietly, with his line in the water. "come on..." or "damn—" or "easy does it now."
*; and he hated when i got distracted. i tried really hard not to. i did! ...but i didn't always succeed. i started kicking up splashes once, my feet dangling off the edge of the dock, and he pushed me in.
*; "what the hell was that for!" "you looked bored." "noct, i'm really trying here—don't you laugh at me!
*; among noct's other activities was his absolute favorite: sleeping.
*; we passed many a day just drifting in and out of sleep, lying comfortably next to each other (or rather, tangled together), whispering half-hearted plans to eventually get up...nah, it's too nice here.
*; but with noct being noct, and me being me...sleep wasn't always kind.
*; nightmares. plenty of them. filled with monsters and scars and dark shadows lurking around every corner. his washed in salty ocean waves, mine tainted with the cold glint of metal, metal, metal. sometimes i'd wake up panting in the middle of the night, sweaty skin and shaking muscles, remembering the days where all that kept me sane was the flapping of wings.
*; i hate to admit how pathetic i was in those moments, quivering and choking on sobs and half-screams. but he held me tighter, the more i shook, his voice became softer in response to my cries.
*; he shielded me from the metal. in turn, i pulled him from the sea.
*; that's just how we worked. it's how we've always worked: back to back, side by side. his sword and my shot. we were inseparable. unrivaled.
*; "did you love him?" of course i did.
*; a vow, unspoken—
*; ( i will protect you, always. )
*; ignis stupeo scientia : to the world, he was the prince's right hand man and most trusted advisor. to us, he was "mom."
*; (the crane. still air. anticipation. forces unseen, rippling through the water.)
*; gladiolus amicitia : captain of the crownsguard, and perpetually doting brother and father.
*; (the hawk. ever striking, ever stern. a crackling charge. a redwood, tall and proud.)
*; i used to wander the streets on my own, with my sun-speckled skin, cropped dark hair (though dyed the color of the sunset that i so adored), and rough, calloused feet. for more than a decade, i was rogue, feared and wanted. then chrom and robin found me. and suddenly i was wanted in the good way.
*; it took a long time before i had earned the trust and respect of all the other shepherds. i was a wanted man, after all. a criminal. i don’t blame them for not trusting me. (doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt, though.)
*; robin and i were close from the start. we found ourselves strangely, supernaturally bound to each other. no, seriously. it was a psychic thing. when we were close to each other, we could feel what the other felt. we didn’t know where it came from at the time, though now i suspect it was because, in another world, he was my other.
*; he slept in the tent next to mine, which made it a breeze to have impromptu sleepovers by whispering quietly across the canvas walls. we would trade secrets (‘i need to ask you about that scar.’), worries (‘do you think he feels the same?’), anything on our minds at the time. it was a moment of peace in the war. in such close proximity, our hearts beat in time, our turmoil was shared, and our bliss was doubled.
*; (but you can imagine how hard it was, dealing with the psychic link, feeling someone else’s phantom hands on your body when your best friend and his boyfriend were getting it on.) (of course i’m still grossed out by it.)
*; olivia entered my life in a whirlwind of satin and silk, professional dancer as she was. she was my absolute best friend, my favorite person in the world. she was my savior—i, her strength.
*; while she and i never had a bond as ethereal as robin and i had, we were so in-sync with each other that we might as well have been the same person. we lived and loved together, less ‘her and me,’ more ‘us.’
*; on days of great joy, olivia and i had a tradition. she’d run up to me, arms open wide, and i would catch her and spin her around. we would always laugh as the wind caught her hair and my headband. i loved the feeling of being so close to my dearest friend, feeling inseparable. i love her even now.
*; in hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best idea to nickname her ‘babe.’ there were several occasions where i would call out for my current partner, ‘babe, can you do this for me,’ and both my partner and olivia would turn my way. i’m lucky it never caused any friction between them…
*; (that said, i’ve repeated my mistake in this life. whoops. sorry, babe.)
*; if i was rusted iron, lon’qu was tempered steel. perhaps it was because we were so different, yet so similar, that i found myself undeniably, irresistibly attracted to him.
*; or maybe it was just because he was hot. i mean, just look at him. holy shit. his back. and don’t even get me started on how cute he looks, flushed and flustered.
*; too late i’m getting started on it. i loved that side of him, the unsure lover whose strong, rough hands turned soft with my skin beneath them. i had to guide him through the early stages of our relationship. he would blush at the most chaste things: holding hands, pecks on the cheek. adorable. he was the most innocent partner i’d ever had.
*; . . . . . .
*; no, never mind. i won’t subject you to that.
*; chrom was another of my closest friends, though there was some tension between us at first. no one was surprised, though. he was a rich, sheltered prince, who had everything he wanted. i was a brat from the slums who had lost what little i had. we didn’t have much to relate to, between us.
*; even so, we grew close. he treated me to fancy dinners, classy clothes, the finer things in life. i showed him the commoner’s way around the cities, the tastiest cafés, the quickest routes to get everything we needed from the market. we learned a lot from each other.
*; we were so happy. so, so happy—
*; it could never last forever.
*; the sun was cruel: warm and shining, the breezes i loved whipping olivia’s hair around, like when she danced. robin’s hands clutch my shoulders. lon’qu and chrom lean over me, everyone crowded around them.
*; blood. so much blood.
*; they all look so sad. please, don’t, don’t look at me like that—haha, hey, what’s with the long faces? where’s that winning smile, bubbles?
*; it hurts.
*; (it’s easier, with them at my side.) *; mom wasn’t around. she died when i was a baby. from the stories pops told me, she was a kind, gentle soul, who saw my dad’s good heart when everyone else only saw a con. not to call her soft, though—she could hold her own in a fight. tougher than any diamond.
*; pops always told me i looked just like her. i had her eyes, green and sharp, and her bright smile.
*; i never knew her, never had any memories with her, but if i try hard enough, i can recall the faintest image of her smile. it makes me feel warm. i wish i could have known her. i want to know this strange woman who my pops fell in love with so long ago.
*; people feared my pops. he was a tough, strong guy, dark skin riddled with scars. to the world, he was the fearsome leader of ylisse’s largest gambling ring. but behind closed doors, with only his kid son for company, he was just ‘pops.’
*; he was a loving father. he’d hold my hand when we walked around town, tuck me into bed at night, let me sleep next to him. the outside world saw a hardened criminal, but he was every bit as kind and caring as he made my mom out to be. he even died trying to break up a bar fight.
*; when pops died, the ring took everything. i was cast out into the streets to rot. nobody cared about what happened to the boss’s son now that the big guy was dead. so nobody noticed when i snuck back into our old loft, snatched up pops’ dark riding cloak and stuffed a sack half-full of sweet, sweet gold with whatever i could find, and slipped back into the night.
*; the dagger i always carried around was my dad’s. it was in rough shape when i took it from the loft, barely even recognizable as a blade. i spent weeks scrubbing away dirt and blood and rust, carefully bending the blade back to its dangerous point. it was slow work, and i was an impatient boy, but it gave me something to hold onto. to remember him by.
*; when i was younger, i could find work in odd jobs; delivering letters and packages, helping out in bakeries, hunting and selling game. but as i grew older, the family resemblance grew stronger. people started to recognize the dark hair, tanned skin, and dusting of freckles that my pops had passed onto me. work came less, and so did gold. if i didn’t do something, i’d be dead by daylight.
*; so i changed. i dyed my hair orange, donned my pops’ cloak 24/7 so no one would see my skin, and smeared dirt on my face to conceal the freckles. gone was my ever-gloomy face, replaced with a cocky smirk. i had to become somebody completely new, i knew that, but...even though i knew i should have, i couldn’t bring myself to give up my name. it was the most important thing my pops had left me. i could never give up my name.
*; without a changed name, my new “disguise” only bought me two or three more years of work. eventually, my genes caught up to me, and i grew up to be the spitting image of my father: i’d even developed an oral fixation like him (though i replaced his cigarettes with lollipops; i hated smoking). nobody wanted me in their shop. it was over for me. i couldn’t find honest work anywhere. so i stopped looking.
*; in my teen years, i reentered the shadier side of the city. oddly enough, i made the most money in my dad’s old ring, swindling thousands of gold from the same suckers pops had conned all those years ago. and when gambling wasn’t enough, i turned to lockpicking. swiping. s-t-e-a-l stealing. i quickly found that it was much easier to earn money in this business, unsavory as it was. but hey. you gotta do what you gotta do.
*; usually what i had to do was run. while i made a name for myself and earned respect in the criminal side of ylisse with my expert thievery, my reputation with the rest of the world plummeted. it was dangerous for me to stay in the same city for too long; sometimes i had to leave the country. i was a criminal.
*; do i regret it?
*; . . .
*; nah. it’s what i do best.
*; i was a part of sora, just as he was a part of me. separate, yet the same. a concept unheard of – but sora and i have always been ‘exceptions.’
*; i’ll always regret hating him. i did, once. i admit it. i thought that he despised me. i thought he wanted me gone so that he could be whole, he could be himself, and i would disappear. i’ve never been more wrong.
*; sora proved to be the best other i could have asked for. compassionate, courageous...clever in his own way (you’d never believe me if you saw his grades, but watch him on the battlefield. he’s surprisingly analytical with a sword in his hand). i found myself trusting him. i realized that he didn’t force my existence away from me; he didn’t even know about me, really. he just wanted to restore his heart and return home, safe and sound. how could i blame him for that?
*; it hurt a lot more being brought together than it did being torn apart. moments of it were nice, sharing sora’s joy, his excitement, his racing heart in the heat of battle, and his undying love for his friends. but joining sora’s heart meant knowing all of it: the fear and desperation, the anguish, the betrayal, the homesickness for a place i’ve never even seen. and that was just what he gave me.
*; sora, i’m sorry. for everything my memories must have done to you. i’m sorry. i’m so, so sorry.
*; here was my problem: it took me the longest time to finally accept sora as my other. it took weeks, months, even, to believe in him as my somebody and allow myself to be taken back into his heart. and once i finally agreed to give myself up to reform his heart...he rejected me.
*; i never understood why sora refused to take back his heart from me, when d/z and riku had spent all that time trying to dissolve me. he didn’t want me to be a part of him. he insisted that i deserved to live as my own person, with my own life, my own heart. i’ll never understand him. i’ll never understand him and his kind heart that promised an independent life to a nobody like me.
*; when he said my name, it was like being set free. i was no longer ‘sora’s nobody’ or ‘ventus’s husk.’ i was not ‘sora’s shadow.’ i was not ‘sora’s darkness.’ i was roxas, plain and simple. i was me. i am me.
*; in the darkness that was the organization, axel’s flames lit the way. he was my mentor, sure, my primary professor in learning to handle having a physical form, but he was so much more than that to me. he helped me learn to feel. he made me smile, made me laugh. i felt warm with him at my side. he was more than a welcoming flame to me; he was the sun.
*; axel used to sing to me, when i was scared. his smooth voice, with his sweet, soothing melodies, would calm me so easily.
*; did i love him? . . . i’ll never know for sure. but he made me feel like i would be alright. that was enough to believe that he was ‘someone special.’
*; her name was xion. i forgot her once. i will not do it again.
*; naminé and i were...different. ‘special,’ they called us. we found solace in each other, knowing that we were both ‘specials.’ when i think about our time together, all i remember is white. white walls. white ties. a reminder that we were that same absence of light.
*; (that’s pretty accurate, actually. nobodies were an absence.)
*; once naminé and i were reunited with kairi and sora, a new land was created in and around our somebodies. when they were together, naminé and i could be, too, meeting together in a peaceful place we called ‘heartspace.’
*; sometimes heartspace would be completely blank. an empty canvas that kairi created for naminé to cover in the delicate strokes of her pencil. sometimes it would be loaded with a location from sora’s memories. no matter what heartspace was for us, naminé and i were together. we always appreciated that.
*; when she thought i wasn’t looking, sometimes naminé would get this distant, far-off look in her eyes. i knew what that meant. she was remembering putting me under. she used to feel so guilty about it. she apologized to me for it more times than i can count. i think she thought i hated her. but i never did. i could never blame her for what happened to me.
*; (i never blamed her. but he made me furious.)
*; truthfully, i always admired saïx. he was powerful. untamed. collected. a walking contradiction, just like myself. i looked up to him, i did, but he couldn’t stand me. and he let me know he couldn’t stand me. i tried to keep my cool, but his constant antagonism eventually broke my respect, gave way to irritation. i always knew why. he could never forgive the young ‘thirteen’ who stole his dearest, most precious friend away from him.
*; joke’s on you, saïx. he chose me.
*; axel wasn’t my only teacher in the organization. everyone took turns tutoring me and guiding my training. ‘takes a village to raise a child’ and all that, i suppose. i think xemnas said that once. or was it xaldin?
*; demyx taught me most of my words. he kind of took charge in helping me hone my voice. ‘heart.’ ‘shadow.’ ‘nobody.’ he helped me form my mouth around the foreign sounds. he even taught me how to sing, when i got a good enough grasp on my voice. he said i had some ‘killer chords.’ (thanks, jesse.)
*; xigbar and i didn’t really get along. i would never be more than a kid in his eyes, so i never even got an ounce of his respect. not that he got any of mine, either—while i appreciated his lessons in marksmanship, he never even called me by name. sometimes i wondered if he ever even knew it.
*; at least he made me laugh, once or twice. the sarcastic tone he took on in response to demyx and saïx (“xigbar, your report was lacking in adequate information.” “saïx, your existence is lacking in adequate excitement.”) admittedly made me smile. so there was that.
*; i didn’t speak much to lexaeus (since he didn’t really speak at all), but he was still fairly kind to me. unlike xigbar, i think lexaeus had a soft spot for kids like me. he held my hand (literally) when i was still learning to navigate the castle, and even made me food. lexaeus makes some nice eggs, let me say.
*; sometimes the light here glows just so, and it’s almost like i’ve gone back under. i chase after shadows that only grow longer, farther away, with the setting sun. they may never have known me, but i will never forget them.
*; hayner, olette and i had known each other since we were children. hayner and i had lived in twilight town our entire lives. olette lived on the other side of town, sunset terrace, and she was in and out of the city, following her dad’s job, but by middle school she moved in with her aunt, on our side of town, to continue attending school.
*; it wasn’t anything special, the way we met. hayner was in the sandlot, driving around a toy truck. my toy plane crashed into it. we had a short scuffle that ended with both of us on our backs, panting, soaking in the warm sunlight. he turned to me and smiled. ‘you’re pretty tough! i’m hayner.’
*; olette had just arrived on our side of town to spend a few days with her aunt when we met her. even as a child, she was very, very pretty: wide, forest-green eyes, long, soft, chestnut-brown hair. we jumped when we saw her at the train station. we were young and only just figuring out what ‘pretty’ really meant. we were nervous going up to her, but eventually we found the courage. (as it turned out, she’d noticed us freaking out in the corner. at least she was polite about it, and still talked to us anyways.)
*; we met pence in middle school. he’d been homeschooled until then, a victim of childish bullying. there were still a few mean comments that flew his way in middle school, but a dirty look from hayner and i was enough to send anyone running.
*; hayner’s hair could have stabbed someone. i swear. it was gelled to high heaven and back again. he always grumbled about how ‘it’s fine, it looks cool,’ and he acted as though we were bugging him, but the quirk in his lips let us know that he found our teasing endearing.
*; hayner and i dated for a while, before the truth about myself started coming to light. he was a surprisingly shy boyfriend, nervous to put an arm around me, blushing when i caught him staring. it was cute, to see this new side of my best friend.
*; olette used to fix my hair when i was too low on sleep to do it alone. her fingers were long and slender, carefully manicured at all times. they felt good in my hair.
*; some days, on the top of the clock tower, sea salt ice cream in hand and the sunset shining in my eyes, i thought i heard the ocean. i could smell the sea breeze and felt my free hand close around a conch shell. out of the corners of my eyes, hayner looked taller, skinnier, hair like a wildfire. olette was dressed in black, her hair cut short and dyed dark. and i swore that if i looked away from the sunset, it would all shatter and disappear before i knew what had happened. maybe i just had too much ice cream.
*; i looked just like him. ventus used to worry about that. he didn’t like to think about the impact his heart was having on sora’s. he used to believe that in saving ventus, sora had given up a part of himself.
*; i was stitched with the same thread and needle that patched together ventus’s light and sora’s darkness. i was physical proof that ven had changed sora’s heart forever. for a long, long, time, i watched chips of ven’s fragile, broken heart fall away each time he looked at me.
*; for a while, we avoided each other. what was there to say? i was a piece of sora’s darkness. he was attached to sora’s light. we may have looked alike, but that was where the resemblance ended.
*; but whether i like it or not, a shard of his heart lives inside me. what he felt, i feel. what he remembered, i can, too. but unlike mine and sora’s complete synchronization, the connection between ventus and me only goes one way. (that’s probably for the better. i’m afraid to think about what would happen to him if he saw what i went through.)
*; never underestimate my love for riku. he pushed me off a skyscraper and i still had a major crush on him.
*; on the outside, he held a pretty shallow relationship with me. we were friends, definitely; he had apologized, and i had long since forgiven him for trying to fade me. but some days, after a long, hard sparring match, when the sun was hot and we were both dead tired, and it was just the two of us, he’d—
*; (“y-you know i’m not sora, right?” “i know.”)
*; —kiss me.
*; riku used to look at me strangely. i always figured it was because i shared sora’s body, but...something tells me it was because i was still alive somehow. existing.
*; he told me once, i looked better as a blonde. it took a lot of self-control not to dye sora’s hair then and there (relax, sora, i never did it).
*; i don’t think i’ll ever truly know if he actually loved me back, or if he was just attracted to me. whichever it was, i still had fun. i enjoyed the attention he gave me.
*; (even if it was only because i was a part of sora, whether he liked it or not.)
*; hajime was the world to me. before i even begin to talk about myself, i have to make that clear. i loved hajime more than anything. i loved him. i love him, present tense.
*; i always knew what i was. i was a program. a block of code. any ‘heart’ that i had, or appeared to have, was a series of 0’s and 1’s. i was not supposed to think. i was not supposed to feel. i was a program. that’s all there was supposed to be to it.
*; so why did it hurt so much, to have to repeat those truths back to myself?
*; i know i wasn’t supposed to get so emotionally attached to my ‘classmates.’ i was supposed to be their observer, in and out, wiped from their memories as quickly as i came. but i couldn’t help it. i loved them before i met them.
*; just saying his name fills me with happiness. hajime, the beginning. hajime, my hope; my light. to this day, i have never met someone as strong and driven as he. hajime lit a spark in me that has still not died. he makes me feel human. he makes me feel alive.
*; hajime was always an eloquent person. he was able to verbalize things that i could not wrap my head around in a way he knew i would understand. i wished i could have asked him to help me with my reports. i’m sure that makoto and the others would have appreciated hajime’s crisp, clear vernacular much more than my word salad.
*; he used to read to me, in the library. there was an old red loveseat in the back that everyone had collectively acknowledged as “hinata’s and nanami’s.” he let me pick out whatever book i felt like hearing from, and he would sit down and read to me while i leaned on his shoulder. once we got started, we tended to spend hours there. sometimes, the entire day. once i asked him what he wanted me to do in exchange. he told me just getting to spend time with me was payment enough.
*; there were a few times i tried to bake or cook, just for him...but i always ended up making enough for everyone. not that that was bad, i loved seeing everyone smiling when i offered them sweets, and enjoying my cooking at dinner time. but i wanted to make hajime feel special. i wanted to thank him for staying by my side. so i always put a little extra care into hajime’s share. i was a little more precise in decorating his sweets. his meal portions tended to be slightly bigger than most others’, even though he didn’t request it. i’m not entirely sure if he noticed. but once, when i was handing him his package of meringues, he asked me why his had powdered sugar dusted over them, when everyone else’s didn’t. i was too embarrassed to answer him, so i just shrugged. i think he understood what i meant. he seemed pretty happy, after that.
*; hajime never made me feel on edge. i don’t really know...there was something about him that calmed me, made me completely open up to him. around him, i could say whatever came to my mind without needing to process it first. maybe that wasn’t the best...but at the time, i didn’t care. i was with hajime. that’s what mattered.
*; i can’t believe i said that. ‘you’re pretty hard, hajime.’ i mean, how dense did i have to be. i can’t believe i said that. i cannot believe i said that.
*; (i can’t lie. while i am embarrassed about saying that...i enjoyed seeing hajime’s face glow red. it’s not every day that hajime hinata loses his composure.)
*; sometimes hajime loved me back in the same way i loved him. those timelines...i was the happiest i could have ever been. no one brought me more joy than hajime did. to know that he loved me just as much as i loved him...i could cry, here and now.
*; whenever he put his arms around me, he held onto me as if he never would again. his arms were never loose when he hugged me. he held me close, tight against his chest, afraid that if he let go i would disappear.
*; hajime smelled like pine and rain and cinnamon sticks (sticks specifically; they’re sharper and have more depth and complexity to their aroma). his scent completely clashed with the summery atmosphere around us, admittedly. i told him that once. he looked terribly offended.
*; (it was okay. i appreciated the smell of winter much more, because of how out of place it was.)
*; hajime’s eyes were almost always shining. despite everything that had happened to us, while he stood amidst the tragedy and despair, hajime’s eyes remained bright, never looking away from that ‘future’ he promised all of us.
*; it just made it all the more painful when they did grow dim.
*; the look he gave me, when i was sentenced to execution—i never, ever, want to see him make that face again.
*; (hajime, i'm sorry. i'm so sorry. can you ever forgive a liar like me?)
*; kuzuryuu was one of my best friends, on the island. perhaps because i was one of the few people who didn’t tower over him. (i’m only poking fun! i cared for him deeply.) we were close enough for him to allow me to call him ‘fuyu’ instead of his last name.
*; ‘fuyu.’ try it. it feels nice on your lips.
*; he and i used to fall asleep together. i was never able to rest, having to report back to the future foundation at every moment. fuyu was plagued by the ghost of his dead childhood friend. it was warm, having another body next to me. it was strange. i felt...safe.
*; you know, contrary to popular belief, fuyu never felt romantically about pekoyama. i asked him if he did, once. he just about laughed in my face.
*; ...sometimes we dated. i was drawn in by that prickly demeanor of his, enamored with the cool, collected way he carried himself when he knew he was in love. fuyu’s barriers came down around me, and he held me like i was snow.
*; fuyu was always so careful in romantics. he waited for ‘safe moments’ where he could steal a quick kiss without anyone seeing. he would hold my hand loosely, giving me all the room in the world to slip out of the touch if i so decided to. when his fingers touched my face, they were so light, they may as well have not been there.
*; i tried not to play any card games with nagito, but they were so fun, i couldn’t help myself. the rounds went on for hours...the ultimate gamer, and the ultimate lucky student. sometimes we’d start a game, play late into the night, and fall asleep at the table. once we woke up...it was game on again.
*; i found myself loving nagito, too. i could relate to him. he and i were cursed. we didn’t get a happy ending, and we knew it. it helped ease the pain a little, finding someone else in the world fated to fall like me.
*; that’s kind of a downer, i know. don’t worry.
*; nagito and i shared many happy moments together. he always took me up on game challenges, and, to my excitement, he proved a formidable opponent.
*; he used to brush my hair, when it was just the two of us. humming a wordless song, low in his throat, his breath warming the back of my neck.
*; nagito wasn’t one for hugs, really. it was a kiss or nothing, with him. he’d kiss me wherever he felt like, be it my cheek, my wrist, my forehead, wherever. nagito was a very casual kisser, too. light brushes of the lips. he never used more pressure than he needed to.
*; i think fuyu and nagito, when i dated them, treated me so delicately because they both knew that, as much as i could love them, i would never be able to stop loving hajime. it broke my heart to hear it out loud...but i knew they were right. i loved hajime. my heart—whatever that was—always, always belonged to hajime.
*; did you know he used to get jealous? i couldn’t believe it, the first time i noticed it. too see the ever-calm hajime get antsy when i called fuyu’s nickname, or when i actively sought out kazuichi for a round of space invaders. hajime hinata! jealous! it made me feel special.
*; i need to stop talking about hajime. i’ll only keep dwelling on him, if i continue.
*; the first time i opened my eyes, makoto was staring back at me.
*; he was my first friend. he was the one who spent the most time (aside from big brother) with me. he worked together with kirigiri and big brother to debug me and give me a life outside the machine. he was so kind to me. he gave me my emotions. he has a special place in my heart.
*; big brother installed an app on makoto’s phone that i could travel to through the machine. when makoto went out, he would take out his phone and let me use the camera as a window to see the outside world. he took me to a park once…i remember. he went on the swings and went too high, his phone flew out of his hand! he was so worried...but i was fine. it made me happy, when he checked up on me.
*; when makoto woke up in the middle of the night, screaming and sobbing, begging for someone, somewhere to stop, stop this, let them go, they always led him to my monitor. we spent countless nights together, talking, listening to music, watching tv together, anything and everything to get his mind off hope’s peak. i tried to make him laugh. i tried to exhaust him with happy feelings and silly thoughts, so that hopefully he would fall asleep at my monitor with something warm in his head instead of the frigid memory of that horrid school.
*; makoto was the one i found myself opening up to most. not to say i didn’t try to connect with kirigiri and togami, but it was much harder to break their shells. especially considering makoto didn’t have one. makoto was patient with me. he let me work through my feelings on my own first, and if i hit a block, he listened. he was the one i reported to most. he was the one who seemed to understand how i felt...watching our greatest effort go down in flames, right before my eyes.
*; i feel a little bad for kirigiri. when makoto was busy writing up official project reports, it was usually kirigiri who would keep me company. she was the smart one. and i knew it. i remember bombarding her with questions, asking her anything about everything that crossed my mind. i’m sure i annoyed her, but she never let it show. she always answered me with ease.
*; (until i got to more emotional, provocative questions. then she was as clueless as i was.)
*; kirigiri did not have nightmares, like the rest. this was because she tried her hardest to run on as little sleep as possible. she feared the night. she knew the nightmares would catch her as soon as she closed her eyes in her room. so she never slept in her room.
*; i kept her company late into the night. we hardly spoke. there was no entertainment, as there was with makoto. she didn’t need it. just the presence of another person in the darkness seemed to ease kirigiri’s worries enough to allow her a few hours’ rest.
*; on better nights, she would smile in her sleep. on worse nights, she would cry. i stayed with her, either way.
*; perhaps to a third party, kirigiri and i seemed distant. but when she fell asleep at the computer, i was the one who turned off the monitors around her. i was the one who saved and backed up her files, played a calming tune to help her rest easier. and when she was awake, she readily accepted my input on how to rebuild and debug the jabberwock simulation. we were friends. it just took a closer look.
*; togami was the coldest one of them all. he refused to even look at me as a person. he knew what i was and took it at face value. i was a simulation, and nothing more. makoto got so mad at him, when he said that.
*; once the...cases started happening, togami began to see me as more man, less machine. though reluctant, he gradually opened up to me, and willingly sought my opinion on events. it was bittersweet. on one hand, togami was finally considering me a friend. on the other...it took a murder to get him to do it.
*; but i soon learned that once byakuya togami considered someone a friend, they were a friend for life. his cold demeanor melted away in the steadily growing warmth of our bond. before, he would pass my monitors by without a second glance. now, if he happened upon a monitor i occupied, he would greet me. with my first name. that was a shock, the first time.
*; togami once spent a night at my monitor’s side, like the other two. it was one of the nights that were few and far between—when his mind could no longer fend off the dark tendrils of hope’s peak curling around his heart and all his walls came crashing, crashing down. it hurt me to see the ever-stoic togami fall apart at the seams. aoi tried to make light of those nights by saying they proved he was human. they made him more human, yes. painfully, agonizingly human.
*; (if anyone asked me, i was not to tell them about the night that byakuya togami cried for his classmates; both the dead ones whose ghosts still haunted him, and the survivors who had been broken with him.)
*; aoi was friendly to me from the start—she called me chiaki. she insisted i call her aoi. her ever-present smile was a welcome source of warmth among the future foundation employees. she always tried to get me to laugh.
*; i always saw her eating sweets. i didn’t understand how she could eat so many of them at once...until they coded them into the jabberwock simulation. she was absolutely right. i’d been missing out.