"Here Without You"

        I got the news this morning.

I thought it was a joke at first-- can you believe it? I told the guy that brought the note ta get the hell out, that I was helpin' Kouji plan a raid. It was the look he gave me that stopped me from turnin' my back on him. It wasn't a joke, it said. Not even a little.

        I had ta read it three more times before it really sank in. I think it still hasn't, not all the way.

It was a miracle they found the body at all, ya know. It's flood season, after all; it should've gone missing, not turned up a few miles downstream. I guess I should be grateful to have that, at least. but I can't. I didn't even go see it.

You understand, don't ya? It's just a body. What's left now that yer gone.

I think that's why I don't wanna go-- if I admitted I was seeing you for the last time, it'd be real. I wouldn't have any way ta get around it. You'd be lyin' there, real cold an' quiet. And nothin' I'd do could change it.

Nothin' I do can change it. But at least this way, I don't have to face it. A part of me can keep waitin' for you ta show up in that stupid mask, goin' on with yer 'I'm-so-fuckin'-cute-no-da' routine like nothin's different. Keep waitin' for you to fall outta thin air an' start with yer damn prattle. and then figure out how close I am ta fallin' apart, an' take off the mask, an' tell me it's alright.

It's not. And I'm fuckin' crying again.

Here's an idea-- why don't you tell me just what the hell I'm supposed to do now? You always knew so damn much. It should be easy for you, Chiri.

        I've hardly been to Mt. Leikaku since we started travelling together-- just twice, during flood season, when you went home. I know I don't belong here anymore. but where else can I go?  It never really mattered where I was, so long's you were with me. But suddenly you're gone, and it seems like I don't fit in anywhere.

       And ya know what the worst part is? I can't stop thinkin' that maybe ya knew you weren't coming back. You always were real quiet, when rainy season started up. but this year there was something in it that was never there before. Like instead of just letting it get ya down, you were thinking something through, and that was getting' to ya, too.

       An' when you said goodbye, ya did it right-- ya took the mask off an' everything, an' told me to take good care of myself. I laughed it off and grinned, ta show you I'd be fine without you for a couple days.

       I'm sure as hell not fine now. And it's gonna be a fuck of a lot longer than a day or two.

       You weren't supposed ta leave me too, ya know. I mean, everything was over-- I was pretty much sure I'd had my share of loosin' people I cared about. If ya ever wanted ta know, I thanked Suzaku every gods-damned day that you weren't one of 'em.

       An' I know it's kinda late now. But I wonder. Did ya ever even guess how much I loved you? I'm only just realizin' I'll never get a chance ta tell ya like I always wanted.

       You were my best friend, Chiri, an' more-- you understood me. We went through hell together, an' we came back in one piece. Everything I ever cared about got left behind when I went ta go protect the miko. An' it hurt, thinkin' about how much I'd changed, an' knowin' that I'd never be able to go back to the way I was before. But I had you. An' you knew what it was like. An' I don't know why, but that made it better. Cause at least, even though it couldn't be the same as it was before, it wasn't all bad.

      You were with me. Nothin' could ever be completely wrong.

       So what am I supposed to do now, Chiri? You were the only one who could cheer me up, when I got ta thinkin' like this. But somethin' tells me I'm on my own, this time. And for a long, long time after now.


       Why the hell did I even let ya go? I keep thinkin' that maybe this wouldn't have happened, if I could've just let ya know it wasn't yer fault. I know it was eatin' you up, the way ya felt about yer friend, an' what happened way back then. It didn't take a genius ta realize that once the rains started, even that damn mask couldn't keep ya smilin'.

       Maybe if I'd thought ta go with you, we'd be startin' on our way again by now. An' you'd be down for a couple days, sure, but you'd be alright. Alive. An' I wouldn't be sittin' here, thinkin' just how fuckin' useless everything is without ya.

       Kouji's worried about me, ya know. I wish I could tell him I'll be okay, but I can't lie ta him like that. Cause I don't think I will be. Not now, an' maybe not ever.
So I think I'm gonna leave soon, Chiri. Maybe today-there's still some light left, an' I could get a good start, at least. I dunno where I'm going-- don't think it even matters anymore, really-- but I've got a feelin' I can't stay here anymore. Too much has changed, an' I've lost too much. I'd just be draggin' Kouji an' the guys down with me, if I stuck around.

       So wish me luck, Chiri-- it'll be my first time travellin' without ya, an' I'm not sure I can make it on my own. Ya told me once that there's a whole world ta see, if ya just take the time ta look. An' I think I'd've rather seen it all with you than bothered breathin'.

       Funny thing is, doesn't seem like there's much of anything left worth seein', now that you're gone. I think I'm goin' for good this time, an all I can think of is how you might've told me ta hurry up an' get my stuff, just standin' in the door an' smilin' at me through yer mask while I said 'bye' ta Kouji. An' I don't have any fuckin' clue where I'm gonna go, but the only thing that matters is that if you were here, you'd've known where we were headed three days before I knew we were leavin' at all.

       A day, Chiri. I've known you were dead since this morning, an' I'm fallin' apart already. I'm a wreck, an' it's only been a day. I've got the rest of my fuckin' life here without you.

       Yeah. Wish me luck, Chiri. Suzaku only knows how the hell I'm supposed ta get through that.