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Something Beautiful

Chapter 1: Something Familiar


Apus is a simple constellation, just four bright stars glinting in the southern
sky. A simple constellation named after the bird of paradise, a bird with no legs ,
a bird destined to soar through sky far above. A bird left out of the reach of
mankind. The myth associated with that constellation was formed hundreds of years
ago, the myth of two people who took flight to the stars. They were two people who
belonged in flight but could only fly together, they were imperfect, but together
they became something beautiful. The legend says that one day they'll return, one
day they'll rest here before returning to the stars again. I wonder what that day
might look like?

It all started in the Jian Park. The sakura flowers where blooming on the massive
tree that stood at as the center piece of the natural haven housed in the center of
a bustling city. Pink flowing hair floated aloof as a girl dragged her black haired
companion toward their destination.

"Sakura slow it down a little!", the boy chuckled lightly as the over eager girl
had seemingly failed to notice how much difficulty he was having keeping up with
her.

She stopped for a moment, her hand still strongly gripping on to his, to examine
his appearance. They were both still in their school uniforms, having just gotten
out for the day, the raven haired boy had on his simple gray school jacket along
with the matching gray pants. He was slightly out of breath as they had practically
sprinted from the school yard to the pink haired girl on the other hand was
practically glowing, her steady breath spoke for itself as to what kind of shape
she was in. She had on her similarly colored blouse along with a longer skirt and
leggings due to the warmer, but still fairly cool, spring weather.

"Eh? I though you said you were in 'better shape than ever', and you still can't
keep up with me Hiro?" She joked, a smirk proudly worn across her face.

"That's not fair," Hiro asserted, still catching his breath, "you made me carry
your bag and mine."

"Excuses!", she said as she turned herself to begin the walk up the hill towards
the towering pink tree.

Hiro sighed in defeat, and Sakura caught him grinning in the corner of her eye as
they began their journey to the the top of the hill side by side. Their hands were
still intertwined and she was beginning to wonder if he was starting to take a hint
as he showed no signs of letting go. A good sign considering what she had
ambitiously planned for today.

"I heard they're planning on reopening that candy shop on June Street, Goro told me
they'll be handing out some free samples until 5 to see how much public interest
there is," Hiro said, "Maybe we should drop by and see how things look over there
on the way back home."

"Hmm hmm," Sakura nodded approvingly, "I hope they some of the chocolate honey
balls to try, how have I lived so long without them�"

She glanced over at him, still grinning, the glint in his eyes grew brighter as
they continued to approach the base of the "Jian Tree". Sunlight brightened up the
entire world around them and cherry blossoms glowed a beautiful pink, much like her
hair. The grass around the stone path was a luscious green, the blades of which
danced in the soft wind that occasionally blew around the pair of humans.
"It's still beautiful after all this time huh?", Hiro stated almost wistfully.

"Mm," she agreed, still keeping most of her attention on his face however.

She was having a hard time controlling herself as they stood at the bast of the
tree, hands interlocked as Hiro looked up at the sakura blossoms floating softly
down to the Earth. A gentle breeze flew through the air, causing the blossoms to
tumble and circle around them as the sun began its decent behind the skyscrapers
that stood in front of them. Sakura began to think about how they met by chance at
this very same spot and how much they had grown from the two small innocent
children they were on that day. However, she could still see a lot of the curious
yet bashful child in the boy that stood beside her, she really did love his
inquisitive and caring nature, it was part of what drew her to him.

This is bad, she thought to herself, now looking at his lips, but what better time
than the present right?

"Sakura?", Hiro said in a concerned tone, finally noticing how hard she was
staring.

She definitely caught him off-guard as she leaned to him and interlocked their
lips. Her eyes were closed and she found herself feeling a bitty giddy after
feeling the heat that radiated from Hiro's cheeks as she wore a slight blush of
her. She felt a spark and a green wave of information in the form of memories
clouded her mind, the familiar taste on her lips had triggered something beyond her
wildest dreams as she dove into over a decades worth of of information in a little
over a second. It was too much for her mind to comprehend at the moment, and after
she broke away she immediately wrote it off as just some sort of side affect of the
dopamine being released in her brain.

Sakura instead decided to focus on the dumbfounded expression Hiro had. She
couldn't help but burst out laughing, still with a light blush of her own. They
were definitely drawing unwanted attention of the other park-goers but she couldn't
care less. Hiro seemed to notice the amount of attention she was drawing to them
and the blush on his face deepened until he was practically glowing red.

"Your face, y-you should really see your face right now, it's too much," she said
still laughing as Hiro came back to his senses.

"G-give me a break here, how the hell am I supposed to react to that", Hiro
stammered out.

Sakura pouted a bit, obviously putting on a show, "Are you saying you didn't like
it?"

"No!", Hiro said almost too quickly, which she appreciated, but then quickly added
under his breath , "But I was kinda hoping to be the one to catch you be surprise."

It was never really a secret that they were into each other, it was just a matter
of how long they were willing to play the game of being just friends. For some
reason today was the day that felt the most right to her, a beautiful day in
spring, under the tree they met at as children. In truth, there probably couldn't
of been a better time for it, being second years in high school it was probably
about time they decided to get things rolling for real.

"Maybe, you'll have a chance some other time Da-", she suddenly stopped her
sentence.

Darling? Why does it feel so familiar to call him that?


She did occasionally call him "Darling", but most of the time it was just to get a
cute reaction out of him since it always reminded him of the picture book they both
loved as kids. Although, something about how the word rolled off her tongue felt
too familiar, and she was hit with a wave of nausea as she tried to connect the
dots in her head. How could one word be so important?

"Z-", Hiro stopped himself, and Sakura was too nauseated to notice the near slip
up, "Sakura what's wrong?"

The boy grabbed onto her shoulder gently and steadied her out, trying to ensure
that she wouldn't fall. She reached out in response and grabbed onto his arm,
desperately trying to make the world stop spinning around her. After a few more
seconds her vision cleared and the world around her steadied, her breath that had
become short and rapid began to steady out as well.

"I'm fine, it's probably just because of something I had for lunch," she said,
still feeling a bit queasy.

Hiro looked at her with a furrowed brow, "Maybe we should save the candy shop visit
for another day, you really don't look so good."

Even in her weakened state she was still able to shoot Hiro a glare for even
suggesting they miss out on free sweets for the sake of an upset stomach. Hiro
recognized this and immediately raised his hands in defeat.

"I should know better huh?", He asked innocently.

"No kidding," Sakura said, releasing his arm and instead opting to grab his hand,
"let's get a move on then, my mom will kill me if we miss the last train again."

She was still shaking slightly, but Hiro nodded instead of relenting, opting to
keep an eye on her rather than kill the good mood. As they walked, Sakura's mind
made the connections it had failed to earlier, the name "Darling" was only meant
for the person most important to her in the entire universe. Someone who she loved
and cherished above all else, someone who had given up his chances at a normal life
to be with her, her Darling. Her mind continued to drift as the rest of the day
passed in a blur, she hoped Hiro would understand her tired and lackadaisical
responses as just being part of her ailment. She was able to work up a bit of
excitement when she was able to grab a bag full of various flavors and types of
candy from the kind vendor who was willing to bend the rules a bit for the sickly
looking girl and the boy who accompanied her.

When they finally got on the train home she immediately passed out, leaning her
head on Hiro's shoulder as her mind continued to wonder through the all too
familiar passageways of her previous life.

"Sakura," he whispered softly, waking her up, "this is our stop."

"Mm," she mustered her confirmation as she stretched and stood up.

As they were walking out of the train station she paused for a moment hoping Hiro
would notice and wait up too. She noticed he was still carrying her bag, which she
felt somewhat guilty about, but she also knew that he would never be convinced to
let her carry it after nearly passing out earlier.

Hero paused like she had hoped, "What's up?"

She looked downcast, "Sorry for being a bit of a mood killer today, I guess I-",
she failed to notice how Hiro had quickly close the distance between them before he
was able to lean in and catch her by surprise himself. She really didn't expect him
to be so on board with all this so quickly.

She felt that same spark from earlier, it was significantly more clear this time. A
boy in winter reaching out to a red horned girl, that same boy leading the girl
through a wintery landscape, and finally a boy that look suspiciously like the Hiro
she knew leaning in to kiss her in the cockpit of a Franxx.

Hero had a soft look in his eyes as they separated, "Don't worry about it," he had
a wide grin on his face,"even if your first kiss with me nearly made you puke that
means we can only go up from here, right?"

Her eyes widened and it was Hiro's turn to burst out laughing as she attempted to
fix the misunderstanding. She was already feeling a bit fuzzy because of the first
kiss, but now that he initiated one of his own so quickly after she just wasn't
able to formulate thoughts properly.

"M-me feeling nauseous has nothing to do with you I swear," a partial lie she
mumbled out, but she needed to say something in response to that incredulous joke,
"besides if you really believed that you wouldn't of kissed me just now!"

"I know, I just figured I mess with you, you seemed to be thinking too hard about
things today." Hiro explained.

"You're not wrong," she muttered under her breath.

"Let's get home already it's gonna be dark soon," he noted, not having heard the
words she spoke to herself.

"Mm"

It was a short 5 minute walk to her house from the train station. Hiro dropped
Sakura off with her bag and made sure to tell her to get some proper sleep, he also
insisted she call him if she was feeling unwell again. She begrudgingly excepted
his motherly affection on the her surface while being extremely thankful
underneath. As they finally parted Sakura mentally confirmed to herself that what
she had envisioned on that day was not simply some sort of fever dream, it was
something far more important and meaningful than that. She wasn't just Sakura, she
was also someone else, and that boy was Hiro, her Hiro, her Darling. He might not
remember the past life he lived with her, but that didn't matter.

I don't know if you'll ever truly remember me, and I don't know if things will be
the same between us , but even so, I don't think falling in love with you all over
again is such a bad thing.

Chapter 2: Something Warm


A glint of light lies ahead in the infinite blackness that surround him. He notes
how cold he feels and clings to his naked self, desperate to keep any more from
heat from escaping his body as he works toward the light. With every step he takes
he feels the air around him grow colder, the ground clings to his feet, trying to
hold him in place like some tar-like substance. He presses forward, determined to
continue on.

One step.

Two steps.

He stumbles, and the darkness moves to engulf him. The boy fights to keep his head
above the tar like substance, and reaches his hand out desperately toward the
light. Warmth that blasts away the darkness reaches out and envelopes him in a
gentle embrace, a red figure stands before him in the distance. Two alluring horns
and flowing pink hair accompany her emerald eyes as she look curiously at him. She
tilts her head slightly, a questioning look in her eyes as the boy stares back at
her. He doesn't know this girl, he has never once seen her in his life, and yet
something in his heart and mind churns with emotions just by looking at her. He
moves toward her now, the source of radiating warmth and light.

One step.

Two steps.

To his sides appear several other figures, all encouraging him forward, all with a
similar feeling a familiarity even though he'd never truly seen them before. His
body begins moving faster, he needs to reach her. Just before he closes the
distance between them, arm outstretched to grab her hand, she smiles and a spark
passes through his mind jolting him awake. Looking over at his alarm clock he took
note of the time : 2:02 AM. What an ungodly hour to be awake at on a school night.
Sighing, he noticed that his room was a bit colder than normal and the culprit was
an open window next to his night stand. With his mind now fully awake he moved away
the sheets of his bed to approach the window, gently pulling down on it until it
clasped into place closed. He then returned to sit on his bed side to collecting
his thoughts after a dream that he'd been having repeatedly since falling extremely
ill as a child. He recollected that time where he was too weak to even move, his
mind strained with thoughts he couldn't possibly understand, but through it all
there was a small gentle hand firmly clasped around his. A voice of encouragement
and comfort had been his only anchor to the world he was living in.

It had been a long time since then, and in the several years following he'd slowly
regained memories of a previous life, a far more complicated life than the one he'd
been living up until now. There was pain, there were tears, but above all that was
a feeling of love, happiness, and adventure. And there was always a girl with
flowing pink hair and a smile that made his heart dance in his chest. A girl named
Zero Two, a girl that looked exactly like Sakura. The Sakura he'd grown close to
over the course of the course of many years, someone he'd been entranced by since
the first time he saw her.

Yesterday� he thought to himself, is it possible?

He shook his head and his mind returned to the thing he'd promised himself years
ago, that even if she never remembered him, even if she never realized how deep
their connection truly ran, he would always love her. Looking at Sakura, he was
constantly reminded of all the reasons he fell so far for Zero Two in the first
place. Her courageous and overly affectionate character, her massive sweet tooth, a
softer, more vulnerable part of herself she that managed to keep very well hidden
from the people around her. Well, the people around her except for Hiro of course,
who she couldn't seem to hide much of anything from.

He had a hunch that what truly caused her nausea from the previous day was likely
similar to what he had already experienced seven years ago. A type of physical and
mental trauma that eventually brought his memories back to an extent, albeit
slowly. It certainly wasn't out of the question that she had began her own journey
to retrieving her memories. However, he decided to dismiss his thoughts as being
too optimistic. Maybe she really was just feeling sick to her stomach, not too
unlikely because of the absurd amount of honey she decided to put on her rice
balls, of all things, at lunch.

Hiro took note of the time again, it was just before 2:30 in the morning, he'd been
thinking to himself for nearly half an hour and his brain was finally starting to
wear out. Before letting himself fall back into bed he glanced toward the top of
the mostly empty bookshelf, at the colorful old picture book that stood on the top
shelf. He grinned to himself slightly as he closed his eyes, trying to let sleep
wash over him again.

Even if things were to stay like this, as long as I'm with you I'll be alright.

Hiro woke up to the annoying buzz of a vibrating phone on his nightstand. Without
opening his eyes his hands felt around on the wooden surface until his ring finger
finally caught a piece of what he was lazily reaching for. Shutting off the phone
alarm for what was probably the fourth time and slightly cracking open his eyes he
peered at one of many notifications that had popped up on his screen.

Sakaru: You overslept again didn't you?

Sent at 9:05 in the morning� Well, she wasn't wrong. He groaned to himself, his
parents absolutely refused to wake him up in the morning and were always gone by 7
AM sharp anyways. Instead of rushing to get dressed he decided to take his time,
accepting that he was going to miss first period and that showing up late in the
middle of class would garner too much unwanted attention for his tastes. He looked
through the remaining notifications, including several from the group chat his
friends had created. Most of the people in that group felt all too familiar him,
but he could never quite connect that dots between them and those same people from
his past life unlike Sakura.

The first thing he noticed sent was an image, an image of two people standing in
the Jian Park under the ancient Sakura tree and� His attention snapped back to the
people under the tree. That was him, and a certain pink haired girl leaning in far
to close for it to be mistaken as anything else. He rubbed his eyes a little after
taking note of the person who had made the decision to spy on Hiro at the worst
possible moment. Who other than Zorome to stick his nose where it didn't belong.

Zorome : Look at what we have here�

Miku : You actually disgust me

Zorome : Ah, c'mon it's not my fault they decided to do it out in the open at a
public park

Ikuno : And I'm sure it's not your fault that you decided to take a picture of it�

Sakura : Cute picture!

Mitsuru: �

While he was still groaning internally about the violation of their privacy, he
couldn't help but chuckle a bit to himself after seeing the responses. He set his
phone back on his nightstand and forced himself to rise from his comfortable
position. The sunlight gently seeped through curtains at his bedside.

What a beautiful day.

"It was just a harmless picture guys! This is a bit too much, don't you think?",
Futoshi reasoned.

The other girls were having none of it, there was a fire flickering in their eyes
as the approached a cornered Zorome.
"Do you have any concept of privacy?", Miku said yelled yanking the boy up by his
collar.

Zorome gave a pleading toward where Goro,Sakura, and Hiro were sitting. Goro gave
an apologetic smile as the other two completely ignored his existence, caught up in
their own idle chit-chat.

"If you keep missing homeroom to wait up for me you're going to get in trouble too
you know," Hiro said slightly concerned.

"It's fine as long as I show up to my other classes isn't it? Besides, homeroom is
painfully boring without you," she dismissed, still doodling in her notebook as
they sat on a bench in the central courtyard of the school, plenty of time to spare
before their train arrived.

The distant cries of Zorome could be heard as the Ikuno,Ichigo, and Miku continued
with whatever gratuitous torture they had brought upon him. Mitsuru and Kokoro sat
beside each other, leaning against the tree beside the park bench the other three
were resting at as Futoshi continued to plea for mercy on Zorome.

"Honestly, sensei doesn't even seem to mind you guys walking in late anymore
anyways," Goro said, seemingly encouraging Sakura's behavior with a grin.

Hiro sighed, knowing that his oversleeping was also partially to blame for this
anyways.

"Are you all going to the Apus festival next weekend?" Kokomo interjected, changing
the subject of conversation.

The festival was only held once every four years in Japan, it was a celebration of
the lives of those who had passed on a millennia ago in order for humanity to reach
the times of peace they took for granted now. He knew she was particularly
referencing himself and Sakura, after all it didn't seem like the worst idea for a
date. As a result Sakura, who had been previously been absorbed in her numerous
bird doodles, now looked toward Hiro with an excited look.

"We're going," She stated matter of factly, not giving him an option it seemed.

"I guess we're going," Hiro parroted.

"If everyone else is planning on going, I'll be there, I heard the fireworks will
be extra extravagant this year," Goro said.

"I'm sure there will be lots of sweets and good food," Sakura said, practically
swooning at the thought of all the delicious treats she'd find. "And, it's also
supposed to have a bit of a romantic atmosphere, do you know what that means
Darling~?" Now looking mischievously at Hiro.

He scratched his cheek and laughed nervously at her statement. He took note of the
name she used to call him internally, but didn't think too much of it because of
her teasing nature.

"It has the name of the Apus constellation in it after all," Mitsuru who didn't
have much to add up until this point finally put in his own input.

Kokoro clasped her hands together and smiled gently, "I'm glad! I definitely hope
to see you all there."

"Yeah, if we're going to make this happen I want you four to promise you'll at
least spend a little time with the group before running off to do your own thing,"
Goro chastised.

"O-of course!" Mitsuru stammered out as cheeks created a light blush red.

"Fineeeeee," Sakura regrettably agreed to spend at least a little time with her
other friends.

Hiro found himself chuckling at the entire situation, it just felt so wonderful to
be able to enjoy moments like these. He'd found himself so caught up in the moment
that he failed to notice the Ichigo and Miku dragging a mostly lifeless Zorome
towards them, with Ikuno in the lead and Futoshi following behind.

"Apologize," Ichigo stated.

Hiro took note of the writing on his forehead that read 'I'm an asshole'. He hoped
it was washable marker, if it was sharpie his punishment might of been a bit
overboard indeed.

"I'm sorry alright, sheesh, you guys act like I killed your dog or something,"
Zorome grumbled.

"You're forgiven," Hiro and Sakura said nonchalantly in unison. Neither of them
phased by how in sync they were.

"I'm actually kinda glad you did, now I have a new screensaver," Sakura added,
fishing out her phone and turned it towards the group.

"Eh?" Everyone except for Hiro was in shock.

She'd already shown him the screen saver earlier in the day, and even then he
wasn't very surprised. It just seemed like something she would do.

"T-then why did you let them do this to me!?" Zorome asked looking for answers.

"Hmmm, well Miku did say that what you did was fairly rude so I agreed to let her
do as she pleased with you." Sakura stated.

"You guys are too cruel!" Zorome yelled comedically.

"You have to admit it's a bit funny Zorome�" Ikuno added holding in her laughter.

"Shut it four-eyes!"

With that the group burst out laughing, the situation was too much to handle.

"You know we can't keep having close calls like that one," Hiro stated as he walked
together with Sakura through the quiet neighborhood they lived in.

"We made it didn't we?"

"If I hadn't dragged you from that arcade we wouldn't of."

"I almost had the high score," she pouted.

Hiro laughed and turned his head up towards the millions and billions of twinkling
lights in the sky above them. He recalled learning in his history class about the
light pollution that had previously made a lot of the constellations of the night
sky disappear, and how humanity was now working to prevent those previous mistakes.
It had payed off big time, the sky above him looked fantastical in nature as the
radiant lights shone down toward Earth.

"There!" She pointed somewhere far above, "Apus!"

Following Sakura's gaze he was able to find the Apus constellation himself in the
night sky. Four twinkling little stars the glowed red in the sky arranged in an
absurdly ambiguous shape. His heart twisted looking at those stars and numerous
feelings washed over him, he couldn't explain it in the moment. Looking back, he
realized it must of been the memories etched into his soul crying out. He glanced
over at Sakura, examining her face that was still full of wonder as she gazed at
the night sky, the soft kiss of moonlight made her practically glow. It wasn't long
before she found him practically staring at her.

"Darling you couldn't possibly be thinking perverted things about me right now
could you?", Sakura said teasingly.

He smiled, "And if I am?"

His response caught her off-guard for a moment, and then she began laughing.

"I always knew you had a dirty mind deep down." She said as she leaned in to kiss
him.

The stars above seemed to shine a little brighter in that moment, reaching out to
surround them in an ethereal light. Two pairs of glowing red and blue pinpricks
glinted slightly in the hair of star-crossed lovers, unbeknownst to either of them.

14 Chapter 3: Something Simple


"Read it again please, pleaseeee!" The small pink haired girl demanded.

"I've already read it for you twice today Sakura, shouldn't we do something else?"

The small girl reached out with her hand toward the boy who accompanied her on that
warm spring day. The sunlight above them cascaded down through the limbs of the
ancient tree they rested against, becoming more and more dim as the sun descended
upon the city horizon. In her hand was one of her many overly sweet treats she
shared with him from time to time. She seemed to be offering it as a type of bribe
in order to get him to read for her again, although she failed to mention the fact
that she had been licking that same treat prior to realizing it was an important
bargaining chip.

The boy sighed.

"Fine," grabbing the lollipop and plopping it into his mouth, wincing slightly at
the sudden rush of sweet flavors colliding with his tongue, "but this is the last
time today, okay?"

"Fineeee," the girl swayed side to side smiling toothily.

At least, she was smiling until the raven-haired boy next to her collapsed for
seemingly no reason. His breath had become labored and his eyes were closed in
pain. Beads of sweat had formed on his face as heat radiated from his forehead.

"What's wrong!?" The young girl reached out and grabbed his shoulder, a panicked
look on her face.

"Zer� Tw�" He mumbled out under bated breath.


His face had become a ghostly white and his eyes had seemingly rolled into the back
of his head.

"Hey, what do I do? Are you okay? Say something, please!" She was becoming more and
more worried, tears starting to well in her eyes.

A middle-aged woman that had been taking a leisurely stroll with her partner had
noticed the commotion and was now rushing toward the two of them. Her partner
appeared to be calling an ambulance, they seemed to realize the severity of the
situation. Sakura was so afraid, she didn't want to lose him, she couldn't lose
him. Tears were flowing from her eyes, and her small heart was racing with
confusion and worry.

"W-what's wrong with him?" She choked out toward the older woman who was carefully
examining the boy.

She shot Sakura a comforting smile, however, the worry was written all over her
face.

"He's gonna be alright just trust me," the older woman said glancing at her partner
who was now approaching, still on the phone.

It wasn't long before paramedics had arrived, the last thing she remembered from
that day was watching through teary eyes as her only friend was carted away by an
ambulance.

Sakura had left the house despite her mother's persistent claims that she'd only be
a bother to his parents should she decide to visit him. Stubborn was an
understatement for what Sakura was however, and so she continued her walk through
the snowy wind toward the front door of what had become something of a second home
for her over the past year. She raised her hand to knock on the door, but hesitated
slightly, head looking up toward the window of Hiro's room and then traveling down
to her feet. Was it really okay for her to show up like this? After all, she was
probably the one that caused all this trouble to begin with�

To her surprise, the door in front of her swung open. She looked up to meet the
blue eyes of the woman that was her companion's mother.

"What are you doing out here by yourself Sakura?" The black haired woman
questioned, "It's freezing, hurry inside."

Sakura didn't step inside, fists clenched at her side as she buried her face deeper
into the red scarf she wore around her neck. She was welcoming her inside? Sakura
had expected to be turned away, to be told to come again at a better time, but
instead� The older woman noticed how tense she was and gently smiled as she leaned
down to pull Sakura into an embrace.

"He's alright you know? I'm sure he'd love to see you, so come inside will you?"
Hiro's mother spoke soothingly to Sakura.

Sakura sniffled a bit, trying not to cry and when she was released from the
embrace, she followed the older woman inside. Together they peered inside the dimly
lit room Hiro was resting in, his face was pale, but his breath was steady, which
seemed to give Sakura a bit of comfort as she rushed to his bedside to examine him.

He stirred slight from his rest and she silently cursed herself for her hasty
approach. It seemed to be a false alarm however, as his eyes remained closed and he
soon ceased rustling under the covers that he was cocooned in.
"The doctors couldn't find anything major wrong with him," the older woman said
quietly from behind Sakura, "they told us it's most likely just a fever and it'd be
best to just let his body recover to the best of its ability."

"So he's going to be okay?" Her eyes wide with and full of hope.

"Yep, I'm certain he's not the type to let something as simple as a fever take him
out. Don't you think so too?"

Sakura nodded, and then returned her attention to the boy in the bed taking seat in
the uncomfortable wooden chair placed temporarily at his bead side.

"Can I stay here for a while?" Sakura asked innocently, not wanting to leave his
side in fear that the second she looked away he would fade to nothing.

Another warm smile and nod from his mother was all she needed as she leaned herself
onto his bed side gripping onto his hand and squeezing gently. After the older
woman had left, Sakura began to lose track of time as she gently played with the
boy's fingers. She thought of the first time they met, when he reached out to her
like none of the other children ever seemed to do. She always struggled with other
children, her temperament made her more quick to anger than most. You could always
tell when she was in one of her dangerous moods when her eyes glowed red like a ,
even after learning about that side of her, Hiro was never afraid, he never cowered
away from her. Instead, he was always the one to pull her back to Earth, to keep
her emotions from running wild. For the first time in her adolescence, she finally
felt like she had a chance to fit in normally with him. She absolutely could not
let him disappear. She had to protect him.

Time continued to pass until Sakura's fatigue finally gave into sleep as she
collapsed completely onto Hiro's bedside. Still clinging onto the hand that had
reached out and changed her life forever.

"Sakura?" Ichigo questioned, pulling the emerald eyed girl out of her day-dream.
"Are you feeling alright? You haven't touched your ice cream�"

"A-ah, I'm fine, just a bit tired," Sakura said, half smiling as she was pulled
back into the present by the voice of her friend.

Kokoro, Miku, Ichigo, Ikuno, and Sakura had decided to meet up at one of the mall
plazas spaced throughout New Tokyo as a sort of girl's day out. They all wanted to
meet up in order to discuss one of the group projects they had decided to work on
together. At least, that was their excuse for going out to find something
appropriate to wear to the upcoming festival and relax on their off-day.

"She was probably too busy thinking about you-know-who to even fall asleep," Ikuno
joked.

Sakura rolled her eyes in response while Miku snickered at the comment.

"And who might you be thinking about right now, Ikuno?" Sakura questioned with a
sly smile, finally beginning to dig into her strawberry ice cream.

Ikuno was caught off guard by the comment, and her face reddened as she glanced
quickly in the direction of a certain blue haired girl, before returning her gaze
to her hands.

"N-no one in particular, why?"

It was Sakura's turn to snicker, she pulled her phone out of her pocket to check
the time and sighed once she saw how much of her day had disappeared.

"Are you happy with what you picked out?" Ichigo said gesturing toward the shopping
bag at Sakura's feet.

"Mm, it's not anything spectacular, but I think Darling will certainly like it,"
Sakura said with a smile.

"Darling?Eh�" Miku mused with a grin.

Sakura ignored Miku's attempts to tease her and Ichigo continued on with their
conversation.

"That's good," Ichigo smiled, "I know you said your just tired, but if something's
bothering you feel free to talk to me about it! You've seemed out of it this whole
week�"

"I'm fine mom," Sakura joked, trying to avoid the topic while absorbing herself in
the bursting sweet flavor of strawberry in her mouth.

Ichigo sighed in defeat, but still held onto her slight smile.

Hiro was busy studying for a science exam when his father informed him of his
unexpected, but not surprising, visitor.

"Yo," Sakura smiled brightly at him.

She was in casual clothing, jean-shorts and a white t-shirt, she had a shopping bag
over her shoulder accompanied by her small pink hand-bag. Even in her casual
clothing she really did look extraordinarily beautiful to him.

"Done already? I though you guys were going to spend the entire day in town?" Hiro
questioned.

"We were feeling pretty tired so we decided to head home a bit early," Sakura said,
walking past him into his home as if it were her own.

Before Hiro even had time to say anything else, she was already heading up the
steps toward his room.

"I hope you don't expect me to entertain you, I have a big test on Monday you
know�" Hiro said matter of factly closing the door behind him as he entered his
room behind her.

Sakura tossed her bags to the side and plopped herself down on his bed, making
herself comfortable.

"-s fine," she spoke face down into his pillow, "if I went home I'd end up being
bored by myself anyways."

Hiro shrugged and returned to his reading on his desk. He was reading about topic
of particular interest in their society: yellow blood cells. Their origin in homo-
sapiens went back only a thousand years, and were first introduced as a method for
humanity to take control of the Franxx that had been used to defend them in the
past. Yellow blood cells had no side-effects or functions in low concentration, and
yet every human had them. They had integrated themselves into the human genetic
code and long outlived their purpose. Nature would suggest their disappearance over
time due to this, especially due to the issues YBCs caused at higher
concentrations. Children born with abnormally high counts of these cells typically
died due to rapid aging and organ failure within a few months after birth. A tragic
event that occurred once in every million childbirths.

However, what made this topic so interesting to Hiro was the fact that he
recognized that he and Sakura were once a part of the original parasites who
restarted humanity. There were very few mentions of specific names in the history
books, a long list of all the parasites that had contributed to the new beginnings
of human society were present in nearly every history text, but the only names put
separately were those of the supposed "saviors" of humanity: Hiro, his namesake and
former self, and Zero Two. So he knew for certain he had once been a parasite. He'd
always been told by his mother that he and Sakura were miracle children, born with
absurdly high YBC concentrations and yet showing no symptoms of aging or abnormal
growths. Now that he was learning more and more about the nature of the new world
he was living in, he couldn't help but wonder if the concentration of yellow blood
cells in their blood had something to do with his recollection of vague memories
from his previous life. Maybe the blood cells weren't just a problematic byproduct
of humanities misguided past.

Silence greeted him after he pulled himself from his thoughts, the girl behind him
was being oddly quiet. Spinning his chair around he found the teenaged girl behind
him completely passed out, eyes closed in a seemingly blissful sleep and legs
pulled up close toward her chest. He smiled to himself, while a storm was raging in
his mind, she was sleeping peacefully, there wasn't any better reminder that he was
overthinking things again. Rising from his chair he grabbed his extra blanket from
the end of the bed and pulled it over her gently. Just as he was turning around to
return to his desk he took notice of Sakura's shopping bag, before he had a chance
to peak inside he heard a voice growl from behind him.

"Don't," the pink haired girl warned.

Hiro laughed nervously and quickly backed away from the bag, returning to his seat.
Sakura rubbed the sleep from her eyes as she sat up slightly leaning on her elbow
to look out the window. It had begun to rain.

"Have you been staying up too late recently or what?" Hiro asked jokingly.

"Is it so wrong to want to take a nap every now an again?" Sakura scoffed.

"I suppose not," Hiro shrugged, "but if you're taking a nap because you've been
having bad dreams again and can't sleep properly I'd like to hear about it."

He innocently decided to press the issue, she used to have a lot of trouble
sleeping as a child due to her vivid nightmares. She still had them occasionally,
but luckily they weren't nearly as frequent. Hiro knew if he didn't face her head
on with persistence she'd keep everything to herself, and what kind of companion
would he be if she let her do that? Oh, how hypocritical he was to think that way
though�

She met his eyes for a few moments and finally groaned, falling onto her back.

"It's just the same one as usual," she said, giving in, "we're walking together
with my family and then my dad fades away and you disappear along with him. Then
it's like an ocean surrounds and no matter how hard a yell or cry my voice get's
muffled to nothing."

She shivered slightly at the though of the abyss her mind created at night. Hiro
appeared thoughtful for a couple moments. Her dad had died when she very young, and
she tended to avoid the topic vehemently except for in moments like these, he knew
she alway feared being left behind by others even if she never showed it.
"I'm not going anywhere you know? It's always gonna be just a dream, I promise."
Hiro said softly in an attempt to comfort her.

She rolled away from him onto her other side.

"I know," her light blush was hidden from him the words that followed were much
quieter, "will you read me the picture book?"

Hiro was slightly caught off-guard by her request, and glanced at his textbook
before sighing and moving to retrieve the colorful book from his bookshelf.

"Alright, but after this I'm going to need to get back to studying."

"Fineeee," she sing-singed.

"'In the deepest, darkest part of a forest lived a tribe�" He began.

Sakura would occasionally chime in whenever Hiro read something she particularly
liked, but otherwise remained quiet as her breath began to steady. As Hiro finished
reading the final page it was clear that she had fallen back asleep. He analyzed
the final page of the book and couldn't help but smile to himself.

Let's rewrite the ending together!

The familiar words rang through his head. He returned his focus to Sakura.

"Sweet dreams princess," he joked quietly to himself.

The rhythmic sound of rain was the only noise in the room the two of them shared as
the comfortable silence rapped around them in a warm embrace. These were the simple
things Hiro valued the most.

AN: And that's that, I was planning on keeping most of the focus on Sakura's
perspective this chapter, but I figured interchanging in some of Hiro's perspective
would make the chapter flow better toward the end. Most of this stuff is still just
build up still, mostly fluff but I hope you guys enjoyed. I'm not sure how many
chapters or words this will be by the end, but as I mentioned previously I have a
really solid idea of where we'll end up with this story and it's probably not too
far off at this point. Anyways, thanks for all the reviews, follows, and favorites
as always I plan to stick to the weekly update schedule (5-7 days between chapters
if all goes well) since it's given me plenty of time to mill over ideas for this
story while also manage other things I have going on.