Not as brave as you were at the start (Jadeite)

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Not as brave as you were at the start (Jadeite)
Date of Cutscene: 25 August 2017
Location: Earth Court Frat House
Synopsis: Jadeite met a little girl who claimed to be his sister and rejected her (and the past) entirely, and that wasn't even the end of a long day. Alone in his apartment, he reflects on that decision.
Cast of Characters: Jadeite

This has not been the longest day of his life. It has not been the worst day of his life. None of that doesn’t mean that this has been a good day, though. It just means that life has been, is, and will probably continue to be, a hard thing to deal with.

Jadeite sits on his bed, hair wet and drip-drop-dripping down his neck and cheeks, and wishes that fate and karma and bad luck hadn't all conspired to make it worse by dropping a yellow-and-black-backpack- wearing little package of trauma on him. A two for one special of trauma even, because of course he can’t just have one maybe-sister, he has to have two.

The worst part is that the girl isn’t lying.

The worst part is that the girl isn’t wrong.

The worst part is that deep in his heart he can put enough of the pieces together to know Hana Suzuki really is his little sister.

He doesn't want to know it. He doesn't want to believe it, doesn't remember it at all, but he had touched her hand, earlier, and that, with the name and the tears, that’s enough that his head ought to be swirling with a memory fragments and feelings and sentiments.

Ought to be, but isn’t, because he still hasn't let himself consider that moment. Still hasn't drawn back the ice he’d built around his heart in a moment of desperate refusal, hasn't done his part to reopen his connection to Mamoru and feel it all.

It’s helpful, that ice, because he can consider the problem of the past from an angle that isn't soaked in sheer unadulterated nope. That hadn't been possible, in the middle of things, faced with a little girl that was devastatingly familiar in the worst way, a little girl who looked too old, because he was older now than he had been, and so surely any memories would be of a girl half that age. Of two little girls half that age, because there had been two girls in that picture.

He doesn't remember anything, not yet. Not ever, if he has his way.

He doesn't want blood family.

This isn't a new thought - he’s thought it before, when Kazuo’s father appeared as if from nowhere with a private investigator and cruel assumptions. He thought it a lot, when the memorybeans sat in their jar and they all knew it was only a matter of time before they were eaten. He’s thought it every year on the day they celebrate as his, the day that he picked at random from a calendar and declared his birthday, because what more did he need than the family they had all cobbled together and grown?

He’s met a little girl who claims him as her brother and he still thinks that, because looking at her made him feel anxious, made him feel worried and sick, made guilt curl like rancid milk in the pit of his gut and called down a shadow over his mood like clouds swooping into block the sun.

It isn't her fault. She’s probably a great kid, a lovely person, but he doesn't want anything to do with that one two punch of emotion that he can tell is only going to get worse from here. If he let's it.

He doesn't have to let it.

If he lets her in then nothing will ever be the same. If he lets her in everything will change. If he lets her in, he’s going to love her, and her sister, and he can already tell, already knows, even with his feelings buried under a metric ton of metaphorical ice, that if he allows himself to love Hana and Nana then that love will tear him to pieces.

He can't remember why that is. He can't remember where the certainty comes from.

He doesn't want to remember that either, though the word ’disappointment’ comes to mind, unbidden and uncalled for, the look in Rei’s eyes as she walked him home and tried to find out what was wrong, the feeling in Mamoru’s skin when he picked himself over the little girl seated across from them, and his shoulders hunch and he buries his face in his hands and breathes and pretends he doesn't feel them shaking.

When he finally falls asleep, his dreams are full of laughter so bright it hurts and figures taller than him, that stretch up forever, with disappointed eyes and disinterested voices and the chemically sterile scent of a hospital. His dreams are full of responsibility that threatens to break his back and the split-sense that something and nothing is wrong, that there is somewhere and yet nowhere that he should be, and the distantly heard echo of one child screaming in shock and fear and pain and another one crying so hard that she chokes on her tears.

When he wakes up the next morning, eyes heavy with exhaustion and mouth dry from sleep, there is a split second where he thinks, where the echo of someone else thinks, "Time to get the girls up, they’re going to be late.’’

He decides that he isn't going to acknowledge that either.