Author's Notes: This little piece takes place some time after the series where in my future, Ayu is with Nomiya and Mayama is with Rika. But a short time later, Rika dies and these are Ayu's thoughts at the funeral.
The Selfish Me
After all this time, after so many years of waiting, of hating her, cursing her, my rival is finally gone. But only a small part of me is satisfied. The rest of me sees how broken he is, how much pain he is in, how much he really loved her. But the selfish me doesn't care.
No, I didn't really hate her. I hardly knew her. I just met her those few times when she praised my pottery works. She was so nice, so unsuspecting of the depths of my angry jealousy.
He treated her like a prized fragile antique while I was just an old favorite mug - too familiar to throw away, too plain to treasure. She was a delicate porcelain vase while I was just regular rough stoneware. But stoneware is more resilient than porcelain. I'm the one who's still standing.
I've loved him for so long and only recently have I abandoned all hope. No, not all hope. There was still that small part of me, the envious selfish me, who held on despite all common sense. I can feel that hidden part growing within me, trying to bubble to the surface, even now as I stand by this cold grave.
The sun is shining and I notice how his hair glints like red gold, like fire. It should be a rainy, cloudy, somber day, shouldn't it? Diminishing the flames in my heart and the heat I feel whenever I'm close to him. Is this brightness a reflection of his love for her? Did his love warm the bitter sorrow of her heart? Did she love him as much as he loved her or as I loved him? Or was she still bound to her dead past? Will he be bound to her now as she was to her late husband? What was he to her? Did she finally return his feelings? Did his persistence wear her down? His rejections finally wore me down. There is no future in unrequited love, that I know, and yet.
There are so many people here. So many who loved her, was touched by her. I hardly hear the words others say about how gentle, how good she was. How unlike her I am. They call me the "Iron Lady" for my quick temper and quicker right cross. If I could be like her, would he love me then? Or is there something else that binds him to her? Her tragedy, her piteous plight, is that why he loved her? How can my vitality compete with such needful sorrow. Even in death she calls to him, more alive and real to him than I will ever be.
As I pick up the dirt and toss it into the grave, I think of how I want to go over to him and offer my comfort but something stops me. Am I afraid of being rejected again? Or of him finally turning to me but only as his second choice?
Or is it because the other one is with me? I don't want to hurt him either, but just by being here, unable to move my eyes away from him, I know I am.
I know he can read my thoughts and I feel his arm tighten around my waist as if holding me back. Yet he stands by me patiently. Would he be satisfied as a second choice? How much longer until he gives up? Would he hold on for years as I did? Or will today be the last for us?
In the end, will I lose them both?
Author's Notes: The title is from a line in the anime where Ayu thinks of herself as selfish.
The last passage can be confusing since there are two men involved and I just use the pronoun "he" instead of their names. Since these are Ayu's thoughts, she knows who is who and doesn't need to identify them by name. In my mind, Nomiya is the one standing by Ayu and holding her back from Mayama at Rika's funeral. I really prefer Shuu to be with Rika, but if Rika actually died, there would be even more conflict