exchange. @turnaboutsister
exchange. originally published 12/15/18 spoilers for case two of Dai Gyakuten Saiban--the Great Ace Attorney. don't read if you ship Susato with Ryuunosuke or Asougi. She is a teenager.

It's nice, he supposes, to actually have a bed to sleep on instead of a tiny closet. It's nice, he thinks, to be able to stretch his legs and walk around the ship, to look out across the sea and talk to other people. It's nice, he says, being able to eat full meals instead of whatever scraps his friend offered from his food.

But he was mostly lying to himself.

The trade off for his freedom is almost too much for Ryuunosuke to bear.

He now spends hour after hour hunched over the desk that used to belong to his best friend, studying words and phrases that blur together on the page. He often found himself waking up to greet his friend, only to be met with a defining silence and the low groaning of the ship as it moved through the water. Sometimes Susato would turn toward him and accidentally call him by their friend’s name, only to look away in shame (sometimes he would do the same to her). Sometimes he’d see a flash of bright red and believe it was his old friend, only to look down at his hip and realize it was just his old headband tied around his old katana, softly blowing in the nonexistent warm breeze, just as it had when his friend was alive. And anytime Ryuunosuke or Susato moved around the cabin, they would actively avoid standing over the spot where he once lay, unmoving, unblinking, unbreathing.

Anytime his eyes moved to the spot where his friend’s body was found, he could still see him in his mind’s eye. The faint, asymmetrical outline stays ingrained in his memories. No blood, no real signs of a struggle; the Russian lettering for “closet” still faintly visible on the floor in front of the limp figure.

Asougi Kazuma had died.

It had almost been two weeks since then. To think that such a small accident could snuff out one of the brightest lights in his life - it was almost laughable, to be honest. The great Asougi Kazuma, brought down by merely a cat, a push, and a bedframe. If Naruhodou had told his old friend that information, he would have laughed with that same warm laughter he always used, would have said that was the funniest thing he’d heard all month, and would have wrapped his arm around his shoulder.

What Ryuu wouldn give to hear that laughter again, to watch Asougi throw his head back and let his glee be known to everyone in the room. To throw his arms around his friend and give him one final hug goodbye at the very least.

Maybe, if he was able to see him one last time, he’d be able to tell his friend the painful conclusion he realized over the past couple of weeks.

He shook himself out of his thoughts and groaned. He’d been especially moody as of late, for even just the memory of Asougi put him out of sorts.

There was a soft knock at the door, startling Naruhodou out of his thoughts. “Naruhodou-sama?”

The voice behind it was muffled, making it hard for him to determine who it belonged to, but with how soft the knock was, it reminded him of… but it couldn’t have been… it was impossible…

With his heart pounding loudly in his ears, Naruhodouu walked over to the door, trying to will away all of his hope as he wandered slowly towards the door, opening it to reveal…

“Susato-san? What are you doing up so late?”

Wearing white sleepwear with light purple embroidery and her hair down, Susato bowed her head in greeting. “I could ask you the same thing, Naruhodou-sama.”

“Ah…” He stepped out of the way so Susato could walk into the room, trying to dispel his disappointment that his old friend wasn’t the one waiting beyond the door.

Then he mentally scolded himself for thinking something so stupid. Asougi never used honorifics to address me, after all.

Truth be told, he hadn’t been able to sleep very well since the accident, so Naruhodou would stay up late, trying his hardest to understand some English laws before his arrival in the Great British Empire’s capital, London. It wasn’t as easy as he thought it would be.

“Ah… W-well… I was hoping to brush up on some… laws before we got to London…”

Susato nodded, “I will help you then.”

Honestly, Naruhodouu had expected that answer, just as much as he expected her to follow him to the desk, to make careful steps to avoid stepping in the spot.

For a good long time, neither one of them said much. Susato would occasionally offer advice, or help him find the correct answer to his question, but other than that, the pair was dead silent. At last, with a heavy sigh, Susato leaned against him, her cheek on the top of his head.

“Susato…?”

“I miss him, Naruhodou-sama.” Susato was so quiet, that if it wasn’t for her heavy weight leaning against him, he probably wouldn’t have heard her speak.

Thankfully, he did not have to ask who she meant by this, “...As do I.”

The girl hummed in response, “I know he would want us to move forward, but…” she let out another sigh, and he could feel how shaky it was. “Sometimes, it hurts too much.”

He paused, unsure of how to help her feel better. After all, wasn’t he just thinking the same thing? Wasn’t he just as lost in thought about how much his heart was aching to see him again? Ugh. He’s the adult here. He should be able to help her feel better!

Maybe letting her know the feeling was mutual would be enough to lighten her shoulders, he told himself. “Yeah… I… I haven’t been sleeping very well ever since, even though I have a bed now…”

Susato giggled. That was a good sign! Or, at least, it was, until her breathing became more ragged, and Naruhodou could feel the top of his head getting wet. “I--I’m sorry, Naruhodou-sama, it’s just…” she finally moved off of him, and he turned to watch her try to wipe her tears away, “I just can’t believe someone as amazing as Kazuma-sama is actually gone, especially in such a horrible way…!”

At first, Ryuu found himself at a loss for words again, but Susato continued, “And not only that, but we won’t be there for his funeral!” She took a long, shaky breath, “he was a--" she squeezed her eyes shut, "he was important to me, Naruhodou-sama… and you were his best friend… he talked about you so often that it… it just doesn’t seem right, that we have to leave him behind...!” Susato’s normally cheerful or carefully composed face began crumpling up.

“Now he’s gone forever…!”

Finally, Ryuunosuke stood up, and carefully put his hands on her shoulders. “But he isn’t gone. Not really, Susato.” She only stared at him, mouth agape as tears continued to roll down her face. “We might not be able to see, or hear, or talk to Asougi anymore, but that doesn’t mean he’s gone.”

He slowly reached over to the side of the desk, showing her Karuma, the bright red hachimaki tied around the hilt of the blade - a mark of hope. “Asougi told me; ‘a katana is a Japanese soul. I couldn’t ever allow this to be away from my side.’ Don’t you see?” Pressing the blade in her hands, he gave her a smile, but he was unsure if it displayed hopeful sincerity without giving away his sadness too. “Asougi, he’s... he’s with us right now. His soul is right here, in our hands. For as long as one of us has Karuma, his soul will always be with us. Helping us. Protecting us. Taking care of us. And I know that as long as we fight for his dream, he’ll keep smiling at us too.”

Susato just kept staring at him, and she finally gave him a wet smile and threw her arms around his shoulders, leaning her weight on him again. “Thank you, Naruhodou-sama…!” Her words were muffled against the fabric of his shirt.

Carefully, the exchange student wrapped his arms around her too, smiling into her hair and crying too. “Of course, Susato-san.”

After all, those were the words I so desperately needed to hear myself…

He’s unsure of how long they stood there, hugging and weeping, clinging to fabric desperately like it was their last connection to Asougi Kazuma, but eventually, the two of them released each other, wiping at their own tear stained faces and laughing, trying to apologise for their reactions.

“I think… I think I should try to get some rest again…” Susato finally said.

“Y… Yeah, me too…” Ryuu wondered if she felt as exhausted as he did.

“Good night…” Susato bowed her head, but before she was completely out of the door, she hesitated, turned around the corner of the door. Her lips curled into a small, genuine smile when she whispered, “Thank you… Naruhodou Ryunosuke.”

He smiled back at her. “You too, Susato.”

As he changed into his nightwear and slowly crawled into the bed that once belonged to Asougi Kazuma, Naruhodou felt as though he had finally, finally been emptied out. All the pain, the uncertainty, the sorrow that he had felt since his friend’s departure had been flushed out; much like chalk after a heavy rainfall.

As he felt a soft, warm breeze in the otherwise still air presiding over him, Ryuunosuke was finally able to sleep soundly for the first time in two weeks.

this was written before i played the rest of the series, so my grip on these characters was a little rocky. original notes: cause case 2 broke into my home, took my Nintendo switch, and then stabbed me in the heart I wanted to write something to reflect Naruhodo and Susato’s emotional state after Asougi’s death, so I wrote this little thing! What happened to Asougi was just… really awful, not because it was done on purpose, but because it was an accident. Nikomina didn’t want to kill him, it was a horrible accident that was born out of miscommunication, she was just trying to protect herself because she thought he was going to send her back to her abusers (the Russian ballet). What’s even worse is that Naruhodo was framed for it even though Asougi was his best friend. And then for him to turn around and forgive Nikomina and the sailor who helped her? That almost made me cry. He’s saddened by the loss of his friend, but he understands that it was an accident, and just wants her to be safe. i really want to give a shoutout to the DGS server! your constant support of my writing is so wonderful and really inspires me to continue writing! i love you all so much, even if you guys are constantly gnoming each other. also shoutout to leon for proofreading this for me!
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