Repairing Broken Dreams



Original poster
Today was a very important day for Kohaku Ijichi, a student at Western New Mexico University. He was majoring in graphic design, a passion of his that he knew he could turn into a promising career. Kohaku had a vision to one day, be employed with a comic book company so he could draw for them, or even make a series of his own. Becoming an 'indie' artist didn't sound too bad, either. There were stacks of stories, characters and drawings back at his home that he wanted to someday, turn into something for the world to enjoy.

Tucked under his arm was, actually, a comic book. A short one with only a few pages, but hopefully worthy of an A. It was for a final project in his art class that he was anxious to share with his classmates. Kohaku was so excited that he didn't put it into his backpack. Instead, he carried it proudly, once in a while flipping through the pages so he could admire his hard work. He was even dressed nicely for the day, in black slacks and a navy button up shirt. In these clothes, he felt like a professional. Surely, he'd get a positive grade for his terrific image as well. Despite his scrawny physique, he was quite charming.

The young man stopped in front of a cross walk, waiting for the lights to turn red for the passing vehicles. There were dark circles beneath his chocolatey brown eyes, flawing his tan skin and giving the obvious sign he was lacking good sleep. Normally, he had a mess of black hair, but he combed it neatly today so he was more presentable. Well adjusted on his nose was a pair of glasses with thick, black frames. Very little could be accomplished without them.

Smiling to himself, Kohaku leaned against the traffic light post, patiently waiting his turn to use the street. He was blinking his eyes tiredly and his body was relaxing. Then and there, he felt like he could fall asleep. Nearby students also waiting to cross were chuckling at him. Kohaku wasn't very well known at school, being the shy, quiet person he was. Those who did know him, found him to be a delight, though. He was quirky and 'nerdy', always lost in his hobbies of comics, games and computers when he had free time.

Normally, he'd wave to the fellow students and make a sheepish smile, probably even ask how they're doing. Not now, though. Instead, he let his mind wander.

The morning was pleasantly warm, something that Charis was pleased about. The sunny skies and the gentle breeze meant that the conditions would be optimal for the game today, not too hot but not cold either. With the game being early, Charis had opted to wear her shorts and jersey to school, along with her knee high socks. The only thing missing from a complete outfit were her cleats, switched in favor of a pair of tennis shoes for walking to school. Her cleat were safely in her locked, anyway.

The colors of the college were reflected in the colors of her jersey and she wore the dusty brown and red with pride, knowing that it was displayed on her back for all to see as she jogged to school that she was number 17, Hebe. She was smiling broadly to herself because of this, as well as an overall feeling of happiness at the lovely day.

It felt to Charis as though the day itself were glad, not just her. Though being so far south in New Mexico was typically very hot and arid, almost like a desert, the day seemed to have friendlier thoughts in mind and was looking to be more temperate than sweltering. The sky was cloudless and perfectly blue. The view of the mountains brought her thoughts back to the training center in Colorado that she'd recently visited. They'd given her an impossible proposition - dropping college and training for the Olympics full time.

Jogging just a little bit faster with her thoughts lifted high into the sky, Chair smiled. Though her answer to them had been quite neutral, that she would need time to consider it, she knew in her heart what she wanted. She knew that the prospect of being an Olympic soccer player was too sweet a lure to resist for her and she'd never be able to focus on her classes with the tempting bait arranged neatly just out of her reach. She would do it, she knew. She just didn't want to have wasted the money she spend on this semester of college.

Up ahead of her, Charis saw a boy and a few other students, milling around and waiting for the light to change. She slowed her jogging, trying to time it up so that she did not have to stop and wait and could instead continue running. Her eyes were trained ahead, trying to focus on looking at the students rather than stewing in her own thoughts.
A dramatically spoken "Finally!" from someone nearby is what broke Kohaku free of his thoughts. The sign switched to the radiant white symbol of a person, signaling permission to cross, all of the cars coming to a halt so the pedestrians could walk. Kohaku straightened himself up while making a yawn, his muscles tensing as he did. They relaxed shortly after and he smiled to himself, pleased with the sensation coursing through his arms.

Not too far behind the other group of students, he began to make his way across the road. When he only got halfway into the crosswalk, something crashed into him. A hurried woman hand in hand with a little girl bumped into Kohaku, the collision causing his arms to spread outward in surprise. With a gasp, he caught his balance and moved aside, then bowed his head apologetically. The mother pat him on the shoulder and apologized as well. After all, it was entirely her fault for rushing into him.

Once the two had passed, Kohaku resumed his walk with his hands in his pockets. Something wasn't right, though... The moment his feet stepped onto the sidewalk, a pang of fear struck his heart. Muttering a curse to himself, he turned around, eyes wide at the sight of his art project sitting in the street. The comic book was dropped when he was bumped into and he didn't notice!

The timer for the cross walk was about to switch, but Kohaku paid no mind to it. Immediately, he sprung into action, arms reached out as he ran towards the precious booklet. Right then, engines roared and tires began to spin. There wasn't even time to acknowledge that he was in grave danger. He was much too focused on retrieving what was his...

Breathing heavily as she crossed the street, the breaths shallow in her lungs now that she was almost to the school, Charis was only barely paying attention. She crossed the street just as she had planned without having to stop, patting herself on the back mentally for having gotten the pace perfect. It wasn't until she saw the man go past her vision again that she paused and looked backward.

Everything seemed to happen in slow motion, she saw the car too close to the boy to stop and there he was, standing helplessly in the street looking like a deer in headlights. Turning her whole body sharply around, Charis lunged for the boy before the sedan hit him full on. The jump propelled the pair of them across the street, the boy being just barely out of the way.

Time still seemed stilled for Charis as she felt a pain rush through her. It was intense, this pain, and her stomach turned nauseatingly. Too afraid to look, Charis collapsed onto the sidewalk and she motioned for the boy to look at it. Tears began to stream down her cheeks, unbidden and she barely noticed them over the pain. Letting her head loll to the side, Charis felt as though she couldn't breathe through the pain.

Finally summoning the courage to turn her head and look at her leg, Charis was greeted with a sight that made her feel one other thing, aside from the pain. That feeling was cold dread in the pit of her stomach. Turning back to the guy that she saved, tears still running down her face, she spoke as though she were pleading with him.

"I'm sure it's just a bit bruised, right?"
Kohaku was very certain he'd be smashed by the vehicle in front of him. Something else happened, though. From a different direction, he was crashed into and went flying away from the traffic. Shock masked his face and his mouth opened to let out a yell, which was drowned out by the sounds of engines and spinning tires.

"Mmmf!" Blinking his eyes repeatedly, glasses on the ground, he laid on the sidewalk mostly unharmed. There was a pain coursing through his skull and his back tingled unpleasantly, but those sensations would fade in no time. Instead of taking the time to recover from the impact, he scrambled to his feet and looked to his saviour, who was the jogger that was crossing the street as well.

A trembling hand went to his lips as he looked her over, absolutely horrified. No spectacles were needed to see the damage done. The poor woman had a severe injury on her leg. It was all his fault...

Kohaku completely abandoned his presentation for the day, now. He needed to help this stranger, and fast. With one hand, he picked up his glasses. With the other, he searched his pants for his cell phone. "I will call for help!" he promised, and dialed 9-11. While requesting an ambulance be sent, he knelt down beside her and took her hand into his, giving it an assuring squeeze. Seeing her cry like this was heart breaking. Kohaku sincerely hoped this could be fixed. Around them, people began to gather and those who were driving, slowed down so they could get a better look at what happened.

"They're on their way," Kohaku said, flustered as he put his phone away. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry... I won't go anywhere until you're safe."

His head dropped, shame and sympathy shining in his eyes. Seconds later, he looked back up and waved his free hand around, silently asking their observers to leave.

Darkness edged at Charis's vision, making it difficult to see anything but the boy that she had pushed out of the road. He was saying something to her in a faintly panicked tone, but Charis tried to block it out. She wanted only the soothing, which was the tone that came after. She refused to believe that anything serious could be wrong and was instead content to squeeze her eyes shut. The pain was initially overwhelming but it seemed a dull throb through her entire body now.

Opening her eyes just a little, Charis looked up at the boy again. He was waving his hand around but Charis could hardly see what he was waving at, her vision was shadowy and her stomach lurched uncomfortably. There were sounds now in the back, cars driving on the road nearby. Charis settled against the boy's lap, closing her eyes and trying to block out the world. Closing everything out though just made the pain intensify.

From the edges of her brain, Charis heard sirens. The boy said that he was calling the ambulances but Charis refused to believe that anything would warrant an ambulance. She opened her mouth to argue with it, but her stomach swirled again and she closed it abruptly. Without warning, there were hands on her, lifting her to some sort of stretcher. Reaching a hand out pleadingly to the only person present, she plead to the boy quietly.

"Please come with me?"
Kohaku was relieved to see the medics arrive to rescue Charis. That didn't banish his worries, though. He continued to concern for her, and blame himself for what happened. Had he not been so careless, this wouldn't have happened! Losing his art project would have been just fine if it meant this girl could be safe and sound. 'I wish I was Hunter Zolomon,' he thought to himself, briefly imagining what life would be like if he really could alter time.

"Please come with me?"

Smiling meekly, he followed her and the ambulance doctors to the vehicle. They wanted to question him, anyway, so there was reason enough to go instead of stay behind for class. Being absent would really affect his grade, as would having no project to turn in. He couldn't allow his soul to be shattered right now, though. Somebody needed his help, and not all hope was lost. Perhaps the professor would understand once he explained what happened. There would be no accusation of lying, either. There were plenty around to witness this event.

Kohaku sat himself down in the ambulance, watching as the men nearby were situating the young woman on the stretcher. "My name is Kohaku," he said to her, hoping she would hear that before she might go unconscious. He was interested in knowing her name, as well. It was sad to not know what to call her, plus he wanted to use her name so he could properly thank her.

The rest of the way, Kohaku was quiet and still so he wouldn't interrupt anything.

Smiling weakly to the boy next to her, though he looked more frightened than even she herself could bring herself to feel, Charis heard his voice as though it were echoing through water. Kohaku. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, the painkillers that they administered were beginning to ease the pain but they were also starting to drag her forcefully into the gauzy realms of drugged sleep. Another breath in and out. She opened one eye to look up at his face.

"I'm Charis" she answered him finally, closing her eye once more. The ambulance ride to the hospital was entirely silent otherwise, since the boy seemed to be keeping his mouth quiet and for her part, Charis slept the entire ride with the help of the strong painkillers and the shock of the injury. The gentle rocking of the bumpy road lulled her to sleep, too, and they were able to lift her out of the ambulance without her even waking.

She couldn't even remember the ambulance ride hours later when she woke up in the hospital room and glanced around the sterile walls. The shock of waking elicited a small cry from Charis. She wiggled, trying to get out of bed. That was when the reality hit her of all that had happened. She could remember pushing the boy out of the way of an oncoming car whose driver wasn't paying attention. Panicked, she glanced down to her leg, which was preventing her from standing.

Charis flopped against the bed, staring blankly at the ceiling. Encasing her leg was a thick white cast, an end to her dreams from every angle that she could see.
Kohaku had been sleeping while Charis was resting in her hospital bed. There was a magazine opened up on his lap, which he quickly lost interest in. Magazines, like comic books, were fun to read but this literature bored him. He preferred pages that advertised knives, swords and other weapons. Or, catalogs for items he collected. Unless there was a good story involved, he only cared for magazines he could shop from.

That magazine slid from his lap as he quickly jumped out of the chair he was slumped in. A yell woke him up from his slumber, putting his heart rate at a rapid speed. Wide eyed, he looked around the room with crooked glasses on his face. Now he remembered: he was at a hospital. The woman that saved him earlier asked him to stay with her, so he did.

Quickly, Kohaku adjusted his glasses and walked over to the girl, who was distraught as ever. At this, he made a sympathetic frown. At his sides, his fingers tapped nervously on his legs. Fidgeting was a bad habit of his, when he couldn't think of anything to say. Socializing was not his greatest strength in the world. Presentations came naturally, but that was different. He was only expected to educate, rather than make acquaintances.

"Charis," he started quietly, his left hand rising up to grasp one of the bars of the bed he stood in front of. "Is there something I can do for you?"

Meekly, he made a smile. It was just now he realized how attractive she was. Despite all that happened, he was awed to be in the presence of someone as pretty as her.

Taking a deep breath, Charis tilted her head backward just slightly so that she could easily look into the boy's face. The memories of him were fuzzy at best, blurred by excruciating pain. Still, despite not knowing his name, she could remember at least why he was here. She'd done something good and she'd saved his life, which was far more important than even her ankle was. She felt selfish for the sorrow that seeped through her, recognizing the injury for what it was, the end of her dreams to become a professional soccer player. Trying to clear the emotion from her thoughts, Charis instead tried to force a smile for the boy who looked so nervous he might just hyperventilate.

"I remember you, but I don't remember your name" she began, forcing a small chuckle after the statement. It wasn't his fault, she reminded herself, and he probably felt horrible about the whole thing. That much at least she wished to alleviate. He shouldn't feel guilty because his life was saved, after all. She was the one who felt guilty for being so upset by her ankle.

"As to getting me anything... I'm not really very hungry... But I would like some water, if you could get me a cup?" Charis wondered how long she'd been asleep and twisted a little, looking for a clock. The windows were covered by blinds so she had no idea what time of day it was and the closest clock appeared to be on the other side of the room on the wall, too small and far away to be read by her from the bed. She felt silly asking him that question - how melodramatic would she sound if she'd only been asleep for an hour or two?
"Kohaku Ichiji," he reminded her, not at all surprised that she couldn't remember his name. The accident was unfortunate; he disliked seeing this girl suffer. She had to be miserable right now, yet there she was looking at him with the bravest face he'd ever seen. Kohaku hoped she wouldn't bottle up her feelings. The outcome of a full, shaken bottle was never pleasant...

"Will be right back with water," spoke the young Japanese man, who stood up and walked out as if he were on an important quest. After closing the door behind him, he looked to a side window where patients could ask to me seen. Beside that, there was a filtered water system. Smiling to himself, he approached it and filled one of the Styrofoam cups with cold water. The entire time he watched the spout, he was thinking about this morning. It was the most eventful part of his college life so far.

Before too long, Kohaku returned to her room. When he heard the door click shut, he walked to Charis to set her drink down on the tray attached to the bed. He then looked to his left wrist, which had a digital watch strapped onto it. Just recently, he found himself wondering what time it was because he didn't check for a while. "Wow, already almost five," he said quietly.

Kohaku wasn't sure what to do from here. Staying with her seemed like the best decision because he wanted to see to it she got better. He didn't know the first thing about caring for another person, though. Not an injured one. Would he be useless, or mess up somehow to make her ankle worse? It didn't show, but he was stressing about it now.

"So, mm... Tell me about yourself?" There was a sheepish smile on his face as he stood there, one hand in his pocket while the other rubbed the side of his neck. Starting conversation could be so challenging sometimes...

While the boy - Kohaku? had been gone, Charis had found herself all alone in the room with the crushing weight of the world finally falling down on her. It was easy to tell that she'd been given painkillers, making her head feel thick and hard to think. Still, she could not fight the rising anxiety. The reality of her ankle was only just beginning to slowly seep into her, that this really was the end. Of everything. She looked down at it, her fingers flying to the white plaster, brushing the tips over the rough white material. Was it possible that this was just a precaution, that there was nothing truly wrong with her ankle? That had to be it. There was no way it could be broken. She didn't remember it hurting.

Hearing Kohaku walk back in, Charis lifted her head and exerted all her self-control to draw the fingers away from the case. She wasn't trying to make him feel guilty over being pushed out of the way by her, after all. He set the glass down on the bedside table and she wrapped her hand around it at once, shakily raising the cup to her lips and taking a deep drink, taking great care not to spill the drink on herself.

To some relief of Charis's, the boy looked at his watch and said the time out loud. She'd only hit her head fairly lightly, probably, to have woken up again the same day. She exhaled sharply. If her head had taken the better part of the bump, than she thought she'd almost be happy. Better than ruining her ankle, after all. His next words, however, took her aback a little, though. What could she say about herself, what was there that make her interesting at all, besides soccer?

"I go to Western New Mexico University... I guess you probably go there, too, right? I'm Charis, by the way, I don't know if anyone told you. I don't, like, make a habit of jumping out in front of cars. A one time offer just for you."
Kohaku was aware of her name already. He saw it on the doctor's chart earlier by accident, but he kept that to himself. When she mentioned school, he wondered what her major was. He wasn't the most social person on campus, so saying he'd never seen her around before would be lame. There were hardly any people there he could call friends, or be able to dedicate to memory. Kohaku was just too shy.

He could appreciate her sense of humor. It was too soon to joke about her heroic experience, he thought. Even so, he managed half a grin. "I feel awful about what happened. I don't know how to properly thank you, so you can at least depend on me to make sure you get well again," he told Charis with promise, bowing his head to her respectfully.

The hospital was very quiet then. The television wasn't on, they didn't have anything worth talking about, and he didn't know how to entertain a pretty girl... Fantastic.

The chair sitting near her bedside was pulled up so he could sit closer to her. Perhaps, the fact she was injured and weak was what helped with his bravery. Someone needed his help, which he could set his awkward discomforts aside for. Plus, she wasn't in any shape to chase him down and beat him up like other women had done before. At least, he hoped not.

"I do go to the same college as you. I do not live far from it, either. I'd be able to help collect your work, and stuff... If you needed..." Kohaku looked down at his lap, where his hands were lightly tapping against one another. He was trying to offer to make her life easier by taking her where she wanted to, and helping get what she'd need, for anything. Nothing quite came out like he wanted, though.