"Dirk! Wait up!"
"My name's not Dirk! It's Bro!"
The blonde boy turned to look at the (h/c) girl who was trying her best to climb up the same rock he did. By adult standards, they would probably just be able to step up on it, at least, that’s what Dirk thought. But he and his friend were only eight and the rock was big enough to be a mountain to them.
Seeing his friend struggle, he bent down and reached out his hand to help her up. She took his hand and braced herself as he pulled. When she was up on the rock, he wrapped his arm around her waist lightly until she was balanced on top of it, which for Dirks friend, was something he wasn’t even sure she was able to accomplish.
"Come on, Yoko. You should have been able to do that."
The (h/c) girl pouted. "Dirk, stop it. It's not fun anymore. I'm not Yoko. I'm _____."
"I know that." He said and then sat down on the rock cross legged, crossing his arms as well with a scowl on his face.
_____ thought he was seriously taking this Kamina business to seriously. He was even wearing the red tinted shades and wore them everywhere, refused to take them off when they were in public. Truth be told, she hated Gurren Lagann. Hated it with a passion, but not because the show was bad. In fact, she though the show was good. She hated it because it started to take her best friend away from her. All Dirk ever wanted to do now was play Gurren Lagann with her. He hasn't even called her by her real name since he started watching it. It was always "Yoko this" and "Yoko that."
"Dirk, I'm sorry."
He didn’t answer.
The blonde boy looked up at her and _____ sighed. "Bro, can we go home and eat? I'm hungry. Mommy's probably got lunch ready by now."
Dirk let out a sigh and stood, hopping off the rock. "Fine. But just for now. Then we come back outside, ok?"
"Fine." _____ said, though she didn't jump down from the rock.
Instead she just looked down at the ground and felt the whole world spinning. Dirk didn't know this but _____ was afraid of heights, even small ones like a three foot rock, though to her, it felt more like ten.
"Come on, Yoko. Jump." Dirk said.
_____ took a step away from the edge and shook her head. Why was it so bad this time? Usually if she closed her eyes, she would be able to do it. Something was wrong. Was it because she already looked down?
"I-I can't, Dirk." She said, looking near tears.
Dirk lowered the glasses from his eyes to look at his best friend without the red tint around her. Seeing her look like this made him frown.
"Jump. I'll catch you."
Dirk nodded, pushing his shades up. "Of course I do! Just who the hell do you think I am?" He said before holding his arms out. "I'll always be here to catch you!"
_____ frowned at his use of that line but sighed. Even if Dirk would call her Yoko till the day she died, she never wanted to leave his side. Dirk was her first and best friend and she always wanted it to stay like that.
"Fine." She said.
Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes and hopped down from the rock. Almost immediately following her feet touching the ground, she felt a pair of arms wrap around her to try to steady her. However, instead the two kids both went tumbling down. Dirk landed on his back and the shades falling form his face and _____ landing with her face in his chest. _____ could hear the wind being knocked out of Dirk and she quickly attempted to stand up, only to feel his arms tighten around her.
"No. I got it." Dirk said breathlessly and sat up, sitting _____ up with him. "The guy always helps the girl up."
_____ rolled her eyes. "Shut up. I'm not a girl."
Dirk pinched her cheek and pulled lightly. "Fine. Tomboy." He snickered a bit and ____ started laughing a bit, pulling his hand off her cheek.
"Come on. Mommy's going to get worried."
He nodded and stood up, holding his hand out for _____ to take, which she did. Seeing Dirk's shades off to the side, _____ walked over and picked them up, brushing the dirt off them. She walked back to Dirk.
"Close your eyes."
"I don't want to poke you."
Rolling his eyes one last time, Dirk did as he was told and _____ replaced the glasses on his eyes, though she put them on upside down. On purpose, mind you. Giggling a bit, _____ ran off. When Dirk opened his eyes and realized what she did, he growled, though playfully, and chased after her, flipping the glasses right side up.
* * *
_____ walked up the stairs to the apartment Dirk shared with his bro, D. With the present in her hands, she tried to take a deep breath. Even though it's been six years since the stupid TV show came out, Dirk was still as obsessed with it as he was when he first started watching it. He still insisted on calling her Yoko and by this point, she honestly thought that he thought that was her name. She's even started responding to it! How messed up is that? Even so, she persisted with her friendship with him, even if she had been pushed to the back burner as he met new friends, Jake, Roxy, and Jane.
Reaching the door of the apartment, she knocked on it. She waited several seconds before the door opened to reveal D. He looked down at her with his aviators.
"Bout time. Dirk's been waiting. Been a little impatient about it, too."
"S-sorry. It's a long walk up here."
D chuckled and put a hand on her head. "I know what you mean. Come in. He's in his room."
_____ nodded and then walked inside with her present. Without needing to be directed, _____ walked into Dirks room, knocking lightly before opening the door. Poking her head in, she saw Dirk standing in front of the mirror messing around with his hair. He didn’t even have his shades on yet. He must be determined to do his hair on his own. She sighed and walked over to him, putting the present down on the bed.
"Let me." She said.
Dirk blushed lightly. "I had it perfectly handled on my own, Yoko."
_____ frowned slightly. "Didn't look like it to me, Bro."
Dirk rolled his eyes and averted them as _____ set to work on doing his hair. She knew that he wanted to style it like Kamina, but she would have none of that. She turned him away from the mirror and started to spike his hair up all over, and then letting his bangs fall over his forehead.
"Close your eyes." She said.
"I don't want to poke you."
Dirk sighed before closing them. _____ walked over to his bed and quietly unwrapped her present to him before walking back and placing the glasses on over his eyes.
"Ok. Open them."
Dirk did as he was told and blinked. Shouldn't everything look red? Why was it darker? Turning he looked at the mirror and saw that he didn’t look at all like he wanted to. Instead he looked… better.
Instead of his Kamina shades, he was wearing shades that were exactly like them, only black. And his hair. It was… he chewed his lip. He didn't want to outright tell her that he liked it. That wasn't what Striders do. As he was looking at himself in the mirror, _____ walked up next to him and smiled slightly, for the first time that day, Dirk finally noticed that she was actually wearing the skull hair pin that Yoko wore in Gurren Lagann pinning the left side of her hair back behind her ear. The hairpin that he made for her for her own birthday.
"Happy Birthday." She said.
Dirk turned his head and smiled slightly at her. "Thank you, _____."
_____ blinked a bit at him using her real name for the first time in six years. "Dirk…"
Before she could say anything else, she wrapped her arms around him in a hug, burrowing her head in his shoulder. She felt his arms wrap around her and his chin rest on the top of her head.
* * *
"Are you fucking kidding me, Strider?"
"I'm 100% serious. I got a record deal and I'm going out to LA tomorrow."
"What about college? You promised that we would go to the same school before you thought about accepting record deals."
"Things change, Yoko."
_____ was silent. It's been four years since Dirk's fourteenth birthday and since she gave him the shades and the new hairstyle that he always wore. They were 18 and graduation was right around the corner, literally. It was June and they had just finished practicing for getting their diplomas. Dirk has pulled her over to the bleachers so he could talk to her. _____ hoped that he would finally ask her out, unfortunately, she had bitten of more than she could chew with Dirk Strider.
"Apparently not, Bro." She said, pouring as much venom into that one name as she was humanly able to. "You are such a liar, Dirk. Ugh. You know what. Fuck you. I don't care anymore. I'm tired of trying to be your friend. Have a nice life."
She turned on her heel and started to walk off. Unfortunately before she was able to get far, she ran face first into Dirk's chest. Fucking flashstep. He put his arms on her shoulders, holding her in place.
"Where is this coming from all of a sudden?" He asked, genuinely confused.
_____ blinked and stared up at him. "Are you being serious right now?"
Dirk simply nodded, his lips pulled down in a frown.
"You break promises. You're a liar and you’ve only once called me by my real name since we were eight! It is not all of a sudden!"
"Break promises? Real name?"
"First when we were eight. You promised to always be there to catch me. Then again, a promise you made to me when we entered high school that we would go to college together and get an education before you went off and left me behind!" She said, practically shouted at him. "And yes, real name. You've only called me Yoko like you're trying to fulfill some fantasy!"
"You… remember when we were eight?"
"Of course I do." _____ said, getting very quiet.
"We're best friends. Why do you care if I break two little promises? It's not like I'm going to forget about you when I'm all big and famous. So what if I've been calling you Yoko. We both like Gurren Lagann so what's the problem? And it's not like I don't remember your real name. You've been my friend since we were five. Instead of worrying about yourself, you should be supporting me in my decisions. You're being selfish."
"Selfish? I'm being selfish, huh?" _____ said in a small voice. "I'm not the selfish one here Dirk. Ever since we were eight, I've only ever done what you wanted to do. I've only ever watched what you wanted to watch. I've never done anything but support you! I don't even know who I am at eighteen years old and I'm the selfish one? You are such an asshole, Dirk. I can't believe I was ever friends with you. Hell, I can't believe I ever liked you!" Shaking his arms off her shoulders, _____ glared hard at him. "And Dirk, if you remember my name, then what is it?"
Dirk was silent, looking to the side, looking very uncomfortable. He dug himself in far too deep.
"Have a nice life, Dirk. Call me when you remember my fucking name."
With that, not wanting to hear him try to defend himself, she took off running, tears falling from her eyes as she ran. On her way out of the school, she was stopped by the friends Dirk made when the two entered high school.
"Hey, Yoko what's the matter? Are you ok?" Jake asked.
"Oh, honey, you're crying, what happened?" Jane asked before shooting a glare at Jake that said of course she's not ok!
"Yoko, you can talk to us." Roxy said.
That was it. Even his friends didn't know her name. "Ask Dirk. He should know everything." She said in a deadly quiet voice.
Every single one of them backed up. Each opened their mouth to say something but _____ wasn't going to hear any of it. She bolted again, running out of the school. She didn't stop running until she was at the park. The park that she and Dirk used to come and play at all the time when they were little. Walking around, she finally collapsed by the rock where Dirk promised to always be there to catch her. Curling up on the woodchips in the shade of it, she cried. She cried until she couldn't cry any more. By the time she stopped, it was night time and her mother was calling her repeatedly, leaving voicemails telling her to come home for dinner.
Standing up, her eyes red and puffy, _____ brushed the wood shavings from her clothes and walked home, simply an empty shell of the girl she thought she was.
Dirk never came to find her.