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Shelter Short 4

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                Hey! I just wanted to check on you… You haven’t said anything in a day or two? And I haven’t seen you online anywhere…

 

                Pom’s genuine concern and attempt at reaching out pulled at Ruka’s heart--he stared at the message preview for what felt like hours before he swiped it away--he didn’t want to leave her on read and make her worry more, so it was best to get rid of the notification entirely.

 

                It’s just… weird, going from talking every day and hanging out a lot in Vahana, to where you won’t text me back?

 

                I’ll give you space if you need, but… I’m just worried about you. You seemed really sad when you said bye the other day?

 

                She waited a few minutes; she was always someone to double, triple, and even beyond quadruple text--but this time, she it was almost like she hesitated to hit send again.

                Just get back to me whenever, ‘kay? Love you, Stubborn Kitten

                --Stealthy Walrus

 

                Ruka had been swiping the entire time--reading the texts through the preview box and then sending them away immediately. When he realized that she was done for the day--or, at least, for now (or whenever she decided to send him a funny picture or cute selfie)--he put his phone face-down, and laid his head on his arms.

 

                 I’m doing this for you. He thought to himself. I can’t let you get caught up in everything more than you already are, I don’t want you to get hurt or anything.

 

                The voice that tugged at him so often in Vahana, the same voice that seemed to have followed him in the real world from before he got to know Pom, rose in the back of his head. You’re doing the right thing, you know. It said to him, in a sickeningly sweet and almost sympathetic tone--as if it were capable of sympathy. If you don’t cut her off now, you’re only going to hurt her.

 

                “Isn’t it going to hurt her to cut her off?” Ruka whispered to himself--and to the demon.

                 Of course--but wouldn’t it be worse if you lashed out? If you hit her? If you screamed at her? The monster seemed to wind itself around Ruka, it’s hands--no, claws--dug into his shoulder where bruises already existed. You say you would never hurt her, but no matter what you do… It’s something you can’t avoid. It’s best to leave her now, before you reach the point of no return.

 

                Ruka shivered under the touch; he prayed that it was just a hallucination, that this ongoing thing was just a cause of his poor mental health, but considering how it manifested in Vahana--he was scared that it might actually be an external problem. Or, perhaps Vahana was simply far too good at reading its users, perhaps it knew of their internal struggles, and it caused them to manifest.

                 Wouldn’t they recall something like that, though? He thought to himself. Or, wouldn’t they at least mention it in their terms of service?

                He was one of the few people who actually read those things--he would have found it in the days after he joined, if anything like that was mentioned. Surely he would’ve.

                 I should just ignore it. He knew that he couldn’t ignore this thing entirely --it was there so often, stalking him, haunting him, grating him, wearing him down and instilling doubt, anxiety, and discomfort in his heart--but it was wrong . It had to have been wrong.

                 I can feel you wavering, you know. How can you be comfortable talking to her, insisting that you would never hurt her, when you don’t genuinely know yourself?

 

                He wasn’t entirely sure of who he was--what the demon said before, and what it said now, was true--but he knew that he wasn’t someone who would willingly hurt Pom. Her smile, her laugh--it was something he cherished, it was something he wanted safe--her happiness as a whole was something he wanted to--and would--protect.

                Ruka raised his head and reached out, taking his phone in his hands--much to the demon’s displeasure. It drummed its fingers against his arm, causing one of his many dark bruises to ache.

                 You’re only going to hurt her--that’s all that you’re capable of.

 

                He hesitated, his thumbs circling each other as they hovered over the keyboard. His mind blanked-- that’s all that you’re capable of. He hadn’t hurt her yet, and he wasn’t going to hurt her ever .

                Pom had told him multiple times that he was sweet, kind, gentle, caring--she had so many loving and soft words to describe him, words that he would have never applied to himself--and something about that offered reassurance.

                 Sorry, He typed. I’ve been in a rough patch. Something’s telling me that I should stay away from you, but I care about you, and I don’t want to.

 

                It was read almost instantly, and she started typing after a moment. It’s okay! I understand, depressive slumps are bad. Isolating yourself isn’t going to help right now, though! >:( I’m always here for you, and I’ll spam and annoy you to hell and back if I need to!!!

 

                 I think we should try to hang out tonight--there are theaters in Vahana? They just play Youtube and a lot of anime or cartoon sites, so… If you don’t have the energy to run around and raise a ruckus, I think we should get a video room and hang out there?

 

                Yeah, that sounds good…

 

                8pm your time??? :D

 

                As long as you don’t stay up too late, you’ve got class in the morning. Ruka smiled a bit to himself--it would probably help him feel better to just… Talk to her and spend time with her.