[ dedicated to avidsmiles who is all sorts of lovely ]
FORD O'CONNELL DROPS the notebook seconds after shutting it, eliciting a loud popping sound. With shaky hands, he picks the thing up again and walks back into the living room.
Although he's quite reluctant to enter a room that bleeds despair and death marches, he has to know if he is the rightful owner of Kira's, well, life.
"Excuse me?" He begins, his voice torn and ragged and frayed. "Is this actually for me?"
Mrs. Nakata blinks, hard, smooths down her loose blouse, and nods firmly. "Kira left it for you."
Ford's mind begins running marathons, laboring to figure out why Kira gave him — a boy she only had one single conversation with — a journal cataloging her life. He tries to remember if she said something outlandish, or if she had given him a cryptic message on her last days but comes up short.
The last time he and Kira exchanged glances was the Friday before she died. He was standing with Elliot and Adalia; the latter's thin hands danced around his body while the former smiled until his face split.
He felt someone's gaze on the back of his head and turned to see Kira. She stared at Ford, the same way you'd stare at smudged writing on a wall or at someone all too enchanting. She didn't smile or wave or even say anything; she simply looked at him as though he was someone of importance — of too much importance.
Ford didn't think much of it at the time, for he had some test or oral presentation or quiz to occupy his mind with and tended to fall on the more absentminded and oblivious side of the spectrum.
But maybe he should've.
Ford never feels much. Scratch that, Ford O'Connell feels a lot — deeply. He feels sadness like an ache from deep inside his bones; like all the world's losses, and griefs, and sorrows rolled up and tucked under his skin.
He feels happiness (less frequently now that he's older) like his mother's embrace, but he just doesn't express it. He doesn't like it — letting others know how he feels, opening his mouth to say, "Hello, I'm Ford, and there's this terrible clawing feeling in my gut that feels a lot like sadness."
But right now, as he holds the very last remnant of Kira's life — truly, a description of her entire life — he's overcome with guilt. Guilt's destructive, and Ford just knows it will weather and erode him until he is nothing more than a shell of a boy.
He needs more; he needs all he could know to assuage his guilt. He needs Mrs. Nakata to tell him — directly and firmly — that there was nothing he could've done. That had Ford caught up to her on her last Friday and looked her dead in the eyes and ask her if she truly was okay, he would still receive her journal a week and a half later.
And so he asks, "why? Why did Kira give this," his grip on the journal is loosening, "to me?"
Mrs. Nakata smiles then, one of those empty smiles just to fill the gaps of empty space.
"What I wouldn't give to know why Kira did half the things she did."
Ford excuses himself from the room, mentally berating himself for the forlorn look on Mrs. Nakata's face. His guilt's still eating him alive as he starts his car and drove to Priya's house.
Acting entirely on impulse, he runs up the front steps and knocks on the wooden door.
"Ford?" Priya's eyes narrows into slits. "What are you doing here?" As Priya stares him down, he thinks of cynical philosophers, of nihilism and nietzsche and gods dying.
What is he doing here? Ford hadn't thought this out.
All he knows is that Priya Patel and Kira Nakata were best friends since grade school. All he knows is at Kira's funeral, Priya's hands never once stopped shaking; she gave a eulogy that brought a stream of tears to Ford's eyes, and so he felt like she—so much more than him—deserves what was left of Kira.
"Kira's mom gave me this," he hands the journal to Priya. "It's Kira's."
Upon hearing her name, Priya softens slightly and widens the door to let Ford inside, holding the journal in her left hand.
He has never seen her look the way she does right this minute. Priya is pointed fingers, accusatory glares, and snarled lips, but as she sits— with one leg dangling beneath her — she is soft, and delicate.
Her eyes dart through the journal, devouring up a few slivers of Kira's life here and there. Her eyebrows furrow as she traces the writing with her index finger, and she seems to almost forget that Ford is seated a mere seven feet away.
After studying the first page for far too long, she looks up. "This has your name on it. Is it meant for me?"
"Well, no," Ford begins, feeling Priya's scrutinizing eyes like bullets, "but I think if anyone should get it, it's you."
Priya wears rage well, Ford realizes as she nears him in three swift steps.
"That's irrelevant," she argues pointedly. "She meant for you to have it; I'm not taking it like this."
Ford is beyond confused. He would think — if his loved one were to commit suicide — he would want to know absolutely everything. He's well aware that it's the equivalent of grasping at straws (dead straws, at that), but the uncertainty would've killed him.
Kira is not a loved one; she isn't someone Ford thought the world of. Kira is a stranger, and Ford feels so incredibly uncomfortable possessing something that should and could belong to absolutely anyone else.
"Priya, I shouldn't have this. I really, really should not, and quite frankly, I don't want it. So please, take it." Ford is beyond desperate by now, wanting to shed the journal like grim and tarnish from his skin.
"Oh for god's sake, Ford. Do you understand what kind of position you're putting me in right now? Kira is my best friend, and she left you — you a complete stranger — absolutely everything."
"What did she leave me? What did she leave her best friend? What did she leave the person who was always there for her? What did she leave the person who talked her through every single break up? What did she leave—" Priya still reeks of rage but begins to bawl, and Ford finally understands.
Priya has always had this innate sense of justice, which means she butts heads with people quite frequently. She wants the journal; she really, really does, but Kira had left it for Ford. Ford, a nobody. Ford, just some random guy.
And as Kira's best friend (or ex-best friend), Priya has to respect that— as much as it absolutely pains her to pass up getting all of the answers she'd been craving for weeks.
"What if—" Ford's eyebrows furrow as his brain racks for a loophole, "—I read it to you? Or we read it together?"
Priya sniffles and smiles, following a characteristic slight scoff. "You're not too bad, O'Connell."
Ford feels himself relax for the first time that day after leaving Priya's house and arranging to meet tomorrow after school.
a/n: I'm very, very sorry for the long wait; it took me a while to conjure this up. I hope you all are well, and I hope you all enjoy this chapter. Also, thoughts on priya?? or Ford??