A/N: Okay, I know that Gold is physically capable of speaking- after all, he does when he's channeling Kagami- but I don't know if he's mentally capable of doing so, so suspend your disbelief, remember I've only read the first three volumes, and let yourself enjoy the ride, eh?

This occurs after Waseda tells his story, while Bambi and Kaguya are talking to each other. Spoilers for up to that point and there may be some vague hints of shounen ai, but no worse than Planet Ladder is normally.

"To Become Alive"

It was dark. Those lovely young ladies had gone off to do- well, whatever it was that lovely young ladies did when they had a giant chicken and homicidal doll sitting back at their campfire- and Waseda wanted very much to cry.

They should've made dolls that were able to cry.

Yes, it was a waste of water, of time, but really, he wished Seeu had made this body capable of crying all the same. Tears were, for humans at least, an essential part of grief. Without them, sometimes he thought he'd never be able to move on.

But Seeu hadn't understood that part of life. He was so distant from his emotions, from others' emotions, that he had probably never even thought of it. The mad prince who was so beautiful, with the saddest eyes in any world, and he had not known what the lack of tears might do to whatever soul was placed in his doll. Admittedly, he had not intended to place a human in this particular body, but still . . .

Waseda wanted so badly to cry.

"Waseda," a voice whispered suddenly. Waseda looked away from the fire to face the humanoid doll before him.

"Ah," he murmured. "So you do speak, little one."

Gold wrinkled his nose slightly. "Waseda," he repeated, scooting forward slightly and touching the other's beak with one hand. "Wa-se-daaaa . . . "

"Yes?" Waseda acknowledged him with a faint "smile"- more in his tone than face, obviously.

"Waseda," Gold said once more, voice slightly puzzled as his hand lightly brushed over the other's feathers. "Waseda, what is . . . alive?" he asked carefully.

"I can't explain it," Waseda replied truthfully. "I'm sorry."

Gold blinked, utterly bemused. "Why not?" he asked, tilting his head to the side.

"Because even if I did," Waseda told him, "it would mean nothing to you. You cannot understand something you could never experience. It's like trying to describe what red looks like to someone who has been blind all their life. There are simply no words I can use that you would understand."

Gold said nothing, looking pensively into the fire and then to his whip, as if expecting them to magically explain what the other could not. The whip, however, was silent and the fire spoke no language he could comprehend.

"Besides," Waseda added after a long silence, "I fear that I'm forgetting anyway."

"No. You know," Gold said with all the assurance of one who has never been wrong. "You are; I can tell. I can't speak the way you do, about love and life and beautiful things. I can't understand what you're talking about, but I can tell that you are the most alive person I have ever met."

"Rather talkative all of a sudden, aren't we?" Waseda looked amused.

"You talk more than I do," Gold pointed out- not teasing, just stating fact.

"I fear that I do," Waseda agreed with a laugh.

"I miss Prince Seeu." Gold's face was suddenly strangely soft.

Waseda turned grave. "And I as well, little one," he replied quietly.

"Do you think . . . he misses us too?" Gold asked, pulling his knees to his chest.

"I wish I knew," Waseda said, clearly pained. "He may not even remember me at all." He closed his eyes in dismay at the thought.

" 'Have you ever found something that made it great to be alive?' " Gold murmured, repeating a line from Waseda's story.

"He is," Waseda said with absolute certainty.

"Yes," Gold agreed, nodding quickly. "And . . . " He paused, and then he smiled- or maybe he hadn't. It was too quick; Waseda couldn't tell. "Kaguya. Kaguya does even more."

"No one could make it greater to be alive than Seeu," Waseda corrected.

This time, Gold definitely smiled. "She does," he said confidently. "'Cause Kaguya- she's alive and she knows it. Seeu doesn't, or doesn't wanna. But Kaguya's not afraid to let herself be happy."

"What room do we dolls have to speak of living?" Waseda snorted.

"I know more about being alive than anyone," Gold answered smugly. "Because I'm always looking for it now, so I see the things that the living take for granted."

"Then why did you ask?" Waseda gave him a puzzled look.

"'Cause . . . " Gold hesitated. "'Cause it's different to everyone, and I wanted to know what it is to you," he said finally. "'Cause you've lost so much, and seen so much death . . . I thought life would be special for you."

Waseda fell silent for a long time. Gold just waited patiently until he spoke.

"To me," the dead man began, "life is touch and sex and sweat and weaknesses, and all the things you can't have when you're supposed to be perfect. Life is pain and bleeding and crying until you can't even stand any longer. Life is . . ." Inexplicably, he stopped and lowered his head.

"Finish," Gold practically ordered.

"Life is . . ." and Waseda's tone was full of grief, "Life is Seeu."

Gold smiled again and moved forward, smoothing the other's feathers into better order. "I told you that you were still alive." He sounded almost amused.

"Perhaps I am," Waseda relented.

"Of course you are," Gold told him, his smile widening. He didn't lower his hands from Waseda's feathers. "I think you're only really alive when you're living for a person, to be honest."

"And is there anyone that you are 'living' for, little one?" Waseda asked, tone still mournful.

"No," Gold admitted, taking Waseda's face in his hands. "But I'm trying to, honestly."

"Then it seems we are too alike in the end after all," Waseda murmured.

Gold chuckled. "I'm glad," he said fondly, nuzzling up next to his fellow doll. "You seem nice."

"Why don't you talk to Kaguya and Bambi?" Waseda asked, changing the subject again and making room for the "boy" under his wing.

"'Cause . . . there's too much to say," Gold replied simply, closing his eyes and leaning into the other.

"So you don't say any of it at all?" Waseda sighed and looked down at him reproachfully. "You do know that this way they'll never know anything about you."

"Kagami tells Kaguya what she needs to know," Gold said with a shrug.

Waseda blinked. "Who?"

"Long story," Gold answered ruefully; then tipped back his head and looked up at the stars. "Beautiful," he murmured.

Waseda looked too, and it was indeed so lovely that he would've cried if he'd only been able.

~*~ ende "to become alive" ~*~

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