A/N: College. e. Enough said, methinks. Welcome to the pain train, first stop this chapter. All aboard...

The world is burned. Scorched and Ripped asunder. Twisted, strange plants poke out under rocks and fallen buildings within the otherwise barren landscape, lifeless but for his passage, nothing able to survive the elements pouring from the sky, acidic and cold. Nothing but him.

It's storming outside, raining red, just like it has for decades, though there isn't thunder. The Laughter greets him as he steps inside, droplets sizzling harmlessly against his skin, the clattering of metal, and the cackling of madness an unfortunately familiar response to the door swinging open.

"Grandfather! Help!"

"Youhohohohahahaaaa, you think you need help? Noooo nononono, I'm not going to hurt you, just make you happy."

His fist splits skin when the blow lands, and the only response is laughter.

Kratos twitches violently, inhaling sharply. He blinks, long and deep, and gets out of bed.

His morning is as slow as it has been for the last week since The Incident. Bellona snores in the other room as he dresses and grabs the Leviathan Axe, and a swift bang on her door has her dressed and armed by the time he's at the bottom of the stairs.

"Good morning, old man!" Bellona says cheerily, saluting mockingly as they leave his office. Kratos doesn't respond, and she doesn't seem to care, chattering away about a strange dream reminding her of an old girlfriend. "So what happened to that boy you brought in?"

Kratos stutters-

It's dark out, but he can barely see past the blinding lights in his arms-

-and keeps walking. "I found out who his parent was. He is gone now."

"Oh. Really?"

He glances down-

-"I don't wanna go"-

-for but a moment. "Yes."

There is a moment of silence between them. "Is...everything alright?" She asks, and his eyes flicker to hers-so much like the ones he sees in the mirror, but softer than his have ever been-

-"Please...just sit with me...just till the end…"-

"I am fine."

"That's not what I asked."

-"I'm scared…"-

"I...am fine." He grinds out, turning to face forward again, letting her talk away without returning so much as a syllable.

-"Thank you. For sitting with me...as...as I…"-

He lets Bellona guide the class through morning spars, sat in the stands, and just letting his brain assess and focus on the duels and nothing else.

The tapping of the cane is ample enough warning that he isn't surprised when Ozpin sits beside him.

"They found a glassed crater in the Southern deserts of Vaccuo late last night. For what it's worth, I am sorry."

Something in Kratos snaps and before he can stop it he thinks and-

Vaccuo is all desert, beyond the occasional sandstone outcrop like the one The Brat is sitting on. Kratos had planned to bring him back to Beacon, but something is wrong, he can all but smell it.

The brat coughs, and its a deep, rasping thing, that sounds like his lungs are ripping open with every heave.

"I'm dying…" He gets out after the initial fit. "Aren't I?"

Kratos stares for a moment. He knows these signs. He knows because-

"Yes. You are." He almost whispers.

"Why?" The boy-Gods but he's just a boy-asks, staring at his lap, and the faintly glowing blood splattered there.

"I have seen it before," Kratos finally admits, stepping forward to be just behind the shoulder of this poor, poor demigod who is only fourteen and should have at least hit twenty-

"You're already dead." He says, "You have been since the day you were born. Your father is a God of Energy, and that energy has sustained you this long. But you have been a corpse since you left your mother, so your energy cannot renew itself. You've been expending it in every breath, and thought, and every motion. That you have grown this old is a testament to just how much you have." A moment of pause. "How much you had. When you fought Fraana...when you transformed or fired those beams-"

"Like upending a slowly draining jug." The Boy drawled bitterly.

"Yes." Kratos murmured.

There is silence between them, broken only by the occasional, labored wheeze, for nearly an hour.

"Is…" The boy takes a deep, shaky breath. "Is there a next life? Somewhere the dead go?"

Kratos doesn't want to say it, doesn't want to shatter the hopes of this boy any further, but lying would be a disservice.


Another moment of silence, nearly a minute long this time, and the boy sighs. "But not for me?"

Kratos' eyes slide shut, and he sighs himself. "No."

"Can I know why?"

"You...are not a person. You have no soul. You are Energy given thought in an empty shell. You were never alive, to begin with." The boy sobs once, before pulling in a deep breath, and Kratos continues. "No afterlife would be able to find what you once were once you pass on, much less have a way to sort or accept you."

The silence strikes Kratos harder than he thought possible anymore, and for a moment he is so, so angry that he's not thought of something like this, not found a way to help or just to ease this Poor Boy's fears-

"I don't wanna go…"

Kratos is in another place, for just a moment at that, but he drags himself back to hear and help in this boy's final minutes. He turns, prepared to leave the boy in peace-

"Please...just sit with me...just till the end…"

Kratos stalls, and hums quietly.

He says nothing as he sits, and his only response to the boy sliding up to his side is to wrap an arm around him.

The boy's blood is leaking onto him and it's dark out, but he can barely see past the blinding lights in his arms from that damned, glowing fluid.

The boy starts crying, quietly. "Alvuar...That's my name. Alvuar. I-I know you probably don't-"

"I'll never forget it," Kratos says, holding the Dying Boy tight with his arm, the other digging into the stone beneath them, "And I'll never forget you." He swears. Its a Cliche promise, but it sends the Boy into relived, loud sobs into his chest.

"I don't wanna go…" He manages to get out, and Kratos can do nothing but hold him, and that burns.

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

There is silence for nearly fifteen minutes before there is a Cracking noise, and the boy grows still and cold, slow at first, but gaining speed.

"Thank you. For sitting with me...as...as I…"


Kratos screams, and the world around him burns in response.

He buries Alvuar on the coast, overlooking the southern oceans under the grove of a cliffside Oasis.

Kratos snaps back to the moment after ten seconds, and doesn't respond to Ozpin.

His last class of the day is canceled, and he carves the name Alvuar into the haft of the Leviathan Axe.

It is one of three.

A/N: Life is often unfair, and strife can come as quicks as joy.