Here it is: Nevermore. In summary… After the anime's end, Daisuke is lonely and pending suicidal. When Riku seems unsupportive, he makes his way to Hiwatari Satoshi's apartment… but even Satoshi may not be able to give all the reassurance that Daisuke needs. Angst, mystery, romance. Whee! I regret to say that this chapter is more of a prologue than anything, but it's a necessary set-up…

Disclaimers: Characters belong to Yukiru Sugisaki, the "Memory" quote is from Webber's Cats. The title, Nevermore, is, of course, tied to Poe's "The Raven," which is also quoted. Rated PG-13 for impending shounen-ai, but there's not as much angst as I originally anticipated. If you're uncomfortable with Sato/Dai, implied Sato/Krad and Dark/Daisuke, or Takeshi/Towa, well… I warned you. Spoilers for the end of the anime. Large chunks of this were written during drivers' ed – beware.

***

Nevermore: Chapter One

"It's so easy to leave me

All alone with the memory

Of my days in the sun." -- Andrew Lloyd Webber, "Memory."

"Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;

And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.

Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow

From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—

For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—

     Nameless here for evermore." – Edgar Allen Poe, "The Raven."

            It was dusk, mist creeping upriver from the sea, the air heavy, the first starts creeping over the horizon, visible now that the vaulted roof had fallen away and the walls were crumbling heaps.

            A boy stepped quietly in, fog fluttering in his wake like a cloak or a flurry of feathers. He sank down in the middle of the rubble, keeling in a sort of homage to a tall, shadowed something draped in fluttering tatters and glinting chains. He might have been a penitent, visiting the remains of some saint or martyr or—

            Kokuyoku.

            Slowly, he rose to his feet, treading softly through the rubble, face impassive and unreadable. He vaulted easily onto the remnants of a large stone platform; half of it lay in ruins on the ground. Scattered there among the debris were three black and silver fragments, each catching the last light of the sun and the first faint kisses of the full moon.

            Carefully, reverently, the boy put down the pack he'd been carrying and removed its contents, setting them softly on the stone and fiddling with each of them in turn. He sat there for a long, long time, whispering in a tongue long forgotten, shifting little latches, undoing tiny clasps. There was a faint sheen of perspiration on his brow when he finished; his arms trembled ever so slightly as he picked up two of the shining fragments and placed them in the objects he'd brought with him, then stopped, staring warily at the third and final piece. He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and lifted the last fragment gently before placing it away with the other two.

            "They won't hold," he murmured, pausing to run a hand over the collection before him, "not all together."

            There was a low, creaking groan behind him, echoed by a faint, soft sigh.

            And as the moon rose over the ruins, Hikari Satoshi walked away.

***

            Ring, ring.

            Niwa Daisuke looked up blearily, dazed, and uncurled blearily on the bed. What… what had woken him up?

            Ring, ring.

            Ah. The phone. He let out a deep, slow sigh and buried his face in his pillow. It hadn't been easy to get to sleep last night, and even after he passed that threshold there were the nightmares.

            Ring, ring.

            Why hadn't anyone picked up the phone yet? Oh. Of course. The Niwa family was out on holiday. Even Towa-chan had gone along, lured by Emiko's promise of a shopping spree in their resort town, and Daisuke was left all alone save for With, who kyu-ed worriedly from under the quilts.

            Ring, ring.

            He didn't want to get up. Why should he?

            Ring, ring. Bleeep.

            The answering machine clicked on with a rush of static. "Niwa-kun?" He head came up in a flash. "Niwa-kun, it's Riku. We haven't talked in a while, so—"

            "Riku-san?"

            "Oh, Niwa-kun." Her voiced sounded passionately relieved. "We haven't been in touch much over break; I was just making sure you were alright…" To be honest, they hadn't been particularly close in weeks, not since… "You are alright, aren't you?"

            "Mm." It was a rather indistinct noise. "I was sleeping."

            She laughed. "At eleven, Niwa-kun?" He smiled faintly but stayed silent, and she rushed on. "Anyway, I was wondering if you'd like to meet for lunch…?"

            "Of course, Riku-san." Perhaps she'd be the one to get his spirits up again.

            Perhaps.

***

            They met at a little restaurant in the park. From the window, Daisuke could see the enormous fissure the series of quakes had caused and the bright flags that had been raised over the "newly unearthed" Toki no Byoushin. He had to look away.

            "So," asked Riku, trying to make small talk. "How's your break been?"

            "I'm not sleeping well," he admitted softly, picking at the sandwich before him. "I haven't in a while."

            "Not since…?"

            "Not since Dark disappeared," he whispered, pushing his plat away, his head in his arms. "I have nightmares about it. I can't stop thinking about him." He paused. "It's so lonely."

            "Niwa-kun…" She slipped next to him in the booth, holding his hand gently. "You can't go on reliving it over and over…"

            "But I can't stop." He pulled his hand away and hugged her, whispering in her ear so that no one else could hear them. "He lived with me. He was me, and now he's gone, and I couldn't do anything about it."

            "You're feverish," she said, and her voice cracked worriedly.

            "That doesn't have anything to do with it. I'm fine."

             "Then what would you have done? How could you have stopped it?"

             "I could have kept him away from the museum," he muttered. "I could have sealed it off instead of him, and he could be here instead…"

            "But you're here," she said, "and he's not, and you have to move on."

            It stung. And he's not. No, Riku had always hated Dark. She'd never known him, never had the conversations and the feelings and the dreams… "I can't. Could you live without Harada-san? No, that's not enough. Could you live without a piece of yourself?"

            "But it's not like that, ne? He… he wasn't you. Niwa-kun is Niwa-kun."

            He was me, and now he's gone. He pulled away, blinking back the inklings of a tear, and said, dutifully, "Thank you, Riku-san."

            She didn't seem to be buying it; her features still radiated gentle concern and her brown eyes were wide and worried. "Call me if you need to talk." About what, Riku-san? You want him to disappear for good and I can't let him go—I promised, our last promise… "But anyway, Niwa-kun, I wanted to give something to you…" She slipped back to the other side of the booth and rummaged through her tote bag, pulling out what looked to be a wad of tissues. Carefully, Riku unwrapped it and said faintly, "I need to ask again: is this yours, Niwa-kun?"

            His breath caught in his throat as she set the Fallen Angel's Love Potion on the table. "No."

            "But you were—"

            "It's Dark's," he said levelly. "He would have wanted you to keep it. To remember him."

            "He's gone, Niwa-kun. I don't want to be haunted by bad memories – of you, and him, and Risa-chan… do you know how worried I always was for her, how awful that time was? I don't want to remember, Niwa-kun."

            It sat there on the table like a gauntlet thrown, catching the restaurant lights on its crystal face and throwing them back in a rainbow of teardrops. "Keep it, Riku-san. Please."

            She shook her head. "I can't." Bag in hand, she rose to her feet and gave him a light kiss on the cheek that he declined to return, staring instead at the tiny art-piece on the table. "Goodbye, Niwa-kun."

            He watched her walk away unburdened, unwearied, then turned back and stared broodingly at the little vial, at its tiny wings and warped shadows. "Goodbye, Harada-san."

***

            He took it, of course; it wouldn't do to leave a Hikari masterpiece sitting as a waitress's tip. But still, he found himself pausing outside his mother's basement gallery, unwilling to push aside the heavy door. Of all the places in the house, this was the one he'd have liked to avoid the most. The dozens of artpieces cast a shower of shadows on the walls and floor; every flicker of the torches sent black feathers fluttering around the room.

            And every feather was a knife in his heart, a cold reminder that he was alone. And every feather was so very, very painful… Still, he pushed open the door, the torches flaring into pale, charmed flames, and there the dance began. He resisted the temptation to close his eyes and shut out the shadows, but first he had to lock away the Fallen Angel's Love Potion and complete the one heist he and Dark had never finished…

            "Remember, Daisuke: I am inside of you."

            Everyone was forgetting. Adoring Towa-chan, obsessive Emiko, bemused Kosuke, even Daiichi Niwa, who had been a winghost forty years ago. And now Riku-san, too, after all that had happened…

            It hurt.

            It was Daisuke alone who kept the candle burning, because he was too entranced by the shadows to let them fade away, even though every flicker burned like cold, sharp ice, and every recollection and dream and imagining was the crack of a lash.

            He should have stopped it, done something, anything. Azumano could have fallen to the earthquakes, for all he cared, so long as he had Dark… it was so lonely without another presence laughing in his mind; so many times he half-expected Dark to chime in on some choice tidbit, only to remember that Dark was gone… and that it was all his fault.

            So alone.

            He fell to a heap on the stone of the floor, breathing heavily. If there had been anyone around to take his temperature, they would have watched the thermometer skyrocket; Niwa Daisuke was burning up; that was no ordinary flush on his cheeks, that was the rosy flare of fever…

            "Kyu…?"

            He might have stayed down there 'til the fever broke, wasting away, if it hadn't been for With scampering after him, all wide-eyed fluffy-demon-bunny charm and sugariness. "With…" As though moving mountains, he reached and pulled Dark's familiar into his arms, hugging the rabbit like a rag doll, something to hold on to and brave a storm with. "You remember, don't you? Dark… the famous phantom thief. You haven't forgotten him… you can't have…" Rabbit ears, he noted bemusedly, looked so much like wings by torchlight, great black wings that spread on and on... "Dark… oh, god, With, I can't take it anymore…" He buried his head in the familiar's soft fur and With, with uncanny perception, nuzzled gently in return.

            Daisuke leaned back against the wall, breath already starting to come in gasps. "We can't stay here, can we?" he whispered. "I can't… the shadows…" He had to close his eyes, but then the mess was just a hastily sketched inverse, even more mocking than the myriad of shadows slinking slowly 'round the walls. "I can't stay here."

            Unsteadily, he rose to his feet, bracing himself against the wall for support as he opened the door and let it creak itself open, to tired to push the heavy wood aside. His body was screaming at him to sit down – or was that With, kyu-ing frantically? – but he couldn't stay there with feathers of Dark's memory swirling in a foggy haze before him; he'd go mad within the hour if he didn't get away from the reminders of all Dark's heists and their mocking, laughing shadows. Serves you right, Niwa Daisuke, little phantom thief… serves you right, Niwa Daisuke, for letting Dark go on alone…

            Alone.

            He didn't even notice as he stumbled out the door in his house slippers, driven on by the relentless tide of memory. It seemed that every grain of wood held some tragic ghost, that the very air he breathed was an echo of something precious lost, and here, under the steady spring rain, there was an uncanny kind of solitude, a momentary euphoria as the chill hit him, and it seemed so much like a kaitou's laughter…

            Somehow, he remembered to shut the door behind him and wandered away like a puppy looking for its master, With perched on his shoulder. When the fever hit again, he almost didn't notice the harsh rip of his shirt's thin fabric, almost didn't notice as With's wings spread out behind him, keeping him on his feet. But, then again, by that point he was too far-gone to notice much at all. He floundered in and out of consciousness, his clothes soaking through, his breath coming in pained gasps. Daisuke saw the park from a bird's eye view, only to have it fade away and blur back into clarity over the bluff of windmills, and then…

            He was in a building out of the rain, standing – or being supported by With's steady-beating wings – in front of a door. The carpet was beige, the walls were white, but the number on the door blurred into a puddle of blue before his eyes, and the scene swam dangerously.

            Without warning, With's wings fell away, and Niwa Daisuke crumpled against the door.

***

Guess whose door it is? No, go on, I dare you!

Next chapter will be Satoshi's POV, which I find much easier to write in (especially as I'm not really up to Daisuke-angst, and would very much like to get back to my dry, nonchalant Satoshi). Yes, it believe it's true… people are more likely to get sick when they're depressed. Apparently kids have asthma attacks watching E.T. or something of the sort.

And remember: reviews are Dai-chan's Prozac.