Disclaimer: I do not own anything .hack.

Author's Notes: SPOILERS for Quarantine, although I think just about everyone has been spoiled on this particular fact. Just a short scene set directly after Kite defeats the Sixth Phase and all that that encompasses. Kite and BlackRose fluff ahead, maties.

If you are interested in reading more with this pairing, please check out:

"A Mentor In Training" By Leitbur

"If You Missed Me" By Tasogare Ookami Konyo

And anything by Renfro Calhoun. All of these are excellent works.

Till the End

BlackRose stepped into the cathedral quietly, her shoes making very little noise against the smooth tiles as she edged around the open door, her garnet eyes fastening on the figure sitting on the floor in front of the chained statue of a girl that held all of their hopes. She had been looking for him everywhere, with the determined persistence that allowed her to hold grudges as well as never give up. She didn't know what she hadn't looked there first, as the cold gray stones of this forgotten church were an important fixture of their friendship. A place they retreated to when things went wrong.

When Kite had lost his faith after the infection of the root towns, she had come here alone, venting her pain and fear and frustration and listening to them echo back at her. It was hard for her to see him so down, not least because there wasn't much she could do about it except listen to him and berate him back into believing. At that time, if she could have taken the Bracelet and all the pain that went with it just to spare him, she would have. But that was impossible and so that she had left was herself. She didn't have the luxury of giving up with her brother on the line, and neither did Kite because of Orca. Standing beside her frustrated partner in ruined Carmina Gadelica, she had known there would be more times of feeling helpless and out of control, for her and for Kite. And she had been right.

This was one of them.

Walking slowly down the center of the room, she stopped right next to Kite, dropping down onto the tiles with him while neither looking at him or saying a word. Indeed, what could she say? She wasn't even entirely sure how everything had come about herself, let alone try to rationalize it out loud. Besides, she had come to realize that she wasn't that good at dealing with feelings. Sure, she could be comforting and she was a good listener, but it was hard for her not to judge, and even harder for her to find the right words with which say what she really wanted to say. Of course, Kite wasn't much better, preferring to say nothing at all when what she needed most was just to hear his voice. It was funny really. They were different in every other way except when it came to the fact that neither of them could say what they really felt.

Truly hopeless.

"Lios is looking for us," she said, her voice pitched low as a Flashmail dinged in her ear. She ignored it. Beside her, Kite didn't move, his gaze fixed on Aura's graven face, expressionless. BlackRose took a shaky breath that did little to calm her sudden apprehension. Delicately, she reminded herself, delicately. "He was asking questions about… Elk." She swallowed. "I told him what I knew of him and… Mia. He says that it is unsurprising, considering the Epitaph." She shook her head slightly. "I don't know. I just— "

"I killed her." Kite's soft words cut her off like a knife, slicing through her like one of his Miracle Twins. He still didn't glance at her. "And Elk saw it."

BlackRose watched him for a moment, seeing the stiffness in his posture, the emptiness in his dark eyes, hearing the flatness in his voice. For the first time ever, he looked truly defeated, hanging by his fingernails to a crumbling belief that what they were doing was right, that all of these battles would be worth it in the end.

And she was standing below him, arms outstretched to catch him but not knowing if she was strong enough and desperately hoping that he would give one final try and pull himself up on to stable ground once again.

"You did what had to be done," she said quietly. "We didn't know going in that Mia would turn out to be the Sixth Phase." She paused. "And even if we had, could we have done any different?"

Something finally stirred in Kite's face and he turned to look at her, a need written so clearly there that she gasped slightly at the strength of it and reacted instinctively, her painted arms reaching out pull him to her. He came willingly, his body mostly slack as he collapsed against her, his forehead coming to rest against her shoulder. For her part, she held on to him, supporting him even as one hand rubbed his back and the other smoothed his hair comfortingly.

She had held Kazu like this not long ago.

"I hate it," Kite whispered against her, so softly she had to strain to hear him. He didn't elaborate and she didn't need him to. She knew exactly what he was talking about.

"I know."

"But I hate myself even more."

Breath hitched in her throat and her arms tightened on their own. She couldn't seem to get close enough to him even though she could feel his lips move over her skin as he spoke. "Why?" she questioned, almost voicelessly.

"Because I'm glad it wasn't you." He choked and struggled on. "All this time I've been thinking Elk must hate me for doing what I did. I destroyed something precious to him, someone he really cared about. And he saw it but couldn't do anything to stop it." His voice dropped. "I realized then that I was glad it had been him, that it had been Mia, because if we had switched places I don't think I could have stood by and let him execute you, even if everyone else said it had to be done. I… I might have killed him."

Something trembled inside her heart, a fluttering that made her shiver inwardly, her mind struck still by the implications of Kite's words. He was trying to tell her that he was a horrible person for being relieved that the Sixth Phase hadn't been someone truly close to him, but the truth was, anyone would have felt the same way in his situation. Everyone was always thankful to learn that it had been someone else's brother in coma, someone's else loved one in danger. Kite was no different in this respect. He may have become a hero, but he was still human, and his guilt was eating him alive.

Drawing a shaking breath, BlackRose moved her hands to Kite's face, pushing him back slightly and tilting his head forward to lay a kiss on the tattooed triangle of his cheek. He blinked at her, obviously confused about her acceptance of what was to him a terrible confession.

She smiled weakly. "Kite, what happened was awful for everyone involved, not just Elk. You were Mia's friend and you never expected to have to hurt her and you certainly didn't want to. But when the time came you made a choice between her and everyone else in The World and you did what you had to do." She linked her fingers together. "The truth is you weren't in Elk's position and I'm not Mia. Who knows what you may or may not have done?" Her expression softened at she looked at him. "But if we had been, I know you would have done the right thing, whatever that may be, and so would I."

Kite' voice was hoarse. "What would you have done?"

BlackRose's eyes flashed with stern conviction. "I would have done what Mia did. I would have gated you out so you wouldn't have to make such a choice."

His cobalt eyes closed painfully but she could see he had come out of the worst of it, his thoughts now on the future. "I don't know what to do."

She reached out and took his hand in hers, trying to send him reassurance through their connected palms. "We keep on doing what we think is right and believing in each other." She smiled suddenly, blindingly. "I'm sticking with you till the end so get used to it."

His answering laugh was clipped and short but he returned her smile, a glimmer of light in his eyes again.

"Till the end," he repeated, his hand still in hers. In her mind she felt the weight of a promise and grinned.

"And beyond."