The characters and story belong to Mitsuru Adachi. All else belongs to me.

To comment, critique or correct, contact Anoni either by leaving a review or by sending an email to esoteric[underscore]expression[at] .

Rated G. Contains definite spoilers. Set after Cross Road.


Unfinished Requiem


Her eyelids opened slightly and she paused, listening, even as her hand drifted over to the empty warmth beside her on the bed. There was a shuffling sound, and a silence. A sigh she could almost hear. Then, the thud again, of a single white sphere against bricks and age and all the memories that refused to fade.

She reached for the robe and slipped it on, welcoming the slight chill against her body. It reminded her that tonight, especially tonight, there existed something beyond the sepia. Sometimes, everything still felt too much like a dream.

The curtains slid aside softly. She leaned against the glass, waiting as her eyes adjusted to the shadows beneath the moonless sky. Slowly, a figure emerged, a faint outline that somehow refused to sink into the fog and earth and trees. A tension, almost. Hints of restlessness on an otherwise peaceful night.

Somewhere beyond the wall, a car screeched, bumping carelessly over raised concrete before skidding onwards to wherever its destination happened to be. She blinked. The figure tilted its up by a fraction, and there, it remained, motionless in all the senses of the world. Her eyes closed. Even now, she could see the ghost of a van, its white coat glinting in the sunlight, its headlights blissfully untainted by traces of blood. She could hear the echo of a different type of screech, one that sang of panic and desperation instead of yet harmless drunken stupor. It always seemed strange that these images remained vivid when her own memories had begun to fade. Even stranger was the knowledge that somehow, both of them were haunted by this silent finale they had never truly seen.

Fifteen years. Time did not matter, in the end. Certain memories, imagined or not, could transcend all the barriers in the universe. Sometimes she wondered if it was such a bad thing, if she would be able to forgive herself for forgetting. And then she always asked herself which of the guilts would bring more pain.

Everything seemed so quiet.

In that instant, there was a movement, an abruptness that jarred the pretense of serenity. A denial. Peace still felt like a crime, and apparently not to her alone. She could see the outline of the figure's body, a strangely familiar pose sketched in a monochrome instead of colour. An arm shifted back fractionally. An almost certain strike.

Then, a hesitation. Reflex being shattered, discarded. Thoughts swimming in and invading what was once exclusively a territory of action. Guilt, perhaps, intermingled somewhere among threads tying the future to an unretrievable past.

The ball fell.

She fought the urge to turn away and remained gazing at her husband as he bowed his head. A ghost drifted past his body, caressing the lowered arms, kissing his face. Defeat. It was rare, almost sacrilegious, but somehow, in this place and at this moment... it felt right. There were some opponents that would always win.

For a moment, she thought she heard a sigh, and wondered if it was not her own. It probably was. This would be enough, if only for tonight.

The window opened more quietly than usual. Either that, or sounds were somehow muted by the presence she could almost taste. Her hands trembled. She buried them in her dressing gown, clutching the material, and somehow found enough of a voice to murmur, "Tacchan."

He looked up. Saw her there, and recognised her presence for all it meant. A question reached his lips but was swallowed within the same instant. In the end, he just nodded once. "Stay. It is chilly out here."

"Yes." As if to echo them, a breeze blew past, sending loose strands of hair across her cheeks. "It is late."

Uesugi Tatsuya bowed his head. His upper body rotated towards her as he searched within himself, testing the truth of his words before setting them free. "A few more minutes."

She acknowledged that. "I will wait." For as long as he needed, but then, he knew that.

The room faded into darkness as the curtains closed, and the sheets had somehow crusted into ice. Shivering slightly, she slid out from beneath the blankets again and moved towards the bookshelf. Her hands ran along the wood, counting one pane, two, then three, before delving deeper in search. It proved little trouble, in the end. This level would only ever hold one object, and it was far from hidden.

'Surprise!' An eager grin, coloured with just a touch of smugness.

Her ghost held an arm out, inquisitively, and she did the same. For different reasons, of course, but that mattered little, especially now. 'What is it?' What was it that she still sought absolution from it, even after so long?

'Here.' A bundle deposited in her arms. Something large, and furry, and warmed from a morning spent squashed behind his back. She remembered squeeling, meeting his eyes for a single, delighted moment. His smile had lit up instantly. His voice, in counterpoint, turned suddenly shy.

'For you, Minami.'

Her fingers settled around a familiar coat of dogearred fur and pulled the bear towards her, bowing her head at the absense of a warmth from two decades ago. The least of his gifts, perhaps, but still solid, still existing. Still comforting, in a temporary exchange of grief for the old, bittersweet ache.

And it was for her. Everything had been, in the end.

Footsteps sounded, drawing closer, and paused. Began once more. A weight brushed her shoulder. She fell still before spinning around almost desperately, searching for the two glints in the darkness. Eyes met. A question rose in her throat, then lodged there. The silence stretched on.

In the end, she felt him take it from her. Felt it sink in, and heard an old weariness in the whisper, "Is this wrong, Minami?"

Why was he asking her?

Almost in spite of herself, her arm reached out and returned the teddy bear to its shelf. A single fingertip lingered momentarily, then pulled away. She closed her eyes. Leaned back. Strong arms slid around her. "Is it?" she echoed.

Wordlessly, he led her back to the bed. It was even colder than before. She edged closer, hesitating, then felt the arms around her shoulders once more. After some time, he shifted. His voice was low, almost inaudible. "I... I'm sorry."

There was so much to be sorry for. Too much. Everything that no amount of penance could absolve.

"Me too." The words were dragged from her, and they came out as a sigh. "I wish..."

For what? That they could have lived out childhood forever? That they could hold hands once more, all three of them, and run along the grass into the setting sun?

/'I thought that life would always be the three of us...'/

That these years had not happened?


There was a sudden tightening of the arms around her body, and her hands clenched. "I wish..."

That she was sorry?


She felt wetness on her cheeks, then, and struggled against the blankets before he lifted them and drew her against him. His chest was burning hot. "I'm sorry," she whispered again, and felt him nod, though the apology had not been for him.

Silence swelled once more. For a moment, she thought she heard a ghost of an answering murmur, but it never did find its way into the night. She wondered if he knew where the guilt ought to begin and end any more than she did.

/'Let's stay...'/

Then, outside, a bark sounded. There was a series of twitters in reply. They both froze, then drew apart slightly, turning their eyes to the window and the soft light that illuminated the curtains. Someone exhaled; she could not be sure if it came from him or her.

Slowly, her gaze drifted towards the calendar on the wall. Mentally tore off the sheet numbered '29'. Another year. They had survived after all.

She glanced sideways, and found his eyes seeking hers. His mouth opened, then closed. This time, she shook her head, just a fraction to the side. He swallowed. Nodded with a single jerk. They both leaned back into the pillows, and as an afterthought, she reached down and pulled the blankets up around them both.

Somewhere beyond the window, a bird began to sing. A sigh escaped softly.

/'Let's stay together.'/

Rest in peace, Kacchan.
Character rant/author's notes

You know, at the end of the series, I could not envision Tatsuya and Minami becoming romantically involved. Not on a long-term basis, at any rate. One could feel the bond between them, the tug of fate that drew them together and had always done so. Would always do so. I could, therefore, see the relationship shifting towards the romantic side, if only because it was natural to try, and also because feelings existed on both sides. But I was never satisfied that a romantic relationship could last.

The most obvious reason is Kazuya. Could such memories truly allow further development? I have never had such a close childhood friend, nor have I had a twin, but I could not quite contemplate it, especially given the nature of Kizuya's relationship with Minami and Tatsuya's almost indoctrinated way of dealing with said relationship. Too many unanswered questions, too many things viewed as owing and forever unrepayable. Too much guilt. Love, believe it or not, is rarely able to conquer everything. The scars and the self-incrimination would remain very raw if Minami and Tatsuya were to become romantically involved, and from what I understand of their personalities, those may fade but would never disappear or stop haunting them. I always believed the past would eventually tear them apart. But then, that may just be me.

There is, however, another factor. Yes, I think that there are romantic feelings on both sides. But as well as they fit together, and as much as they needed each other in more senses than I can describe, their relationship had never struck me as very romantic. Counterarguments could be that they were young, and that there had been little time for it to grow romantic. Some may actually say that it was already very much romantic. This is just my view. Frankly, however, it has always felt to me as though the spark of romance was insignificant and almost shallow compared to what they already did share. They knew each other very well, depended on each other for their identities, and would sacrifice the world for one another. Yet in the end, there were expectations and needs within their relationship that did not seem to translate very well into romance, and likewise, certain aspects of romantic relationships seemed at odds with what lay between the two of them. This does not explain it very well, but so much was taken for granted as a way of life that the introduction of arguably necessary... freshness? may not have worked. Best friends cannot necessarily become lovers.

That being said, I have never dismissed the possibility entirely. The end of the series left me swaying towards friendship. 'Miss Lonely Yesterday' made that feeling stronger, because to me, it confirmed the mutual need between them, but also showed that their long relationship could make things more difficult. They - and Tatsuya in particular - had to change the way they viewed one another. They had always been such a large part of one another's lives, and to a degree, the other had always been a factor in all non-trivial decisions and thoughts. They did not have to slowly become part of one another's life, because they had been for two decades. Considering the other person in a different light would affect both their lives almost entirely, and I had doubts about whether that would be possible. Also, it must be noted that Kazuya's shadow was still pulsing and undeniable in the background.

Then came 'Cross Road'. I have only read a - albeit very detailed - summary, which makes me reluctant to base so many opinions on it, but I have already done so and I will say this anyway. They had grown up. There was character development, and it was obvious that they had matured separately. They had a clearer understanding of who they were as individuals. The slightly unhealthy tint of needs reallocated because of Kazuya's death was gone. See, part of the reason why the relationship was somewhat unbalanced was because the friendship had been shared among three people. When one left, it was natural for the remaining two to take on some things, to clutch, to ask for things one would not previously have asked from the same person. There was, to me, something wrong with that, but it had become okay within the space of time. They had learned not to base their lives around each other as much. The distance also meant that they would need to find new ways of relating to one another, which I also thought was necessary. By the end, the reservations had mellowed, and I could vaguely see a romantic relationship. Not necessarily working out well, but one that had a chance because was not based on the past and on illusions.

Thus, this came out. If I see the movie and subsequently change my mind about everything, I will remove it, but as a hypothetical 'what if', this does not seem totally implausible. Then again, I did write it late at night, so I may have been rambling.