Ayato was dying.

This Dolem wasn't like the others; this Dolem was stronger. And as the Xephon sank further into the clinging murk that had once been firm pavement, Kamina realized he'd been a fool. He'd grown too secure in his borrowed strength, too arrogant in knowing he had the power of a maybe deity behind him, and it had all come together in orchestration for this.

His downfall.

He screamed his rage as voices from his com-unit echoed all around him –"Kamina? Ayato! KAMINA ARE YOU THERE?"- trying to anchor him in this existence, in this reality. They were losing him –No, he amended bitterly, they were losing their prized weapon, their one up on the Mu. And part of him, he knew then, was glad that things should end such, glad that he'd leave them hanging. What had they done for him, besides holing him up and keeping an eternal eye on him, monitoring so very closely to see if he'd become Mu? And maybe, just maybe, he'd find his way back to Mishima, find the path back to Mother-

"Ayato, PLEASE!"

"Haruka," he whispered, covered to the neck now in a black fluid like substance that was slowly consuming him whole. One hand was extended, reaching for something even though there was nothing to reach for. The core of the Xephon was almost entirely swallowed by the darkness, by the song of the Dolem. He could feel it singing still, the air around him vibrating with the terrifying, enchanting cadence of its voice.


"H-Haruka," He said again, his own voice stronger. And suddenly he felt fingers wrap around his hand and was being pulled free from the muck, free from the sound. And who he saw infused him with iron resolve, with the grim determination that he would not die here, not like this.

He would survive.

Under his will the Xephon surged upwards, breaking free of the Dolem's hold. And with its own scream –with Kamina's scream- it surged forwards, seizing the Dolem by the neck and flinging it effortlessly into a skyscraper. As the building toppled in a rush of debris and smoke, as the Dolem shrieked and its so very blue blood exploded through the air, Ayato knew pure exultation.

And later, when he set foot again on Nirai Kanai, he watched Haruka's eyes -bloodshot from thousands of tears cried- peruse his form, watched the dawning comprehension that what she was seeing was in fact Kamina, but somehow he was inexplicably different. It was your voice, he wanted to tell her, but he couldn't. And so he just smiled tiredly and told her things were okay, knowing that she knew they weren't.

But he had changed. He wasn't weak any longer. And soon, he'd make it known.