Author's Notes: Written for Ignored Flower. Could be Kai/Irene but doesn't have to be. It depends on you! Please enjoy.

Disclaimer: I do not own BLOOD+ and am making no profit from this fan fiction.

Dust of Red

By Nessie

Sometimes Kai dreams of Irene. And when he does, she is perfect; still young, still smiling, and always, always happy.

He's glad he dreams of her that way. He's pretty sure that means he doesn't have to worry about her anymore. She's free now, peaceful – even if she didn't get to live the way she wanted to, the fact that he can still hear her gentle voice in his mind is reassuring.

It's when he is awake that the thought of Irene causes pain, causes loss to swell up and burst like a boil on his heart. He had wanted to help her but had led her only to a harsh and hurting end. And it's in the simplest of things that he recalls it all…a garnet or ruby gleaming from behind the window of a jewelry shop brings up the vision of a girl cracking apart and dying with the effect of mistreated gems. Irene had been, he is sure, precious beyond stones, beyond blood, beyond even life.

Kai walks on the beach today, dusk falling at his side. Water growing colder surges forward to rhythmically gush over his bare feet and splash at his ankles. He is getting older, he thinks as the sun sets and leaves streaks of crimson across the horizon.

It's been nearly ten years since Saya fell asleep, and her friends enshrined her once more. All he has to relieve him of the loneliness are memories and the hope that he won't die before she awakens again.

"Kai!"

Sometimes there's a shadow of a man, hints such as roses on the shrine.

"Kai!"

And there are David and Julia with their boy. Lewis drops by every so often. And he e-mails Monique on holidays.

"Dad!"

The two voices ring out, bringing Kai to a stop. Turning, he raises an eyebrow at the identical twin girls jogging up to him. They are getting older, too. Their bodies are lithe, powerful, with healthy appetites, and one of them has even expressed a wish to be a singer one day.

They are more of the past and the future than they understand. And Lou Lou has told Kai that Irene and the rest of the Schiff would have liked them very much.

"Hey!" one calls as they skid to a stop in front of him, kicking up sand. "Look what we found!"

Her sister holds up both of her cupped hands, allowing Kai to peer inside.

"Red dust," he notes.

"Where did it come from?" the one holding the dust asks. "There isn't any clay here."

"Maybe it came from a broken brick," he suggests, but they are chattering together, ignoring him because they know he will be practical.

"What if it's from a heart?"

"Yes, a heart!"

"Can hearts turn to dust, Kai?"

Kai blinks at them, momentarily astonished, before he tosses back his head and laugh while they pout at him. "Yes," he replies when he can speak. "Yes, hearts can turn to dust."

He has seen it. Tragically, happily, hearts wither away to miniscule pieces. Kai supposes his own heart has been tried so many times that it too is now dust.

Red dust. Like crystallized blood or shattered rubies. Like love. Like memory.

The End