Disclaimer: I disclaim Noein.


The room was quiet again.

Cluttered. Dark.

The boxes were back.

Shadows crowded against the walls, huddled together, bulky and tied for space. A naked old hat stand loitered awkwardly in one corner; the sewing machine Asuka's ex-mother-in-law had once gifted her with stood as unused as it had ever been underneath a worn white sheet. A faded Polaroid of a six-year-old Haruka dressed as a poisonous mushroom in an old school play peeked timidly out of an overstuffed carrier bag.

Lost to sight, the writing desk was buried somewhere under a box of assorted batteries, a collection of defunct video and cassette tapes, a stereo that had been manufactured in the days before Compact Disk. A lacquered wooden chest, dignified survivor of a war fought not so long ago, really, housed the black kimono that hadn't seen an airing since grandma Kaminogi's funeral. Next to that sat the casket of Princess dolls tucked neatly away for their display next year.

A large wooden picture frame, heavily detailed in Edwardian-style scrollwork, too grand to be anything but out of place in the Kaminogi household, leaned wearily against a bedside cabinet old and lame, supported by a small stack of books in the place its third leg had once been

Underneath the window, a large pile of white fur that might have been mistaken for an old throw rug by one with less keen eyes lay curled forlornly in a strip of moonlight filtering under the drawn blind.

The quiet was settling in again after its brief vacation, tucking itself into the cracks and corners, and it carried on undisturbed when the door on the right peeked open and a smaller shadow than the rest slipped inside, a folded bundle cradled tight in its arms. On bare feet it padded across the room, bent to stroke the despondent fur, then straightened to shake out the folded bundle, which turned out to be in fact a soft pink blanket.

The fur, which was in fact a dog, sniffed noisily at the hem of the blanket and whined.

The shadow, which was in fact a girl, wrapped it close about her shoulders and sank down onto the floor beside the animal, curling up in the darkness, nestling her cheek against the warm white fur.

The dog whined again, softer this time, and laid its head on its paws.

The girl pulled the blanket up over her head, and briefly inhaled against the soft woollen polyester blend.

The room was so full. So empty. She sighed.

... But he would not have wanted to see her sad, so the little girl smiled and scratched her pet bracingly below the ear as she closed her eyes.

'I know, Baron,' she murmured gently, sympathetically. ' ... Me too.'


A/N: Just a small, nostalgic vignette ... And I'd always wondered what happened to Karasu's pink blanket. Heh.

Much love to the Noein fans out there.