Patlabor is created by Headgear.

Owned by Masami Yuuki and other stuff.

Please do not sue I'm poor.

Goto took a long drag from his cigarette and slowly exhaled the smoke. He stared across the Tokyo Bay into the sea through the smoke. A casual observer would describe Goto as a sleepy and boring police Captain that needed to cut back on his smoking and drinking but to those who knew him best, know that it was just a facade.

Goto sighed and let the cigarette burn. It was over from all accounts, Tsuge lost and Goto had won. Or had he? He was no longer sure about what was going on any more. Was this all he had strived for? Part of him laughed and the other brooded. Tokyo, a city of people and illusions. Mirages as Tsuge promptly named it. Mirages that could be swept away suddenly leaving no trace.

He looked away from the window and stared at Shinobu Nagumo's desk in the office they shared together. She was not in and so there was no reason not to smoke in the office.

Ah, Shinobu Nagumo. Chief Inspector of the Special Vehicle Section 2 and other such useless titles. A woman who now frustrated and mystified Goto more so than usual now. A woman who stills pines away on a man who almost plunged the nation of Japan into a civil war. He had to admit he was jealous of Tsuge, jealous for possessing something that could not be taken away. Her, her love, her everything.

Goto sighed in frustration. Remembering when they almost caught Tsuge when he went off to meet Shinobu, to convince her to join him in his plan to wipe away the illusion of "peace." At first Goto was sure she would refuse and try to arrest Tsuge but when Goto saw her face and eyes. When he saw the longing and love for Tsuge, everything was thrown into doubt. Goto couldn't read her like he used to; she became distant and mysterious. He could no longer tell if she was happy, angry or sad. Once Goto could tell how she felt by how she acted, but then actions became muted and emotions became clouded.

Then when they made the attack on Tsuge's base of operations and Goto arrived on the helicopter. He saw her with Tsuge. A face filled with unsaid raw feelings and her fingers intertwined with Tsuge's fingers before finally she slapped the last cuff on her right wrist.

That hurt Goto, it was as if she pledged herself to Tsuge. To love him and no other forever. In fact they still hadn't talked to each other, the last month was filled with uncomfortable silence and nervous glances. But Goto was patient, after all where was he going? Or where was Shinobu going for that matter? No where, they had all the time to talk to each other and work things out. Or did they?

He took another drag from his cigarette and began to reflect. It had been a month since the "Tsuge Incident" as the police departments now called it. Shinobu obviously hadn't recovered and Goto found himself at a loss as to what to do. What could he do? What could she do? What could anyone do for her or him? Goto prided himself for his ability to shrug off insults and other incidents with little problem but this problem was something he could simply not ignore nor runaway from. It was not the problem of the brilliant terrorist threatening Japan, something like that had to be taken care of or left to it's own devices with terrible consequences. But this was something less earth shattering and more heart shattering in comparison.

Goto sighed and realized there was no point in beating around the bush. The problem could only be postponed by his reluctance and Shinobu's silence but they would eventually have to deal with it. How was the question. This made Goto take another moment's thought before he finally took a look at the clock.

The clock read 5 p.m. In ten minutes he would be relieved from duty and then what? He was supposed to have a three-day break for his work on the "Tsuge Incident" but where would he go? Would he go home? It would help if there were someone to go to.

****

Shinobu Nagumo watched television in the living room. That in itself was not unusual, but seeing how she never watched mind numbingly boring Japanese cooking shows before it alluded to the fact that she really wasn't paying attention to the TV. She found herself doing what she had been doing for the past month, both at work and at home. She was brooding over every little thing that happened to her thus far during her life. It ranged from the strange, the happy and the sad memories of life. Her mother Keiko was in the kitchen making dinner. Shinobu realized she hadn't eaten a thing for two days but she just did not want to eat at all. Her mother was probably making dinner for two again and thinking of a way to convince Shinobu into eating it.

"I'm not hungry mother! So don't make any food for me!" Shinobu shouted towards the kitchen in slight annoyance.

"You will eat this dinner, so help me God!" Keiko shouted back in turn.

Shinobu sighed and decided to actually pay attention to the TV. She soon discovered there was an overly happy middle aged woman demonstrating the wonders of baking some kind of bread that Shinobu could care less about. It wasn't the fact Shinobu had no idea what the woman was making that irked her. What really irked Shinobu was the seemingly huge plastic smile that the woman had on her face the entire time she cooked and talked. Shinobu grimaced and turned changed the channel before she decided to do something drastic. Unfortunately the next channel had a recruitment ad for the police. The ad consisted of a good-looking woman in police uniform with a huge happy smile and the words,

"Build your exciting future career today in the Tokyo Metropolitan police. Justice, pride and truth."

Shinobu threw the remote control at the TV shattering the glass screen into a thousand pieces. The throw was quite forceful and where the screen once was, now just had a black space with minute sparks flying out.

Shinobu stared at the TV and quietly wondered how many suckers would be drawn to the police ad. The line of thought wandered off to how she was drawn to the police. Justice was in short supply, pride was overweening and destructive within the police departments and the truth was casually glossed over to present a lie that was far more attractive to the public.

Shinobu then ticked off the breakable things she had destroyed in the house already. She had already destroyed ten plates, three bowls, a window, several cups, a chair, a coffee maker and a TV with the remote.

"This is going to take out a nice chunk of my pay check when it arrives," Shinobu muttered to herself.

Keiko rushed into the living room and stared at the broken television then at Shinobu in a deliberately slowly manner.

"You do realize we are running out of breakable things in this house?" Keiko asked. Shinobu could tell her mother was worried about her. Keiko watched Shinobu in silence as if trying to ascertain her daughter's psyche. Keiko gave up and sighed audibly in annoyance, she then turned around and went back into the kitchen.

"Dinner will be ready soon," Keiko said tiredly. Shinobu wasn't listening to her mother. She was busy brooding. When Keiko left Shinobu laid on her back and stared at the ceiling, not concentrating on anything in particular. It was just another attempt to keep her mind off certain subjects she felt she was not ready for. But it was no use.

"Tsuge you were wrong... I don't understand. I never understood even when I fell in love with you but maybe that was one of the things that drew me to you..." Shinobu whispered to herself and continued to stare at the ceiling. What was it that drew her to Tsuge? Was it his philosophical side? The brooding? The unhappiness she, all to well, recognized in him? Was it because she didn't want him to be miserable? Or was it as Fuwa said she just had a thing for older serious men? Maybe, just maybe, it was because he was so much like her father?

Shinobu turned her head and stared at the photo of her father on the wall. He was dressed in his JSDF uniform and was looking straight ahead into space. Underneath was a small gold plaque that read "Colonel Nagumo Suon of the 5th Armor Brigade".

She continued to stare at her father's picture and mused upon it. Her father was much closer to her than her mother ever could. But he was always away from home, working on this and that. Her father was never happy with his marriage to Keiko. The marriage had broken down permanently when Shinobu was seven years old. Even then she could tell the marriage just wasn't working out but despite that Suon always cared for her. It was a type of father-daughter relationship that was special. He was always the intellect in the family, the great thinker and philosopher but most of all the soldier.

As for her mother Keiko, she was not sure any more. Shinobu remembered how Keiko just never seemed to be proud of her no matter what she did.

Shinobu smiled bitterly at the memories. First in her class for every test, leading runner in her track team, and general speaking the overachiever. But she was not happy with things she did or her achievements. She just didn't care about her achievements or anything she did, when she realized that...

Shinobu stood up and went to her father's photo and stared at it.

When she realized she didn't care anymore. She didn't care what her mother said or what others said. She withdrew, no destroyed, the illusion she had created for herself. The distress, the shock and anger of it all when she realized how utterly useless and meaningless it was.

"I wonder how you'd react if you were still here daddy? I've changed a lot since then but you'll never see it," Shinobu said talking to the picture.

She kept that feeling of utter meaninglessness with her until she met him. Tsuge, her teacher and mentor. She remembered the question the Detective Matsui asked Tsuge and the answer.

****

"What I don't understand is why you haven't killed yourself?... You the great thinker, the great philosopher, the great soldier... What kept you from killing yourself?" Matsui asked.

"It certainly wasn't fear, more of a case of sheer curiosity;" Tsuge answered staring out the window of the helicopter as it moved over Tokyo.

"Curiosity?" Matsui asked baffled. "About the future, and what it holds," Tsuge said.

****

Shinobu stared at the photo of her father.

"I don't understand why you killed yourself father?... You the great thinker, the great philosopher, the great soldier... What made you kill yourself?" Shinobu asked the photo.

Suon Nagumo answered the way he had always answered questions. It was with silence; after all, you can't expect an answer from a photo.

The voice of Keiko disturbed the silence and smell of a traditional Japanese dinner filled the air. Shinobu was oblivious to the smell of her mother's cooking and what Keiko said.

"Shinobu dinner's ready dear! Please eat it before it gets cold!" Keiko called out. There was a tinge of desperateness that underlined her voice. It was practically begging Shinobu to eat something but Shinobu didn't hear it or maybe she just didn't want to hear her mother's voice.

Shinobu stood in front of her father's photo for a long moment and turned her head towards the hallway leading to the kitchen where her mother stood. Keiko's face was lined with worry and desperateness but this did not garner any compassion from Shinobu. Shinobu was simply tired of her mother trying to reach her; nothing that Keiko did now could replace or return the years of her childhood. In other words, Keiko was too late in trying to understand her; she should have tried to reach Shinobu earlier but now it was too late. If only Keiko said a kind word, praise for achieving something or maybe, just once, once attended one of Shinobu's track meets and cheer her on rather than being somewhere else during her childhood.

Silence stretched between the two for what seemed like an eternity, oblivious of the smell of dinner in the air or the silence. They stopped staring at each other and stared at the photo of the catalyst of heartache and loss.

"... Shinobu... I really did love him," Keiko began with tears forming in her eyes, "and I love you as well... Why can't you see that?"

Shinobu answered with a long-suffering silence. She then turned towards her mother and looked at her.

"... I'm not hungry... I'm going outside for awhile... I won't be coming back in awhile," Shinobu said evenly heading towards the hallway closet that housed her coat and shoes. She got up and opened the door. Keiko lost her temper with Shinobu but that was fine with Shinobu because she was used to it.

"You're just like him! Always running away or walking away from problems! You of all people should know doing that would only hurt you more in the end!" Keiko shouted at Shinobu in anger. Shinobu stood at the entrance of the doorway.

"... I know that," Shinobu answered as she left the house and closed the door. She didn't bother turning around to address her mother as she spoke. She walked forward and stared at the Tokyo sky that was turning into night. Shinobu then walked to a place where she knew she wouldn't be bothered by her mother.

****

Goto slowly pulled up the road in his car and stopped in front a rather large traditional Japanese house. The house had been around for as long as anyone in the neighbourhood could physically remember. In fact the one hundred and ten-year-old next door neighbour Yukimasa Masako remembered when she was a little girl that everyone, a century ago, said the exact the same thing. The house survived the turbulent years that Tokyo went through. It was just there, end of story and would remain there as long as there was a Nagumo alive. It would probably remain there until someone deliberately decided to target and blow up the house.

Goto took a moment to admire the house. He was far too caught up with the sight and his thoughts. He took out another cigarette and began to smoke. The smoke curled in the air idly as Goto took a long drag. The ember's at the end of the cigarette burned away at the tobacco in an even pace. He watched the smoke float up to the car ceiling until finally he got out of his car and threw out his cigarette. He was unsure of how to proceed but regardless he walked forward towards the large house's gates and opened them. Before him was a snow covered garden and the path towards the front door had a lone person's footsteps in the snow going out the gate. The night sky was clear, crisp and cold with the moon peeking through the clouds. Goto stopped for a moment to look at the garden covered in snow with admiration before finally moving forward towards the front door of the house and waited in front of the house for a long moment.

"I don't know what to say and here I am," Goto said to himself.

Despite that line of thought Goto found he was knocking the door. He knew someone was home because there was a light inside the house. He waited patiently until finally the front door opened to reveal a rather stressed out looking Keiko Nagumo. Keiko wore a simple black winter kimono and looked surprised when she saw Goto standing outside the door.

"... Do you want to come in Goto-san?" Keiko managed to say.

"Thank you," Goto replied.

"I'm sorry but my daughter isn't here she left a few moments ago..."

"Oh I see... Do you know where she was going?"

"I don't know... would you like to eat dinner with me? Shinobu left before she ate her dinner."

"... Yes, thank you. Sorry to intrude."

Goto entered the house's hallway and removed his shoes and coat. He put on some slippers and followed Keiko to the kitchen where a rather large dinner was set up. He then realized how empty the house seemed to be. It was large and quiet, he could easily imagine a slight noise within the house would echo throughout the entire place with little difficulty. He then noticed that something was amiss in the living room and saw that the TV screen was completely and utterly shattered. The glass was littered around the base of the TV and a remote was in the middle of where the screen was. It was rather obvious that someone threw the remote at the TV screen thereby shattering it. Though Goto didn't know exactly why it was completely destroyed. He didn't comment and continued to follow Keiko to the kitchen.

In the kitchen the dinner table was obviously set up for two people but the food for one person was completely undisturbed and getting colder by the second. Goto sat down and realized that the chopsticks in front of him were a female set and came to the conclusion that he was sitting in Shinobu's dinner seat. There was another chair at the end of the table but there was nothing set in front of it, Goto guessed that it was where Shinobu's father sat when he ate dinner.

"I'm sorry, I'll get you some other chopsticks," Keiko said getting up and setting a pair of thicker chopsticks.

"Thank you," Goto said. He didn't what to say and began eating in silence. Keiko ate in silence also until finally Goto decided to hazard a question for her.

"Ah, what happened to your TV? Did it blow a fuse?" Goto asked politely.

"Goto-san... Don't bother being polite about it and ask questions the way you want it. Anyone with eyes in their head can tell someone throwing a remote at it destroyed it. The remote is in the television screen," Keiko said.

"Oh... I guess I'll come off straight then... Did Shinobu do that?"

"Yes... She's become slightly destructive ever since the 'incident'. She's destroyed a lot of plates and cups for the last past month.... I don't know what to do any more; she just comes home, broods, eats dinner, and broods some more and then goes to sleep."

"It's that bad?"

"No, it's becoming worse... She's starting to lose weight; she won't talk to her friends or me and has stopped eating for the past two days. She just goes out and walks around by herself. I'm glad you came though. Maybe you can talk some sense into my daughter."

"Do you know where she went?"

"No... She never tells me where she goes and besides she's thirty-three years old. I can't make her tell me where she goes at night. Though I have a pretty good idea where she is."

Goto looked down at the food he finished eating and the got up from his seat.

"Thank you for the meal Nagumo-san, it was delicious. I'm going to try and look for Shinobu," Goto said looking straight at Keiko.

"You better be careful; she's not really in a wonderful mood," Keiko replied as she began to clear away the dishes.

"Can you guess where she'll be?"

"... She'll either be at the old track and field stadium up north or somewhere near "Strange Paradise" in the commercial district most likely."

"The old track and field stadium? Why would she be there?"

"Shinobu liked to run... and she used to compete in the stadium there when she was in high school."

"Thanks Nagumo-san."

Goto walked towards the door and looked in the living room again where he noticed a photo of a man. He stepped closer to the photo and noticed the small gold plaque.

"So this is Shinobu's father... Colonel Nagumo Suon of the 5th Armor Brigade... the physical resemblance is amazing," Goto thought to himself and then he looked at the broken TV.

"I hope Shinobu's not going to do anything stupid..." Goto quietly said to himself still staring at the broken TV.

****

Shinobu was sitting on a seat in "Strange Paradise" and staring at a full glass of some sort of alcohol she had ordered. She hadn't taken a single swig of the drink yet because she was into brooding and thinking rather than getting mind numbingly drunk. She found herself trying to drown out the noise of other patrons in various states of sobriety (or lack of thereof) and talking. She sighed and looked around the bar in silence and saw people together. Shinobu realized she was the only person in the place that was not talking to anyone. She couldn't talk to the barkeeper Takae because he was busy serving drinks to various people. Strange the bar itself hadn't changed a bit since she first entered the place thirty years ago, her father took her here when she was five. He came here as often as possible with Shinobu when time allowed it. The bar's main customers were people who worked for the JSDF; the base where her father worked wasn't that far away from here. Takae was still working the place and still owed a considerable amount of money to her father. Not that it was ever going to get paid off since Takae made a deal with her father, the cost of all drinks ordered are subtracted from the debt. However her father was dead and Shinobu almost never came here. This was an annoyance for Takae since he hated being in debt to anyone.

She chuckled at that and chugged down her glass. The drink turned out to be apple juice and Shinobu was not amused. Takae still regarded Shinobu, as a little girl still despite it has been twenty-five years since she ordered an apple juice. It was obvious he didn't approve of her drinking herself into a drunken oblivion.

"Takae!" Shinobu said loudly enough to get Takae's attention.

"What is it Shinobu-chan?" Takae said with a smile.

"I thought I said I wanted something hard... Apple juice is not alcohol."

"I don't like it when you drink."

"And why is that?"

"... It reminds me of your father..."

"..." To that Shinobu had nothing to say. Takae was right, damn him, Shinobu only drank when she was depressed just like her father. Also they always brooded or held their first drink for a long time before finally chugging the entire thing down.

"I do not act like my father..." Shinobu lied between her teeth in annoyance.

"You're a terrible liar you know that?" Takae asked with a straight face.

"... Just give me a damn drink or I'll go somewhere else to get drunk..." Shinobu threatened.

"Fine then... Just don't drink yourself to the point you go blind okay?" Takae said relenting, "Is there anything you wanna talk about? You look..."

"No!... Just give me beer..."

That ended all conversation between Takae and her. Shinobu proceeded to then seriously get liquored up.

****

Goto walked towards the crumbling remains of a once modern stadium. It was falling down into it's own dust and refuse, but no one in the entire town seemed to really care. The track was in reasonably good conditions compared to the seats around it. There was graffiti everywhere and it was completely utterly devoid of human presence except for Goto's company. It was obvious that the years had not been kind and the government bureaucrats in charge were cruel.

So Goto found himself in the stadium staring at the Tokyo night with the moon looking through the clouds and the city lighting up the sky. Shinobu was no where to be seen in the entire place, it was empty there was no one there except him.

Once long ago, the stadium was filled to full capacity by the frequent high school game events such as soccer, American football and most of all the annual intercity high school Track and Field competition. Such events have moved onto other facilities leaving an empty stadium for the enjoyment of dispossessed teenagers, gangs, and rare individual that have nostalgic memories of the past. Shinobu was one of the rare individuals who came back here simply to remember she was a sprinter in her high school team. A good one at that, so good that she could of gone to the Olympics if she wanted to but some people just can't handle the fact that there are others better than them. So a rival school, who almost permanently injured her left leg, sabotaged Shinobu but luckily her leg recovered, though she could no longer sprint as fast as usual due to injury and thus ended her Olympic dreams.

This was lost on Goto because he had no idea about what happened here and most likely would never know. He left towards "Strange Paradise" with nary glance at the crumbling monument of physical competition, the victories and loses that went before were like the stadium itself. Forgotten and left to wallow in the dust.

****

Shinobu chugged down her sixth beer, no wait... maybe it was her fifth beer. Well it didn't really matter how much she drank; she rarely ever drank so she never ever got a real chance to build up a resistance to the effects of inebriation. In other words she was drunk already and didn't realize it because she was still brooding. This was all fine and dandy until a slightly drunken JSDF soldier decided to try and take advantage of her.

****

Goto was approaching "Strange Paradise" in apprehension. There was something just not right with atmosphere in the air or maybe it was just his gut instinct that something was going to happen. The street relatively empty with all the people inside and it was starting to snow lightly covering the ground with a pure white blanket. It was rather picturesque, a street with a few people talking and walking, the bars with drinkers enjoying each other's company and finally he arrived at "Strange Paradise" and stood in front of the bar. Goto wondered if Shinobu was in there by herself and also what he would do if she were in there.

Goto however had no time to think about it when heard Shinobu's angry voice shouting, "Oh I'll take this outside!"

The door to the bar almost immediately burst into little wooden pieces and Shinobu and a man came tumbling out into the once undisturbed snow. Man landed on his back dazed and Shinobu fell face first into the snow dazed. Goto was speechless and simply watched the two combatants staggered back up and continue their fight.

"Take this bitch!" The man shouted throwing a punch that hit Shinobu square in the stomach and punched her at the side of the head. That didn't seem to impress Shinobu very much.

"Oh yeah! Well take this you oversexed poor excuse of a man!" Shinobu shouted and proceeded to head butt the soldier in the face breaking his nose. The soldier backed off holding his bleeding and broken nose in pain. Seeing an opportunity to attack, Shinobu kneed him in the stomach. This caused the soldier to go down on his knees and Shinobu punched him in the face knocking the soldier into the snow unconscious. Shinobu almost collapsed realizing the punch that the soldier threw to her stomach hurt a lot more than she realized. She looked at the unconscious form of the soldier in the snow and looked up to see who was watching. She realized that Goto was standing right behind the formerly conscious soldier and that Goto had seen what had happened.

Now Goto on the other hand simply watched an obviously drunk Shinobu punch a guy unconscious. Her face was flushed red by the alcohol she had consumed and she was staggering about trying to balance herself. Goto saw a few patrons getting up and looking rather angry with Shinobu. He felt his body moving forward grabbed Shinobu's arm and forcefully guided her away from the bar. He looked behind him and in the distance he could see some people checking on the man that Shinobu had knocked unconscious. He quickly realized how fast he was running away from the bar with Shinobu in tow and was amazed at the distance he had covered because he knew he wasn't much a runner due to his tendency to smoke a lot. Finally they arrived at one of the river's that ran through Tokyo in the bay. He then took a snap decision to get on one of the boats and hide.

Shinobu said nothing during the entire escapade because she was confused and wondering why she was running away. She simply kept quiet and watched Goto cough and try to catch his breath while Shinobu didn't even feel winded at all. The distance they ran was rather impressive but Shinobu could have run a longer distance without feeling tired. Shinobu found this very funny for some strange reason, here was Goto coughing his lungs out in fatigue and she was barely even tired. She started to laugh out loud at the silliness of the entire thing.

Goto on the other hand simply was too busy hacking his lungs out to really comment. Shinobu laughter finally subsided into little giggles and Goto watched incredulously at Shinobu. Shinobu had forgotten her coat at the bar but that was fine because Takae would eventually return it and besides her wallet was with her so the others could not find out where she lived. Goto looked at Shinobu and noted what she was dressed in. She was dressed in simple jeans and had a black turtleneck. She also had a bleeding lip but she otherwise looked fine from her fight.

"Shinobu are you all right?" Goto asked in worry.

"Ha ha ha... Yeah I'm all right but you look like a ... a ... some sort of blowfish with your red face and all are you tired already?" Shinobu asked trying to calm herself down. She found herself shivering due to the cold. Goto took off his jacket and put it around Shinobu.

"You feel better now?" Goto asked after he put his jacket on her.

"No... Goto I don't feel better... He still loves me doesn't he?" Shinobu asked quietly as if unsure to continue.

"Who?"

"Tsuge... I can still remember like it was yesterday when we first met... the track meets... my father and mother... I can still remember but I don't want to," Shinobu began blubbering. Tears began to fall down her face but she didn't realize it. The alcohol in her system caused her emotions to crash down on her like the hangover she would have the next morning. She wrapped her arms around her knees and got into a slightly fetal position. She began to shiver and cry. Goto was beginning to worry about her but before he had a chance to say anything Shinobu immediately stood up with anger blazing in her eyes. But somewhere in Goto, in a little place Goto never thought existed, he was jealous.

"Tsuge again, always Tsuge," Goto thought to himself.

"It's always the same! He doesn't care! No one does! Just like my mother! It's all just an illusion! Like last time! I have to destroy it again!" Shinobu shouted at Goto in anger.

"Shinobu! Calm down!" Goto said agitated by Shinobu's burst of anger.

"... But... I don't want to destroy it... It's so beautiful... so much more beautiful than last time..." Shinobu said in a much quieter voice and sank down to her knees. Goto caught her before she collapsed and she continued with her somewhat incomprehensible diatribe.

"You're not an illusion... I know your not... I can't tell anymore..." she hugged Goto as if trying to convince herself he was real.

"Shinobu, it's all right... I'm right here..." Goto said in a comforting voice.

"It's not all right... It was never all right..." Shinobu said until finally she fell limp in his arms. Goto realized she had passed out in his arms. She was in his arms eyes closed with still wet tears on her cheek. She never looked so beautiful and Goto found his breath caught in his throat. She looked so vulnerable but Goto felt no urge to take advantage of her. To do so would be sacrilegious almost, it would profane all the love he felt for her and makes all that he felt for her hollow and fruitless. So Goto held her in his arms for a long moment. Before he finally gently laid her on one of the seats in the decrepit boat. He sat down and began to think of how he could move her. There was no way he could carry her all the way to her home, it was too far but he needed to get her home. Also the night was getting cold and the snow was really coming down. There were a few options really but they either involved leaving Shinobu behind in the boat or waking her up, but Goto didn't really have the heart to do either. Then again another option was to wait for her wake up but it was very cold and Shinobu had Goto's only coat.

Goto sighed and considered another option. He could carry Shinobu a short distances to a hotel of some sort and let her recover there. Then when she awoke they could walk to her home together. That was probably the best option there was but he didn't know any close hotels around this area. Goto got up and took a peek outside to look for a place to stay. All he saw was clouds dumping light fluffy snow over the abandoned streets and that's when he realized that he had no idea where he was. Goto cursed at his own short sightedness, in his haste to get Shinobu away from the bar he didn't bother observing where he was going. The temperature, however, took that precise moment to become colder. Goto realized if he stayed in the boat, both he and Shinobu would suffer hypothermia. Goto picked up Shinobu up from the seat and began carrying her out the boat.

The first thing that Goto noticed about Shinobu was how light she was. Keiko was right, Shinobu had lost a bit of weight but Goto never realized it until now. This made carrying Shinobu easier but it worried Goto. Despite his concern he kept on walking in the cold and snow.

"First shelter, then I can ponder on Shinobu's condition," Goto thought to himself.

It wasn't that late in the night and people were still in the streets walking. The snow transformed the busy street into a sort of winter wonderland. Goto finally found a small Japanese inn for Shinobu and himself to rest in. He rented a single room for a brief stay and carried Shinobu upstairs. The old woman that owned the hotel looked rather worried and promised to send up some tea for them both latter.

Goto finally brought Shinobu into the room and gently placed her on one of the futons. He took his jacket off of her and placed a warm blanket over her. He then took a seat on the floor and watched her in silence. Shinobu looked like a petulant child who insisted she could stay awake but ended up falling asleep anyway. Goto chuckled at the thought of Shinobu acting like a child; it was more like she was acting like a self-destructive teenager with problems. His thoughts were cut short when the old innkeeper came around and left some tea for Goto.

"Is she all right?" The old woman asked.

"I think so... She just needs some rest and I think she'll be fine," Goto said, knowing that it was only a half-truth. Shinobu may recover physically but emotionally she was a wreck.

The innkeeper asked no more and left them alone. Goto wrapped himself in a blanket and waited for Shinobu to wake up. He soon lost track time and finally nodded off.

****

Shinobu quickly noted two things when she woke up. First she was sleeping in an unfamiliar bed in her clothing; second there was someone in the room with her. She couldn't really explain how she knew there was someone else in the room but she just 'knew'. She forced one of her eyes open and took a look. She could tell she was in some sort of room, maybe a small inn common around Tokyo. Also she noted she was indeed still in her clothing and in an unfamiliar bed. Shinobu blinked in surprise when noticed the person in the room with her. It was Goto; he was wrapped in a blanket and had fallen asleep sitting up. Shinobu tried to remember what had happened but the memories of the night were all a blur. The only evidence that something happened was a small cut on her lip and a bruise on her cheek. Shinobu forced herself up from the bed and stared at Goto unsure whether to wake him up, wait or just leave the inn and Goto behind. She sat there watching him debating what to do before finally she looked up at the clock that said 6:30 a.m. Finally Shinobu got up from her bed and walked out the room to put on her shoes, leaving Goto behind in the room. She felt hunger pains from her stomach but she refused to give it any attention and forced her body out the door of the inn without a jacket into the cold temperature outside.

The inn was near the harbour and Shinobu walked towards the wharves down by the Bay. She trembled in the cold and stood alone at the edge of the wharf. The clouds had dumped a pure white sheet of snow all over the place. It covered everything in a mystical whiteness, hiding the impurities on the surface. Shinobu couldn't help but appreciate the sight of the snow around her and the water in front of her. It seemed so beautiful, something she could never have. She stared towards where the sun was supposed to rise and waited.

****

Goto was not sure why he woke up but something told him to wake up. So he opened his eyes and saw that Shinobu's futon was empty and he had a stiff back. Goto looked at the empty futon and frowned. He got up and started to look around the room. The clock told him it was 6:35 a.m. and the futon was still warm, so Shinobu couldn't possibly be that far from the hotel. Goto immediately put his jacket and shoes on and ran out the inn. Luckily very few people were walking the streets and Goto found that the snow was mostly undisturbed except for a lone traveler's steps from the inn. The tracks showed that the person was heading towards the bay. Goto didn't wait and ran towards the wharves. He followed the footprints in the snow until he finally arrived at the wharves where he saw Shinobu standing at the edge of one of them. She was standing at the very edge and her back in front of Goto. She was facing the east across the bay and seemed oblivious to everything around her. Goto walked towards her calmly at the wharf and stood right behind her. He didn't what to say and he seemed baffled as to why she was here.

Shinobu knew Goto was behind her, she didn't turn around. There was no reason to and she had no reason to be standing here on the wharf. But it drew her here and it held her fast for some strange reason. The sun then rose from the east at it's appointed time and threw it's light across the Tokyo Bay. It's motes of light stretched across and made the pure white snow glitter in it's glow.

Goto and Shinobu said nothing and watched the sun rise, throwing it's warmth all over the city and casting away the shadows. This didn't change the fact that the wind chill factor plunged the temperature to -10 degrees Celsius and Shinobu was freezing cold. Shinobu shudder and Goto walked closer towards her and put his jacket on her. He then took a few steps back and waited for her to say something but when it became obvious she wouldn't say anything Goto decided to break the ice.

"So Shinobu... Are you all right now?" Goto asked.

"It's beautiful isn't it... the sunrise," Shinobu said not paying attention to Goto. It could be argued she wasn't even talking to Goto but rather the air around her.

"Yes it is..."

"But it's so ..."

"So... what?"

"So... So crushing. It crushes your heart, your soul, your everything."

"Shinobu?"

"Goto... When we first met it was right after I became Captain of the SV2... We talked for the first time on the mechanic's ship wharf... It brings back memories."

"Um... Actually all I remember from that conversation was you chewing me out on smoking and drinking..."

"Ha... what does it matter now... All I have to do is take a step forward and then I can really see..."

"Shinobu?"

No sooner did Goto say Shinobu's name; she took a large step off the wharf while she stared at the sun. She had such a happy smile on her face as she took her step and then she fell off the wharf and towards the water. Goto ran forward in a vain attempt to stop her. Goto almost fell off the wharf himself and expected to hear a big splash as Shinobu hit the water but instead he heard the sound of wood on flesh and Shinobu's curses. Goto took a tentative look over the side of the wharf and saw that there was a small boat tied to one the wharf's pillars. Instead of hitting the water, Shinobu landed on the boat and promptly got stuck. One of her legs was stuck in a hole on the ship and she failed to get her foot out. If it wasn't for the fact that Shinobu had tried to commit suicide Goto would have laughed.

Goto acted quickly and climbed down the ladder towards the boat. Shinobu didn't say anything and stared at the water almost imploringly. She didn't resist and Goto was immediately at her side. She turned her head around and opened her mouth to say something but Goto reacted first. Goto lifted his hand and slapped her in the face; the sound of the slap was loud.

Goto said nothing; Shinobu said nothing and the water continued to lap the boat's side. Shinobu did not turn her head to face Goto after he slapped her in the face. Instead her head was turned and was staring at the sun. Goto shook with rage and glared at her.

"What the hell do you think your doing?" Goto demanded angrily.

Shinobu gave no answer and simply turned her head to face Goto. Her face was a complete blank and it unnerved Goto. There was a red mark on her face where Goto slapped her but she acted as if nothing had happened. Goto embraced her and smoothed out her hair.

"Shinobu... Please, say something..." Goto pleaded. He was desperate for response and he didn't care if it was her screaming at him, just as long as she reacted.

"Goto... let go..." Shinobu asked in a small voice.

"No... No... I won't let go."

Shinobu didn't say anything else and returned Goto's embrace. She felt tears in her eyes ready to be shed. Finally she could hold them back no longer and cried into Goto's shirt. Goto let her cry and hold onto him as long as she wanted. There was no where, where she could turn to except Goto.

"I... I don't know why I walked off..." Shinobu finally said. It was true, she wasn't thinking at all when she took her first step forward off the wharf. She was strangely calm, almost at peace when she made her decision to walk off the wharf. Then she fell the sudden rush that went through her body as gravity pulled her down. But she never hit the water; instead she hit a small dory tied to the wharf where she walked off. There she got her leg stuck in one of the paddle pivots in the dory. Her leg was still stuck but it didn't hurt at all when she landed. Perhaps her body didn't want to register the pain of the fall or perhaps it was adrenalin still rushing her body.

"Come on Shinobu... Let's get your leg out and go home..." Goto said but he found the last word he used rather painful. 'Home'... a place for family, of happiness, of company... He had that a long time before he met Shinobu. It may have not been the happiest of 'homes' but at least there was 'someone' there and future others added that 'home' if that 'someone' lived just a bit longer. Goto briefly wondered how different the future would of been if that 'someone' had survived so many years ago. In reality that 'someone' was taken away from him in the earliest labor crimes that hit Tokyo. Shinobu had similar thoughts but they weren't in the same vein as Goto's but 'home' was an equally vague and lonely word. Shinobu managed to get her leg out of the pivot and climbed up the wharf with Goto close behind her. They had nothing left to say no words left to describe, just emotions still raw and not yet ready to be exposed.

They walked together in silence, and the sun still rose.