Title: Lament for the Fallen
Author: Takato Metallium
Rating: PG-13 for now~
Warnings: will be a pairing eventually, swearing, violence, possible gore, horror, death, blood
Summary: In an alternate universe, Neku Sakuraba learned an invaluable lesson on trust, friendship and lies.

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Joshua watched the boy writhe on his couch with a small gleam in his eye, swirling the new drink around in his glass. He rested his head on his upturned palm, his elbow resting on the back of the couch. "Have all your memories returned, dear little Neku?" the pale-haired Composer purred, taking another sip of his drink. He watched the new Reaper breath heavily, watched the confusion dancing in those dark blue eyes. How amusing.

"That..." Neku swallowed and attempted to uncurl himself from his ball, his body shaking. The redhead's eyes held a glassed over look to them, the newborn Reaper hyperventilating as he gathered himself, making sense of everything. "...That was how I died...?"

"Welcome to the world, my dear Sakuraba-kun. It's not the nice little white house with a picket fence and rose bushes you've been lead to believe," Joshua purred, twirling his hair around his finger with a sigh as he leant his head on his other hand. He stretched himself out on the couch, simple white flats nearly touching Neku's legs. "People kill others without a second thought. You were no different."

"But...I was just standing there..." Neku shuddered as he remembered the look in the leader's face just before the gang had moved off onto their next victim, rubbing his arms a little. "Now what happens?" he asked, raising his head to look at the Composer with a haunted look on his face.

Joshua hummed along the rim of his glass, as though thinking the same thing, looking off to the side. He needed to have Sakuraba-kun watching Minamimoto right now, damnit...who knew what that mathematical ass had planned? He flickered his eyes back to Neku and smiled, once again twirling a lock of hair around his finger. "Now you need to establish your real self." He licked his lips and downed the last of his second drink before standing from the couch and turning with a swift twist of his heel. "Follow me."

Neku did as ordered, standing from the couch despite the small amount of shakes still raking his body. He took his headphones from the pool table and placed them around his neck, Mr. Mew in his arms as he followed the pale-haired boy. He looked out the corner of his eye at the older man - Megumi, he remembered the other teen calling him - who followed them, almost like a bodyguard.

Joshua lead him to what seemed to be a room of mirrors, like at a fun park almost but these mirrors didn't misshape your body or anything of the sort. Neku pressed his hand a little against one of them. "Don't touch them." He jerked his hand back and looked at the pale-haired teen, who had taken a seat in a throne-like chair, Megumi standing next to it. Joshua crossed one leg over his other, leaning back in the chair and looking much like a royal king when he did so. "This is the Chamber of Mirrors. This is where your real self will come forward."

"My real self...?" Neku didn't have time to speak and jumped as the reflections in the mirrors rearranged themselves, moving to one mirror only and merging together. In the mirror stood a taller version of himself, looking around about seventeen years of age, dark cerulean eyes penetrating him with their gaze from behind smoky orange locks of hair.

The Neku in the mirror wore a white and blue sleeveless trench coat with about ten buckles scattered about it as decoration, a high-necked black vest and a pair of sleek black leather pants that slid down his legs like they were painted on, ending in ankle length boots. Reaper wings spread out behind him, the entire look giving off a deadly vibe.

Stumbling back from the mirror in shock, Neku tightened his grip on Mr Mew, looking around himself at the other mirrors. They each seemed to represent him in some way or form, each smiled enticingly, beckoning him into themselves.

There was a child-like version of him, all sweet and innocent...and Neku would have believed that if it hadn't been for the axe he hid behind his body and the blood soaking his clothes. The child giggled, turning wide eyes up at Neku as a body, mutilated but Neku was still able to recognize who it was - his father.

Backing away from the child-like self, Neku bumped against another mirror, and although they didn't appear, he could almost feel the ethereal arms wrap around his shoulders, a seductive husky purr in his ear. "Choose me, big boy...we could have iso/i much fun." His face went bright red when he turned around, getting an eyeful of himself wearing nothing but a thin black leather thong and thigh-high leather platform boots.

"Bah. You don't want him. He'll only get you into trouble." Seduction pouted as his real self looked in the other mirror next to him, looking as old as the first and his arms crossed over his chest. There was a different feeling around this one, his eyes holding a darkness behind them, something that screamed to Neku that this one was pure evil. The one in the mirror smirked darkly, holding out a beckoning hand.

"What...what the Hell is all this?" Neku demanded, turning at last to face Joshua at last, the red colour on his cheeks fading slightly. "It's..."

"As I said, this is the Chamber of Mirrors," the Composer purred, enjoying the boy's torment. He leant his head on his hand, watching Neku look around him at the mirrors. "Each of these mirrors contains an individual aspect of your personality. Seduction, innocence, evil, apathy...anything you can think of is surrounding you. You can only pick one to be your Reaper self."

"Did...did you have to pick?" Neku asked, looking at the pale-haired youth with wondering eyes.

Joshua merely smiled, steeping his fingers as he rested his elbows on the armrests of the throne. "Come now, we don't have all day. Pick one, and we shall get on with your training."

Neku hesitated, a little miffed at having his question be dismissed like that but decided that he did need to get on with choosing. He looked around himself at the mirrors, looking at each of the personalities beckoning him.

Seduction winked and purred like a cat, dancing around his mirror like a stripper in a cage at some erotic bar.

"Will you play with me?" Child asked, all innocence and smiles even as the axe dangled from his fingertips behind him and the blood pooled around his feet. "Nobody's played with me since daddy left..."

They each had something to say, and Neku raised a hand to his forehead, massaging his temples...it was so confusing, all of his consciousness scrambling for attention like this. He clutched at his head as the voices got louder, dropping Mr Mew to the ground and letting the plush toy lay there like the rag doll it was. He sank to his knees, and after a good long while he finally screamed "SHUT UP!" The chattering stopped and they each looked at him expectantly as he screamed. "HOW THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO PICK ONE OF YOU IF YOU ALL KEEP TALKING?!"

Crickets chirped through the room, at least they would have if they had been outside but Child supplied the noises. The real Neku finally shuddered and stood again, looking helplessly over his shoulder at Joshua. "Help me," he pleaded, playing idly with the headphones around his neck.

"I'm afraid I can't choose for you, Sakuraba-kun," he said, pursing his lips together. Joshua made no move to get up from his seat on the cold stone throne, twirling a lock of hair around his finger as he watched the tormented teenager. "It's simple, but so very hard, is it not? One of these will be your personality for the rest of your natural existence as a Reaper. I recommend that you choose wisely, as your time is running out."

That made Neku panic. Two days in the Game had made him weary of time limits and the redhead turned around, his eyes wide at Joshua's words. Reaching forward - it seemed that the only way to absorb the singular personality was to touch the mirrors - he very nearly lunged for the mirror that held the one personality he wanted, the only one that seemed close to himself and that could make it hurt less.

He chose Apathy.

The personalities around him flashed and disappeared, the mirrors apart from Apathy's becoming uninhabited and disappearing, showing a room with glowing red walls, throbbing with what seemed to be Shibuya's...Soul? Music? Neku didn't know what to call it.

"Me, huh? I'm nothing special," Apathy said in a dead-sounding voice, before he shrugged, and Neku wondered how a reflection could shrug without being puppeted by the body. He became startled when Apathy walked forward, disappearing into the palm of his hand...and that was when the pain started. A cry tore itself from the teenager's throat and he backed off, doubling over and crouching, clutching his head.

"Sir, are you sure it was wise to show the boy the Hall of Mirrors?" Megumi asked, voice low and soft as he watched Neku moan and writhe in pain.

Joshua giggled, looking at his Conductor out the corner of his eye, amusement dancing in his gaze. "Why not, Megumi? I haven't had this much fun in...oh...ages." He giggled again, huskily, and went back to watching the redhead transform.

Pain tore through Neku's body, the cracking of bones as they grew and straightened themselves with his body was too loud. He whimpered as his clothing tore, making way for new threads, and then...peace.

Until the Reaper wings ripped from his back.

The mirrors shattered at the pitch of his scream, his body mutating to accompany the new wings. Blood dripped from the tips of them as they spread, covering him like a mother shielding her child from the world. Joshua sighed, crossing one leg over the other as he watched the cowering Reaper shield himself from the shower of blood, the drops disappearing as they hit the floor. He didn't want to clean up the boy's mess after all. "Are you quite done?"

Deep blue sapphires snapped up to glare at him, the wings arching out beyond the boy's body as he stood before they disappeared. Neku kept his head bowed. He felt...odd. Like...almost like something was telling him, whispering to him that this was the Composer.

"My poor, dear Sakuraba-kun," the pale-haired Composer cooed, reaching up and running long, pale pianist fingers down the boy's jaw line. He smirked.

"Welcome to the UnderGround."

- end of chapter two -