Rewind and reset; neku. There's always another chance to get it right.

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The last day, there is silence, and he thinks that if he slid his headphones down even for a moment, the world could be so very much more alive.

But he does not, and the world is prose beneath his fingers, strokes of grit and paper pens and CAT in light, and the shell barely shatters its copper into his head before he has time to look away, and it hurts so much more with the cheap lavender casing tapping curiously against the broken ridges of his skull;

bang and crack and his head snaps backwards, doctor doctor it's whiplash, and his brains spew out and bond him to the concrete, and it's only expected;

If he had slid down his headphones for only a slight second, he would have stopped hearing invisible techno and starting hearing the silence.

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The first day, Neku feels traffic thunder around him, nails scratching at the faded tar of the roadways, and raises himself up in a kind of indestructible haze.

This kind of sleep he thinks he'll never wake up from, and his hands push him up easily- like he's light and more than a spirit but never as real as a feather- and his hair brushes against his neck but he doesn't feel it like it's touching him, more of someone's breath caressing his tender skin.

He thinks and forgets and aches.

And when the flashes of traffic lights wink teasingly at the corners of his eyes, Neku thinks he sees bubblegum hair and plaid green denims and bare shoulders peeking out at him from above rose pink cotton, and then his phone flickers with the blink of texting and it is forgotten.

104 beckons from over his shoulder, half invisible after the crowds of the scramble, and for a second he thinks he can hear the world mutter behind his eyes; he will never see them, but their thoughts are always entwined throughout his.

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Shiki's fingers are light on his skin as he falls asleep, and before he would have thought that it was all her fault, that he deserves to live over her, but now all he thinks is that it feels so calm compared to the first time.

There is no taste of copper lodged in his mind, no headphone casing crushed between his skin and his skull, and all he can feel is-

Sleep.

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It is almost tranquil; but it is the dawn of another Game, and he does not know if he is thankful for such short-lived rest.

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The first day, he thinks if he runs fast enough, he can pass by gravity and speed and all the unaware people, and Hachiko is laughing in his face, short and sharp and like a growl from the back of its stainless marble throat.

But the flash of reset; rewind is fresh in his eyes, and when he wakes to find all in weekly place but Shiki, it hurts like innumerable bullets and stings like the poison thereafter.

Sometimes he remembers; static-motion flickers of the second before his head crushes into a mass of claret and skin tissue and membrane and shards of bone crackling like candlelight before it disappears.

Feathers, only with a lighter depth of reality.

He is never quite a ghost, but he is close enough to know that he is dead and this is so because he has been murdered.

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For a second, there is nothing but the wind whistling in the cracks of his bones and j-rock and techno mix.

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The last day, there is silence and grit and markers and spraypaint cans rattling like loose bones against the walls in the rush of underground wind and there is the Grim Heaper under a sea of gears and wires and ordinary things- vending machines and fridges and entire cars.

There is silence, and then his headphones slip down to hear not silence but shrieks and screams and whispers saying Neku.

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Reset and rewind.

The third week and the last day, and there are finally no more chances.

Joshua smiles and runs his finger over the curve of the trigger.

There is silence.

And there Neku awakes.