.lover's song i.

It doesn't occur to him until Neku's eyes go blank, until he is falling, that this is not what he wants.

It is a strange sensation -- he hasn't wanted anything for himself in so long -- but he indulges it immediately, banishing the gun and sending himself across the floor in a single instant to catch Neku in a blur of black and white and gray, inches from the ground. He banishes the Room, the people in it who cry out, and reforms his physical body carefully. Inch by careful inch, and then he sinks onto his knees and pulls Neku's unmoving body into his lap.

He spends a moment just caressing the other boy's bangs, ignoring the hot blood soaking into his jeans. "This is the second time I've killed you," Joshua says to no one. "If I bring you back again, you'll probably hate me more than ever. I think -- you probably expected that I wouldn't be able to pull the trigger."

The idea that Neku might make this assumption based on nothing, certainly not past evidence, is strange; he's startlingly intelligent, really, and not prone to irrational emotional judgments. But it's not nearly as strange as the idea that Neku might have knowingly chosen death rather than hurt him.

He and Megumi agreed on this; it is a quaint idiocy, some undesirable flaw in the genetic material that makes one willing to sacrifice one's life for others. The boy Beat exhibited admirable evolutionary incentive in attempting to save his sister (whose stronger Soul was as desirable as her higher intellect) but evolutionary incentive certainly didn't come into play on the conscious level; on the conscious level, it was simply random stupidity. And Rhyme's willingness to do the same for him was only some sort of twisted nobility or gratitude. And Neku... certainly had no reason to want to protect Joshua.

In all sincerity, he had expected that Neku would find his own "sacrifice" to save Neku extremely suspicious, had expected him to doubt the genuineness of his apparent demise, but Neku had somehow managed to convince himself that it was the truth.

He is still bleeding sluggishly, staining Joshua with color. Joshua strokes his hair lightly, watching his slack expression. He has such fine features -- such a bright Soul.

"When I first saw you, I knew instantly that you were the one I wanted to be my proxy," Joshua tells him, soft. "It was like finding a diamond in a sea of rocks. Did you know that Mr. H had you marked? He was watching you long before I found you."

Impossible to know why an Angel watches anyone; Hanekoma had earned the right to at least as many secrets as the Composer. Had he thought that Neku might do remarkable, divinely-inspired deeds in the future? Had he been watching to make sure his incredible potential didn't fall into the wrong hands? Perhaps he had thought that Neku's Soul might have the ability to change the shape of Shibuya.

He certainly has.

Joshua lifts his head, listens to the city on every plane he knows it; it hums, a cacophonous harmony, and he senses in it a compassion, a longing to touch, a desire to become more whole. A siren call like a lonely lover, beautiful and hopeful, and wholly different from the dangerous destruction song it had crooned only a month ago.

Joshua supposes that he has changed Shibuya, because of how Neku has changed him.

"You have no idea what you've done to me," he says, looking down at Neku again. "Even the town I'm supposed to be looking after is mooning over you."

I don't want him to die. He felt it in the moment that Neku fell, and still feels it now. Can't bear to think of Shibuya going on without the shine of this particular Soul. It feels like terrible weakness.

(When Joshua plays the Game, his independence is his entry fee.)

He watches Neku as if expecting his lifeless form to provide some sort of wisdom or inspiration. But even Neku can do nothing dead, and all Joshua can think is, If I bring him back, he'll only hate me.

"And whose fault will that be, hm?" he asks himself quietly, and lifts a hand to rewrite the rules.

This Shibuya that Neku has created in him -- he will see how it plays out.

"You'd better not break this city's heart," he tells Neku with a smile as the wound closes over rapidly, as the blood shrinks away from his clothes. He ducks his head to gently brush lips over Neku's mouth, just this one taste, hardly a taste at all -- as he draws back, Neku begins to breathe again, and immediately the world is an almost tangibly brighter place.

He doesn't ask for the same thing for himself. He hasn't earned it the way Shibuya has.