A/N: I'm not really a fan of Shiika, but she does go through a lot and I think she deserves a bit of sympathy. So here's a short piece for her.

Disclaimer: I don't own Sand Chronicles or the characters.

The heat is scorching.

Beads of sweat trickle down Shiika's face and parsley leaves brush against her cheeks as she lies flat on her back and stares with half-open eyes into the distance stretching far up above. The sun beats down upon her skin, bleaching her in light that could not be more different from the darkness she feels wrapping itself around her like a tight, clenching hand.

I'm being chased by my own shadow. I run and run.....but it keeps on coming.

Shiika sees it all too vividly in her mind's eye - the darkness that clings to her like glue, that follows her, mimics her every movement - the darkness that won't let go.

It reaches out a hand really slowly......and drags me down.....

She is breathing harshly, rapidly. The perspiration on her body seems to freeze over and drench her in a cold sweat.

.......into darkness. Into emptiness. It's terrifying.

Shiika, cold and dark, is wrapped up in a scorching, blinding world of heat and light. A face drifts into her mind, one that won't disappear no matter how tightly shut she squeezes her eyes. That face is burned into her heart.

Then Daigo appears.

Shiika reaches out a hand, and snatches wildly at the air, mouth widening to try to scream at him to stop, to turn around. Can't he hear her? Can't he see she's reaching out to him?

I reach for him with all my strength.......but I can't get to him.

The image of Daigo with his back turned to her vanishes. Shiika feels her legs give way, and suddenly she is free-falling, tumbling blindly into a pit of inky darkness where she belongs.


"You'll get sunburned!"

Shiika's eyes snap open, and her heart stills just for a second as she wakes to the sound of An's chirpy voice, and sees the girl standing beside her, strands of fair hair fluttering feebly in the breeze.

Her heart resumes its usual pace, and one fist subconsciously clenches. Shiika is left to stare blankly at the girl who has everything she wants, everything she has tried and failed to steal for herself.

"Mind if I sit here?" Her clear grey eyes are slightly glazed, and she drops down beside Shiika without waiting for an answer. This time it is Shiika's heart that clenches tightly, sending dull waves of pain surging through her body.

At that moment, Shiika wants nothing more than to take handfuls of An's straw-coloured hair in both fists and pull with all her strength.

Yes, she wants to scream. Yes, I do mind.

Shiika opens her mouth to speak, with the wretched thought that if she is going to fall, she might as well grab hold of An and drag her down too. Staring straight into that pair of soft grey eyes, she sees tell-tale traces of a mother long dead.

One day, An too will fall.

Shiika thinks grimly of Daigo, and promises him that much.