S E L F L E S S


The fifteen year old flew back on impact, skidding across the pavement several feet before he stilled, and his arms fell to his side limply, legs collapsing in on themselves and hitting the ground with a dull thump. A soft gasp was the only sound the boy made as he died, and blue eyes fluttered shut; Joshua made a discontented sound in the back of his throat as he approached the corpse, gun dematerializing in his grasp.

"I was expecting something a bit more dramatic, dear...a scream, perhaps," he mused aloud, shaking his head as he said to no one in particular, "But beggars can't be choosers, I suppose."

Crouching down beside the fallen, the ashen-haired teen studied the younger with a sickening calm, his manner entirely too casual for the situation at hand; brushing back silver locks absentmindedly, he addressed the dead body with a crooked smirk, "You're a scrawny little thing, aren't you? Not too fashionable, either."

Predictably, there was no response, but his victim's head lolled to the side, as if the redhead was turning away from him; tongue clicking disapprovingly, the elder grasped his chin roughly, forcing the other's head back, "Now, now, dear, it's rude to ignore a person when they're talking to you."

Tilting the stranger's head back so that it faced the sky, Joshua leaned forward, inching closer to the body; placing both hands on either temple, the Composer knocked foreheads with his proxy gently, breathing softly, "Open your mind."

Eyes drifting shut, he focused all of his power into his hands, and his fingertips glew white; in an instant, all of the emotion, thought, and memory flooded into his mind, the teen's whole essence barraging his senses. Image upon image flashed in front of his eyes before a sort of shock ran through his system, electricity crackling and popping in his ears, and the metaphorical bridge connecting the two of them crumbled beneath his feet; violet eyes snapped open. Drawing his hands back hastily, he examined his charred fingers with dazed amazement and giggled, "You're real stubborn, aren't you, dear?"

Dusting his pants' knees off as he stood, Joshua glanced down at his substitute, scrutinizing; after a moment, a wide grin spread across his lips and he nodded, "Yes, you'll do quite well, I should think."

Clenching his fist, he let a jolt of his psychic abilities flare in his hand, and a small pin materialized in his grasp, bearing the Player symbol; chuckling, he tossed the pin to the redhead, and it landed on his chest, nestled safely in the folds of his jacket. Turning on his heels, the older of the two flicked his bangs back in a haughty gesture and called over his shoulder as he walked away, "You'll thank me for this later."

Body going translucent, he paused and smirked as he began to fade away, purposefully purring, "Neku."

And with that, a wispy smoke furled around his body, and the god vanished altogether. Sapphire eyes snapped open.


"Everything I've done, I've done for you."

That voice-!

Disbelieving, Neku spun around, eyes searching wildly; leaning against the Hachiko statue, Joshua was watching him sulkily, arms folded across his chest. His face was blank, devoid of all emotion, and it was almost unnerving, the way he stared. Staggering in surprise, the redhead fought back a stammer, growling, "w-What the hell are you doing here, Josh?!"

"You invited me, remember?" the Composer retorted, dismissing the question with a nonchalant wave of the hand, and glowering, he muttered, "I move the stars for no one, Neku."

"What-?" Neku balked before shaking it off, demanding angrily, "Stop talking in riddles and just tell me why the hell you're here, Josh! You didn't come before, so-"

"Relax," the elder cut in neutrally, tone still flat, "I was-"

"The hell I will!" the younger snarled, raising a fist threateningly; purple irises narrowed to slits, "Tell me what you're doing here now, Josh, or I'll-!"

"Relax," Joshua repeated firmly, eyes flashing dangerously, and something in his voice just made Neku stop, "I'm not here to pick a fight with you."

There was a long, pregnant pause in which the two just stared at each other, searching before the silence was finally broken by a wary, "Why are you here, then?"

"I just want to talk," was the terse admission, and his proxy scoffed, "to clear up some misunderstandings."

"Alright then," the fifteen year old said, and crossing his arms, scowled and tapped his foot impatiently, "Talk."

"You still think I'm the bad guy."

It wasn't a question. Neku deadpanned, "Because you are."

"No," the ashen-haired teen corrected matter-of-factly, denying, "You're wrong."

"You shot me," the other hissed, tensing, "Twice."

"Because I needed you," Joshua argued, pushing himself off of the statue, and suddenly, he was the same as before, flashing that infuriating smile and giggling obnoxiously, "and you needed me; still do, by the look of things."

"Don't give yourself so much credit!" the redhead snapped, face flushing in anger, "I don't need anybody!"

"Oh, but I think you do," he smirked and approached with a cat-like grace, eyes glinting predatorily, "How are those friends of yours doing now, Neku?"

"They're...fine," Neku growled, though his eyes widened slightly in surprise, as if to say: You were actually listening? The other's grin widened and he laughed, brushing back his bangs in that mockingly familiar gesture,

"Of course I was listening, Neku," the Composer clicked his tongue disapprovingly, waggling a finger, "but obviously you were not."

The younger backed up a bit, uncomfortable with his close proximity, and muttered, "How do you figure?"

"Neku, Neku, Neku," Joshua sighed, shaking his head with a knowing smile, "You've learned so much, and yet you've learned nothing at all. Must you always be so contradictory?"

"I don't know what-"

"Don't undermine those friendships, Neku," the elder warned, slowly backing him into a corner as he reprimanded, "You were alone before all of this began; don't walk away from my Games having gained nothing. That would defeat the whole purpose of even having played!"

"Purpose?!" Neku barked, "The only purpose the Reaper Games served was for your entertainment! You're a sick bastard!"

"And yet you just can't get enough of me," the teen mused, smiling wryly, "It's funny how things work, isn't it, Neku? I've killed you twice, but you still consider me your best friend; your naivety would almost be endearing if it weren't so genuine."

"You're delusional!"

"And your actions are questionable at best."

The two stared each other down, glaring before Joshua finally broke the silence with a chuckle, "You're so cute, dear."

"c-Cute?!" the fifteen year old demanded, affronted, "I am not cute!"

"You are, though!" he insisted, grinning ear from ear, "It's adorable how you actually think you can hide your emotions from me. I can read your mind, remember?"

He tapped a temple lightly to emphasize his point; Neku bristled and spat, "I'd appreciate it if you didn't probe my brain, thank you very much."

The ashen-haired boy threw his head back with a laugh; his companion startled, eyeing him as if he was crazy.

"I couldn't help it even if I wanted to," the Composer informed him cheerfully, "We're too closely connected for that, sorry."

"What does that even mean?" the redhead grumbled, eyebrows raised, "'We're too closely connected'?"

"It's not rocket science, dear," Joshua giggled girlishly, "It's exactly what it sounds like. Because you're my proxy, we have a special connection that any other pair of partners would lack; because our Souls are so closely linked together, we can communicate on a much deeper level, and as such, we intuitively understand each other."

"I'm not following," Neku denied flatly, "and I doubt I'll ever understand why you did what you did, Josh."

"Listen to reason, Neku. We both did what we had to do, and in the end, we both came out on top, didn't we? I'll admit, at first, I was only in it for myself; I needed to save Shibuya, no matter what the cost. But then I realized something: You were just as alone as I was, Neku. You had no friends, no family...you had nothing, and that's why I chose you. You didn't appreciate your life, Neku...it's why the Game even exists, to show people their wrongdoings and to give them a second chance."

Sharp blue eyes softened, fury fading away, "Josh..."

"I didn't get a second chance, Neku," the god breathed, and suddenly, he seemed so much younger, like a lost child, "I've done horrible things, and I'll never be able to atone for my sins, but...I can try, right? Why not spend my time in purgatory doing something worthwhile?"

He grinned again, though it looked painful, "Appreciate anything and everything, Neku, even the simplest of things."

Turning on his heels, Joshua waved carelessly over his shoulder as he slowly began to fade away, voice hanging heavily in the air, "You never know when you'll lose it all."

And then the Composer of Shibuya vanished, leaving a thoroughly bemused Neku Sakuraba with the lone thought that maybe his best friend wasn't such a dick after all.


Sorry for the really late update, you guys, but I was kind of hesitant to even post this. I mean, it sucks so badly DX

But regardless of my beliefs, I guess I'll leave that choice up to you guys. What do you think? Should I even bother continuing with this? And on another note, did anyone catch that small song reference near the beginning of the second half of this? I love David Bowie |D