Yukinoyo Nishiroi

He sat at the window, and watched. Watching. Looking. Seeing. That was all he seemed to be capable of doing lately. Shibuya's period of prosperity had passed, and he was powerless to do naught but watch as his beloved city slowly contracted and deteriorated. It was painful to witness, but he'd always known in his heart that even this great city was not eternal. After all, such was occurring in cities all across the world. Cities were declining. The living was rotting, physically and spiritually. The world was dying, but those who were already dead, those who still had a purpose on the Earth, could not leave the planet and move on. People like him, the once all-powerful and omnipotent Composer, were now subjected to merely observing their kingdom's downfall.

The worst part, in his opinion, was that he had no method of refining Soul anymore. The infamous Reaper's Game would normally work wonders in such a situation, but for many years modern people were so heavily lacking in Soul and Imagination that no one could progress past the second day, and he'd had no choice but to discontinue it.

So now he waited, observing the futile efforts of simple-minded civilizations to survive. And the snow. At this point, the snow proved to be more interesting than ridiculous people. It was snowing so much lately. Silently. Rhythmically. Almost…hypnotically. Often he would be jarred out of a stupor by Sanae or Neku, only to discover he'd been staring out at the falling flakes for hours.

Neku…he'd been his Conductor ever since Megumi's failure. That had been so long ago, just when Shibuya was starting to decline. Megumi had come up with a plan to save Shibuya. The plan had certainly been interesting, and the Game had been more exciting than most, but it ultimately ended in Megumi's erasure. Thankfully, his proxy, Neku, was a suitable replacement. A smirk escaped the old Composer's lips as he remembered making Neku his Conductor, without his permission, of course. That was what made the transformation so fun. The reluctant boy had spouted off more swears than the Composer had thought possible, but in the end he proved more useful than Megumi had.

Still, even working with Neku lost its charm as he fell into monotony. Now these unbearable winter days were becoming more and more common. It was the boring winter days like today that caused him to reflect on his past more and more. To another boring day. A coffee shop, a bowl of ramen, a mural. A conversation, a car crash. Within minutes, he felt himself drawn back to that day.

SLURP! It took Yoshiya "Joshua" Kiryuu less than five minutes to finish his large bowl of shio ramen. Satisfied, he closed his eyes and leaned back a bit on his stool.

"Mmmm….I'm in paradise…" He exclaimed contentedly.

"Glad you like it, Josh!" Ken Doi said with pride. "If you'd like, you're welcome to another bowl."

Straightening up a bit, Joshua fished around in his pockets for his beloved orange cell phone. He frowned as he saw the time.

"I'd LOVE to, but if I'm late for meeting my friend one more time he'll KILL me."

Ken Doi chuckled at his words. "In that case, you better hurry! Oh and thank you!"

Joshua nodded quickly and ran to the door. His friend was going to get it now. Joshua HATED working up a sweat. He was so busy sending his friend mental curses that he almost slammed right into the man entering the shop. He looked up in annoyance, preparing to mutter a brief apology and bolt, when he noticed some…attributes the person possessed. Accentuating his odd (to Joshua) clothing, the strange man sported a pair of thin black wings!

"Y-you….you h-have…" Joshua could do little more than stutter.

The man, an orange-haired guy with a lollipop, frowned at his words.

"I have what…? Are you okay, kid?"

Realizing his mouth was still open, Joshua closed it immediately. Still, he couldn't bring himself to speak,

"…Something on my back?" The guy asked, appearing to be holding back a grin. He turned around, and then let his smile finally escape.

"I'd say you're blind, kid. Ain't nothing there."

Joshua grimaced, barely registering the man's words. Every time the man talked, his wings seemed to furl and unfurl. He paused a moment, then pushed passed the man and streaked down Dogenzaka without a glance back.

Joshua pushed through a crowd of annoying girls at 104, squabbling over designs or sewing or something. He continued running, certain the man was chasing him. Finally, he stopped to catch his breath at the bustling Scramble Crossing. Looking around, he saw no sign of an orange-haired, winged man. Figuring a person like that would be hard to miss, Joshua assumed he was alone. However, he wasn't going to Udagawa to meet his friend just yet. The boy could wait; this encounter deserved a chat with Mr. Hanekoma.

Joshua pushed open the doors of the WildKat café, taking a moment to relish the delicious aroma. Scanning the shop, he realized that the café was empty again. Joshua could never figure out why. After all, Mr. Hanekoma's stuff was so good!

Having not quite caught his breath from his earlier run, Joshua panted as slowly approached the counter.

"H-hey Mr. H." He said heavily.

"Oh, hey, J!" Mr. Hanekoma said, not looking up from drying a mug. "How's it going?"

Joshua didn't answer, as he was still trying to quell his heavy breathing. After he received no reply, Mr. H. finally looked up from the mug. Seeing the child's scared expression, he couldn't help but worry.

"What's going on, boss? You look like you just saw a ghost! Or something from the game…"

"I DID! I saw this weird guy with black wings! He…was a reaper… right?" Joshua said hesitantly.

Mr. H. nodded. "Sounds like it. You get scared 'a it?"

Joshua crossed his arms and frowned. "Of course not. I just wanted to clarify what it was. Don't be ridiculous."

Sightings like this shouldn't even be a surprise to Joshua anymore. He couldn't remember any point in his life where he hadn't seen images from the Game. People who were reported dead a few days ago on the streets, fighting for their very lives against strange monsters. Teenagers walking right through him as if he were ghost. Occasionally, he'd even witnessed people vanishing into thin air, leaving only a few seconds of static as proof that they ever existed.

Of course, no one ever believed him. Joshua had been brought to numerous thickheaded psychiatrists. Every single one would flash him this sad smile as if he were a lost cause and would talk to him in short, simple sentences as if he were stupid. Eventually, Joshua learned to keep his mouth shut. That was until he met Mr. H. Not only did the man believe him, but he knew about the Game and could actually explain all of the weird scenes. At the moment, however, Mr. H was also staring at him like he was crazy. Joshua sheepishly ran a hand through his silver hair.

"Sorry, spaced out. As I was saying, I'm TEN. I'm too old to get scared of a silly reaper." He continued defensively. Mr. H only laughed.

"Yeah, you're a big boy now, aren't you?" The barista grinned at him. "I'd offer you some hot chocolate, but aren't you meeting up with that spiky haired kid today? Up at my mural?"

Joshua leapt from his seat, "I totally forgot! Uh, later, Mr. Hanekoma!" The boy said quickly. In a flash, he'd already darted out of the café.

Mr. H. shook his head, muttering into the empty coffee shop, "Careful, J…I have a bad feeling about today…"

Joshua dashed down Cat Street, wondering how swiftly he could make it through Miyashita Park. Udagawa was so far away, and his friend's patience was so thin…But he barely had time to think before he collided with someone in Miyashita Underpass, sending them both sprawling.

"Hey, yo, watch where you're goin'!" The person exclaimed.

"Same to you." Joshua retorted indignantly. Glaring at the offender, Joshua found a pair a blue eyes staring back at him. The boy was blonde; much taller than Joshua, and rather bulky considering his young age. His skateboard was now rolling farther and farther away from them.

"The least you could do is apologize." Joshua added, breaking the silence.

The boy merely glowered at him then ran after his runaway board.

"Well that was rude…" Joshua muttered huffily. Shaking his head, he resumed his neurotic pace, with the yellow walls of Towa Records in sight. In his haste to avoid his friend's anger, he never the saw the car barreling straight for him.

They told him it was messy.

They told him it was inevitable, not his fault.

They told him Neku Sakuraba was never the same after his friend's failure to show up on that fall day.

Joshua wasn't aware of these facts, however, for a long time. The boy merely lay on the pavement, unconscious, as people milled around him as if they couldn't see him. He lay in wait until the beginning of the next week, when he finally awoke. Somehow, clamped tightly to the comatose child was a black and white pin with a skull design.

Hi! I found this old story lurking in my documents, and decided to bring it to you lovely people~ The chapters themselves were in pretty bad shape though...they were riddled with ridiculous grammatical errors and little comments in parenthenses...along with the annoying honorifics, it looked a lot more like an inside joke than a story. I completely revamped the story and tried to add a new plot, since I really don't remember where I was going with this...Anyway, the point is, there was so much to fix and I was bound to have missed something. If you find any mistakes, please please PLEASE tell me~ I'm also not sure if I'm writing Joshua correctly...sometimes he seems too old or too young. Advice is appreciated. Thanks!