When Ogata called to tell him that his rival had died, Akira threw his mobile out of the window, called Shindou the greatest idiot alive or dead, and consequently proceeded to slaughter himself in a game of one-on-himself Go that lasted well into the night. He fell asleep during endgame.

As for Hikaru...well.

'Dead. D-E-A-D. Dead.'

'Not so.'

The clerk continued to shuffle through his papers, looking for Gods only knew what. Hikaru glared at him.

'Look,' he said, when the glaring didn't seem to have any effect at all, 'I'm a ghost. I'm see-through. When I stare at my belly button, I can see the doorknob behind me. I'm dead as a freaking doornail.'

'That's as may be,' the clerk answered, finally abandoning the papers on his desk and meeting Hikaru's eyes for the first time since the ferry girl had shown him into the office. 'But your name is not on the list of the recently departed. You aren't dead.'

'I fell thousands of feet through the air, got caught in a tree, and broke my neck. I'm dead!'

This seemed to impress the clerk somewhat. He raised both eyebrows. 'What were you doing up there?'

'Skydiving,' Hikaru answered promptly.

'I see,' the clerk said with a disapproving frown as if it were Hikaru's fault that he'd died. 'Go players,' the clerk continued, turning towards the file cabinet behind him, 'are not supposed to participate in extreme sports.' After some rummaging he pulled out a file. 'You're meant to sit inside stuffy rooms and move pebbles.'


'Never mind.' He opened the file and sighed. 'As I thought. It's rather a bit early for you to be, ahem, late.' The clerk almost smiled; Hikaru almost hit him. 'I'll have to confer with my colleagues. Wait here.'

He might be dead, Hikaru thought three hours later, but that didn't mean he had all the time in the world. For one thing, he was looking forward to seeing Sai again. Also, he was pretty sure the clerk kept him waiting on purpose. Stupid bureaucrats.

'We have come to a decision.'

'Ack!' Hikaru whirled around. 'Are you trying to give me a heart-attack?'

'You're already dead,' the clerk replied, unimpressed. 'We will be doing something about that, however.'

He dreamt of Shindou, of course.

'It's a bit complicated,' Shindou was saying as he paced the length of Akira's room. 'But what it boils down to is that I'm not dead – or I am but not really.'

Denial, Akira thought to himself as Shindou rambled on, was one of the five stages of grief. Though he was pretty sure that it was him, not Shindou, who should be giving into such feelings.

'Hey, are you even listening?' Shindou growled, snapping him out of his contemplations. 'Anyway, as I was saying, they repaired my body, but I still need someone living to provide that "spark of life" thing, and that's you.'

Of course, what with this being a dream, it was likely that Akira's subconscience was projecting his own feelings on Dream!Shindou.

'So,' and here Dream!Shindou averted his eyes, 'that means you have to kiss me. My body, I mean.'

Oh hell, Akira thought, I'm a necrophile.

The following night Shindou was back.

'Why haven't you kissed me yet?'

'Shindou,' Akira gritted out through clenched teeth, 'you're dead.'

'And whose fault is that? I could have been alive for a whole day already if you weren't being such a girl!'

'If being a "girl" means not kissing a corpse, I'm fine with that.'

'Oh for – just think of it as CPR.'

'It's not the same; you've been dead for two days!'

'All the more reason to be quick about it,' Shindou growled and started pacing – stomping – again. 'Have you even been to my wake, yet?'

No, Akira answered silently, I didn't want to see your dead body.

It wasn't only Dream!Shindou who was indulging in denial.

'I see,' Shindou said, shoulders slumping. His voice sounded even deader than he was.

'I-,' Akira began then stopped, unsure how to continue. Shindou ignored him, turning instead to open a door that, Akira was certain, hadn't been there a moment before.

'Goodbye then.' Before Akira could stop him, Shindou walked through the door and shut it behind him. Akira woke with a start, a feeling of sickness settling near his heart and spreading outward. He felt, Akira realised with a certain amount of disbelief, guilty.


Shindou's mother looked worse than her son.

'I'm sorry there's such a mess here, Touya-san.'

'Oh no,' Akira replied, 'I'm at fault for coming here so early in the day.' Only I needed to be sure I could molest your son's body in peace.

They exchanged more meaningless chatter, then Mrs Shindou left to give Akira 'time to pay his last respects alone'.

It was now or never. Akira bent over Shindou's body, one part of his mind screaming "what the hell am I doing?", while another groused "I hope you appreciate this, Shindou."

Shindou, of course, didn't.

'I dink you broge my nose.'

'Can't have hurt as much as me breaking my neck,' Shindou grumbled, rubbing his forehead and wincing. 'And your nose is pretty hard, by the way.'

'Nod half as hard as your thig skull.' And Gods, Shindou. Was. Alive. Akira was horrified.

'How are you going to explain dis to your mother?' He asked when he heard footsteps approaching from the hall.

'Um,' Shindou said, frowning for a moment before his expression cleared. 'I'll leave that up to you. You're so much better with words!'

Naturally, the door opened after Shindou had flopped backwards and begun to pretend that he was a corpse.

Akira gritted his teeth, putting on a fake smile as he turned towards Shindou's mother.

Shindou, you're so dead.