Disclaimer: I don't own Vocaloids, nor do I make profit off of this.

Warnings: Angst is a given by now.

Author's Note: There's been about a year and some odd months between updates. Between that time, I've been so busy, it's all been a blur, but namely, I lost interest in the Vocaloid fandom. Having said that, I want to thank you all for all of the story alerts, story favorites, and reviews this story had gotten since them. Quite a few of them, if not all of them, really touched me, and I felt the need to continue this. Obviously, because it's been so long, my style has changed – hopefully for the better, and hopefully it'll kind of blend into Oceans well, haha. Thank you again. This chapter is pretty much just a test, though, to get back into the swing of writing Oceans. This is also a chapter in which certain things are being set into motion.

"It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, "Always do what you are afraid to do.""
Ralph Waldo Emerson

There's nothing to be found here on the stairs, Kaito realizes, as he starts nearing the top. He's tired, so tired, but when he looks up, the spiral doesn't continue on forever. He realizes that, as he continues onward, living his heavy, leaden, drained feet from step to step, that there are only a few concentric rings above him. He's close to the end.

He isn't afraid of what's in store for him. The stairs, though long and tedious and draining, have given him so much time to think. There is nothing at the end that could possibly change the conclusions he's reached.

Kaito realizes that he is not alone in the world: although his family may not like him now, and still have hate and spite resting in their hearts, he also knows he is a crucial part of their lives, just as they are of his. There will be chances, there will be times, where he can start repairing and forging the relationships he'd so gravely injured – not everything can be mended just with a glowing smile and an unspoken promise. Things will take time, time that he is more than willing to give up and dedicate to the cause.

He realizes that with Miku he'd made the right decision. He'd given her another chance at love and at life, perhaps with someone who could truly love her more than Kaito ever could. He knows, in his heart of hearts, that the guilt he'd carried around had, perhaps, been there because he simply hadn't felt guilty. As her knight, as the man who'd once (and still does) carry great affection for her, it will always be his duty to protect her, even from himself.

Lastly, and perhaps the most important of all, is that Kaito realizes that there are things to live for: that the monotonous rut he'd been in, so carefully forged around him like a cozy den, didn't necessarily have to be his home. There are bright smiles and eager faces to live for, to make amends for what he'd done in the past – not just to Miku, but for leaving Gakupo without a brother, Luka without a good friend, and Len, Rin, and Teto without an older brother to guide them.

Yes, there are things to live for in this world. Not everything must be dull, lifeless, and empty, scraping the bottom of the soup can for any traces of contentment to be found.

He is ready to atone for what he's done. He's ready to accept the help required to do so. He's ready to live, without forgetting what he's done, but still moving on.

And upon those stairs, Kaito grows a little bit, but smiles, knowing it's the first step to a pathway that finally feels right.

There's a moment in every boy's life where he's tested. It may be a test of courage, of knowledge, of wisdom, or likewise. But Len Kagamine isn't a normal boy, destined to grow up with scratches on his face and brambles in his hair; no, he's destined to be physically the same age until he's retired, put on a stockroom shelf, and forgotten until some vintage hunter finds him and sells him for a lot of money. That doesn't mean, however, that he can't learn or live or love just like any normal boy: he still feels despair, still feels anguish and hopelessness and strife to the depths that others do.

He still mourns when he makes that weekly journey to his big brother's tomb.

He still feels anxious, nervous, when big blue eyes gaze up at the gate, stymied, at a loss of what to do.

He still feels contempt and condescension for the secretary who has done him no ill will.

He still feels cold, shivering, corrupting fear when he passes by his Master's lab.

He still feels wordless emptiness when he sits down by Kaito's side, feeling his cold hand, seeing just how pale his brother has become.

Len Kagamine is a song writer by nature, but he has no words for this moment. They're lost on him and for once the arrogance of youth is stripped away from him, leaving him slackjawed and misty eyed. It's not how it's supposed to be – he's supposed to report on the daily ins and outs of the Vocaloid family, like he's running Kaito's own personal auditory newspaper, but today, at this moment, Kaito's skin is so frigid and cold and dead that Len simply can't bring himself to say anything. He wants to say that Rin took the letter he wrote the day he rebooted, and decided to make it into a song. He wants to say that he'll be singing it next week, when Kaito is finally entombed, uninstalled and put to rest. He wants to say he's sorry, so sorry, for being unable to stop the gears of fate to turn.

He wants to say he loves Kaito Shion, but the words aren't there and his mouth is drier than a cotton ball in the heat of summer, and he swallows all the wordless sobs choking their way up his throat. Living without Kaito – living without Meiko and Kaito, living without any of them – is like living without singing. They were programmed to fit together, all of them, as one family unit, despite their differences.

Len has tried, numerous times, appealing to their Master to no end. The Master has decided, apparently, to stay undecided. Thus, next week, the Vocaloids will hold a memorial next week for a man that isn't really dead. Len plans on speaking to their Master again, on his way out, but he can't shake the trepidation that sticks to him like moths to a lantern. He knows that this week, Master will give him an answer – he just didn't sure what it'll be.

With one last glance to Kaito, he stands up, his limbs feeling awkward and heavy from being frozen in one position for too long. His hand, tangled up in Kaito's limp one, takes time to dislodge itself from icy fingers. He puts on his best game face, and tries so hard to look older than he is and how old he feels.

He knows that he'll have to weather this storm himself, but he isn't afraid, not one bit, if it means fighting for the most important man in his life.