I cannot believe I haven't posted this; it's like a year old. PFFFT.

This just might be number two on my "favorite animes" list, between Cowboy Bebop at number one and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya at number two.

In essence, this is the way episode eleven ended in my mind, after Takizawa called Juiz and dropped his phone into Saki's pocket.

I don't own any characters mentioned in this story, nor do I own the anime itself, thank goodness.

Akira Takizawa's arms had been cradling her a moment ago, but now they were gone, hanging at his sides like limp tree branches, his fingers mute and loose.

Saki turned her head to stare at him unabashedly. His tousled hair quivered faintly in the hushing breeze, and the look in his eyes was like an aftershock, throwing her in every direction until she couldn't tell up from down anymore. His eyebrows were faintly touching into a frown, like weakening fingers, endeavoring to find each other again.

"Takizawa-kun..." There was something she wanted to say, she knew it. No, more than something. Everything. A surprisingly small everything that seemed so meaningless compared to the things he taught her, the things he made her see. He was the only thing that meant anything he did, anything he said. The only thing.

She opened her modest mouth to continue, because now she knew she could say it; now she knew she could—

Wait. No, no, something was wrong. Takizawa's face seemed to have had all the color torn from it, all the sound, all the existence, as if by a gust of unforgiving white wind. He gazed at some point directly before them – at the shattered carousel and the gray skyline, spellbound by some mysterious grace in them that Saki could not see.

"Tak—" she began, and he suddenly jerked awake, startled, and stared at her in shock, as though she'd just materialized out of the faceless rubble.

"I..." He blinked, and the last recognizable glimmer that lingered hauntingly in his eyes was jolted out. He frowned, his mouth still partially opened, as though he had a feeling he'd forgotten something, but couldn't for the life of him figure out what it was, and Saki prayed he would say, "I'm sorry, Saki...", and anything could follow that.

Hell, he could say anything he wanted, just as long as he called her "Saki". Not "miss", not "ma'am", not "uh", not "you"... "Saki".

"I'm sorry, miss; this may sound a bit ridiculous, but..." He was smiling, pleasantly dazed, charismatically bemused. "Do you know where... that is, do you know who I... I mean, what..."

He trailed off with a chuckle and an imploring shrug, as if requesting that she finish his sentences for him, because she seemed nice enough, and he was sorry for asking such peculiar questions, but he was really hoping she could give him a hand here.

Miss. Miss. So it was true. Something in the back of Saki's heart popped hopelessly and wept, but she ignored it, because it wasn't too loud and wasn't really bothering anybody (no one could hear it, just like usual).

"You, ah..." Her voice was a hoarse, trembling whisper, and she bowed her head in embarrassment, attempting miserably to collect herself. "You're Tak—Takizawa Akira. B-born January seventh, 1989. Uh... um, you are in, ah, Japan. You own the... the mall over there..." She pointed weakly to the concrete palace a few yards away.

"I own a mall, you say?" He laughed, but it was not Takizawa's laugh; it was a noble laugh, the kind that is only used to be polite, as though Saki had just made a terrible joked and he didn't want to hurt her feelings. "How strange."

"Yes. I thought so, too, when you showed me the first time—"

"We know one another?" He looked very surprised.

Yes, Takizawa-kun. I live to make you free, even after you have imprisoned yourself.

"Yes."

That was all she could bear to say.

"Are we friends?" he asked hopefully.

"A little." Saki smiled weakly, her knees feeling like brittle sheets of paper. "I mean... that's for you to decide, I guess."

"Oh." Takizawa's smile had not left his face. Its automatic courtesy seemed to belong there, bred into him. "Well, I hope you're not upset that I don't remember you in the slightest." He laughed again, because the situation was so amusing, and Saki couldn't possibly be bothered by the fact that he didn't remember her, and he had to make the memory loss that was so terrifying seem like a joke.

"N..." His words had sliced so cruelly through Saki, like a thousand blades. She choked slightly at the threatening approach of tears. "No, no; don't worry about it."

"Will you tell me your name?" he asked softly, and Saki gasped, glancing quickly up at him. He was suddenly so much nearer to her, and there was a sorrow in the eyes that gazed down at her.

"Saki." Her voice was like weary porcelain. "Morimi Saki."

"Hmm. Saki." Saki flinched. It sounded as though he was testing it out; it pained her to hear him speak it like he never had before.

This Takizawa did not know her. This Takizawa could not feel the poignant beat of her flickering heart, could not extend his hand to her in the sighing pit of a summer night as his ferry crept away, could not place his lips upon her in such a way that made her feel as though the world was only a dream, and they were the only ones awake, and she could not bear to have him forget that ghostly kiss.

But perhaps that had just been an obligation, too. Perhaps he had just wanted her to stop her silly crying. Or perhaps he really did...

It made no difference now, she realized, and all the color around her seemed to be blotted out by Takizawa's pleasantly blank expression. She would never know why he kissed her. She would never know the Takizawa she was so positive she already did. There were many things she would never know. Because he did not know who she was.

Selfish.

SELFISH.

"Selfish!" She heard herself scream, and time skipped one of its brass-tinted moments, and suddenly she was standing before Takizawa and she was hitting him; her tiny, pale fists were bashing into his chest, and only his chest, into the heart she knew she'd once felt beneath the eyelashes of her love for him, again and again and again, and she was shouting and crying and acting like a general ninny, but she could not stop.

"Selfish!" she shrieked again, continuing to pound upon him, and he felt so hollow. "How could you? How could you, how could you, how could you? You arrogant, stupid, selfish bastard, you... I... YOU...!"

The relentless, harum-scarum beating of her fists seemed to slow, but her tears did not; they only spurted out more opulently, and Saki Morimi began to sob. Her hits were weaker now, quieter, more spaciously separated. Eventually, she could move her hands no more, and so she simply clutched his warm coat, the weight of his mobile like an anvil in her pocket, and she felt him put his hand on her shoulder, and it was like a butterfly landing.

And she pulled her face from the enveloping embrace of his turtleneck and gazed blankly up at him, and the sun set behind the bemused silhouettes of Akira Takizawa and Saki Morimi, and Saki vaguely understood that however many times Takizawa would erase his memory – however many Takizawas she would have to tell her name again (and she would, because she loved him) – some gossamer, whispering trace of the first Takizawa, the real Takizawa, would linger in the confines of their bare-boned touches, and she could not help but feel somewhat reassured as he smiled sleepily at her, an awakening dreamer, and just like that, he became a prince.