Title: A Thread of Memory
Characters: Nanako; Ensemble
Rating: PG
Word Count: 810
Summary: Nanako remembers Heaven. Second cycle!fic, one-shot.
Notes: Prompt from kinkmeme - Someone other than Souji remembers the past in a New Game Plus.

Nanako remembers Heaven.

It is a place of softly running streams, arching rainbows, angel statues of marble and placid smiling faces. Entwined like a golden thread through everything is the music, a woman's voice singing of peace and warm, yearning love. Nanako does not quite remember her mother's voice-but if she did, she thinks, it would sound a lot like the singer's, rich with melody and affection.

"Your mother has gone to Heaven," everyone tells her. "You'll see her once again someday."

"Heaven is a beautiful place-" and they describe to her almost exactly what she has seen in dreams, in her darkest nightmares.

Because Nanako has a secret, and it is this: she is afraid of Heaven.

There are shadows slithering around its flowering paths, and over them all rules the huge goggle-eyed god, a whirling ponderous halo on its brow. Its touch is cold and clammy, its words jangling with broken promises of salvation. Nanako wakes at the memory of its cold hands on her. She screams at the dream of its cold hands on her dead mother, trapped and lost in Heaven, her cries become part of the eternal song.

Everyone thinks Heaven is a wonderful place. Nanako tries and tries to tell them, but they just pat her head and sigh in pity. Dear child. You'll see for yourself one day.

Only Big Bro listens, and even then he tells her everything is all right, that someone as sweet and good as her mother would surely be as happy as she deserves. Even Big Bro who is in all of the dreams, who fights the god with a shining sword. That's how Nanako knows he can be trusted to be there for her, more than the other stupid adults, more than her own father. He doesn't believe her now but he will and when he does he'll come to save her.

She has to be brave. One day she will go to Heaven and see her mother again. Big Bro will be there too, and together they'll rescue her mother from Heaven. They'll all be happy again, they'll be a family like they used to be, and maybe Dad will even smile again.

Nanako waits for that day to come, and prepares herself.

Big Bro is suspicious enough, so Nanako approaches his friends. They're all too glad to help her out, especially once Naoto-kun mentions, in tones of solemn gravity, that the daughter of a well-known policeman would be a very tempting target for criminals.

Kanji teaches her how to punch bad men in their stomachs and stab them in the eyes with sewing needles and, incidentally, make cute little bunnies with said needles.

Naoto teaches her how to assemble an elaborate wristwatch with a tracking device and walkie-talkie, or rather, makes one while Nanako watches in awe and presents it to her afterwards.

Chie teaches her how to kick people's ankles and run away really fast, because she's too short to kick where it really hurts. Nanako isn't sure why Chie goes red when she says that or why you've got to be older to know the secret.

Yukiko teaches her how to cook food that really knocks people out, only she was actually trying to teach her how to bake a cake. Nanako thanks her anyway.

Yosuke teaches her how to look cool and scare off bad guys by watching innumerable superhero movies and action movies. Unfortunately Dad walks in on Yosuke dramatically twirling the butter knives at her request and bans him from the house.

Teddie just tells her: "No one will ever hurt Nanako-chan while I'm around!" and offers to camp outside in the bushes to fight off any suspicious-looking loiterers. Nanako is touched, but Dad puts his foot down on that one too.

So the months pass.

And one night Nanako opens the door same as always and a sack comes down over her head. She struggles, trying to remember everyone's training and just which pocket she keeps the needles, but then the deliveryman says, "Don't worry, I've come to save you," and it's like hearing him for the first time, it's his voice, the voice of the One who lives in Heaven. She's going there, at long last, she's going to see Mommy...

She lies quiet, obedient for now. Because she won't be the helpless Nanako in the dreams, she's gonna fight back together with Big Bro. She can't fight with a sword or shoot people like in the movies, but she's stronger from all the running around with Chie and she has weapons and she has the wristwatch. Mom will be watching. She can't disappoint.

The greenish glow from the watch is comforting in the darkness. Nanako focuses on it, all the way through the lift and toss, and as she is falling she doesn't even scream.