Tokino's Mourning

Naofumi Tokino laid on his bed, smoking a cigarette. It was against the rules to smoke inside the base – one of the only rules that Tokino followed – but at the time, he didn't care what anybody thought.

Tokino blew out the smoke, enjoying seeing the smokescreen. The only normal thing these days. He hadn't seen that adult woman in ages, and he hadn't gone to Daniel's Diner either…and Yuichi. Tokino stopped smoking and sighed. It was always about Yuichi. Tokino glanced at the barren bunk beneath him. That bunk had belonged to Kannami Yuichi, Tokino's best friend and partner.

Yuichi was shot down a couple of months ago.

Tokino jumped out of the bed and stamped on his cigarette. Everyone seemed to not notice that their ace pilot was now dead, and was moving on with their lives. Even Kusanagi, who had fallen in love with the Yuichi, the brave pilot.

Everyone except Tokino.

Jinrou's death was easy to get over. Jinrou's death had not been caused by a battle in the sky, rather a bullet had killed him. Shot by Kusanagi herself, to save Jinrou, her lover, from further pain. Then, Yuichi, Jinrou's clone, came to their base. Everyone had ignored – including Tokino – the curious pilot's questions about his plane, and that the fact that he had vague de ja vu. The pattern of Yuichi's past life came to light, but everyone pretended it wasn't there. Everyone's death was easy to get over – Jinrou's, Yudagawa's, and countless others'….

Why was Yuichi's so hard to accept?

Tokino lit another cigarette, ignoring Mama's yelling. He wanted to block out every suddenly.

At first Tokino wasn't certain what to make of Kannami Yuichi. Although Yuichi was a great pilot, he had no thought to what he was doing. Why he was doing it. Yuichi's eyes spoke of innocence, as Yuichi himself as been. Tokino had felt a certain obligation to watch over Yuichi, to take care of him.

A couple of days before he died, Yuichi had acting strangely. First all, he had stopped smoking, and drinking beer, a notable pastime for the Kildren, and had stopped seeing Fūku. When Yuichi wasn't in the sky, he spent time in his room. Doing what, Tokino had no idea. Tokino shook his head angrily. What a waste. A day later Yuichi had chased the Teacher and gotten himself killed.

"You damn idiot!" Tokino finally yelled. "Why did you have to go on a suicide mission? You could have stayed with us! You could have not made me feel this way!" Tokino was yelling at open air, he knew. He just wanted to feel something. Something other than…this. But he felt the same.

Tokino felt like crying.

Crying wouldn't help, Tokino knew. A sudden thought crossed his mind.

Did Yuichi mean to chase after the Teacher?

Why?

Why hadn't Tokino thought of this before?

A knock interrupted his thoughts.

"Yes?" he called.

There was no answer, but the door opened.

A teenage boy walked into the room. His face was shrouded by his dull dark brown hair and Tokino noticed that he had had a soft face and dark brown eyes.

The boy looked around curiously. He stared at Tokino right in the eye.

Tokino suppressed a shudder. Those eyes were the same eyes as Yuichi's. The eyes that belonged to a person that Tokino had known so well.

"My name is Isamu Hiigari, and I have been assigned to this base. I am your new partner." Even their voices sounded the same. Isamu Hiigari held out his hand.

Tokino couldn't help but shake it, and grin. "My name is Tokino, and I'll be partner. Welcome aboard."

"You can change the side of road that you walk down every day. Even if the road is the same, you can see new things. Isn't that enough to live for? Or does it mean it's not enough?" – The Sky Crawlers