Rating: T for character death

A/N: I'm not really sure what to say about this. My head cannon for these two has always been that of people who are secretly very close friends...maybe even more than that. Mostly I'm writing this for Withered Black Rose. As well as the fact that I can't sleep, and this just kind of...flowed out of me. I'm going to go cry in a hole now, and then get back to finishing A Study In Indigo. This is super short, BTW.

WARNING: Depressing ahead.

A Trail of Breadcrumbs

by Indigo Avarice

In that instant, there were a million things I wanted to say to you. A million words that had never before left my lips. A million words that I hadn't previously thought existed in my vocabulary.

I didn't think you would do it. I didn't think you would for me. Why for me? Of all of us, I'm the second most removed. I'm the second least faithful. I've always tried so hard to keep my distance, tried so hard not to let any of you under my skin. But, somehow, you got there. And I hated you for it. Every time you smiled at me, every time you laughingly delivered a cup of strawberry milk, every time you offered to hide me from Skull and Verde's constant annoyances...it was like another nail in my heart. I didn't want to hate you just for taking care of me. But I did.

And you didn't let that change a single thing. You kept smiling. You kept bringing those drinks. You never gave up on me. It was like you were leaving a trail of breadcrumbs, trying to lead me down into my own heart. But the crow of pain and hate that had been building in me since the day I was born kept eating them. I never quite made it there. I never reached the heart you were trying to show me existed. I was too stubborn, too scared, too selfish.

Selfish. That's all I've ever been. And, up until now, I've never regretted it. I've never wanted to be anything other than selfish. But...but now...now I...I wish I could've shown you more. I wish I could've set myself aside. I wish I could've found a way to care about you the way you cared about me.

But I didn't. And now I can't. Because...because...

You lay there, now. Broken. Your chest is still moving, softly, heaving. You're still trying. But it's useless, now. The moment you took that blow in my stead, the moment you protected me... Protected me with your own body, with your own life...that moment was the moment that it was over.

You would've done it for anyone. I know you would've done it for anyone. You loved all of us as your family, accepted all of us, no matter what our backgrounds were. I never understood you. Never understood where your caring heart came from. Why anyone could, or would, care about somebody more than they cared about themselves. But you did. You and me...we were so different. So opposite. But it didn't matter to you. And it doesn't matter now. Because...because...

I can't reach you. I'm trying, but my body has broken too far down. This fight, the long-term effects of the new environment we've been living it...I can't walk. I can't create any illusions. All I can do is crawl, undignified. All I can do is try to reach you. All I can do is bite back the tears, listen to that bastard laugh. All I can do is get there before he does...all I can do...

You look at me. You smile. That same smile. The smile you've always given me. The smile that used to make me so angry...it's the last move you'll ever make. It's still on your face, affixed as your last moment. Frozen in time, beautiful and fragile and entirely too good for this world.

Selfish. It's all I've ever been. I've never thought about anyone but myself. But that smile. That smile that, in this moment, is just for me. The smile that should've been shared with the world so many more times. I want you to be allowed to share it with her. I want to share it with the world. I want so badly...I want...but...I can't. As much as I want to make your sacrifice mean something, I know that it never will. I know that it never can.

Because you died for someone so entirely worthless. For someone so selfish. For someone who never would have done the same for you. For someone who can never change...

I have enough energy for one last teleport. I could run. I could be saved. I could...

The pacifier on your chest is so lifeless. It's sunny blue glow will never light this world again. Just like your smile will never leave this moment. Just like your embrace will never again reach her shoulders. Just like my selfishness will never win out. Never again.

Maybe this is the wrong moment to lose my will to persevere. Maybe this move will make your death truly meaningless. But if yours was...mine won't be. I won't die alone, hiding, basking in the glorious moments of life that the loss of yours bought. I won't let him take everything. I refuse. Not this time. I'm somehow at your side. I'm somehow leaning against you. Somehow, the metal in my hand feels warmer than it should be.

"It's so cute how you think there's anything you can do to save yourself, little baby~"

The box is open. My body is obscuring the motion. My hands are shaking. But your pacifier is safe. It's locked up. And I won't let him have it. I won't let him defile everything you ever were. I won't let the crow eat the breadcrumbs, not this time. I've finally reached my heart. I can't stop the tears. I can't bring you back. I can't make this better. But I can protect all that's left of you. I can...I will...

"Hnf...I never said..."

The metal is warm. It's like a heartbeat. Like your kindness. It's your smile. I don't think you would mind me borrowing this. Not right now.

"You just click it like this, kora! It's not like in the movies, guns these days don't have so many fancy mechanisms, kora!"

"...I never said I..."

There's enough power left to send it. There's enough left in me to make all of this worthwhile. If I release it all at once...if we go out together...

"...I never said I was going to try to save myself."

I'm sorry, Colonnello. But the moment I sent your pacifier away, I let go of my selfishness.

And I pulled the trigger.