She thinks he could be strong if he wanted to be.

But what she had never understood was why he had chosen to settle for second, or even third place. Behind Black Star and herself. That wasn't very typical of Shinigami-sama's son, not at all, when he could choose to indulge himself with exclusive privileges that only high-rated meisters and Shinigami-sama himself were allowed. He didn't have to be subjected to work with Shibusen students who would, sometimes, fail to recognize him, and even pick fights with him, clearly without the knowledge about who they were dealing with—and still, he never excused himself, never mentioned that he was, as a matter of fact, the very son of the figurehead that everyone had so dearly loved and respected, and sometimes feared.

Why, she asks him one day, while on break from a long day of training. She watches him wipe one of his pistols with a handkerchief, with the care reserved for the most delicate things, and she can't exactly tell if it's part of his usual compulsion or if it's something he does with his sanity intact. She no longer dwells on the thought and proceeds to more important matters.

She finds it a bit unnerving when all he does is dust himself off. She opens her mouth to repeat her question, but it's at this very moment that he chooses to respond. Why can't I? he asks in return, and she only stares at him, wonders what could be running through his mind.

It's a bit obvious isn't it? he says, and she begins to understand. She remembers her own mother, remembers all the unfamiliar faces that come with her memory. I know you'd grow up to be just like your mother, they would always say, but however encouraging and well-meant their words might have been, they had always, just a tiny bit, irritated her. She had always looked up to her, admired and adored her, but a small part of herself wanted to be known for something else—something greater.

He may not have the same reason, but whatever it may be, she feels that it may not be far too different from hers.

Everyone thinks you have everything, and that you never have to prove anything because you already are what you are, but that's where they're wrong, he says, eyes still and unmoving. He knows this line by heart, and he knows how true it is, because outside, away from the comfort of the name he has been born with, is a world where no one will recognize or even give importance to it. To them, he is just another nameless person, without any such significance to their own pointless lives.

To the world, he will be unknown, only a visitor during the night and the unfortunate hours of the day. It's something he will have to accept, bear witness to and watch silently, without much feeling or thought. It's something he will grow numb to, something to accustom himself through the course of passing years. But before then, he wishes to be remembered by anything other than being a successor to an unmerciful fate.

To have meaning, he says finally, closing his eyes, and at this moment, at the oncoming dusk of the afternoon, they both find mutual respect.

Author's Notes: This turned out differently than I had originally planned, but what gives. It could've been longer, I know, but I need more inspiration. XD