Disclaimer: Has been stated and therefore will not be stated again, heh.

Gray Blue Golden

Part 3 The Boy in the Rain

The evening was cool because the year was nearing autumn. His fingers tugged at the hem of his glove to ensure that it would not slip off. The piece of cloth was tight however; clean and smelling of spring flowers from the wash. It was also stiff, because Tir had persuaded Sir to give it to him before he could iron it. He pulled at the glove every few seconds anyway.

The park was not quite as beautiful at night, but it held its own aura. The streetlights were dim and yellow, casting eerie shadows from the smallest of figures. Leaves lay strewn on the ground with natural grace, not quite as crisp as one would hope leaves would be in fall. The wind was strong; it threw his bangs about his face and tore a red blush from his cheeks.

He knew that it was probably too late in the day to wait for Ted, but he had nothing better to do, and he had to think without being offered food every half an hour. So, he had left the house, weaved through people, and had come to sit in the same exact bench as he did yesterday.

Ted would understand, because Ted had always understood. Tir only wished that the Soul Eater would and he wished such with such fierce desire that it pained him. It would not succumb, he knew. He wondered how long it would last, this happy sort of interlude, before it faded away and everyone was dead again. All the while, the rune in his head kept hissing, "Soon, soon."

There was someone approaching. There were leaves crackling under a careless foot. The night had stilled so suddenly and so silently he could have laughed aloud, just to break the nothingness that pounded at his ears. He paid no notice until someone approached him, sat a little to the left of where Ted had sat, and greeted him with a shy, "Hello."

To this, he responded dully, "Hello."

It was a girl who sat herself beside him in the same exact spot Ted had occupied the previous day. She was young and she was lively, her eyes were bright and her short, cropped hair as dark as twilight. He did not look at her, but he knew because every so often, she would fidget and he would glimpse her out of the corner of his eye.

To his great relief, she didn't waste her time with small talk. She merely sat in the shared silence of thought and she became distant, not paying any attention to him or the envious fall setting that enveloped her. She was very much like him in that aspect, thinking of her own affairs and forgetting the world. Tir felt very comfortable in her company that was hardly there.

That was all this was – an interlude, the short period of time before two events. Soon, everyone would grow old and everyone would die. He wondered if this was all just a mistake, if he should run away before he could love anyone honestly enough to regret letting go. Maybe he should just slip off and hide in some alley where some Sir couldn't find him, where some Stranger wouldn't greet him.

Oh, but he didn't want to. It was so wonderful, knowing that they were there again, knowing that even if they were taken way, they were still here for whatever brief time span fate allowed. It was splendid to be able to look at them again, and though it was aggravating that he could only stare and not blurt out stories of many lives past, he was content – something he had forgotten.

His thumb rubbed the palm of his other hand, stirring warmth and irrepressible hunger as his eyes stared off into many years past. It would be nice, you know, if you just set me free, he thought. If you could just move on and not cling to me, if I could just find someone as innocent and willing as I was to take this curse. If you could just die, what an impossible thought.

There was no escape, he couldn't even try. He just lingered between alive and dead, with no real purpose than to feed the Soul Eater, no real reason to stay. He was accustomed to this fact, usually didn't pay it much heed, because though Soul Eater was cruel, it was company, and at the very least he wasn't alone. Yet now he wanted more than just the Soul Eater for companionship.

I wish I were alone.

"Pardon?" said the girl, and Tir realized he had half-whispered out the last stray thought. She drew away from him, preparing to leave.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean you had to leave. I was just thinking out loud." Tir assured her, and she seated herself again, a rosy blush advancing on her pale skin. She couldn't be very young, but her face was childish, retained features of youth and childhood. She would be quite stunning if she were not bundled up in so many red coats and scarves as she was now.

"Oh, thank you. You just said you wanted to be alone, so I thought that I was intruding." She glanced at him, suspicious and disbelieving. "But if you were thinking that, you must want me to leave anyway. It really isn't a bother, you know, I'll just go and sit on that other bench a few blocks down if you want to think on your own."

"No, really, I wasn't talking about you."

"I'm the only one here, how could you not be talking about me?"

Smiling, Tir repeated, "I wasn't talking about you. Please stay."

She flushed and meekly said, "Are you sure? I mean, I could…"

"Very sure." Tir said. "Stay."

She folded her thin hands on her lap and leaned back into the bench. Her breath came out as thin wisps that faded away. She kept on looking at her feet, at the floor, at a common knot on the side of the adjacent tree. Her legs would shift away, then shift back again, as if she couldn't decide whether or not to leave. In the end, however, she stilled, left herself on the bench, and resumed thinking.

This park was cursed, Tir thought, cursed with abnormally familiar people.

After a while, the afternoon light disappeared behind the horizon, and they were left in the dark. The streetlights flickered on, one after another until the scene that greeted Tir's eyes were of an abandoned, windy walkway scattered with fallen leaves and lighted with dull yellow streetlights every few yards. Still, the girl did not leave. She still sat, as quiet and unmoving like stone and only her eyes, which occasionally looked his way, betrayed that she was alive.

After a while, she said, "Are you alright?"

Without looking at her, Tir replied, "What makes you think I'm not?"

She shrugged shyly. "I don't know. I didn't mean to offend you. It's just that you seem like you're very sad, and thinking about sad thoughts, and sad people with sad thoughts alone tend to do crazy things, especially when it's late and when it's dark, so…oh, but I'm not saying your crazy! I mean, you don't look crazy, so I'm not insulting you, but if you are crazy, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with crazy people, and…"

He chuckled, turned to her and her eyes widened and looked away. "I'm alright," he said. "Not all sad people do crazy things. I don't believe I will be doing any crazy things soon, so there's no need to worry. I just take longer to think than most people do."

"Yes, I suppose not." She nodded. Hesitantly, she offered softly, "Well, if you want, you can tell me about it. I won't know what you're talking about, and I won't know how to help, but I can most certainly listen."

He shook his head slowly. "No, it's alright. I don't think I'll bother anyone else with my problems. But, you're here, and you've probably got your own troubles, so you don't have to worry about me." He tugged at the hem of his glove one last time, stood and straightened. After the first step he took, he found that she was staring after him. "You really don't have to worry."

She smiled softly, and she was very beautiful. "I'm not worrying, but I hope you will be alright." And then she became embarrassed, and turned away, fingers folding and tangling with each other. "Oh, but forgive me, I didn't mean to poke into your business. You just seemed so familiar and I wanted to help, but I don't suppose I've helped any…I'll…just leave now too. Goodbye." Hastily, she disappeared into the night.

She had left her scarf sitting on the bench, forgotten it in her hurry, but he didn't pick it up. He didn't want to, because he knew that if he did, he would find a tag with a name that he already knew and wished desperately he could forget. Tomorrow morning, she would return to retrieve it anyway.

When he returned, Sir was waiting for him, sitting in a dark room facing the small balcony door, staring wistfully at the moon which hung in its full splendor on its stage of empty sky. Tir hung his borrowed coat and seated himself beside his friend. "You shouldn't have waited for me."

"I probably shouldn't have taken you from that alley either, but frankly I don't care. You were out late." Sir retorted.

Tir grinned to himself. Nostalgia overwhelmed him. "You act just like him too, you know. I'm not a child anymore. I won't be whisked away into the night, never to return."

Sir sighed and shook his head, closing his sea blue eyes and tossing his golden bangs from side to side. His face was lighted by moonlight, which gave him tons of light blue and pearly white, like a ghost, unfortunately. "No, you aren't, but that doesn't mean you don't need protection against lots of things out there, you know. I'm not condemning you, I just hope you'll be careful. You were in such a hurry."

"I met a friend yesterday, thought that I may be able to meet him again, but found someone else to talk to." Tir said flatly.

Sir smiled. "That's good."

"No, it's not." He replied desperately. His brows furrowed. He was cracking. "It's not good at all. I shouldn't meet these people, I don't want to meet them, because I'll have to forget them and leave them. If I keep on doing that, I'm going to lose myself. I shouldn't have met you, or Ted, or Kasumi. I should just keep to myself, I think I will leave tomorrow."

He made a motion as to leave, but found a strong, steady hand grasped on to his wrist. Sir pulled him back down and said, "That's a horrible way to talk."

"You don't understand at all." Tir hissed, narrowing his eyes. His vision was blurry and his cheeks were wet, and he couldn't possibly fathom why.

"Don't cry." Sir said softly.

Tir broke away from him. "I'm not." He said softly, reaching up and feeling his own tears. Shamefully, he brushed and swiped at them until they went away. "I'm not." He hadn't cried in years, in decades, in centuries. He had no wish to start now. He willed himself to stop crying and resulted in becoming a heap of hiccups, which caused Sir to disappear into the kitchen to bring him a glass of water.

Sir watched him down the whole cup in one gulp. "Don't choke either. Tell me what's wrong."

Breathing heavily and without the courage to face him, Tir said, "My name is Tir. Your name is Gremio, isn't it?" When he received no reply, he demanded louder, "Isn't it? It is, because you're him again. It must have let you out again, it must have let Ted out too, must have decided it would be fun to watch me deal with you two again. You're going to die, you know. You're going to get old and you're going to die!

"When you die, I won't. When you get old, I won't. I'll always be here and live and feed this…this thing inside me. I'm old, do you know that? No, not a child, but more than even an adult. I'm decades, centuries old." Tir shook his head miserably. "But you don't know what I'm talking about, because you don't remember, but I do." With lonely, wide and frightened eyes, Tir held out his ungloved hand. "Look at this, Gremio. This is called the Soul Eater rune."

Gremio stared down into the marred skin, he reached out to touch it, but drew away because the heat surrounding it burned him. Tir smiled at him, but it was a sad, broken smile as he slipped his hand back into its glove. He looked as if his world had just come crashing down, as if all hope had just abandoned him.

Gremio didn't understand, of course, but he wanted so desperately to understand and help and protect Tir from whatever was hurting him so. But he couldn't do anything, couldn't even touch his hand because it burned him. Who was this boy from the alley, the boy who knew his name when he didn't tell him? Who was this boy who claimed he knew about centuries ago, who was so sad and so small-looking as he sat beside him?

"I think I will leave tomorrow."

Help him, he told himself. It doesn't matter what his name is. Protect him.

"What are you doing?" Tir said, eyes dark and wide with shock. Gremio had taken hold of his hand, pulled off the glove, and had pressed his own palm against Tir's. It hurt him, because Gremio's eyes creased with pain. Tir tried to pull away but did so with no avail and merely struggled fruitlessly. "Stop it." Tir cried. "It's hurting you, Gremio."

"Yes, it is." Gremio whispered, voice choked. Suddenly, his voice was very distant, as if it didn't belong to him, but it left his mouth, came from his thoughts. "But it's alright. I don't understand or remember anything, but that's alright too. I will help you, young master."

"You can't help me…"

"Yes, I can, and I will. We will find a way to help you, so everything will be alright. No one will leave you alone anymore if you don't want them to." Gremio flashed a stunning grin eve if his eyes were dark and misty. "So consider yourself protected."

Tir tried to smile with such honest effort that all he could do was cry.