Sort of a collection of oneshots, sort of one interconnected story. Not all of the parts follow the same structure as this one does.

This particular part, Aka, or Red, ends where it is meant to end. It has a continuation in Part Two. I should mention, it really doesn't matter what order you read the parts in (in order is recommended but not required), but that excludes continuations.


Black Gold Saw is hard to understand.

Saya is never sure if she is coming to Gold Saw in a dream, or if the woman is coming to her. The first number of times they meet, she can't think of anything to say. They stand there in silence, Gold Saw's glowing red eyes gazing emotionlessly upon her, until she seems to lose interest and walks away from Saya, walks off into the pale misty gray world.

Saya never follows her. The dream ends. Each time, the grayscale world becomes bars of soft morning sunlight falling upon her bed, and she wakes with butterflies in her stomach, and one more night's regret for not having said something. And most of all, she wakes with a longing to fall back asleep so she can follow Gold Saw.

Black Gold Saw is different.

One night, things finally change. As soon as Saya opens her eyes and finds herself standing in that colorless no-man's land, she turns to Gold Saw and says, "My name is Saya Irino." She hears her own voice echo back to her as if through a filter, but it is enough. Her words have reached the pale woman's ears.

Her heart speeds up as Gold Saw turns to face her. This is it. At last, she is going to talk to the one who haunts her thoughts so.

But the being's emotionless expression does not change. If anything, her eyes grow more distant, and she begins to shy away from Saya. Her boots make crunching sounds on the dusty earth. She slowly turns, beginning to walk in the opposite direction. Is she running away?

"Wait!" Saya shouts. "Black Gold Saw!" The name is alien to her lips. She has halted the woman in her tracks, so Saya shouts it again. "Black Gold Saw!"

There is no response, but the woman does not move further into the fog, either.

Determined, Saya strides forward, closing the gap between them until she is very close to the tall, older woman. This is the closest she had ever been. Gold Saw has her head half-turned, watching the girl's approach over her shoulder, and she tenses when Saya stops so close to her.

She says it once more. "Black Gold Saw." It isn't such a strange name, after all. Looking up into those brilliant red eyes for one moment longer, she reaches for Gold Saw's hand.

Immediately, the woman whirls around, pulling her hand out of Saya's reach, and she raises her sawtoothed sword. A gasp escapes Saya's lips at the threatening motion, and she takes a step backwards in shock.

Fear is written on Saya's face, mixed with hurt and confusion, but something surprisingly similar is upon Gold Saw's, too. Her thin mouth is tauter than usual, her brow furrowed just slightly. For Gold Saw, who usually expresses nothing, these small changes are tantamount to a look of terror.

She lowers the weapon right away, as though she thinks it was foolish to imagine using it. Suddenly her body begins to descend, too, and Saya realizes she is sinking into the solid earth at her feet. Before Saya's eyes, she disappears amid a ripple in the ground that then settles, leaving no trace of Gold Saw behind.

Her heart is still racing, and so are her thoughts. She is caught between fear at Gold Saw's sudden violent gesture, exhilaration at how close they had been, and bewilderment. Had the woman been scared? Where had she gone? And if she was gone, why hadn't Saya woken up yet?

Suddenly she drops to her knees, placing her palms flat on the earth where Gold Saw vanished. She wants nothing more in the world than to will herself through the surface, to descend to wherever Gold Saw, the literal woman of her dreams, has gone. She lets herself believe, actually believe, that she can feel herself sliding through like she has become insubstantial.

And then she can.

She cries out as gravity abruptly seizes her, as the ground beneath her ceases to exert a force, as she tumbles through into a fathomless void. The speed of her fall, this headfirst drop to nowhere, begins to make her dizzy, and she isn't sure whether she imagines the vibrant splashes of color that begin to flash across her vision. Streaks and bands of light begin to paint themselves around her, and there is no up or down any longer, only the fall.

She feels as though she will hit something and be killed, or continue to fall forever. She no longer remembers she is dreaming. Either way, this cannot be the way the woman went. She has lost her chance to reach out and touch Gold Saw.

She does not register the red glow that is beginning to wash out all the other colors. Her mind has faded almost to unconsciousness, or in this case wakefulness, when she feels strong arms wrap themselves around her body and stop her fall.

Black Gold Saw is just the same as her.

It is several nights before she dreams of Gold Saw again. Each morning is a disappointment, and her days are a struggle to keep vivid images of long dark hair, a pointed chin, two red ringed eyes, from preoccupying her. She has little success.

The night she returns to the familiar gray world, something is strange. The world is just as she remembers, just as she has come to expect, with its dusty reaches dotted by old and crumbling columns, arches, and daises, but it feels different. It feels as though it is somehow not enough. Her memories of the last dream have faded somewhat, but she senses that there is something else, something more: something beyond this monochrome world.

She shakes off the odd feeling, and looks around. Saya cannot see Gold Saw when she first opens her eyes upon the old-but-different landscape.

She gives a start as she looks down to find Gold Saw lying on the earth very near her, asleep.

Saya had never imagined one of the inhabitants of this other world sleeping, but then, why shouldn't Gold Saw sleep? Cautious of waking her from her slumber, Saya moves to her side on tiptoes. She kneels down, and just looks at her. The woman is older than she is, certainly, but not much older. Her serious, sharp features somehow have a look of innocence to them, and with her eyes shut and her being relaxed, she appears completely at peace.

Looking closer, Saya is surprised to see herself reflected back in those features. She has never realized just how much alike she and Gold Saw look, only really noting their similar hairstyles. She wonders, why does she see it so clearly now?

Because you're asleep. I'm asleep. And with that, another morning reaches her. In the sleepy moments where she still fully remembers the dream, she wonders if Gold Saw is waking up at that moment, too.

Black Gold Saw is a long-term goal.

Each night she dreams of the beautiful, silent woman, she brings her hand just a little bit closer to touching her before stopping. Always, Gold Saw looks tense and never moves a muscle, but there is no threat any longer. Every time Saya finds herself in the gray world, she sees that Gold Saw has put down her sword. It's obvious that she does it just before Saya appears, and Saya can't stop smiling the first time she realizes Gold Saw has been doing that for her.

One night and then a night later, and one hair's breadth closer to taking Gold Saw's hand. Sometimes Saya talks to the woman, tells her about her own life, and sometimes she asks her questions she doesn't expect to have answered, and sometimes she is as silent as her almost-mirror. Always, though, she moves her hand closer to Gold Saw and then stops.

Black Gold Saw is frightening.

One night out of hundreds, she and Gold Saw are not alone in the world the color of ash. That night, she opens her eyes to find Gold Saw dueling a hooded figure whom Saya cannot see well, as though a veil separates them. All she can see clearly is the bright blue flame that surrounds the being's eye, and the deadly, bloodstained sword it wields.

She watches as Gold Saw attacks again and again, the clang of metal as their blades meet strangely muted. Saya wants to call out, to tell her to stop. She senses that something about this newcomer is bad, but she has eyes only for Gold Saw and the look of intense hatred upon her face. That expression, the fury of her assaults, and the single-minded way she aims only to kill all scare Saya. She wants to call out, but she cannot find her voice.

When she wakes up it is for the first time a relief, and she cries softly for minutes. Gold Saw, her Gold Saw, shouldn't have to fight like that. That fighting couldn't be right. She had wanted so much to believe in the innocence she'd seen in the woman's sleeping face… Did she still live in a world where that violence was necessary? The thought hurt her.

Black Gold Saw is hers.

The night after her dream of the fight, Saya moves her hand close to Gold Saw's, and then stops. And then she moves closer.

"Black Gold Saw," she whispers, sliding her fingers over the woman's wrist before suddenly bringing her other hand up to touch her cheek. "I've been waiting for you."

Gold Saw doesn't flinch as Saya caresses her. In her eyes is a look that says plainly, I've been waiting for you.

Saya smiles, the expression tinged with sadness. "I don't want you to fight anymore, okay?"

Turning her own hand so her knuckles face up, Gold Saw brushes one finger under Saya's chin. Saya shivers at the contact. "I don't want you to fight," she repeats. Those bright red eyes gaze down at her with tenderness. She goes on. "This world doesn't need more fighting."

Careful with her sharp fingertips, Gold Saw strokes Saya's hair, teasing locks out and letting them drift back into place, leaning in so she is closer and better able. Saya can hear her own heartbeat pounding in her ears as Gold Saw's face comes very near hers.

"I'll be getting a job soon," she says, breathing a little hard. "I'm going to be a school counselor. I'll make sure nobody has to suffer." Her fingers entwine with Gold Saw's. "Not even you." She holds tightly. "Especially not you."

She isn't sure who leans in first, only that a moment later their lips are together, and she is safe in the arms of the one closest to her heart just as Gold Saw is safe in hers, and never has she felt so cemented and secure at the very core of her being. Around it all is the softness of Gold Saw's lips to the hardness of her claws, and the lightheaded dizziness that is her first kiss. She doesn't ever want to let go.

Years pass.

A red glow…begins to wash out all the other colors.

Everything is different.

Black Gold Saw is…