Gonna Lay Down

Napoleon was laying down on his couch, uncharacteristically fully clothed - shoes and all. If the ceiling he has been staring at steadily for the past hour held any hidden meanings, it had yet to reveal them. But still he remained motionless and staring at it. Spring was supposed to herald new life. Rebirth. But the ashes he had seen yesterday were not going to arise into a phoenix. They were going to remain ashes and he felt as if his soul had gone ashen as well.

The knock at the door was not unexpected. He knew that as soon as he called out sick that his partner would be over as quickly as he could arrange to do so. It was odd. He couldn't pinpoint exactly what it was that was distinctive about Illya's knock, but he always knew when it was the Russian at the door.

"Let yourself in, chum."

After entering the security codes, Illya stuck in his head first, cautiously.

"Are you contagious?"

"In mood only."

"Ah."

From the tone, Napoleon's answer had not surprised Illya. The smallish blonde came over next to the couch and sat on the coffee table, making Napoleon frown even though he still kept his gaze upward.

"Kind of nervy assuming my coffee table will support your weight, partner of mine."

Illya just pushed back his bangs in an unconcerned fashion.

"My weight is hardly astronomical. Besides, your taste in furnishings runs toward sturdy, not spindly. So, are we going to talk?"

"We are talking."

"Not of anything of real matter. Such as why you are where you are. I am supposed to be the brooding one."

"You know why. And I can brood if I want to."

"I believe I know why. They were very young."

"They were indeed. 'Were' being the operative word."

"We did not detonate the device, Napoleon. They did."

"I know, Illya, but . . ."

"Cherry blossoms."

For the first time, Napoleon's eyes fully left the ceiling.

"Pardon? Exactly what has that to do with anything else?"

"I researched their group. They were using the cherry blossom to symbolize themselves. They believed that the pinnacle of achievement would be to leave life at what they considered the height of their talents and beauty. As the cherry blossoms fall from the trees before they fade. And they thought that doing so on the first day of Spring would be most appropriate."

"So - us coming across them had nothing to do with them deciding to blow themselves up? They had meant to do that all along even if no-one interfered?"

"According to what they left behind them? Yes. But - and this is what I came to see you over - they did not write the words. They just followed them. We have someone out there who has discovered a way to manipulate some of our vulnerable youth for their own ends. Along with you, I had to witness the senseless deaths of nine who were barely out of childhood. I want to find the one responsible before another nine or even another one go down that same path. But I do not think I can do it alone."

Napoleon shifted smoothly until he was seated directly in front of his partner. The lethergy had fallen away and there was a new purpose in his eyes as he directly met the icy blue ones.

"You're not alone."