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1.

She's crying. Gently, Johan's thumbs come up to gently stroke the corners of her eyes, a slow, fanning motion. Her eyes open. The crying stops, replaced by a soft, almost inaudible escape of breath as he gently slides upwards, cupping her face in his hands.

He knows it feels good. Knows from the way her lips part and her eyelids flutter, knows because it feels good to him too, the way their bodies join and connect, the slow rocking motion like the gentle lapping of waves. His face comes close to hers, noses bumping, and it's almost as if he's looking into a mirror. Blue eyes, like his, meeting his stare.

And then they close again. Her jaw is slack, and as he moves inside her he hears the soft hiss of her breath, her body tensing beneath him.

This is what love feels like, how she lets him curl into the hollows of her body, filling the emptiness that had rested in his chest. This is what hope feels like, kissing her face and her neck and the tears at the corners of her eyes. As a child he didn't understand why they were different. Same blue eyes, same red dress. But now he has come to understand.

Do you see? his mind asks though he does not speak. Do you see that we were made for this? Together, he thinks, and his control slips. One harsh thrust upward, and she gasps, hand clenching against his back. He thrusts hard and she cries out, and he knows, just as he's always known, that it's just the two of them standing at the end of the world.

She comes while he's still inside her, crying out against the base of his neck, body jerking at irregular beats. Her body convulses, one, two,and he spills inside her, the cadence of his release matching hers. His heartbeat lessens. Slowly he lifts himself up, but then she pulls away.

There is a slick of semen on the bed, the wet spot slowly seeping into the sheets beneath them. She is crying. Staring out at the window opposite the bed, tears roll down her face like silvery threads, grief and despair unspooling in front of him.

Like mirrors, he feels her grief as well.

In the bathroom, he washes his penis in the sink, doughy, disgusting thing, while Anna sits hunched on the bed, not looking at him. He can see her reflection in the mirror. There are red marks on her arms from where he had held her, and her hair is falling over her eyes.

"I can't do this," Anna says. She looks up at him. There are circles under her eyes and her face is red and puffy. Johan says nothing. Slowly he washes his face, then closes the tap, pulling a towel over her waist. "I can't do this. This is wrong."

Johan sits beside her, not looking, as Anna begins to cry. It's a broken, bleating sound, and it takes all his self-control not to kiss her, not to hold her and make everything go away.

The gun is heavy when he sets it on her lap. He folds her hands quietly over the handle.

xXx

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2.

There is no pattern to Johan's comings and goings; sometimes months will pass and Nina's days will settle into an everyday routine, waking before sunrise to drink her coffee and read through the morning's paper before making her way to work, hefting her bag over her shoulder and shuffling papers into her briefcase. But then some days she'll come home and he'll be standing there waiting for her, and all at once her breath will escape her and her heart will catch in her throat, and whatever magnetism he has that commands legions of followers will settle painfully in her chest, until invariably she's drawn to him.

Afterwards, she would cry and huddle up into herself, hands balled into fists and sitting under the head of the shower, uselessly scrubbing but unable to wash the filth away. "You're crying," Nina said. She stepped close to him, searching his face. "Johan...?"

He kissed her. She jerked back, eyes wide.

"Anna." He opened his eyes. Pale blue eyes, searching hers. "Please."

"We can't," Nina said. He stepped forward and kissed her again, lips parted and featherlight. She felt him tentatively kiss her with the tip of his tongue.

Now she rides him hard with her eyes squeezed shut, the muscles of her thighs clenching tight as she rocks forward. Small hands shove against his chest, and she can't help but notice the deep crease between his eyes as he squeezes them, yet another difference between them. She bends and slaps her hips against his, a desperate, disordered fucking, closer and faster until she lets out a toneless, sobbing cry, the last spasms of her orgasm leaving her exhausted. She falls and doesn't move when he rolls her onto her back and finishes, spilling inside her and pressing his face into her hair.

There is a neon sign outside, SEX GIRLS WILD, the letters shorting out and blinking at irregular intervals. On the floor, the gun catches the red glow and glints in the dark, cast aside like the rest of their clothes.

"I hate you," Nina says. She turns. "Why do you have to be like this?"

"Why do you?" Johan says. Nina's face wrenches. She pulls away, hugging herself.

"Because if I don't, you might kill someone," Nina says.

Johan says nothing. His eyes are unfocused, as if he's looking at something far away.

"What does my face look like?" Johan says. Nina lifts her eyes. Tears slip down his face, one after another, even as the rest of his expression remains unchanged.

"What should I be feeling now?"

xXx

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3.

The body of a young man washes up on the beach, tangled in fishermen's nets and floating like a hollow log. Tenma isn't sure it's him, but Nina's fists are tight when she tells him she hasn't seen him since that night, that the river caught the current from a bridge on which he often walked.

Now Tenma walks along the garden path, hands deep in his pockets and listening to the birds crying overhead. The sky is overcast; a slight breeze blows through the naked branches of the trees.

It's been years since that night in Ruhenheim, but Tenma can see the scene perfectly in his mind. Time and age have made his perception clearer, the vigilante fog starting to part. "It was a suicide attempt," Dr. Gillen had said, and Tenma remembers: he remembers the look in Johan's eyes, empty, quiet, when he asked Tenma to pull the trigger.

"He doesn't have anything now, does he?" Dr. Reichwein says, and Tenma nods. They stare out at the waters of the river, gray and harsh and beating against the stones of the bridge, before turning and stepping inside, away from the shore and from the rising wind of afternoon rain.

end.