On the Other Side
by Shimegami-chan

"Nice day out today, isn't it?"

"It's always a nice day in the Digital World."

"That depends on who you ask." The dark-eyed boy smiled ruefully and pulled a grey jacket more tightly around his body, trying to shut out an invisible chill. "Hey...I've been wondering for a while. Do you ever think about death?"

The brunette looked up quizzically. "Why?"

"It's just something I think about," the other said absently.

Confused, Brown Eyes stood still, rubbing the fabric of his orange sweater between his fingers. "I don't understand what you're asking. Think about it how? Or do you mean, do I fear it?"

"Well, do you ever wonder what would happen if you died?"

Startled, the boy turned to look at his dark-haired companion. "That probably won't be happening for another fifty years or more," he joked lamely, though he sat down hard on the grass, as if to assure himself.

"Are you afraid of it?"

"I'm not afraid of anything," the brunette said with a hint of irritation. It was a lie and they both knew it, but saying it aloud made it easier to think about. After a moment of silence he added, "And it depends on what kind of death you're talking about."

"Go on."

"Well...if Ken died, I'd be pretty upset. Really upset, I guess. Like when he got sick, and was unconscious for two weeks...I was afraid I'd lose him, back then. And you..." He hesitated, leaving the words unsaid hanging heavily in the air. "Well, I'm not afraid of death. I've been too lucky anyway."

"I'd care if you did," the other said quietly.

"I can't believe we're having this conversation."

Violet eyes smouldered with irritation at his companion's flippancy. "It's important!"

"Yeah. I know, I know."

"I would care," he said again, more softly. "Even that we can be together like this, is important to me. You and Ken...are the most important to me."

"It won't last forever," Brown Eyes replied cynically. "If I make it out of here alive, I'll go back to the real world, and we'll probably never see each other again."

"We'll see each other on the other side." He grinned good-naturedly, but couldn't mask the regret with the false expression. "And when you leave here, it'll be because you don't need me anymore. And Ken won't either."

"Don't say that!" the brunette admonished.

"It's true."

Brown Eyes picked up a rock and flung it into the distance. "I'll always need you. I...you're my best friend." How they felt was not a secret; had never been. "I don't know what I'd do without you."

"You didn't even know me until a couple of years ago."

"But I feel like I've known you all my life."

Violet hesistated. "I...feel the same. But this can't last, you know that. Once my duties have been performed, I'll have no choice but to go. I shouldn't be here."

"At the rate things are moving, the other Chosen will take care of all that for you."

The other teen shrugged. "It's beyond my power now. Ken has to find himself on his own...and that's that. I'm watching him, and nothing more."

"Which is what I should be doing, instead of running like a coward, really," the other said sourly.

"Your destiny lies elsewhere."

"That's poetic. And probably a lie."

Violet's smile was bitter. "If you...ever see him again, Ryo...tell him for me. Tell him everything."

"I'm sure I will," Ryo promised. "The Kaiser will fall, and he'll return to himself. Soon. I know it."

The two fell silent, one with the weight of worlds on his shoulders, the other with only the redemption of a single soul. The burdens felt equally heavy to both.

Ryo leaned back on the grass, fiddling with the cuff of his orange sweater. "Hey, Osamu..."


"Do you ever think about life?"

The ghost's face was reserved, but Ryo saw an odd expression pass briefly across his features. He thought maybe he shouldn't have asked, and then Osamu smiled thinly and looked him directly in the eyes.

"All the time."