Nitro Chiral makes a new game, I gain a new fandom. Thanks to Eike for looking this over for me!

Dramatical Murder is the property of Nitro Chiral.

Aoba hadn't known what to do with himself at first. He felt exhausted, both physically and emotionally, numb. The whole situation was bizarrely surreal, as if he was not a part of it and was simply a spectator watching from the outside in. He was still bared to the skin, his fingers and toes numb from the too-cold air of Glitter House's AC. Clear's body lay in front of him, his eyes void of colour, his face still frozen in the smile he'd been wearing at the moment of his death. Aoba reached out, spun a stray lock of Clear's hair around his finger, and waited. Clear didn't move. Aoba took a long, shuddering breath and pulled his hand away.

He felt as if he'd had to progress through the first three stages of grief too rapidly and was now stuck firmly on depression. Damn it.

Aoba redressed himself slowly, methodically. He kept his back to Clear as he did it, which he realised was ridiculous for more than one reason. Once he was done, he returned to Clear's side, looked at the horrifying, gaping hole on the side of his face and wondered what the hell he was supposed to do. He adjusted Clear's clothing as slowly and carefully as he'd taken care of his own, but found himself staring at Clear's damaged hand, lingering on it, looking at the complexity of the metal that replaced flesh and bone. He pressed his fingertips against the undamaged side of Clear's face and was unsurprised to find that his skin had now gone cold.

He was different, Aoba thought as he glanced at Clear's broken, unblinking eye. Would always be different from the average person, but in many ways he was the same. Even if Clear was artificial, he'd still gone cold when he'd died, his limbs had still locked in place, his eyes had still lost their light. Before he'd died, he'd still been able to show emotion, had rejected Aoba when he tried to convince him to find someone to repair him, had used the last of his strength to thank Aoba for respecting his wishes. He'd told Aoba he loved him, kissed him, protected him... and his final request had been to feel human.

Even without the mask, even with Aoba convincing him that there was nothing weird about him, he'd probably still felt different. He was not, and never would be a real person, but his feelings were not false. Aoba could see it, could feel it. Even if his feelings weren't emotions as humans felt them, there had to be something that had triggered them. Clear had not been controlled or manipulated in order to appeal to his own emotion; Aoba knew as much. You did not need to be human to feel emotion. Clear had done so much for him and had tried so hard, and now it was time to repay his kindness.

Aoba glanced as the exposed parts of Clear's skeletal system again, but this time he really looked. If Clear had been human, there was no way he would have survived injuries this severe... but as he was, maybe he had a second chance. If there was anything positive about this, any sort of hope to hold onto, it was that. He didn't know how to repair Clear himself... but maybe once he found someone who did know, he could keep an eye out for parts at the junk shop. He'd ask Grandma for help when he got home. Anything was better than Clear being lost forever. Sometimes hope was the only thing you had to hold onto.

It was amazing how optimism made you feel renewed. Aoba eased his arm around Clear's shoulders and tried to pick him up. He was heavier than he looked; perhaps Clear had been supporting more of his own weight during the walk back from the tower than he'd guessed. The thought of Clear keeping his well-being in mind even at that stage made Aoba's heart clench painfully in his chest, and with one final effort he managed to get to his feet.

Aoba grit his teeth for a moment with the effort of supporting them both. He glanced over at Clear's face, and tried not to feel disappointed when he saw it still frozen in that same smile he'd been wearing when he'd shut down. Clear was still lifeless in his arms.

Exhaling through clenched teeth, Aoba leaned over and brushed his lips against Clear's forehead.

Nothing. Not yet.

It was never going to be easy, but nothing worth keeping was.

"Hold on, Clear," Aoba murmured, still struggling slightly under Clear's added weight, "I'll take care of you."


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