I don't own any legal right to anything in the shin megami tensei franchise.

In case that wasn't self-evident.

Too many nights of cutting palms over minor blasphemies earned him the gloves. It was the sort you'd see the band members wearing, pristine white cotton that let hands keep their dexterity intact. Procured easily enough, especially compared to the miscellany required for those same hobbies that spurred the need to get the gloves in the first place.

He was never seen without them now, but he didn't expect people to get curious. People is here defined as – the faceless, sometimes identifiable if only by particulars in the venom, people who stalk the halls of Karukozaka.

To be short about it, those no longer worth consideration.

People did not get curious. A person did. The singular person he could consider telling truths to.

He pinched the soft cotton and was halfway to removing a glove when the door opened.

What this meant, of course, was that he

was not going to do this. Never could do this. Moment of deliberation crystallized a quick eternity later into certainty. He pulled the disheveled fingers of his gloves back in to place meticulously, one at a time. He bowed, and left. The intruder boggled at him and was summarily ignored.

Tonight he felt the hate his bad book asked for fresh and new. He carefully folded his gloves and stowed them in a pocket. At a glance he could now perceive the pink tally marks for each step forward he'd taken in a painstaking penguin walk to

somewhere. Somewhere better. Better than here where he had to count by pink tally marks to consider facing tomorrow. Somewhere wasn't even a place; all it had to be was a state – and as a state, all somewhere had to be was 'better than this.'

That was all he would be asking for.

His head swam and he realized that disparate toll meant it was tomorrow. He closed the book and in doing so left a faint red smudge on the leathery cover.

The book absorbed the unintentional offering greedily.

He considered the one raw red tally like someone else might apprise the weather. Today's forecast said 'this hurts' and 'find disinfectant.'

Nothing out of the abhorrent ordinary. He thought to himself, well, that's alright. Just for now.