A/N: It's been a while since I've written anything for DeSu2, much less actually played it, so Io's characterizations are probably pretty heavily off.

This is based on episode 8 of the anime and contains heavy spoilers for it. Please do not read unless you've already watched up to that point.


The building was a two story apartment building, with Otome's apartment on the second story. She stopped at the foot of the stairs and pressed her closed fist against her heart. She had to do this. She'd volunteered for it. It was standard JP's procedure (according to Makoto, anyways) to inform living relatives of the deceased when something like this happened, but things were so chaotic and there'd been so many deaths that she just didn't think they'd be able to do so right now.

Okay. Deep breaths. In, out.

In, out.

She wiped away a tear with her finger before it could roll down her cheek. Okay. She took a step up the stairs, and another, and another. Somehow, she managed to make it to the top. With leaden feet she walked to the end of the row of doors and finally reached the one she'd been dreading. Apartment 426. Underneath the steel numbers on the door was a nameplate that simply read "Yanagiya". She knocked a couple times on the door and stepped back.

"Mom?!"

The door thrust open. Standing on the other end was a young girl, her auburn hair tied up in pigtails. Clutched in her hand was a pink cellphone; a child's model, really only for calling your parents and any other important people your parents decided you might need to call. She looked just like the girl in the photo on Otome's cellphone.

"Oh… hello." The girl moved behind the door and put her hands up on the doorknob, ready to close it at any moment.

"Hello. I'm… um…" It suddenly occurred to Io that she had no idea what she was going to say when she got to this point, even though she was sure that she'd rehearsed it in her head over and over before reaching the apartments. "Are you Koharu?"

"Uh-huh. Who are you?" Koharu said.

"I'm Io Nitta. I'm a friend of your mom's. Would it be okay if you came with me?"

"I'm not supposed to leave without Mom here because there're scary monsters outside." And Koharu suddenly moved to shut the door. Io thrust her arm in the space between door and doorway.

"No, please wait!" she cried. "I… Otome-san, she's not here anymore, so we have to take you to somewhere safer, okay?" She suddenly realized she didn't know what JP's would do if she did bring Koharu to headquarters. Even if she could summon demons, there was no way she could let Yamato send her out on the front lines, and she wasn't sure they'd let her stay otherwise. But she couldn't just leave her out here in this apartment like this. She couldn't keep Koharu hoping for someone who wouldn't come back.

"Why do I have to go somewhere else?"

"Otome-san, she… she died. She's not here anymore."

"Oh…" Koharu looked away. "But I don't want to go with a stranger. I'm just going to stay here until she comes back."

Until she…? "No, she's… she's not coming back." Io's voice cracked as she spoke. "I'm sorry."

"Why not? Is it because of work? Did she die because of Mr. Hotsuin?"

"No, that's not it…" She crouched down so she could be on Koharu's eye level. It didn't feel right talking to her while she was standing over her like this. "It's just that when people die they don't come back… never…" She felt the tears starting to well up in her eyes again. She didn't want to look at Koharu's face.

"But… but Mom's got to come back. She was going to take me shopping at the mall and we were going to sing again and I was going to buy her something so she would feel better at work! Why can't she..."

Io could see tears welling up in Koharu's eyes. She wished she could say something to make it better. It occurred to her that Otome had never told her how Koharu had come to live with her or how long she'd been living with her. It was possible this was the first time someone she was close to, that she really knew, had died… "She got hurt really bad while protecting people in Nagoya. So bad that she died, and—"

"That's not fair! She helped all of those people at her work! Someone should have helped her! Mr. Hotsuin should have helped her with his magic! It's not fair! It's…" Koharu began to wail. Io felt a pang of sympathy. The girl suddenly ran up and pressed herself into Io's body. "It's not fair! I want Mom back! She has to come back!"

She sobbed into Io's jacket and, at a loss for anything to do, Io hugged Koharu. She wanted to say how much she understood how Koharu felt right now, but the words wouldn't come. She wanted to scream about how cruel it was, but her throat had completely locked up. So instead she hugged her, hoping her arms could tell Koharu what she wanted to say.

Io knew how much she was risking it by the two of them standing here. A demon could come at any moment and there was no way she'd be able to get her cellphone out in time. "…We should go somewhere safer," Io said after a while. "Do you have anything you want to bring?" Koharu pulled away from Io and nodded. "You should go get those things, so you can have them at your new room.." Koharu nodded again and walked into the apartment.

She came back out a few minutes later carrying a blanket, a stuffed doll, and two framed photographs. One was identical to the one Otome had shown her during her medical examination. The other was Otome holding a toddler with the same color hair as Koharu.

"I wanna bring a picture of Mom with me. So I won't forget her even if she doesn't come back."

"That's a good idea," Io said quietly. "Can you hold my hand as we walk down the steps?"

"Uh-huh."

Koharu closed the door to her apartment. With her free hand, she locked the door and put the key back in her skirt pocket, and finally, she turned back toward Io. Her tiny fingers curled around Io's hand, and they walked together toward the steps leading away from Otome's apartment.