If you're feeling particularly masochistic, maybe listen to Requiem of Red while reading this?

gone, he has

g o n e

Then, it was snowing. She cups a hand to catch the flakes that flock to her like butterflies. Her shoes dig into the snow, toes soaking in white, but she doesn't flinch; she's used to the cold. It's the warmth that surprises her.

A bowl filled to the brim with snow, the crater exhales energy still. She bends to the edge, squatting, then carefully lets a few fingers brush the surface of the snow.

The horizon of her vision falls into shadow as she registers a figure ducking beneath the caution tape that cordons off the area. She stands to see, and hears a strangled cry of surprise, almost guilty.

"Anna? What the hell are you doing here?" Saruhiko, bewildered, lets his arm fall from his saber, where it dangles uncertainly by his side. When she doesn't answer, he steps forward, then again, bringing a hand to his headset. "N-no, it's just a civilian. I'll handle it. Continue with your duties."

"I'm visiting," she answers, "Saruhiko." He's the only dark spot in this realm of white save for the ring of the crater where snow has not yet filled. Far from making him an eyesore, the contrast is like silk laid against cardboard.

"Where's everyone else?" Those eyes, now darting, always held a color she couldn't see, even with her marbles. "Is Kusanagi-san with you?"

"No. I went out alone."

"And how'd you get all the way to the high school past the ID check? Agh, never mind." He clicks his tongue. "Letting you wander away like this… they're so irresponsible."

There is nothing she could say that could convince him otherwise, is there? She stands there with her mouth pressed tight, and after a few moments he walks round the remaining circumference of the crater to thrust his jacket in her hands. She blinks, then thanks him and pulls it on. In response, he sighs. This was the language they used back then, too. She doesn't step closer to him because she knows he'll step away.

"Are you mad at me?" Saruhiko's gaze seems to smolder like tinder against everything it touches, which at the moment is the makeshift white pond.


"Why not? My king killed your king."

She tests how tightly the snow is packed on the crater. It's been a winter of blizzards. When it doesn't give against her weight, she steps tentatively towards the center. "I know Saruhiko didn't want him to."

"I didn't care either way," he sneers. She doesn't turn around.

"But still. You didn't want Mikoto to die."

Truth—that thing he can't deny even if he's left, even if he's burnt all trace of them away from his skin and soul alike. The snow leaves records of her steps. Saying Mikoto's name aloud is a tenuous pluck on the harp strings of her grief.

Saruhiko doesn't say anything, only "What are you doing?" when she reaches the crater's center and lies down.

"He might need an angel."

The sky is grey, and always will be from now on. She flaps her wings and feet regardless, because these are the little things she can do for him. These, and nothing else—not votive candles or incense, marbles or eulogies.

"Stupid," Saruhiko mutters, quiet, but she hears, and sits up.


She holds his gaze so that it's impossible for him to miss her meaning, until he's slowly shaking his head. "No. Of course not. It's stupid, and a meaningless gesture."

"I won't come back and give you back your coat if you don't."

His eyebrows draw together in a scowl, but she isn't scared. She's known Saruhiko too long to be scared. Soon he's stomping across the snow, deliberately as if daring it to give way, but it holds. It holds.

He extends his hand for the coat. Instead, she grabs it and yanks him down. With a surprised yelp, he falls beside her, then scrambles into a sitting position.

"S-so stupid. And it's freezing. And—" He growls, and feels it; she's sure of it, the residual tingle of Mikoto's energy that wraps around them like steam. "He wouldn't want this. He wouldn't want… me."


She finds his hand, and it's still soft and uncalloused. Not a killer's hand. His eyes constrict with some faraway pain, and she squeezes it.

Snow has begun to line the ends of their hair when he finally winces down on his back and drags his limbs out stiffly, just once. When he sits up, snowflakes wink off him like light.

"He'd probably be insulted, if he knew it was me," Saruhiko still mutters, biting his thumbnail.

All she can do is shake her head. Everything is still, and it hurts, knowing that nothing remains under her feet except that incomprehensible hole in the ground.

And suddenly, just as incomprehensibly, maybe it's the quietness of the grave or the presence of Mikoto's once-follower beside her, but tears line her eyes. Saruhiko protests as she grabs onto him, and she can feel him panicking, because she has to remember that he, so much older than her, is still young, is still without answers.

The imprints of their angels smudge beneath them as she clings onto his arm. Saruhiko is all awkward, flitting pats to her shoulder and her head, but he doesn't push her away. Still, he isn't warm enough, and it is snowing, the cold burrowing deep into her bones like the darkest spill of black. Even the tears lighting her cheeks feel only like melting frost. Mikoto is gone, and she may never be warm again.