"Do you like sakura?"
The child bobs his head up and down enthusiastically, emerald eyes wide with innocence. "Mm!"
Darkness. An infinite starless night completely encompassing as far as the eye can see. Featureless, except for one, glorious tree, and the two figures below its branches. In this timeless universe, there is no one else but the young child and the dark youth who is stranger and yet not a stranger.
A delicate blossom floats down, petals soft like silk, a perfect falling star of palest pink. It doesn’t disappear into darkness, rather, it is caught in one, strong hand. The fingers lovingly enclose the flower lying on the palm. Perhaps he will release it and let it fall or maybe he will crush it. The choice is his alone.
"Do you know why the flowers are pink?"
The child, a beautiful little cherub all in white, shakes his head. The stranger smiles, amused and cold. Completely devoid of any emotion whatsoever.
"It’s because . . ."
" . . . the sakura feeds on the blood of the corpses . . ."
" . . . buried beneath its roots."
Tears. The liquid green eyes ripple and shine, as if the roots of the tree are slowly drawing the crimson life away to nourish the flowers above with the child’s angelic purity.
"But don’t the people under the tree feel any pain?"
A flash of startlement flickers over the youth’s face like a star trailing across the dark night sky, and just as quickly disappears to be replaced by a strangely intense smile. He kneels down on one knee to see the child face to face.
"I’ll make a bet with you . . ."
Touch. The known stranger takes the child’s tiny, clean hands in his own strong ones and raises each of them to his lips. A silvery light begins to emanate from the back of the child’s palms, perhaps fed by the crimson river flowing beneath it, bathing the youth’s smiling face in a cold glow.
The woman screams, a scream of grief, desperation and madness, the knife in her hand glinting savagely. She lunges at him, poised to take his life to save a life. And since it will make her happy, he closes his eyes, waiting for the blow.
Time stops. The blood seems frozen as it spills through the air.
A pair of glasses falls and hits the floor with a single, crystalline sound, the right lens shattered . . .
. . . like the heart of the boy afraid he has lost his companion forever.
Blood drips onto the carpet of sakura beneath the glorious tree, first in random droplets, then quickly increasing to a steady stream, a slowly growing pool staining the flowers under a pair of glossy black shoes. Then it rains down as the man gently removes his hand from the girl’s chest, the pure white robes red with her own life. She falls, senses already dulled to the pain, eyes blind to the expressionless mask of the one who killed her, ears deaf to the faint cry of her name from a loved one so close and yet so far away.
Darkness, not of night, but of spirit. He forces himself to dive further into the darkness, to find somewhere in the abyss the scared and despairing boy upon who all their hopes depend, whose pain and suffering is so heart-breakingly similar to his own.
"For the sake of that one wish . . . come back."
Fire, turning the sky a hellish red and black. Slow purposeful steps towards the lone figure on the rooftop, white robes billowing about him. The other does not turn to at his approach – there is no need to. This confrontation was inevitable. Another step, and another, until he stops to stand less than three paces away. For one long moment they remain like that, indifferent to the sounds and scenes of destruction around them on the Final Day.
Finally the other turns, black coat flaring in the smoky wind, the flames reflected in the dark mirror of his sunglasses.
"So." His voice is calm, as if taking a walk in the park. "This is how it ends."
A moment of tense silence, as if the other is unsure if he is capable of speech at a time like this, the end of time for them.
Then quietly, "How could I not have any."
A slight smile. "Of course."
"What about you?"
He gives his opposite a look of mild curiosity. Somewhere nearby, fires are burning.
"What do you mean?"
"After seventeen years, Seishirou-san, can you still say that you cannot differentiate me from a glass? Can you still say that you feel nothing?"
The slightest hesitation. "Yes."
He laughs softly, paying no attention to the escalating destruction surrounding. They’ll be dead before it can reach them.
"You’re always so cute, Subaru-kun."
No response. The younger man waits patiently for the answer, not even sure if he wants to hear it or not. But he will.
The pleasant mask acquires a thoughtful expression. No more reasons to play or lie anymore. "I’m . . . disappointed that our game has to end. It was one of the few interesting things in my life."
The congenial expression turns cold, and yet strangely intense.
"For you . . . it is what a child feels for a favorite toy he cannot live without."
Something dark flashes in the emerald eye, just for a second, before vanishing. It brings an appreciative sigh from the one who caused it. Watch how the pain hurts, if it cannot be experienced.
A faint sound of clashing swords rings through the air.
Then unexpectedly, a smile appears on the finely-boned face, a sad one, but a smile nonetheless, like the weak shaft of sunlight breaking through the grey clouds above.
He takes one step closer.
"You answered the question."
Freeze. The single split second in time when one throws oneself off a cliff and hangs weightless almost achieving flight . . . then falls. He removes the dark sunglasses and deliberately puts it in his pocket. Stares for one endless moment with one eye of liquid gold and the other cloudy white.
Then he blinks and straightens, gazing down at the figure so close to him. Smiles. Pointless to deny it when all will end so soon.
"I suppose I did."
One more step. No more time at the end of time.
Then . . . touch.
Fires burning, all around. No way out, even if they wanted to.
"Shall we end this?" he whispers to the figure trapped in his arms.
A soft sigh caresses his neck. This was foreordained.
A hand touched one heart and the heart wept blood. The other heart was touched by a white dove’s purity. It also wept blood.
A droplet of liquid light suspended in the air falling, falling . . .
I wish that everyone could have been happy.
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