Just a little thing I wrote Saturday afternoon, with Aya stuck in my head. Botan was so totally hitting on him. Er, when he wasn't actually hitting him. I don't know who owns these characters, but I don't pretend it's me.

Contains spoilers for "Mission 17: Kritiker".

by Maya Tawi


That night he dreamed.

Aya was no stranger to dreams, but his usually followed a certain pattern. His sister featured prominently. Takatori had haunted him nightly, until he finally plunged three feet of steel into the old man's gut. He dreamed of loss, and revenge, and the looming specter of his own bitter failure.

And sometimes of being attacked by an army of furious, fanged orchids, which he preferred not to dwell on.

Since Aya-chan's kidnapping, he had seen her every night, cold and still and far too distant for him to touch. Sometimes the cross was carved deep into her skin, but the wounds never bled. The message was unmistakable: if she was dead, he was the one who had gotten her killed.

That night he didn't see any of those things.

His dreams were confused, fragmented, and tinged with crimson.

A little girl chased a paper airplane across a field. The paper, too, was red.

Hands trailed over Aya's body, faltering when they touched his face. Aya reached up and found his eyes filled with blood. He couldn't seem to wipe it away.

He tried to speak, and a punch snapped his head back, knocking him into --

A field. Sunshine. The girl was taller now, her pigtails grown into long black braids.


Lips pressed against his own, smothering his harsh cry of denial. Short black hair. A faint, knowing smirk.

A red paper airplane.

The kaleidoscope stilled.

Hoarsely, almost afraid to speak, Aya said, "I failed."

Botan's fingers combed through Aya's hair. His smile didn't change.

Suddenly everything felt far too real: the flattened pillow beneath his head, the worn-out mattress under his back, the rough sheets against his bare skin. Botan's body covering his. Botan smiling down at him.

"I failed," he repeated, louder this time. "You're dead."

The silence was unnerving. Botan wasn't supposed to be quiet. He was supposed to talk and talk, and Aya was supposed to tell him to shut up.

You're dead.

Botan's smile contorted into a death grimace, and at last, finally, he spoke. "I'm not the only one."

"No," Aya denied, reflexive and afraid. "She's not."

Botan wasn't listening. Botan was playing with Aya's hair.

He shivered.

"She's not," he said again, pleading now. "She's not. Is she?"

Botan glanced up. "Who?"

Aya wanted to cry, to scream, to break things. Instead he said quietly, "My sister. Is she...?"

"Beautiful," Botan murmured, and Aya frowned, taken aback. Botan smiled down at him. "My favorite color."

Aya closed his eyes as Botan leaned forward, intent on his face, his hair --

Contact never came. A wet, sticky warmth began to spread over his face.

Aya looked up. Blood was pouring out of Botan's mouth, onto his red suit, onto Aya's face. Into his eyes.

Voice thick and clogged, Botan choked out, "You can still see."

Aya gazed up at him through his grisly tears and whispered fiercely, "I don't want to."

Botan's mouth split into a wide, grotesque grin, stretched and bloody. He started to fall forward --

And Aya woke, seeing red.

For a moment he stared, uncomprehending, at the thatch of auburn hair covering his face. Then he shoved it back violently -- feeling strands break off in his hands, perversely glad of it -- and rolled over onto his back, staring at the ceiling.

He was mournful, unsettled, and half-hard. His parents were dead. His sister was missing.

He could still see.

See what?

Aya lay awake the rest of the night, unwilling to fall back asleep.

He wasn't surprised when the sun broke the horizon and painted the sky pale red.

Email: mayatawi@populli.net

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