The First Beach
Some people’s lives did not revolve around someone else. Khun, my love, Shibisu wanted to say but didn’t, life did not begin or end on that beach.
It’s what you do.
Noise you don’t want to hear, fists thrown, bullets fired—all of it bounces back and strikes your attacker with the slightest bit of your attention, or even less.
Last Order wouldn’t stop staring at him.
“That’s creepy,” Accelerator told her, shoving her off the end of the couch with one arm.
“‘Don’t be mean!’ Misaka Misaka protests, flailing her arms for balance,” Last Order squawked indignantly. She shot back upright and glared.
He eyed her from the corner of his eye, but she just huffed and clambered back up beside him.
“Misaka thinks that you look happy, Misaka Misaka notes with satisfaction.” Last Order grinned. “Misaka thinks that you should stay here with her forever.”
“Happy, huh?” he murmured and closed his eyes.
Such an odd feeling. Happy.
They weren’t on the same page, they didn’t think the same thoughts, and they didn’t feel the same way. Not anymore. Once, they had—or it felt like it. Both of them had wanted to destroy the world they no longer belonged in, both of them wanted their own small world with each other. Both of them wanted power.
Now here they were with Homra, and they had it, and all Misaki could talk about were the people who’d claimed him as their own.
Saruhiko was beginning to realize Misaki had wanted another family, while Saruhiko had just wanted Misaki.
They talk about their mother all the time, but sometimes Mary swears Dickon sprung up full-formed from the moor that might as well have given him birth. The animals swarm him with delighted sounds, gentle as though they were tame, and plants grow under his fingers as though his blood sings with magic.
Too violent. Too harsh. Too unwilling to use violence until pressed. Willing to use too much violence after.
Reasons to throw her from one complement to another, one look at clawed hooks on her wingtips enough to teach anyone she’d been built at Canaf. Playing nice shouldn’t be her first reflex.
“A diplomatic envoy?” Maru asked, skeptical of her pilot.
“In a war complement,” Taseta said, tossing her braid and grinning. “A permanent post. We’ll serve as point.”
A war complement. They could use both her violence and her restraint.
“You really think it’ll last?”
Taseta shrugged. “At least try.”
Rhezere didn’t like to think of memories, instead he made endless plans. But sometimes he dreamed them, waking with screams strangled between his teeth.
Sometimes he woke and muffled the memories until they faded. Sometimes he called Kasuru, who had seen his scars and never heard the stories behind them.
“You did a terrible job of healing them,” Rhezere complained. “When the weather’s bad, they hurt.”
“Ah.” Kasuru could hear everything Rhezere wasn’t saying.
They didn’t talk about the past or about the aches and pains Rhezere claimed to have. They talked about their plans, their work, and the future.
Mikoto had never had alignment testing. It was usually obvious from appearances whether someone needed comfort when hurt or needed to give it when someone else was.
But his family hadn’t cared and neither had he, and somewhere along the way he realized he didn’t feel either.
But he let them comfort him, Tatara and Izumo, when they noticed him brooding, let Tatara try and amazingly succeed at drawing him out of his worst aftermaths. And he let them draw comfort, Anna sitting next to him, claiming his attention with a small hand.
He didn’t feel broken for the lack.
Anna took the camera out a year after Tatara’s death. Mikoto wasn’t there for her to wake up with it or make memories with. There was no Tatara to absolve her if they damaged the camera.
Even so, she wanted to add her own memories to HOMRA again, so she took the camera in her hand and went out to find Misaki.
He sucked in a breath when he saw it but pasted on a smile as he waved. Fushimi stared at her a moment.
“It’s good to see you,” she said softly.
He was part of their memories too.