How, I can't recall
But I'm staring at what once was the wall
That separated east and west
Now they meet amidst the broad daylight.
It should have been raining.
Rain, to Nezumi, had always meant life. When he was imprisoned in the Moondrop, its howling always reminded him that there was a world out there, and a way of escaping to it. When he lived in West Block, storms meant safety - no No.6 official was going to slog through the rain to chase a bunch of miscreants around. When he left, the rain had provided him with water to drink, and ensured there would be plants he could eat.
Rain nourished and healed. Rain washed and caressed. Rain was what allowed life to happen.
It was in the rain that he had met Shion.
If not for the Markers, Nezumi wouldn't have known that this was where the wall used to stand. The entire thing had been torn down; the place was unrecognizable. It was beautiful, filled with trees and walkways and people strolling in the sunlight. It had been integrated flawlessly into the city that had risen from No.6's ashes. The only problem was that it was also where Shion was buried.
Raised in the old No.6's elite Chronos district, Shion was exiled from No.6 at age sixteen, read a sign, which had been placed next to the tall obelisk that marked Shion's grave. Along with other residents of the old West Block, Shion destroyed the wall around No.6. He emerged as a leader in the aftermath, turning the wreckage of No.6 and the West Block into Unity City, as it stands today, and was elected as its first mayor. Tragically, he was assassinated by extremists in the second year after his election. His grave and this memorial stand at the place where the wall separating No.6 and the West Block used to be, to honor the sacrifices he made for Unity City, and to symbolize the bridge he created where once there were only barriers.
It made Nezumi want to puke.
He wanted so desperately to be angry at the people around him. None of them knew Shion, not like he did. What right did any of them have to write memorials, or to walk so casually by his grave, or to be alive when Shion was not? But Nezumi couldn't find it in himself to be angry at them. Because it wasn't their fault. No matter how much he wished otherwise, the only person whose fault it would ever be was him.
He had left Shion alone. He had left him here alone to rebuild an entire city. He had been stupid enough to believe that Shion would be safe, that his importance and his love and his goodness would be as apparent to everyone else as they were to Nezumi, and that that would keep him safe. He had been wrong. He had been so wrong.
Unable to support himself any longer, he sat in front of the obelisk, staring at it forlornly. He reached out and rested his hand on it, the closest he could get to touching Shion ever again. He sat there for a long time. Occasionally he would notice a passerby looking at him in a curious or offended way (as if they had any right to keep him from visiting Shion's grave). He didn't care. They walked past. He stayed.
He did not cry. He couldn't cry; crying was like weakness, like backing away, and when he'd done that after the wall collapsed this had happened. He couldn't be weak now. He owed it to Shion to be strong.
"I never told you," he said eventually, because if he didn't let something out he was going to explode. He spoke quietly to avoid attracting more attention. "I think you knew, but I never told you." He wanted to say it, he wanted to say it so badly but the words seemed to stick in his throat and there were too many people watching him and he couldn't do it, he couldn't even tell Shion in death what he'd been to afraid to say to him in life. It had always been so private, not something for other people's eyes, something to feel but never something to say. "I'm sorry," he said instead. "I wanted- I should have stayed here, I was a coward, I should have stayed with you." He bit back a sob. He wouldn't cry, wouldn't break down. He would be strong. His fingers curled against the cold marble.
"Why are you crying?"
A small girl was standing next to him. He glared at her. "I'm not crying. Leave me alone."
"You looked like you were crying. I thought maybe you were sad 'cause Mayor Shion's birthday is tomorrow." Shion's birthday was indeed the next day. That was when Nezumi had planned to come back. He had been going to surprise Shion, and Shion would have punched him for staying away so long, and then Shion would have kissed him to welcome him back, and then life would have gone back to normal. Maybe with Shion kissing him a little more often than before.
Instead he was sitting in front of a three-foot-tall statue and being bothered by a pesky little girl.
He was not going to cry.
"It makes me sad too. It makes everyone sad," said the girl. "Mayor Shion was really great. But we can still remember him with the Unity Festival tomorrow." She looked over her shoulder. "Coming, Mama! Gotta go!" She told Nezumi, and ran off. Nezumi was alone again.
Unity Festival, Nezumi thought. So they were throwing festivals in his honor now, then. It struck him as funny, for some reason, and he laughed quietly. The laugh grew until Nezumi could not control it any more; somehow he ended up curled against the obelisk, tears of laughter streaming down his face. As he calmed down, they turned into real tears, and Nezumi couldn't keep his promise to stay strong. He sobbed onto Shion's grave, and people were throwing scandalized looks at him but he didn't care; he couldn't stop; he wouldn't if he could. He needed Shion here but all he had was this damned obelisk, and he was going to cry on it if he wanted and everyone else could go to Hell.
"You did it, Shion," he said finally, breathless, when he was so spent hat he couldn't muster the energy or the tears to cry any longer. "You really did it. Unity Festival. Talk about third options."
With effort, he heaved himself off the ground and stood up,supporting himself against the obelisk. It was nearly dusk now, and the park was much emptier.
He would go visit Karan, he decided. They could talk about what had become of No.6, and Nezumi could tell her what he'd been doing. Maybe they would bring up that it was almost Shion's birthday, and maybe she would tell him about the Unity Festival. Maybe they would both cry together.
Maybe, he thought, just maybe - if it seemed like the right thing to do - he could tell her that he loved Shion.
So this is where you were
And this is where I am
So this is where you are
And this is where I have been
This is where I have been
Somewhere between unsure and a hundred.