His body crumples to the cracked earth with a thump.
Blood like vermilion minnows pools out of that hole in his chest, staining his shirt a terrible crimson. His fingers are slack, fingers that traced contours over her bare skin and pressed against her cheeks and promised that it would be alright, and the wind tousling her hair and the warm presence of him as they sped, through the inky black night, that beautiful infinity of grasping his shoulder blades and laughing that high, clear laugh and dreaming, dreaming, dreaming-
The air is sucked out of her chest in a single breath, and Lisa would scream if her lungs would just work properly, dammit, because no, this can't be happening.
His eyes are dim in death.
Lisa is still numb.
"You're alright," Shibazaki whispers to her, draping his jacket over her quivering shoulders. "We won't hurt you, I promise." A firm hand on her shoulder, he steers her into a little white room with no windows, helps her sit in a stiff plastic chair and melts into the shadows.
Those dancing brown eyes, the little hiccup of his laugh, his chapped, dry lips-
"Hello, Mishima-san," the stranger says, managing a strained smile. "How are you feeling?"
The words catch in her throat, her lips moving soundlessly.
He gives her a quizzical look, but presses on.
"Just a quick questioning will be in order, no? Then you can be on your way." The man glances down at his papers, purses his lips. "Could you tell us how you met Sphinx?"
Her fingers twitch, fisting themselves in her skirt. She looks pointedly away.
He repeats the question, a little impatient, but she only shakes her head.
An hour and a half of this later, Shibazaki steps forward. "I think that's enough, Kurahashi."
He growls, slamming a fist to his desk; Lisa flinches. "Why won't she speak to me? Doesn't she understand how important this is? Shibazaki, you came here with the understanding that we were expecting answers, didn't you? Well, we're waiting!"
Lisa shivers. Their bodies, small and vulnerable in death, eyes open and glassy, the helicopters sending gusts of wind that tangled leaves through their hair-
The answers she can never give. The words she can never speak.
A pale yellow voice, silent to the screaming world.
Nine closes his eyes and tilts his head back, humming almost inaudibly along to the music. Lisa clutches the earbud tighter, watches him tracing the same three letters on his thigh. VON, he writes, over and over and over.
"What does it mean?" she whispers.
He raises his head to look at her, his eyes wide and unblinking.
Lisa wakes up in a cold sweat, tears streaming down her face.
She misses him like a physical ache, like a gaping hole in her chest, but the words still don't come.
"Selective mutism," the psychologist confirms, tapping a pencil against her pursed lips.
Shibazaki glances at Lisa, before frowning. "When will she be able to speak again?"
"It's a highly personal condition, Shibazaki-san. Whether it'll happen in two years, or twenty, or maybe never...well, that's up to Mishima-san to decide. Whenever she finds closure." She smiles grimly, leaning forward to clasp Lisa's hand. "So take your time, okay? We'll be waiting for you."
Lisa gives a jerky nod, her throat constricting.
Okay, she writes into the psychologist's palm.
Shibazaki offers her calm, justification, and a cup of coffee.
The crisp autumn weather reminds her of him, sometimes; gusts of wind like his breathy laugh, browning leaves like his hair as it tickled her face. But today, it satiates her, fills her with that sweet ache of longing, an ocean of nostalgia.
"The truth's coming out to the public," he eventually says, taking a cautious sip at his scalding hot coffee. "It's what they wanted, right?"
She only nods, gripping her cup even tighter.
"The funeral will be held soon. We're burying them at the institution, with all of the other children." Shibazaki glances up at her, lowering his cup and pulling out a cigarette. He lights it and puts it to his mouth, exhaling a ribbon of smoke that tickles at her nose. "Are you okay with coming? You don't have to, if you're, you know...not ready."
Lisa breathes in the fumes, tilting her head back to stare at the blue, blue sky.
Two birds, circling the fire.
I'll come, she taps onto the bench seat.
It's cloudy, the day of the funeral.
Lisa clings to Shibazaki's side, watches as the men lower the two twin coffins into the upturned earth, watches them stick two wooden posts into the ground. They all take a step back, lowering their heads in mourning.
Two children without a future.
Two terrorists with masks and calloused fingers and dark, dark eyes.
Two martyrs, buried in the ground.
Her mouth parts, and before she knows it, she's singing, off-key and breathy, the same song Nine taught her. She gazes up at the sky, and soon, the pouring rain is mixing with her tears, dripping into the black soil.
It feels a little like drowning, a little like hope.
Lisa raises the scissors to her hair, but stops, halfway there.
Little Lisa Mishima, who cried and locked herself in her room and ran away. Little Lisa Mishima, who wore her hair short and ducked behind her bangs, hidden from the prying eyes from the world.
But she's changed, hasn't she?
She's stronger now, a little taller, a little prouder. She looks people in the eye now, strides confidently through the hallways, remembers Twelve and smiles, because it's okay now.
It's okay to hurt, okay to heal, okay to live.
Lisa thinks he'd be proud of who she is now.
She visits them whenever she can, bringing little bouquets of hand-picked wildflowers and the occasional burnt chocolate cookie. Shibazaki runs into her sometimes, and they smile at one another, exchange small talk about his new job is going, whether or not they're giving her a hard time at school, and move on.
After all, it's over now.
Lisa kneels in front of the posts, clasping her hands together.
"Thanks for saving me," she whispers, pressing her forehead to the scratched wood. "Thank you so, so much."
Remember us. Remember that we lived.
Lisa smiles, letting out a quiet laugh. "Of course I will. How could I ever forget?"
The wind whistles in reply.
"Yeah, yeah. I know."