Before he fully realized what was happening, it was over.

Crawling out from the sewers, he turned, scanning the frozen city.

There was no sign of the overlord. Whatever Zane had done, it'd worked.


Cole turned, running to the place he'd last seen the android, and his foot hit against something which skidded across the ice, on instinct, he looked over at what he'd kicked.

It was... it was Zane's face, the side that had been sliced away so long ago, and never truly been the same since, falling away to reveal his mechanical nature when subject to stress.

As it had been just now.

Numbly, his body working on autopilot, Cole picked up the faceplate, it's one empty eye staring up to him, devoid of the warmth and love that once lay behind those empty eyes.

Looking back up, he began to notice the fake skin and scattered metal, twisted far beyond repair.

Even if they could find his hard-drive, Cole knew beyond a shadow of a doubt it'd be destroyed.

Zane was dead.

Dimly, he was aware of them.

His surviving friends gathered around him, in the same state of shock as he was. He could see Pixal out of the corner of his eye, her expression lost, Zane had been the first person she'd met who could truly understand her, and only a couple weeks later, she'd lost him. He understood that feeling.

Nya came up behind him, and he could hear her gasping, she pulled him into a hug, sobbing into his shoulder.

As the reality of his situation set in, Cole returned the hug.

He leaned on her, tears pricking at the corners of his eyes.

Zane was dead, and nothing would be okay ever again.

Cole couldn't sleep that night.

Instead, he snuck out, slipping to where the bounty was docked.

He didn't bother with stealth once he was on board, this ship's old boards creaked no matter how softly you stepped, and he was alone here anyways.

He walked through the darkened ship, making his way to the sleeping quarters, flicking the lights on as he entered the room, all of Zane's belongings, the little he had, where still there. They'd deal with it later, when it wasn't so fresh in their minds.

There where so many memories here, in the pictures hung on the wall, celebrating victories and failures and the mundanities of simply being alive , in the little chips and scratches left by a group of rowdy teenagers with a thirst for battle, embedded in the very floorboards, worn smooth by both the current occupants and the pirates who'd lived there hundreds of years prior.

Cole sat on Zane's bunk and reached into his pocket, pulling out a photograph, one he'd carefully kept hidden.

It was of him and Zane, holding each other close.

This alone wouldn't have been suspect, the ninja where not shy about physical affection, constant training and close quarters had quickly driven out any lingering aversion to touch.

In the photo, Zane's lips where pressed to his, a fond smile visible on both their faces.

Cole stared at it, blinking away tears, his fingers tracing gently across the face of his fallen lover.

He'd been so warm.

His tears began to flow freely, the picture fluttering to the ground as his hands went to cover his face.

The sound of a door slamming nearby shocked him out of his little pity party, as their footsteps approached, he scrambled to grab the photo, shoving it back in his pocket just as Jay burst into the room, "Cole, we need to talk"

Cole turned to glare at him, his face still damp, "what the hell do you want, Jay"

"I want to know what-what THAT was all about" Jay gestured vaguely, his voice heavy with anger and panic

"What are you talking about?" Cole asked, genuinely confused

"That THING you did, ya'know, when you HUGGED Nya?"

Cole stood, looking Jay in the eye

"Holy- your still talking about this? You're seriously. Still. Talking about this? It was just a freaking HUG, Jay, we'd just seen Zane- YOU'D just seen him- And this is what you're worried about? Some stupid, one-sided rivalry? I never even returned her feelings, Jay, it was all her, and with how your acting now, frankly, I don't blame her for wanting to leave you"

Jay snarled, "Never returned her feelings? NEVER RETURNED HER FEELINGS?! WHY THE HELL DID YOU FLIRT BACK THEN?!"

Cole ground his teeth "I wasn't flirting" he began to pace, like a caged lion "I TRIED to let her down easy, I didn't WANT to go out with her, I had a BOYFRIEND, fsm, but apparently NEITHER of you knew how to TAKE A FUCKING HINT"

"WELL, MAYBE-YOU-" Jay's mind caught up with what Cole had said, and his speech began to falter as his brain desperately shifted gears, "wait-" his brow furrowed "your... your gay?"

Cole nodded firmly, standing tall, his fists clutched, as though daring Jay to take issue with this revelation.

Jay fell silent, his anger fading, as he thought through his next words, something about what Cole said struck him, "had a boyfriend?"

Cole's shoulder's slumped, the fire draining out of him, he sat back down, hands in his lap, confirming Jay's suspicions.

"fsm, Cole, I'm so sorry, i-if I'd had known-"

"Save it" Cole's voice was quiet, cold, "it doesn't matter what my relationship with him was, or how I feel about Nya, today someone died, someone who mattered a lot, too all of us, this isn't the time for some petty relationship drama"

Jay looked away, ashamed, "I'm sorry-"

"Get out." Cole said, his voice dangerously low, "I don't want to see you"

Jay glanced up at him one last time, and then walked out, closing the door behind him as he left Cole alone with his thoughts.