Chapter One

There should be a disconnection.

There should be - an awkwardness that comes with shifting from Ichigo to Najika - but there isn't. There isn't and that's what surprises her.

One moment she is Amano Ichigo, four years old and sobbing her little heart out because of some small hurt, and then she's Kazami Najika, an accomplished pastry chef with countless achievements and happily married.

Two parts of a whole, sliding into each other with all force of the tectonic plates beneath her feet. (She is an earthquake in the making and the world will feel her move.)

Najika lays back on the grass. She feels exhausted and worn, like a towel that's already been wrung dry and judging by the puffiness of her eyes, she has no tears left to give.

Truly typical, she thinks dryly to herself, laughing silently. Even in another life, her habit of running off to cry alone hasn't changed.

She doesn't even know what she (Amano Ichigo) had been crying about. Something about her little sister…? Flashes of envy, bitterness, and loneliness courses through her. It's all so strange.

She feels Daiichi's absence keenly as the taste of that last emotion lingers like syrup on her teeth. This can't be real. She's dreaming, she has to be.

If this is fake, she thinks to herself, closing her eyes. If this is fake, I'll wake up at home with Daiichi by my side. Just wake up Najika. Wake up.

She doesn't wake up. She's still at the clearing. The stream up ahead still bubbles, the birds still chirp in the distance, and Najika is still staring up at the clear, blue skies. Tears slip from her eyes and down her cheeks to her ears.

It's real. She's here to stay, whether she likes it or not.

Najika can't bring himself to rise. She has no business being back here at this moment in time, a child again for whatever reason. She doesn't understand it.

Najika Kazami lived a good life.

Yes, she has lost loved ones, more often than not, but she found new love in unexpected places. In unexpected people.

She's achieved her dreams - childish as some of them were, but she found her flan prince and she became a chef and patisserie just as renowned as her parents. She's lived a fulfilling life.

She presses her palms to her eyes, like stones underwater, and inhales deeply.

"Sweetheart, are you okay?" she hears Daiichi ask her. Her darling prince, the love of her life, she misses him already. What will he do now, with her gone?

No, she wants to answer. No, I want a hug, she wants to say.

But that's not an option anymore. Najika pushes herself up. She pulls herself together, as slowly as honey dripping off a comb.

She slaps both of herself. The sound is loud in the surrounding area. Her cheeks and palms sting, but her head is clearer. Najika isn't a young girl anymore. She's not going to shut down because of this, not like she did when Sora died.

Najika's heart still aches at his name but it's become muted and softened by time. Sora, her sky, her beginning, her reminder to live. Live for him, if not for herself; for the people who care for her.

Who cares for her now? For Amano Ichigo, this four year old child who had been crying alone in an empty clearing. Who cares for her?

"Ichigo, are you here?"

Obaa-chan. Grandma, her mind whispers. Memories of gentle smiles and sweet pastries come to mind.

"Are you crying again Ichigo?"

Najika presses her hands against her cheeks. She inhales deeply and thinks about courage and how long it took her to let go. It's not going to be easy this time either. It never is. But still...

She was Kazami Najika.

She is Amano Ichigo.


She exhales, and then smiles brightly. "I'm okay Obaa-chan! I just needed a quick cry!"

She can do this.

A/N: I can't figure out how to add Najika as a tag. why won't it give me that option qwq