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Two figures in the snow. One dark, one white, both motionless.

"GODAI!"

Ichijou ran, but he couldn't run fast enough. The snow was heavy, and falling more and more thickly. Couldn't see well enough, either. Hard to make out anything through the flakes which coated his eyelashes, and covered the air between him and the two people on the ground. He kept going anyway. Had to.

He cast a quick look at the dark figure, but had to check the white first. Forced himself to, holding his rifle at the ready, dark figure just visible off to his left.

...no movement of the chest on the white one. No movement when he prodded the ribs.

No pupil reaction when he knelt, put the rifle down, and gripped his revolver while he peeled back an eyelid.

Then there was a *twitch*. Ichijou was back on his feet, rifle pointed unerringly at Daguva's face, without being aware of passing through the intervening space. Daguva - twitched again. And again. Face didn't move, it was just some kind of boneless twitch centered in the abdomen, and it was getting more violent. Another. His fingers opened at that last one, fanning out across the snow, and his head jerked back. A strand of golden hair fell across his eyes. But his eyes were still shut.

Ichijou stepped back further.

...one of Kuuga's symbols shimmered into life across Daguva. Not just on him, but extending out into the air on either side of him five, six feet.

There was a groan to the left.

The symbol abruptly flamed hard, hot. Ichijou's brows drew down over his nose and he began slogging his way across the snow to Godai, one eye over his shoulder on Daguva. Needed to drag Godai back out of the blast radius, or at least throw himself across him.

Another step.

Another.

Another.

He heard Godai's second groan turn into a scream as a particularly rough flurry of snow blew across his vision. Then he was jerked off his feet by a strong grip on the front of his coat.

Godai's eyes were black, from eyelid to eyelid.

"Godai," he breathed, bringing up the shotgun with the hand not on Godai's wrist. Godai swatted it aside so easily and so hard that Ichijou heard something crack in his wrist even as the shotgun hurtled to the ground a hundred feet away. Ichijou reached for his revolver with his left hand, but there was a deathly cold hand on his. Godai began to squeeze. The bones in Ichijou's hand ground against each other revoltingly.

"Too slow," Godai said, thickly, as if he couldn't quite remember how to work his lips and his tongue and his teeth. "But you didn't really want to shoot me, did you."

It wasn't a question. Ichijou swallowed, trying to think of what to say. He considered, discarded, a hundred, thousand possibilities about his willingness to shoot Godai. Some of them were even true.

But before he could respond.

There was a sudden flash of heat and light, then a sudden stunning blow to Ichijou's temple. Everything went black.

**********

Thick hot waves of nausea sloshed through him every time he did something so daring as twitch a finger. His right wrist was purple lightning inside his head and behind his back, and there was a groan. Ichijou was oddly pleased to be able to locate it as coming from himself. He wasn't dead. That was a start. He wasn't about to think anything as mawkish as where there's life there's hope, but where there was life there was certainly a start.

Wouldn't do to just sit here ruminating, however.

He was afraid to open his eyes. He did it anyway, of course, and saw a blurry image in front of him that looked a lot like Godai, but taller than usual? Oh. He was sitting, right. He blinked, blinked again, wishing for clarity, but then Godai's face was suddenly right there in front of his.

"Ichijou-san," Godai said, and his grin showed far too many teeth. There was a black shimmer at the haze of Ichijou's vision, and he wasn't quite confident enough yet to attempt to look at it.

...well. Showtime.

Ichijou's voice was wobbly, but calm enough. "Godai Yuusuke. This is ridiculous."

"No," Godai said, standing once again. He had blood on his cheek, that seemed to come from a cut from the fight with Daguva that was... already near healed. That couldn't be a good sign. "What's ridiculous about taking you to be mine? You've always been mine, after all."

Ichijou swallowed, then had to close his eyes for a moment. If there wasn't something holding him in place he would've touched fingertips to his forehead to attempt to settle himself.

...ropes. That was it. He was tied to the tree, with his hands behind his back. Why couldn't he think. This shouldn't take him so long to figure out.

He didn't know if Godai was using this as a weapon to prod at him, or as an attempt to reach out to him, but he wasn't going to let this be turned into something bad. He wasn't going to shy away from it.

Godai's eyes were intent on his.

"From the moment we met," he murmured, gifting it to Godai freely. "As you have been mine."

Godai inhaled sharply, like a whipcrack, and his arms went around himself.

Interesting.

There was a ~ripple~ in the black at the edge of Ichijou's field of vision, and he was able this time to look at it. The black... was obliteration. Where it touched, there was –

He made himself breathe.

- there was nothing. A cutout in the edge of a bush. A slice through a tree, which as he watched fell to the snow soundlessly.

"Why would you claim a weapon?"

Ichijou shook his head in mute refusal of the words, of the tone. He'd never heard anyone speak with so much emptiness. "You're not."

"I am. Every step along this path. A weapon. I'll... I must eradicate myself."

Oh. Ichijou wasn't sure if that was better or worse than eradicating everyone else. The circle was intentionally coming IN, not going OUT. "No. You would not have chosen to put me in here if you truly wanted that, Godai Yuusuke. I don't believe you."

In spite of the pain, in spite of the nausea, he glared at Godai until Godai met his gaze.

There was a flicker of white across the rims of his eyes.

"I. Don't. Don't want you dead."

Godai fell backwards like a plank, and Ichijou set about the grim, painful task of freeing himself from the ropes with a broken wrist.

* * *

He refused to say goodbye to Godai. Just held onto him for a very long time, until Godai stopped shaking.

When he received the first postcard, it was all blue sky, and he smiled.