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It's still hard for her, even up till now.

The sky's orange and purple, and even though the sun's shining through the windows, the room feels darker and colder than it's ever been. The noise of the outside barely registers; cars honking their horns, people clamoring in the streets, they don't mean a thing. The running water from the open faucet in her bedroom blocks out the rest of the world and lets the gravity of what she's doing hang in the room.

She's dishevelled. Her cardigan's open, she's barefoot, and her ribbon's undone. Her breathing's heavy, and her eyes are wide; she doesn't think she's blinked in hours. It's not a real gun, and she knows it. But when she presses the faux-gun to her head, when her finger's on the trigger, when the blood won't stop pulsing and her hands won't stop shaking, she feels something in her chest being wrenched from the inside-out.

The feeling's so hollow, she can't describe it. Like the strain comes from the gun alone. Something about the barrel touching her forehead teases out all the worst things she could have ever felt about herself, and she doesn't know what it is.

But she has to do it. She's already come this far.

She puts the gun down next to her and keeps breathing like each breath'll be her last. She's sat herself down on the floor, her back against the wall. Does she even remember why she came here, to this dorm in the middle of the city. Does she know what she's doing.

Her father would be horrified, wouldn't he?

Of course he would. If he's out there, watching over her right now, he'd want her to back away from all of this and never come back. She's absolutely certain of that. So why isn't she letting go of the gun?

It's light in her hands. It's silver, and the acronym S.E.E.S. is molded on the side of the barrel. The frame is black. It's not even a real gun. No bullets, no chamber, it's all fake. It's just meant to evoke feelings of stress, anxiety, mental taxation. She's got enough of that in stock; all she needs to do is...

She pulls up the gun from the floorboards again, for what must be the thousandth time today, and presses it to her forehead. She can't stop breathing like there's nails in her lungs, and she can't stop that wrenching feeling from tearing apart what little strength she's got left.

She's so very close to figuring out the truth. So she can do it. She will do it. She has to.

The water from the faucet continues swirling down into the drain, but the noise of the outside comes alive again, practically screaming at her—something in Yukari snaps then, and a part of her considers just pulling the trigger completely out of spite. But her hands won't stop shaking, why won't they stop shaking for one second, all she needs is a second to let everything go.

But of course, she can't.

So when the gun clatters against the ground, Yukari holds herself close in her room. The creature disappears once Yukari lets herself cry her eyes out, unable to think straight without the anxiety overwhelming her senses. She'll pick up the gun and she'll try again another day, but right now she just wants to fall into a bottomless pit, and keep falling forever and ever, until the end of time.

What a great start to the new school year.


Why does everything with her have to be a thing?

It's been so many years since she's decided to stop just shambling around in the dark and hoping for something to come. She's been able to stand on her own two feet for such a long time now, but when the time comes for her to show her chops, she can't pull herself together.

It's shameful, aggravating, disappointing, and absurd. But the gun put a strain on her nerves she had never felt before. Just the act of pressing it to her forehead filled her mind with thoughts that weren't hers.

She's loathe to admit it, but the more she screamed at herself to Just Pull the Trigger, the more she just wanted to throw the gun down, run away, and never come back. But what kind of person would she be, if she could just point a gun to her own head and fire so easily...?

They call it an Evoker, but Yukari doesn't like to mince words. It's a gun, plain and simple. There may be no live ammo, but the effect is largely the same. It's a reminder of her own mortality, meant to drive her nerves up the wall and draw out something from within, something grand and monstrous and wonderful all at the same time. It's perfect, in that sense; considering the kind of path she's set for herself, she could die at any moment.

Some part of her doesn't believe that anything she's seen or done throughout the past few weeks were even real. It's all just one crazy dream.

In the dead of night, as she peers out her window from the dorm, she doesn't let the sight hit her.

The sky is green. An incomplete moon hangs in cloudy skies, glowing yellow. Red paints the world, and all the city lights have blinked out of existence. Large black coffins stand where people once were, like monoliths in the street.

She's gotten relatively used to the Dark Hour. Her vision still gets a little blurry every now and again, especially when stressed, but these days they're beginning to adapt. She's still quite sluggish in the morning, but she'll get used to it soon enough. The fear doesn't get to her nerves that much anymore, so she likes to think she's slowly getting over her anxiety from just everything.

She remembers the first night she was made aware of the Hour; she was just crying and holding herself in the middle of the street, and she didn't even know why. She couldn't control her body, couldn't control her nerves, and made her see things that no human would be able to handle even a few seconds of. It nearly cost her her life when a large amorphous shape leapt out of the dark and threatened to claw her eyes out.

Then she was saved by a tall woman with red hair. It's alright, she was told then, panic attacks and sensory overload is quite common for those who've only recently awakened to their potential.

She hates that feeling of helplessness, and she remembers hating herself for crumbling apart so easily then. But she's gotten over that, for the most part.

She stares into the gun, sees a distorted reflection of herself in the silver, and exhales with the knowledge that despite every step she's made up to this point, she hasn't moved anywhere at all.

She'll deal with it tomorrow. She still has time. This is just one more step. One day she'll get where she needs to be, and then she'll be able to live with herself.

Something's downstairs.


She heard a rustling noise coming from the lobby, she's sure of it.

She's wearing her cardigan again, if only to help her stay secure in herself, and she's kept the gun holstered to her thigh. Her heart's beginning to pound and her vision's beginning to blur. Black spots are appearing in every corner, and there's a low droning noise seeping its way into her ears.

The senpai said that stress during the Dark Hour inhibits your senses, wrecks your nerves. Makes you feel and see things you shouldn't. The Evoker's meant to release all that stress in a bang; Yukari's not ready for that just yet, but she knows that if a Shadow's made its way into the dorm, she can't just stand still with her head in the sand.

She's hyperventilating by the time she makes it to the bottom of the stairs.

"Who's there!?"

She didn't intend for her shout to have sounded so vicious, but she can't help it. She can't see. She's in too deep. Vision's blurry, dark spots all over. She sees a shape she can't quite make out; the light of the moon hits the window panes and casts crosses over the figure and onto the ground, but she still can't see whoever or whatever it is and she hates it, she hates it because she can't do anything again

The shape isn't without design. It's as tall as her, and from the way it moves what looks like its arms, it's skinny. Its one eye is bright blue, they're looking at her and they're wide and they're afraid. She sees its form phase in and out of the dark, and it makes sounds that can't possibly be made by human vocal chords. It's taken aback, like it's surprised, and on instinct she grabs the gun at her thigh even though she knows she'll be torn to bits before she can even pull the trigger

"Takeba, wait!"

She whirls around, she recognizes that voice, she didn't think she'd be so happy to hear that voice.

And then the lights flicker back on.

Burn my dread...

She hears music, faintly. Outside, she can see the neighboring buildings with lights coming out their windows. The few people passing by the dorm along the sidewalk have turned back into actual people. The sky's not green, and the moon's not yellow.

And she's able to see again. Mitsuru Kirijo is standing at the bottom of the stairs, her arms folded. Yukari can't help but smile at her. She has her reservations about Kirijo, but having another member of the team with her is enough to calm her nerves.

It's at this point that she turns and sees just who came into the dorm.

It's not a freakish monster, having come to claim her life in the dead of night. It's a young man with blue hair, a duffel bag over his shoulders.

He's not tall, not short, not scared, not calm. He has an impassive look in his eyes, and his hands are in his pockets; his skin is pale, he's slouching like he's tired. From his segmented fingers, slender neck, and veiny wrists, she can tell he's bone thin. His mouth is a still line and his expression is practically unreadable. There're earphones hanging over his shoulders, and she can tell from the sounds blasting out of them that the volume's on MAX.

He's meek as he brings his mp3 player up to his face and lowers the volume.

She's wary of him, because of course she is.

Nothing to do with embarrassment at all.

She keeps her hands behind her back and does her best to keep her heart out of her throat, as Mitsuru Kirijo begins the conversation.

"I didn't think you'd arrive so late," she says, trying to be amicable, trying to compensate for Yukari's uneasiness. "My name is Mitsuru Kirijo. I'm one of the students who live in this dorm."

"...who's he?" Yukari asks Kirijo, facing the young man alongside her. She doesn't mean to sound so cautious, or impersonal, but she can't help it.

The reply comes immediately, "He's a transfer student. It was a last minute decision to assign him here. He'll eventually be moved to a room in the boys' dorm."

"...is it okay for him to be here?" she half-whispers, hoping the boy doesn't hear her (he does).

Kirijo turns to Yukari assuringly, says, "I guess we'll see," and gestures to her, facing the young man. "This is Yukari Takeba. She'll be a junior this spring, just like you."

"...hey." She really doesn't mean to sound so cold. She hopes he isn't offended, even though she's sure he is.

He squints at her, sizing her up, and she notices his eyes are on her thigh; the holster strapped to it, to be precise. He'll ask about the gun, she silently groans, this all got so out of hand...

Instead, he rubs the back of his neck and yawns, his mouth wide-open and his eyes shut. Then, he speaks, "Nice to meet you."

He sounds like a man half-dead. Though she figures he would sound like that, considering that he's come a long way from home. But he knows he has questions, too many questions, and she's lucky he's too tired to ask them right now.

"Uh, y-yeah...nice to meet you too...," she nods vigorously, hoping it'll be enough.

He looks around the place, as if sizing it up. The lights, the carpet, the way everything's structured, he decides he likes it. But he doesn't think he'll stay here for very long. "Is this the girls' dorm...?"

Yukari replies, "No, it's not, but...umm, how should I explain it...?

"Unlike the other buildings, this one's co-ed. It's not your typical dorm, though. I'll explain it to you later when I get a chance," says Kirijo.

Golden question comes up sooner than Yukari hoped. He's looking at her thigh as she asks, "Why do you have a gun on you?"

Why can't she just bury herself in the floorboards and hide in them until she dies.

She tries to think of a good enough response, but all she comes up with is, "Well, it's sorta like a hobby...well, not a hobby, but..."

Kirijo's quick to reply in her place. "You know how it is these days. It's for self-defense. It's not a real gun, of course."

Both replies were flimsy, inadequate, and obviously made up on the fly. They know that he doesn't buy either of them in the least, but from the way he nods he's willing to entertain them for now. Which is enough, at the moment.

Mitsuru has to deflect. "It's getting late, so you should get some rest. Your room is on the second floor, at the end of the hallway. Your things should already be there."

She turns to Yukari, who fidgets but manages a smile. "Oh...I'll show you the way. Follow me."

The way he looks at her, she just knows they're not going to get along very well.


"This is it...pretty easy to remember, huh? Since it's right at the end of the hall."

The two minutes it took to get to the second floor of the dorm were some of the most excruciatingly awkward two minutes of Yukari's life. He didn't speak a word to her, not once, forcing her to make conversation the moment they get to his door, if only to make the silence less noisy.

"Oh yeah, make sure you don't lose your key, or you'll never hear the end of it...," she knows she's grasping at straws. He just nods along, however, so she thinks it might not be too bad if she just goes for it. "So, any questions?"

He's not even looking at her. He's looking at the hallway leading to the staircases. Eyeing them carefully, like he's expecting someone to come up after them. She's on the verge of calling him out for being impolite, because she's tired and nervous and doesn't like being ignored. But then he speaks.

"Do elementary students take up residence here, too?" he asks, his voice strained.

A strange question, one that Yukari didn't expect. "Uh...no?"

He turns to her and blinks, then faces the staircase again, and then turns back to her, "Because there was this kid who handed me a contract, at the counter in the lobby..."

She furrows her brows, "What are you talking about?"

He's lost her already. He scratches his head, "Never mind."

She decides to be more direct. Always take the hit, her dad once told her. "Um...can I ask you something? On your way here from the station, was everything okay?"

He raises his brow, lowers his head and looks at her, Really? and then says plainly, "Yeah."

Yukari purses her lips, and nods back. "I see...never mind, then. It seems like you're alright." Then she steps away from his door, "Well, I better get going..."

She walks down the hall, but stops halfway through. She spots him glaring at the number of his door, like it'd personally wronged him somehow.

"Um...," she mutters, and he turns back to face her. "I'm sure you still have other questions, but let's save them for later, okay?"

For a moment, he deliberates on an answer, but he figures he's okay with what he has right now. "Yeah."

She's somber as she tells him, "Good night," and heads back down the stairs.

He goes to his room and flops down on the bed the minute he sees it, not even caring that the duffel bag is crushing his spine.


Once Yukari treads back down to the lobby, she's met with a question.

"What happened?" Kirijo isn't upset, just genuinely curious. Her arms are still folded.

Yukari sighs as she puts a hand to her forehead, pulls her fringe back in exhaustion, and lets go. "Dark Hour messed with my head. Saw spots in my eyes again, and in the haze of it all, I thought he was a Shadow."

"You heard him from your room?"

"I heard something down here, and I feared the worst," she admitted. "Thought too much about it, then...I sorta ran on autopilot by the time I got to the bottom of the steps."

Kirijo tells her calmly, "It's fine. You've only recently awakened to your potential. I estimate you'll be fully acclimated to the Hour by next week." Then she lets a pause enter her speech, before coming out with, "I should've informed you on him sooner. I'll hand you his papers later in the week."

"He has a Persona, is what you're saying," Yukari asks, but it sounds like a declaration.

"Perhaps," is Kirijo's response. "He shows signs of it. But we ought to be careful."

Yukari raises her brow, "Why?"

"He's got quite a history with the law," Mitsuru half-smirks, as she heads up the stairs. "You'll know once I hand you his files."

"You think he'll join us?" Yukari asks, Mitsuru passing her on the flight.

"I hope so; the more, the merrier. Can you take him to Gekkoukan later, at seven?"

"M-me?"

"You're in the same class. It'd be more convenient for him."

Yukari isn't opposed to the idea. But she would've preferred to have had more of a warning. "Alright..."

"Thank you. I'm sorry. I know it's very sudden, but—"

"It's fine," grunts Yukari. "I'll do it. Don't worry."

It's obvious to anybody with eyes. Yukari knows her attempts at hiding it are getting more and more transparent by the day. But it's too early in the morning for this.

Kirijo then heads back up to the third floor, leaving Yukari in the lobby. The lights are on, and the grandfather clock next to the counter has its hands on 12:05 AM.

Yukari doesn't know why she wanders over to the counter, nor does she know why she opens the signature book. Maybe she just wants to see if he wrote down his name. Soon enough, she finds it at the very top of the sheet:

Arisato Minato


She's at his room again. She's tired, but she'll probably have to get used to only five to six hours of sleep from this point on.

Knock, knock.

"It's Yukari. Are you awake?"

Suddenly she hears footsteps shuffling around on the other side. But the door doesn't open, nor does she get a response. When ten seconds pass and she still gets nothing, she loses her patience.

"Helloooo, please answer the door, or I'll get in trouble," she says then, in a mock sing-song voice.

Footsteps head towards the door. Door opens.

He's at least got his uniform on, and she can see that his bag's lying over his bed. She sees his grey eye, the one not swept under a blue fringe, I thought his eyes were blue? She decides not to dwell. "Good morning. Did you sleep okay?"

He yawns, "Sorry for not responding. Had a bad back since I woke up."

Not very much of a morning person, is he. "Mitsuru-senpai asked me to take you to school. It's getting late, so...are you ready to go?"

He sounds like he wanted the conversation to end the moment he was pressed to talk. "I can find it myself."

She hopes he's not being deliberately brusque with her. "You don't wanna risk being late the first day, do you?"

Yukari doesn't like rushing him, but she's not much of a morning person, either. After a brief moment of deliberation, he just grunts, and gently closes the door.

Yukari knows she shouldn't be surprised that the guy she nearly pulled a gun on, wouldn't exactly be keen on talking to her. She's never good when it comes to awkward situations like these, and shudders at the idea of having to rely on him in Tartarus. She knows it's partly her fault, though; she doesn't try as hard as she should.

After a few more seconds of him making ruffling noises in his room, he opens the door again. His bag is in his hand, and he adjusts the little ribbon around his collar before fitting the mp3 player round his neck, and draping the earphones over his shoulders. He says then, a little earnestly, "Alright. Let's go."

Yukari smiles. "We'll have to take the monorail to get there."

He squints, "Monorail?"

"Yup. Our stop is Port Island Station. From there, we walk. You ever heard of Tatsumi Port Island?"

He's not used to people talking to him this much. "Heard they built Gekkoukan right in the middle."

"You'll be able to see it from the window of the train," she responds.

He nods, "How long does the trip normally take...?"

"Thirty minutes, give or take. On bad days, maybe an hour. Which is why we're leaving early," she says.

"Makes sense," he says.

"Shall we go?"

And as she heads down the hall, she hears him call her, "Hey."

He's brusque, sure. But he doesn't sound angry. So she turns. "Yes?"

He's got a firm look in his eyes. "I'm not...," and then he pauses, his words hanging in the air. He decides against whatever he was supposed to say. "Never mind."

Yukari knows exactly what he wants to ask her about. "About last night...," he lifts his head and faces her. "Don't tell anyone what you saw."

He knots his eyes, and faces her directly, removing his hands from his pockets. They're shaking.

"So you know about it, too." 

She continues, "Only the people in our dorm know about the Dark Hour."

He immediately faces her, raising his brow. "That what you call it?"

She nods, "Yeah. No one else knows about it, other than us."

"What, are you all part of some club?" he grunts.

"Something like that," she says, a little pensive. "We'll answer all of your questions by the end of the day."

"I've been with it for ten years," he says, wide-eyed and teeth gritted. She nearly shrinks away from him. "Has it been going that long for everybody else, or is it just me?"

She grips the handle of her bag. Ten years? She can't even imagine. "I can't say the same thing for others. I only awakened to it recently."

"You'll tell me everything?" he asks.

I literally just said— "We will." She stands firm. "I promise you. We will."

He raises his brow, and slings his bag over his shoulder, "Fine."

She wonders why he has to keep his other eye underneath such an unwieldy blue fringe. She didn't think she was that behind on the trends...


 The trip to Gekkoukan isn't particularly long. Thirty minutes, over the monorail.

Luckily, they both manage to find themselves some seats before the train got overwhelmed by passengers. Yukari's grateful for that, but is aware that she's now in the awkward position of having to sit next to the guy, and find something to talk about on the way there. Lest things remain uncomfortably awkward between them both. Though, should she be surprised that the guy she nearly pulled a gun on, wouldn't exactly be keen on talking to her?

Way to make a good first impression...

They remain silent all the way to the school grounds. Though that's largely because he slept the whole way on the train, and awoke just as the monorail stopped at the station. People greet her the whole way through to Gekkoukan, and she greets them back in kind. She's able to smile, she's able to socialize. She's able to pretend that life's still normal.

Even when they reach the school gates, they continue remaining silent in themselves.

The building's pristine. The window panes are large enough to be buildings themselves. Trees line the sides of tiled road on the way to the entrance doors. There're people passing them by, completely normal and nice people who know nothing of what happens at midnight. They're even staring at them, at her, at him, and they don't even know what they're talking about. The sakura petals are flowing from the trees, and it's all so perfect you might as well take a picture and call it The Joys of Spring. It's all a mask, Yukari knows. But it's a pretty mask.

Yukari thinks to introduce him to the school, say something like Welcome to Gekkoukan High School. Hope you like it.

But he's still listening to music from his earphones. He's still looking bored, like not a thing in the world matters to him at all. So she decides against pleasantries. She doesn't know a thing about him, and he doesn't know a thing about her.

It's at this point that she realizes she's walked about five feet ahead of him. He's slouched, staring at his feet. She sees his knees, they're trembling. He's pursed his lips. She can tell he's trying with everything he's got.

She walks over to him. "Are you okay?"

There's not a word she can think of that can properly describe his expression. He whispers something.

"S-sorry?" she asks him.

"I feel something," he grunts, practically glaring at the school. "What is this place?"

She turns to the building. He can feel it, even during the day?

"You didn't see the tower on the way to the dorm, did you?" she asks him, under her breath.

He knots his eyes, "What tower?"

So he hasn't even seen Tartarus yet... "Don't worry. They don't know what's wrong with the school, either. Only we do."

"How long have things been like this...?" he mutters, actually sounding a little terrified

"I don't know. That's why the club was formed, to find out," she says. "At night, this place turns into something terrible. But right now, it's exactly what it looks like. It's a school. Nothing more, nothing less." She faces him directly now, "We'll meet after classes. Head home together. I'll answer every single question you have to the best of my ability. If I don't know the answer, you'll just have to ask the senpai or the chairman. They know way more about all this than I do."

He doesn't respond with anything else for a time, then he gives another nod. He then lowers his shoulders, exhaling and vigorously scratching his head. "Fine. Okay."

She manages to catch a peek of his other eye, under the fringe, as he shuffles past her on her way into the school. Why is it closed?

And she realizes he doesn't even know where the faculty office is supposed to be. But he's rushing in anyway: "H-hey, wait...!"


 When Yukari's brought to the chairman's office by lunchtime, she doesn't really know what to expect.

It's a luxurious workspace, she admits. Shelves full of books and awards along the sides. Two couches in the middle of the room, facing each other; a coffee table between them both. The chairman's desk is at the very end of the room, positioned right in front of window panes too large for their own good.

Mitsuru Kirijo's sitting (again, why does she always keep her arms folded) in the couch to Yukari's left, staring impassively at the coffee table across from her. Ikutsuki, with his long hair and khaki overcoat, is quick to greet Yukari when she arrives. Though he remains seated as he does, and keeps his hands tented like he's Gendo Ikari or something.

"Good to have you with us," Ikutsuki says, with a glint in his glasses and a smile. "How's your first day of classes been, Yukari?"

Yukari always thought his face was a bit punchable, but it's more an afterthought than anything out of malice. "It's alright so far. But it's not my day you're really asking about, is it?"

"To the point, aren't you?" Ikutsuki chuckles. "Still. You're right. Sorry for not informing you about your new teammate sooner, we've just been very busy with the new school year, and all."

"It's fine," she responds, seating herself down on the couch across from Kirijo. "He knows about the Dark Hour."

Mitsuru's eyes light up. "He told you?"

"He wanted to talk to me about it earlier, this morning. I told him to hold off on it, and he seemed okay with that," Yukari shrugs. "But yeah, he knows. And according to him, he's known for ten whole years, now."

Mitsuru's eyes widen as she turns to the chairman, who clasps his hands even tighter together. He nods to her, at which point Mitsuru places a folder down upon the coffee table. It's packed to the brim with papers. "I suggest you read it. All of it."

Yukari's never been good with documents. Very formal, very impersonal. But she grabs the folder, and prepares to open it.

"December 1, 1999," Ikutsuki says suddenly. "It's a date of importance for you, yes?"

Yukari feels something cold, rising up from the nothingness in her chest. "Yes," she says firmly.

"Then you both have something in common," he nods somberly.

And so she opens the folder, and reads, and a million things begin making sense.


The first thing he sees is fire.

His heart isn't racing. It's difficult to move. He shouldn't be so calm. Something in his right leg is busted just enough, and in the back of his mind he's worried he won't ever be able to walk properly again. His vision's mostly blurry. He can't hear anything besides a high-pitched whine, and he's lost all feeling in his left shoulder. The fires rage, practically dancing right in front of him. When he looks up, he sees a swathe of black looming over him. The light from outside hits the shape in an almost painterly way, and so when he's able to see, he's able to make out the contortions and the broken angles of the car practically sheltering him.

The seats are punctured and torn. There's something heavy pressing down over his body. He doesn't know if he's scared or still in shock. He knows he doesn't want this. He knows he needs to get out of here. He and Mom and Dad. A long dinner, his parents were meeting up with old friends and he was brought along. He's trapped under the mangled corpse of the family car and he's trying to make some sense of this. At least before he dies, before the car blows up like in the movies and he's just paint all over the road.

His parents are dead. He knows they've got to be. They'd be calling out for him. They'd be calling for help from outside the car. They wouldn't abandon him. But maybe they're still alive. Maybe they're not dead, and he's just overthinking things; they're probably unconscious. They've got to be. They wouldn't just leave him here to die alone—what's pressing down on him?

He turns to the darkness, and once his vision clears, the darkness stares back.

His father's remaining eye is dull and dead and coated in blood. His mouth has lulled open, his tongue sticking out and dripping red. His nose is gone, as well as a fourth of his face and skull. The head's been cut off below the neck, and from the frays of skin sticking out from the stump, it wasn't necessarily a clean cut. A headless body is trapping him from the waist down, and he's not sure if he has the strength nor the stomach to lift it off of him.

He's shaking, now. He feels the whole world crumple in on itself, his body turning to paper and begging to lie down and die. Where's his mother? Where's Mom? From behind his father's corpse, he sees the outline of what looks like a body. Broken and bent, Mom? He's not even sure what it is. Still too dark to see, from where he is now. He feels his cheeks going numb. He feels his lower half fall asleep. He's getting colder, and colder. Something's being carved out of him, and he's too young to even comprehend what exactly it is.

He doesn't remember his name, if he even has one. He doesn't even know if he's still alive. For a time, he's content to just lay there in the ground, trapped under a body. Crushing him under its weight, if the car doesn't blow up first.

First, he hears a roar. It sounds like a thunderstorm, like something too large for the likes of the world. The stone beneath his body rumbles and pebbles start moving along the ground. The steel of the car makes a horrible wrenching noise as he hears the metal bend. It spirals above him as the steel and the gasoline wash his body and his father's, and whatever's left of his mother is taken up along with the wreck as the mangled car is tossed over to the side.