Destroy everything [ that stands in the way of love ]
Connect everything [ until nothing is lonely ]
[ not even us ]
Hajime stared up at the summer-clear sky through the leafy forest canopy. It was good light, which could bring out the richness in every earthy tone around, or would sparkle off the edges of waves—
But even though he’d dragged himself outside for the sake of it, he knew he wouldn’t be able to use it properly. How long had it been since he’d taken any good photographs? Every restless night rolled into another uneasy day, mounting up into weeks of being unable to focus a lens properly, mind circling around the dreadful feeling of thorny plates shifting under human skin.
Better to let time run together than to sleep and wake and find himself, somehow, expecting Kenzaki to be next to him. Maybe it was a dream he could never remember, of two people crammed safe and warm into a narrow bed. Maybe they ate together in the dream, too. He’d given up on proper meals a while ago, sick of realising he’d filled two bowls for no reason.
The rattle of a grasshopper nearby drew Hajime’s attention. He started searching for it in the grass, then the trees—finding the lean thing at last perched on a fern. He crouched and fumbled the lens cap off his camera, trying to find a good angle to capture her among the feathery leaves. From this way she was standing proud from the plant, but the busy background overpowered her, and from this way, her drab colours tried to melt her into the plant, but her shape was too awkward to find a rhyme with, and, and…
Her noise joined every forest call and chirp bouncing around his hollow chest.
He was lonely.
This whole summer, he’d been desperately lonely. Alone was fine, he could manage alone into eternity, but lonely was—
Go and live among the humans, Hajime.
—there was no way he could risk going back to see Amane when it felt like he could at any moment split open, teeth-first, to tear up the infuriating peace of the world. He missed Kenzaki, aching endlessly around the empty space just for the sake of everyone and everything else in the world, and what did it matter to any of them? What did they know about it? On they went, clueless and happy and miserable and violent creatures all of them, and here he was, capable of destroying all of it at a single slip, and yet at the same time too useless to hit the shutter on his camera and create a picture, a single crystal of the infinite time he would wretchedly wade through and at the end he would—
Hajime bit down on his anger until it crumbled inside him. At least if he stayed like this, too pathetic to get out of the forest, he wouldn’t go and find Kenzaki.
He shifted again, taking another attempt at a better angle on the grasshopper though the camera lens. If he was lucky, something would come along to eat her.