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Mizuki touches the sunburn on Shu's back, and says, "This is where the wings will grow."

The sun is setting, turning the water of the bay a liquid and firey gold.

"It will be dark soon," Shu says. They are growing up, and one day soon they will be gone far away from the island and from each other.

"Yes," Mizuki replies. Despite the countless afternoons they have passed here on the sand, it seems to both that neither can recall the twilight fading into black. Perhaps it never does, here.

"Goblin," Shu mutters as Mizuki starts poking his sunburn with a stubby finger, the nails ragged at the quick. No, not poking... drawing. Designing joints and muscles and feather distributions.

"Will I be able to fly?"

"You fly already."

"You're confusing me with yourself," says Shu, for surely it's Mizuki who is going to soar.

"Yes, perhaps. It's difficult to tell one seagull from another, after all," Mizuki answers.

Shu looks around to see if there are any birds on the shore this evening. There are two, one black and one white.

"Can tell those apart easily enough," he points out. Mizuki chuckles.

"Won't be able to soon. Black and white are the same as each other in the dark."

The words make Shu shudder, though he's not quite sure why.

"Hey," Mizuki says. "Why did you get so angry yesterday? About the poles?"

"Because you're stupid. You were being stupid."

"You're the stupid one, you don't know how to have fun. You don't smile enough."

Shu turns, tackling Mizuki into the damp sand and holding his arms captive at his sides. He grins wolfishly.

"I don't, huh? Guess it's because you're always annoying me."

Mizuki laughs and tries to squirm away, but Shu's holding him fast. His chest feels odd, and for a moment he fancies he can feel the sting of bullets on his skin. It reminds him, curiously enough, of playing on the poles. Mizuki looks up at Shu, who is blocking the sun and casting a shadow that seems big as the world.

"This beach is a magic place, I think," says Mizuki. Shu nods, releasing him and falling to the sand beside him.

"Yes. I think you're right."

They lie beside each other for a while, half-waiting for the night and half afraid of its coming. There's a shooting star in the dimness over the sea, and Mizuki wonders what happens to the places where such stars eventually land.