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That hollow feeling in my bones

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Kiba was dead, Smart Brain was gone, and Kaido had his whole life ahead of him. He could go anywhere and become anything he wanted.

He went back to the Kiba's apartment one last time to pack a bag and say his goodbyes. He sat on the chair across from Kiba's bed for a long while and thought about the ways Kiba had changed and how quickly those changes had happened. He didn't cry. He had already cried for Kiba and he wasn't about to waste anymore tears.

He also ventured into Osada's room for the first time. He had glanced in through the door before, but he had never been inside. Everything in the room was clean and organized. He poked around and it didn't even look like she had packed a bag before she took off. He wondered if she was planning to come back for any of her stuff or if she left it all behind on purpose.

There was someone sitting on the couch when he went back out to the living room. He recognized her instantly -- her blue, black and silver uniform a dead giveaway -- and felt a chill travel down his spine.

"Hi~!" Smart Lady said getting to her feet.

"You," Kaido said, his hands becoming fists at his sides. He figured she had gone away when Smart Brain was shut down. "What are you doing here?"

"My last boss had a final job for me to do," she sing-songed, smiling at him.

"Kiba?"

She nodded. "I'm here to give you a present! It's a precious one too, especially since Orphnoch disintegrate over time." She circled the armchair and moved towards him. "My boss did some experiments and came up with an antidote. He wanted me to deliver it to you!"

She thrust a hand towards him, and in it was a glass vile with some sort of blue liquid inside.

"Orphnoch disintegrate?" he asked, carefully picking up the vile. "Don't expect me to believe that bullshit." Orphnochs were made of stronger stuff than most.

"I'm not making it up," she said with an exaggerated pout. "My boss was starting to turn to ash by the end." She mimicked crying, her hands over her eyes. "It was so sad. But--" she moved her hands away from her face. Her eyes were dry, of course. "--you won't have to share his fate."

Then she turned on her heel and walked towards the door.

"Hey!" he called after her. "What am I supposed to do with this?"

"Drink it," she said and left.

He stared down at the vile. He didn't want to believe her. What she said about Orphnoch's turning to ash couldn't be true, could it?

If it was, then what would happen to other Orphnock, like Inui and Osada?

Kaido swore.

*

Kaido went to Kikuchi's cleaning shop. Thankfully Inui was at the front counter and the store seemed otherwise empty.

Inui startled when he spotted Kaido. He got to his feet, a worried expression on his face. Kaido would bet good money that Inui had never expected to see him again.

Kaido offered him a little wave. "Hey, so Smart Lady came to visit me," Kaido said, cutting to the chase. "She told me that all Orphnoch eventually disintegrate."

He waited for Inui to react like he was shocked, but instead he looked resigned.

"You knew?" Kaido asked.

Inui nodded. "Yeah."

"She gave me something. She said it was an antidote and that it was a gift from Kiba."

That seemed to surprise Inui, if the look on his face was anything to go by.

Kaido considered something that hadn't occurred to him before. He only had one vile and now there was more than one Orphnoch who needed it.

He wanted to keep it for himself. He really did. He wanted this to be the beginning of his life, not the end.

He thought of Kiba and everything he had stood for. He thought about Inui and all that he, too, had sacrificed.

Before he could think too hard about it, he pulled the vile out of his pocket and offered it to Inui.

"You should take it," Kaido said, shrugging like it was no big deal.

Inui seemed to study him for a moment, and then he looked down at his hands and smiled slightly. "I've already been cured," he said.

Kaido didn't ask. He figured Kiba had something to do with it. He did have a question though, especially if Inui didn't need the antidote. There was still one other person he remotely cared about that might.

"Do you know where Osada went?" he asked, knowing it was a long shot.

Inui's eyes went wide like he was taken aback, and then he frowned. "Kiba didn't tell you?" he asked. Kaido had no idea what Inui was talking about. Inui must have gathered that somehow because he then said, "There's something you should know."

*

Kaido made it back to the apartment and sat down heavily on the couch. He barely remembered the drive over. He felt like he was in a daze.

Osada was dead.

Osada had died long before Kiba.

And he had had no idea.

Kaido wasn't sure how long he sat there, but the sky was getting dark when some part of his brain registered that he was hungry. He went over to the kitchen to see if he could find anything edible. He started making himself some rice and in the process spilled grains all over the counter top.

In his mind's eye he could see Osada standing where he was standing now, smiling at him, telling him that the mess was no big deal, and offering to clean it up for him.

"Dammit," Kaido said to himself. He hadn't cried for her yet. He told himself he wasn't going to.

Just because she had liked him didn't mean he had any responsibility towards her, right?

Kaido could have gotten away with that line of thinking once, but not anymore. He made his rice and ate it plain along with some pickled daikon he found in a cupboard. When he was finished, he collapsed on the couch and closed his eyes.

*

He must have fallen asleep because when he woke, there was light streaming in through the windows. It took him a moment to realize where he was and why he was there.

He got up and went through his morning routine like nothing had changed at all, and then he stood in the living room at a loss about what to do because everything had.

All his plans had involved him leaving town and not looking back, but suddenly, that didn't feel like an option anymore. At least not yet.

He ended up in Osada's room. He sat on the edge of her bed and looked around. She was never going to come back for any of her things, he realized.

It hurt to think that she was dead. She had been nothing but kind to him. She had even liked him. And he had never been good to her.

Osada hadn't asked him for much, but he remembered an instance where there was something she had wanted from him -- something she had been excited about until Kaido had disappointed her.

He found himself looking at the handful of trinkets she had displayed on top of her dresser. He stared at them as he figured out what he was going to do. When he finally had a plan, he stood up.

"Okay," he said. "Let's go out on a date."

*

He started at the cafe. He ordered two teas and ignored the server when she politely inquired when his date would be showing up. He took his time drinking his tea, determined not to rush.

The last time he had brought Osada here, he had been so preoccupied with thinking about Mari that he had barely considered Osada's feelings at all. Now he stared at her empty side of the table and thought about how much of an asshole he was to her and how he had missed his chances to get to know her better.

*

He went to the park, to an amusement park, and even wandered through a shopping district. It was at the latter that he spotted a cell phone charm of a single white crane.

He knew she would have loved it if had he bought it for her when she was still alive. He asked the shopkeeper how much it cost, all the while asking himself what exactly he was thinking.

This fake date was ridiculous. When it came down to it, he was too little too late. She was gone. Wherever she was now, she probably didn't care about anything he did.

He bought the charm anyway.

*

He also bought a small bouquet of white chrysanthemums.

He went back to the apartment and laid the bouquet on her bed. He placed the phone charm next to it.

Then Kaido did the only other thing he could think of that would've made her happy: he took out his guitar and began to play.

He had planned to only play one song and to stop before the muscles in his hand started to flare up, but he played two songs. Then three. Then four. He played until the pain in his hand started to drown out the hurt in his chest. He played until the tears came. He played until he was crying so hard he couldn't play anymore.

*

The next day, Kaido went through his morning routine. When he was showered and dressed, he packed his bag and threw it over his shoulder.

As he stood in the living room for the final time, he took the vial Kiba had left him out of his pocket. He popped open the top and downed its contents. Kiba and Osada were dead, but Kaido was still alive, and today was the first day of the rest of his life.

Without looking back, he walked straight out the front door.