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Ichie and Tamao and the secrets of the universe

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The Sun is aware of Death. Always has, always did, always will. It’s almost as if it’s an old friend. They don’t meet often, the Sun will live— for far too long, and Death is too busy being well, Death. 


Often their lives intersect, but only when Death wills it to be. For all the Sun’s shine and lustre, it’s stationary— it’s everyone else who moves. Yet no matter the distance, the Sun will still shine for them, will still give out warmth and make people smile and laugh and keep the world spinning, around and around. The Sun will give out its life and energy for what else she can do. It’s everyone else that moves around— and if that’s the case, the Sun will just make it easier for them to move. 


The Sun shines even on Death. The Sun shines everywhere, and Death is often everywhere at once. They don’t meet; they do not materialise face to face. They only touch, mere grazes against each other’s conceptions. Abstract moments that the mortal mind can’t comprehend. Yet to each other, it’s enough of a presence that in this figment of reality, they can only rely on each other. At least until the Sun dies. But that is a long time away, and so neither of them acknowledge that inevitably.


For now, Death is aware of the Sun. The Sun is aware of Death, and that is enough. That’s the closest concept of a relationship they can ever have as otherworldly beings the mortal mind can barely comprehend.


Then it wasn’t enough. 


Then they started to have names, names that are not there for classification or stories or mythos, unlike Helios or Sol Invictus or Grim Reaper or Hades. Their names were formed, out of nothing, out of everything. It was weaved together by the immortal hands of fate, the threads materialising themselves into existence by the power of sheer will alone. 


Then they started to gain a face. The Sun’s eyes were made with flecks of comet trails dipped in golden cosmic nebulas. Their hair was formed of iridescence: Of all colours that existed all at once and all the colours that would only exist in a single strand. (But the human mind will not comprehend this image, for it is impossible. So in this story, all of the iridescence and all of the colours that do not exist should merge into one illustrious shade of lavender). 


The Sun sat there, in the centre of her space. In a ball of gas and light and energy that she dubbed her home and her throne. She sat there, surrounded by planets and lives and existences that were fragile. Their lives were small, fast and oh so delicate. The Sun only needed to blink for the Earth that houses the most life to spin around her once. 


So the Sun never blinked. They sat there and watched as planets moved around her slowly, one tiny orbit at a time. That was until Death appeared. 


When Death came, it came abruptly, a sudden pulse of coldness. Except it wasn’t cold, it was just empty. It was an absence of warmth that was nothing but everything at once. It was a sensation the Sun never felt before, except only around Death. Only when Death willed itself to appear. 


“You’re different,” the Sun said once Death was within her limits. Her cosmic eyes widened. “Oh. You have a face too.”


Death turned to her, and there the Sun saw a face sketched from the beauty of the vast and empty. She saw eyes that swirled of dying light, of black holes that die and are replaced with every blink. Their hair was long, thick and it did not move within the emptiness that was space. But it was decorated with crystals, asteroid belts and everything that humanity has yet to name or yet to see. 


Death was not beautiful. To call Death beautiful would diminish its appearance and value. Their features were not made for the human mind to comprehend, so the human confinements of beauty cannot measure Death. Yet. If the Sun was human, she would call Death beautiful.  


“You can speak now,” Death smiled; their voice was quiet. It sounded similar to respect, but it had a knowledge to it; it had a purpose. There was no sound, for they lived in space, but what laws death can break to speak made their voice ethereal. Out of touch, out of reality, on the edge of something else entirely. It left the Sun in awe. 


The Sun paused, tilting her head in thought. “Did you speak before me?” 


“I’ve learnt enough in my travels.”


The Sun grinned only for a moment, and on Earth, a heatwave occurred in the middle of summer. One of the hottest weeks of the year. “And I thought I was the oldest, I need to catch up if you know things faster than me.”


“You’re not.”




“You’re not the oldest.” Death repeated, calm and cold as always. “Nothing is older than Death.”


The Sun frowned, and waves of solar flares and molten heat pooled across her skin. In a way, they had a point. Death appeared in the beginning. Death appeared the second after the big bang happened. In the first mistake, in the first collision of stars birthed and killed before a solar system was born, Death appeared. If only to pick up the remains of the crushed rock as the waves created something new. 


“But I have a name,” The Sun continued, though her words were less confident than before. 


“There are many suns, they have many names.”


“But I have my name ,” The Sun growled, a wave of solar heat and energy crashed against herself. The Sun stared into the abyss that was Death and grinned. She didn’t move her hand, as moving it only once could kill everything around her, and The Sun didn’t want to leave Death alone. “My name is Ichie.”


Death paused in a silence long enough for Ichie to blink. The Earth has orbited around her once again. “That is a weird name for the humans to call you.”


“It’s not their name,” Ichie scowled, sending summer into early autumn by accident. “It’s my name. I named myself Ichie.”


Confusion was a human emotion, but the Sun would not be so surprised that Death picked it up by osmosis after all their troubles with humanity. “Why?” 


Ichie could not stop but laugh. Her serenity captured and spread towards Venus, cultivating its furious winds and storms. “Because I’m more grown up than you.”


Death did their closest thing to a frown. “You weren’t even born before me.” 


“So? I have a name—” Ichie teased, looking at Death with a grin. “And you don’t.”


“I already have a name. It’s—”


“Death, I know.” Ichie paused, tilting her head again as she stared, past the abyss, past the soundless beauty and the cold emptiness that Death held in her domain. “Do you want a name?”


Death avoided her gaze, staring into the abyss. In the far distance, a red star exploded and became a black hole. “I have plenty of names.”


“By humans who don’t understand us.”


“It’s irrelevant.” Death turned back to Ichie, blinking once, their black holes for eyes already replaced with the ones that occurred only light moments ago. “Besides, names are meaningless, they’re only made to form an attachment even if said attachment is a figment of their imagination.” 


Ichie nodded, a resolute smile on her face. “Then I’ll name you Setsuna!” 


“What?” Death asked, confusion rumbling in the vastness, in the empty. It sounded foreign there, like something wasn’t meant to exist except it already did. “Why? Didn’t I tell you that names are meaningless!?”


“To you maybe,” Ichie said quietly, “To me it has meaning.”


“Which is?”


“To form an attachment,” Ichie smiled, sincere and small like the life of a human. On the Earth, humanity wondered if Hades failed to let Persophone return to her mother for summer. “Even if it’s one sided on my end.”




“No one else is here Death,” Ichie explained, her smile struggling to remain as she looked towards the solar system that she could reach but never touch. “Even my planets aren’t old enough to be alive. Well, Earth once did but it shattered and all of her power was transferred over and all of those small lives…” Ichie sighed as she glanced at the small blue-green planet that continued to move in circles. “They wouldn’t understand.” 


“You’re lonely.” Death spoke, quiet but not cold. There was an absence of warmth like always, but that was normal. What was not normal was the whisper, the way it vibrated in the vastness in the sense of knowing. Death, in theory, in all of its barest of concepts, should not know what a human emotion was like. But this Death knew. This Death knew loneliness. 


“Not really,” Ichie perked up, tilting her smile, sunspots peeking underneath her eyes like a human blush. “I have you.”


Death smiled, amusement in its most bare of forms. “I’m not even supposed to be here.”


“I know.” Death lasted longer than they should; Death stayed long enough in this materialised form. It’s considered a luxury, a privilege really to hold Death for so long in one’s space. “That’s why I like you, Setsuna.” 


“My name isn’t Setsuna.”


“But I—”


“You can call me Tamao….” Death, Tamao, interjected softly. They looked away, replacing her black holes with another set. They turned around, facing Ichie directly. “But only if I can call you Ichie.” It went unsaid, the subtle meaning of the response. Of the quiet admission that Death too can be lonely, Death too can form attachments to a being alive. 


When Ichie smiled, grinning from ear to ear— a joy so pure, so otherworldly it danced across the sky. When the humans finally gave it a name, they called it Aurora Borealis.



Death did not stay long after being named. 


The Sun did not see them for many years, but Ichie knew where Tamao was. Besides, time was brief, and years were brief. Tamao was contracted to human lives, and Ichie knew she would live longer than any human alive. So she did not mind the loneliness. She did not care as much anymore now that she had Tamao. 


It took another 100 years, human years, for Tamao to appear. 


“Sorry,” Tamao said once they corporealised into Ichie’s space. They looked tired if Death could even look tired. “There was a war, things got busy.” 


“It’s fine,” Ichie smiled; she raised her arm before lowering it. She was still unsure if her light could affect others around her by simple movements, but she has grown by then to control it enough. Hopefully. 


“It’s not,” Tamao said, burdened as the swirls of the vast empty Space cradled against their skin. “I didn’t mean to abandon you like that.”




“You named me, initially, so that you would not be lonely and I—” Death cast their gaze aside. Another silence, long and foreboding, continued. It took Ichie five times to blink before realising that Tamao would not say anything more. 


Ichie hummed to herself, wondering if she should say the thing that went unspoken. Wondering if it would bring shame to Tamao’s pride if she would bring it up at all. But the longer Ichie stared, the longer her warmth evaporated. Something needed to fill that missing space, and so she spoke. 


“And you called me by my name,” she whispered, watching Tamao’s eyes widened. “Because you also felt alone.” Ichie looked down, not surprised at the way the wisps of her light became swarmed, sinking into Tamao’s form. The light sank as if it was heavy, as if it was something more considerable and had more importance than an actual presence. 


Tamao sighed. In the distance, where a cloud would cover the space, the stars in the far distance vanished, only returning back in the pupil of Tamao’s eyes. “It’s terrible of me to feel that way.” 


Ichie shuffled in her space, glancing at the distance between her hand and Tamao’s. She wondered what it was like to touch something that didn’t crumble. For all her light and life that she would give in the distance, she wondered why something would fall apart when it was so close. 


Then she looked closer at Death’s hands. She watched the dead rock of forgotten planets, the empty husks of embering stars. Ichie glanced up, wondering that maybe she couldn’t touch anything else because her hands were only made to feel Death. 


 “I don’t think it’s terrible.”  


Would that be too much to hope for? Would it be too human, too small and fragile and so inconsequential, to hope? She wondered what would happen if she were to touch it. She wondered if Tamao would burn much like Mercury or Venus did. Maybe one day, she’ll figure out how to control her light right. Maybe one day she will get things right, the same she managed with Earth. 


“No,” Tamao sighed, glancing at Ichie with a smile. “Of course you don’t.” 


Tamao looked down, staring at Earth, spinning their fingers round and round the tiny sphere. On Earth, the plague descended down like a cry against the heavens. “I spend too much time with the humans,” Tamao murmured. “I forget myself.”


“You’re Death,” Ichie frowned, wondering if this narrative should continue. She did not live as long as Death did, but something about this conversation felt raw, on the verge of another dimension. “How can you forget yourself?”


“It’s precisely because I’m Death,” Tamao mused as they pulled their bleak and empty fingers away, their words vague and empty and all things wrong. “I forget myself.” 


Ichie sighed, turning away as everything started to click. “Is it because of me?” For someone whose light shined everywhere, it said everything when The Sun did not sense Death looking at her. That Death looked at her with black holes wide and a hollowed face open in regret. “Because I gave you a name?” 


“Maybe…” Death murmured, for Death was nothing but a painful honesty that all living things. “I don’t regret it,” they quickly backtrack. “I mean I wouldn’t have regretted it. I just regret—” Their head dropped, eyes slowly shutting as rings of diamond and dust coated the astral skin of their cheek. “I don’t know….”


Ichie turned to the side, facing Tamao once again. There she sat, watching. She watched like she always did, at a distance, giving life and loving life from afar no matter how close. Could she touch them? Could she dare to give them life? Give them light? 


“Tamao…” She whispered, wanting nothing more but to relax the burdens on their shoulders. To sit and listen as Death became Tamao and Tamao became Death, intertwining personality with Duty and then some. It was human to have a connection, however. No matter how hard they manifest, Ichie was aware, painfully, with each Earth’s slow rotation. They can never be humans with that luxury they take for granted. 


“I don’t regret that.” 




Ichie blinked, out of surprise, out of breaking habit. Death never sounded like that before, with words and a voice that vibrated with a reflection of stardust and waves that somehow reached Ichie before her warmth could come back. Was sound faster than light? No— nothing was faster than light. Yet why could her own sunlight become its own energy? (Why did Ichie, if Ichie had the human ability to have a heart, hear it beat before seeing it move?)


“The way you say my name,” Tamao confessed with a smile made from the atoms of the millions of dead planets and moons. Death was not looking at the Sun— but the Sun was undoubtedly looking at them. 


“Death?” Silence. Ichie blinked. The Earth completed a cycle once more. She said the next word out hesitantly, sunspots emerging once again on her celestial cheeks. “Tamao?” A smile. Tamao’s smile became more physical, and her eyes made from black holes threatened to engulf Ichie, light, love, heart and all. 


“I’m glad….” Ichie gasped, remembering to circulate her energy around her astral body, remembering to blink so that the Earth and all those around her could continue to move as she stood still. “I like your name too.” 


“I regret,” Tamao whispered. Silver dust from crushed moonrocks floated around the black holes that acted as her eyes, orbiting like it was an entire system on its own. “Not being near enough to you, not as much as I could or want to.” 


Ah. So that was where the problem lay. Ichie smiled, something sincere, something sweet. The aurora borealis danced across Earth, meteor showers lit up the night. She would be worried if it was anything close, anything that required a delicate touch (For Ichie could not do either if she had any choice). 


But distance? A separation so antagonising and painful and long? That was something she could do. That was something she knew the second she became aware of Death when she was nothing but a conception of the universe. Abstract hands reaching for hands she knew were impossible to touch. 


“You see that small rock over there?” The Sun asked with a smile, pointing at the furthest thing in her space, in her solar system.  


Death turned around, her brows furrowing as she spots it, that spherical rock that blends in too well with the vastness of space. It’s small, but only from a distance, but even Tamao could tell it’s smaller than most. 


“That Dwarf Planet?” 


“Yep!” Ichie grinned. “Did you know the humans gave it a name?” 


“Humans give all things they can see names,” Tamao commented on, casual and cold as it was before. Ichie grinned, looking back at the dwarf planet that was alone and cold and out of reach from most. Death thought that she would deflect which was excellent. She would want this revelation to be a surprise. 


“That is true— but!” Ichie laughed, glancing back at Death and their black hole eyes, their hair that held no weight and was static and was full of all the wonders of the universe and beyond. “This name is special. It’s name is Pluto, another name for another human god of Death.” 


“So it’s me,” Tamao asked, a huff of amusement. “Bastardised?” 


“Eventually, it takes me 5 and a half human hours to reach it with my warmth,” Ichie continued, giggling at the joke and the curse. “And it’s over 37 billion human miles away.” She slowed, focusing only on Tamao, not fighting when their eyes met, and the flecks of comet trails in her eyes were sucked into the black holes of Tamao’s. “No matter how far you are Tamao, I’ll still reach out for you. No matter how long it takes.” 


She will continue reaching until Ichie could touch them. Even if it will take her entire life to touch Death, just once, just to make enough of a presence and an impact that Death— that Tamao would remember her and what fragmented attachment they had. That would be enough. 


“Just like Pluto,” Death smiled. 


“Exactly like Pluto,” Ichie repeated. For what else could she repeat. 


At that moment, Ichie realised why Death doesn’t smile, why Tamao doesn’t smile like her with astral teeth showing, their emotions on full display. The sight Ichie saw cannot be described in any other language, written or unspoken or dead. Not entirely. In moderated fragments, they could be described as beautiful or ethereal or whatever human poets used to describe the awe and wonder of Death. 


Anything more would just scramble the minds of anyone else trying to read, even the being behind the wall of fourth on a page of ao3.



Tamao appeared more times after that. 


Even when Tamao didn’t appear, Ichie knew that they were together in some way, shape or form. Death was everywhere, and The Sun’s warmth would reach everywhere, eventually. For the moments where Tamao did appear, they varied from length to length. They didn’t last long, not always. Sometimes they wouldn’t even have a conversation. They would exist, side by side, with nothing else to hold them together but the desire to live in the same tanageable space— This unspoken tether acting as gravity. 


But most times, they would talk. They would manifest in this space. Where the only thing that would move is the simple gestures and their eyes and Ichie’s own curious desires and fallen wishes to hold the hand that is so close but so far away. It’s in those moments where Pluto felt closer to Ichie than Tamao was. 


“Do you think death can die?” Ichie asked, one day after several thousands of years had passed.  


“Ichie,” Tamao huffed, exasperated and fond. Something they had done often when they’re with Ichie— Only, with Ichie. “I am Death.”


Ichie turned to Tamao, tilting her head in thought, taking a moment as always to admire the on the verge of reality, beauty that Tamao held. “Do you think you can die?” 


“No.” Tamao shook their head, the speckles of dying futures, of the lights that sat behind Death in the background blinked out. “Death always happens, everytime I do anything, something dies. Death is the few eternal things that are actually eternal.”


“Well, what about the manifestation of death?” Ichie asked, watching, staring at Tamao. Not Death, but Tamao. The Death that Ichie has known and been drawn to. “Like just you, Tamao,” she clarified when Tamao stared at her with blank empty eyes. “Nothing else.”


Tamao frowned, looking down at her hair filled with asteroid belt and her fingers that were eclipsed now, with dying galaxies light-years away. “But what about my duty?” 


“When you die someone else takes up the mantle. Someone else becomes Death.” 


Ichie did not need to explain that this was the life for everyone else when Death eventually met them. She did not say that this was something she thought about constantly when Death was near. So many things die so quickly. Even the humans that she once looked after are dying, slowly, eventually. Many have Earth, and what was left? It was not as it used to be. In fact, it could be considered dead. 


“Well…” Tamao mused, sighing as she looked up to the vastness around them. Ichie looked at them, at a distance in their positions, the way they both glowed. One out of heat, energy and matter and one beaming just because they held all the embers of dying embers. Beautiful the same way ancient cities still preserved are beautiful. 


In the past, back when humanity was attempting space travel, they talked about stars and constellations. They spoke and wondered if to those they can’t see, if they would see Ichie and if they would name her something else entirely. They talked about constellations and the stories the humans made in their short, fragile lives. Ichie was glad that Tamao was the honest one between them. She lied when she said her favourite constellation was the one with the Orion. 


Her favourite constellation, had she been truthful, would be the line between herself and Tamao. In the distance, she was still too scared to cross back then. She would like to think, after several thousands of years, she has grown now. 


 “Then what does it mean to live?” Tamao asked, snapping Ichie out of her thoughts. “My goal as Death is to take lives already gone. What does it mean to be alive?” 


What did it mean to be alive? For Ichie, her being alive was her manifestation, her name that she gave herself. Before, she was happening, but in reality, all she did was exist. She existed for a purpose, but there was nothing there to breathe life into it, not until she had a face, a name and something else to live for that wasn’t existing. 


Funny how Death was one of the few reasons for her to live if that was the case. Ichie was drawn to Tamao, still drawn to them. She wanted to live, just long enough to touch them. But did her definition fit in with Death?


“...I don’t know,” Ichie sighed. Tamao turned to her, a graceful smile of decaying comets and stardust. “But I heard the humans say before,” Ichie continued, eying the space between them once more. Should she want this? There was barely any human left for her to care about. They moved away, moved from her. Death was the only thing that stayed. Tamao stayed. 


Tamao stayed. Death stayed. 


Maybe, in the end, Death was waiting for her? Reaching for her the way Ichie reached out for Tamao. 




“It’s irrelevant.” Death turned back to Ichie, blinking once, their black holes for eyes already replaced with the ones that occurred only light moments ago. “Besides, names are meaningless, they’re only made to form an attachment even if said attachment is a figment of their imagination.” 


Death was lonely too. Why else would they create an attachment? Why else would they give themselves a name? Why else would they wait? Why else but Ichie? 


“Everything I touch can become alive,” Ichie whispered, raising her hand and pushing it towards Tamao. Tamao didn’t move, only sat there watching, in awe, in shock that for once the stationary star moved. 


Ichie can feel herself go red, heat expanding across her skin, the golden irises of her cosmic eyes glowing. Yet when she touched the vastness and the embers and ashes of the dead stars residing on Tamao’s skin, she did not fear. It didn’t feel cold but empty. The thing is about emptiness; they could always be filled. 


For once in the expansion of time where the Sun knew Death. In the lifespan of moments and existences of Ichie and Tamao, Ichie saw the vastness of Tamao’s skin light up to the colours and the hue and the vibration to the Big Bang itself. Tamao was glowing— Tamao was full of Ichie’s light. 


“And I’m touching you Tamao….” Ichie grinned, laughing loud as stardust flooded the speckles of her eyes as the aurora borealis surrounded the ever-expanding red heat of the Sun. “Do you feel alive?” 


Silence. There was nothing but silence, and the unexplainable reality of that was madder than the will of imagination, of their hands finally touching. Unspoken spaces being filled with their fingers intertwining. 


“Is this what it feels like?” Tamao gasped after an eternity of silence and the roar of Ichie’s expanding energy that made up some human imagination of a celestial heart. “Being alive… is it always this warm?” 


“Do you like it?” 


Tamao only blinked, but this time those radiant black holes weren’t replaced. They were just refilled instead by the sweet touch of Ichie’s light. “I never thought I would feel it.” 


“But do you like it?” Ichie asked again, smiling so wide so large that there was no room for the speckled sun spots gathering underneath her cheeks. 


“It’s you,” Tamao grinned, shifting their head to press it against Ichie’s. Blackholes stare into the spinning golden, now amber, now ruby red hues of speckled comet trails amongst the starlight. “It’s you Ichie, of course I would love it.” 


“I only asked if you liked it,” Ichie laughed, the sunspots gathering more and more against her red cheeks. 


“I know.” Death never looked so impish, so mischievous, so utterly human. It was a smile that Ichie wouldn’t mind dying to see. “My answer is still the same.” 


“This is what it’s like to be alive then,” Ichie smiled, closing her eyes as she pressed herself closer to the barely transparent vestige that was Tamao, Death manifested. 


“And you’re dying….” Tamao murmured, softly against Ichie’s ears, their hands now resting across Ichie’s back. In the now close distance, the planet of Mercury got swept up in their embrace. 


“I want to go out like this,” Ichie nodded, shifting her head back as she placed her burning, fiery hands against Ichie’s cool, empty cheeks. They were filled with light, highlighting the despair and mourning on Tamao’s face. “Burning away with passion, only for you Tamao.”


Tamao stared, continued to stare as if they needed to picture this moment and remember it forever. For when Ichie would eventually dwindle away back into nothingness in their arms. 


“When you go,” Tamao whispered, almost conspiringly, almost as if they shouldn’t say the words that vibrate against the wavelengths of space. “I go Ichie.”




“Death,” Tamao explained, taking one of Ichie’s fiery hands and swallowing the light whole with the expansion of their mouth. “Is the absence of life.” The sensation was erratic, hot and cold and nothing at all. It was something on the verge of reality, a phenomenon only found at the beginning and the end of Time’s existence itself. 


“And now that I know what it’s like to be alive,” Tamao continued, their eyes piercing Ichie’s. “Now that I know what it’s like to be without you. Tamao, Death manifested will die.” 




“Someone else will take my place,” Tamao assured, murmuring the promise as their hands continued to wander, to consume every light and warmth that was Ichie. “Death will always exist. But Tamao? The name given to myself to match yours, the name that tethered me back to you again and again no matter how far I am? That manifestation will die, it will return back to where it belonged, to you.”


“I never knew you felt the same way,” Ichie gasped, their eyes flickering down to the smile on Death’s face, on Tamao’s face. Every part of her was burning up, but she could tell, on the reflection of Tamao’s reddening skin, they were burning up too. 


“I always did Ichie,” Tamao confessed, and Ichie laughed. 


Ichie smiled once more, allowing the solar system one more aurora borealis as Jupiter became sucked into their romance, to this relationship that was always there, always unspoken but always desired. “Then let’s go to our next stage together Tamao.” 


Tamao laughed once before they lowered their head, melting and bending the laws of physics and fate to touch their lips against Ichie’s. The moment didn’t last long. Only for a century or so before everything faded away, back into nothingness. 


Moments later, Death appeared, unnamed, unspoken. Death in its barest of forms, in its most abstract conception, was born. Doing its duty in a split second and shuffling the fragments of the existence of beings of Ichie and Tamao together as one before moving to its next target. 


Elsewhere in another universe, in another time. A star that will one day become a sun of the solar system was willed to exist. 


And the universe continued, expanding and living and dying, just as it should be.