[Author's note: This is what happens when characters get depressed because nobody likes them: they come to me and ask for fanfics. Spoiler warnings for book 8 of "X" apply. Please see my disclaimer page for copyright information regarding this story. An Italian translation by Shu is also available.]


Next time I shall die
Bring forth wings and feathers like angels;
After that, soaring higher than angels--
What you cannot imagine
I shall be that.



By Natalie Baan



The girl walks through a field of tall grass, where there had once been a city.

A wind blows, and lines of motion run through the grass, a ripple of the graceful seedheads nodding before that breeze. The plants part before her as she walks; the ceaseless waves of rising and falling flow around her and rejoin, seamlessly; her white dress flutters in that same wind.

She stops once, briefly, to look up at the moon.

Of all things, that is still exactly the same.

Then she begins to walk again. She makes her way slowly, without haste. No longer sleeping or waking, she has all eternity if she wishes: time in which to wait, and to think, and--in a strange and wholly conscious way--to dream.

These dreams unfold from her old manner of dreaming like a heart that opens to another person, that unfurls like silk...they unwind like the thread that lets a kite sail up on a rising wind, floating up into the sky. What she once saw only partially and as if through a cloud, she now sees clearly.

What she was never able to understand is now as close to her as her own shadow, cast beneath the luminous, beckoning moon.

Her thoughts turn outward as she walks, and for a moment her bare feet touch pavement instead of the dry comfort of the plainsland's soil and the grass that whispers thickly against her ankles as she passes. She gazes up at the sweeping buildings that tower over her now, dark structures faceless but for sparkling rows of lights. She can feel the relentless movement of this place, the rushing of souls and thoughts and bodies among these silent guardians, although she cannot see or touch the people who are there. Even the buildings move in their way, their verticality carrying a rush of energy heavenward, toward the invisible stars.

And then, between one step and the next, the wind blows past in a rustle of grass.

Both of these possibilities are true. Only, one of them has not yet come to be, may never exist at all outside of dreams. And the other....

The other she remembers very clearly.

Even now.

She didn't realize, when it happened, that afterward she would remember. She had never thought about such things. Though she can sense that this remembering will not last--that sooner or later, when she is ready, the wind will rise and smooth her away like a pattern cast in sand--for now she remembers, and more than merely remembers.

She is.

She is every moment of the beautiful and too-brief life that she has led.

And she is every moment of the death that she endured.

When a moment is gone, what occured during it exists only in memories. And that is what she is now: her own memory of the person she once was, lingering briefly in this place. She bears the seeds of everything that has ever touched her, everything that she has ever known...not much, perhaps, for hers was a very small life, and over before it had scarcely begun. Yet even in that brevity, there is still such richness.

In the most insignificant life, so much happiness.

And not for lack of sorrow, either...she understands what it is to grieve. She has cried for what is lost with a grief as complete and piercing as a sunbeam striking through a window, and she knows the pain that is so great that there is no grieving and the mind shatters beneath its own silence.

Yet what she remembers now, most of all, are the ordinary daily contentments: meals made and shared with the ones she cherished, the laughter of school friends, the gentle creatures coming to her waiting hand...her soul is made up of such memories.

And as she turns her face to the sky, her eyes carry the reflection of every person that she has looked upon with love.

Because all her life she chose to care for little things, to take those small moments of joy and weave them like a nest around herself...because her heart was open to whatever might come, without judgment--was transparent to the world, like water, accepting whatever chose to reflect itself in her--because in the end she offered no struggle at all to her death....

Do these things diminish her?

No. There are those who fight, and there are those who understand what is fought for...a world where people can be happy.

Even if it seems that world has already been destroyed, if those it was meant to shelter no longer exist, still the possibility of that happiness will remain as long as it is treasured in the heart.

If it seems that there's no reason to continue anymore, still the memory of her life will remain: that of a single, unique person, the shy, silly, fragile girl who now will never become a woman...who only wanted to love, and to be loved.

These things have value.

They should not be forgotten.

The wind is rising. She spreads her arms wide, spreads out her sudden wings. The wind sings through the dancing grasses and catches at her white sleeves, steals a small feather or two and whirls them away with a movement so joyous and releasing that it is like the sound of a small child's laughter or a little bird's sweeping flight.

She closes her eyes. Holding out her hands, she swiftly draws from inside her being all those places, all those moments, where she has been most herself. They swirl above her fingertips like a handful of blowing sand, like rainbow patterns shimmering on a soap bubble...like a tiny world as delicate as blown glass.

It is her life.

The wind is lifting soul from memory...and as the spark that was a girl from Tokyo begins moving to the sky, her ghost breaking apart into streamers of white and silken blowing feathers taken by the wind--

--that tiny world shatters into a thousand brightnesses.

And a flood of grasses gives birth to floating, sparkling seeds that scatter across the world on the sound of a heart's last cry--

/Understand me!/




In another time, another place....

A boy is holding out his hand.

Something bright lands gently on his open palm, and his eyes grow wide.

A silent wind is passing.


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