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For as many spirits as there should be in this morgue, it was pretty underwhelming to be in.

The first couple of days, no matter what, you're going to be looking out for a ghost. Where else would be the best place to see one, after all? No matter how rational of a person you are, you were sure that if you were to believe in ghosts, this is where they would be.

But... After seeing each corpse, and finding how... underwhelming it was to be dead, it slowly ebbed away. This is just another sterile environment, full of the smell of formaldehyde and bleach. Corpses didn't carry anything special with them, other than the story that Naomi was trying to find out. Even then, it was more of Naomi's art to figure it out than it was the corpse's to tell it.

Joseph Parker would tell you that flowers started blooming in his garden the day that they figured out the case between Alma and Abigail. The Cages, despite what horrors they had wrought upon their daughter, were convinced that she was in a better place, somewhere. The sun shone a little more brightly in that empty room. Wherever she was, she was free.

Hell, Little Guy even heard that paramedic talking to Dr. Kimishima one day, about the ghost that loved to follow her. Well, loved. Now she saw her in the little things, in a butterfly that would occasionally land on her hand in the summer.

People would do or believe anything to try to combat the grief that someone dying brought them.

Face to face with it every day, no one really wanted to talk about dying. No one made plans. Even Naomi, who was staring death in the face, found it a taboo subject to talk about. The corpses were always treated with the utmost respect, even as she was cracking into them with her glorified branch trimmers. No one wanted to imagine their loved one hacked open at her table. They were put back together carefully, sewn up under their clothes, so no one ever knew it happened. Well, those corpses who still had something left to look at. Skeletonized remains... They always seemed to carry a heavier air of unrest. Their loved ones didn't get to wish their body goodbye. The result of an ongoing decomposition. It was better to find a clean skeleton than a bloated corpse.

Hard to imagine that your loved ones could become that once they died. Bloated, unrecognizable, disgusting remains of what they once were. When Naomi held slides of brain in her hands, she was holding an entire life. Everything that person experienced, from beginning to premature end. At least, that was the theory. The squishy tissue really held as much weight as any other part of the body. There was little special that they could extract from it. Memories, thoughts, those were all gone.

Corpses felt empty. This morgue felt emptier than it should have.

Little Guy didn't know what he wanted to experience in an area like this. No one was allowed into the morgue without special permissions in Delphi. Contamination was most likely the biggest reason. He always imagined it to be a room with unrest so heavy it suffocated you when you walked in, spirits torturing you in any way they could for the death brought to them. But... It was just like this place. A room with bodies. Bodies that couldn't do anything but rot.

It was part of the circle of life.

Though, society was so disconnected from death, it felt unnatural at this point.

It felt wrong to be staring into unseeing, sunken in eyes. All of the parts were still there, they just didn't operate. There was no cry of pain when they cut a body open, despite the fact that it would still bleed. Sometimes, it felt wrong. Pasty, oily dead skin could occasionally warp and look alive. Especially when it was put against Naomi's skin as she worked-- Half the time, she looked about as alive as the bodies here did.

Nothing special or out of the ordinary happened on the night that Naomi died. He wasn't there. He had been keeping Alyssa in his custody until they figured out what to do with her (though, she had been displaced so much already he kind of felt like the right thing to do was to keep her), and they hadn't visited Naomi much. Her death wasn't anything beautiful. She fought it.

She was so resigned to it, but when the disease took to her brain, ripped her away of anything that she used to be, she fought it. She would wake up crying in the middle of the night, screaming that she wasn't going. Other times she would lie there for hours, hardly breathing on her own. She didn't recognize anyone who came in from day to day, not even her nurses. She had to be restrained a few times, though there was very little left in her physically. She still would grow angry and violent.

The night she died, they forgot to take the respirator off of her. When the shift came in to check on her, the found that her legs had already turned purple from the lack of oxygen. Her skin was waxy, the light in her eyes gone. A sickening, white foam had bubbled from her lips and nose-- The respirator had kept going. The foam dripped from it as they finally took away the machine that was even still trying to keep her alive.

There was nothing pretty about a death like that. Nothing gentle, peaceful, despite what Rosalia's corpse glorified death to be. Naomi didn't look like she was sleeping. She looked like she was in pain, and she had that awful foam seeping from her until they cleaned her up. Her body still made noises like she was breathing when they moved her, but it was just the last of the oxygen leaving her body as her lungs collapsed.

Neither Little Guy nor Alyssa was there for any of it. It was probably for the best. It left a lot of room for imagination, though. Little Guy could see all of it happen vividly in his mind, whether it did or not. The apathetic nursing staff painted the picture well enough for him on the rare occasion that he did visit.

Naomi wouldn't have wanted them to see any of that.

At least, that was what they could tell themselves. The Naomi that they knew was gone. She didn't go back into being just because she died and she was 'freed' from her body. The Naomi that they were painting was the one that was in their mind. She wasn't coming back.

When Naomi died, nothing special happened.

He wasn't awoken in the middle of the night with some strange thought in his head that she was gone. He wasn't visited by her in his dreams to let him know that she was okay now. No wildlife visited his window in the morning, Alyssa didn't wake up and say that she felt someone hug her better in the middle of the night. Naomi died. That was it.

The long, drawn out death that she got... She didn't deserve it. He wouldn't wish it on anyone. But... the method of which she contracted it? Some would argue she did deserve it. Naomi Kimishima died in suffering, a shell of her former self. No dignity, no respect, and no willingness to finally let go. Nothing beautiful, peaceful, or serene. They had given the same death to countless people. Many more still felt the aftershocks of Delphi. He felt regret for what he had done, he was sure that she did too.

Even if he did claim that he loved her at any point, or felt some sort of love for her, he would have never taken that disease in her stead.

She died in a way that no one should ever have to. The months leading up to it were pure hell. He would never take that for anyone. He deserved to have gotten that disease as much as she did, and he did wonder every day why he hadn't. But... Even given the opportunity, he wouldn't have taken it for her.

They had cried for a long, long time leading up to her death. When the news finally came, it didn't leave them choking down sobs. It left a shiver down his spine to know that she was finally gone (even though she was in his mind for quite some time), and the look that was on Alyssa's face was... Unreadable. Almost empty, like she wasn't there. She was too young to have that sort of look on her.

"Do you think she's finally happy now?" Alyssa asked him later that night after they had both been watching the TV in silence.

No.
"Yeah. I hope so. She's up in heaven now, watching over you. I bet she's telling your parents what a good kid you are right now." While the thought of such a thing could certainly bring a smile to his face and hope to his heart, there was a more rational part of him that knew that it wasn't true. He wouldn't even consider such a thing if Alyssa wasn't around to want to hear it.

It made him feel better about lying when Alyssa turned away from him with a smile on her face. As long as it made her feel better.