Kuroto blinked up at him, guileless and unrecognizing, and for one moment, one horrific, glorious moment, Hanashiro thought, Thank goodness.
Kuroto didn't remember.
Kuroto didn't remember what he'd done. Kuroto didn't remember who he was. Kuroto didn't remember who Hanashiro was, what Hanashiro had done. Kuroto didn't remember anything.
The thought was immediately followed by a wave of guilt and self-recrimination, but Hanashiro cast it aside, efficient and ruthless. Kuroto's memories were unimportant; Kuroto's past, meaningless. What mattered was that Kuroto was here, beside him, with him. What mattered was that Kuroto had been freed from the pain and sorrow and tragedy of bearing the burden of all of humanity's bloodthirsty sin. What mattered was that they had been given a blank slate, and they could have this moment, the two of them. They could occupy this tiny sliver of happiness together. They could watch the snow fall, shimmering and silent, and Kuroto would appreciate its simple beauty, unknowing and unaware that it would bury them alive.
"What's your name?" Kuroto asked, a splinter of uncertainty in his voice.
Hanashiro smiled at him. It stretched his lips unnaturally, aching and bittersweet. "What do you think?" he asked in reply, gesturing to the snowflakes drifting all around them.
Kuroto gazed up at the sky, his face naked and open. Wonder was writ large across his expression, his eyes wide, his mouth parting in a silent oh. "Flowers," he whispered at last. "White flowers."
Hanashiro's heart clenched and thudded painfully in his chest. "You always," he murmured, staring at Kuroto. You always see the truth. You always know who I am. You always see me, Kuroto.
How cruel fate was, to let this man be the only one who did not see the Savior inside him.
"Hanashiro," Hanashiro said.
Kuroto glanced at him, startled. "What?"
"Hanashiro. That's my name. Hanashiro."
"Hanashiro," Kuroto repeated, his voice soft, and the twisting in Hanashiro's chest turned sharp, like thorns tearing through his insides. Hanashiro swallowed down the pain, because despite the agony, his heart was swelling with something far more fearsome and powerful, and though he dared not give voice to it, nor give it a name, it filled him up and made the snow around them precious, even as it promised to destroy everything.
I will protect you, Hanashiro thought. I'll stand between you and the world that wants to destroy you.
So he held out a hand, palm up and open, and he ignored the way his lungs burned when Kuroto took it. He led Kuroto through the snow, a lump in his throat and his heart convulsing, because it did not matter, none of it mattered as long as Kuroto was with him.
And that night, as Kuroto slept peaceful and innocent in their borrowed bedroom, Hanashiro curled up on himself and coughed and hacked and heaved until the flowers came tumbling out of his mouth, petals, leaves, entire long stems. He retched them up into his hands until his fingers were streaked with blood and he could at last breathe, and as he gasped for air, desperate and ragged, his eyes full of tears and his hands full of love, he collapsed in on himself and did not cry, because Kuroto might have forgotten about him, but this--this was proof that Hanashiro did not, would not, could not forget about Kuroto.
So he clutched the frail white flowers to his chest, scratchy leaves and rough stems and snowy petals and all, his defiance against a world that sought to pit them against each other, and beside him, Kuroto slept on, hopefully dreamless.