As the world ended around them, inexorable and deadly, Hanashiro grew paler and colder, his rose eyes going vague and hazy and his shivering growing more violent until, at last, his eyelids drifted shut and his fingers went slack in Kuroto's hands.
Kuroto gazed down on him for a moment, an eternity. Time had lost meaning; the present spiraled out into an endless gulf that swallowed up everything around him. Kuroto's breath emerged in cloudy puffs that expanded and dissipated into the sky, but the frigid air in front of Hanashiro's mouth was umoving. Kuroto's fingers prickled from the cold, but Hanashiro's were motionless.
Kuroto lived, and Hanashiro was still.
"Hanashiro," he said numbly. "Hanashiro."
His voice sailed up into the ether, expanding to fill the nothingness around him. The sounds echoed strangely, rippling and twisting in the air. It was too inhuman to be his own voice. Surely it must have been something else that had spoken those words, something else that had called out Hanashiro's name in that broken and pitiful voice. Surely it was not him.
But the world around him was dead, and there was no one else left who had a voice with which to speak.
Kuroto gritted his teeth and ducked his head, and before he could stop it, teardrops began tumbling down his cheeks, one after another. He angrily dashed them away with one hand, but they only fell to the ground instead, freezing atop the thick blanket of snow. So he let them come, grabbed Hanashiro's cold hands again and let the tears fall where they would. The world was covered in snow, now; it wouldn't notice a few more snowflakes in its midst.
He had known this was coming. He'd agreed to follow Hanashiro, no matter where that path led, and unlike Hanashiro, he'd had the foresight to understand what lay ahead of them at that bitter end. He'd accepted it, long ago.
He'd decided he would not regret it.
"I knew what it meant," Kuroto murmured, his throat thick. "I knew how this would end, and I was willing to do it if that's what you wanted, as long as you stayed with me. And you did. You stayed with me until the end." He leaned forward to stroke Hanashiro's forehead, nudging aside a wild lock of hair. "So I'll stay with you, too. I'll stay until the very end, no matter how long that takes. Even if the end never comes."
The snow kept falling, and snowflakes dusted Hanashiro's already pale cheeks with a thin layer of white. Kuroto reached out and softly brushed it from Hanashiro's cold skin. He let the snow crown his own bowed head, let it coat his shoulders like a cloak and freeze his hair into icicles. But he brushed it away from Hanashiro's face, its expression calm and unmarred by the lines of Kuroto's sins. It seemed almost unfair, that a boy who'd lived raging against the world should look so relaxed and peaceful now. Kuroto could only hope that Hanashiro was truly at peace somewhere, somehow.
Kuroto wiped the snow from Hanashiro's face, again and again. Let this winter cover the world; let everyone else be buried under a layer of immaculate ice. But this snowfall would not be Hanashiro's burial, not today, not ever.
Kuroto squeezed his eyes shut, his head lowering. "Hanashiro," he whispered, and then his heart seized, wrenching in agony. He clutched his chest, his eyes going wide. He coughed, choking, his throat swelling and his lungs spasming, and then he vomited up a wave of delicate white petals.
He clapped a hand over his mouth, but it was too much, too late, and the flowers spilled over and between his fingers. He gagged, his lungs burning, retching beyond his control. Hanashiro, he tried to say, but he couldn't breathe, much less speak, not with the flowers filling his mouth. They climbed up his throat like living things, long, slender leaves snaking around stiff stems, entire six-petaled buds that fit neatly, small and lovely, into his palm.
He collapsed on himself, curling over Hanashiro's body. The hail of flowers kept pouring out of his mouth, the stems tearing his lips, the petals soft on his tongue. But at last it stopped, at last. Kuroto spat out one last petal and gulped at air, harsh and ragged, each breath painful over his raw throat. He stared down at his hand, where a single whole blossom sat surrounded by saliva-slicked petals. He cast it aside and pushed himself upright, looking down.
The flowers had scattered over Hanashiro's chest, a shroud befitting of his name. Kuroto stared at him, gasping, his head spinning, his eyes prickling with tears. Then he slumped forward, his forehead pressed against Hanashiro's shoulder, and wished he could laugh, if only bitterly.
This, after everything. He'd surrendered the world to winter, made a sacrifice of eternity to make Hanashiro's one wish come true, and now this. All in vain, all for naught.
"I'm sorry, Hanashiro," Kuroto choked, another beautiful flower crawling up his throat. "You just might kill me after all."