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Chapter Text

 

1 - blue sunsets 

 

For those who dream of stranger worlds,

Amelia dreams of places she’s never been. 

 

She dreams of the cold plunge down into the dark rolling abyss of the ocean floor. She’s walking around the still mirror-like blue of brine lakes, watching the smokey fountains erupt from the cracks in the seafloor. 

 

Amelia dreams of a trident emerging from the void, held by a girl half it’s height. She dreams of crimson eyes swirling back into baby blue, and silver hair swaying gently through the ebb and flow of invisible currents. The girl grabs her hand, mouthing something in the water. 

 

She looks at Amelia like she’s a lost child. 

 

Then they were ascending, spearing through the ocean with the trident, propelled by the low swish of a battered tail. Amelia’s staring at the shapes on their skin, dancing shadows of refracted light seeping into the water. 

 

When they break the surface, the light feathers itself over the girl’s face in a warm orange glow. A razor-sharp grin greets her. Amelia feels like she’s floating, anchored by the hand intertwined with hers, with the sun melting into an ocean that seemed to stretch on forever. 

 

 

2 - of ashes and roses 

 

The next time Amelia dreams, she’s thinking about death (how morbid). 

 

But death takes on the form of a scythe wielding pink-head babe with ruby red eyes. The blade swings dangerously to her face, and a lock of blonde falls slowly to the ground. Death says something with a scowl, leaning in. 

 

A threat, supposedly. 

 

But death also smells like ashes and roses, and death’s looking at her like she doesn’t want her to leave. So, Amelia breaks into a smile. Maybe dying wasn’t so scary after all. 

 

For the rest of the dream, they sit together, shoulders bumping. There isn’t much to see because the space between life and death doesn’t have much. A reservoir of darkness, black as far as her vision could explore. Amelia wonders if death wears her loneliness like a crown. 

 

First, a hum. Soft words crescendoing into a song. Syllables skipping into familiar rhythms, pillowing plosives. Then Amelia sinks into the view of hair the shade of cherry blossoms, sinking into the sound of a song sung from memories a hundred years ago. 

 

 

3 - embering contrails 

 

How ironic it is then when Amelia falls back into another dream, it’s one about life. 

 

This time she’s riding on the wings of a fiery phoenix, smouldering contrails of ember drawn in the sky. The warmth from the plumes beneath her tickles, radiating on her skin. 

 

The fire bird croons when Amelia pushes her hands into her feathers, lowering her body and gripping for balance; pale skin a stark contrast against the fanning shades of emerald and tangerine. 

 

They soar like two glowing stars fluttering in the stratosphere, hearts lifted by winds fresh with high tide brine. 

 

The moment they land on a coast, Amelia skips off the bird and falls into sand. The phoenix bristles, feathers blazing up instantly into thin smoke and a familiar figure steps out from the cloud. She looks down at Amelia, beaming with a magical pull on her lips, excited words tumbling out.

 

When Amelia’s brought into a tight hug, the girl burns like the warmth of a fireplace welcoming her home. 

 

 

4 - komorebi

 

When Amelia dreams of stranger worlds, she often wonders how much of it is real. 

 

Because suddenly she’s tumbling down moss and rocks, feeling pain at every bump. Her arms flail for support, anything. And when she lands softly into a small verdant clearing, she sits up looking frazzled, finding herself lost amidst screens of bamboo. 

 

Snap , the quiet shuffle of feet. 

 

Amelia turns, immediately gazing up pale slim calves to snow silk robes. The girl stares back at her, expression obscured by bamboo, the purple flaps on her head twitching. Like the sunlight filtering through the trees, she stands there faintly and delicately. 

 

This time Amelia speaks first, calling the girl’s name. 

 

An appendage glides over, cautious. It gives Amelia’s sleeve a small tug. Pause. Then rides over the hem of her shirt, leaves two taps at the back of her neck, and plops itself over golden locks; gently ruffling out blonde for affectionate head pats. 

 

Amelia laughs when more tentacles started wrapping themselves around her. The girl steps out from the shadows, smiling with tears in her eyes. Later, Amelia finds herself kissing the tears away, holding her soft hands, spilling inky curtains over white robes. 

 

From dawn till dusk, on moss carpet, dreaming about green tea and plum blossoms. 

 

Chapter Text

 

There are poems inside of Kronii that Mumei can’t handle. 

 

When Kronii comes home, she walks in like a dream dressed in regal blue. Mumei sits at the typewriter, staring, finding that the semantics were lacking. Not enough words, not the right words. 

 

Kronii mumbles something about work, kicking off black high-heels. She saunters over to Mumei’s desk, pushing aside a stack of papers to drop her hips. Sapphire meets hazel. The tired beauty smiles at Mumei, slowly pulling back a black glove from her hand using the grit of her teeth.

 

Long pale fingers then slides over to lift the girl’s chin gently. 

 

“What a day,” Kronii hums, leaning in for a kiss and Mumei sighs into the sensation. Her hands leave the keys. Flickering candlelight. Rustling of sheets filled with unfinished words. The smell of peony blue perfume mixed with autumn. 

 

Mumei closes her eyes because when she looks at Kronii, all she sees are the poems she wants to write. 

 

Chapter Text

 

A dark globe looms in a collapsed city. 

 

Ina’s floating in the sky with her golden halo and wings. 

 

Amelia’s on the ground bleeding out, Calli’s closer to death than she’s ever been, and god hope, pray that Kiara’s still alive. 

 

Gura spits at the ground, tasting blood in her mouth. She wipes it off stiffly, the haze spilling out in her mind. Usual baby blue eyes caves into shades of deep crimson.

 

Oh boy.

 

Gura kicks her trident off the ground, catching it in mid-air. She twirls the weapon, gaze steady and unwavering, and slams it into the ground with a force more than a thousand times her weight. The concrete beneath her feet cracks under the pressure, then breaks. 

 

A deep snarl crawls up her throat.

 

“Those two have such high hopes for you,” an alien sound distorted from the voices of many others echoes out from Ina. Her head snaps towards Amelia, bent unnaturally. 

 

“You must be the real problem here, human.” 

 

“Please stop this Ina...” Gura’s standing in front of Amelia now. She’s trembling, tear-streaked, mad; body vibrating with the emotions coursing through her body. Senses muddled with the stench of fresh blood and burnt cement. 

 

When she looks at Ina, all she sees is red. 

 

But Ina only laughs and hovers dangerously close. 

 

“If it’s war that you want,” Gura hisses, shifting her weight. Her muscles are coiled taut in anticipation. Sweating. She grips the trident close to her body. Pause. Her tail tightens, then propels out in pure muscle, sending the shark flying. 

 

The wind screams in her ear. 

 

And she’s there in an instant, above Ina with the trident pointing down at the halo. Cerulean adamantine glinting in gold. Gura greets her with the fevered stare of an Apex Predator. 

 

“I’ll give you war.” 

 

Chapter Text

 

When is it time to admit defeat? 

 

Amelia thinks it’s the moment when she’s thrown onto cold marble, linen darkness pulled over her eyes. She’s sweating, uncomfortable; hands tied behind her back.

 

“Well, well… what do we have here?”

 

It’s the moment when she hears hollow heels down the steps. She’s imagining long towering white halls. Exit behind, she thinks, probably guarded. The throne in front and a dark sauntering figure. Just like the pictures. 

 

“I’ve been waiting for you.” 

 

The voice echoes, closer but still far-flung. Confusion draws a furrow between Amelia’s brows when she feels the sensation of thick flexible limbs wrapping themselves around her legs. Something finds its way into her coat, and she hears her photos spill onto the floor. 

 

When is it time to count your prayers? 

 

Amelia thinks it’s the moment when she feels a tug behind her head and darkness falls from her eyes. First comes pure blinding white. Then the clack of a heel. Amelia blinks at the sight of a slender girl smiling down at her, golden halo crowned on inky curtains falling down her back. A gleaming violet stare. Then her attention falls on the mass of dark tentacles splaying out behind the girl, swaying slowly in a colossal display of pride and power. 

 

Oh ,” Amelia finds herself saying, shaking before the divine eldritch priestess who was nothing like the pictures. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Ame returns into her arms in fragments.

Half of a whole, but twice as elegant. Upload, copy and paste.

With her golden clock, she’s a montage of blood and disposable bodies. It’s messy, punishing; strung together like old missing posters and tears lost in the rain.

They say play with time, and you play with God.

But what's the point of living for as long as time, Ina thinks, if Ame goes away and she can’t follow?

 

Chapter Text

 

Amelia’s here again, stuck in time; and time’s a cruel mistress who greets her with the low swing of her golden blade. 

 

“How does death feel like for someone like you?”

 

The warden of time stares down at her. Her glare steady, striking sapphire. A silver of blonde cut by the blade falls slowly to the floor. 

 

“My, my... everyone else only gets one little life and yet you take so many. Selfish as always, aren’t you?” Every word driven hard, crystal clear in the vacuum-filled room. A tone of disdain and mocking amusement.

 

But Amelia’s not listening. Her eyes are glazing over, seeing past the warden. 

 

Because she’s thinking of mirror-blue brine lakes and adamantine towers. Matching seashell necklaces in the evening sunset and her clumsy hands. She’s seeing razor-tooth smiles, beaming; bright eyes that light up like stars in the deep blue. Soft giggles. The playful nuzzle of a warm cheek into the crook of her neck, fingers under her coat, then-- 

 

“Please don’t leave me.” 

 

Amelia imagines another grave with her name on it at the bottom of the ocean. 

 

So she drops her elbows onto the table and turns her attention to the chessboard, playing the warden’s little fucking game. And she’s pinning onto these memories and hoping, praying for god’s sake. For just one more win. 

 

One more chance.

 

For one more lifetime under that ocean.

 

Chapter Text

 

Mumei’s fumbling through the pages. Counting.

 

Unfinished drafts carpets the parquet floor. She’s on her knees, shoulders hunching with the weight of pressing deadlines. Overdosed on overnight caffeine. There’s only so much space in her memory, and so the girl’s thumbing through each page, checking for the right scribble of words. 

 

“Kronii,” Mumei sighs into the name. 

 

The culprit saunters into the room, vivid blue gaze falling on the struggling writer. Mumei shoots the cat a look but Kronii only paws her way over to more pages. Paper sticks to her claws, each step creating a new crinkle. The cat drags them across the room, purring. 

 

Perhaps, revenge is sweet. 

 

Sweet like the blueberries that Mumei likes to sneak into her new cat food. How awful.  

 

But now she’s gaining newfound triumph over the funny Watson concoction that Mumei had coaxed her into trying. Kronii remembers Mumei picking her up, going on all about how the potion had worked. She meows dryly at the memory of waking up the next morning with furry paws for hands, expressing her annoyance through the flash of a tiny fang. 

 

But now she’s winning. 

 

Her tail swishes delightfully as she paws her way over more sheets. Of course, she always wins. She’s laughing in victory now; loud, maniac laughs of sweet success. 

 

But all that comes out are a series of meows. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Where should Kiara go if she’s been everywhere but Calli’s arms? Touched the heavens, flew down to the sun. With wings that can take her anywhere, and yet she’s here, standing next to the grim reaper again. A list of names between them, shoulders barely touching.

 

Give a sign, coloured in ember. Or let her know, maybe. If it’s okay to stay, or if she should go.

 

Chapter Text

 

link

 

Chapter Text

 

When Ame thinks of Ina, she’s thinking of dark inky curtains and pillowing appendages. Under the backdrop of stars, her reflection curves over the ripples in a puddle. A smile hiding half her thoughts. Regal with her golden halo, face half-carved in the night. The moonlight personified. 

 

When Ame thinks of Gura, she’s thinking of sweater paws and toothy grins. The smell of high tide brine on a summer day. Her hands are soft and clumsy; she’s emotional and loud. But when her footprints are in the sand, where the ebb and flow begins. She’s quiet, riveted, looking for where the ocean ends. 

 

When they think of Ame, they’re thinking of black coffee and dim sunset lamps. Skipping laughter like a stone thrown across the lake. Traces of herself left in case files, moments captured in sepia tones. Memory as clear as dreaming. Feelings thrumming like a ticking clock.

 

When Ame turns around to look at Ina and Gura, she has a vivid view of their backs. And now she’s walking, running to meet them halfway to their hearts.

 

Chapter Text

 

They’re all quietly growing older, bit by bit.

But Ame loses the lottery of time.

And so Kiara’s digging into old ember ashes for answers, and Calli finds herself praying during reaping hours. Ina’s circling devotions with the ancient scriptures she hates. And Gura gets so used to counting, she spends her nights wide awake.

The days fall by and they’re all quietly wishing louder, bit by bit. From dawn till midnight.

Of her memories, wrinkled hands and fading sunlight.

 

Chapter Text

 

They’re driving down sunset highways, apricot sun on their cheeks. Tipsy on ambition and pink paradise Miami. Under the palm trees of coastlines, the horizon stretches on forever. Ocean shimmering in bokeh ripples of gold. 

 

Ame has one arm hanging out the red convertible, the other on the wheel. She drives with the reflection of a city skyline on her aviators, and the radio hum of 80s summer city pop between them. 

 

A sun-kissed Gura beams at her from the rearview mirror. Her tiny daisy. And Ame feels a hand combing through her hair; notices the cool seaside breeze. Then comes the petal of a peck on her neck. She turns immediately, the road falling into peripheral view, smiling into soft lips. Kissing back her Atlantic beauty in bloom. 

 

In this timeline, they take the exit. 

 

The car rolls onto the beach and Ame has both her hands off the wheel now. Her sunglasses crown her head, golden locks splayed in the wind. And Gura’s on her lap, lighting up in happy blushes. 

 

In this timeline, their hands are intertwined, pretty with the promise of rings. There beats the fluttering pulse of a dream, as long as they have places to go. As long as this sunset road never ends. 

 

Chapter Text

 

“Doctor Watson?”

 

They’re behind the glass with their white coats, protective gear over their eyes and ears. Ame is thumbing through the document with gloved hands, bitter overnight coffee still on her tongue. At this point, fatigue becomes a state of mind. 

 

Project Myth

Subject N.1

Session 205, Version 5

 

Beyond the glass is a world of white, infinite space.  

 

A girl occupies it, standing at one end of the room. She is clad in a bodysuit with wires fastened into the shell on her head, down her neck, twisted into her back. A circuit of gel and webbing black. The helmet sits over her eyes, leaving only half her face in sight.

 

“Start it.” Ame cocks her head over to her associates. From the other end of the room, a target slides out from the wall of white. 

 

They send the influx of transcranial pulsed ultrasound through their computers, fingers clacking over the keys. A stimulation through the helmet, sending brain circuits on fire. The girl immediately responds by extending her arm, fingers spread and palm open. Halo forming over her head. Target in sight, locked. Ready to fire. 

 

And in an instant, a ring of bright light appears from her hand. The power of the Ancient Ones’ heavenly angel. The birth of a miniature sun. Vibrating light pours over, spilling like a meltdown. Then comes the delayed blast of deafening frequency and smoke. Leaving nothing else behind but a ring of ash and heat over white walls. 

 

A hint of a tremble runs over the girl’s lips, and Ame notices it. She finds herself standing there, watching her associates untangle the girl from her wires. Unconscious body now on a stretcher. She’s wondering quietly if this angel has the signal of a thought, the flutter of a heartbeat. 

 

A quiet desire for the world beyond these walls.

 

Chapter Text

 

When Bae suddenly finds herself waist-deep in debt, she takes it to the convenience store down the street. And now she’s here with a gun in her hands that she doesn’t know how to hold, shouting at people to get down so that she doesn’t have to shoot. 

 

The drizzle of coins, each clink growing louder and louder in bated silence. 

 

Quietly she’s praying for all of this to end. But that prayer slowly turns into hope when the distant wail of police sirens looms in the distance. Her finger slips onto the trigger. Heart and mind at the bottom of an invisible sea. Hoping for something, anything to come and save her. 

 

And for once, someone listens and hope descends. 

 

Hope arrives by blasting off the back of the convenience store, tearing through the silence with an otherworldly ray of light. Bae finds herself on the floor, gun sliding across the room. Her gaze falls onto the people lying on the floor. Then onto those clamouring and screaming out of the store. Her heart sinks and warm blood runs down her face. An overwhelming ring screams in her head. 

 

When Bae turns around, she’s greeted by the sight of a girl levitating in the sky above concrete crumble. Locks of wine-coloured hair in the wind. Kaleidoscopic crystal wings fluttering from behind. Neither demon nor angel. Hope wears a crown of stars circling between an arch of black horns. 

 

Hope looks down to meet her stare with a smile, capturing Bae in an arresting gaze of sapphire and violet. And now she is calling her name, descending onto the pool of blood, with both her arms out. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Gura is homesick and not sure where home is. 

 

It’s funny because the ocean is so big. But there has to be a point where it begins and ends. So Gura finds herself standing at the coast cliff, staring down into the deep blue. The spray of the ocean hitting the surface of her heart. 

 

When Gura drops into the water, she doesn’t make it far. Because the next moment she’s trying to swim back up towards the surface. She’s clambering through the dark. Gasping, swallowing the sea, fighting the sudden clench in her heart. Panicking. The water around her percolates into red and Gura imagines the smell of blood. Fallen towers adamantine and gold. Hearing the voices of ghosts calling her name. 

 

She can feel the ocean looking for a way in. And what if it finds one? 

 

When Gura beaches herself on the sand, she lays there with her eyes closed. Quiet. Until the noise in her head finally fades. 

 

It’s funny because she’s a shark that can’t swim. 

 

When Gura returns home, she’s dripping ocean all over the floor. Shivering with her eyes glazed over. She finds herself apologising over and over when Ame and Ina greets her with towels. Not sure if they’re wiping away water or tears from her face. But Gura lets them fuss over her anyway. When Ina pulls the shark into her arms, shushing quiet sobs, and Ame wipes down her tail with utmost care; Gura finds her heart swelling, oxygen in drowned lungs. 

 

It’s funny because if home isn’t in the ocean, Gura thinks, then it’s probably here.

 

Chapter Text

 

Time has its own way of moving at night.

How nice it must be. To share a moment with a stranger; rare intimacy beyond their connection. Ame’s looking at her, smiling, telling all these stories. Not an ounce of recognition in those eyes. And Ina listens with an odd sense of arrival and departure. Sinking. Because all she does when she looks at Ame is remember.

 

song

Chapter Text

 

link

 

Chapter Text

 

Gura finds herself at the border of heaven.

 

Because they’re walking down the slopes of a quaint countryside, hands intertwined. Out from the hustle and bustle of the city. Away from the musk in Ame’s office; away from case files and radio noise. Away from inky photos of the ocean depth, strange needles and blood.

 

The past and future are like two sides of the same coin, while Atlantis remains a mystery. And even if it jolts her awake, sweaty and frantic, it’s not as bad as finding Ame on the floor, glitching out because the timelines were wrong. Pure nightmare fuel.

 

“How do I look?” Ame does a little twirl in her white sundress, pulling Gura’s attention away from her thoughts. The latter smiles, watching the girl skip down the path, flower fields springing up on both sides. She’s thinking about how the light catches onto golden strands, and how her smile makes everything light up; sappy little love thoughts.

 

“Dork.” Gura gives a faux huff and laughter bounces between them. She thumbs the side of Ame’s hand gently. Then with pink dusting her cheeks, softer now, “I think you look beautiful.”

 

When their lips touch, it gives Gura an odd sense of arrival, and she’s holding firmly to those hands. Between Atlantis and Time, between past and future; honestly, who cares? They can all be damned. And Gura smiles into the kiss, soaring and in love. Because the present is where it’s at.

 

Chapter Text

 

Calli learns that death is a grave topic.

 

Because she’s sitting at the funerals of souls that she has reaped, mourning with humans. And when a soul doesn't have one, she’s filling in the shoes of lost families. She greets the names that appear on her list by saying their names aloud; tasting lifetimes on her tongue, feeling the weight. 

 

Between the bridge of earth-bound and unfettered heaven, Calli likes to think that it helps to make it more meaningful, more concrete. She’s watching the look of emotions playing across their faces; features etched in sorrow, huffs of anger, eyes glassing over with regret. She’s thinking that she’s seen most of it. 

 

But one emotion catches her off guard, and it beckons a plethora of unfamiliar emotions stirring in her chest. She’s travelling through the passage of life and death to meet death’s regular customer. Wearing curiosity, guilt and fear like armour on her sleeve. 

 

Because Calli isn’t sure if she’s going to find Kiara drowned at sea trying to save a child, or mangled across an asphalt road because of a careless truck. She’s standing there, next to bits of Kiara, waiting quietly for her to be born out of ash again. Left wondering what if one day her body decides that she has gone too far, and it forgets how to put everything back together again? 

 

It’s strange because when Kiara bristles out of cinders, new born and smiling, not one bit bothered that she died. Calli is always taken aback by the view. She hears Kiara calling her name, hands around her waist, feathering embers over her skin; and her face itches with the urge to return the smile back. 

 

And she’s left mulling over that one emotion, a rippling pool in her heart; wondering quietly if there’s even enough space for happiness when it comes to death.

 

Chapter Text

 

It’s always the quiet ones, Kiara thinks. 

 

For most of her life, she’s been chasing. Searching for that one special thing. A place to nest, arms to call home. And she finds herself looking for it in every person that she meets. She’s taking flight, chasing these girls of pedestal merits, dressing her heart in a sleeve of admiration. 

 

First through carrots and blue, then through death’s scythe and pink; but then Kiara finds herself passing through their lives like a train without stations. 

 

Because whenever she thinks she’s close, the backdrop changes, and suddenly she’s looking at them from different angles. Peering into their lives, caught off guard by what she sees. From then the world seems to take a step back and suddenly everything becomes higher, further. Surely, the sky’s the limit; but to Kiara, somehow the more she flies, the more terribly out of reach everything tends to be. 

 

So the last place she expects herself to find it is on the ground, where the waves kiss the shore. She’s grounded, with her feathers tucked, sending heat into cold hands which grasps onto her own firmly. Because Ina’s laughing, listening to her stories about the sky and forgotten tales of eternity. 

 

It’s strange when witnessing an ordinary cloud cover suddenly becomes interesting because she’s thinking about how Ina would love the view. Or how she notices a difference in the air, and thinks about how much easier it is to breathe down by the coast. And it’s also funny because she imagines Ina feels the same; because Kiara’s also listening to her stories about the rolling abyss of blue, curious about her trove of quiet secrets. Dreaming. 

 

For once, Kiara’s finding freedom without her wings and Ina’s coming up to the surface for air. So let love be the horizon where the sky and sea touches, because they’re the ones they thought they’d never meet.

 

Chapter Text

 

You’ll never think to find the student council president with her uniform in disarray. At least not during school hours. But in the council clubroom, Ina has her hips pushed up against a desk, tie undone, skirt riding up where a hand disappears between her thighs. And she’s panting, caught between two girls. Her hands are gripping onto blonde locks, face turned towards a head of silver; catching her breath between kisses.

 

The mirror image of a model student shatters.

 

Sometimes it’s not here, it really depends on the mood. But Ame’s idea of getting it down in the sports storage room almost got them caught yesterday; and Gura really does prefer it safer and private. So they’re using this room today since Ina always has the keys. 

 

Ina’s heart skips a beat when she’s thinking about it, the idea of other people finding out. And Ame notices because she’s smiling at her with a glint in her eyes, leaning in to whisper into her ear. Talking about how she’s tightening down on her finger below. And Ina nips soft lips in response, earning a small gasp from Gura; her gaze glazing over as she rides it out. 

 

Then comes a soft shower of kisses, sending shivers everywhere as her body slumps onto the desk. It feels like she’s floating as hands make their way under her shirt, fingers kneading into her skin lovingly; sweet affirmations sprinkling all over.

 

“You’re doing so well,” hits different when it’s from them, and it gets her heart racing. 

 

And it never gets like that when she’s giving speeches on stage or being fawned over by her teachers. Not even close.

 

So you’ll never think to find these three together like this. At least not during school hours. Three parts to a relationship; edges rounded out with love and honesty despite their differences. But at any other time, their hands are intertwined, in their own bubble; as the rest of the outside world folds upon itself and disappears. 

 

Chapter Text

 

A gentle rain of ashes and blood falls into copper light. 

 

They are in a broken building, taking refuge. Kiara cradles Ina in her arms, messy tangerine locks falling over her eyes. She’s not sure what kind of expression she’s making. And Ina’s holding her hand, mumbling about how she’s hearing only deafening silence now that she’s lost the Ancient Ones. 

 

Book in the wrong hands. The wrong Ame from the wrong timeline. 

 

Rendering Ina human and vulnerable, then possessing the power of the Gods for herself. Trapping Gura with the promise of Atlantis, and caging Calli between life and death; leaving her to drown in the sea of souls that she had reaped. How dare she, that little shit -- 

 

A hand runs up her neck and Kiara bristles. Her ruby eyes pools over, each falling tear cold. Fiery blood that used to run in her veins drained, then replaced by strange concoctions trickling through her body. An eternity of lifetimes had been stolen from her, and now she feels like a porcelain shell of her former self. 

 

For the first time in her life, Kiara is afraid of dying. 

 

The only fire left is the one burning in her throat, and she’s heaving against it. Revealing white fangs against deathly pale skin. She’s gripping onto Ina for warmth. Her expression breaking out in shame at the thought of being a blood-thirsty monster; the opposite of everything she stood for. 

 

But Ina only cradles her cheeks with a gentle hand. She’s tucking tangerine locks behind her ear, smiling at her. Then sliding down her neckline to reveal a stretch of white milky skin above her collarbones. A moment passes between them, an exchange of gazes; a nod, fingers still intertwined. And Kiara closes her eyes when her lips are on moonlight skin, listening to quiet laboured breathing, before piercing into red. 

 

Chapter Text

What is it in a name? For Ame is part of everything. She’s in photos, part of the camera; morphemes of the word. In spelling, it’s the air taking a trip between front teeth, from the thin letter C skipping to the dip in A. Segment it out into C- Ame -Ra, and you’ll find her in between the flashes of memories. Moving from present to past, future and back. Moments captured in time. The dates don’t tally; birthdays no longer marked because they no longer mark days. Tapping Ts on teeth, consonants crisp and clear, upswings on the ends of words; special stresses singularly hers. Ame is part of everything, and also everything at once. Because when you feel the weight of a ghost in your arms, that’s when memories begin from where dreams start to spring.

 

Chapter Text

 

Oh, she’s a thing of beauty. 

Golden glistening light beckoning down from the throne. Severe. 

A scythe lies on the floor. Even Death finds herself settling on a knee, bowing her head in the face of Life. Ruler of eternity, granter of immortality. 

The phoenix stares down at Calli, adorning white silk and jewellery, one leg crossed over the other. Light seems to spill from her presence alone, scattering off gold floors and into copper dust. It seeps into Calli’s black uniform, giving it an ember hue, and darkness wavers in the ocean of light.

As lifetimes and centuries fold upon each other, so has the reverence of many names known by her people. She is the Empress of Light. Mother of Suns. Kiara, the Radiant King of her people. And yet she still only commands this one unshakable, undeniable presence; capturing utter enchantment.  

With every clack of the golden heel, the light around them seems to shake, bend and fall. Calli is realising that the crowned tresses are made of embers, rippling out into flames, wisps of fiery green at the ends. And Kiara wears her robe of copper and emerald feathers in a colossal display of beauty and power. 

When the phoenix stops before her, heat greets her like the birth of a miniature sun. Death raises her head to meet a fervent gaze, citrus assaulting her senses. And her chest burns with awe or fear, she doesn’t know. She is thawing and riveted on golden floors, noting the smile of amusement playing in the light. The voice that follows echoes like it comes from a faraway chamber; tone regal and resonant.

“To find you at my front door… looking like this” Kiara lifts Calli’s chin with a silk fan. Pause.  “Oh, how cute .” 

Chapter Text

 

When a black hole opens up in the middle of the Pacific, it also swallows half of the sea. And water is bent doubled, pressured into a concave bowl of dark rolling abyss. If you peer down from the skies, you’ll notice that distortion makes it hard to tell where everything really starts and begins. 

 

But one thing remains clear. 

 

In the heart of the region, an unconscious body remains half in the void, streaks of golden hair. Glitching. Parts of the girl stretching into ribbons. Part of the spacetime herself, the source of the calamity. 

 

Watching her is the eldritch priestess. Her tentacles splay out over the rippling water, the book of the Ancient Ones hovering in one hand. Her lips are moving, and scriptures are floating from the pages and into the brine air. Eyes hollow and rolling white. 

 

If you peer closer, you’ll find her face tear-streaked when she turns to face the ships anchoring themselves in the Pacific, all armed with nuclear weapons. To them, it’s a declaration of war. 

 

But to Ina, the only threat is losing Ame in spacetime. So she gestures towards a ship, calling out the spell. Desperation on her tongue. And from her hand comes a beam of otherworldly light, piercing the vehicle in an instant. Vaporise and repent. A display of otherworldly power and rising steam. 

 

To the careful observer, upon peering even closer, you might notice the slight tremble in her hand. Because it’s an emotional warfare; she’s not used to wielding power this way. Ina hates the scriptures, abhors the noises settling in her head. She’s on the edge, a fine balance between sanity and madness. 

 

Yet she’ll gladly read every page and every spell, over and over again, if it means bringing Ame back. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Gura beaches herself on sand that reminds her of Ame's golden locks. She thinks the water lapping along her fins is the same shade as the girl's eyes; catching onto the sunset, glazing over. She thinks of Ame over and over again, listening to the crash of homesick waves. As her blood stains sand, breathing softly; she's cloaked in the colour of love, drying out into memory.

 

Chapter Text

 

Bae likes to keep everyone close, but not too close. 

 

When she stands on stage, accepting her role as the new head of the school’s discipline council, she feels like an imposter. And she gets really good at faking it. She gets really good at pretending that the title doesn’t weigh on her shoulders; that it doesn’t bother her when night comes, and she’s still in school, locking the place up. 

 

In fact, maybe if she works hard enough, one day she’ll be able to look at her own reflection and see what everyone else sees; standing like a pillar that will never topple. And overtime, Bae finds that wearing the mask feels more comfortable than leaving her countenance bare. 

 

.

 

“You’re not supposed to be here,” Bae points out, frowning at the figure floating in the water. Her voice echoes in the empty hall, where the school’s indoor pool is. 

 

The girl in the pool ignores her, clad in a black swimsuit. Annoyed, Bae repeats her sentence louder, and another echo passes between them. Bae watches the girl dive into the water, moving towards her in warping blue. Then she emerges in front, at the edge of the pool.  

 

“I know.” The girl drops her elbows onto the ledge, smiling with a glint in her eyes. The smell of chlorine wafts closer. 

 

‘Well then, get out.” Bae grunts, dangling a set of keys in front of her. She turns to lock one of the doors. “You know it’s against the rules, Irys. Plus, I have to lock this whole place up before summer break starts.” 

 

“Boo, you’re no fun.” Irys runs her hands through wet ruby locks, musing. The face of an angel and with a grade record to back it up. During school hours, she’s the teachers’ favourite pet. But the moment everyone leaves, she’s a pretty little devil, always doing what she wants. 

 

How annoying. First Bae finds her stealing from the vending machine. Then she’s sneaking around the General Office, swivelling in the teachers’ chairs. And now, she’s having the time of her life in the swimming pool? 

 

The absolute audacity. 

 

Suddenly Bae hears a loud splash, and she snaps her head around. 

 

“Irys?”

 

Frantic-looking arms break the water’s surface and Bae finds herself staring for a moment. Then she’s moving before she can think. Darting down the steps, her heart pounding. Keys on the floor. 

 

“Irys!” She's reaching into the pool, bending over at the edge. Eyes locked on the rippling swirl of ruby and black. A hand breaks the surface, latching onto Bae’s wrist firmly, and before she could do anything, Bae finds herself falling into blue. 

 

.

 

It’s dark because Bae has her eyes closed. Then she’s panicking because she remembers that she can’t swim. Her eyes open to blurry vision, the smudge of a figure swimming towards her, and Bae feels herself being pulled up to the surface.  

 

Bae’s grasping onto wet skin, arms over shoulders,  hugging the figure holding her close. Shivering. 

 

“Oh man, you should’ve seen the look on your face!” Pretty laughter rings out in her ear and Bae curses under her breath. She’s flushed crimson, and when Irys pats her head, muttering sorry with a soft chuckle, she doesn’t want to admit that it tugs at her heartstrings. 

 

God , she hates everything about this. 

 

A list of curses and insults falls from her lips. But Irys only breaks out into laughter again, pushing her against the wall.

 

“Not so stiff now, are you?” Irys hums, a devilish grin playing on her lips. The scowl on Bae’s face deepens when Irys stares at her for a while, looking pleased. “I’ve never seen you this lively. That’s much better.” 

 

Irys looks at Bae like she sees through the mask, and it makes her stomach churn. 

 

So she digs her heel into the girl’s hip, gripping onto the ledge for support. Irys falls back into the water with a yelp. With a satisfied huff, Bae crawls out from the pool. She’s panting, feeling twice as heavy with soaked uniform draping over her skin. Feeling the thrumming of her heart doubled by the pounding in her head. 

 

”I swear—” Bae says, realising that she didn’t have a change of clothes. She trudges up and down the steps, grabbing the keys that she dropped. “I’m going to lock this place with you in it!” 

 

But Irys only hops out over the ledge, a wide grin plastered on her face, unbothered by the threat. There are towels near the bench, and Bae drops into a seat, covering herself with one. Still shivering. She flings a towel at Irys, who catches it easily. 

 

When Irys sits next to her, dropping another sorry , Bae hears the smile in her apology. So she grunts and turns away, feigning annoyance. Then she’s feeling warm hands in her hair, a fluffy towel patting her dry. 

 

“Let’s do this again sometime?” Bae hears Irys say. 

 

“No.”

 

“Come’ on.” 

 

“Fuck you.” Irys hums like she doesn’t mind the idea and Bae groans, composure long abandoned. She smacks a hand off the crown of her head. “Don’t be stupid, you fucking dummy.”

 

But Irys only laughs again with that pretty voice of hers.

 

From the bench, the pool is mirror-like blue, dotted with a bokeh of underwater orange hues. They stay like that for a while, huddling somewhat; close but not too close, perhaps just enough to feel each other’s warmth. 

 

Chapter Text

 

If Kronii had a flower for every time she thinks of Mumei, she could walk in her garden forever.

 

But even Time has its limits and flowers wither in the snow. She’s staring down from her dimensional plane. Neither here nor there; yet everywhere at once. Her memory is an infinite library, but Kronii finds herself watching the same movie over and over again. 

 

She’s watching the one about civilisation. It brings about complicated feelings; a stream of impulsive moods. And it’s strange because when you are a concept, everything else should be an abstraction. But Kronii feels the ghost of her memories in real tangible ripples. 

 

Against the backdrop of empty spacetime, humanity feels like a burst of colours. She’s revisiting the canvas in her mind, walking alongside a familiar figure. The guardian grabs her fingers firmly, warm hands like gloves of protection. From spring to fall, Mumei teaches Kronii about love.

 

But in the face of a thousand suns, even beautiful things come to an end. And now the familiar planet is cloaked in an incessant winter, not a trace of humanity left. 

 

Not Time though. For time is an infinite library of memories and Kronii only resumes her duty of organising timelines, flipping through these movies. However, she does find herself wondering if the guardian was truly gone or gone elsewhere. Because against rolling void, Kronii’s thinking that she wants to walk, with her hands in hers, through a real field of flowers again. 

 

Chapter Text

 

It begins with a simple gesture. 

 

Warm hands sliding into hers, thumbs gently rubbing circles into skin. For the first time, Ina’s telling her about the Ancient Ones and Gura responds by holding her hand. A moment passing between friends.

 

Then fast-forward a little, and those same hands are now travelling round the curve of her back, pulling Ina into an embrace. Gura’s catching warm tears on her clothes. And suddenly, the backdrop changes; everything’s a little different and friendship finds itself balancing on a cliff. 

 

Between sunrise and sunset, outside their circle of casual banter, none’s the wiser. But when midnight comes and the world falls asleep, Ina jolts awake to find Gura in her arms. Quiet worry on her face, revealed by moonlight. And Ina doesn’t need to tell her about her nightmares because Gura knows not to ask. 

 

So the next time Gura’s curling into a ball, shaking; Ina knows to scoop the shark up with her tentacles. She’s taking her to the bathroom, lowering her into a bubble bath. Holding her hand from start to finish, washing away the memories of Atlantis. 

 

For them, the intimacy of being understood is one that begins without words. Because Gura’s bad with sappy thoughts, and Ina’s too used to paintings for prose. But between the echoes of maybes and what-ifs, there’s no need to ask twice, because one look is all they really need.  

 

Chapter Text

 

“Why do I constantly underestimate you?” Time is tangled in bedsheets, arms folded over Mother Nature’s thighs. Relenting; a display that seems unbecoming of her.

 

A hand combs through midnight-blue locks. 

 

“A pretty face will do that.” Fauna says, turning to meet her gaze. Her hands glide over Kronii’s scalp, down the back of her ear, gently rubbing the soft curve of a lobe. Every inch memorised. And Kronii hums in approval, closing her eyes. “You of all people would know.” 

 

How pampered, she thinks. That Time asks for endless care and infinite space; that Time pushes the world away yet makes a home in her presence. Fauna leans down, planting a kiss on Kronii’s forehead. Yet, it’s funny because she doesn’t mind giving the girl what she wants. 

 

A body stirs from the other side of the bed. Their attention falls onto Mumei, locks of chestnut brown spread over the pillow like a deep meaningful fan. Fast asleep and safe in emerald sanctuary. Fauna smiles, looking pleased at her prized possession. 

 

No one else can protect the guardian of civilisation better than Mother Nature herself. 

 

She gives Kronii a gentle push, beckoning Time towards Civilisation. Kronii lies down next to Mumei. Between them, she knows there’s something special; the push and pull of unwavering time and impulsive humanity. Yet how inadequate they are at taking care of each other; and how funny it is that they always return and seek refuge under the trees. 

 

With both Time and Civilisation on her side, she thinks, Mother Nature always finds a way.

 

Chapter Text

 

Neck kisses, coffee dates and midnight car rides.

They play dumb, but know exactly what they’re doing. In bed, folding ribbons of midnight and gold. When morning comes and the stars pull away make-believe, timid gazes waver; because the desire to be alone and be touched forces their hands apart. So it’s strange when bits of love falls into their laps - it's everything they could ever want - and yet they have no idea what to make of it.

 

Chapter Text

 

Ame is sitting on the kitchen counter, staring out of the window. Half of her right arm is glitching, and if you allow your eyes to travel, you’ll realise that bits and corners of the room are malfunctioning too; breaking out into mosaics of spacetime. 

 

“Ame,” a small voice calls her name. The blonde pulls her gaze away from the stars, turning to look down at Gura from the counter. The shark is looking at her with wide eyes, messy bed-hair, shivering in her oversized hoodie. “It’s 3am in the morning.” 

 

Ame nods her head. 

 

“What’s on your mind?” Gura asks, walking up to the counter. She places a hand on Ame’s thigh, kneading small assurances into skin. She doesn’t ask, but the question paints itself on her expression. Are you thinking about leaving again? 

 

“Nothing,” Ame hops off the counter, taking Gura’s hand in hers. “I just couldn’t really sleep.” She lets out a strained chuckle. Even if parts of her body are fragmenting into dimensional ribbons, at least the warmth between them still feels real. 

 

“I’m worried about you, doofus.” 

 

Ame lets her hand slide over the crown of Gura’s head, patting carefully.  

 

“You know, I don’t really understand what’s going on. I’m not even sure if we’ve met at the right time,” Ame feels Gura’s grip on her hand tighten. “But because we’re both here, let’s try our best.” 

 

When Ame looks at Gura, she sees a world of worry pooling in her eyes. Every thought rippling out into an ocean full of hopes and dreams. The blue reflection of them together. And she can’t help but smile, thinking that the last thing she would want is to disappoint. 

 

“Yeah, let’s try our best.”

 

Chapter Text

 

Calli stands next to the counter, dimly washed in the gold light that spills from pendant lamps. In one white-gloved hand, there is a glass of whiskey; motion from her wrist, swirling slowly. The ice crinkles softly in the glass when she brings it to her lips, smoky malt pooling in her mouth. 

 

“The Queen has arrived. Standby.” 

 

The static in her ear buzzes and Calli grunts, not particularly pleased, eyeing the men in suits as they enter the bar. She’s hoping to finish her drink first, but that needs to wait now. 

 

The last person to enter the room is a woman who carries herself with an air of regality. The cynosure of all eyes. Wearing power in shades of red; lipstick on curved lips, champagne in one hand, crimson silk against porcelain skin. And Calli’s lying if she says that she isn’t a bit enamoured by the view. 

 

So she places her half-finished drink on the counter, the other hand moving to button her blazer. Fingers lightly running over a familiar bump, the hilt of a gun hidden inside her waistcoat. Calli’s tense, but it gives her a type of confidence that alcohol cannot.

 

The woman seats herself at the other end of the room, against the backdrop of the night city. She turns her head to hold Calli’s gaze, tucking a lock of tangerine behind an ear. Poised, self-assured; there is a kind of arrogance oozing from her posture, endorsed by the trickle of diamonds and gold hanging from her body. 

 

Then she’s walking over, carrying a briefcase in one hand. It is heavy, and stinks of corruption and dirty cash. But she’s a woman of her word, so Calli stops in front of the woman, staring down in vain; hating every minute of it. 

 

Chapter Text

 

When Ame closes her eyes, she’s falling through memories. 

 

Sinking into the ocean, dappled light dancing on the surface of waves. Then pink-death is clawing her back, scythe swinging from above, and Ame sees her reflection on the blade before everything goes dark. Sometimes it feels like she’s skydiving without a parachute, limbs flailing. She’s fighting the air, heaving. Then other times it feels like she’s floating; suspended in moments. She’s cradling warmth in her hands, shivering next to a quiet fireplace. Then she’s running her fingers through moss, watching how the shadows seem to dance; pushed and pulled by the morning light.

 

When Ame opens her eyes, she’s hearing hands clapping and voices calling her name. There are flickering candles in front of her, on a cake. 

 

“Happy birthday Watson!” Gura swings an arm over her neck, beaming. And a chorus of happy birthdays follow. Kiara bends down, sparking a small flame with her finger, lighting the rest of the candles. Calli walks out of the kitchen with a tray of booze, slightly tipsy. And Ina’s holding the camera, looking at her, smiling gently. 

 

Ame feels a wave of emotions washing through her. 

 

How strange it is, she thinks, to be dreaming of them even when she’s wide awake.

 

Chapter Text

 

Under the circle of heaven, nothing escapes her eye. 

 

Maybe that’s why she’s so caught off guard by the scurry of emotions across the curve of her heart. Blind-sided. Jarring splashes of red, white and yellow. So vivid in the dark tunnel of ruby and blood. The view of Bae hits like a firework display. 

 

“Come any closer, and I’ll bite.” A warning glints in razor-sharp teeth. 

 

How bold. In the face of heaven, she doesn’t bat a single eyelash; and at the mention of hell, her face lights up in an awful way. It’s exciting, Irys thinks, to see the girl scamper along purple flames, daring to dance with the devil. A hand rests over the thrumming of her heart. How many years has it been since I felt this way?  

 

So she hovers closer, crystal wings in bloom.  

 

“Oh, be careful with what you say...” It sounds more like an invitation than a threat. A smile plays on the curve of her lips, and Irys is unable to contain the euphoria flashing across her expression. Bae grits her teeth, not knowing what it means. But her feet remains riveted and loyal. So Irys breaks out into laughter, amused; two can play at this game. And in an instant, she has her nails around Bae’s neck; she’s leaning in, whispering.

 

“--Because I’ll bite back.”

 

This time, she thinks, she’ll try not to play with her food too much. 

 

Chapter Text

 

“Do you think she’ll know?” 

 

Before the hum of supercomputers, Gura’s voice sounds so small. She’s tense and dark, against the glitter of monitors and mysterious switches. 

 

“Does it matter?” Ina has her back to her. It’s rhetoric, and ironically shouldn’t be. Strings of numbers descend from the black screen like a premonition, varicoloured in their judgment. Gura tries to imagine the look on Ina’s face. But even when the girl turns around, her eyes are hidden by the white gleam reflecting off her glasses, and the faint flicker of lights in the lab barely helps. 

 

Next to the computers, Ame sits on her metal throne. She’s unconscious, cold and clasped with straps. A web of wires spills from the helmet on her head, trailing down her back, and winding back to the screens. It’s an uncanny sight. One that makes everything in the room feel like it is occurring beneath a void. 

 

“It’ll be over in an instant.” Ina starts, explaining the intricacies of the process. She’s walking over with a thick wire, passing by the first chair with Ame in it. But Gura’s not really listening. She’s watching Ina reach behind a second metal chair in the room, connecting everything together. The computers whirl in unison, as though they are coming alive. 

 

Ina turns the chair around, looking pleased. 

 

In muted silence, with a trembling upward stare, Gura’s eyes rest on the vivid view of another figure sitting in it. An exact copy, cloned to perfection. It looks just like Ame, but her senses are rebelling the sight in every way. And suddenly she’s vividly aware of the many others to come, waiting for their turn, floating in their dark chambers. 

 

Gura heaves, feeling sick. 

 

“I know that you love her.” Ina places a hand on her shoulder but Gura hardly feels it. The clone in the chair is beginning to twitch. “And I love her too. She won’t feel a thing during the upload, I promise. And I’ll do whatever I can--I’ll make as many as we need--so that we can keep her with us forever.” 

 

The words falling from Ina’s lips ripples through a dark ocean at the bottom of her heart. And Gura's under her grip, so perfectly still and far away, remembering that Ina is one of those people who can still smile while being in a state of mad collapse.

 

Chapter Text

 

Listening to Kronii’s voice makes Mumei forget. 

 

She’s forgetting about the memories, like a dark gaping hole filling up her mind. Forgetting about war-torn landscapes drowning in a sea of flames. Forgetting about the noise of faraway bombs, the cries of straggled children and dying men. 

 

The guardian of civilisation takes it upon herself to protect humanity, but sometimes she finds that she cannot save people from themselves. 

 

So when memories of the past threatens to sweep her away, Mumei finds herself holding on against the roaring flood. Listening for Kronii. And when she does, it immediately takes her to plane of mirror-like blue. Untouched, unmarred; a lake in her mind. And the visions scatter into the light, spilling down in glitter over midnight-blue locks, and Mumei opens her eyes to Kronii’s gaze. A warm smile, fingers caressing her cheek. The dulcet tone of a familiar voice saying her name. 

 

There is something elegant about the way vowels rolled off the warden’s tongue, something lovely in the way her voice dips when she laughs. Mumei’s sinking into Kronii’s embrace, feeling like she’s floating and yet anchored by the steady rhythm of words strumming her heart; honey in her ears. 

 

She’s forgetting because she’s listening; thinking that the music is exceptional. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Ame finds herself lost in lavender.         

 

She’s enveloped by pillowing appendages. Every independent limb hugging the curve of her body, positioned carefully for maximum comfort. Her body moulds into the warm dark mass, feet tucked between violet velvet, head floating on clouds. It feels like she’s sinking, and disappearing into memory foam. 

 

Ina’s sleeping next to her, looking so pale and beautiful, so vivid in the night. And yet so unaware that it tempts Ame. She shifts her weight, moving closer. 

 

“Can’t sleep?” A groggy whisper, thick with sleep. Ina’s fingers feathers across Ame’s skin, moving about clumsily before her hands finds hers. And the way Ina gently cups her hands,  staring at her, dazed, blinking off slumber; it makes Ame feel so utterly small, soft and coy.

 

So she shakes her head, lighting up in blushes, trying to hide the skip in her heart by burying her face into the curve of Ina’s neck. The latter giggles, and Ame feels the delightful thrumming of her voice against skin. And suddenly, any notion of a world beyond this bubble of theirs feels impossible, as though they could be the only ones occupying the world. 

 

Ame’s thinking that the feeling of Ina against her, so warm and real, makes her feel like she has landed in the right timeline, and then found her way home. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Beyond the window is a sea of grey.

 

The vehicle rumbles through the rolling fog, vapour gliding past juddering metal of a poor paint job. Fresh dents and scratches all over, battered up real bad; evidence of a drone attack earlier. Clearly it has seen better days, but Gura didn’t have the money to repair it anytime soon. 

 

“Are we there yet?” A voice buzzes through static and Gura turns to look at the monitor with a frown. 

 

“You’re so impatient.” She lightly chides at the holographic visual. The screen glitches a little  - signal in the clouds isn’t too great - then Gura sees Ame with her hands over her face, staring into digital void. Gura feels a trickle of worry run through her, so the next moment she’s popping a chip into her mouth. 

 

It takes a moment, but soon she’s feeling the world, the sensation of cold vapour on her skin. The vehicle first becomes an extension of her body, but her spatial awareness expands beyond that. She closes her eyes, hands on the steering wheel, trying to concentrate. She’s grasping through the clouds, all sensory functions in overdrive. They’ve always said that she has a knack for this anyway. Well, Gura thinks, it better count now. 

 

The vehicle ascends slowly, rumbling even louder. When they peek out from the cover, cloud spills over the front pane. The horizon changes from grey sky into deep blue. For a moment, it looks like they were at the bottom of the ocean and not in the middle of the sky. 

 

And in the distance, there it is, just as she sensed it. Gravity defying, a city glittering in white and gold. Celeste hovers as a sight for sore eyes, existing just for the rich and elite, the cream of the crop. They’re cruising through the white plane slowly now, taking it all in. 

 

“I’ll get you a good sleeve, an even better one than you had before.” Gura finds herself whispering, hope and desperation playing in her eyes. Ame’s looking back at her from the screen. “Then we’ll get you offline, I promise.”

 

Chapter Text

 

When is a monster not a monster? 

 

Oh, Gura thinks, it’s when you love it.

 

But love is a complicated thing because she’s savouring the moment, standing over a mass of quivering flesh. Bits of violet stained in dark red. The stench of blood clouds her mind, bringing her close to nirvana. Gura sneers, lips pulling back to reveal dripping red across razor-sharp rows of teeth.

 

Yet she’s shaking, terrified of this dark thing sleeping inside her. Her sanity hangs on the edge of a precipice, swaying between extremes. She’s drenched in blood that’s not hers. 

 

But their little game of chase isn’t over yet. 

 

Because the next moment, Gura’s staring in awe, watching pieces of Ina put themselves back together, the uncanny sight of skin stitching over fresh wounds. The figure unfolds in an instant, familiar midnight curtains falling down from a golden halo, barely covering her nakedness. Ina meets her gaze with eyes turned over in rolling white. 

 

Then a tentacle shoots out at her, colliding with adamantine. Gura bristles, her skin roughing up into a layer of protection. The trident in her hands shakes at the sheer force and her feet breaks into concrete. Ina’s sauntering towards her now, sighing deeply as a trail of her body parts follow, blood and flesh returning into seams of broken skin. 

 

When she speaks, a smile plays on her lips and Gura hears the voice of a thousand distorted voices echo in her head. 


Oh , I can be a little sick in the head too.”

 

Chapter Text

 

(1)

It isn’t like Bae believes in love. 

 

But she hears about it a lot. On afternoon spring days, sitting at an empty rooftop and staring down at the bustling world beneath. Dangling a juice box in one hand, turning to pass Irys another. 

 

No one really comes up to the roof. So the illusion of privacy sometimes makes it feel like they are the only people here. Their own little secret spot, she thinks. Bae has her face half-buried in a red scarf. Not really listening entirely, but just enough to catch bits and pieces to keep up with the conversation. 

 

She’s distracted, wondering about what brand of lipgloss the girl uses. 

 

“What do you think?” Irys is shoving a piece of paper in her face. Bae takes it with a frown. A faux expression of thoughtfulness crosses her face. Right, these are lyrics for the upcoming school song competition. 

 

But the girl starts rambling again. She’s half-yelling to no one in particular. “I feel like it’s missing that one thing . You know, the thing that makes love so special. Like I want it to sound real and stuff…” 

 

Bae rolls her eyes at her as Irys proceeds to lament about how she has never dated before. A series of failed crushes apparently. But when Irys questions why she has no luck with guys, Bae finds herself wondering too. 

 

“Come on!” Irys whines, placing her hands on Bae’s shoulders. She’s shaking her lightly now, eyes sparkling. “Tell me more about your boyfriend.”

 

And Bae squeezes the empty juice box in her hand. Because it isn’t like she believes in love and it isn’t like she has a boyfriend. She’s not sure why she said that in the first place. Between the warmth from Irys’ hands on her shoulders and the rapid lies tumbling out from her lips, Bae finds herself falling through the ravine of what-ifs and maybes. Pretense caving.

 

Because on afternoon spring days, she’s imagining what love would look like on Irys. 

 

(2) 

Soft hands, knots slipping. Afternoon spring days turn into afternoons in summer. Then house visits at noon. The patter of nervous footfalls, white noise in her head. Homework turns into a distraction. She’s restless, her mind taking her places. Soaking into an unfamiliar bedroom cloaked in vivid sunset. The desire to make a home here clenches her heart. Because she’s picturing them holding hands, spending time together, even when the sun sets. 

 

When Irys asks her about her boyfriend, Bae’s telling her about how he loves music too. And how sometimes he says the most ridiculous things, or how he’s kinda daft and not very good at picking up hints. The more she talks about it, the more she finds herself sinking into the red amethyst sea. She’s trying to claw out of the tide, gasping; but it parts beneath her feet and folds in on her. Drown in the dark belly of the ocean. 

 

So one day, everything comes undone. Her expression’s naked. And when Irys looks at her, she finds it strange. The afternoon sunlight turns into a blinding glare. It sends her away, stumbling. Confused and afraid. Lost in a maze, dead-ends of thoughts and feelings. Every corner she takes turns away from Irys. But the girl always appears closer than ever before. She’s walking through walls, grabbing her wrist, pulling her back. 

 

“Why did you lie to me?”

 

Bae heaves. 

 

“You should’ve told me.” 

 

Irys catches hot tears on her clothes. She’s wrapping her hands around the sobbing girl carefully, picking up loose strings. Quiet. Because love tangles between them like sunlight in the water, bright and trembling in the summer.

 

(3) 

It isn’t like Bae knows much about love. 

 

And neither does Irys. So it takes a couple of tries. They are groping their way through the sea of unfamiliar feelings, encountering outstretched arms at the coast. From coral fall to ivory winter, the ebb and flow of tugging heartstrings brings them closer. 

 

Of red-scarfs, rooftops and lunch boxes for two. All this time, Bae’s wishing that the tremor in her heart disappears like a jewel of dew in the morning. But now, her face is drenched in every thought and emotion that surfaces. Pink dusting on her cheeks. And Irys is looking at her in a new light, beaming down with uncontained curiosity.

 

How reassuring it is to be given permission, Bae thinks. To come undone, to fall and have someone catch you. And even if Irys is still fumbling, with nothing much but romantic novels and shows to trace from, Bae’s guiding her hand into hers. Because love doesn’t have to be like the ones on television if they are making it their own. 

 

So on snowy afternoon days, the lyrics on paper sounds a little more real because it’s written from the heart. When it’s Irys’ turn to stand on stage, she’s looking down, searching for her special missing piece in the crowd. And here comes the view of Bae flushed in red, glittering from the light that fills the hall. She’s listening closely, anchored by the meaning of the words, washed away by the beauty of Irys’ voice. Feeling like the world is disappearing around them; their own little secret bubble. 

 

“Hey, congratulations.” Backstage, under dim lights. Irys throws her arms around Bae, a winning glow surrounding her. “You were so wonderful.” And Bae’s rising on her tippy toes, leaning in to meet Irys’ lips. Hands on her shirt, sinking heat through cotton. Tasting spring, summer, fall and winter, on familiar lipgloss.

 

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link

 

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Kiara catches dappling sunlight on her hands. 

 

She stands there in a ruined white dress, washed in the golden glow. Magenta eyes sparkling in awe, drinking in the sight of the canopy. Toes dipping in a small stream. 

 

Calli’s picking up the chains with one hand. When they move, they tug lightly at the girl’s ankles, marred and red. The action pulls Kiara’s attention back. Her gaze travels up the blade of Calli’s scythe glinting in the light, laced with scarlet. Blood that’s neither hers nor the reaper’s. 

 

A droplet falls into the water, a moment of rippling red. 

 

Is this the kind of moment where you smile? A trickle of an attempt at some kind of reassurance. Then tell her what? That everything is going to be okay? Calli isn’t sure, but her mouth moves anyway. 

 

She’s looking down at Kiara, saying: “You’ll be safe here, no one is going to hurt you.”  

 

Calli’s imagining the dark rooms, struggling to know what kind of trials they put her under. She’s studying Kiara’s face, wondering if there’s a seed of hatred in her heart. For abuse and pain. For humans and their nightmarish experiments. Waiting to be nurtured? Calli’s feeling pensive because she’s realising that she can never know what it’s like. Trapped under the weight of the chains in her hands, never knowing what colour the sky is. 

 

It’s beyond her understanding. 

 

But Kiara only smiles at her, tugging at the hem of her shirt, her face lighting up with everything wonderful in the world. Feeling the wind on her face. Not a trace of loathing in sight. 

 

Chapter Text

 

What kind of phoenix doesn’t fly? 

 

The kind that unfolds from the ash and discovers that her wings don’t work any more. 

 

Kiara doesn’t know why. It’s not like they are broken, or she developed a sudden fear of heights. Perhaps, the weather just isn’t right. Or somehow, maybe, she just forgot how to. 

 

The next hundred years, she spends it on foot with her head in the clouds. Memorising every cloud cover, watching the airplanes go by. Imagining if it’s her among azure, feeling the wind on her face. She’s hoping that she doesn’t forget what it’s like to draw contrails with her ember wings. But the memories start to fade like the breeze between her fingers. 

 

Whenever Kiara’s dreaming, she’s gliding in the sky. But then she’s waking, landing in reality, buried in emerald green. And so now she’s on the edge of a cliff, thinking about ash. Jumping. Hoping that a miracle happens. 

 

“What the fuck.” A heavy grunt. Sharp ruby gaze. Kiara lands in the arms of a woman with hot-pink hair and a scythe slung across her back. A threat falls from her lips. “Please fucking never do that again, you silly bird.” 

 

And Kiara’s heart beats in an awful way. It’s soaring in her chest. She’s wondering if this is what flying might feel like. Thinking that if the sky was ever personified, it would be the thrumming against her chest, beating inside her, whenever she looks at Calli. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Ame’s disrupting timelines again but Kronii can’t bring herself to hate the time traveller. She’s placing the golden watch in new-born hands, frowning at the puzzled gaze that meets her eyes. 

 

“Who are you?” The girl speaks. She glances around the dimensional plane and sees nothing but void. “Who am I?” 

 

Why, the audacity of the girl failing to remember her. Kronii wonders if she’s that easily forgettable. She decides to take slight offence at this, thinking once again that humans are not without their many flaws.

 

“Amelia Watson.” A pause, then the lazy wave of a gloved hand. “Well one of many. You’ll have to check your serial number later.” 

 

Kronii gestures towards a book on the floor.

 

“Oh, and don’t forget your little diary.” 

 

Ame picks it up, thumbing through pages quietly. A look of concentration settles in her expression. A detective on a case. Kronii knows that look. She thinks that Ame’s like a ripple though time, setting things apart and then bringing them back together again. It’s funny because time waits for no one, and yet she’s here, pausing the world to watch the transit. Always here so that when one Ame dies, there’s time for another to rise and take her place. 

 

Maybe it’s because she finds the girl interesting. 

 

Ame’s unlike any other human she’s known. She tends to grind herself for other people until there’s nothing of her left. An almost pitiful struggle against the mortality. And yet in the stars reflecting off the plane, Kronii sees each one entangled in Ame’s destiny. It’s a web of time that seems to go on forever. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Ame hates it here. She wants to get out. 

 

There’s so much blackness. A tentacle slides over her eyes, and she feels the pressure of appendages tightening around her limbs, gripping every inch of her body. Filling in every curve. There’s no space to move. No permission to squirm. 

 

“Hate it here, want to get out.” The distorted voice echoes, the Ancient Ones probing her mind. No concept of privacy or empathy. It reaches out and grabs what it wants, and Ame abhors it. 

 

And yet, when the darkness over her eyes pulls away, and she’s gazing upon the familiar countenance of Ina, she finds herself paralysed between emotions. Hate evaporating in an instant. 

 

How incredibly selfish of her. To keep these problems for herself and try to take on the world, as though she’s the hero the priestess needs. How incredibly selfish of her. To be blinded by visions of the past, crying for Ina, with the memory of light and love playing in her head. How incredibly selfish of her. To abuse time, upset the warden, and come down here again and again, hoping that this time will be the one. 

 

But the city is already in shambles. 

 

Amelia knows that she’s too late. She recognises the dark veil over Ina’s eyes. Feels the grip on her neck. And when everything snaps and she’s tasting blood clogging up her throat, she’s reversing the clock, praying that her selfishness will pay off one day.

 

Chapter Text

 

They say that small things come in small packages. 

 

Calli didn’t think that it would come in the form of a girl half her size. 

 

Today she’s sinking into bubbling blue. The sound of muffled voices bounces between her thoughts, and she hears the intonations of panic. When Calli opens her eyes, she’s looking at sunlight trembling on a moving surface. A string of bubbles leaves her nose and kisses the curve of an unfamiliar face. 

 

Then hands lunges towards her, diving to grab onto her collar. Calli feels her heart skip when she’s dragged upwards, then hauled out of the pool with unexpected force. 

 

She coughs for air, holding onto the girl pulling her towards the edge. Distracted by wet silver hair. Strong muscles.

 

“Are you alright?” The girl stares at her. There’s a sense of calm in her features. Calli blinks. A crowd of students starts to gather behind them, and she feels drenched in attention.

 

“Y-yeah…” Feeling frazzled, Calli pushes herself off the girl and climbs up the ladder. She can feel her body shake, but the tremor in her chest thuds louder. “Thank you.”

 

Calli doesn’t look back. She has air caught in her lungs and pink on her cheeks. Then she turns towards the changing rooms, feeling a heavy gaze on her back, and draws a string of wet footprints between them. 

 

Chapter Text

 

“I think there’s something wrong with my limiter.” A pink coil twitches over platinum locks. 

 

“Why do you say that?” Kronii places down her cup on the dining table.

 

“Well, you’re a little taller today.” 

 

“Do I feel like that?” They’re facing each other now. “Or am I actually?” 

 

“Well you definitely can’t grow. So you’re not gonna be taller, you know.” Sana points out. “I don’t think- I’m pretty sure you’ve passed the time for that.”

 

“Well, that’s kinda rude.” Arms cross themselves.

 

“I think it’s more possible that I shrunk.” 

 

“Now did you?” Arms uncross themselves. A gloved hand hovers between them, casually measuring. 

 

“It could happen.” Sana shrugs, picking up the cup. It spills a little over the table. 

 

“Does it bother you?” 

 

“Hmm, not really.” She takes a noisy sip. “ As long as I’m always taller than you.”

 

“You’re annoying.” Kronii grabs the cup off her hands. 

 

“And yet you still like me all the same.” Sana wraps her arms around Kronii’s waist, smiling widely. She hums into the curve of the girl’s shoulder, satisfied with the new shade of pink over the warden’s cheeks. Kronii groans, looking down. 

 

“Shut up.” She huffs, then leans back into the embrace. 

 

Chapter Text

 

It’s the trick of the light, perhaps. 

 

A flicker of blue in the distance. 

 

They tell her that she has great eyesight, and Mumei knows that she can see for miles. At the lonely precipice where her cottage stands, Mumei watches the flower fields dance and the dark waves fold. 

 

Sometimes she sits in the open. Feeling the wind on her face. The thread of a forgotten song tugging at her mind. She’s waiting for something. 

 

For someone. 

 

Who is she waiting for? Mumei doesn’t know. She can’t remember. And the pages on her lap flapping about in the wind, with scribbles of words that felt like strangers had written them, refused to tell her. 

 

But she remembers the sensation of warm hands cupping her cheeks. The sound of a voice calling her name tenderly. The visage of a person blurred by hot tears. Even when Mumei closes her eyes, it rushes through her. 

 

Maybe with time, she thinks, she’ll remember. 

 

One day, perhaps.

 

Chapter Text

 

“It’s you, isn’t it?” Gura points at the red moon. 

 

“You’re the reason why strange things keep happening around here.” 

 

A dark figure stands motionlessly at the coast, white rolling eyes fixated on the talking shark.

 

“Well buddy, imagine planning a little sunny beach day with your friends and then seeing that thing in the sky -- Oh boy…” Gura groans when a colossal display of dark tentacles starts to emerge from behind the figure. 

 

“And whatever this is… oh we definitely can’t have this here.”

 

The figure responds with a distorted howl of a thousand static voices. 

 

“God, and you’re noisy too!” Gura huffs. 

 

“Okay look here buddy, I’m the one who’s supposed to be doing all that…” Her voice dips into a whisper. “...scaring and stuff. Cause I’m a shark and humans love beaches! Gotta keep them on their toes, if you know what I mean.” 

 

“And this is mine. So go and find another continent to…” Gura frowns, placing both hands on her hips lazily. “To destroy or something, well I don’t know.” 

 

The dark figure howls again, sounding upset, as it turns away to saunter back into the ocean. Tentacles, floating halo and all. 

 

“Now now, stop complaining.” The shark clicks her tongue, waving the creature off. “Better luck next time buddy!”

 

Chapter Text

 

“Do you mean it?” Kiara turns to her, speaking softly. “When you say that.” 

 

Calli doesn’t meet her gaze, preferring to stare at the floor. The grim reaper thumbs at her gloves, picking at the frayed ends. She makes an excuse. 

 

“I’m not good with words.”

 

Calli hears a sigh, then pictures a forced smile plastering itself on the phoenix’s face. 

 

“I know.” 

 

Between them, it feels like something is breaking. 

 

Because looking at Kiara is like looking straight at the sun. Even when Calli looks away, she still sees her there. Like a residual imprint on her vision. Kiara’s glittering, divine and beautiful; it blinds everything else Calli sees. Tipping the balance between life and death. It’s overwhelming, heavy and crushing her heart. 

 

So to compensate for the silence, Calli kisses the girl like she means it. A pair of arms wraps themselves gently around her neck. 

 

Once more, trembling, Kiara whispers.  

 

“I know.”

 

Chapter Text

 

Mumei saw her through the gap.

 

She’s on a step-stool, arranging the books in order. By title, then by colour. Grab them by the spine and slot them back in; a quiet push of air puffs against her face. Then push the books against each other and they’ll make a soft thud - that’s how you know everything’s neat and tight. 

 

But a book suddenly pulls itself away from the stack, opening a gap. 

 

Sapphire.  

 

Part of a face framed by books. 

 

A customer on the other side. 

 

And they stare at each other for a moment, through this unexpected tunnel of privacy created inside a bookshelf. An expression of bewilderment forms on the woman’s face. She breaks eye contact and Mumei hears her embarrassment through a muffled cough. 

 

“Uh, sorry-” 

 

A book drops to the floor. 

 

As the woman bends down to pick it up, Mumei hears the rustle of her coat. Then her face enters back into the frame, now red. She pushes the book back into the slot, closing the tunnel. And Mumei hears the hurried taps of heels across parquet, away from her, between the bookshelves. 

 

Chapter Text

 

https://archiveofourown.org/works/36789823

 

Chapter Text

 

Between the hands of a girl the colour of storm, 

Ame hopes that it’s still bright enough. 

Because one day when she’s 22, 35 or 60; 

and a little sparkler starts to fizzle out in gold;

Ame prays that she’s still bright enough

To light the crevice of her heart the colour of dawn.

 

Chapter Text

 

Why start a fire within yourself 

or burn until dust and ash remains,

when she’ll pick apart the ocean to keep even a flicker? 

 

Why carry the weight of the world

or struggle each time and time again,

when she’ll be the ocean to keep your sunset filter? 

 

There are hands on her cheek, tears on her face.

“Enough is enough,” Ame hears her say. 

“Why start the clock and go for days 

when all I want is for you to stay?”

 

Chapter Text

 

It’s a parade of puppets where civilisation used to rule. Now they stride in their suits and dresses, marching down the cross-walks, surveying between alleys and roads. Each one is invisibly strung and administered by the Guardian’s gloved hand.  

 

Mannequins, or weapons armed with the intent to kill?

 

“Hunt her down,” Mumei whispers with a smile, her eyes piercing in yellow amber. She caresses the hand of a porcelain woman, watching the display through special lenses. “Don’t stop until you find her.” 

 

It’s dark, but the Guardian of civilisation is more than accustomed. Mumei’s here again on the all-seeing plane of time. But Kronii’s not moving and her hands are cold. Soon, she’ll start crumbling too – Mumei knows it, and it makes her blood boil. 

 

She did this – that time traveller with her golden watch. 

 

“Don’t worry Kronii, we’ll find her,” Mumei presses her cheek against the cold arm, staring up at the immaculate face, “and then I’ll fix you.” 

 

A display of hollow sapphire – her brilliant blue without the shimmer. How dare a mere human, one unbound by her strings, do this to them? 

 

The yellow reflection in Mumei’s eyes flickers, then changes to the figure of a girl with golden locks running down the streets. They say that when you play with time, you pay with your life; but it’s never the warden who gets her hands dirty. 

 

“Found you.”

 

Chapter Text

 

Down her arm, ink slides down the white sleeve like a black ornamental snake. The priestess’ still on her throne, tentacles breaking through concrete like roots from a wayward tree. She’s crying, howling about the noises in her head. 

 

“Ina!” 

 

Ame scrambles up the stairs, running on wobbly legs and busted kneecaps. One end of her coat sways loosely where an arm should’ve been, and she’s clutching a golden watch with the other hand. 

 

“Ina, baby-” She’s in front of the priestess now. A grimace flashes across her face when streaks of ink sink into her clothes, burning her skin. “No no no- Ina, I’m so sorry…” 

 

Ame hurls herself onto the throne, pressing herself against the figure half-covered in ink. She presses their foreheads together and heaves with a smile. Numb to the pain. The golden watch flips open with a soft click.

 

“I’m going to take us back, okay? It’s not going to hurt anymore, nothing’s going to hurt you anymore- I promise, so please-” 

 

The ground beneath them judders, then shakes with the pressure of a calamity. The roar of time and dimensions drowns everything out and Ame presses their lips together clumsily. It’s a gamble that gives her hope - one without crying nor Ancient Ones; and yet it’s completely and utterly crushing because there’ll be nothing left of the time they had together.

 

She’s wiping the slate clean again - rinse and repeat. 

 

Saving Ina’s life means losing her in a different way, and Ame can’t tell if it’s hot tears or ink on her face.

 

Chapter Text

 

“I know what you did.” 

 

Ame doesn’t know how to read her words, and her heart lurches when she tries. 

 

“Kiara, I-” What was she trying to say?  

 

“It’s okay, I know you’re just trying to help.” Kiara’s voice wobbles and Ame knows that she’s crying. From where she stands, Ame could see the slight tremor in her shoulders against fierce ember locks. “You’re super sweet and kind, and you always try your best.”  

 

“But you can’t fix everything Ame. You can’t fix everyone.” 

 

“I know.” Ame feels the words burn in her throat. It’s suffocating, frustrating. How much time does she even have left? She wants to scream. 

 

When the phoenix turns around with tears in her eyes, Ame feels sick to her stomach. The smile on her face is always so bright, defining and enveloping, and it pains Ame to look at it. 

 

“I’m going to do it- I have to do it.” Kiara’s walking towards her now, holding the golden watch in one hand. It’s open with the hands turning. “I’m not going to run away anymore.” 

 

“Kiara-” 

 

Ame lunges forward, reaching to grab her hand. But it slips through her grasp as briefly as their gazes meet - a sliver of a vivid smile cradled in her memory

 

“Don’t miss me too much.” 

 

-and Kiara’s gone.

 

Chapter Text

 

It’s the feeling of pulses on her skin as she floats near the surface. The echo of someone singing above the water; gentle humming filling in the spaces of forgotten lyrics. 

 

It’s the reflection of pink like corals blooming on the water surface. A shadow cast on a porcelain face; but seeing the red gaze piercing through, firm and gentle. 

 

It’s the smell of ash and iron trickling into the sea that draws Gura close. Sometimes she catches a glimpse - it’s two moons in the picture; one captured in the waves, the other hanging beyond the ocean. 

 

One she could almost touch, and the other left to the imagination. 

 

It’s the knowing of her staring up at the sky, watching the moon for someone else - watching out for a spark in the night; as Gura’s left staring at the water, rippling with emotion, and watching her. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Bae bites the hand that feeds her.

 

Not because she’s ungrateful or spiteful, but because she can. And the scowl on Irys’ makes up for the ridiculous situation that they’ve landed themselves in. 

 

“Ow- what the hell?” Irys stares at her hand where the rest of the chocolate bar should’ve been. “Bae-“ 

 

“More importantly, how do we get out of here?” There’s a sliver of moonlight seeping through the door gap, allowing for some visibility in the dark. Bae feels her jacket for her phone again, knowing that it’s not there. Two girls falling into a closet - god knows how; and now the door’s suddenly jammed. This is just fantastic. 

 

Irys brings her knees close to her chest, hugging them. 

 

“I don’t know…” She’s grumbling into the curve of her skirt. “And now we’re gonna starve.”

 

“No, we’re not.” Bae gives her head a little smack, albeit somewhat affectionate. Then in a softer voice, “plus they’ll find us tomorrow anyway.”

 

Maybe it was the way Irys was pouting, or how her fists were tucked under her knees like they were cold. Or the way she had never gotten this close of a look at Irys before. But Bae finds herself taking off her jacket anyway, feeling guilty for the chocolate she had eaten. She drapes it over Irys and stifles an awkward cough.

 

Boy , it was going to be a long night. 

 

Chapter Text

 

First comes the sound of footfalls. The view of running legs swinging over concrete, then look up towards a head of red messy locks over uniform. 

 

“S-stop following me!” The girl yells, waving a finger about. She’s sweating, gripping her shoulder bag close to her body. The hot blush on her cheeks reveals the toll running takes on her. You see, Bae isn’t very accustomed to exercise apart from their occasional physical fitness class. 

 

“Bae- all I need is a minute!” 

 

Meanwhile, the girl running behind her seems to just cruise along the path. There’s a wide smile on Irys face. No signs of her going out of breath anytime soon. She’s holding a pair of tickets in her hands, yelling something about them still being able to catch the movie together. 

 

Bae curses under her breath, panting heavily. Idiot! She only agreed to date as a joke because no one ever stays, and now this blockhead- 

 

“The popcorn is great, I promise!” 

 

“Shut up!” The view of Irys running towards her grows closer. She can hear her footsteps right behind, and Bae’s still trying to catch her breath, feeling like she’s on fire. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Everywhere Irys walks feels like a stage. 

 

She’s high on the pedestal; high on the billboards and charts. Pick up a magazine and maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of her latest endorsement on the front cover - whether it’s about her latest release or something else, there’s always something to say about the idol. 

 

And tucked under Bae’s arm is a rolled up copy of said magazine. 

 

She’s entering a large towering building, pulling the hood of her jacket over her face. Busted sneakers kick against marble tiles, Bae’s looking unorthodox in every way. But she makes her way through the gantry anyway, swinging the special pass around her neck, and punches for the lift. 

 

.

 

Glossed lips pursed, blowing softly at newly painted nails. A girl sits on a swivel chair. There are hands in her hair, fresh curls down her back and the smell of steam in the air. When her manager scurries into the dressing room, Irys reads the room immediately. 

 

“Clear my schedule, will you?”

 

A tune dances on her tongue, and Irys starts beaming like the star that she is. She’s busy as one could be - the phone’s blowing up - and yet for a certain red-head awkwardly entering the room, she’ll always make room.  

 

Chapter Text

 

Bae picks up the pieces of a fallen angel. 

 

Because between good and evil, Irys’ too deep into the latter. And now she’s here, trapped in a crystal prison of where a city used to be - heaven’s idea of punishment.

 

Her claws slip against the crystal and it sets Bae’s teeth on edge. Like nails on a chalkboard. Deep inside, Irys’ staring back at her with a broken wing. Bleeding right where her horns are pierced through, eyes fevered in a bejewelled glow of sapphire and amethyst. 

 

Her mouth is moving, and Bae isn’t good at reading lips.


But it isn’t too hard to guess either. 

 

Bae’s smiling to herself, wondering what kind of creative excuse Irys is coming up with right now to push her away. They both know that the council is coming - the sky roars with their arrival - armed with their verdict on the anomaly that threatens this planet. 

 

And Bae’s still trying - she’s pumping up now, swinging her arm and hoping to leave a crack in the shell. Because if Irys is no longer hope, and Bae’s chaos, then she’ll gladly take on her sins.

 

Chapter Text

 

The edge of the world is a place where light never touches. 

 

It’s also where Bae finds herself staring up at four multi-dimensional orbs. They’re juddering in the air. A remnant of the great council that used to rule the earth, now a calamity; and she faces them on her own.

 

Well, not quite - the shell of Bae’s ear twitches. 

 

“It took so long to find you,” Her voice comes out as a whisper. Body unmoving, gaze still fixated on the orbs. “And now you’re suddenly here?” 

 

Silence creeps up to greet her voice and it takes a moment before Bae snaps. 

 

Spinning on a heel, Bae swings the large hammer in her hands and pummels it into the ground. The sound is shattering, like a sonic boom. It forces a rift into the darkness, breaking the plane apart. A rapid fault-line runs towards a figure in the distance, then stops where her feet stand, now uncovered in the darkness. 

 

“Well, I’m here now.” The smile on Irys’ face is vivid, almost mocking; as though this was what she wanted. Bae props the hammer over her shoulder, huffing in annoyance. She gestures towards the orbs - sure, it isn’t like the world is ending or something. Surely not.

 

Just her luck - to be stuck with a Nephilim who thinks it a game. But how is Chaos expected to put everything back together again? 

 

Well, not without a little hope of course. 

 

Chapter Text

 

“I don’t think you understand who I am.” 

 

“Well, you’re Irys,” Bae shrugs, hands occupied with mixing the cookie dough. “I’m sorry I can’t pronounce your full name.” 

 

“No no- like what I really am.” The girl starts, prying open a pack of toppings. They are white chocolates because Irys likes sweet things. “You don’t understand.” 

 

“Uh huh.” Bae takes the whisk out of the bowl, feeling the soreness in her arm. This one won’t do - she gestures for a bigger whisk. 

 

“You got horns and stuff yeah, I can see that- also, the chocolates.” 

 

Chocolates rain into the mixing bowl, and Irys places the big whisk into Bae’s hand; though, not without a grumble. 

 

“I’m a Nephilim.” The small whisk is now under running water, in the sink. “Like a half-demon, half-angel kinda thing. If a second awakening happens, it could-” 

 

“Irys, we’re in the kitchen making cookies.” A scowl plasters itself on Bae’s face. “Do you think I care about salvation, or whether you came from heaven or hell?” 

 

They stare at each other for a moment, covered in dough and clad in matching aprons. Bae rolls her eyes, and dips her finger into the mixture. She’s shoving the cookie dough into Irys’ mouth.

 

“Now shut up and help me bake this shit.”

 

Chapter Text

 

They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder, and Sana has never been further away before. 

 

It’s a trickle of a thought, debris dancing through space, circling past the galaxies and planets that Sana hears word of a certain priestess settling on Earth; thousands of light years away. 

 

Interesting, why there? 

 

But curiosity isn’t strong enough to lure Sana closer. Unlike a planet strung along by a gravitational pull, she’s too massive, too important to be led on like that. 

 

But sometimes, when plotting a new planetary system, her finger stops at another green and blue globe. And sometimes, there’s another trickle of a thought. 

 

Just as one travels so that they can miss home, Space expands so that she can keep the memory. 

 

Chapter Text

 

“You can’t say it not because it’s true,” Fauna’s agitated now, her voice rising. “But because you don’t want it to be.”

 

Kronii is on the floor, looking up at Fauna with an expression she has never worn before. 

 

“I don’t want to hurt her-“

 

“And yet you’re doing it,” A choked sob crawls up Fauna’s throat. Every word burns. “You’re hurting me and Mumei.”

 

“I love the both of you,” it comes out as a whisper. 

 

The truth cloaks them like poison. 

 

When Kronii reaches for the girl’s hand, the latter holds it anyway because Fauna’s in too deep. Her feelings are rooted around her heart, trapping love in guilt. She doesn’t want to think of what Mumei might say, and it keeps her paralysed, right next to Kronii. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Hope is the belief that this moment isn’t good enough. 

 

Because Mumei’s enveloped in Nature’s arms, grounded and protected under her shelter. And yet, her eyes look for broken pieces of the sky under the foliage. 

 

She’s looking for a sign. A streak of ember in the sky. A shooting star down the horizon. A glimpse of Kiara soaring between the trees. 

 

What is it like? 

 

To feel that free? 

 

Mumei’s plucking petals off a flower, never knowing what it’s like to have the clouds between her wings because she always forgets. She forgets what it’s like to feel her heart soar. Forget what it’s like to feel anything. 

 

Between waking and sleeping, Mumei spends her days dreaming.

 

Chapter Text

 

1

 

Gura’s the girl sitting next to her in class. 

 

It’s the silver hair that catches her eye first. Then the groan over the class material drags Ame’s attention back. It’s the casual comment about the lecturer’s lack of hair that makes Ame laugh. 

 

When their gazes meet, it’s blue against blue. 

 

“I’ll send you my notes!” She remembers the girl saying as they exchange numbers. 

 

And when Ame’s back in her room, she’s smiling to herself, opening notifications to pictures of handwritten notes that she can’t read. 

 

.

 

2

 

Next semester, Gura’s the new roommate across the room. Ame learns that she’s messy because she’s always tripping over her things. Plus Gura’s loud and can’t keep her hands to herself; the girl’s like a curious cat. 

 

Ame thinks that Gura spends too much time on her side of the room. Each time she’s on Ame’s bed, waving her hands excitedly, calling her name. 

 

“Ame, look at this!” 

“You won’t believe who I just saw Ame-“

“Ame, Ame, Ame-“ 

 

But when Ame falls asleep on the desk burning the midnight oil, and she wakes up to a blanket draped over her back - It’s warm. It smells like Gura. It gets Ame thinking that perhaps, this alone makes it kinda worth it. 

 

.

 

3

 

A few weeks later and Gura’s the reflection on the train window. Silver hair over her eyes, head on Ame’s shoulder. The girl’s drooling but Ame doesn’t have the heart to wake her up. 

 

They are moving past stations and Ame feels like she’s skipping past timelines.

 

The golden watch stays locked in the drawer under her desk. Ame doesn’t tell Gura about it; she pretends that she’s bad with clocks, and can’t read the Warden’s messages. 

 

Ame tells Gura that she hates watches. 

 

Moments like these shouldn’t have deadlines. Because when Gura’s around, Ame doesn’t want to look at the time. 

 

.

 

4

 

When Ame asks her to be her girlfriend, Gura tell that it’s the dumbest thing she’s ever heard but kisses her anyway. So now Gura’s her alarm clock in the morning; and waking up to her is the only way Ame wants to be coaxed out of slumber. 

 

“Morning Watson,” as soft lips land themselves beneath golden locks. 

 

Gura’s the hand intertwined with her own. She’s the important red marker on Ame’s calendar. She’s the reason Ame searches up flowers on her phone or thinks about visiting the aquarium. 

 

When Ame picks up the key to her drawer, she makes sure to throw it away. So she takes a train to the ocean and tosses it there. She’s moving past the what-ifs and maybes. She’s moving at Gura’s pace, moving into a timeline that finally feels like home. 

 

The rest of time can wait.

 

Chapter Text

 

Calli belongs on the plane of arrivals and departures. 

 

The plane stretches out to infinity. Point to where you think the sky begins and she’ll tell you that it’s up for debate because there is no horizon where the dead sleeps. 

 

The plane is not a quiet place. Calli hears their voices here. Cries for help, begging for forgiveness, shouting and hatred. It’s surprising - the kind of things people say before they die. They won’t leave her alone. 

 

But over time it’s white noise drowned out by habit. 

 

Though one voice still ripples out. 

 

“Calli?” 

 

And she’s there in an instant, leaving the plane. Leaving the other voices calling her name. Leaving the scythe behind. She’s pulled along by the girl’s voice. Every giggle, every swish of her tail, every call of her name. It’s finite. It’s a song yet to be written. 

 

When Gura calls for her, the grim reaper’s departing her duties and arriving into the ocean’s embrace. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Kiara is a firework display and Ame’s watching. 

 

It’s gold folding into ember, love set on flames. It’s the warmth wherever Kiara goes and Ame’s following. It’s the spark in their conversations that never gets old, the tenderness captured between their hands. 

 

When all Ame knew of the world was black and white, Kiara’s the paint that spills over. She’s the sun personified, even on the darkest nights. And Ame likes the view she’s brought, the fire in her eyes. 

 

So even when duty pulls them apart and everything doesn’t look the same anymore; under the same sky, Ame’s still trying to tell her contrails apart. And even if Kiara’s buried in the ashes and Ame’s lost in time, it’s still their love made of cinder hearts.

 

Chapter Text

 

What kind of memories does the Guardian of Civilisation have to go through until she no longer remembers? 

 

Kronii prays that it never reaches her heart. 

 

“Forget about everything.” She’s cupping the girl’s cheeks, smiling down at her. But Mumei is good at reading expressions, even if she doesn’t know how. 

 

“You don’t have to try.” Kronii continues softly. “I know it hurts, so I’ll tell you again and again everyday. I’ll tell you all the time.” 

 

When Kronii puts her arms around Mumei, her hands are gentle and firm; as though she’s shielding Mumei from all the bad thoughts. Because for Kronii, it’s muscle memory by now. The usual sweet nothings said for years. The promises made long ago that only Kronii remembers. 

 

But for Mumei, it’s the memory of this morning’s breakfast, the smell of lavender and the unfamiliar ring on her finger that floods into the emptiness. 

 

It’s overwhelming and colours her expression. 

 

So for now, Kronii thinks, that’s enough.

 

Chapter Text

 

Ina doesn’t visit the astronomy club because of the stars. 

 

She’s here because of Sana. 

 

The room is humble and small; kinda charming for it’s walls plastered with pages from space magazine cut-outs. Ina knows it’s Sana’s handiwork at one glance. 

 

“Come on!” 

 

Ina finds herself being ushered over to the telescope, and sees Sana beaming down at her. It’s hard to decline. So when Ina peers into it, she tries her best to focus on the dark and kaleidoscope fog. 

 

But her attention is short-lived. 

 

Because Sana starts gushing about the stars, and it pulls Ina’s eyes away from the device. Sana’s throwing out words that she doesn’t know; it’s astronomy and science bundled into a fervent ramble. It’s enrapturing for her, and captivating for Ina. 

 

God, it’s so pretty right?” 

 

Ina finds that she can’t take her eyes off the girl.

 

“Yeah it is.” 

 

She’s looking at brilliant blonde hair against tan skin. Noticing a sparkle in Sana’s eyes - brighter than any star. When Sana skips over to her and starts adjusting the lens, still talking, Ina pretends that she doesn’t notice their shoulders bumping.

 

Chapter Text

 

Her hands are on Ina’s face. 

 

It takes a moment. For rolling white eyes to completely turn back into its usual shade of amethyst. The ink is withdrawing, tentacles retracting. 

 

When Ina looks at Gura, she’s no longer seeing past the girl. She’s present. Here. 

 

“Gura?” 

 

Ina’s voice takes on a tone of alarm. The unfamiliar city crumble, the thick fog in her mind. The noise in her head that had been so deafening is now fading away. It sets her insides on fire. And she wants to articulate all of it to Gura, but the look on the latter’s face stops her. 

 

Then Ina realises that it’s raining. She notices the trident. She’s looking at how battered and bruised Gura is. It hurts where the cold wind blows, but the hands on her are warm and gentle. 

 

Gura pulls her into a tight hug and Ina feels her body shaking. 

 

Between the tears and rain, Gura feels like she’s arriving at a coast. Feeling the emotions washing over like a tidal wave. It’s overwhelming. It feels like it’s going to sweep her away. But her hands grip onto Ina’s clothes for an anchor, and she’s breathless. Smiling for the first time ever since the flood, whispering softly into the curve of Ina’s neck. 

 

“Welcome home Ina.” 

 

Chapter Text

 

They say that the eldritch priestess is supposed to live forever. 

 

So why is Calli standing at the foot of her grave?

 

When God made this world, he didn’t make it to suit everybody. The scythe in Calli’s hand feels heavy; it’s substantial – a weight that seems to pull down everything she knew of the world. Like the plunge of her heart, Calli’s falling to her knees. Then groping for reason, fumbling for memory.

 

“I’ve always wanted to be a normal girl.” Calli remembers Ina’s voice more than she knows her own. “I never wanted this.” 

 

There’s the memory of Ina sitting by the lamp, face half-carved in artificial sunset. A half-finished drawing sits on the table. There’s charcoal on the sides of her hands. She’s talking about what she would do – without the voices or the tentacles. 

 

“Wouldn’t it be nice?”

 

“Maybe.” A thought passes between them. “ Well, what would you do first?”  

 

And that gets Ina talking excitedly. 

 

Calli’s listening to her on the bed, half-buried in the sheets. She remembers the golden halo dipping whenever Ina laughed. She remembers the girl’s face awashed with envy and longing, with a dream-like gaze in her eyes. 

 

Calli wonders how she mistook it for harmless curiosity. 

 

All this time she never knew Ina wanted to escape; kept the grim reaper close, then slipped through the hands of Death. It's strange, the things she remembers upon death. But for once, its tears that are blurring away the memory. 

 

.

 

Calli finds Ina walking down the street. 

 

Younger than she’s used to, with friends that Calli doesn’t know. They are calling Ina by a different name, swinging their school bags about. 

 

It’s a view that keeps Calli so perfectly still. 

 

To see Ina free from the voices in her head. Free from the affliction of tentacles down her back. The girl skips down the pavement, so hearty and vivid, laughing without the weight of the Ancient Ones. There’s a lightness in her expression that Calli has never seen before. 

 

So when Ina turns away, Calli feels her perspective shifting too. 

 

And the scythe over her shoulder feels lighter; no longer just brandished for the taking, but also the added desire for protecting. The grim reaper takes comfort in the shadows. No need to cross over, just watching. Hoping. 

 

As long as it’ll keep that smile on Ina’s face. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Ame is secretly afraid of heights. 

 

So when Kiara wants to go for a flight, she moves to lie down on the girl’s lap. Feigning a mix of laziness and fatigue. She’s punching buttons on the remote, blazing through random channels on the television. 

 

“It’s fun, I promise.” Kiara’s hands are in her hair, massaging gently.

 

“Mmmm… I’m sure it is.” 

 

“You’ll love it.” 

 

Ame settles for some crime documentary that she never watches. She feels Kiara’s fingers run down the slope of her neck, along her arm and into her hand. 

 

“We can stay low until you get used to it. Just a little hover.” Kiara giggles softly, playing with her fingers now. It’s a pretty sound ringing out in Ame’s ears. “I’ll cover your eyes and hug you real tight.”

 

Ame turns away from the screen, burying her face into Kiara’s stomach. It’s warm and pleasant, and elicits a soft sigh from the detective. The sound of the television fills the space like white noise. 

 

“And shower you with kisses afterwards?” 

 

Ame doesn’t want to say that the idea of it makes her heart flutter a little, so she wraps her fingers around Kiara’s instead. 

 

“Well, if you put it that way…” Ame drawls, a small smile tugging at her lips. “I’ll think about it.”

 

Chapter Text

 

Music is the space between notes, 

just like how love is the space between time. 

And Ame is leaving parts of herself all over, 

in a hundred sunsets, 

from morning to afternoon, 

till the soft glow of the lampshade fades.  

Ina sits quietly, thinking about all the worlds she can’t follow; 

thinking - what kind of love endures for so long?

 

Chapter Text

 

The weather will be sunny as long as she wishes for it. 

 

That’s the kind of girl Kiara is. 

 

On the rooftop, below the summer sky, she’s washed in a gold light. The fire in her eyes is steady, burning like the shade of her brilliant ember hair. If Kiara is the sun, then Ame feels like she can barely hold a candle. 

 

“I like you, please go out with me.” 

 

This isn’t the first time Kiara’s being candid. She’s striking and vivid, showering Ame in her light.

 

“I-” 

 

A flicker of hope and confusion crosses Ame’s face - she’s suddenly thinking about their friendship and what would change. 

 

“You don’t have to answer me now.” Kiara’s voice is transparent. A hand moves over to pat golden locks, and the action hushes Ame’s thoughts like a blanket of safety. “But I’m sure that you’ll say yes in the end.”

 

It’s amazing, Ame thinks, the way Kiara beams down at her; it’s a gentle smile, soft around the edges, yet so confident. While others stumble to tuck their love under the shadows, Kiara’s on her throne, wearing it like a crown. She has her hand out, waiting for Ame, into kingdom come.

 

“How do you know for sure?” 

 

“I just know.” And that makes Ame laugh. 

 

Ame wonders what Kiara sees when she looks at her. She’s taking the chocolate off the girl’s hands. Thinking that she just might. 

 

Because on this hot summer day, Kiara is more beautiful and charming than anyone else.

 

Chapter Text

 

Twice each lunar month, Gura waits for the moon. 

 

She sits at the coast, her tail drawing circles in the sand. The tidal current pushes the shark forward, bringing her closer to the beach as time passes. When Gura peeks a hand out of the water surface, the gentle tickle of air on her fingertips makes her insides flutter. 

 

Anytime now. 

 

On nights like these, the waves are always strange. It’s deep, dark and empty. The current pushes around her skin, hugging every corner. She can feel the ocean yearning - it’s basin belly swollen and ready to spill over. 

 

But when spring tide finally comes and Gura’s gliding through the waves, her attention falls only on the bright circle moon. 

 

“Ina.” 

 

Twice each lunar month, Gura calls out for the moon. And the moon reaches her arms into the water, right where the coast ends, and pulls her out into the night. It’s still dark. But where her golden halo shines, Gura feels protected in her circle of safety. She’s resting on pillowing tentacles, listening. 

 

The moon talks about simple things - she’s telling her about the way people are. 

 

“Hey…” Ina drawls, poking Gura’s cheek with a finger. “Are you listening?” 

 

“Ah-” 

 

Gura’s distracted - not because it’s boring (she’s not very good at listening either way). But because she’s staring at Ina, basked in lights from the sea and the stars. Gura thinks that it makes her hair glitter in the prettiest way. And when Ina flashes a smile at her, gentle and brighter than anything else, Gura can’t help but lean in close. 

 

“Yeah, I’m listening.” 

 

The moon is filling the spaces between the oceans, crossing constellations, shimmering from the water surface. It’s things like these that makes Gura feel like she’s moving from dream to dream. 

 

It’s every four weeks, new and full of high-tide brine. 

 

It’s between the waning and waxing, circling from spring to winter then back. 

 

It’s a moment that feels like an instant, but lasts forever. 

 

Because twice each lunar month, Gura’s on the surface with the stars on her mind, kissing the moon. 

 

Chapter Text

 

A goldfish swims in a glass bowl. 

 

The summer heat begins as a dull haze in the early morning. Between the minutes of the sun rising and the world waking, it’s a liminal space; a slow turn on the saturation dial as the light drenches the streets in twilight. 

 

Ame’s watching the goldfish, lightly trailing her finger along the glass as she follows it. She’s watching the pop of colour, a glistening drop of orange in the water, against the monochrome. Like a gumdrop. Then through the glass, a girl with bright hair suddenly comes into view, her profile warped by the water. 

 

“It’s you again.” Eager footsteps up the stairs. Ame props her shoulders onto the counter, looking up from the bowl. “We’re not open yet.” 

 

“Good morning!” Kiara side-steps an empty fish tank at the entrance, beaming brightly at her. The view is a burst of colour, the shade of sunrise. She thrusts a bundle of morning glories into Ame’s hands. It’s the usual pretty shade of blue. 

 

Ame watches the girl skip along the tiles, between the shelves of bubbling tanks and fishes. Her lips are stretched taut in anticipation. 

 

“Ame–” 

 

“No.” 

 

Here comes the whine of protest and Kiara returns to the counter. Ame’s hopping off the stool, hands pressed on the girl’s back and pushing her towards the door. 

 

“Just give me a chance.” Kiara spins around, quickly pulling the blonde into a hug. “I know a place with food that you’ll absolutely love.” 

 

Ame frowns, wondering when did her childhood friend become so tall. It makes her heart flip, dive into the scent of warm cherrywood. So she slips out of the girl’s embrace, feigning annoyance. 

 

“I have to work.” She’s shoo-ing the girl down the steps, still holding the flowers. “Gotta to watch the store, feed the fish – you know, important things.” 

 

“Please?” Kiara beams at her again, a smile so bright and yet so stubborn. The light filtering through the trees gives the girl a soft glow, bathed in ember. Ame realises she doesn’t remember when exactly it became morning.

 

How many days has it been? Of Kiara skipping up the stairs, bringing her flowers. It’s blinding, rather obnoxious actually. 

 

But Ame realises that it’s a persistence that she doesn’t hate. 

 

“Try again tomorrow.” Ame says, hopes. Then she turns away quickly and disappears into the store, pink dusted on her cheeks. 

 

Chapter Text

 

High in the mountains, where light from the heavens touches, the empress’ imperial bodyguards are hidden in the shadows. Her majesty’s concealed blade is swift and merciless. It burns where it hurts the most, and points towards the rebelling ocean. 

 

Because down the slopes and deep in the ocean, Atlantis has yet to be conquered. 

 

So in the dead of night, a shadow descends. Hair the colour of storm, eyes the shade of dark amethyst. The view of a sheathed katana at the hip bears the weight of lives long forgotten, but the girl still moves like a leaf set on winds.  

 

Ina, a member of the imperial blade, is out for the hunt. 

 

And right now, her face is half-carved in the moonlight. She’s too far gone into enemy territory, away from the clouds. She’s with an Atlantean girl, her hands tangled in ivory strands, unmistakably a mark of ocean royalty. 

 

They are in a crystal cave bearing a sacred sakura tree, drenched in falling pink and vanilla notes.

 

“Ina–” 

 

A knee pushes up between her legs and Gura makes a sound that Ina can’t get enough of. 

 

It’s beautiful and intoxicating – the view of the girl pressed down against a bed of flower petals, of vivid silver over porcelain skin. A divot of skin captured between fangs. 

 

“Keep your voice down.” She commands, the muscles under her hakama stretched taut. Ina wonders since when she had started to stray. This body trained for discipline and combat, now weaved with the enemy.

 

Now, what would her majesty think? 

 

Ina plants a string of kisses down Gura’s neck, smiling. The sound of Gura’s voice in her ear fills her mind with cotton, and pushes the thought away. More addicting than battle. 

 

Down where the sakura blooms, she’s revelling, then conquering the ocean. 

 

Chapter Text

 

When Kiara dreams, she finds herself falling through autumn. 

 

It’s a maple leaf carried on a breeze, a flutter in her chest. A season stirring between waking and sleeping. And it’s always the same face that greets her. The same pursed lips. The same hair, gold streaks of sunlight flapping in the wind. The same hands reaching out to her, pulling her close. 

 

“I missed you.” 

 

The girl nuzzles her face into Kiara’s chest, like a chick making its home in her feathers. Kiara gropes her fingers clumsily, adjusting to the lack of sensation; it’s things like that remind her that this is still dream.  

 

“I missed you too, Ame.” 

 

Ame looks at her with honey-coated eyes, her breath too sweet. She starts telling Kiara about her day. Words pouring out like syrup. Kiara nods her head, but she’s not really listening. She’s reaching down to kiss the girl’s cheeks, hushing her words. Pressing down love with her lips. 

 

For Kiara, the waking world is bleak, grey and concrete. It’s a place that blots out dreams into blackout. 

 

But not here. 

 

This is constant. Her everlasting sunset, stretching out into eternity. 

 

Kiara stares at Ame with the clarity of autumn. She’s falling then floating, thinking that this is much better than real. 

 

Chapter Text

 

If flowers can bloom in these conditions, so can she. 

 

When the Ancient Ones choose her as their vessel, Ina found herself going back to the drawing board. Pulling at flesh. Looking for a trace of herself in the reflection. 

 

And today she’s lying on the seabed, staring at the water surface. 

 

“Ehh? But I like you the way you are!” 

 

A voice rings out beside her, like the spray of the ocean hitting her heart. Ina turns to see Gura’s circling around her, weaving through the gaps between her violet appendages. 

 

“Well…” A self-deprecating argument hangs on the tip of her tongue. It’s a sentence she’s heard a thousand times from the shark. Blurted out, casual.

 

Ina smiles to herself, thinking that it’s charming. The way that Gura is. She’s candid and hasty with affection, and it sweeps away the noise unlike anything else. 

 

“Thank you.” 

 

Below the ocean, her memories of the surface have shriveled up. It’s a plane of withered flowers without a garden in the backdrop. When Ina thinks about it, the memory of a broken cathedral looms over her mind. 

 

But Gura’s pushing against her stomach, shooing the thoughts away. The shark settles into Ina’s embrace, taking shelter from the evening current. It’s her cavern of safety with the view of colossal tentacles swaying in vivid blue. 

 

They say that sea anemones are also called the flowers of the sea, and it’s only in the water that Ina finds herself blooming. 

 

Chapter Text

 

It ain’t weird. 

 

The text that comes in months too late. The wish to push and pull between strangers. The quiet walks by herself on Saturday nights. 

 

It ain’t weird. 

 

To distract herself with sad songs. To stay up until the world falls asleep. To imagine mingling with the unfamiliar. 

 

Alcohol isn’t enough, Ame thinks. 

 

Because it ain’t weird. 

 

For her, to step away from herself. She’s groping in the dark. Numbing. But the distance still keeps her here. 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

When Kiara opens the door, she doesn’t expect to see Ame on the other side. 

 

“Surprise!” 

 

She’s here with a bouquet in her hands. Pink poinsettias. It’s kinda squashed on the side. But nonetheless Ame’s here, holding her favourite flowers. 

 

The toothbrush in Kiara’s mouth drops to the floor. It’s a view that keeps her quiet. Staring for a moment. The detective returns the stare with an awkward smile. They told everyone that she wouldn’t make it back – she’s been missing for months. 

 

So why? 

 

Kiara feels her ears turning red, hands clammy. The inferno in her head dwindles into a single candle flame as Ame walks through the door, closing it gently. 

 

“Kiara–” 

 

The briefcase in Ame’s hand falls to the ground with a thud. 

 

“Ame, I–” 

 

Kiara’s moving in an instant. Pyjamas pressing up against Ame’s coat, hands in golden locks, swiftly pulling the girl into a tight hug. The smell of toothpaste mingles with city fumes. 

 

“You’re back.” 

 

Alive .

 

There’s so much Kiara wants to say, but she’s still stumbling over her thoughts. There’s foam in her mouth, a mint sting on her tongue. She grips onto the detective like her life depends on it. 

 

“Thank god, you’re back.” 

 

Chapter Text

 

It’s summer in an alternate 1993. 

 

The sky is peach pink and drenched in sunset like a watercolour painting. Ame is walking along the edge of a hotel pool, her silhouette scattered with shadows from the palm trees. She has a hand over her eyes, gazing up; there are two tails of jet streams in the sky.

 

How strange it is, that everything looks the same yet so completely different here? 

 

Ame drops into a lounge chair, feet off marble tiles. She’s swirling a glass of Martini in one hand; it’s honey lemon-drop in her mouth. 

 

“Aren’t you gonna leave it inside?”

 

Here comes a splash. Gura emerges from the water and pushes herself against the water edge. Silver locks drips down the slopes of her shoulders. Small but slender. 

 

“No, I always keep it with me.” Ame waves a hand at her, meeting those ocean blue eyes. She dangles the golden watch casually, watching the way it catches the sunlight. 

 

“But that means you won’t be able to join us.” 

 

Another pair of arms slips around Ame’s neck from behind. This time, dark inky hair falls around Ame like curtains. It’s a white swimsuit pressed against her towel, and skin the colour of snow. 

 

“Maybe, next time.” 

 

“Shame.” Ina says as she saunters away, pulling at Ame’s hand loosely. She slips into the pool legs first, holding onto Gura by the shoulders. Together they are black and white, like yin and yang, tangled by the sunlight glittering in the water. Vivid and divine. 

 

Ame takes in the view, resting her lips on glass. She smiles at the taste of citrus on her tongue. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Ame is so good at running away, it’s hard to tell which is the past, present and future anymore. 

 

“You’re not her.” 

 

There are angry eyes glaring at her. It’s an entrancing shade of electric blue against pale skin. 

 

“You’re not Watson.

 

Ame’s heaving, clutching the wound stretched along the side of her waist. Her hands are drenched in red. 

 

But I am. 

 

“You’re not real.” 

 

I’m real, I promise. 

 

“Where did you take her?” Gura thrusts the trident at her, the spear grazing the side of her cheek. It slams into the wall behind Ame with a thundering shatter. Breaking concrete. 

 

“Tell me!” 

 

It wasn’t me. 

 

But Ame’s staying silent, staring at Gura with an expression she has never worn before. She has her fingers over the golden watch but she’s not skipping immediately. She’s watching the girl threaten her with tears in her eyes, shaking with emotion. And the view keeps Ame still, muted, and her heart very far away.

 

Chapter Text

 

At first, Ina doesn’t care to know. 

 

Her hands are more familiar with art than prose. She’s too engrossed to notice another person stepping into the room. Too focused to hear the quiet footfalls falling around museum parquet.  

 

When a stranger walks over and casts a small shadow over the page, it taps Ina gently out of her trance. 

 

“What are you drawing?”

 

Ina looks up. It’s courage in her face, the ocean and silver starlight locks. 

 

“I don’t know.” 

 

The paper is mostly blank still. There’s a faint outline of a sketch, but Ina slides her hands over, covering it.   

 

“What do you mean?” The girl tilts her head, dropping into the seat beside her. Ina notices that she hasn’t looked at the notebook once. 

 

“Well I’m thinking that if I work on it long enough…then maybe it’ll turn into something.” Ina says, feeling inexplicably unguarded today.

 

Maybe it was the way the girl stared at her. Or the way that she easily covered the distance between strangers in a stride. It makes Ina feel like she hasn’t talked to anyone in a long time. She’s anticipating discourse. 

 

So they sit for a bit, talking about art in an empty museum. She learns that the girl’s name is Gura, and that Gura is rather clumsy and not very good with art. But she likes to visit museums because it’s quiet, and looking at paintings fills the spaces in her mind where thoughts would. 

 

“Show me your drawing when it’s finished?” They exchange numbers as Gura gets up to leave. “I’d love to see it.” 

 

Perhaps , Ina thinks. 

 

It’s quiet during the afternoon here. But Ina’s surrounded by the sound of pencil scratches, and replaying prose in her head.

 

Chapter Text

 

Amelia Watson has lived more than a thousand lives, and is living through a hundred at once. 

 

In the clock tower, she often gets lost. It’s a patchwork of liminal spaces and endless hallways. Mind-bending architecture that makes you question which way you came from. 

 

Sometimes the clock tower feels so huge, it is as though it is everything that there is of the world. 

 

But whenever Ame starts to feel this way, she’ll bump into her uncoordinated reflection in a hallway. Then they’ll sit down for coffee in one of the rooms, and she’ll listen about a lifetime that she has not lived, but vaguely remembers. 

 

The copies of her, faxed out into different timelines, share a connection. Sometimes the memories trickle in at the back of her head, and sometimes it opens a dam that floods everything she knows. 

 

It could be anything. 

 

Like how eating squid at a standing sushi bar reminds her of ancient scripture. 

 

Or that sitting by a fireplace in countryside France takes her back to snow flights and reincarnation. 

 

Sometimes, it’s the pink soda cans fizzling out on the sidewalk that drags her back to roadkill and loneliness. 

 

“Ame?” In this timeline, she’s facing her classmate with bright silver hair. There’s a pen tucked behind the shell of her ear. The weather is approaching spring and the air outside is warm. 

 

In this timeline, when Ame looks at her, it’s something like love occurring as an afterthought. It’s not a flood, but a pool. Filling the hallways where they shouldn’t. And the memory of lightwaves laps around her waist. 

 

Maybe from another timeline that she has lived, or perhaps, one that she barely remembers.

 

Chapter Text

 

“Hey, it’s me. Are you eating well? 

 

We’re almost ready to come home. Just a few more years left. The last trip felt like it took forever, but less forever than the time before that. This one’s not too bad.” 

 

[static]

 

“-made serious progress on the scriptures. We found the rest of them in Atlantis. Yeah, it exists – serial #3148 said so back then, but I didn’t believe her. Now, I do [cough]. There’s still a lot of decoding to do, but our Ame’s making quick work of it. She says hi, by the way.” 

 

[the sound of muffled chatter and laughter] 

 

“We also had to say goodbye to the shark we saved. I think you’d probably love to meet her. Leaving is always a little bittersweet. Even if I say goodbye a lot, I’m not used to it-”

 

[more static buzz and wind] 

 

“-the skies here are full and dust free. It’s that shade of blue you’ve always liked. Cerulean? You should see the sunsets here too, they remind me of the paintings Ina let us keep – of candle wax and citrus.

 

If you still have them maybe we can show them to her, next time; when we find her.”

 

[pause, the click of a button; the sound of hands fumbling] 

 

“Ah- I’m out of fucking tape again. Seems like we’ll have to cut this one short. But don’t worry, Kiara. Ame says that she misses you too, and we’ll be back before you know it. I promise. 

 

See you soon.” 

 

–Entry 046, Year 3045

 

Chapter Text

 

Ame is unplugging the wires. 

 

She unclasps the lock, and unscrews each one. Trails of smoke spills out of a couple of them, and the ones with liquid leaves a small pool around their feet; their tanks already emptied dry. 

 

“Ready?”

 

Ina gives her a little nod, reaching to grasp her lab coat. 

 

Ame positions her hands on the helmet carefully. Then she’s pulling it, lifting the metal off the girl’s face. It sets Ina’s hair free in an instant. A display of black lily locks blooming, and then falling down to the back of her knees. 

 

“There we go.” Ame places the helmet on the floor. 

 

Ina still has her eyes closed. Ame peels a hand off her coat and intertwines it with her own. She squeezes the girl’s hand gently. 

 

“I’m here. No one’s coming.” 

 

It takes Ina a moment. 

 

The girl starts by squinting at the light, adjusting to the backdrop of white. It’s unlike the helmet - nothing like the virtual garden they’ve imprisoned her in. The glare of the ceiling is artificial but nonetheless real. She’s glancing at Ame, down at their bare feet, staring at skin, then back at Ame. 

 

It’s a vivid amethyst gaze, lush with vision, drinking in its surroundings like a parched flower. 

 

“You can go anywhere you want in the world now.” Ame says, leading her out of the room. Ina pulls at her hand lightly. She’s a thin stem supporting large petals, reaching for the sun. They are stepping over dead bodies, walking towards the light at the end of the tunnel. 

 

“So where do you want to go first?” 

 

The taste of freedom has never been sweeter.

 

Chapter Text

 

Reincarnation is no funny business, but sometimes strange things do happen.

 

Calli is leaning against the pole of her scythe, avoiding Ame’s gaze.

 

“According to our contract, I’ll help you find the souls you need and in turn, you’ll protect me…” The detective pauses, then lets out an exasperated sigh. 

 

“So how did it turn out like this?!” She slams both her hands onto the table, rattling their soda cans. The noise tugs a frown onto Calli’s lips. 

 

The familiar cerulean gaze is now narrowed into a piercing glare. Everything seems normal… well, except for the pair of dog ears sticking out of Ame’s blonde locks. Calli raises a brow, also noticing the swishing golden tail peeking out of the girl’s skirt.  

 

“Well, you dying on me was not in the contract-” 

 

“That’s your job!” Ame’s growling slightly, pawing at Calli’s arms in frustration. 

 

“Okay okay, I made a mistake. But I brought you back anyway.” Calli groans, leaning towards the girl. “I’ll change you back later when I have more souls, alright?”

 

“Now keep it down, will you? ” 

 

With a gloved hand, Calli gives Ame a rough flick on the forehead. A small noise escapes the girl’s lips.

 

“Did you-” 

 

The detective flushes red down to her neck. She whips around her seat, heading straight for the door. 

 

“Did you just bark -” 

 

“Just fucking turn me back, Calli.” 

 

She’s growling again, Calli notes, watching the detective stomp her way outside.

 

Chapter Text

 

Beyond the window, the sky is changing. Squat chimney stacks peek out from a thin white mist, below a pearly pink sky. The slow sunrise stirs the cold of the night with its long arms of light, reaching out to greet slumbering people with a morning afterglow. 

 

“Hmm…” 

 

Gura stirs under her arms. She’s wearing a thin dress, inadequate for the cold. It moves the girl to nuzzle back into the slope of Ame’s stomach, half-asleep, seeking warmth. 

 

“Morning, love.” Ame runs one hand through silver starlight locks, then takes a long drag out of a cigarette perched between her fingers. 

 

“Morning…” Gura turns over onto her back, extending her arms out as an invitation. And Ame leans down, lips sealed with smoke. She lets Gura kiss her check, and puffs out of the window to get rid of the smell. 

 

It dawns upon Gura that Ame hasn’t slept all night. 

 

“What’s wrong?” 

 

Ame smiles at her tautly. 

 

Suddenly, it’s as though the weight of a thousand years is pushing down on her back. She’s slouching, addicted to quick relief, with a body that refuses to sleep. When Gura looks at her, Ame sees the girl’s eyes swirling with young love; of days spent skipping down sunrise alleys and ocean coasts. 

 

But when she looks at Gura, she’s thinking about rent and tomorrow’s dinner. In this empty room, there isn’t much. But there’s a thin mattress and handmade cutlery, written letters from home and Gura—who’s so soft and lovely and coy—buried right in her arms. 

 

“Nothing, don’t worry about it.” Ame says. 

 

When Gura laughs, Ame finds herself laughing too. Because all this while, in this little room, she’s busy pretending that she’s not sinking.

 

Chapter Text

“Is there space for me?” 

 

“Sure little cutie, there’s space for you!” Space has her chin propped on one hand. She’s staring at the flaps on the eldritch priestess’ head, watching them twitch and turn. A gigantic smile dangles playfully on her lips. 

 

But of course… Time has to rain on her celestial parade. 

 

They hear Kronii’s voice first. 

 

“Whoa, no no no—“; before seeing the warden step out from a dimensional portal with stellar heels. She has a stack of files in her hands. “There’s paperwork, remember?” 

 

Kronii casts Ina a look.

 

“You need a license to park here.” She says, pulling her glasses down the immaculate slope of her nose. They wait for a moment as Ina digs through her bag for her card; a takodachi falls out in the process. 

 

It says: 

Official Food Truck License 

Good hygiene - Grade A 

Expiry date - 04/34 

 

Kronii takes it off her hands with an impatient flick. Then it’s pen to paper, scribbling on the file. 

 

“What are you selling again?”

 

“Takos.” Ina says as she loops the rope attached to her truck, pulling it closer. 

 

“Tacos?” 

 

Space and Time turn to look at the pop-up truck. It’s flickering in neon lights and floating in space like a balloon held by a child. 

 

“Yeah, takos.” The girl smiles at the warden. “Do you want one?”

 

Kronii frowns at the quick marketing, “I’m on a strict diet.” 

 

“Boo!” Sana picks up the fallen takodachi. It looks like a small gummy candy. “I’ll have one then!”

Chapter Text

 

Do you know that when the grim reaper sends off a soul, she gives a part of herself away too? 

 

Picture a glass jar full of memories, and then Calli placing each one in a stranger’s hands, giving them something to remember. 

 

And it’s always full. 

 

In fact, it’s spilling over right now, washing away the blood on her scythe, cloaking her in love. There’s a reflection of an undying flame in the puddle around her feet. 

 

It’s Kiara folding paper origami stars and placing them in her jar, ten thousand and counting. It’s where the garden in the graveyard blooms. And it helps Calli find her own roots between life and death. Of what it means to be somewhat human still. 

 

Even though she’s not. 

 

They say that immortality often feels like a sin. That it’s dreadful, unfair and repetitive enough to drive anyone crazy. Like a broken record you can’t shut off. 

 

But these years have been guilt-free and full of surprises. 

 

Because Kiara’s a burst of memories Calli didn’t ask for, and she’s filling her jar up anyway. 

 

Chapter Text

 

There’s coffee in the coffee machine. 

 

Ina is standing in the kitchen, watching the drip. She’s clad in her underwear. Her hands are a little cold, like autumn is seeping through her. 

 

“No sugar again?” 

 

When Ina turns her head, she sees the grim reaper on her balcony, above the night cityscape. The giant scythe in her hand glints behind the glass window panel. 

 

“I only drink black.” Ina points out, waving a finger. Calli makes a face and invites herself in. Her outfit is jarring. She’s never one for human fashion after all. 

 

“I’ll never understand how you can drink that.” 

 

“It’s an acquired taste.” 

 

When Ina turns around to pour her coffee, there’s a large gash across her back. It’s a line of bumping scar tissues over porcelain skin. Calli knows that the appendages below her shoulder blades are now gone—she was there after all. 

 

But destroying the Ancient Ones also means that there’s a price to pay. And Ina knows it too.

 

“Let me have my coffee first?” 

 

Calli doesn’t say anything, only smiles. She sits herself on the couch, and thumbs through the tv channels. The sound of static fills the space between them. 

 

Ina drops into the seat next to her, resting with a sigh. The smell of coffee mingles with ash. She drags a hand gently across the scythe’s blade. There’s a bitter-sweet expression on her face. After all, in the human realm, she has overstayed her welcome. 

 

And without the Ancient Ones coming after her anymore, it’s the grim reaper’s turn next.

 

Chapter Text

 

The old world is beginning to feel like a ghost. 

 

Bae squeezes the hand intertwined with hers. 

 

“I hate it here.” She says, staring out into the abandoned cityscape. Albeit broken, the constructions of glass and steel are so reflective that they almost seem invisible; it’s a mirage in the distance, calling her towards the urban desert. 

 

Irys exhales, a breath cloud leaving her lips. “But it’s still your home.” 

 

She lets go of Bae’s hand and turns to stand in front of the girl. She’s swiping the dust off her coat jacket and fixing the folded collar. There’s a taut smile on her face. A thumb slides over a spread of badges pinned at the front, one for each member of the council. 

 

Irys knows that Bae still misses them even when they’ve cloaked her in betrayal.  

 

“Not anymore.” It comes out as a whisper. And now, all that’s left is their tattered clothes and an unfinished map drafted from memory. “This isn’t home anymore.” 

 

Hands slip back into hers, warm, filling the spaces between their fingers. This time for reassurance. 

 

“It can’t be…” Bae drops her face into the crook of Irys’ shoulder, tugging at their hands, pulling her close. Even the colour of the sky looks off, and the air tastes like a lie. Her breath feathers along Irys’ neck. “Because you’re not there.”

 

Chapter Text

 

The Guardian of civilisation has not yet learnt how to fly. 

 

“One day, you will save the world.” A hand cradles Mumei’s cheek. The eyes on her are gentle and all-seeing. 

 

Ah, but not this forest –Mumei already knows this. 

 

“How will I save it?” She sinks into Fauna’s embrace, sighing. Mother nature’s bosom is soft like a bed of moss, warm and full, her arms steady like the vines strung from tree to tree. And Mumei’s perching in her lap, like a bird to its nest. 

 

Fauna doesn’t answer her. She substitutes words with a kiss, stirring warmth between them. The question runs away. 

 

If Mumei’s a new-born flame flickering in a small candle, then Fauna’s made of the wax prescribing the path. If she’s the birth of civilisation, then Fauna’s the space that they’ll occupy. Turn woodland to sawdust. 

 

Sometimes if you want to save what you love, you need to destroy.

 

And Mumei doesn’t tell Fauna that she loves something else more than nature–Fauna already knows this. 

 

But right now, she is the sunlight on Mumei’s cheeks and the grass under her feet. She’s the canvas before concrete, bending under civilisation but never really yielding. And it’s in the heart of the emerald forest that Mumei builds her first home. 

 

Chapter Text

 

“What’s in it for you detective?” 

 

It’s the smell of old money. The entire building reeks of it. 

 

Ame’s kneeling on cold tiles with her hands behind her back. There are two heavily built men guarding the double-doors behind her. A woman stands at the desk, parting the blinds with her fingers. She’s staring out onto the street, seeing past coal roads and city smog in the night.

 

But the detective lips are sealed. 

 

“I can’t say.” 

 

The woman turns on a heel, her hair swinging across her back like a burst of rose-pink petals. “Asking for my help and yet you do not say why?”

 

“You owe me one Calli-” Ame says through gritted teeth, meeting ruby eyes with a steady glare. 

 

The clack of blood-red heels follows after. A tight skirt comes into view, with a long slit up porcelain skin, directing the gaze along an enticing leg. There’s an arresting smile dangling on red lipstick. 

 

“How rude.” Her voice sends shivers down Ame’s spine. “Saying my name so easily… who do you think you are?” 

 

And the detective is sweating under her coat, not sure from the heat or from the incessant thrumming in her chest. The smell of perfume circles her, wrapping her mind. It makes her want to fall apart, come undone. 

 

But she doesn’t. 

 

She waits for the verbal promise. It comes after a pause. 

 

“Pay me double.” A manicured hand tugs at the tie around Ame’s neck. Calli leans into her slowly, like a predator tasting prey, and plants her red mark. “And I’ll give you ten times more than you could ever ask for.”

 

Chapter Text

 

If love had a sound, it would sound like this. 

 

It’s plump plosives, leaving Calli’s lips as her breath plumes in the cold. It’s the consonants skipping between tongue and teeth, like pearl notes falling into her hands. It’s the swell of vowels humming along skin pressed against skin. 

 

If love had a sound, Gura’s listening all day. 

 

Her head swirls with the semantics of songs set on prose. And Calli’s spilling words into her songs in an ever so special way. She’s weaving verses the same way lovers do, tying knots into heartstrings made from bars and measures. 

 

It’s moving from sonnet, stanza, stave; to da capo al segno and back.

 

If love had a sound, it’s a promise made in music. 

 

And Calli’s songs are unwavering in her memory. A beguiling melody bubbling down to the ocean bed, burying into the blue sand where Gura sleeps. It kisses the back of her mind like free-form jazz, it’s frequencies feathering over all the right tones. 

 

Calli’s on her mind through all tidal seasons. It keeps Gura suspended in memorising each detail, absorbing even through the afterthoughts. It’s as clear as dreaming. It’s a promise sung to her on eternal sunsets that never really set. 

 

Because if love had a sound, it’s filling Gura’s heart the same way dreams hope to do. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Ina doesn’t really want Gura to go. 

 

Through the backrooms and down the corridors where only staff can enter, is where the aquariums are. And there’s a few of them, small blue boxes staggered under metal suspended bridges. But near the corner where the space ends, there’s her favourite--a large tank where a shark swims. 

 

Ina is down the ladder, sitting on a thick walking ledge. She has her feet in the water.  

 

“Come closer.” There’s a pale hand pressing against concrete, an extended arm beside Ina’s hip. Silver-blue locks folding between Ina’s fingers. Soft lips captured in her mouth. 

 

Gura’s body is half in the water. Below the blinding white lights, she’s naked and pretty, glittering like a dream. 

 

“More.” Ina heaves at the request. She can feel sharp teeth against her tongue. “Closer.” 

 

The sound of gentle splashes whenever Gura moves laps at her mind. She’s pushing into Ina, trembling, and it sets butterflies free in her stomach. 

 

“Ina…”  A hot whisper. 

 

There’s a sense of desperation and frustration that is more than just physical. Perhaps, it’s the dullness of swimming around the aquarium all the day. Tapping against glass, sinking into artificial sand, turning away from people and their cameras. 

 

Perhaps, she thinks, telling Gura about the ocean must have been a mistake. 

 

But Ina’s wrapping her arms around the girl’s neck anyway, sliding her hands into starlight silver, tugging at the locks. It pulls out a pretty sound from Gura, swirling a red haze over her eyes. It’s a lonely feverish gaze. 

 

Ina knows that her absence during work hours makes the shark cling onto her ever so dearly. 

 

It makes Ina want to keep her here forever. 

 

And she’s trying, whispering sweet-nothings as the girl shakes under her hands, doing everything she can to keep this display going, for her eyes only. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Gura closes her eyes when she's under Ame, but her hands are wandering. 

 

Holding onto the girl's back – it's smaller than she expects. A fragile canvas of white in the dark. 

 

Her fingers are sliding over raised skin, a permanent capture of time engraved in the traveller's back. She's feeling the scars, gripping into them, blind to the history, trying to read them like braille. It makes her mind stray. 

 

Who did this to you?  

 

Ame's warm breath feathers along her ear. 

 

Since when?

 

Their eyes meet – it's blue against blue. 

 

Did it hurt?

 

Gura pulls herself up, capturing lips into her own. There are tears on her face, but it's not hers. Ame's trembling, hovering over her, looking more hollow than she has ever been. It's a portrait of beauty and pain. 

 

And all Gura can think about is how she wants to take it all away. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Kronii wears confidence like it’s a party dress. 

 

It’s blue silk hanging from svelte shoulders, pulling a deep arch down bare back, pretty and pale, then tightened where the curvature of her hips begin. 

 

The royal-blue dress bounces as she walks, occasionally revealing kohl-black heels when it rides up. Midnight on porcelain skin. It’s an immaculate movement, the perfect balance of posture.

 

The cynosure of all eyes is calculative and sensual, and she's making her way to the middle of the ball. A smile hides behind half a mask lined in gold. She’s searching for a familiar face while everyone else turns to stare at her. 

 

“May I?” 

 

She recognises that voice. 

 

Kronii turns around to see a white-gloved hand extending towards her. The sapphire gaze skips up rolled sleeves, over a mauve blazer, and rests on another masked woman smiling back at her. Hair the colour of storm. 

 

“You’re late.” She points out sharply. 

 

That earns a soft laugh. It’s a pretty sound. 

 

Kronii knows that Ina is not one for the crowds, and yet she’s here. So punctuality be damned, she's taking her hand, and they’re dancing anyway. 

 

Chapter Text

 

It’s a room sprinkled in dream dust and old video games. 

 

Made of cushions huddled together on carpet; of a television screen gleaming with an emulated hack of Mario Kart DS. It’s muted, looping back on a cutscene like a screensaver, cursor waiting on menu multiplayer. 

 

But the controllers have been cast aside.  

 

“Tired?” Ame asks as she switches on a night-lamp. It comes to life with a soft glow. 

 

“Mhmm.” Gura pops out from the blankets, her small face feathered in ember. There’s sleep swirling in ocean eyes. It’s a tempting view that makes Ame smile, and then lean in for love. 

 

But comes another rustle in the sheets and Ina’s tackling the shark, stealing the kiss instead. 

 

“Hey-!” 

 

A giggle passes between the girls and Ame pouts at them, feigning hurt. 

 

Ina beams, the flaps on her head twitching playfully. 

 

“Well come here then, silly.”

 

And Ame’s diving in an instant, melting with the moon on her mouth, falling into second love. 

 

When Gura hums a song into her bosom, Ame feels the voice vibrating through her clothes. Her hands are tucked under baby-blue pyjamas, measuring the rise and fall of a soft belly. There’s a thick tail between her legs, swaying with content. 

 

And from behind, Ame can feel Ina drawing circles; writing moon words of ancient scripture on her back. It’s a pleasant tickle at the back of her mind. The smell of lavender shampoo envelops her, strung by midnight locks. 

 

And so Ame closes her eyes. 

 

How strange it is to be given and not have to ask. To be captured between the ocean and the moon, between starlight and midnight. To have love falling into her lap, spilling over the sheets, lapping all around her body. 

 

After spending most of her life falling between the cracks of time, to not know when and where, normalcy felt like a myth. 

 

But the bodies beside her are breathing, beautiful and real. 

 

“Goodnight, love.” Someone says, and Ame’s nuzzling into warmth, sighing. 

 

It’s 6 o’clock in the morning. They are cloaked in morning half-light, and covered in dream dust. And if all dreams are made of these, then Ame thinks that she can dream forever. 

 

Chapter Text

 

How does the heart function?

 

For Bae, it’s a web of heart strings tangled in her hands. Intersecting between the gaps in her fingers, overlapping over themselves - it’s hard to tell where it all starts and ends. It’s the soft grooves left in her skin when they shift, tie, and turn. It’s a knot around her ring finger.

 

“What are you thinking about?” Irys beams down at her. It’s an arresting look that reaches deep inside Bae’s chest and pulls out a smile onto her lips.

 

Bae hates how easy it is. A simple tug on the web and everything vibrates to the sound of Irys’ voice. Like a piece of music played on a violin. Its all interconnected. When Irys calls her name, she hears a refrain playing over and over again.

 

“Nothing.” She manages, turning away. She’s lighting up in blushes.

 

The thrumming in her chest, she wonders if Irys can hear it. Bae hopes that she doesn’t. Because she’s encased in her shell, with strings tangled all over from her hands to the folds in her expression, for Irys to play like an instrument.

 

Everything Irys says to her, it echoes back into her mind with twice the reverb.

 

The music is deafening, but it plays a song that calls her home. The strings are a mess, but hold it up to the light and it’s a tessellation of her feelings.

 

And right here, sitting next to her musician, Bae feels herself trembling, in love, with her heart beating in an awful way.

 

Chapter Text

 

“Well, can you do this for me?” When someone gazes down at her, Fauna feels compelled to take up all their spaces. There’s moss-covered thoughts creeping up the back of her mind. 

 

So she makes a promise, thinking, “Sure.” 

 

It’s another one like a thousand others. 

 

“I need your help, Fauna.”

“Help me ask her, pretty please?” 

“This is the last one I promise.”

 

A single dew-drop rippling out in the deep quiet circle of a well bottom is now traced by a rain of requests. Down brick and mortar, between red cracks skipped by sunlight, there’s an emerald algae haze. 

 

And Fauna’s agreeing through springtime and fall, with twice the weight in the winter; snowfall on her back. She knows that she has a hard time saying no, but doesn’t think it a problem. 

 

Because mother nature’s abundance extends through council and myth. It’s green seeping into the cracks, catching promises in well-water until debris sinks the blue away. A pile of clogging hope that grows without the sun. 

 

Through the seasons, it’s where the flowers never bloom. 

 

And still, Fauna is a wishing well with a thousand wishes to fulfill. 

 

Chapter Text

 

There’s a bus stop at the end of time. 

 

And it’s made of lonely oceans and desert dreams. 

 

Her boots are sinking into sand. There’s pebbled light dancing on the gentle ripple of a golden desert. The wind spills over, feathering over the waves of grain. Then sweeping up to almost touch the boundary of an endless horizon. 

 

Ame’s hearing voices in her head again. 

 

“I’m going to find my way back.” 

 

Doubt trickles into her heart like the sands of time. 

 

“How can you be so sure?” 

 

The sun is in her eyes - it narrows pale-blue irises into slits. She holds a pale hand over her face, brushing sand and yellow locks out of her eyes. Withering marigold in the heat. 

 

“I’ll find a way back to you.” There’s sweat down her face. “So wait for me.” 

 

How many steps will it take? Of counting sand and leaving nothing but footprints behind?

 

“As long as it takes?” 

 

When Ame swallows, it feels like sand shoving down her throat. The sensation takes her back to the shore of floating dreams and palm springs; of a shark swimming in an ocean below the coral-pink sun; of glitter skipping all over the swell of salt and jet-blues.

 

The memory flickers like the sunlight quivering on the gold chain and watch around her neck. 

 

“As long as it takes, I promise.”  

 

At the end of time, there’s a bus stop - the warden told her so - and she’ll have to walk until the clock runs out to take the ride. But in the distance, heat seems to distort the hills into abstraction. Everything feels heavy, laden with fever. 

 

And it’s here that Ame’s slogging through sand, her mind swimming with the memory of water, praying that the dry flood doesn’t sink her beneath the angry red sun. 

 

Chapter Text

 

There’s light the shade of coral-pink pebbling on these steps, tangled in the ebb and flow of clear rippling pool water. It flickers over marble tiles and peeks through the gaps of a hand sinking into chlorine blues. 

 

Ame has her back against the ledge and her fingers are spread over tiles for balance. 

 

There’s light on her face, everywhere; in her mouth.

 

There’s light kissing her lips like a lover, feathering down the snow slopes of her neck. Pool water slips into the crevice of her chest. It’s splaying down her waist, and spreading between her thighs. She can feel the water lapping against her legs - it’s cool, unlike the body pressing against hers. 

 

“Kiara-” 

 

Ame finds herself reaching for more light. 

 

And light cradles her face with both hands, brilliant even without sun. It’s a golden glow filling up Ame’s eyes - she’s drinking it, drowning in reverie, hoping that the light fills everything.

 

“Say it,” A hot breath brushes against her lobe. “Tell me you want more.” 

 

Ame sighs with cotton in her mind. 

 

"Please."

 

Soon she’s heavy on the steps, trembling as sunlight fills up her heart. It’s spreading through her lungs, stealing her breath. Then gushing into her veins, all over her skin, sweeping them in a beautiful afterglow. 

 

The stars tickle the back of her mind. 

 

It blinds the view and causes her to fall forward, into light’s embrace. Ame closes her eyes, clinging onto heat and the smell of chlorine pool water. And slowly she’s sinking, floating in a pillowing darkness washed by light. 

 

Chapter Text

 

The way to the monolith is filled with thermal springs. 

 

It’s a barren red desert, pocketed with thin lakes of water cloaked in a sterile mist. Between the springs, on strips of thin red banks, it is dashed with speckled stone made twice the height of a human. Fragments of a timeless lineage. 

 

And now only the monolith is left. 

 

It’s a riveting view. An elegant contour of white, a line of concrete snow in the middle of an azure sky. In the middle of a red desert, it is singular, the cynosure of everything. It empowers the way forward. 

 

And so forward is where they continue to trudge. 

 

“What if she’s not up there?” Mumei whispers. The monolith gleams in her chestnut eyes, catching the sun, like a defected mirror. Or a window pane refusing to show.   

 

“But she could be.” Fauna says with a smile.

 

“Things tend to grow in your mind if you let them stay there.” She continues, the smile turning into a grimace. “It’s not good to think about it too much.” 

 

The words are inlaid like footprints in the red sand.

 

“Okay.” 

 

Mumei looks up at the garden blooming on the crown of mint locks. Her gaze is transparent. It’s almost as though she's seeing all the foliage inside Fauna’s head. Overgrown, wayward and left untouched for far too long. It keeps the girl quiet and watching. 

 

Fauna waddles into a shallow lake made of sterile spring water, into the shadow of the white monolith. 

 

“She’s there, I’m sure. She’s the warden after all.” More words. 

 

More wet footprints. 

 

Mumei finds herself stopping at the edge. She’s staring at the blanket of silver grey trembling in the sun, up at the sheer monolith, then back at Fauna like she’s moving somewhere else altogether, very far away. 

 

Chapter Text

 

There’s a fork in the cereal bowl. 

 

“Why don’t you use a spoon?” 

 

“Because it’s boring.” Ame makes an inward laugh, bending over the counter-top. “Plus it’s a Friday.” 

 

Ame says it like it has some special meaning, her gaze fluttering over to search Ina’s expression. It slides up to meet Ina’s stare loosely-- but she wouldn’t know --before falling down to cream tiles and soggy cereal. 

 

So blink. 

 

Then blink it all away. 

 

And Ame’s skipping across the kitchen like a gossamer thread of sunlight. A quivering smile on her lips, a flicker of love in the glint of her blue eyes. She’s a fleeting view, an after-image of many others like her, the same golden hair. 

 

Her golden girl dancing towards her.  

 

Ina wonders how it must feel to paddle through the streams of time. 

 

To spend nine months in the span of nine days. To know the fray of the carpet down to the names of pet plants yet to be named. To know all about the nightmares in her mind, even the ones she can’t write about. 

 

How does it feel? 

 

Ina thinks that she wouldn’t know - well, how could she?

 

“Open wide.” 

 

Ame’s pushing up against her, leaning against the counter.

 

But the words are clogged up in Ina’s mouth, lips sealed and trembling against a jagged spoonful of cereal she didn’t ask for. 

 

Chapter Text

 

They say that a shark loses a tooth once a week.

 

Gura has a finger in her mouth. She’s staring at the mirror, pulling up her lip to check the gum, sliding over pink between rows of jagged teeth. There’s a space where her newest favourite tooth is missing – she’s particularly fond of the extra sharp ones. 

 

“Another one?” Ina peeks into the bathroom, flaps folded down on midnight locks. 

 

“Yeah, and I have no idea where Larry went.” Gura sighs in exasperation. 

 

Larry? ” 

 

“I like to name all my favourites okay,” Gura’s getting onto her knees now, bending over and checking the floor. Small hands inching over white ceramic tiles. “Bug off.” 

 

Ina hums, walking in with her hands behind her back. She’s watching Gura, the dark tentacles falling down her back following the shark’s hands. Tapping on tiles, trailing under the cabinets, curving around the corners. Feeling for a stray sharp tooth, perhaps trying to help. 

 

But after a while, the purple appendages start to stray, as though lost in thought. One wraps itself around Gura’s leg gingerly. 

 

Gura looks up to find Ina sitting on the closed cover of their toilet seat. 

 

“What’s up?” 

 

“I think it’s cute.” Ina leans in, staring at her mouth. “Your little gap-tooth.” 

 

The shark groans loudly. 

 

“You’re making fun of me, aren’t you?” She’s gritting her teeth with a dark gap in the middle, and the view makes Ina laugh. 

 

“I said it’s cute, silly.” A bloom of tentacles reaches over to grab the shark, pulling the girl up to Ina’s lips. It’s a curtain of midnight falling over silver, creating a temporary cage of privacy.

 

“Plus, I might have seen Larry in the bedroom.” Her breath feathers over skin. 

 

Then Ina kisses Gura, smiling, seeping a blush into pale skin like watercolour. 

 

Chapter Text

 

“What would you trade a paper clip for?” 

 

Gura’s laying in her lap. There’s silver locks folding in between her fingers; tangled, stray, and soft. 

 

“A what?” 

 

An arm shoots up into the air, revealing a small paper clip between her fingers. 

 

“You know, like those videos where they start with a paper clip, and then they trade it for a pen and so on blah blah until they get a house or something.” Gura gestures with her hands. It’s a sudden burst of energy in her lap. 

 

Calli’s eyes follows the invisible trail of the paper clip as it’s being waved around. There’s a tight furrow between her brows. She’s nodding her head at the girl, sinking into ponder with an audible hum. 

 

A moment of comfortable silence passes through the room. 

 

With Calli, it’s spent twirling her fingers around starlight strands with the smell of shampoo and salt clinging to her hands. She’s combing through a bundle at the crown. Then sending a trickle of taps down the back of the girl’s head. 

 

Still thinking. 

 

And with Gura, she’s sinking deeper into Calli, enjoying the administrations. But her hands are busy unfolding the paper clip, then bending the thin strip of metal around. 

 

Then, 

 

“Do you want a house?”

 

Calli narrows her eyes when she realises what she had just blurted out. And in an instant, heat rushes to her cheeks. 

 

“For us?” Gura sinks even further into Calli, suddenly quiet. 

 

“Yeah, I guess.” 

 

The girl reaches for Calli’s hand, dropping it onto her stomach, away from her eyes. Their faces are now turned away from each other. Then, ever so quietly, a thin band of paper clip slides onto her ring finger.

 

Chapter Text

 

For those who choose to close the distance, there’s the privilege of being close and altogether, too close. 

 

For Ina, it’s the taste of mint on her mouth. 

 

“Stop.” It comes out barely as a whisper, but the word echoes loudly between them. It’s deafening, a pulsating ring from her lips, vibrating against her skull. 

 

Sana stares at her for a moment before taking a step back. 

 

“I-I’m sorry.” 

 

And that creates the distance. 

 

There is no punchline. No casual puns nor jokes built on the scaffolding of their friendship since childhood. No record of the days, months and years spent grappling these strings fettering them together. All her years, she’s spent it on a tight-rope balance of what-ifs and pretend.

 

So, what changed? 

 

The look in Sana’s eyes is foreign. Unfamiliar. It’s glazed with a mixture of pain and something else akin to affection. 

 

Is this love? 

 

But Sana has never told Ina that she loves her. Just crossed into the bubble slowly and pressed her lips against hers. It’s unspoken. Ever so gentle and tender. And it had opened up a galaxy Ina didn’t know could exist, but the weight of it also sinks her heart. 

 

So if this is love… what’s going to change? 

 

Ina releases the sleeve she’s been holding, shaking. 

 

Then what’s going away? 

 

She’s running to the toilet now, hands flying to her own lips. She’s wondering if her own expression mirrors what Sana’s feeling. She’s trying not to think about it because anything less seems unacceptable. 

 

Then her head is in the sink. She’s guggling mouthwash, the taste is sharp but not enough. Because just like the kiss, the taste of mouthwash leaves a tingle in her mouth. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Is it more important to feel loved or to be loved? 

 

Kronii doesn’t know. 

 

So she’s asking the room, staring at a cream wall with a blue lantern in her hand. It’s one of the those late night thoughts combing her mind, tangling through her hair, like the lappets of a moon jellyfish sweeping over. 

 

“Well, that depends on you.”  

 

The voice echoes all the around the room. It’s an omnipresent tone - pristine and constant in frequency. Kronii knows that it’s finely tuned, designed to maximise attention and pleasure for the human ear. And it makes the bionic ring of light down her neck bleep in response. 

 

It’s an invisible thread of bluetooth technology that connects this conversation together. 

 

“I think it’s hard to tell the difference.” Kronii starts to settle into a glass armchair, cradling the lantern close to her body. “So it wouldn’t change anything.” 

 

“But the distinction still matters.” 

 

That tugs a wry smile onto Kronii’s lips. She’s pleased to hear that. The glow from the lantern grows in her hands, mirrored by the light on her neck. 

 

“Have you ever been in love?” 

 

The entire space slowly lights up in waves of ocean blue. Tones of deep sapphire lap at Kronii’s feet, laving over the aseptic white robe wrapped around her body. Folding blue into cream as a milky jellyfish floats pass a concave porthole. 

 

“It’s difficult to say, since I am not real.” The voice drags out, as though lost in ponder. “But according to my data, I believe that my thoughts and emotions are close, if not equal, to that of the human experience.”

 

“Well then, do you feel real?” Her eyes glazes over the light. 

 

“Sometimes, if I allow myself.”

 

Pause.

 

“Do you?”

 

And deep in the ocean, with most of her memories sunken within these cream walls, Kronii looks up from the lantern, finding that she doesn’t know how to answer. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Kiara’s reaching for the horizon with the view of sunset in her palm.

Even in winter solstice, the sunlight scatters.

It’s a light flare blooming from behind,

flooding her from within and spilling all over. 

 

And Calli’s burning the memory in her mind,

her view of everything drenched in citrus. 

It’s a coral outline down the love-bend,

iridescent and warm, despite the weather. 

 

When she reaches for Kiara’s hands, 

a rare smile lights on her lips. 

 

Her love like the steady gaze of the sun,

a quiet heart aflutter,

then moving into eternal ember glow.

 

Chapter Text

 

They say a phoenix resides in the imperial shrine.

 

And the way to her is gold threaded into a marble staircase all the way up to sky.

 

Amaterasu.

 

The goddess of the sun.

Great woman of daylight.

Queen to her Golden Empire.

 

Pray — because between her ember wings, there’s a boundless sky; each feather fluttering like a maple leaf dancing on zephyr.

 

You’ll realise she’s never cloaked in shadow, only sunlight. The glow from heaven carves out her silhouette. It spills over the boundary of blue.

 

And in the light, you’ll see an undying flame illuminating her eyes from within. Notice the embroidered smile on her countenance; it beckons you to pray with your hands clasped tightly against your chest, then folds your body down to the ground, bent-doubled like a coral seashell.

 

In front of the deity, choose to either tremble in worship, or else fall into shadow.

 

Chapter Text

 

The body is now stripped of its flesh curtains. 

 

Twin crescent moons form a ribcage, letting pale light spill through milky grilles – a window view into the heart that used to pulse at the center. Dust flutters on bone, then stains her fingers in chalk-white when she swipes it. 

 

There is no rotten smell. 

 

Only the breeze from green dandelion fields. 

 

Ame’s standing at the giant gates of bone, and when she’s walking through the skeleton gap, it makes her feel like an uninvited guest. It’s a majestic view, impressive just by its sheer size. 

 

This empty husk of a whale probably houses memories made from a thousand years ago, she thinks. 

 

Ame kneels inside the barren carcass, writing out ancient scripture into the earth with her knife. The ground here is dry and cream-coloured. It breaks easily into clay chunks, some flecking over the crumpled map in her hands. 

 

The detective exhales. 

 

Her breath scatters the pale light. It’s the colour of sapphire and glitter when it passes through the magnifying glass clasped at her hip – dancing through the aperture. 

 

In this space-time continuum, the land has Pluto’s colours – sections of off-white and peony blue, to marigold and rose. Here, shadows cling onto her skin like film and clues linger on dead bones. 

 

And she’s here for a while, until her kneecaps turn pink, dusted with clay and chalk. 

 

The detective waits under the stars; waiting as the sky spills moonlight onto poorly carved words, like cold milk to a cup, and fills them up. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Fauna’s on a cusp of a dream. 

 

Awake but still seeing pink clouds like cotton bloom. 

 

She is sitting at her desk. Her elbows are propped on the rickety classroom table, her chin resting on the back of her hand. It’s a steady tripod for her eyes as she watches her friends. 

 

They are talking about something.

 

It’s pieces of conversation muffled by the cloud in her mind, because Fauna’s distracted. Her eyes are drawn to the girl with blue highlights in her hair, and the sound of chatter fills her ears like white noise as much as Kronii envelops her view. 

 

Everytime Fauna looks at her, she finds herself seeing something new again. The details are piling, cumulus in her memory. 

 

Today, it’s dark strands tucked over the shell of an ear when Kronii leans in to listen to Mumei. It’s the peek of a tooth when she breaks into a giggle. The way her hands fly out when she cracks a joke, resting on Mumei’s arm, holding onto a sleeve.

 

The clouds feel like they are billowing—she’s too close—and Fauna exhales her thoughts with a sigh. 

 

“Earth to Fauna.” 

 

Kronii waves a hand at her. The light from the window spills onto her face, coloring the rest of the room in sunset. “Are you daydreaming again?” 

 

She’s walking towards her now, smiling and reaching her hands out. The gesture floods a cloud cover into her mind and Fauna feels her chest swell. It’s pillowing and unbearable. 

 

So instead, her gaze falls through. Kronii leans in to touch her shoulder. But Fauna’s looking elsewhere, settling on Mumei, then all of a sudden, recognising the clouds in her eyes too.

 

Chapter Text

 

Death lingers through the minutes but Calli’s too busy chasing to dwell. 

 

“That’s enough. Fucking drop it Watson.”

 

She’s cornering the time traveler, blocking her right with a long scythe. A drop of sunlight lines the blade, making it glint like a warning; as sharp as the reaper’s ruby gaze. 

 

“And if I don’t want to?” Ame says, leaning in. 

 

The smell of death spills over Calli, tugging her frown even deeper. 

 

“What are you gonna do about it?”

 

Calli grits her teeth at the dark stench, thinking — god , does she reek of it. It’s a string of worms trying to crawl under her skin. Distinct and pink. Like the smile dangling in front of her, taunting, as Ame’s moving closer. 

 

A mortal and yet nothing like one — the worst kind. Dancing with the devil. Then playing a game of chess with death, a set of audacious and unpredictable points on the monochrome board.

 

“Not so hot now, aren’t you?” Ame whispers, making her move. 

 

Check-mate. 

 

One hand points a silver needle at Calli’s neck. The other dusts at the reaper’s collar lightly. Returning the warning like a favor.

 

Since when? 

 

Calli’s eyes are narrowing into slits. She refuses to answer. 

 

But Ame’s still smiling at her affectionately, as though her actions are without harm. The view injects a trickle of intrigue into death’s veins - it’s a blooming vineyard of red roses and thorns. Calli feels a rumble deep in her blood, feels the heat rushing to her face. 

 

The absurdity of her to wear boldness like the golden chain around her neck, when all it takes is one flick on the watch to slip away.

 

“I’ll see you later, miss reaper—” 

 

And once more, there’s nothing left but fading sunlight and a death trail to follow. 

 

Calli exhales. 

 

For each time she’s left chasing the sunset till it’s gone. 

 

Chapter Text

 

The way to the top of the monolith is long and arduous. 

 

Mumei’s skipping up the marble steps, wondering if they feel tall because of the warden’s supposedly lengthy stride, or because she’s too short. 

 

“The higher I climb, the less there is to look at.” She comments, pausing to adjust her cape. When Mumei turns to peer out of a window, it’s a long thin strip of the sky falling down into a red haze. Broken chunks of white concrete now flecking the dunes and springs like pale snowflakes. 

 

Fauna trails behind her.

 

“Well, what would you like to see?”

 

“I don’t know.” A ghost of a thought slips her mind. “Something interesting would be nice.”

 

Fauna stops beside her and follows her gaze. “That’s hard,” she says. Her words are heavy like rolling stones, and yet a wry smile feathers on her lips. “The world… it’s not very interesting anymore.” 

 

“Is that a personal opinion, or a general statement?” Mumei asks, turning to stare. She’s picking her way through the garden again.

 

Ah, the flowers in her head are withering.  

 

“There’s nothing left.” 

 

Silently, she tries to agree. 

 

It is as though to Fauna, this world that once feels like a burst of colour is now akin to watching paint dry. There is no place for flourish, no rain for flowers to bloom. Spring water falls away at their feet and into heat, red dust settles on their gloves, and the marble steps under their boots is hard and dry, without imperfection for character. 

 

“Perhaps,” Mumei eventually says, then changes the subject. “How much higher?” 

 

Fauna gives her a shrug, still smiling, “I can only hope we’re almost there.” 

 

Chapter Text

 

“The customer at table five is ready to order.”

 

Kronii spins on her heel, dusting her apron. 

 

What? ” 

 

And then, she’s making her way through the crowd; somehow, but rather precariously, keeping a cluttered tray balanced in her gloved hands. Her eyes dart across the faces of strangers until it lingers on a wide brim hat. Cream, pink ribboned, over emerald locks. It’s sloped on one side, concealing everything but a gentle smile. 

 

When she arrives, the stranger greets her without lifting her gaze, “Hello.” 

 

“Hello.” Kronii echoes, staring at the woman. 

 

Then, she’s inhaling sharply when someone bumps into her, tipping the tray. It’s a short symphony of clinking glass, and Kronii quickly catches a falling fork with her other hand. A hiss leaves her lips. 

 

God--

 

“My, my...” 

 

The woman tilts her hat, her eyes threading their line of sight together, tied together by a smile of amusement. It’s topaz against sapphire. Kronii takes a moment to digest the view. She can feel the sweat inside her gloves - frazzled by the stare or the tray, she didn’t know. 

 

So suddenly she’s raising her voice above the background chatter, saying, “I’m stronger than I look.”

 

“And clumsier than you seem.” 

 

The statement instantly tugs a frown into Kronii’s face. The woman laughs with a hand over her mouth - it’s dainty and breezes over her like the wind fluttering through autumn. It quietly knots a little curl of warmth at the back of Kronii’s mind. 

 

“I like you.” 

 

Kronii stiffens up with a smile at the statement, her face lighting up, “ Huh?

 

But the woman only smiles, refusing to answer. She tucks a green lock over the shell of her ear, slipping out of the gaze, her attention falling back onto the menu. “Well, what else would you recommend?” 

 

Chapter Text

 

Love is difficult - Bae knows it best. 

 

Love is difficult because there’s a tangled yarn of feelings in her hands, and she’s tugging at the strings to be undone. But each pull twines a stubborn knot instead, and now it’s only dead nodes left in the ugly patchwork of her heart. 

 

“Tell me that I’m pretty.” 

 

She’s hovering over Irys’ lap, clad in a skirt that’s way too short, looking like nothing she has ever been before. 

 

What?

 

But Bae’s already moving in to capture an earlobe between her teeth, then pulling at the divot of skin. “Say it.” 

 

“You are so pretty.” 

 

“Keep going.” 

 

There’s a tempest roaring in her head and each time Irys feathers a compliment along her neck, it brings a ripple of silence, of tranquility; a lingering second in the eye of the storm. 

 

“So pretty, the prettiest…” She’s mumbling with her eyes closed. 

 

Bae grips onto the chair until her body starts to shake. Hot tears fall onto her skin, streaking down her collarbone like rain on a window pane. But Bae doesn’t realise it’s hers until Irys grips her waist in alarm, her voice thinning into a whisper. 

 

So so…  fucking pretty. ” 

 

Bae cups her hands on the girl’s cheeks, then slides her fingers into dark ruby locks. Irys’ eyes flutter open with a strained sigh. 

 

Is this punishment or love? 

 

“You’re the prettiest girl to me.” Irys says, searching for her eyes. 

 

Does it hurt?

 

“The prettiest, you hear me?” 

 

Bae lowers her gaze to look at her, “Yeah.”

 

Then she’s leaning in, pushing against the girl, and capturing the rest of her words with a slow lingering kiss. 

 

Chapter Text

 

The moon fills her up in a way she can’t describe. 

 

And even if it’s too much, Gura wants it all. 

 

She’s sloshed in midnight; it’s hard to tell where the water and ink begins. The waves are lapping themselves around a soft belly, cleansing the blood off her skin. An intimate ritual between her and the ocean. The scent makes her head float, and slowly nudges her back into consciousness. 

 

Right… 

 

Gura’s starting to remember. 

 

There’s warmth spreading through her arms, and it wraps her attention around the appendages holding her down. They’re marred with a constellation of bite marks, and streaked with dried blood that’s not her own. 

 

When Gura looks up, she finds Ina standing away from the coast. 

 

“Gura?” The girl says, looking at her with a pained expression. She’s keeping the distance as promised. 

 

Gura heaves, her voice raspy. “H-How long has it been?” 

 

“Three.” 

 

“Hours?”

 

“Three days.” 

 

Gura feels her stomach churn. How strange it is to be surrounded with all the ocean she could ever want in the world; and yet feel her throat shrivel and burn at the mere thought of red. 

 

“It’s okay.”

 

Gura feels the moon staring down at her, threatening to fill her up. “I’m sorry— God, I’m just so hungry.” 

 

“It’s okay.” A tentacle wraps itself around her waist gently. “I know” 

 

The distant embrace makes Gura cry as she’s holding onto dark flesh; and under the moonlight, she's bowing her head, then quietly licking at a closing wound. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Ever since the world went dark, Ina’s memory is of an evergreen prefecture. 

 

A string of citrus perfume tugs at her attention. She’s turning to look, her vision still plunged in ink, hearing the footfalls, but barely making out an outline of a figure moving towards her.

 

“Ame?”

 

There’s a sudden soft sensation - a single daffodil pressed on her lips. “Yeah, I’m here.” 

 

Ina immediately sighs into the kiss. Lemon drop; the taste of citrus is sharp, yet so sweet.

 

The memory of Ame’s face coated in sepia flickers in her mind. She’s imagining pale skin and golden locks. So as per usual, she’s reaching out to check, feeling her way through facial features; her fingers slide over the curve of twin cheeks, lingering on closed lids and soft lashes, then over the knot between Ame’s brows. It’s warmth leaning into her palms. 

 

Ina feels a curve forming against her lips. 

 

Ah, she’s smiling. 

 

“That tickles.” Ame laughs, pulling back.

 

“I’m sorry.” 

 

“Don’t be.” Her ears pick up the sound of rustling bags. “The queue was awful, but I got you something.”

 

Ina feels a weight being placed on her lap, and she’s moving from warm skin to a cone of tissue wrapping. Her fingers flutter through the velvet folds, and she stops to rub a soft scale between her fingers.

 

“You got me flowers?” She’s holding the bouquet to her chest now, beaming.

 

“Dandelions.” Ame says, slowly pulling her into a hug. “Happy anniversary my love.” 

 

Ever since the world went dark, Ina’s memory is of an evergreen prefecture. Here, the scent of citrus floods her. There’s a field of lemon trees and memories preserved in resin - forever in amber.

 

“Ready?”

 

And Ina’s getting up from the bench, holding onto Ame’s arm, reaching for her cane. “Yeah.”

 

Chapter Text

 

For Gura, words are hard to come by; like cotton candy in the rain. 

 

So her mind latches itself onto other methods for meaning. Perhaps it’s instinct dwelling in heredity, deep down from Atlantis. Or the appetite gurgling in her belly, refusing to shut up. 

 

It’s strange, she thinks, and somewhat akin to gastronomy. 

 

The sight of Ame walking into the room -- that’s a sun-flavoured gumdrop. Like the view, it’s a taste that’s easy to enjoy. Granulated sugar pressed against her tongue, gummy candy stuck between her teeth. Lingering sunshine on her saliva. 

 

With Ina, it’s a cup of hot cocoa. Chocolate powder swirling between hot milk and a marshmallow cloud. Steam rising to kiss her face. The kind that comforts and makes you think of winter. A warm slush enveloping her belly. 

 

Calli has a habit of wearing a particular shade of red lipstick, and Gura remembers it as lollipop stained lips. The memory of waxed paper wrappings on the table. What flavour? It depends. But it’s glossy and faraway, and the thought of it orbits her for days. 

 

To Gura, Kiara feels like popcorn kernels roasted in caramel. A display of fireworks unfolding into cream pillows. Then cloud crunch under her jagged teeth, melting into rich butter notes and pecan. It’s a sweetness that curls at the back of her mind. 

 

But it isn’t always like this. 

 

For the others, words are still a finicky affair.

 

For example, Mumei’s… a coconut brain and Fauna is, well…still a reminder of raw celery; and the rest, she still doesn't know.

 

At least for now. 

 

Gura makes a face.

 

Until she finds her words. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Stubbornness is only welcomed if it’s in her favour. 

 

“Come here.” 

 

Kronii turns away with a frown, “No, go away.” 

 

But still she’s riveted at the door, listening for approaching footsteps, waiting. Then heaving when a pair of bronze slender arms wrap themselves around her waist. Secretly relishing that Sana picks up the cue immediately. 

 

“Ehhhh… Kronini–”

 

Since when?

 

Somehow, in some way or another, inexplicably so, things started to change. 

 

The realisation hits her like a starburst in her mind. 

 

It’s calling her away, making her restless; and Kronii is never on edge. But somehow, she finds herself tugging at the same hands she insists on pushing away. Before she knew it, what she had made of the world had shifted its perspective, and the same view of glancing back at silver blonde streaks now greets her moving forward. 

 

Since when did she start to lag behind? 

 

This binary tug-of-war is falling away from her hands. Blink, and suddenly she’s bounded by gravity – from the arresting gaze of twin Sirius stars, the magnetic threading of their fingers, the simple curve of pink lips mouthing her name; the entirety of her presence is pushing, pulling, enveloping–

 

Since when? 

 

Kronii’s looking at a planet-moon system, then finding herself as a moon held by orbit. 

 

And in Sana’s arms, the stars are unravelling her pride again, and she’s captured in these conditions; irrevocably locked in a dance at the heart of the galaxy. 

 

Chapter Text

 

This realm is no home for a princess. 

 

Yet somehow, Gura finds herself beached on sun-lit gravel, concealed by the bend of bonsai and white stones. A dry courtyard not quite resembling her Atlantean home. 

 

She’s quietly gasping for air, breath stirring the sand, making popping sounds with her mouth; these lungs are not quite mature enough for air. 

 

Somehow, a young girl finds her.

 

“What a strange fish.” She says, peering down with bright violet eyes. A curtain of dark locks falls around her face. The girl furrows her brows for a moment, as though considering a thought. 

 

“My name is Ina,” She says, introducing herself for some reason; flashing a smile at Gura as she reveals a small missing tooth. “Don’t worry, I’ll take you home!”

 

What a strange child , Gura thinks. 

 

And when the girl reaches down to scoop Gura into her hands, the latter thinks twice about chewing on her fingers. But eventually decides against it because she doesn’t want to fall. 

 

“I’m not gonna hurt you.” The girl promises. 

 

In fact, she repeats it a couple of times as she’s walking across the garden, cradling Gura close to her chest. The action dampens her clothes, leaving a wet stain on snow kimono cloth. 

 

Then suddenly, in a rather clumsy fashion, Gura finds herself rolling off the pair of small hands—

 

Plop! 

 

And the instant water floods her vision, she’s swallowing a generous gulp of the pond, then flopping over to stare back at the water surface. 

 

The countenance of her human saviour wavers in rippling blue. The girl is talking again, and she talks for about an hour. But this time, her voice only reaches Gura in muffled tones. 

 

“Safe and sound now!”

“… rice balls for lunch…”

“I hate afternoon naps but—“

 

— are some trickles of words Gura manages to make out. She’s resting on shallow stones, occasionally wiggling in the water, tiny bubbles leaving her lips as she’s trying to listen. 

 

How strange, she thinks. 

 

To be displaced, then somehow saved, not eaten, by a human child.

 

Chapter Text

 

The amount of space in the universe is not constant, and in the same way it’s known to swell, it can also shrink.

 

But Sana pretends she doesn’t know that. 

 

She’s pulling Kronii over, charting a new course through the milky way, wanting to make their home in the void between the stars. 

 

“What about here?”

 

“It’s too bright.” Sana says, placing giant sunshades to block out the starlight. Her silhouette shimmers in the distance. She is shifting them around, checking the light.

 

“I think it’s fine.”

 

“No,” The outline of her smile illuminates in gold. “It has to be perfect for you.”

 

Another sigh slips through Kronii’s thoughts.

 

It covers the tremor on her lips, tugging at the thread holding everything apart. Where time prefers to settle, space insists on moving. She doesn’t understand it, and her unease pools like sand at the bottom of an hourglass.

 

Perhaps, somewhere along the way, Kronii starts holding it against her. 

 

But Sana pretends she doesn’t notice. 

 

They are moving to the next galaxy; and then the next, and the next. Never still. Sana’s gaze is unwavering and bright. She spends millennia with the stars in her eyes. When they dive through spirals of constellations, she’s cradling each planet, cupping each cluster of stars. 

 

And Kronii spends it watching her, enamoured, with not one detail escaping her eyes. 

 

From the planetary to the galactic and beyond, they are blipping in and out of the interstellar ocean. Kronii finds herself skipping, leaping and dancing; her hands gently held by Sana, pulled along by her free spirit. Always moving, never settling. 

 

She’s revolving around her star. 

 

And they move until they run out of space. 

 

Kronii pauses, bending to pick up a shattered moon with her hands. Confusion slowly sets as a furrow in a brow. It dawns upon her, draining the colour from her face.

 

Then she’s turning, breath hitching, her heart eclipsed by a ghost.

 

“No--”

 

But the view of pearlescence locks slips her sight.

 

“Sana?”

 

A black hole evaporates in her place. 

 

That’s when the world falls under her feet, leaving the warden riveted in a dust cloud; the years they’ve spent together diffusing away in a trickle of finite sand. The great cosmic ocean is fading. The starlight that had once overwhelmed her view is starting to dwindle.

 

And in the distance, the boundary of where eternity begins beckons at her. 

 

But Kronii pretends she doesn’t see it.

 

She’s turning back, groping her way through the darkness, then straying off-course without the stars to tell her which way is home. 

 

Chapter Text

 

A dream belongs to its dreamer. 

 

“Are you real?” 

 

Ame looks up from the kitchen counter, stirring a cup of black coffee.

 

“What?” She’s placing it down in surprise, a little too quickly, and the dark liquid sloshes about, spraying onto her white shirt. “Shit--” Ame’s fingers make an attempt to wipe off the droplets, but it’s futile; it only seeps them further into cotton. 

 

“Is everything okay?” 

 

“Well, I don’t know.” Gura says, reaching over with a damp cloth. She tugs at Ame’s shirt. “There are weeks when you’re not home, and then days when it feels like you’re somewhere else altogether, even if you’re here.”

 

Gura dabs at the cloth carefully, narrowing her eyes at the stain. 

 

“All this time stuff… sometimes it really gets to me. I can’t imagine how much of it gets to you.” A hollow laugh escapes her lips. “Sometimes, I feel like I’m dreaming.” 

 

They stay quiet for a moment. 

 

“I’m real.” Ame’s hands slip past silver locks, cradling the girl’s cheeks. There’s a smile on her face, but it doesn’t reach Gura - she’s busy wondering why her hands are cold. 

 

“Promise?” 

 

“Yeah.” 

 

There’s spilled coffee on Ame’s shirt that won’t go away, the smell of citrus and cigarette ash in her hair. It’s strange because Gura notices. The curve of her lips that’s a little too wide. The glint in her pale blue eyes. Ame never drinks her coffee black, and even the nicknames she picks out for her are wrong. 

 

A dream belongs to its dreamer, Gura thinks, dabbing at the dark stain;

 

so why are you here?

 

Chapter Text

 

This kind of love is made of blood flowers and pomegranates. 

 

Exceptional. 

 

Reserved for her special audience of one. 

 

The priestess cradles the girl’s face, velvet gloves glide over pale cheeks. It’s her shark strung up in a private vermilion garden, suspended by dark appendages. Her little silver ornament for her eyes only. She plants a petal of a kiss on Gura’s lips, capturing the gentle ebb and flow of breath, then kneads into love softly with her mouth. 

 

“I’m sorry.” Ina whispers. “I didn’t mean to make you pass out.” 

 

The girl’s eyes flutter open. 

 

It’s a dark gaze filled with swirling scarlet and something else altogether. 

 

She's staring back at Ina with half-lidded eyes, mouth agape; like a bee to its flower, moving in for more. 

 

Desperate.

 

“Again?” 

 

A quiet nod. 

 

Then Ina’s feathering her hands on the sides of Gura’s mouth. Thumbing for permission; the girl licks her fingers. Then pushing them into the shark’s mouth. It stifles the sound of Gura’s voice slightly, and the girl obliges with a quiet chomp , knowing exactly what she wants. 

 

Her teeth draw blood on red gelatinous flesh. 

 

It’s sweet on her tongue and pools saliva into her mouth. Ruby gems trickle down the curve of her mouth, plopping onto the bed of flowers below her feet.

 

A tentacle slides between her legs, wrapping around the curve of her tail. 

 

Gura heaves. 

 

Special. 

 

“Do you love me?” 

 

Ina lifts Gura’s chin with a finger. 

 

Capturing red on the curve of pale cheeks when she leans in, like dredges of wine on glass. 

 

Her lips make their way down the girl’s neck slowly, in an unhurried, leisurely manner. The kind that makes Gura rock gently against the dark bend, twitching with the need to make love to one person, and one person only. 

 

She’s reaching for Ina, clasping onto skin, sweating. 

 

When Ina repeats the question, it makes the girl whine and strain against the motion; because she’s wrapping her lips around a soft mound of pink, and moving her hands down to Gura’s waist, past that, then pressing tenderly where the hunger resides. 

 

It makes Gura say the right things in her fumble for words.

 

Oh… what would you do without me?” Ina says, the flaps on her head folding in satisfaction. 

 

And she’s moving her hands, staring back up into the red glacé over Gura’s eyes. 

 

Her words fill Gura’s head like thick syrup, and steadily the latter’s coming undone - like the spill of rosy seeds from a pomegranate fruit pulled apart, then raining onto blood stained petals. 

 

Drowning in love and

 

Scarlet.