2019-05-20 - Walpurgisnacht: Closing Night, Naturally

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Walpurgisnacht: Closing Night, Naturally

Not just the end of the play, but the end of the entire production.


Sayaka Miki, Madoka Kaname, Kozue Kaoru, Miki Kaoru


Searrs Symphony Hall

OOC - IC Date:

05-22-2019 - 06-02-2015

 *+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Searrs Symphony Hall +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
 A striking ochre parallelogram of a building, which sprouts a glass           
 cylindrical extension atop it, Searrs Symphony Hall is the most renowned      
 venue for the performing arts in Tokyo. The lobby has a modern appearance,    
 with the Searrs logo on large, understated flatscreens, which periodically    
 dissolve into some sort of seasonal loveliness--a brace of doves for spring,  
 or a bustle of snowflakes for winter. Pink marble flooring and glass-heavy    
 decor guide visitors (most often in formal wear) to the auditorium, known     
 for its fine acoustic.                                                        
 The auditorium is more traditional than the lobby, with lush red carpeting,   
 seating with upholstery as soft as a cat's belly, and solemn velvet drapery   
 hanging across stage and boxes alike. Vineyard seating has viewers            
 surrounding the outthrust stage, with a deep orchestra pit beneath it and     
 private boxes suspended on the walls around. Even with every seat full, the   
 auditorium can be eerily quiet when a performer steps out, the spotlight      
<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Water Ripples - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwNfWqxAjXE

A vacant shopping mall is emptier than a grassy field could ever be. So, too, the silence of a concert hall is deeper and softer than it could be anywhere else. The rows of red velvet seats wait, beneath the vast hollowness of an arched ceiling. The conductor's baton hangs in the air, but it has yet to fall.

There is only one girl in the auditorium right now, her hands pale in the dark as they rest atop the weary fabric of one of the seats. Where she came from, it is hard to say; she did not walk here. Perhaps she had been by the coatroom, in the Lost and Found. Tonight, she is a portrait painted in nostalgia. Standing on her feet, feeling hair against her cheek, looking at colors and shapes; no sensation is too simple to be appreciated, or too mundane to cherish. She should not be here tonight, and perhaps she is not.

But there is a 'she' to speak of, isn't there?

Sayaka's fingers linger on the top of the seat even as she wanders away from it, drawing away only when her arm has straightened fully. The darkness here, its scents and shapes, is where she grew up, if she grew up at all. She didn't much. Anybody can see that. She still looks at the world like it might open up and show her something wonderful inside. She's still ready to put her hand in without looking. She's still leaning forward while she waits. She learns, but not always what she was supposed to learn. Being this way didn't get her what she wanted. But it made a girl fall in love with her, maybe, and maybe that's all you really get before you go, at the luckiest.

Is that the way of it? Sayaka doesn't know. Everything she really understands about all this, she learned in a powder blue pinafore and white stockings, staring up at this exact ceiling and listening to a piano speak the language of everything.

In her school uniform now, Sayaka pauses at the center of the row to look at the empty stage. It's all about to begin, but there's a little time yet. Lowering her head, Sayaka takes a deep breath, and lets happiness flutter around inside her chest for a moment. Then she takes a seat next to her best friend.

It doesn't matter which seat she picks, she knows. It will be the one next to Madoka.

"I thought you forgot about me," she teases.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [None] has posed.

A girl with pink hair and red ribbons looks up from her seat. Her eyes are pink too, but they don't really have to be. And her name is slipping, slipping, slipping. If Sayaka isn't really here, her best friend really isn't anywhere, except for, perhaps, in exactly two places:

Inside Homura... and Sayaka.

She may collect a thousand thousand thousand other Puella Magi across time and space and other, stranger distinctions of dimension, and spirit them away to a better place, but none of them know who she is, let alone know her like Sayaka did... and does.

None of them know Madoka.

The Madoka who giggles madly at Sayaka's words. Pink, gold, who even cares? Her eyes disappear behind her lashes as her whole face clenches with laughter, as her smile swallows up everything all around.

"Mean," she gasps with incandescent warmth, then gasps and claps her hand over her mouth because that was not an indoor voice, let alone a concert hall one, and they may be 1) alone and 2) something other than properly alive but Tomohisa Kaname didn't raise a girl who makes loud outbursts in the symphony hall.

Sayaka can feel the heat from her cheeks from one seat over.

But then, as her eyes reopen, she can feel that temperature, too.

Madoka's got a fever, and the only medicine is Sayaka. She's looking at her like an oasis in the desert, like the last strawberry popsicle in the freezer, like the love letter in her shoe locker that she never received.

"Never," she says in a more appropriate murmur, though it's less self-consciousness and more the native tendency of her voice to soften to enormous tenderness when she's saying something so earnest and so true.

"Never, never, never," Madoka repeats, reaching across the shared arm of their seats so that they can hold hands in the middle.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Truth is, Sayaka never got a love letter in her locker, either.

The heat of Madoka's cheeks is helping to thaw Sayaka out. She dips her head and lets it soak her a bit, uncharacteristically passive in the face of Madoka's mirth. But she is only gathering it up. She is allowed to miss her stride sometimes, around Madoka.

Taking Madoka's smaller hand expectantly, Sayaka squeezes softly. "Careful," she warns. "If you start making vows, I might have to find a chapel."

Paradoxically, it's surprising to get a kiss from Sayaka after a statement like that; her marital flirtations tend to represent a different mood. But today, she leans over right after and pecks Madoka on the temple pertly. After all she's been through, she could use a popsicle herself.

"It's pretty lame, you know," Sayaka sighs. "Hitting the big time like you have, and still hanging out with little old me..." Not since the first dynamite was dropped in a lake has fishing been so unsubtle. "I for one am all out of ideas, so I'll just ask..."

Sayaka turns her head to Madoka, even though there's a line of moisture atop her lower eyelids.

"What am I supposed to do with you, Madoka Kaname?"

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [None] has posed.

"Uehihihi," giggles Madoka, irrepressibly, at the word 'chapel'. But the kiss soothes her, reduces her again to something more like stillness, like the opposite of Prince Charming's effect on Sleeping Beauty. The only thing that makes a move is her hand. It's already taken Sayaka's, and now it squeezes.

The question hangs in the silence of the symphony hall, impregnating it further by the minute.

When Madoka moves her head in mirrored symmetry to Sayaka, when their eyes meet -- her smile is sweet, sweet and glad. No fish could smile so well, and yet:

"Without thinking of Sayaka-chan all the time... I couldn't have made it all the way here."

Sayaka's hand is a precious treasure that deserves to be squeezed more than once. And Madoka is a hungry cuddlebeast... her other hand is crossing her body to join the pile, as though drawn there by magnetic force.

"Ne," she asks, gently, "This is a chapel, right? Just not mine..."

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Sayaka lets her hand be outnumbered for the moment, enjoying the delicate little layers of affection on either side of her palm. She sniffles, she smiles, and she looks away for a moment, emotion tremulous in her lips. Madoka's question draws a little cough of a laugh, Sayaka's surprise shaking her out of it.

"That's true," she agrees placidly. "This is a place like that for me." Wheels turn slowly in her head.

"Oh my gosh," she says, covering one hot cheek with a hand. "This is going to be a Miki Kaoru concert, isn't it? Ahhh, super embarrassing..." She points. "Last time I was here I ran offstage. That was the last time I really talked to him, too..."

The thought stirs something else, and subdues Sayaka in a less happy way than the kiss had subdued Madoka.

"I'm sorry. I know you know that," she cuts in preemptively, fondly fending off forgiveness for a moment. "I know it's all okay now, just... let me say it." She exhales curtly through her nose, preparing herself.

"...sorry," she says. "For what I said at the bus stop. And thank you, for everything after that." She smiles, her lips ruefully off-kilter.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> I Guess That's Love https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoMpGbE_qK0

It is only the faintest echo of Sayaka's fandom, but everything about classical music which is sacred to Madoka, is sacred because of her.

The tinny sound of strings, pumped through the miniscule amplifier of half a pair of earbuds. The feeling of Sayaka's shoulder, her cheek. The smell of baseball dust in summer, or the Kaname kotatsu in winter. The flashing lights through an emergency room window.

As the holiness of this space sinks into Sayaka's awareness, Madoka's happiness grows -- it glows. But her smile does not spread; not with mischief, at her best friend's sudden embarrassment, and not with a secret, either, for it isn't hers to share, nor hers to keep. The truth will out in its own time, and that time is soon.

No, her lips stay right where they are, soft, then tightening. Vulnerable with memory.

Her exhalation is slower, softer. It gives her time to reject the obvious response, the one she's given a thousand thousand times, and embrace the right one, instead.

"I forgive you," Madoka says seriously to Sayaka then, and within her is the same thing that was there at the bus stop; there at the airport; there inside Oktavia's labyrinth. And then she says nothing else, because it's her turn for her lips to be pressed to her best friend's brow.

She withdraws only reluctantly. Somewhere along the way, her eyes became bright with wetness, too.

"I don't want you to think," she whispers, a little hoarsely, "That I thought that everything you fought for, everything you struggled with, everything you did... was meaningless. That you did it all for nothing. It's the opposite, you know? If you hadn't... then I wouldn't have. I'm just sorry it took me so long. But... even if I hadn't... it still would have meant something, everything. It mattered, Sayaka-chan. You mattered..."

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Sayaka nods, to be forgiven. She tucks her eyes down and gives that nod, and feels something unclench, because some things don't need to be said, and some things need nothing more. She squeezes Madoka's hand, once not enough for her either. And when Madoka kisses her back, she endures it less peacefully than Madoka had, inhaling with a pained and grateful gasp, nodding again minutely so as not to dislodge the tiny blessing.

Slowly she lets it have the same effect on her as it had on Madoka, slowly she relaxes, until with lassitude she lets Madoka return to closeness instead of contact. She turns wide eyes to her tiny best friend, startled that she is continuing, that her gentle voice continues on to dislodge more pains, unearthing them like she was digging at the base of a sand castle. Regrets she did not know she had tumble down atop themselves.

"Now you're j-just being awful. Wait till I tell Hitomi-chan you made me cry at a concert..." She does not quite do so, though she gives a deep sniff. "W-well, I hope you're right. I guess if you say it, it's right now, huh?" She smiles wistfully at the ceiling. "Even if you didn't, though, I'm sure I'd stay the same. If I could help it, we'd both know by now." Her eyes fall again to Madoka's face, and she lifts her free hand, flicking one twintail with the back of her hand to puff it up a bit, then stroking it with her knuckles to make it more orderly.

"Good thing I have a best friend who gets into even more trouble than I do."

While Sayaka's face is turned from the stage, a piano has arrived from somewhere.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [None] has posed.

"Mmm," Madoka agrees, peacefully accepting both truths: Sayaka as she is, and herself as she is, too. She leans her cheek into Sayaka's hand, which makes it salty, damp. And then the pressure increases with the expansion, at last, of her smile.

She's looking at the stage.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> The Sunlit Garden - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9sJxMoaR0s

There's been a melody at play for some time now. In the acoustics of the concert hall it feels like it's something intrinsic. Like the song of birds in Spring, the view of sunbeams through branches, the scents of flowers carried upon the wind. It is not a song being played. It simply is. Conveying some concept like 'life' or 'memory' without granting it words.

It carries with it a sense of nostalgia, from the skilled fingers of a boy in a tuxedo. There's a richness to the harmony that drifts through the air, such that no one can find any cause to criticize him. The stage lights highlight his form, making his shadow long across the backdrop curtain behind him.

He plays as if the audience were full. Empty. Or just a few people he's auditioning for. Perhaps the quantity of seats filled has never truly mattered to him. Perhaps only one seat being filled ever mattered to him. It's empty right now though.

The tempo does not slow, it carries the same consistency throughout, until abruptly, he ceases. There is no clapping right now. There is simply the idea of it. He's alone on the stage.

Then a second shadow cuts across at an angle, as a girl in a dark blue gown walks on stage. Her shoulders are bare, cut with both elegance and boldness in mind. The tap, tap, tap of her heels marks her procession, as she approaches the bench the boy sits upon.

He does not turn his head to look, as if this were an expected development. The girl stops just behind him, rather than taking a seat beside him. Wordlessly, she places her hand upon his shoulder.

The boy stirs and has a look akin to startlement something unexpected, before it transforms into a smile. Giving no verbal response, he stands up, stepping over to the left. Before taking his new seat on the bench. His sister, takes a seat beside him not long after, smoothing out her skirts, and balancing one foot on a heel as her toe takes its place atop one pedal.

Kozue always took the Secundo. Miki the Primo. It was natural. Little Sister. Big Brother. Having spent so much time away from the stage it would be only natural for it to remain that way upon her return.

Wouldn't it?

BGM Change: Petite Suite Debussy - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-GizLKld0g&t=0m47s

Her hands start to move first, and the sweetness of the melody invokes the feel of sailing. The room changes, it's no longer the feel of a sunlit garden that's intrinsic. Instead it's the tang of the salt spray. The light dappling off the water, the back and forth of the waves.

It has a simplicity to it that feels like it almost transgresses upon the complexity of what either of them are capable of, much less both. That's hardly the point though, the lack of technical difficulty emphasizes instead their nature as siblings.

Twins as different as could be, yet Kozue's work complements Miki's, and Miki's complements for Kozue. What one lacks, the other provides. What one gives, the other takes, then returns. It is balance and equilibrium.

They do it with a natural fluidity that feels like one is gently being gently rocked by that motion of the waves. Less captains of the ship and moreso of some natural force of water that is guiding the ship along.

It is not a movement tempestuous with emotion, instead one that feels like it knows the intimacy of touch. Knows how to reach into one's ears and stir even the most cynical of hearts not just with the music, but with the sight of the two together.

Kozue always did love her time in the water. To know the two is to know new depths to the song, like seeing a new angle to how the light strikes the water just right. To see it from beneath the waves, to see the horizon like firmament above and the light reaching downwards into even lightless places.

It is nothing like the song that was once played in a Parisian salon. It carries not the feeling of Debussy and Jacques-Durand. But that of Kozue and Miki. To feel it played is to like to feel their pulse, to know the whims of their fingers. Listen closer and you'll hear both the Sunlit Garden and the Decretum.

A glimpse not at thought, but at soul.

Two souls but that's not right either.

Don't you know?

It hasn't been just the two of them in a very long time.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Sayaka's hand pauses, knuckles against hair, palm now against cheek. Inevitably she accepts the latter, resting her hand down there, atop Madoka's smile.

So it is that Madoka is looking right into Sayaka's eyes when she first hears that most holy of this chapel's hymns. Her blue irises give a tiny bob as she loses focus, as her vision shifts inward to better focus on the sound. She knows the garden that the keys speak of so well, lived its every season, from cicada-creaking summer to damp-mittened winter. She knows that interminable childhood that ended all too soon, and the twins she shared it with.

Sliding her hand from Madoka's face, Sayaka finally joins it to the three already embracing between her and Madoka. "Wow," she giggles gently. "You really wanted to embarrass me, huh..." But she's nothing but smiles for Miki Kaoru right now. Not even her worst enemy could say Sayaka didn't earn hearing this--not just the song, but Miki himself, alive, and if not happy, at least still with the potential for happiness. Slowly, she lets herself relax, self-consciousness around Madoka an abnormality that cannot last long. Her eyes shine. When the song concludes, Sayaka's hand squirms free to clap.

"I'm lucky, I guess," she starts to muse aloud. "Anko, Mami-senpai, even Shimanouchi... they couldn't really do this, could they?" Kyouko's wish left nothing good in its wake, Mami's only her own life. The result of Eri's was more ambiguous. "It was a pretty dumb wish, but I guess it worked out a..."

Sayaka's clapping had already slowed, but suddenly it grows truly listless, the motion of her hands forgotten, her eyes wide. Like her applause, her sentence grinds along under its own momentum before halting.


It's impossible. It's impossible that Kozue could be here.


It's impossible, but Sayaka always believed in it. It's the prerogative of idiots.

Sniffling suddenly, Sayaka sends her fingers worming needily back into Madoka's hand, her lips trembling. Her mind knows that the twins have begun to play Debussy, but her heart knows this for an encore. It is the Sunlit Garden they are playing, more truly than it has been played since they were children. Sayaka feels herself rocked on it, soothed, and yet the more peaceful she feels, the more the tears well up. They fall clean, without wretched hiccups.

She fought for this for so long. To win it in defeat is ineffably beautiful.

"Thank you," Sayaka whispers softly into the song. She does not turn her eyes away, as she addresses Madoka. "For making this happen."

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [None] has posed.

Sayaka is looking right into Madoka's eyes, too, and they're still there even when she stops looking outward, lost in her best friend's lostness, just taking it in. They shimmer pink and lovely, lovelier than ever as they take in the light of Sayaka's expression, process it, and re-emit it a hundredfold.

What fools the Incubators were, to choose to harvest despair.

Madoka watches Sayaka watch Miki because the Kaorus may be Sayaka's childhood, but Sayaka is hers. Scuffed knees on the playground and safety scissors at the arts and crafts table. Cheering in the softball stands and falling asleep across the table from each other when they were supposed to be finishing their summer homework.

And, through that blue lens, this, too.

She's watched her watch him -- watch them -- so many, many times. Usually she said nothing for many reasons, some wise, some kind, some cowardly. Now she says nothing because there's nothing that needs to be said.

They applaud together, an asynchronous percussion section which is, in its own manner, an encore of its own.

But Madoka is there, and ready, for when Sayaka returns to clutch her once again.

They hold each other.

The arm of the chair is lost completely beneath two arms, four hands.

This is the church, and this is the steeple.

"Nnn," Madoka disagrees with the quietest vocalization, because she's only capable of shouldering the praise of gratitude once per conversation. Sayaka's met her quota and so she's at her limit. But also she disagrees because of the truth.

The gentle, beautiful -- ineffable -- truth.

"You made this happen, Sayaka-chan."

At last she joins Sayaka in watching Kozue. Are her tears -- lesser in speed and quantity, but glimmering all the same -- the product of Sayaka's? Of the music? Of the moment in all its complexity?

The two of them watch and listen, together, hand in hand.

"You mattered."

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Sayaka is often humble, sometimes sincerely, other times just out of shyness. But she wasn't being so just now. She thought Madoka did this. Why wouldn't she? It was a thing that should not be, and Madoka just...

But Madoka just showed her. This happened on its own.

The emotion Sayaka had felt suddenly grows sharper, more painfully intense. She cups her mouth with a whimper, looking down at Madoka, to see if it is true, if she means it. She looks away, then, gathering herself to look back at Kozue. She examines the face of the girl she's in love with, seeing new depths in her expression now that she understands. Seeing depths is not the same as seeing through them, however. Even now, Kozue is an unknowable girl. Even now, she is seen through a distant window.

Letting her hand down into her lap, Sayaka toys distractedly with Madoka's fingers with her other. She's calmer, now, her cheeks wet but her eyes no longer leaking down them.

"What happens now?" she asks quietly. There is a new yearning in her eyes, but it is strangely passive.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [None] has posed.

For the first time, in the theater, Madoka looks sad.

It isn't the teeth-gnashing, brow-beating, sackcloth-wearing grief of sacred texts. Conversely, although it is a small sadness, one that lives in her fingertips as they clench around Sayaka's, stilling them -- that trembles on her lips -- that stifles some of the light in her eyes, though not all, never, never again all -- it is not a small sadness.

"Ano, eto," she hem-haws quietly, playing for time, each filler word a desecration when set against the music filling the hall. "That depends on what Sayaka-chan wished for," she says, finally and a not a little bit miserably. Small-voiced, to go with her small sadness.

"There's a world where Sayaka-chan never made a wish," she explains, eventually, and she isn't looking at the stage anymore; she's looking at her very best friend, depthless concern in her eyes. "That's the world where Sayaka-chan can stay. Where she can," there's a hot knot in her throat, "Stay."

Finish high school.

Grow up.

Grow old.

Don't mistake Madoka's distress for disapproval. To stay is the only thing she herself can't do. The highest and most precious thing -- that beautiful normal life -- is denied her forever. She wants it for Sayaka so badly.

But the music resounds in their ears and things are more complicated than that, aren't they?

"Or there's this world," Madoka concludes softly, watching Sayaka watch Kozue from afar. "Where Sayaka-chan made her wish... and then, she had to go... onwards."

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"Oh," Sayaka says faintly. Her eyes unfocus, but they remain on Kozue--on the performance, perhaps. The white piano. The twins, the stage, the gown. Kozue's pale shoulder, close to the neat black tuxedo of her twin. The song carries the conversation for a while, rolling back and forth in the velvet dark.

"I'm glad," Sayaka adds at length. "I was worried it would be a lot harder than that. I told you I'd never regret my contract, remember?" Sayaka smiles, gives a sniff. "I thought I was super wrong about that for a while... but turns out I was right about something for once."

Kozue's half of the keyboard overlaps with Miki's sometimes. It is an equal partnership, though not symmetrical. But Sayaka would be lying if she said she was listening to Miki's half quite as much. Not when the mere profile of Kozue's concentrating face breaks her heart like this.

Exhaling, Sayaka leans back in her seat. "Even if I ask, you can't really explain what happens next, right? That's okay." She turns fond eyes to Madoka, a little smile on her lips. "We're graduating together, that's all. Just like we wanted. We don't know what the next place will be like. And m-maybe... we can't do all the same things we used to do when we were smaller."

Her other hand rests on Madoka's suddenly, and the strange reversal is clear. Despite what Madoka has done, despite all that she has become... Sayaka is trying to comfort her.

"But I'll be there with you to find out," she squeezes out, a little hoarse.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [None] has posed.

Madoka's head has a natural place, better-fitting than any other.

It rests there, on Sayaka's shoulder, pink and blue softness gently tangling with each other. Whatever happens next, whatever she's becoming or already become... it still fits.

They still fit together, perfectly.

"Mmm," she agrees, she accepts, she thanks, she celebrates, she mourns. So much, in such a little sound, from such a little girl. For once, it doesn't disrupt the music -- it is, at last, its equal, in depth and richness and scope.

Sayaka holds Madoka and Madoka holds Sayaka and connected like this, Madoka can no more fail to tuck a smile into her cheek, to try it back on for size, than she can fail to fit. Sayaka's is infectious.

Both parts...

"Magic and miracles do exist," she whispers, she prays, she promises, as the music falls off the cliff of climax into silence -- then applause.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> In Deepest Blue - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzyOUDhc1qo

Sayaka's hand pauses, knuckles against hair, palm now against cheek. Inevitably she accepts the latter, resting her hand down there, atop Madoka's smile.

So it is that Madoka is looking right into Sayaka's eyes when she first hears that most holy of this chapel's hymns. Her blue irises give a tiny bob as she loses focus, as her vision shifts inward to better focus on the sound. She knows the garden that the keys speak of so well, lived its every season, from cicada-creaking summer to damp-mittened winter. She knows that interminable childhood that ended all too soon, and the twins she shared it with.

Sliding her hand from Madoka's face, Sayaka finally joins it to the three already embracing between her and Madoka.

"I'm in love with her, you know," Sayaka tells her best friend, softly. Her eyes glimmer, a silver line of water in the dark.

"If I don't have to think about something, she's what I think about. I want to be around her, all the time. I want to look back and see her every time when I'm at bat, and wake up early to watch her swim. If I had to, I'd let her hurt me as much as she needed to, until she could trust me."

The reality of the situation is catching up. Sayaka can feel time slipping away. She strives to imprint the sight of Kozue in her memory, but she can never satisfy herself, no matter how she tries. There is always another angle of her face, another subtlety of shadow in her ankle or collarbone which eludes her. Even a lifetime of staring wouldn't be enough, but right now, that lifetime is all Sayaka wants. A lifetime at Kozue's side. To hear her songs. To make her smile. To watch lines appear on her face and marvel at how slow the time went, at how long their lives have lasted, when every moment with Kozue seems to last forever. To love her, when she is young and headstrong, to yearn for the future together in a shared college dorm, to watch her grow to be a graceful razor of a woman, and above all to kiss her until there is nothing Sayaka knows better.

"If someday I get to kiss her again..."

Sayaka can feel her voice shaking, shaking as if it would come apart.

"I hope it means as much to her as it does to me." Swallowing, Sayaka closes her eyes at last, letting the imprint of Kozue on the back of her lids supplant the real girl, as if testing her memory.

"Can you do something for me?" Sayaka asks Madoka quietly. "Something small."

A tasteful moderation of single red roses have been irregularly landing on the stage during the applause. Of these physical plaudits offered, only one stands out. A small cardboard box shaped like a heart, pink with abraded edges, as if it had been carried about too long. Dented, as if it had fallen. Wobbly in shape, as if it had been wet, then dried. Inside there is a chocolate heart with the name KOZUE carved somewhat clumsily into its surface. But the scent of chlorine on the cardboard will be enough to tell her that already.

"I'm in love with you, Kozue," Sayaka whispers a goodbye from her seat. "Only you."

The auditorium was full, every seat with an applauding fan. But there is a place now, halfway to the back and dead-on in the center, where two seats now sit empty. No matter how long Kozue plays tonight, those who sat there won't be coming back.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [None] has posed.

The display of sibling camaraderie finishes with the lightest of touches. The notes ceasing their reverberation within the hall. But even with their absence, the emotion still remains. It is not so much replaced by the applause that follows, as it is honored.

Each twin releases the keys only reluctantly, for the time has come to stand and take a bow. Miki takes Kozue's hand under the fingertips.

And she rises without him actually lifting her in any way. The gesture feels symbolic more than anything. The pair side by side. The young lady dipping into a curtsey - the gentleman into a bow.

When they straighten up - it's like the two ignore the rain of roses. Ohtori students are so accustomed to roses. When there's so much sameness - perhaps it's easy enough to spot the differences. Kozue's eyes do - just down and a little to the left.

BGM Change: Reprise: Mayuri + If we Meet Again - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6POndJrgxQ

Something in the girl's throat works, as her footsteps walk their graceful model's walk towards that spot. Slowly lowering herself down, she slides both of her hands beneath the box.

There's a queer expression on her face as the chlorine scent strikes her nose, one more familiar and overpowering to her even than roses.

There is an image of chocolates floating out of a lost bag - flowing into water.

Those graceful pianist's fingertips hold it like she's afraid it might vanish on the spot. Amidst the thunderous applause, she straightens back up, her eyes upon it.

And then there's a flicker of emotion within those eyes, as her eyebrows shoot up. The model pianist's eyes scan the crowd, moving past the pair of empty seats with only a moment's hesitation.

The only two in the entire hall that are vacant. They do not remain there - like her eyes are searching for a lingering presence - something intrinsic to the hall - to the universe.

That connection she shares with someone.


The applause fades into nothingness. There is only that lingering feeling left.

There is a girl seated upon a rounded stool, her feet drawn up to the highest rung, her forehead against her bony knee, a set of buds in her ears that is leading to a phone haphazardly laying across the white keys of an electric keyboard.

The window is opened a crack, the lace curtains of Mami Tomoe's guest room are lazily drifting in the air from the narrow airflow, the paper that was once on the rack now on the floor, fluttering in rhythm and time with that of the curtains in the wind.

She could be sleeping - or awake. Or she could be somewhere in-between. In that liminal place between. Her forehead's press releases from her knee, and there's this light gasp that sends her to wakefulness with a widening of her blue eyes and a fluttering of her lashes.

Her legs untangle as they lower themselves to the floor. A hand reaches up to where the buds conjoin. The cord pulls them from her ears, as she presses herself up to a standing position. Her eyes slide around the room like she's scanning for something and doesn't know what.

Like she'd heard something. Yet it's more like she'd felt something. This phantom twinge of an ache she'd both never felt before and yet had felt on a level where she could never possibly forget it.

It's only when her eyes land upon the lace curtains that she sees something else.

The curtains float past the small nightstand beside it, veiling the contents on top with a shifting translucent drape that rapidly recedes. The girl starts to step towards it, and like before - slips her hands beneath the box.

She does not remember that being there before - and she gets this puzzled expression as she wracks her recall. Struggling to decide whether she's misremembering its presence or not.

But then that chlorine scent strikes her nostrils and renders the question irrelevant.

Kozue looks at the faint doubling of her reflection in the glass, and smiles - her vision swiftly blurring with what can only be condensation.

And remembers that winter day when Sayaka walked down the path to a home that was hers too in every way that matters, ignorant of the fact that she was being watched by a girl in the window.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Run - Amy MacDonald https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Jl4kwuSOiY

There's a train in the night, and it thrums.

Madoka feels every vibration in her spine.

There's no one to see two girls there, because it's the last train, and they are alone.

Alone on the floor, with only the shared ceiling -- and one another's fingertips -- for company.

The last train howls through the darkness, and Madoka loves watching Sayaka love Kozue.

"What would you call someone who risked all that, for a girl who might not exist?" Sayaka asks bitterly.

"Brave," she repeats, firmly.


There's a song in the world, and it shines.

Madoka feels every vibration in her heart.

Everyone's here to see two girls there, sitting side by side, but they're alone anyway.

Alone in the theater seats, with only the melody -- and one another's shoulders -- for company.

The last song burns into light, and Madoka loves watching Sayaka love Kozue.

"Mmm," she agrees, at the same soft decibel.

Then, even softer, she adds, fondly: "Don't call it small. It's just late is all."


Madoka loves Kozue too, of course. A dark apartment guaranteed it. And Madoka loves watching Sayaka love Kozue because Madoka loves Sayaka like she loves the surprise candy tucked into her bento.

She loves Sayaka like she loves mixing a little bit of hopscotch into her stride which is secretly the-cracks-are-lava.

She loves Sayaka like she loves the first day of summer vacation and the last day of the year.

She loves Sayaka like a secret, and Madoka can't keep those very well, she loves to share what's important, what matters, what's precious.


Magic and miracles do exist, but someone doesn't. She may have loved Sayaka too much, but in the end, it was the way she loved everyone too much, but no one in particular enough, that did her in.

The last thing she felt was the way the velvety seats brushed up against her legs when they stood up. No, the last thing she felt was the weight of her body settling onto her feet. No, the last thing she felt was her lungs expanding as Kozue's throat contracted. No.

The last thing she felt was Sayaka.

The last thing she saw was Sayaka.

Sayaka was the last one to see her.

To see how she turned away from the world.

To see how she turned towards Sayaka.

To see that little dimple form in her cheek--

--because it's sad to leave, and it's especially sad to leave this, but it's not ONLY sad.

This is what she wished for.

This is what she chose.

Sayaka -- Sayaka fading peacefully away.

This is something only she can do.


Her last words could have been 'I'm off,' or 'Here I go,' or even bai bai... but they weren't, because they didn't have to be.

"We're leaving," murmured someone, hand in hand with Sayaka Miki, as they tapped their toes deeper into their shoes at the threshhold of everything--

--and walked out.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Sayaka is a girl filled with holes, more than most people. There are large sections of her personality, important skills in her life, that she never bothered to develop, because she had Madoka to complement her.

Sayaka is weak. The happy days of her childhood, the way she believed every summer day was hers, never truly slipped away from her, and so she never had to gain the strength to hang onto them. Madoka was her reminder; that those times were real, that her dreams were memories. All she's ever had to do is look into Madoka's eyes, and she could remember, even just a little, what it was like to believe so purely and powerfully.

Even when she began to crumble, she never fully forgot.

The girl who stands here on the threshold, with her earnest eyes and dizzy smile, this girl with all her sadness and hope and courage, is Madoka's Sayaka. There is no other. They have both been weathered and hurt so many times, both achieved and lost more than they dreamt possible. For a moment now, staring at one another, all that's left is what was there to start. It all feels a bit preordained to Sayaka.

But she can choose the end of her story, yet, at least for a while. What will happen past that threshold, she cannot say. But at least for a moment, Sayaka can call this the end. Side-by-side with her best friend, with their memories at their backs like a seaward wind. Hand-in-hand, unpartable now.

No. They never were, were they?


Dirty-faced, with her lips smeared inquisitively across her face in an expression only a little kid could manage, Sayaka stared with eyes too large for her head. Madoka, scraped and hiccuping with tears, stared back, her play-skirts making her look like a dusty flower. The little blue-headed girl in shorts extended her handkerchief down to Madoka with a reassuring smile.

The funny thing was, Sayaka wasn't trying to be reassuring, to soothe. She just really seemed to believe things were okay now, that the bad moments were gone as quickly as they'd arrived, and that she and this tiny pink-haired girl had no reason now not to smile.

"Don't cry," she said.


And now at the end, she doesn't.

Sayaka pauses with Madoka at the threshold. She smiles, but it's Sayaka herself that reassures rather than that smile, isn't it? If there's anything Sayaka loved in life, it was believing. It was trusting that the world could be better, even if the path there is unknown.

Sayaka loves to Madoka.