Mono No Aware



Scene Title 物の哀れ
Synopsis All things end, but that knowledge does nothing to make the pain of loss easier to bear.
Date April 9, 2020

It's beautiful, this place, this time of year. Flower petals fall from trees after a light breeze passes through.

What's more beautiful, though, is the company it's shared with. She's clothed in the colours of the flowers.

Every hair out of place, even, is precious to him.

Eizen Erizawa will never forget the way the Meguro River near Naka Meguro looks during the spring. The cherry blossoms are in full bloom, everyone is out to appreciate them and listen to the gentle flow of the river through the city. He remembers the way Miko Otomo looked on this day; petals in her hair, dressed in a blush pink dress with a little red denim jacket.

Eizen stops and rests a hand on the railing, taking one of Miko’s hands in his as she follows him. They look out over the water, at its deep and dark near mirror-still surface, flecked with white blossoms. The depth and darkness of the river brings a tightness to his chest, the sound of gently splashing water hastens his breathing.

Looking away, Eizen focuses on Miko. She blinks her focus over to him, dark eyes swallowing his attention. He could stay in this moment forever.

"I'm so glad you took time off work today," she tells him, her smile deep with joy. "There's only so many moments like this. We've got to take advantage of them when they come around." Her fingers lace in between his, shoulder resting against his bicep before she turns away to look out over the water herself, though she admires the tunnel of blossoms rather than the dark of the waters they drift into.

Miko draws her free hand back to brush an errant lock of hair behind her ear, sweeping the long strand back over her shoulder. She's oblivious to the blossoms that have made their home in the black shroud around her head. "I hate we'll have to leave all this behind." she remarks softer yet. Melancholy verges on the dark of her eyes, and she holds herself to Eizen's side just a little tighter. "But at least we've got what we have."

The now, however ephemeral it might be.

The gray of the buildings looming beyond the blossoms darken slightly, imperceptibly, after that reflection. Off-white petals begin to lose their pink, taking on a grey sheen.

And the water below grows deeper, blacker— and that is harder to ignore.

But in spite of that, Eizen tries to keep blinders on. He looks over to Miko, squeezing her hand. “New York isn’t so bad. CED is going to have a field-day testing new technology there. Your hologram systems?” He smiles, giving her fingers another two-beat squeeze. “You’ve been looking forward to this for so long.”

Eizen looks down to their joined hands, then back up. “We’ve been looking forward to this for so long.” His smile is more hesitant than it was all those years ago in this imperfect reflection of the past. A subtle deviation from long-ago events. “We’ll make it home.”

Miko smiles, a reflection of his hesitance causing something haunted to come through in her expression. "You're right," she says anyway, because the dream demands it. "It'll be an amazing opportunity." She squeezes his hand back, but it's a faint thing, as though she might slip through his fingers.

His deviation in the script merits another, something like sadness coming to her smile.

"One way or another." she agrees softly, and then something over Eizen's shoulder catches her attention, bringing her to look. Raindrops begin to fall, splashing on the back of his hand— streaking down his cheek like tears.

They're like ice on his skin.

The black of the river gets closer, rising in silence. With it creeps nearer the terrible memory, the terrible truth he's trying to forget about, holding on to this moment.

Petals continue to fall from overhead despite the slow shift in color over the scene, despite the addition of the rain from nowhere. Perhaps, just maybe this moment can last forever, so long as Miko is the only thing he watches.

But she looks more and more alarmed at whatever it is she sees over his shoulder.


The sound of screeching tires, crashing metal, and screams hit Eizen like a hammer. His vision blurs, stomach twists, and he doubles over with both hands on his knees. Eizen vomits down onto the asphalt, the heavily falling freezing rain washing much of it away in an instant, like it’s doing with the blood.

There is a car in the middle of the street on its side, smashed into the center median, but it looks to have ricocheted off of the concrete dividing walls crossing multiple lanes. At some point it flipped, because there’s pieces of the car scattered down the road. The windshield is broken, one wheel is missing, fluids are leaking from the car.

Eizen looks up with a gasp of breath and a slow shake of his head. “No, no, no, no no…” his pleading turns into whimpering cries as he covers his mouth with one hand. Through the spiderwebbed glass, he can see Hachiro Otomo tangled in his seatbelt, struggling to get free. But the passenger side of the car is crushed down on itself from where it impacted the median.

No,” Eizen whispers into his palm, freezing rain soaking through his jacket. “No, no, no.

Behind his shoulder, red-painted lips whisper into his ear, "If only it weren't for Yamagato."

The river is gone. Nakameguro and the beautiful memory is gone.

All that's left is this terrible reality; the one he witnesses, and the one that's being fed to him.


"Her blood is on their hands." the woman whispers mournfully. Poor Eizen. Poor Miko.

It’s like Eizen hears the voice but doesn’t realize it’s not his own. “Kimiko,” he says through his teeth, hands curling into fists. Eizen’s jaw tenses, unable to look away from the wreck of that car trapped in a single, horrifying moment in time. As if twisting the knife in his own sides, Eizen approaches the vehicle and looks through the sideways windshield, to Hachiro Otomo in the driver’s seat, held in place by his seatbelt, bleeding from the head. He would survive.

Eizen’s vision refuses to settle on the passenger side. But he can see the blood mixing with the freezing rain on the asphalt and it turns his stomach. Slowly, Eizen crouches down on the ground and laces his fingers behind his head. He breathes hard and heavy, wheezing, sobbing things. This is what haunts him.

If he hadn’t run public relations, if Miko hadn’t learned what that meant.

She’d never have gotten in that car.

The voice that's both his and not his own sounds by his ear again, if not closer still. "Remember…" she whispers to him, and breathes in to complete that thought.

Cresting Wave Apartments

7:09 am

The breath that comes from Eizen as he suddenly wakes is a strangled and strange one, twin tears falling from eyes that were stinging how they had pooled in them in his sleep.

It’s raining when Eizen opens his eyes. But the climate-controlled interior of his Cresting Wave condo is a far cry from the frigid roads of a Safe Zone from years gone by. He lays in bed a short while, staring up vacantly at the ceiling, chest rising and falling in a slow, shallow breaths. Eventually he sits up, long hair spilling over his shoulders and down his back. He stares at the creases in the sheets, pale light and dark shadows on slate gray.

Turning his attention to the glass wall that overlooks Yamagato Park, Eizen slowly rises to stand. He approaches the window, watching the way rainwater runs in forking paths down the glass, always in one direction and never back. Sighing, Eizen rests one arm against the glass and his forehead against his arm. “Forecast.” Eizen says, and part of the window illuminates with a seven day weather forecast.

«You are up before your alarm Sir. Would you like me to set you a snooze?» Jiba’s voice floods the apartment, starting at a low volume and gradually rising to full. Eizen shakes his head, a subtle gesture the AI picks up from cameras and air-pressure change registered on internal atmospheric sensors.

“No.” Eizen feels the need to say. “File a sick day.”


“File a sick day.

«It has been two years, eleven months, and—»

“Jiba.” Eizen says in a strained voice.

«Your sick day has been filed. Are you feeling unwell? Should I—»

“Deactivate Turing mode.” Eizen says flatly, and Jiba stops talking. Bringing one hand up to his face, Eizen scrubs that hand over his beard, then rakes fingers through the hair at the side of his head.

He looks at himself in the window’s faint reflection and sees only a ghost staring back at him.

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