this is not a grave

'sinners and saints'

The tapping of dress shoes on smooth cement echoes. Like droplets of water spreading in concentric circles over a still pond, the sound disrupts the silence. The white walls of the Ghoul Detention Centre press in around Tooru's uncovered eye and the sound becomes a scent becomes a feeling – this is a crypt where sensation comes to die. It is a mausoleum of obsolete things.

Tooru stops in front of the door to the visiting room, Shirazu and Saiko behind him. For some reason, they are arranged in a straggled line by order of rank, like baby ducklings without a mother. Tooru shakes his head slightly at himself, and opens the door. Steps in.

He has an unobstructed view of Sasaki-san, sitting, waiting for them. His mentor smiles when he sees them, hesitant as a flower unfurling in winter. Tooru averts his gaze, blinking rapidly. He hugs his book bag closer to his chest.

'Mutsuki, Shirazu, Saiko,' he greets them individually by name. There is the soft snick of the door closing behind Saiko. 'Hello.'

Shirazu bounds past Tooru, straight to one of the folding chairs placed directly in front of Sasaki-san. 'Sassan!' he yells through the glass, as if there aren't microphones linked to both sides, specifically to allow conversation. He is only half sitting, hands pressed to the transparent barrier. Sasaki-san looks a little surprised, but pleased. 'How are you? Are they treating you okay? You said our names, does that mean you still remember us?'

Sasaki-san holds his hands up in the air, a plea for amnesty. 'Whoa, whoa, Shirazu, slow down. Um, I've been well enough, and they're treating me fine, and,' he pauses here, sensing the significance of a question half asked, 'I remember you.' He covers his chin and mouth with his eyes downcast, as if suddenly self-conscious of the attention, of Shirazu's unfiltered affection. Shirazu's shoulders sag visibly with relief, and Sasaki-san smiles slightly, a ghost of a laugh passing through his lips.

He looks up, notices Tooru and Saiko still standing. 'Sit down, you two, make yourselves at home,' he says lightly, magnanimously. He makes a wide, flourishing gesture as if to say, Welcome to my humble abode.

Tooru lets Saiko flop onto the other chair, petite shoes dangling, and carries over one from a number that are leaning against the side of the wall. As he sits, he feels the weight of the book bag in his lap, edges pressing against his thighs. 'Um,' he begins, hedging, and his voice is too high-pitched, 'We brought some things for you. Books.'

Is it Tooru's imagination, or has Sasaki-san's smile turned a little self-deprecating? Never mind. He sets the package onto the narrow table running alongside the glass.

'Thank you. I haven't had much to do lately.' There is a wink in his voice.

None of them laugh, although Tooru wishes he could. He feels a tremor in his hands, a cold, prickling sensation shifting in his bones. He clasps them tighter together, knuckles locking, palm against clammy palm.

'Are you alright, Mutsuki?'

Tooru looks up from double-clenched fists, eye startled a little too wide. 'Oh, I'm fine.' He thinks he can see Sasaki's teeth behind his lips, incisors tipped with blood. He imagines his gentle, concerned expression contorted into a rictus of madness, sadness, joy at the kill. Pain. He sees ribbons of red, unfurling in the air as if from dancers at a festival.

'Just fine.'

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