Due to the chill in the air and the undoubted darkening of the sky, Kid could tell that evening was quickly approaching. The sky had become a darkened orange, and the faintest traces of starlight were scattered all over the horizon. Brown and yellow leaves were scattered across the bright green grass and they crunched underneath Kid’s feet as he walked.
Kid wasn’t much a fan of fall, despite the fact that his own birthday took place in October (why was he not born in that blessed month of August?). He never much liked the cold, the way the chill was not quite winter but still inched up his spine like a spider. He had to admit, however, that the way the late sunlight dappled through the leaves that still clung to the treetops was rather beautiful.
What was he even doing? Making his way through the woods to some memorial put up a year ago. He should probably be out reaping the souls of the dead or whatever Grim Reapers did nowadays. But, as Kid finally emerged into a clearing where a large stone rested in the center, his thoughts were silenced.
The Grim Reaper made his way to the stone and, looking down upon the tiny golden plaque attached to the bottom, he read the words engraved into it like a chant in his mind, memorized by heart and recited like a prayer.
Memorial to Crona Gorgon
A True Friend, and Honorable Warrior.
Funded by the DWMA
Kid inhaled deeply and looked up at the stone. It was quite simple, really. It was just some huge rock that was smooth to the touch and surrounded by smaller, golden pebbles. Nevertheless, it was there, and Kid still felt a familiar ache in his heart whenever he stared at it.
It was never going to be Crona, no matter how hard he tried to find her face in the tiny sparkles all over the stone.
Ignoring the weird feeling in his chest, the sixteen-year-old boy removed a tiny flower from his jet black cloak. Kid had always like gardenias; Crona had also been quite fond of them and had even bought him a bouquet of the pretty cream-colored flowers long ago after he had been wounded during a mission and was forced to spend the next few hours in the infirmary while his natural reaper-body painfully healed itself.
Kid ignored the increasing pull in his heart as he tenderly lay the flower down beside the memorial, straightened, and stared up through the canopy of leaves and into the sky above.
“It’s been a year now,” Kid muttered to himself. “How much longer, I wonder…”
A stronger breeze blew up a horde of leaves and Kid was enveloped in the chill and the field was covered in falling leaves. Really. Though he hated autumn, Kid admitted that it could be pretty.
“Kid, is that you?”
Kid widened his half-lidded eyes for a moment and turned to look over his shoulder. Through the settling leaves the Grim Reaper could make out the form of a petite girl with dirty-blonde pigtails fluttering in the breeze. Her outfit was plain, consisting of a sweatshirt and denim shorts, but the bouquet of irises stood out through the calming barrage of orange and yellow.
Kid recognized her immediately, and upon recognition he could not help but allow a small smile to pass over his features.
“Oh, Maka,” Kid said when the breeze had finally died down, “I didn’t hear you.”
Maka smiled brightly as she made her way to stand beside Kid. Her green eyes were wide and full of zest and life. Kid felt envious; his work as the new Grim Reaper had left him with dark circles underlining his eyes and his voice tired and dull.
“Come to pay your respects to Crona?” Maka asked Kid, her smile holding up through the chill.
Kid nodded, trying to keep his smile up as well. “Yes. You as well?”
“Uh-huh.” Maka tore her gaze away from Kid and stooped down to set her bouquet beside Kid’s lonely little gardenia. She sat down on her heels, the balls of her feet holding her up, and stared at the plaque with her wide, forest-green eyes, the only forest-green that had not turned to yellow and orange. “Can’t believe it’s been a year already,” she continued.
Kid did not kneel beside her. The ground was dirty and course and he had no desire to mess up his cloak. Nevertheless, he continued to speak with her.
“I know,” Kid responded. “It seems like it all happened just yesterday.” The battle with the Kishin Asura had left the lives of Kid, Maka, and their friends and teachers in shambles. Though, Kid didn’t really know if anyone quite knew how hard it was on him. The loss of his father had spurred a sadness Kid had never felt before deep within his chest, and that combined with the loss of Crona and the discovery that his brother was a Kishin left a bitter aftertaste deep in Kid’s heart even after the long year of getting his life back together.
Maka seemed to sense his bittersweet reminiscence, though she did not stand. “Yeah…”
A tiny silence passed between the two. Kid studied the sparkles on the rock before him, wondering if he could find anything within the tiny constellations.
“Say, Maka?” Kid finally asked. “How many times have you come up here? To the memorial, I mean.”
Maka turned to stare at Kid. She seemed a little taken aback by his question.
"Hmmm… let’s see,” Maka thought aloud, rising to her feet and placing a finger on her cheekbone as she scoured her mind for the answer. “There was the unveiling, and then twice after that so…” She paused, and brightened up when she thought of the answer. “Three times.” She looked at Kid. “This is my fourth visit.”
Kid raised an eyebrow. “Only four?”
Maka blushed a little and laughed nervously. “I’ve wanted to come before, but, quite frankly, Soul and I just needed to get our lives back together after everything. We even got a new house now.” She seemed happy. Maka had been the one to wield Soul, the newest death scythe, and the fact that they still remained as a team instead of Kid primarily wielding Soul made Kid happy. It gave him time to build up his two weapons.
But even then, Kid could see in her eyes that she cared for Soul deeply after all the pair had been through.
Kid couldn’t help but chuckle a little. “About time.”
Ignoring Kid’s odd comment, Maka asked, “And what about you, Kid? How many times have you been up here?”
Kid felt embarrassment creep up his cheeks like a hot coal.
“…Well… I used to come here once a week,” Kid answered.
“Really? What do you mean by ‘used to?’”
Kid looked up towards the sky.
“It started as once a week… then I started coming here twice a week, three times, until eventually I came every day.” The clouds above were tinted a gentle hue of lilac.
“The new Shinigami,” Maka sputtered in disbelief, “and you had time to come here every day!?”
Kid felt a pang of resistance in his heart at the word “shinigami.” That was a title reserved for his father, not him. He didn’t know if he’d ever quite get used to it. Yet, when Kid looked down and caught sight of his gardenia among Maka’s flowers, his heart warmed up a little.
“I made time,” Kid went on, “bringing a new flower every time I came. I’m not quite sure why I just felt…” Kid searched his wide vocabulary for the right word. “… drawn to it.”
Maka blinked in disbelief.
“Wow, Kid, I must say, I had no idea.”
Kid looked into Maka’s eyes. “About what?”
“I knew you were capable of being very compassionate, but towards Crona especially…”
Kid couldn’t help but take a little offense. He straightened up at her words and furrowed his brow.
“Now, Maka,” Kid reprimanded, “I get that you and Crona were close and all, but she was just as much my friend as she was yours.”
Maka didn’t really seem to see Kid’s reaction to her statement.
“And I get that but, still,” Maka continued, “to bring flowers everyday…?”
Kid felt himself relax. It was pretty silly of him; as busy as he was he would always come up to the woods and pay his respects. He couldn’t help but laugh at himself as he stared down at his feet.
“Heh,” Kid chuckled, “I guess it is sort of overkill, isn’t it?”
“You know, Kid,” Maka said, “if I didn’t know any better, I’d say these where romantic offerings.”
Kid felt his body tense again at her suggestion. His ears began to heat up and he turned to stare at Maka with wide, golden eyes.
“R-Romantic?” Kid questioned in disbelief. “Honestly, Maka, don’t be ridiculous.”
Maka giggled. “Then again, it would make sense. I mean you were awfully kind to Crona when she first enrolled.” Maka began to count off of her fingers as she spoke. “You taught her mission statistics, helped her with homework, you even threw a party for her...”
“You do know I shot her in the face first time we met, right?” Kid deadpanned.
Maka gave Kid a chastising look.
“Crona was the person who gave Soul his scar,” Maka argued, “but I forgave her for that long ago.” Maka leaned in towards Kid with a mischievous smile on her face. “And I know you like to think you’re sneaky, but I noticed all those times you made funny faces to make Crona laugh in class.”
Kid bit back a remark. He had always thought those times with Crona had gone unnoticed. Why was Maka even badgering him about this in the first place?!
“Okay, okay I get it,” Kid sighed. “You’re insisting I had romantic feelings toward Crona.”
“Have romantic feelings toward Crona,” Maka corrected.
Kid rolled his eyes. Always the precise one, that Maka.
“Well,” Maka went on, “do you deny it?” When Kid did not respond, she pressed him in a tone that made him think that she was desperate to know. “Really, do you?”
Kid was silent. How did he really feel about Crona? She had always been timid and shy; almost afraid of him at first. However, she had gradually warmed up to him and the two had gotten closer. When a Kishin had shoved a blade straight through Kid’s stomach and he was trapped in the infirmary for three painful hours, she brought him flowers. When she looked particularly afraid or sad, he’d make a silly expression at her and she’d timidly giggle. The two had definitely been close friends but, the question remained: were they ever more than that?
“… Well… I’m not sure,” Kid finally said after what felt like forever.
Maka was not finished pressing him for details like a lawyer to a witness. “Would you consider her pretty?”
“Pretty?” Kid stared at her with half-lidded eyes. “Quite frankly, Maka, for the first few months I thought Crona was a boy. In fact, we all did.”
“Well, to be fair, no one really knew which.” Maka grinned sheepishly as she said this. Kid sighed in exasperation and turned back to stare at the memorial plaque again.
“But,” Kid began. His voice was quiet, more of a murmur than a part of the conversation. “… I suppose… looking back, I can at least consider her cute. And… I suppose ‘pretty’ would suit her too… despite those asymmetrical bangs…” Kid felt heat creep up on his cheeks like spiders.
Maka gasped suddenly and Kid turned to her with a vague expression.
“Kid,” Maka teased, “Kid, you’re blushing!”
Kid’s eyes widened just the slightest bit.
“Huh?” Kid’s hand tentatively moved to his cheek, feeling the heat his cold skin was suddenly producing. “Am I?”
Maka suddenly became giddy as a girl in the NOT class.
“It must be true then,” Maka said happily. “You blushed even at the thought of asymmetry.”
Kid stared at Maka, his hand gently falling from his face.
“You know, you seem surprisingly casual about this whole thing,” Kid responded.
“I always felt you’d be protective of Crona over such a topic.”
“I would be, given a normal situation.”
Kid raised an eyebrow. “How is this one different exactly?”
“Easy!” Maka beamed from ear-to-ear. “Because it’s you!”
Kid felt his heart fall short a beat and his eyes widen just a hair as Maka spoke.
“Crona is frail, quiet, and insecure,” Maka went on. “But she’s always eager to do the right thing, and she’s eager to please others. You’re strong, opinionated, and you’re a born leader with a strong sense of justice. Both your souls are polar opposites, like me and Soul, or BlackStar and Tsubaki. They balance out; they harmonize in a way. So when she comes back, a soul like yours would be the perfect balance to Crona’s soul.”
Kid couldn’t help but feel a tiny smile crawl up his features.
“I suppose I should be flattered,” Kid chuckled, “seeing as how I’ve technically been granted your blessing.”
Maka giggled. “Eeyup!”
When Maka had finished her fit of giggles, her gaze joined Kid’s as the two pairs of eyes stared up at the darkening sky above. More stars began to peek out from the clouds above, and the moon had vanquished the sun from the world. The moon, now completely black, still oddly illuminated as it reflected the light of the sleeping sun.
Somewhere behind all that black there was a girl with pink, asymmetrical bangs waiting for someone to rescue her. Waiting for someone to sweep her into their arms and tell her they loved her.
Maka broke the silence.
“How long until then? Until we bring her back?” Her voice was quiet. Almost devoid of hope. Yet, her tone retained a tiny shard of faith.
Kid shrugged. “Hopefully soon. I’ve…” Kid sighed. “… actually been discussing that with the teachers. We may have a chance to bring her back… It’ll take some serious planning though, maybe another year or more of it.” Kid kicked a tiny golden pebble back into place beside the plaque.
Maka whipped her head to stare at Kid. He could feel her eyes boring into his neck.
“Are you serious? What about the Kishin!?” Maka demanded.
“If we play our cards right, we may not even have to deal with the Kishin.” Kid would have done anything to save Crona, but if he could help it, he never again wanted to stare into the eyes of his brother again.
Maka’s hands trembled at her sides. “That…That’s incredible! What is it? When do we start!?”
“We’re holding a meeting for it tomorrow. Can I trust you let the others know?” Kid’s eyes remained on the sky.
“Leave it to me!” Maka turned to leave.
“… Maka.” Kid’s desperate tone stopped Maka in her tracks. “There is still the eighty-percent chance it won’t work. We may fail miserably.” Kid was staring at her now, his brow furrowed in either frustration or pain or maybe both. “The Kishin may even-”
“Nope,” Maka interrupted, silencing Kid with a wave of her hand. “I have faith. With enough faith and bravery, I’m sure we can pull through. Besides, even if we do fail, we always manage to get up and try again.” She flashed a sweet smile in Kid’s direction, and in that instant Kid knew what she had been trying to press into his mind all night.
He was silent at first, then he smiled. “Yes, I suppose you’re right.”
Maka glanced back at the dirt road back to civilization.
“I really should get back,” Maka murmured sadly. “Soul’s expecting me for dinner, and he won’t like waiting.”
Kid’s smile grew into a smirk. “Well, we don’t want that now do we?”
Maka waved to him one final time. “Goodnight, Kid!”
Kid nodded in response. “Goodnight, Maka.”
As Maka took off, Kid watched her until she was nothing but a dot in the woods. Then, she rounded a corner and disappeared from his sight.
Kid looked up one more time at the sky, and another breeze tousled his cloak, tousled his hair, and blew leaves in a whirlwind all about the clearing once again. Kid could almost hear his father chuckling, and he could almost feel Crona’s arms wrapped around his neck.
When the breeze sang a sweet lullaby into his ear, he prayed that she could hear it from wherever she was. For a moment, Kid could feel his heart beat faster, a chill bring goose bumps on his skin, and the faintest watery film of tears cover his eyes.
“Love, huh?” Kid asked Crona, who was thousands of miles away, but to him felt closer than ever. “I can deal with that…”