Note: Written as a side-fic for "Comfort In Arms", going into the incident where Miku goes to Himuro Mansion. Warnings for suicidal ideation, as Miku is Not In A Good Place.

In The Place Where You Die
by Estirose
c 2012

It finally becomes unbearable. Miku finally packs her small purse and travels back to Himuro Mansion, because no matter how nice Aso-san and Kurosawa-san are, she doesn't deserve their kindness.

No, it's obvious to her that she should have died in that cave-in with Mafuyu, and it's time to remedy that. It doesn't matter that she can't see Mafuyu or Kirie, she'll be able to see them after she dies, and that's all that matters, doesn't it? If she wants to be with them, she'll be with them.

She leaves a note in her room, makes sure everything's tidy so that Aso-san and Kurosawa-san can just pack everything away. She makes it clear that it's not their fault, it's hers, and she just needs to be with Mafuyu.

By the time she reached Himuro, she's tired. The house looks ready to fall apart, like it did when she left it a month ago. She hopes against hope that it will stay in one piece long enough for her to get out to the Moon Well.

The entrance is unchanged, all cold and foreboding, with the giant hole in the middle of it. She shivers, remembering all she went through, and opens the door again. Not to leave, though, but to make sure she can leave.

There are a few routes she can take, but hopefully she can get to the outside via that great hall down on the left-hand side of the hallway with the ropes. She doesn't want to see either place again, not really, but she has to. She sees the hallway far too often in her dreams.

That great hall, too, but mostly the rope hallway. Mentally, she maps the route out, through the room with the candles out into the Atrium, and then out to the Well.

She can't quite get up the courage to go through the door. She stands in front of it, reaching out to grasp it and open it, but she isn't ready for the ropes. Not really. It's not tiredness, not really, but fear.

"I have to get there," she reminds herself, and forces herself to pull the door open. Inside, the ropes hang, forebodingly, from the beams. Ogata isn't there, she knows that, and neither is her brother's camera. All she has to do is take steps, more steps, more steps. The more steps she takes, the sooner she'll be outside.

Outside is safe. The place might not be haunted anymore, not by anybody other than Mafuyu and Kirie, but it's not exactly structurally sound.

There's a small pressure on her shoulder as she stands in the doorway, as if someone had put their hand there, as if to tell her something. But she doesn't think that Mafuyu is up here, and Kirie definitely isn't. She's probably imagining things in her desire to get to where her brother is.

But she can't step forward. And she can't leave. Aso-san is sweet and kind, like her brother, and he might decide to come here, to bring her to his home. He'll serve her tea, look at her in concern, and she'll never be left alone to do this again.

So, she shudders as she walks through the ropes. If she's careful, none of them will touch her.

The door to the great hall is boarded up, like it had been. The door to the fireplace room seems stubbornly stuck, as if some natural or unnatural force is stopping it from moving. She goes back into the entryway, remembering the third way around: take the hidden hallway to the stone garden and through the room with the buddhas, and around that way. It wasn't the way she wanted to go, but it's the way she has to go, apparently.

When she comes back, she heads towards the hidden door.

The mask is gone. Was it there before? She can't remember. She tries to open the door anyway, but it refuses to budge.

She's so tired. She's expended so much energy to come here and she can't get to where she wants to go. If she can't get into the Mansion, she can't join Mafuyu and Kirie. And if she waits too long, she'll be taken home by Mafuyu's well-meaning friend.

Miku decides to nap behind the screens, near the door. She won't be seen easily that way, maybe Aso-san will miss her and assume she went home. She closes her eyes, making a pillow of her jacket, and wills herself to sleep.

When she wakes up, she's in a car. Aso-san is driving, and he gives her a small smile. Her jacket is draped around her, slightly worse for wear. But he doesn't say anything until they get home, after she's sat down in the living room and handed a cup of hot tea. Aso-san is obviously worried when he shouldn't be; he sits there, not condemning, but just sits there.

She doesn't want to talk, either. She should be in hospital, for what's effectively a suicide attempt, but she's glad he's decided she just needs comfort and friendship. She's starting to see why he and Mafuyu were such close friends.

"I know you don't want to talk about Mafuyu," Aso-san says, and she remembers that she's never really said what happened to him. "But I know it's hurting you, Miku-chan."

Miku wishes she could say something useful, but it would be a lie to say that she doesn't want to go back. She does, she wants to find her way back in. She still wants to join her brother.

"It would have been better if you'd left me there." She remembers how he wasn't there, nobody was, when she went to find Mafuyu. He was the only one she could count on in the world. She should have stayed.

"Mafuyu would have wanted you to live." The words are gentle, in gentle tones, so much gentle that she's amazed she isn't drowning in it. "Miku-chan, just because he's gone doesn't mean it's the end of the world."

Aso-san can't understand. She finds herself sniffling, because what she really wants to do is break down, cry, and then try again. Of course, Aso-san probably won't let her. He doesn't understand what Mafuyu did, and how she didn't stop him from dying and didn't stay with him.

"There's not much I can do," Aso-san says. "But I want you to feel like you can come to me and Rei about it. You don't have to hold it in, and you don't have to feel like you're a burden to us. Miku-chan, when Mafuyu asked me to take you in, in case something happened to him, neither of us wanted you to feel guilty about it."

Aso-san slides over on the couch, putting an arm around her shoulders. "Cry if you need to, Miku-chan. I'll be here."

There isn't much that she can do, but cry. She doesn't know how to get to Mafuyu, she doesn't want to live, but she doubts that Aso-san will let her do that again. No matter how wrong it was for her to live, Aso-san is the kind of person that forgives her, just like her brother would.

She wishes she could forgive herself, but it won't be that easy. In the meantime, she leans on Aso-san, Yuu, and cries into his shoulder because that, finally, is the only thing that she can do.


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