He and I made a promise long ago, back in our training days, that if one of us wound up dead, the other wouldn't rest until we'd tracked down the fucker responsible and killed him in the most painful way we could think of.

Back then, though, we didn't anticipate that there wouldn't be a guilty party.

I haven't left this room in a few days. I told him I'd be right at his side, just like I've been for years, and I'm not about to back out on him now. But it's disturbing, seeing him like this. He's always been slender and somewhat slight of frame, but this is the first time I've ever seen him look...fragile. Out in the field, he's unstoppable, but one little virus and it may very well be the end.

He told me yesterday that it would be, that if the Reaper came for him, he would go willingly. But I haven't given up hope. We've been though worse odds, right? We're unbeatable, the glorious duo of the Silver Squad. We can't be broken by something like this...

...we just can't.

He squeezes my hand as hard as he can, and I wince because of how light it is. He's always had an uncanny strength, but now it's almost gone. Pushing those thoughts to the back of my mind, I lean in. "Yes?"

"...Buson..." he whispers, voice hoarse. "Buson, it's time....."

I shake my head. "No it isn't and you know it."

"No no..." He pauses, turning his head away from me to cough. "It's really time..."

I run a finger down his face. His fever's only gotten worse.

Maybe he's telling the truth.

A slow smirk crosses his face, and I know it's because he's caught my change of expression. "Listen to me..." He gestures for me to come closer, and I lean over so far I'm almost on top of him. "We were both up for review to become Elite officers...I want you to do that for me. Be the best the Team ever had, Buson...I know you can..."

As close as we are, it's rare to hear words of encouragement from him. But I can't dwell on that, as he continues.

"...after all...silver tarnishes so easily..." he whispers enigmatically as his hand trails up my uniform shirt. Finally it stops on my face. "Let me see your eyes," he coos, and his voice is oddly clear as he lets his hand fall back, my sunglasses in his grip.

I look at him, at his own ice-blue eyes tinted red with bloodshot, and it hits me all at once. I'm losing him, for real, and there was nothing we could have done to prevent it, no one to seek revenge against. "Oh god..." I mutter, shaking my head rapidly.

"Buson." I know that tone, it's an order for me to be still, so I am. He smiles oddly at me and lets his eyes close. "...You're the finest agent I know..." he sighs.

"...Bashou, it won't be the same without you..."

"...of course not...," and his smirk lessens to a trace, "but I know you can do it..."

I take his hand, but he's already gone limp. He sighs once before lying still.

Before I can have any sort of reflective moment, I lay his hand back on his chest and stand up. "...I'll do it for you," I tell him.

The silver on my uniform seems a little duller. Maybe this is what he meant.