Title: Empty Silence
Authoress: ANT-chan and NoChristmasJokesPlz
Rating/Genre: Romance/Drabble/PG (no warnings)
Summary: The party's over, the cleaning's done, and Keres Patroclos has only one thing left to do on her sons' birthday. Post One Moment, chapter 43 drabble. M/F

Hi guys! Sorry this is going up pretty late in the day. But we're doing something different this week! Believe it or not, we have a few scenes that we WANTED to put in OM, that we never got the chance to put into the story.

This is one that I already posted on my personal profile, but since we started expanding this little ficlet series we decided to move it onto the Shrine profile. This one was a scene we had wanted to put at the end of chapter 43 of OM - to help develop Keres' character for the reader and to show that hey, don't worry. :3 Kellen is okay in his afterlife. He has a Dragon to torment.

Empty Silence

A One Moment deleted scene.

The moment Keres Patroclos showed the last member of her family out the door, her smile left with them. It was both a relief and a shame, really. Keres didn't like putting up masks. She was a genuine person – genuinely in love with life and all it brought. Slightly insane, perhaps. Slightly selfish, slightly wicked.

But she never really disagreed with those critics either. And she rarely ever had to force a smile.

With a horribly tired sigh, she leaned her head against the door of her dojo. Rarely, true. But tonight… tonight it was all she could do to look anywhere close to happy.

The silence of the dojo was depressing, to say the least. It was never peaceful. Not at the very moment she shut and locked the doors. Because all she could think about was that not so long ago, closing time had been filled with quiet laughter and teasing-

'Don't. Don't think. Not right now.'

It was past midnight now, as she'd forced her brother to help her clean up the place – seeing as it was his fault it had been covered in paint to begin with. But now that she was alone and it was quiet… she had one last thing to do before going home.

Keres didn't really look where she was going as her feet led her back to the training room. She forced herself into a near-meditative state instead, letting her body go through the motions of straightening the trophies and awards on the back shelves and polishing them absently. She usually paused to read the inscriptions. To recall each and every tournament her husband had competed in to win them. But not tonight. Tonight it would be harder than ever before to look at them.

Keres didn't know how long it took her to get the trophies all cleaned. She didn't care, either. Once she was finished, she brushed the non-existent lint from her dress and glanced at the photo of her husband sitting on the low altar. Just meeting those golden eyes, even if only in photograph form, made her heart seize. Clearing her throat, Keres knelt before the altar, arranging her dress around her so it would snag awkwardly. And then she closed her eyes, and steeled herself.

"Hey, Dragon," she began with a slow smile. "I miss you." It's what she always said to him when she started. Hello, I missed you. She'd taught her children to do the same. Always smile. Always tell him you miss him. Because to look sad would make him worry. So she simply told him that she missed him. Always. Every day and night.

"This will make it twenty years. Twenty years… they say time's supposed to go fast, but it feels like it's been a lot longer than twenty years." She smiled, almost bitterly. "I've been doing alright. Don't worry about me. There's always plenty of adventures I can get into. Parenting was enough of an adventure as it was."

'But none of it's the same. It's not as fun without you…'

"But now the kids have all moved out and got their own lives. I'll have to find some new adventure to occupy my time. Ah, that's right. You met Sasha didn't you? I hope Aiden keeps this one. They're so adorable together, Dragon! And his family fits right in with ours. They barely even flinch at the Patroclos insanity. Not like you did." Her Dragon had never understood her or her family. And it took him years to stop staring at them strangely every time they exhibited their crazy sides. But he never left them despite that. He never condemned them past the occasional theatric complaint.

It was so hard not to be consumed by memories. Most of the time, she would look upon them with fondness. But tonight everything was laced with an edge of pain. She hated it.

'Patroclos do not break. Bend, but not break.'

She took a deep breath. "I'm doing exactly what you asked. I've never stopped." It had been her husband's last words to her. She had almost been bitter in the first few months, almost regretting (Keres never regretted. She never let herself.) that the man hadn't said "I love you" before he'd passed. But in truth, doing so wouldn't have been in Daiki's personality. He never said those words often, anyway. Not that she needed it. They had known perfectly well how they felt for one another. No, instead his last words had been a simple command.

"Live a long and happy life. Live to the fullest. And tell me all about it… when we meet again..."

So she had. As much as it sometimes hurt. Even though it was sometimes lonely. She was following his last wish - with a few amendments. She was telling him all about her adventures and her hardships as they happened.

Because even as she sat there talking on and on about everything and nothing, her skin felt warmer. Her heart felt lighter. Just like it had whenever her dear Dragon had been in her presence far too long ago. And she knew that in the morning, after curling up in their big, lonely bed, it would be warm as if she hadn't been sleeping alone.

And that made this night a lot easier to bear.

There was a very small, bittersweet smile playing over Daiki Ryuuzaki-Patrcolos' lips as he pulled himself from the near meditative trance. He knew that tonight was the hardest of the year, and yet his Songbird was trying so hard to stay just as happy and full of life as always. His golden eyes opened to the ethereal, misty fields of his "new home," instead of the hazy image of his wife and their dojo. This section of Malavit's realm was where all dead souls went, provided they passed Vares' test. He could just barely see the figures of souls wandering out in the distance. They never neared this strange village that he had taken residence in. He and all others who were waiting for loved ones took shelter here. The others… the souls a rest, wandered in a content daze without need for hunger or sleep while they waited for the cycle to take them. The rest of them, like Daiki, were "cursed" with this second life.

Some had families here. Some had met with their families and lovers after years of waiting and just hadn't been ready to move on yet. And so here they lived, able to look on at their descendants from afar.

"Hey… your wife's boobs are like… tiny."

An annoyed tick started in his brow, and gold eyes shot over to glare at the new bane of his existence. In life, that role had belonged solely to Keres, no matter how much he cared for her. For the thirteen or so years following his death, he had missed that kind of presence.

Like in all religions and faiths, the Navit fates loved a cruel irony. Zakai had a twisted sense of humor, it seemed.

"Adelais, go bother your own family." His voice was icy cold. And he didn't even begin to argue that he liked Keres' breast just fine. But Kellen Adelais didn't seem to care.

The larger man flopped onto the grass beside him, his smile easy and just faintly wicked. "Naaah. I'm having too much fun bothering you. Besides, I already did my rounds for the night. I'm not joking about your wife's chest, though. Tiny. Barely even a handful! Now, Mona's… now those are awesome. You saw 'em, right?" The man sighed wistfully. "She's still so freaking cute. My little Sunshine. I wish she'd come to visit me more often."

Daiki didn't. It was cruel enough that Kellen Adelais had been placed in the little cabin next to his. Even crueler that when his wife came calling…

The least Malavit could have done was made the walls thicker.

"That boy of yours though. The older one. I'm gonna have to kill him. No one touches my Little Bird like that!"

Daiki merely tuned him out, and sighed.

He never thought he'd ever find someone he wanted to strangle just as much as Keres.