The cloaked figure walked up to the gate, looking at it pensively. The iron bars were pitted with rust, only scraps of black paint still clinging to the metal in a feeble attempt to prevent further corrosion. It would be a simple matter to rip it off the hinges. Still...after a moment's thought, the figure vaulted the wall instead. There was no point in making excessive noise. The figure walked through the cemetery, his long strides carrying him swiftly towards his goal. He was not worried, as many would have been, by the thought of walking through a graveyard in the dead of night. The cloaked figure had long since lost any superstitious impulses. The real world was cruel and strange enough; only a fool would cling to nonsense such as that. Finally, he reached his destination. The headstone was quite plain, probably due to the uncertain financial straits of the family. Then again, it was rather suitable to the personality of the one buried beneath it. The cloaked figure stared at the headstone for a moment, his expression unreadable. Then, slowly, he went down to one knee. His unbowed head and ramrod straight back belied the overtly submissive movement, making it more a gesture of respect. One arm lifted, the pale hand emerging from the cloak to touch the headstone, tracing out the simply carved lettering. From the depths of his hood, his voice emerged, still smooth and seemingly confident despite what had happened over the past few months. "I've found you at last. It wasn't easy, of course...nobody would tell me anything, even if they didn't try to kill me on sight. Ah, but you had friends, and it was a simple matter to wait for one of them to come visit you." The figure paused, as if unsure of what to say next. "For what it's worth, I never wanted this to happen. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time. You..." He broke off again, lapsing into a dark silence which lasted for several minutes. Finally, he withdrew his arm into the cloak and continued, "What can I say? If you can even hear me, which I doubt, you probably don't care. Or perhaps you do after all. I never could understand you. So I will tell you this. I'm not here because of guilt, or because I was forced, or to make peace with myself. I am here because I owe you a debt...one which I will now never repay. Little as this is, it is the only way...the only way I see to even partially repay you." The cloaked figure threw back his head, his hood falling back. It was a clear night, and the light of the nearly-full moon glinted off the figure's dark hair, reflected in his piercing grey eyes. His thin-lipped mouth was pressed tightly as stubborn, fierce pride warred with his honour. Honour won. Just this once. "I loved you, girl, in a way. I had never met anyone like you. In my whole life, noone had ever helped me out, noone had ever cared. Noone but my mother...and you. I had kidnapped you and beaten up your boyfriend. But you helped me, you talked with me, you didn't judge and you were sympathetic. I couldn't believe it. I still can't. You were too good for this world, girl. And now you're gone." He shook his head, smiling humourlessly. "And it's my fault. How ironic." There was another long pause, and then he continued, "Why did I never say so, you ask?" He shrugged. "Why bother? I'm no fool. I knew who you loved, though I'll never understand why. And I doubt we were really meant to work out that way anyway. You might marry a jerk, but I wouldn't be the one to impress it upon you." The figure stood, the nightblue folds of the cloak swirling around his ankles. He looked down upon the headstone, which had been unadorned except for the gifts brought by sorrowing friends and relatives. All had become bedraggled over time and taken away by the groundskeeper. All save one. A fresh bouquet leaned against the headstone. The figure didn't need to have seen it put there to know which mourner had brought it, had brought a new one every day. "But it's a moot point now, isn't it?," he said casually. "You're gone, and now it seems half the world is after me. Particularly one someone." He smiled. "And after tonight, he will know I am here. He will search, and I will let him find me. And then I'll make sure you're reunited with him...permanently. Perhaps that will repay my debt; though more likely you will not approve. Unfortunately, that one and I have unfinished business, and even were I not interested in finishing this, I suspect he would force the issue. Tomorrow night, I think. Yes, this will finally end tomorrow night." The figure rummaged in the cloak for a moment, then brought out an object and leaned it against the headstone, on the opposite side from the bouquet. It was another arrangement of flowers, but whereas the others were pure white roses, these ones were blood-red, and instead of a ribbon around the arrangement, it was wrapped rather oddly with a pair of pantyhose. The cloaked figure straightened, and looked at the flowers for a long moment, his expression unreadable. "Tomorrow night," he said softly. Then he pulled the hood back up over his head and started to walk away. Before he went more than a few steps, however, the cloaked figure stopped, and looked back at the headstone, his eyes glittering out the depths of his hood. "I -am- sorry, Akane Tendo," he said, and in that tacit admission was honest regret, for once untainted by bitterness, sarcasm, or contempt. The cloaked figure stood for a moment, as if he himself was surprised by his actions. Surprised that he cared. Then he turned away, letting those feelings drain away, replaced by the one feeling he was comfortable with, the one feeling he knew how to handle. Perhaps the one feeling he was ever destined to experience. He walked back towards the gate once more, his stance unhurried. He did not look back. "Tomorrow night," he repeated, standing at the entrance. Then he leaped over it and was gone.