A/N: Here goes nothing. This fic takes place after the series, so I'd suggest not reading if you haven't seen the entirety of the series and would like to remain unspoiled. It's going to be long, at least the way I theorize it, and will trace the goings-on with Robin and Amon. (And later.) This is a reflective introductory chapter – actual events will happen later. Have fun. Please tell me if you like the idea.
A Handful of Dust
“And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow in the morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust."
- T.S. Eliot, “The Wasteland”
Chapter One: Disquiet
The evening crowds swarmed through the city streets in the normal hasty manner. No one bothered in their rush to notice a slim girl glide by, sticking near to the wall, head slightly lowered to hide deep green eyes. Dusty golden hair drawn up in an unusual style on either side of her head peeked over the high collar of a long, dark red-tinged coat. She never stayed in the same direction for too long, always leaving to walk on other streets. No one ever noticed, for in mere instants she was gone, leaving anyone who had bothered to look to wonder if she had ever even been there.
Robin turned her head slightly, casting her gaze over the shadows near the walls for a countless time, encountering nothing, as usual. Her lips pursed in annoyance. She knew he was there, he was always there, but she still wasn't able to glimpse where he was following. They always traveled like this. She'd walk out near the street; Amon would follow, managing to stay completely separate from her as to not create any links between them. If they were being looked for, a passing glimpse of one of them might not stick in any searcher's mind, but both of them together certainly would. So they walked apart, only rejoining when they stopped for the night, wherever that might be, or if they needed to talk, and he would let her know. She had once convinced him to let her be the one following, and though she tried valiantly, she had lost him before a half hour had passed. He had appeared beside her then, and told her to retake her old position. To his credit, he didn't comment on her lack of tracking ability.
Life was strange since the night after Factory's destruction. They went as far as they could – but not out of Japan. For some unspoken reason, they didn't leave Japan. It would cement the fact that they were running away, and Robin knew running away was not something Amon was accustomed to. Not to mention there was always the thought of what they were leaving behind them. What they should be changing. But they never spoke of that. Robin and Amon didn't speak all that often, but when they did, they talked for a long time. They didn't need to speak, much of the time. It had been a little over a year since they had fled. Robin would turn seventeen soon. They went from city to city, never staying longer than a few days. Many would have presumed them dead at Factory, but there was no evidence for it, so they knew they would be looked for. Robin was still listed as dangerous, no doubt. Even if the search wasn't active, the STNJ had a long reach. They never spoke of the STNJ. Well, that wasn't strictly true. They spoke of some of the people there – Michael, Miho, Haruto, Doujima. Master. Nagira. Touko was a subject they both strictly avoided, just as they avoided talking about STNJ itself. If they spoke of it, they would have to come to terms with it. With having to do something about it. Robin thought of it much of the time, the Witches still in fear, and sometimes Amon looked upon her with a tight, burdened expression. They thought about it. But it was never spoken. They weren't ready to confront it yet.
Much was never spoken. They had grown very accustomed to each other, and now their presence together was comfortable. They would share hotel rooms or shelter. When their money supply got low, they'd take temporary jobs in whatever city they happened to be in. Robin found jobs easily, people were taken in by her, and she could spend a few nights as a waitress or any other sort of help. This was when the difference became clear to her – it felt strange to not have him around, and she wondered when he had become such a permanent part of her everyday life. While she did that, Amon sometimes found a job as well – he sought out some important figure and gave his services as a bodyguard for a short while. He still carried a gun, not the Orbo gun, of course, and Robin never questioned him about it. She knew there was always the tension regarding her and the control over her power. As for himself, his power still had not developed. She wondered if it ever would, and if it did, if he would stop carrying the gun.
She looked up slightly. It was getting darker, and they hadn't been traveling by night as of late, due to how long they'd been away. They were fairly safe, and it was much more pleasant to walk during the day. Time to find a place to stop for the night. Robin took a few more turns before encountering a small but well-kept looking inn, and leaned back against the wall and waited. In moments, Amon appeared out of the darkness beside her.
“Unless you don't like it.” She responded to his question in her soft voice, turning to look at him. He had long ago ditched his STNJ coat, and now wore more casual clothes, although they were still dark and loose-fitting. He only ever wore long sleeves, and again had a heavy coat, although it was made of less noticeable material than his old one. Robin hadn't needed to change her wardrobe much – she wore lighter black and grey dresses, although they all reached her feet and went up to her neck, but she had refused to give up her coat. Amon hadn't forced her, it wasn't an STNJ coat, after all, and it wasn't all that eye-catching.
He nodded. “It's fine. Are you tired?”
“A little.” They moved inside, away from the view of the people on the street. Considering how long they had been gone, and how far away they were, all the caution was probably not necessary, but they had grown so accustomed to that life that they went through the actions automatically.
The inn was warm, and an older man at the counter welcomed them with a friendly voice. Amon got their usual kind of room – with two beds. They had been in rooms with one, before, it really didn't seem to matter anymore. They moved around each other with ease, each fully attuned to the other's mannerisms. Robin knew that even asleep she'd be able to tell where in the room Amon was, and especially if he'd left. More than once she'd been awakened by his leaving for whatever reason, and not because he'd made any noise, but because of the loss of his presence.
They didn't try and advance their relationship. He was very protective of her, and was surprised to find signs of her showing the same protectiveness of him. Neither said anything about the importance of the other. So nothing happened. Having a relationship would also force them to confront things they had left untouched. But lately, the tensions concerning the things they never spoke about had risen. The monotony of the life was getting to them, especially to Robin, who could never forget what had happened and what it had meant for her. He noticed, but waited for her to break the silence. He was just her ‘warden', after all. Even though she let him make most of the decisions, and never did anything without his agreement, they both knew where they went was up to her.
She was older now, and took things more in stride. Their lifestyle had let her learn to adapt to any situation, and now, as she looked at him moving around the room, she knew this learning time was over. Instinctively sensing the change in her demeanor, he glanced back at her, receiving a slight shake of the head in response. The end of the day was no time to start in an entirely new direction.
She sat on her bed and took her hair down from it's wraps, and he took a brush out of the bag he carried with their few belongings and clothes and handed it to her, knowing she brushed her hair out before sleep. She accepted it with a soft thanks and took it and her simple cotton nightclothes and slipped into the bathroom to change. Embarrassment around each other had long ago left them, and their routine was as comfortable now as any they had kept before their lives had changed.
When she came out, he was sitting at the end of the bed, waiting to discuss their morning plans.
“Are we leaving this city tomorrow, or staying?”
“I think we should leave,” she purposefully avoided getting into the subject of going back. “We've been here a few days. Do you want to stay?”
“Not particularly. We can leave. We can get a start among the people going to work.”
She nodded, and he slipped under his covers, turning off his light. “Oyasumi.”
Doing the same with hers, Robin rested her head on the pillow and looked up at the ceiling. “Oyasumi.”
Tomorrow, this would change.
Tomorrow, she would break the silence.
They were going back.
She was ready now.