Note: my entry into the x2009 fic-challenge of 2008! This was inspired by 36°, but it is not part of the Decagram! New Shinjuku Highrises Tower 11 [shell]. October 2013. A man stood on the roof platform sixty-eight storeys above the rubble from which Tokyo was steadily rebuilding itself. The upcoming storm battered blond hair shot with first silver into his eyes, despite the blue construction helmet marking him as a guest to the regular workers. Blue for the guest. White for the architect. Red for the blasters. Yellow for the workers. Black for death. Except death worked without safety gear nowadays. Imonoyama Nokoru drew a deep breath of air that even now, ten years later, smelled of concrete dust and corpses, lost friends and enemies. The Dragons of Heaven had lost. The Dragons of Earth... ...had not won. Tokyo was rebuilding itself. The world... mankind was doing the same. Slowly, stubbornly, inevitably; evolution not revolution. Life found a way. Always. Five-hundred meters south, the unruly Pacific ocean crashed against the new seawall and the groyne fields that protected Tokyo's remodelled waterfront. Two wave farms, anchored in the now wide-open bay, produced the electricity to light up its streets after dark. Most areas were inhabited again, though chemicals from the production plants, oil and fuels had spread with the floods in 1999 and the incident at Tokyo Power Plant II had added radiation to the downtown hazards. After the repeated flooding in the violent 2001 typhoon season only the residents of the most contaminated districts still had to carry dosimeters. Nokoru gripped the guard railing with his left, the cold steel biting into his palm despite the thick work glove. Now, only the submerged parts remained dark in the night. Dark, save for the wandering whisps of lost souls and forgotten spirits... "You're thinking again," Karen's low alto voice said against the storm behind him. A narrow hand, nails painted coral red, touched his shoulder. "You ought to let go." "I can't." He shook his head, but laid his gloved hand on hers. "I see the city reforming... Hell, I even rebuilt parts of it myself! But I can't help thinking that this makes their deaths meaningless! That-" She laid her finger over his mouth, silencing him. Her hair was still red - not the polite, classy auburn, but stark, fiery red - making a startling contrast with the blue helmet. He'd married her four years ago, one year after Suoh's death, ten years after Sei- No, he wouldn't go there again. They were both stronger than that. Survivors who had learned not to mind that each called somebody else's name in orgasm. Not to mind that in their dreams somebody else was embracing them. His sons had still been born - Suo-kun first and Aki-chan last spring. She'd lost the argument for 'Seiichiro' twice; he hadn't dared to suggest 'Seishiro'. Death was still a resident of Tokyo, and as long as Aoki was alive, there wouldn't be a 'Seiichiro' in the Imonoyama family. He wasn't that strong. Releasing her hand on his shoulder, he spread his fingers on her belly. Still flat, smooth, even after two children. She worked out. She had to. Even in this new world his name was as much danger as it was protection. "Third month," she said quietly. "You can't feel him kicking yet." But he would. The world was rebuilding itself. And if they lived to be a hundred and ten, they might rebuild themselves, too.