It was so cold. That was all he could think for several
minutes after he swam back up into consciousness.
"You're awake?" someone spoke from directly behind him.
He knew that voice. "Weiss," he hissed, starting to sit up when a sharp pain in his back and right leg made him choke back a cry and lie back down.
"Don't move." That command was completely unnecessary. "I can't see well enough to determine what happened, but something feels 'off' in your leg, from the fall, I guess." He heard a self-depreciating chuckle. "I know I couldn't do that kind of damage to you." Vice versa, on the other hand... And as hard as he'd been throwing the other teen around...
"Why are you helping me?"
"Do you see the rest of my team? I can't see anything at all."
He glanced behind him, only now realizing he was half-laying on the youngest member of Weiss. Blood had dried in part of the blond's hair, dying it a much dark color. From him throwing the other against that pillar or from the fall, he wondered. Medicine was never his forte, but he imagined you had to hit your head pretty hard to knock yourself blind. Still... He cast his gaze around, but all he saw was water, broken stone... and blood, way too much blood. Someone - and right now there was no telling who just yet - had to have died here for the amount of blood he saw.
"I don't see anyone," he finally answered. "It looks like we're alone."
The blond was silent after he spoke, and it gave him time he needed to assess his situation. Schwarz had never been particularly close, and with the exceptions of Schuldig and Farfarello if he was in a sane moment, he wasn't willing to place bets on the rest of his team to come looking for him - if they were still alive. Somehow he doubted the same held true for Weiss. If they were still drawing breath, they'd be back for Tsukiyono. Who knows? They seemed like such bleeding hearts, they might even take him in till his leg and back were better.
But they weren't here now, and it was wet and cold - and getting colder. He tried to fight back a shiver, but apparently he was unsuccessful. "We need to get out of here," the blond boy said suddenly, "before this place finishes coming down on us."
"Any bright ideas on how we're supposed to do that?" he snapped out. "In case you haven't noticed, neither of us is in the best of shape."
"I'll help you walk, if you'll be my eyes." Did nothing phase this boy? No, wait, he remembered Schuldig telling him about the boy crying like he was trying to flood Tokyo when that girl - What was her name? Ouka? - died. "Neither of us are getting out of this on our own, so we might as well rely on each other. I'd rather trust you than die, myself."
Didn't the blond realize how much that word was an anathema to him? 'Trust' was something he'd never really had - and thus had never really been willing to give. But there wasn't much choice here: this was truly a case of do or die. He made a soft sound of agreement, and the young man he was laying on started to carefully move to his feet.
As Tsukiyono moved, he took stock of the other's condition. He didn't really see how the blond was going to be much help, blind, bleeding, and holding one arm to his chest; even he could tell it was broken. He was far from stupid enough to think the assassin was helpless, though. He didn't see the darts or the crossbow, but he was sure one or the other was still on his person. Even if he was unarmed, he was still dangerous, not that he himself wasn't as well. He could snap Tsukiyono's neck right now, with or without his powers, and the other didn't even seem to notice it. Or was this that 'trust' thing? He wasn't too terribly sure he liked it.
He had never quite understood the need to be able to be a
good actor in his line of work. He just had never experience the range of
emotions needed to properly convince anyone of his sincerity. Tsukiyono might
as well have been in the film industry, though; he was a lot more convincing
with his "we were spelunking when the cave collapsed" story than he
could ever hope to be. The doctor at the tiny walk-in clinic he'd managed to
turn up for him had gone into overdrive, bustling back and forth between the
two of them. Apparently, they were her only patients on this evening, and that
was just as well; she seemed to have her hands full with them.
She'd offered to call their parents somewhere during the early parts of their visit, and he'd frozen. There was only one low bed in the clinic, so he and Tsukiyono had both been sitting on it while the blond's cast dried (he had been correct: the arm was broken in two places and fractured in three others) and the doctor had been rushing about trying to locate him a pair of crutches (he was still a bit confused how he'd gotten off so much easier than the Weiss boy, but he was pretty sure he'd unconsciously used his powers to soften his fall as much as he could). Rather than him try to come up with an answer himself, Tsukiyono put his free hand over one of his to silence him, took a nearly silent deep breath, and launched himself into a lengthy, half-sobbed story about how their parents lived near Abashiri and they were down here for school and he didn't want to worry them since they hated the fact the two of them went caving anyway and couldn't they call when they got home. He knew the truth and he was half-convinced of the blond's story. The doctor had relented, quite reluctantly, of course. Once she was out of the room on a continued search for crutches, he hesitantly searched for the words he wanted to use. "...thank you," he finally got out.
Tsukiyono's head turned towards him, though he could tell the other was not seeing him. "It wouldn't be good for either of us if she tried contacting parents. Last thing I want is for her to figure out I'm an orphan or accidentally trip some protocol Kritiker still has intact protecting its agents."
"You didn't mention your eyes."
"There isn't anything she could do at a small clinic like this. Besides, head trauma-induced blindness usually clears up within a few days." A faint, pained smile touched the other boy's lips. "Besides, I think I have her pretty well fooled on it, don't you?"
"What are you going to do if it doesn't?"
"Learn Braille." It was such an immediate response, he had to wonder if the boy'd been thinking on it all along. "I can't go back to... work like this, and I wouldn't be any good in the flower shop either." His smile grew, and even though he was no expert on reading people, he was willing to bet it was forced. "Do you think there's any call for blind hackers?"
He frowned despite himself. "Maybe it will clear up then." Was this 'hope' then? He shook his head at the inane turn his thoughts had taken. "Do you have anywhere to go after here?"
The blond shook his head slowly, head tilting down like he was staring at the cast lying on his lap. "No. Kritiker's down and out, I don't know if Aya-kun and the others are even still alive, and... No, I don't."
He bit his lip, half from nervousness and half to stop himself from speaking. The words slipped out either way. "Me neither."
"Maybe... we should - I don't know - hole up together till we're both one hundred percent again."
He breathed a silent sigh of relief. "I can get us some money without us having to touch our 'work' accounts. Maybe a small hotel room or something."
Tsukiyono lifted his head to fix blind eyes in his direction. "She said it'd be at least six weeks on your leg and back and my arm. That might be a good idea. It'll give us time to get back on our feet - so to speak - till our teammates get in touch with us."
Six weeks. Six weeks and not a word from any of his
teammates, not that he'd really been expecting to hear anything anyway. What
was a bit more... concerning was Tsukiyono (no, Omi; he couldn't make
himself remember that) had yet to hear a word from Weiss. It couldn't be
because they were moving around a lot because they weren't. They'd made it one
week in a hotel before he discovered the cleaning crew moved stuff just enough
each time to trip Tsu- Omi up. Not that Omi had mentioned it to him himself;
he'd had to figure it out from the bruises that kept appearing on his legs.
To him, it was odd, worrying about someone else. He hadn't liked the sensation in the least, so he'd taken care of it the easiest way he could think of: he found a small apartment house willing to rent to them by the month. Moving had taken all of one taxi ride and twenty minutes, and that had been that. Of course, now they didn't have housekeeping doing their laundry for them, so he had to take the other boy clothes shopping, which (thankfully) turned out to be a lot less painful than the one time he'd gone with Schuldig. They'd also picked up a book on Braille and a Braille keyboard while they were out, ignoring the looks they got for paying for it all with cash, and Omi had been buried in them ever since. He was pretty sure the blond was making some good progress, but he wasn't saying anything if he wasn't.
Omi's cast had come off yesterday, and he could see the relief on the other teen's face. Minamura-sensei had declared them both fit at their check-in yesterday as well, to both of their reliefs. He'd had to bite back telling the doctor about Omi's vision - or rather lack thereof. He'd restrained himself though. Omi didn't want anyone to know about the problem, and he was trusting him to keep the secret, even if he'd yet to turn up the why on that. It was probably that 'trust' thing again. Oddly, he was starting to get it. Not much, but he could almost relate to the notion now.
Between the two of them, they'd been able to rig passable living quarters from the tiny apartment. It was small, even for an apartment in Japan, but that was just as well. Omi was still getting used to the fact his vision was, well, gone, so the smaller space was better for him to memorize. They just both had to be careful about where they put anything down; everything had a specific space in the apartment, and if something ended up anywhere else, Omi might never be able to find it, as they had discovered with his keyboard early on. They set their futons up in the living room every night and put them away in the same closet in the same way every morning; the order of it was... enjoyable.
It was odd, but he was as close to happy as he could ever remember being in his whole life. There was no pressure to be perfect, no need to kill people the Elders wanted out of the way; there was no need for anything except going to the part-time job he'd managed to secure at Minamura-sensei's clinic just a few blocks from the apartment for spending money, since it wouldn't be safe for them to keep hacking so much money all the time. He didn't see too much danger in it though. The two of them were the best hackers in Japan, hands down. Even blind, Omi didn't leave a trace he'd been in a system.
Still, since yesterday, there was a tension that hadn't been present since the early days. Suddenly it was like they were waiting for the other shoe to drop. It wasn't a feeling he liked.
He got up to the door and tapped twice, paused, then knocked three more times. Since the peephole did the other teen little good, they'd come up with this system of letting him know who was at the door. A moment later, he heard the locks sliding off, and the door opened. Omi... was smiling. He felt his chest tighten at the sight; the blond's smiles, especially the ones like this one that he'd learned to tell were faked, always made that happen to him. "What is it?"
The smile faltered then fell, and he could almost breathe again. "Come in," Omi said quietly, opening the door wide enough for him to step through.
He closed and locked the door behind him but only followed the blond with his eyes as he almost effortless navigated his way through their rather Spartan living room and sink down on the couch their neighbor from two doors down had given them. He waited till the other way sitting to leave the door and sit on the other end of the couch. "What is it, Omi?"
"Shindou-san from down the hall came to visit me. There was an ad in the paper she was reading to me."
He glanced over at the low table. A paper sat on it, a red circle drawn around an ad on it. Heart pounding in his throat, he picked it up and read it: 'Lost: One Bombay cat. Friendly, plays well with other cats. Call Kudou if found'. A Tokyo number followed, but his mind refused to process it. His body running on auto-pilot, he folded the paper into a semblance of order and set it down on the table. "So at least part of Weiss is still alive," he found himself saying. "That should make you happy."
"I don't know." He could have gotten whiplash jerking his head up to stare at the blond. "I don't want to go back to killing anymore. "
"Are you going to answer?"
Omi was silent for several long minutes then finally shook his head. "I don't think I am. I've been killing people for years, most of my life in fact. I've earned the right for a normal life, haven't I?"
He found himself nodding before remembering the other couldn't see it. "You have."
"I'm not going to answer it. At least not now." Omi was quiet another long moment. "Nagi-kun, are you leaving now that your leg and back are better?"
So this was that tension he'd been feeling. "I'm... happy where I am. I don't want to go back to killing either." They sat without words for a little while before he found words again. "I'll talk to the landlord tomorrow about changing our rental agreement."
Omi nodded again. "Changing it to yearly would be easier on all of us." He paused. "I'm glad to hear you're not leaving, Nagi-kun. " A hand, scarred and calloused from years of handling darts and crossbow bolts, covered his with unerring ease. "I've enjoyed these past few weeks with you."
With his free hand, he reached out to brush the back of his fingertips against Omi's face. "Even with...?"
The blond grabbed his hand and held it against his cheek. "We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for this, so yes. Nagi-kun?"
He looked up to meet sightless blue eyes. His voice sounded strange. "Yes?"
"Please don't be mad at me?"
He didn't even have time to get out more than "Huh?" before the blond leaned forward with that same freaky accuracy to capture his lips. The kiss was brief and chaste, but somehow it took his breath away, so it was a little while till he could get the one word he could think right now: "...Wow..." It took him another moment to notice he had his hand in Omi's hair, holding the other close to him - but no time at all to realize he didn't care. This was what he'd be missing his whole life and he wasn't giving it up.
For the first time he could remember, he wasn't cold anymore.
30 October 2005
I wrote this story for Yanagi-sen when she donated to help me make rent and expenses. This does not mean I'm jumping back into the Weiss fandom.