The Incorruptible
Chapter 5 - Waste Land
by ainokitsune

Takeru has a tantrum. Among other things.


The Incorruptible (5) Waste Land

Love is blindness
I don't want to see
Won't you wrap the night
Around me
Take my heart
Love is blindness

"Flesh is weak."

He clutched the cape to his chest as he climbed. He could feel his heart beating against his hand, through the material, each pulse as slow and heavy as his footsteps as he struggled up the staircase. His breath came in desperate gasps, echoing in the darkness around him. He pushed hard, driving himself cruelly, towards the cold ceiling overhead.

He was nearly at the top when a wave of dizziness washed over him. His knees buckled and he fell against the stairs, one hand still grimly clinging to the steel railing. He struggled, and after a time managed to drag himself upright.

"Weak," he berated himself through clenched teeth. He was too weak, too human. His lips burned, they tasted of Takeru. The words beat against his brain.

"I won't leave," he hissed into the darkness, words punctuated by a leaden footfall on the stair above. He tried to ignore the thrill of hope that leapt inside him at the memory of the words. I won't leave.

Don't leave me.

Stay with me.

He struggled for breath. He ached, all over. His body ached inside, his soul ached.

"You can't stay, Takeru," he whispered as he pushed himself higher, "Don't you understand?

"I won't be responsible."

Not for you.

He reached the top, fell to his knees, head thrown back and staring upward. His chest heaved. He wanted to pray, kneeling where he was in the half darkness at the very top of the staircase. He felt his eyes slide closed; he was dizzy, he was going to fall backwards, slide down the stairs, fall into the pit all the way to the bottom where the carcass of the dead thing lay and he would be swallowed forever by darkness.

He spread his arms, lifted them up over his head, felt his fingertips brush the steel above him. Lips parted.

"God," he breathed, "God."

Come to me.

"I need you."

Come to me in this darkness. Don't leave me. Touch me. Love me.


His arms fell, hands came to rest on his shoulders; he hugged himself loosely.

"Uh," an exhalation of air as he climbed to his feet. He kept his head bowed, shoulders met the metal above. Gently. He reached up, fumbled for the latch. Yes. Pushed upward.

Nearly screamed.

Pain. The light boiled in the sky, it burned. He clawed at his face. Where were his lenses, his glasses, his protection? Why were they gone, why was he naked before the brilliance of destruction? The gloves were soft, they did no damage, and after a brief moment of panic he stopped, inhaling sharply. Because he remembered. The glasses were gone.

Takeru had removed them.

He was blind. His eyes bled, he could feel the wetness spilling down his face, his neck, splashing on his chest. It felt warm, hot. Were they tears? He tasted salt on his lips, but it was blood, it must have been blood, or else how could it hurt so much? How could it blossom in his head like that, ache like that, how could it be a bright white pain that spread through his head and down the back of his neck and burn with coldness unless his eyes were leaking blood all over his perfect pale white skin? He moaned, pressed his gloves to his eyes, felt wetness soak into the material. No good. The brilliance burned, somehow, through his hands, through his skin, the radiation like a flashlight shining behind them in the darkness.

He struggled to stand, and to pull his hands away. To see, he wanted to see. The pain in his head was in his whole body now, dull and white, crawling up and down his spine, sometimes a stabbing at the backs of his eyes, sometimes a crushing tightness in his chest...he drew a hand away, stumbled slightly, forward, closer to the edge. The brilliance glared off the metal beneath his feet, off the distant horizon, gave every object a halo of redness as though the soul of the world were bleeding out into the air. He covered his eyes again with a cry of pain.

"I'm sorry," he heard himself whisper, "So sorry...." No, he had to see. He jerked his hands away from his face and opened his eyes wide, forcing them open, even as they filled with tears again. It was cold where he was. He couldn't think. His heart was beating, he could hear it pounding against his ears, he could hear his own pulse throbbing in his throat, he could hear his breath. He grabbed the side of his head, one hand digging into the scalp, under the thick hair. He whispered.


A tiny noise made it through his lips, but he fell again, and this time he couldn't get back up, just sat there on the cold surface of the deck, one hand on his head, staring out into the red light. He could feel warmth spilling down his cheeks, his mouth was open slightly and he heard himself breathing. It wasn't so bad now, maybe. It was...he could feel, a little bit. He could see. Whiteness. He stretched out a hand toward the horizon. His vision was blurry, it doubled and split apart and ran together again, eyes drying out. He stretched out both hands, leaned forward. Reaching for the sky, that was bleeding, and the edge of the earth, and the end of time.

He felt his hands touch the surface, he crawled forward, pulling himself. The metal stopped. The coldness, it stopped. Why did it stop? He looked down. Fingers at the edge of greyness. The world fell away below him. Or was it rushing up towards him? He couldn't move, watched the stone spin beneath him, buckle and climb upwards. Towards him. Was he falling down? Was he going to reach it? He would reach--he stretched out, stretched his hand, down, forward and down. What was happening? Where was he?

Want to hear, want to touch....

He breathed.


Things get lost.


And then.

"I'm here."

Got lost.

He was pulled. His head jerked back, up, staring into the sky, and he screamed this time, twisted away, covering his eyes. He was being fought down, he slammed against the steel, knees on the surface, elbows on the surface, covering his eyes and hearing his own gasping breathless cries. A body was against him, arms around him, clutching at the cape, pulling it up. He heard short words, felt hands grasping his own, then something was pressed against him, against his face, and the world was dark again and cold and the brilliance of fire died away in shadows and quiet sanity. His body relaxed, he felt himself leaning.

Looked up at Takeru.

"Your eyes are too sensitive," the blonde boy said.

In a parked car
In a crowded street
You see your love
Made complete
Thread is ripping
The knot is slipping
Love is blindness

There was a smell in the air.

Takeru looked up.

"What's that?" He asked.

The Kaizer was breathing hard, eyes squeezed shut behind the glasses. Takeru still had his arms around him, holding him as he trembled and shuddered. He stroked his hair a little and the boy opened his eyes.

"Hey," Takeru said.

For a long moment there was no recognition in the boy's eyes. He stared up glassily at Takeru, then blinked, slowly, and his lips moved.

"Hey," Takeru repeated, shifting a little. "Can you sit up? Come on, try. I want you to see this."

The Kaizer suffered himself to be set upright, and Takeru released him cautiously. He stared around himself as though he had never seen the place before. He reached up to touch his glasses.

"What is that?" Takeru pointed.

The Kaizer followed his gaze.

He bit his lip.

They were still topside, sitting on the fortress, and it commanded a panoramic view of not only the earth, but of the overarching sky. It was into the sky that Takeru was pointing, far away, where the horizon was not orange, or red, but dark. Black, in fact.

"Clouds," The Kaizer said.

"Wh--" Takeru shot to his feet. He ran back towards the hatch, then past it, trying to see clearly. He shaded his eyes in the red brilliance, squinting. Darkness, and shadows on the land....

"Why clouds?" he asked, turning, and at that moment a gust of wind struck him, smelling of ozone, rain, and something else.

The Kaizer mouthed "Why?" at Takeru, and the wet wind struck him too, blasting his hair back. He looked over Takeru's shoulder.

"The...the magnetosphere, the, uh, the climate zones, the natural, natural, um...." he looked down, at his gloved hands that were splayed on the steel beneath him. "The destruction, the heat, the swelling of the sun, the water--the water cycle, evaporation," he shook his head, still staring down. "Storms. There will be...storms."

Takeru spun around. The wind swelled again, stronger this time, struck him with force. He stumbled backwards. The air was cold, it drove at his naked arms and face, at his body so used to the desert heat and light. He could see the clouds now. In bare seconds they had become visible, huge thunderheads racing over the earth. Lightning flickered, arced between the sky and ground.

"We have to get back inside!" he shouted. He hurried toward the other boy, grasped him by his arms.

"Can you stand?"

The Kaizer looked up at him.

"Wait," he said.

"Wait? For what?"

"I want," he struggled to stand under his own power, swaying slightly, and pulled the cape around his body. "I want to see." The look he shot Takeru was almost one of challenge.

"I want to see," he repeated.

"We--we'll get blown off!"

The Kaizer's face was pale, but his lips quirked slightly in what could only have been a smile. He shook his head a little.

"Wait," he said again. He turned, and the wind slid along the surface of the deck and slipped under the cape, lifting its edges. The boy released where he had been clutching the material, lifting his arms slightly, letting the wind blow through his fingers. Takeru stared in horror as the clouds surged closer, and when the first thunderclap shattered the air he doubled over, clutching his ears.

"Come on!" he shouted, even as the wind grew into a low howl and the first drops of rain, driven on the vanguard of the storm, spattered against him. He grabbed the other boy, forcing his arms down. "We have to go inside!"

The boy let his arms be pushed down, but his feet remained planted, unmoving. He turned his head, that same faint smile on his lips.

"Why did you do it, Takeru?" he asked.

"What?" Takeru tried to turn him, but the dark boy was steadfast. He seemed suddenly to be entirely unaware of the approaching darkness.

"Why did you do it?" he repeated. "You don't love me. Why do that?"

"I--" He looked at the storm again. "I didn't--I mean--"

The boy's smile was sad, and he wasn't looking at him anymore.

"We have to go inside! We can't stay out here anymore!" More rain sprayed across the deck, driven in silver curtains. Takeru turned his head, shutting his eyes, but didn't release the boy.

"You don't love me."

"Move, dammit!" But he wouldn't. For all the boy's apparent weakness, Takeru could not turn him. His feet shifted, slid, but he was staring down smiling at nothing, and somehow Takeru's strength was not sufficient.

"I won't leave without you! Come on!"

The Kaizer raised his head, looking out into the sky.

"There will be storms," he said absently, and he stepped forward, somehow, breaking out of Takeru's grip and walking into the rain even as it intensified. It lifted the cape entirely and blew his hair back, and a cloud spat lightning that turned the deck eye-searingly bright. Takeru shouted into the thunder.


He couldn't hear his own voice.

He leapt after the other boy, reached him in three steps, grabbed him and spun him with all the force he could muster. The Kaizer cried out, and Takeru lost his footing on the slippery deck and they both fell, crashing downward, and the Kaizer struck the back of his head and there was the sound of metal against metal and the boy arched his back in pain, and dug his hands into Takeru's arms and then fell back, panting, and Takeru looked down.

He grasped the glasses and pulled, and they came away and he saw where they were shattered irreparably, the broken edges dark with blood. He threw them away and they skittered across the deck as fresh rain burst over them, drenching Takeru to the bone, soaking the Kaizer's face and hair. His eyes were fixed and staring, past Takeru, and his hair was all around his head, smooth and shining and liquid blue-black. Takeru leaned down, forced his head to turn, forced him to face him.

He kissed him violently as the beginnings of the storm broke over them, kissed him until he tasted blood and he felt the boy begin to struggle, hands squeezing his arms, legs kicking out.

"Get up!" Takeru shouted, jerking the boy to his feet. He propelled him towards the hatch and wrenched it open, half-pushed, half-lowered the other boy down, and followed him as quickly as possible. Lightning arced across the sky and thunder split the air.

He shut the hatch.

Love is clockworks
and cold steel
Fingers too numb to feel
Squeeze the handle
Blow out the candle
Love is blindness

Love is blindness
I don't want to see
Won't you wrap the night
Around me
Oh my love

The Kaizer was sitting on the floor, staring at his hand. Takeru came over and took it, peered at the edges of his fingers. Blood shone in the soft light.

"I'm sorry," Takeru said.

He looked up. The boy's hair hung in wet strands all around his face, not straight down but not in the thick dry spikes to which Takeru had become accustomed. It was somewhere in the middle, wild like ropes of dark silk, shining with water. Takeru reached around, behind his head, tried to be gentle but the boy jerked away, made a noise of pain.

"I'm sorry, just--" he tried again, "I just want to see how bad it is.

"Nuh--no, don't, pl...." His head was turned away, but he was trapped between the wall and Takeru, and despite the blonde boys' hesitancy he couldn't escape him. He cringed when the boy's naked fingers came to touch the back of his head, where it was warm and wet.

"It's not so bad," Takeru murmured, "Just broke the skin a little--"

Fresh thunder drowned out the rest of the sentence. Both boys looked up.

"We should go lower," Takeru said, reaching out without thinking to the other boy. The Kaizer shied away, scrambling to his feet on his own, leaning heavily on the railing. Wet hair fell across his face.

He began to descend with difficulty, not speaking. Takeru, after a moment of watching him in silence, moved to follow. He hung back several steps, though, letting the boy go ahead alone.

Halfway down the long stair the Kaizer stopped, sinking to his knees on the steel floor. Takeru hurried to reach him. The boy was breathing hard.

"You kissed me," he said, shutting his eyes, naked in the light. Takeru stared down at him.


"Why?" the boy demanded, hissing the word. "I thought--I felt--I wanted--" His head fell to rest against the railing and his eyes opened, fixed Takeru with accusatory blueness.

"You made me bleed."

"I'm sorry!" Takeru burst out. His face flushed, he could feel the heat in his cheeks and throat. "I didn't want to leave you there! I--I didn't mean--" he broke off, looked down at his hands.

"I didn't mean to hurt you," he said quietly.

The boy sat looking at him for a long time, then reached up, pushed his hair out of his face, and stood again, with difficulty. He stretched out a hand to Takeru.

"Help me," he said. Takeru stared at it, then stepped down, grabbing him and pulling him in.

Together they descended, and by the end the Kaizer was leaning against him entirely, barely able to stand on his own. When they reached the floor Takeru looked at the boy's face. His eyes were closed and a fine sheen of sweat glistened on his skin. Takeru took a deep breath. Without even speaking, he took the boy in his arms and swept his feet off the floor, lifting him as he had done twice before. The Kaizer made a small noise but did not open his eyes.

He followed the corridor as it wound through the fortress, down several more staircases, deeper into the belly of darkness. Occasionally he passed walls that must have been close to the outside, and he could hear the storm raging, terrible and impotent. The wind howled like an animal, as though the whole world had gone mad and was tearing itself apart in a last desperate attempt to purify itself and destroy the virus that lurked in its flesh. Once Takeru stopped, lowering the boy to the floor, and stared at the wall. The Kaizer murmured but Takeru was listening to the staccato, arrhythmic beating against the walls that must have been stones and earth, picked up and hurled with terrific force against the hull. He swallowed. Perhaps the world was an animal, perhaps it was aware of his presence and sought to destroy him along with the Kaizer. When he shook his head at himself and picked the boy up again, he could not shake the thought. He looked down at the pale face.

"I'm responsible," he heard himself whisper, "I'm as guilty as you."

He came in the end not to the Kaizer's room, which he had intended, but to the observation deck, and stopped in the doorway to stare at the horror beyond. Blackness. All was blackness, and driving sheets of rain, and hail that punched into the glass so violently Takeru could not imagine that it would not shatter under the pressure. Lightning flickered, exploded, lashed at the clouds and the earth and the window.

He felt the Kaizer stir; the boy's eyes were opened again, and he struggled a bit, pushing against Takeru's chest. He lowered the boy and the Kaizer stood on his own, in the doorway, one hand on Takeru's arm.

"It's us," he said quietly.

Takeru looked.


"Us. It's us. It wants to kill us." His eyes glittered. "But it can't. It hates us, but can't reach us."

"Us...." Takeru looked down. Neither one seemed to wish to move beyond the confines of the doorway, and they stood there with the darkness gaping behind them and the storm before them, and the Kaizer leaned slightly so that he rested against Takeru.

"I'm dying," he said.

Takeru didn't respond.

When the boy stepped away from him, he did not move to follow, simply watched him go forward towards the window. He moved like someone in a dream, slowly, and halfway into the room he stopped and turned, head to one side, eyes on something only he could see.

"What drives you, Takeru?" he asked, reaching out a hand in the blonde boy's general direction, though his gaze remained fixed somewhere else. Takeru licked his lips. His mouth was dry.

"What drives you?" the boy asked again, dreamily, "What keeps you here? Is it pity? Fear? Shame?" His eyes flicked, passed over Takeru's face, and they were beautiful and distant and full of emotions Takeru could not even begin to comprehend. In his pain the boy transcended him, in death he was beyond the ethereal. Whatever dreams he dreamed were beyond Takeru's ability to comprehend.

He wanted those eyes to fall on him.

"What about you?" he said, and cringed at the way his voice was harsh, focused, the way it grated while the dark haired boy's floated in the air. It echoed behind him and Takeru stepped forward.

"What about you?" he repeated, and now the Kaizer did look at him, briefly, and smiled again, showing his teeth slightly.

"What keeps you here?"

"Here?" The dark boy opened his eyes and looked outward. "This is my home."

"But--" he stepped forward, "There's another world for you. Another life--"

The Kaizer looked at him directly.

"Are you going to save me, Takeru?" he whispered, and for an instant those soft eyes were piercingly clear. They pinned Takeru, then moved away, leaving his heart to tremble inside his chest, leaving his palms cold.

"Is that what you want? To do some good, even now? To be redeemed? Forgiven?"

"Forgiven?" He shook his head, too sharply, too forcefully. "What are you talking about?"

"Are you afraid?"

His eyes narrowed.

"I'm not afraid," he bit out.


"Not afraid...." he looked down, then shook his head again. "Not to go back, I'm not afraid...."

"Not to see what you've done?"

"I haven't done anything! I never...hurt anyone! Anyone!"

Not Daisuke. Not Hikari...all their pain, none of it was his fault.

"My fault," he whispered.

"Then why, Takeru?" The boy was asking, from very far away, far away from Takeru. "Why are you still here?"


"Are you guilty?"

He looked up.

"Are you like me?"

"God..." Takeru buried his face in his hands. He sank to his knees. "Daisuke...Hikari...Hikari...."

"Are you sorry for them?"

He was sick inside.


"Some of us can never be forgiven."

"I'm not like you," he whispered into his hands.

But he could see her face. And Daisuke, and Miyako and Iori. Daisuke and his cold control. Hikari, with her savage darkness. Miyako's quiet, reproachful eyes. And Iori, in his anger. Dead. All of them. Because of him. It had been him all along.

"I'm horrible," he whispered. "A monster...."

He was crying into his hands.


A gentle touch on his head. A hand stroked his hair.

"Poor Takeru."

He looked up.

The Kaizer's eyes were full of tears, and when Takeru met his gaze they overflowed with sorrow. For him. For Takeru. They were beautiful, heartachingly beautiful, he couldn't breathe because of those eyes. Their brilliance, their depth, were so far above him, yet it was his own face that he saw reflected in the black pupils. He turned his head away. He didn't feel right, he felt far away from himself. The gaze was enough to lift him up. He was above the pain, full and empty at the same time. He shuddered. When the gloved hands slid down his face and came to his shoulders, to loosely embrace him, he wasn't even looking at the boy, yet he could feel his warmth, and the pressure of a body against a body, as the Kaizer came to his knees and rested his own head against Takeru's shoulder. He felt his body spasm as a sound that was not quite a sob and not quite a cry of pain wracked him. He reached blindly for the Kaizer's sheltering arms, buried his face against the smooth material of the uniform, and began to weep in earnest.

A little death
Without mourning
No call
And no warning
Baby...a dangerous idea
That almost makes sense

He woke to darkness.

He sat up, sharply, in the sound of the rain. The light--what had happened to the light? He groped, and was startled to feel another body close by. The Kaizer stirred and murmured at the touch. Takeru swallowed. He could hear the rain falling outside, feel the coldness beneath him, enough to know that they were still on the observation deck. They must have fallen asleep, together, hours after Takeru had cried himself out, and the Kaizer had sat stroking his hair, murmuring shreds of conversations the boy must have had in another lifetime. Takeru didn't mind. He was used to the boy's distance, now, and those rare times when his eyes fell upon him in recognition he felt a thrill akin to happiness.

He didn't believe the boy was dying. He wouldn't believe it.

But what had happened to all the light? He stood up with care and stepped over the prone form of the sleeping boy. Thunder rolled outside, distant and low, and lightning flickered on the horizon. The rain showed no signs of relenting but they had a reprieve from the violence, apparently. He came to the window, ran his hands over the glass, not surprised to see that the outside was pockmarked and glittering with unevenness. There was a deep fracture in one pane, high overhead, and he stretched his arms up to try to touch it.

He heard movement. There was a presence behind him; he could hear, smell, feel. He turned.

"What happened to the lights?"

"It's failing," the boy said in hushed tones, as though afraid to disturb the overwhelming silence and darkness. "Everything's dying. The power source...." There was a sound like a sigh.

"You're going home, though. I've made sure of it."

"I'm taking you with me," Takeru said flatly.

He heard the Kaizer laugh. He was beginning to be able to make out his form, now, and when the dark boy laughed his outline blurred as his whole body shook. Takeru blinked hard. It was difficult to focus in the darkness.

"You're going home, Takeru," the Kaizer repeated. "I'm staying where I belong."

Takeru shivered. He stepped forward but the boy was farther away than he had first imagined. His hand touched nothing but air.

"I won't leave you here!"

The Kaizer stepped forward and grasped Takeru's hand in his own. He took a second step, and suddenly they were very close.

"I don't want you to go," the boy breathed.

"I--" he choked, swallowed. It was suddenly hard to think. "I can't stay here."

"I know." He was barely audible; a whisper would have been louder.

"You have to come back...with me."

"I can't."


The dark boy grasped his shoulders, pressed himself up against Takeru, head down. Takeru shut his eyes in pain.

"I've done terrible things. I don't deserve to go back. I'm...I'm evil."

"It wasn't your fault," Takeru said sharply, grabbing the boy, pushing him away. But it was Hikari's visage that rose up before him, Hikari, standing far away, standing on the water....

"People go away," the boy was whispering, "Everybody leaves me...."

"I won't leave you...I--I'll take you back--"

"You said you would stay!" The Kaizer raised his head, Takeru caught a glint of light off one eye. Hands clutched his shirt. "You told me you wouldn't leave!"


I lied.

Always telling lies.

"Lost," the Kaizer moaned, "Things and...people, everything gets lost...lives....Lives, everybody leaves!" His voice rose to a shriek. His hand became fists, slammed against Takeru's chest. "Everybody! Leaving me!" Takeru stumbled, not in pain but in surprise, caught the boy belatedly, as his back came up sharp against the window and he felt the Kaizer collapse against him, pressing his face against Takeru's neck, whispering words he couldn't hear.

"I...." he grasped the boy. "I won't...can't stay...I...."


Do the right thing.

"They died," he murmured. The Kaizer made a small noise.




"You killed them."

He found his hair, tangled his fingers in it, in its smoothness, gently, in its slick blackness. He was looking for the side of his face, for his ear, his cheek, found his eye that fluttered closed when his lips passed over his brow. It was dark, everything was touch, and smell. And warmth, when his mouth came to his cheek he could feel the heat beneath the skin, the scarlet blossoming, and he couldn't see the Kaizer's lips part but heard the desperate sound that only an open mouth could make.

He tasted his skin, the salt and sweetness, found the joint beneath his ear where his jaw met his throat, heard the Kaizer whisper, "Stop, please," in a thick moan. He fell against the glass, the boy fell, Takeru supporting him, pushing him, finding the flesh under his jaw, feeling the vibrations in his throat as he struggled not to cry out.

He pulled away.

"Killed them," he repeated.

"Nn...stop...don't stop..."

He brought hand to the boy's jaw, forced his head down, found his lips with his thumb and was rewarded with a soft cry of pain and his lips parting as Takeru pushed against his mouth. His hand came away and the Kaizer whispered.

"I didn't...I couldn't...."

"Daisuke," Takeru breathed, and kissed him.

His hands found the other boy's, open and grasping at nothing, and he grabbed the gauntlet at his wrist and snapped it open, threw it down and heard it roll away. He pulled the glove off and was rewarded with naked flesh. The kiss deepened, Takeru forcing himself inside the boy's mouth and twining his fingers into his at the same time. He didn't see his eyes fly open but knew that they had when he felt the body jerk in shock at the unfamiliar sensation on his hand.

"Daisuke," Takeru repeated, drawing away slightly.

"God, Daisuke, God," the boy was breathing hard. Takeru felt his own hand spasm where it grasped the other boy's.

"I remember...." the boy said, with difficulty. Takeru released his hand, felt it slide up onto his chest, grasp at his shirt. His mouth tasted sweet and full of the other boy. "I remember...he was quiet. So quiet...." Takeru, unable to stop himself, drowned the rest of the sentence in another kiss, then pulled away, closing his eyes, breathing hard. He swallowed.

"Daisuke Daisuke he lay there bleeding, he bled, and then the fire, the fire, but his eyes were open and I knew that he was dead...." the boy turned his head away and Takeru reached up, pulled at the steel collar at his throat. His skin was warm.

"You believe me?" The Kaizer asked.

Takeru closed his mouth over the suddenly exposed flesh and the dark boy gasped at the contact, clamped his hands on Takeru's arms. Takeru murmured into the shadow at the base of his throat.


"You believe me?" The Kaizer said again, and blindly sought Takeru's face, one gloved hand and one bare trailing over his skin. "I saw them burning, I saw them burning, screaming, Miyako screamed, and Iori, even he screamed, a little, and then he died." Takeru shuddered at the other boy's touch, at the fire beneath his skin. The Kaizer's whispers made his knees weak. The sound of his voice was apocalypse.

"Hikari," he breathed, leaning in, feeling his knees go weak.

"Hikari, Hikari, she burned alive...." The boy's voice trailed off in a cry as Takeru's fingers moved over his belly, and then the blonde boy collapsed against his chest, breathing hard, holding himself upright by clinging to his arms. The Kaizer grasped him, held him, and they fell down together, dropping to their knees, and then Takeru felt the cold floor beneath him and a weight on top of him, and the image of Hikari seared into his brain and he screamed, he screamed and beat his hands against the floor and tossed his head from side to side and Hikari, Hikari was so far away, he could see her writhing in flame, burning away, her skin and skull and hair...he was sobbing again with his mouth open and his body jerking wildly, his hands clenching into fists and feet slamming against the floor.

Until there was a cool touch on his face, a gentle hand, smooth fingers trailing over his lips, soothing him. He drew a shuddering breath, lip trembling in the inhalation, felt the tears on his face, on his temples and cheeks, tasted salt as fingers moved over his face and came back to touch his lips.

He reached up in the darkness.

"You believe me?" The Kaizer whispered.

Love is drowning
In a deep well
All the secrets
And no one to tell
Take the money

The rattling crash of the train split the afternoon silence, drowning all conversation and sending the birds into flight. They launched themselves from the empty streets and took to the air, winging away into the sunlight.

The boy on the corner watched them go, shielding his eyes against the brilliant light.

"Aren't you supposed to be in school?"

He looked around.

"Same goes for you, Miyako," Daisuke said mildly.

He was squatting on the curb, hands in his pockets, the very image of Japanese delinquency. Miyako snorted, and shot a nasty glare at a passing woman who was staring at their uniforms; both of them wore the strict military black of Odaiba Reform High School.

"Talked to Hikari lately?"

Miyako shrugged.

"Nah. She'll call me when she's ready. I don't think she really wants to talk to anybody right now."


"I got a message from him last night. He misses us."

Daisuke smiled slightly. Iori was the only member of the now-defunct team to retain a more or less normal life, somehow, and Daisuke made special effort to visit him whenever he had the time. He nursed a quiet pride in the boy's successes, even as his own academic career slid further and further into disaster.

"What about Takeru?"

He looked up. Miyako shrugged. She had a cigarette in her hand and the smoke wafted over his head, up towards the sun and the blue summer sky.

"No-one knows. No-one can find him. It's like he disappeared off the face of the Earth."

Daisuke sighed heavily. He took his hands out of his pockets and with his thumb traced the pale thin scar that ran along the back of one hand and disappeared up under his sleeve. It all seemed so far away now. Far away, and unimportant.

"I hope he's all right," he said quietly. "Wherever he is."

Love is blindness
I don't want to see
Won't you wrap the night
Around me
Oh my love

Album:Achtung Baby
Title: Love is Blindness


a note: in Japan people hardly ever put their hands in their pockets.

I just thought that was an interesting bit of trivia.

Stats for the song from the previous chapter:
Lyrics: Peter Gabriel
Title: Slowburn
Album: Volume I


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