Disclaimer: Nothing here is mine, neither the song that inspired this fic nor the amazing story that is No.6 and its characters.
Warning: It's definitely shonen-ai (but if you're reading a Nezushi fanfiction I guess you should probably expect it), and there's some implied sexual situations but nothing explicit, which is why I didn't give it a "Mature" rating. However, you've been warned, so if you know you don't like to read about boys in love with other boys, then I suggest you to read something else.
A/N: I had definitely not planned this fic. I thought I would take a little break after finishing Their Five Stages, but apparently sometimes life has other plans^^ Basically I was out shopping when I heard a song, and I don't know why but the melody just spoke to me and I wrote a few lyrics down to check it out later. Upon checking it out, it just drove me crazy with how much it reminded me of No.6… and I mean almost every song I listen to reminds me of Nezumi and Shion, so it shouldn't have been a surprise and I shouldn't have obsessed over it all night until I decided to write a fic around it. Guess what, I did obsess. And thus, this fic happened.
So it's a songfic… I know sometimes these are weird, but I really needed to get this out of my chest and I hope it won't be too weird to read. It's set roughly two years after Nezumi and Shion's reunion, which happened as described in Their Five Stages. However, since this fic is about memories, I guess you don't need to read my other story in order to understand this one. Although if you want to read it before (or after), you can find it on my profile.
The song is called "Salvation", and it's by Gabrielle Aplin. It's really beautiful and I strongly recommend you to check it out and why not listen to it while reading.
Sorry if there are any grammar/spelling mistakes, English is not my first language…
The sun was setting over the horizon and the living room was bathed in a calming orange light. The day had been quiet, too quiet somehow. His companion having been stuck in meetings ever since morning without much time for a break, the dark-haired man had spent the whole day by himself, lying on the couch and reading. He was feeling his eyelids getting heavy though and closed his book, turning on his side to put it down on the coffee table. His eyes caught sight of a remote control and he reached to grab it before pointing it at the stereo. Music started playing randomly, and the melodious sound of a piano filled the room. The man turned on his back again and covered his eyes with his right arm, feeling his body relax. The soft melody of the song made his mind wander, and the lyrics brought back memories from long ago. All of those memories had something – someone – in common.
You are the avalanche
One world away
My make believing
While I'm wide awake
It had not been an avalanche, but a storm. Just like that, Shion's arrival in Nezumi's life had been brutal and unexpected. Granted, it had probably been the same for Shion. On that night long ago, their two worlds, so different and incompatible, had collided. Whether it had been fate, destiny, or a mere coincidence, their lives had become forever intertwined.
On that night, Nezumi had almost given up on life itself. There was no more hope for him, the city had rejected him and each of its citizens would do the same. Nezumi's world was a world of pain, destruction and death. It was a world in which a 12 year-old boy could end up hiding in a stormy night, bleeding from a gunshot, and speculate as to whether he would die from blood loss here in this garden or killed by the same people who had failed to do so earlier.
But then there was a loud scream and lightning struck, illuminating the small figure of a boy standing outside in the rain. An open window. A chance. Was it real? Did he still have a chance to live another day, to fight?
He took the chance. He leaped in the open window, into Shion's world. A clean, regulated world, in which nothing out of the ordinary was supposed to happen. That night, Nezumi had shattered the elite boy's world, forever changing his destiny. Even now, after so many years, Nezumi could not understand why Shion had never resented him for that.
To Nezumi, this night had stayed a mystery for a long time. He had been prepared to be recognized as an intruder by the security system, he had been prepared for the boy to scream and call for help, but none of this had happened. Nothing in his short life experience could have prepared him for this. He had wondered if Shion was just highly stupid, but no, it was something else. Shion's world was not only the perfect world of No.6's elite children. It was also a world of warmth, trust and innocence. And after Nezumi's early years of pain, fear, flight and hatred, it had warmed up something deep inside of him, something he had forgotten once existed.
Just a trick of light
To bring me back around again
Those wild eyes
A psychedelic silhouette
He had never forgotten him. Sure, for a while he had had other things to deal with… Things like surviving in the hostile West Block when you're only 12 years old. But he had managed. His survival instincts were strong, and he had quickly learned how to use his charm and his knife skills at his advantage.
However, the elite boy had never left his mind. He shouldn't have cared. Sure, he was almost sure he had ruined his life, but life was harsh and there was no time to think of others. He needed to survive, he needed to fight, he needed his revenge; and it didn't matter who he had to hurt in order to attain his goal. But as guilt was eating at him, he started to observe Shion from time to time, until he sensed that something really wrong was about to happen.
Then, even more brutally than the first time, Shion's world had collided with his. Although this time, Shion had been the one intruding into his world. And even in the cold and hostile West Block, Shion had managed to bring his warmth and innocence with him. Warmth and coldness, light and dark, their personalities were battling each other all the time, and before he could realize it, Nezumi's barriers had started to crumble.
Shion was a mystery. He appeared to be naïve and weak, a pampered spoiled boy without any sense of danger; but underneath he was strong and sometimes unstable. Nezumi had witnessed his strength, Shion had fought for life, and he had been able to survive in both the West Block and the Correctional Facility. But Nezumi had seen him change too, or did he always have it inside him? The ability to pass judgment on people, to kill. Was it Nezumi's fault? Did the clash of their worlds also shattered too much of Shion's innocence? No matter how peaceful their lives were now, Nezumi would never forgive himself for that.
Nezumi had always been told that his eyes were unreadable. This didn't come easily of course, but his early life experiences had taught him to bury everything deep inside. Emotions were a weakness, and anyone could take advantage of that. Upon meeting Shion and living with him, he had been mesmerized by the young boy's eyes. Shion had once told him that Nezumi helped him realize the emotions inside him, but Nezumi had known they were there all along. He could see them, read them, crystal clear in the brown turned ruby eyes.
I never meant to fall for you but I
Was buried underneath and
All that I could see was white
This should never have happened. He had realized it too late, when Shion was about to leave him in secret. At that time, he didn't understand it. He could only be aware of the pain he felt inside his chest at the thought of Shion leaving. His brain and his heart had been trained never to let anyone in, and he had no idea what it was to care for someone. If he had ever known, it was buried deep under years of pain and fighting. Who was that guy even? Who was he to make tears roll down his face?
Looking back now, Nezumi wondered if he had already fallen for Shion at that time. Just like the white-haired boy had bluntly told him he was drawn to him, wasn't Nezumi drawn to Shion as well? After all, he had never imagined being able to live with someone. Logically, he shouldn't even have saved Shion. He shouldn't have cared about what happened to him. And even if it had provided him with some insights as to what was happening inside No.6's walls, he should have killed him as soon as he proved being a liability. And he did. He wasn't careful and had gotten himself – and Nezumi too – in danger more than one time.
Shion was a burden, but he had willingly kept him close. Had Nezumi really been thinking that he needed to pay back his debt for all this time? Sure, Shion had saved his life once, but Nezumi had already saved Shion twice on the first day they had met again. So he should never have hidden behind this excuse, nor kept him at his place. He had saved him; he had repaid his debt, period. That should have been it. What might have happened to him afterwards should have been none of his concern.
He didn't know why. He didn't understand. He didn't even try to understand. Shion was making him angry beyond everything, he was annoying him with questions, he was dangerous, but he couldn't ditch him. He didn't want to. Hell, he was afraid to. Nezumi, who had been alone most of his short life, who had had everything and everyone taken away from him brutally, had managed to find someone who cared for him.
They were only 16. He was only 16. No matter how pretentiously grown-up Nezumi was acting back then, he knew now that he was not. He was young and stubborn, and sure he was smart enough to survive in this harsh world, but he was not a grown-up. And somehow that's why Shion managed to worm his way into his life. Despite how may barriers he had built around himself, how deep he had buried his emotions, how dark he was convinced the world was… he had still been young enough to be touched by Shion's light.
In the end, keeping Shion close had proven useful. Never mind all the emotional stuff that he would never have admitted back then, Shion had been the instrument of his revenge. By allowing him to live when he was 12, by bringing him proof that something abnormal was going on in No.6, by needing to invade the Correctional Facility to rescue his friend… If Shion hadn't been there, Nezumi might never have gotten his revenge and freed his soul of these chains.
But Shion had done much more than that. Not only did he save his life countless times, he had also prevented him from being blinded by revenge. Years later, Shion had told him that he had counted on Nezumi to keep him human, but truthfully it had been the other way around. How could Nezumi have kept Shion human, he who had no consideration for anyone but himself?
For all he knew, he was the cause of most of Shion's painful memories. What had happened in the Correctional Facility would haunt him for the rest of his life, and it was Nezumi who brought them there. Was it because he really wanted to help Shion rescue his friend? Because he knew Shion would go anyway and he didn't want him going alone? Or just because all of this was an excuse to finally destroy No.6?
But Shion never resented him for everything that had happened there. When Nezumi had broken down, thinking that he had destroyed Shion's innocence by making him kill another human, Shion had comforted him. When Shion had realized that his precious friend was lost and the pain had made him begin to doubt Nezumi's intentions, he still had put all of his strength into saving him a second later.
Shion was something else. Nezumi couldn't grasp it at that time and he was scared. In spite of everything he had put Shion through; the boy had never held a grudge against him. He had accepted Nezumi as he was, with all of his flaws, his anger, his violence, his darkness. Never once did Shion judge him for who he was, and in the end, it was probably what had saved him.
You are the snowstorm
The darkest fairytale
In the dead of night
Because Shion did save him. He made Nezumi see the world beyond his hatred and prevented him from being consumed by it. Nezumi had been dead set on destroying No.6, the whole city and all of its citizens. He did not care about the people there, No.6 was a monster and the people inside the walls were only products of that monster. But then, how could Shion be from the inside as well? Somehow, he had been forced to believe that even such a monster could not corrupt every soul.
Together, they had destroyed the monster and saved the people. They had laid the first stone to building something new, a city that would thrive on its citizens and its resources instead of exploiting them. It was the third possibility, the one Nezumi had laughed about in front of Shion's serious face. He would always make fun of him for having such naïve ideals, but in the end… He had been forced to admit that Shion had managed to change him.
He couldn't explain it. How could he have let his guard down like that? How could he have let someone enter his world and change it that much? That was not the plan; it had never been the plan. And somehow, in the aftermath of their victory, Nezumi had realized that not only was he fine with not having destroyed No.6 in its entirety, but he was also feeling perfectly good spending time by Shion's side at the bakery. It was not ok. How could he have changed that much? He needed to sever his ties with Shion while he still could.
Shion had tried to make him stay. He had tried to confess his feelings again, hoping that it would make Nezumi change his mind. How could it, when it was the main reason he was leaving in the first place? Sorry Shion, but life is not a fairytale, and there's no happily ever after for us. At least that's what he had thought back then. Even if they were not the bad people in this story, they had both done things he wished they didn't have. And he was positive it had all been his fault. Maybe with him out of the picture, there would still be hope left for Shion.
But he knew it was a fake reason. He wasn't leaving for Shion's sake. No matter what he had tried to tell his mind as he was walking away, he knew his reason had always been a selfish one. He was scared: scared to care about someone, scared to feel. Being with Shion had made him feel good, but he didn't want his happiness to depend on someone. And besides, did he even deserve happiness?
One kiss and he had left. But no matter how far he walked, he would never forget about Shion. Just like he had never been able to ditch him when they were in the West Block, he was also unable to throw away his memories of him. How ironic, didn't he reprimand Shion for the same thing back then?
Let the band play out
As I'm making my way home again
Glorious we transcend
Into a psychedelic silhouette
Years would pass by, but Shion was still in his mind. Nezumi had somehow learned to accept this fact, but it took him a while to decide to do something about it. How can you realize you have feelings for someone when you spent your whole life repressing all of your emotions? Even then, Nezumi wasn't sure he had really been aware of his feelings. All he remembered is that he had always felt something pulling him back, but he had kept on fighting it stubbornly.
Until that one night, when he had happened upon a group of musicians lead by the bard he had met long ago in the West Block. That guy had annoyingly been able to read through him, but retrospectively, maybe it had been a good thing. Maybe he had just needed to hear it from someone else. Whatever it had been, that was the night he gave in and decided to go back to No.6. To Shion.
The fear that had made him leave had been nothing compared to the one he had felt upon stepping foot in No.6 again. After all, he had acted like a coward and a jerk, so he wasn't expecting a warm welcome. But of course, that was forgetting about Karan's amazing personality. The same was true about Shion, by the way. No matter how much Nezumi knew he had hurt him, the white-haired boy's feelings hadn't wavered.
Sure, Shion had punched him. And Nezumi agreed it was a well-deserved punch. But that had been the extent of it, and Nezumi mostly remembered holding a sobbing Shion tightly in his arms until the reality of their reunion could dawn on him. Being with Shion again, Nezumi had realized that leaving hadn't changed anything. Maybe he was now mature enough to accept it, but having Shion by his side still felt like a natural thing. And somehow, it made him feel good. Maybe he was allowed to be happy after all.
Upon seeing Shion again, Nezumi had been aware of how much he had missed him. Although he was well versed in words, when it came to his own emotions he was only able to express them physically. That wasn't his fault, after all, he had never learned. And Shion didn't seem to mind it when Nezumi stroked his hair or wrapped an arm around his shoulders. But soon it wasn't enough anymore, and one day when his hold on Shion's body had been stronger and Shion had kissed him more eagerly; he had felt his own body give in.
Tangled between the sheets, they had kissed hungrily while discovering every inch of each other's body. Eventually, between heavy breaths, urgent touches, and lustful but loving eye contact, their silhouettes had merged together just like their worlds had overlapped many years ago.
I never meant to fall for you but I
Was buried underneath and
All that I could see was white
Two more years had gone by, and Nezumi had never once regretted his decision to come back. Even if it had meant changing his very self, he had learned that not all change was bad. Besides, he had already started changing the very moment he had met Shion when they were 12 years old. That airhead would probably never understand how much impact this night had had on Nezumi.
Not needing anyone, living forever alone, forever fighting, never trusting anyone… Those convictions sure helped him survive in his early years, but in a world where the West Block and No.6 didn't exist anymore, it had little sense to stick to them. Maybe those four years apart were necessary after all. No matter how much it had hurt Shion, and how guilty he still felt about it, he had needed time to realize what he wanted. Traveling the world alone, his mind free from thoughts of revenge but full of Shion, it had only showed him that they could never be apart.
So, he had been wrong. Ever since he had met Shion, he had been wrong about many things, but this had been the last one. Maybe he was the wandering star, and maybe Shion was the stationary one, but somehow, they couldn't be separated. When two stars collide, the force of gravity only pulls them together to form a bigger star. And thus, no matter how strongly he had tried to fight it at first, Nezumi could never suppress his feelings for Shion.
Feelings. For someone. That was something he never would have expected to have. But then again, he had still been so young. The convictions you have when you're 16 years old can still evolve, and you might realize one day that you didn't have life quite as figured out as you used to think. For Nezumi, that day was when he had accepted that he loved Shion.
He didn't want to label it. It was definitely not a friendship love, neither a lovey-dovey starry-eyed romantic couple love. In a way, it was stronger than all of this. It was the story of their lives together, as two polar opposites that somehow nothing could bring apart.
It was Shion, it was him, it was them. Maybe it should have been impossible, maybe no words could ever explain it, but it had happened. They had fallen for each other at some point, and Nezumi could never deny it anymore.
Shion had saved him. More than once, in more ways than he ever thought he needed saving. He had saved him when he was 12 years old, cold, wounded and ready to die. Back then, Shion did not only offer him a chance to live, he had also showed him that not all humans were bad. People could help other people.
Did Shion also save him when he had collapsed in the underground room? He couldn't tell. He only knew that he had hung onto Shion's body with all his might to fight against the feeling that was pulling him in. If Shion hadn't been there, who knows if he could have crawled back towards the light?
Then there had been the Correctional Facility, and the memories that always made Nezumi cringe. Not the horrors of the manhunt, the smell of blood, the sound of people dying… Those were memories he could deal with. What he hated the most was that Shion had almost lost his soul to save him. Almost killing someone, effectively killing someone… Shion was not supposed to live out the rest of his life carrying this burden. This shouldn't have happened. He didn't deserve Shion losing himself for him. And yet, Shion had saved him like that on two occasions.
Shion had saved him a third time back then. Both of them were wounded, weakened and exhausted. Shion had just lost his childhood friend; he was confused, angry, yelling at Nezumi and then Nezumi only remembers pushing Shion away before feeling a blinding pain and falling into darkness. He knew Shion had risked his life to get them both out and to keep him alive long enough to get proper treatment. Again, Shion had allowed him to live another day.
But all of this would have meant nothing if Shion hadn't saved his soul as well. He realized it now. What good would it have been to live his life forever alone, wandering from place to place, never letting anyone in? Shion had showed him that people were warm, in many different ways. They were warm because they were alive, and it was thanks to Shion that he was alive. But people could also be warm because they cared, because they loved. Laughter, friendship, family… all those things he had long forgotten, Shion had helped him bring them back out from where they were buried deep inside him.
So yes, Shion had saved him. As a child, he had lost everything, his home, his family, his innocence. But now, because of a miraculously opened window (Shion would say it was fate but he was set on miracle), he had gained a home and a family. His innocence, however, was probably beyond reach; but living with an airhead often gave him glimpses of what it was like.
Yes, it was a miracle that he was alive today, and it was even more of a miracle that he was happy and had let people into his life.
It was Shion. Shion was his miracle.
"What are you listening to?"
Startled by Shion's voice, Nezumi repressed a gasp and promptly turned the music off. Sitting up on the couch, he raised his head over the back and looked at the white-haired man. Shion held his jacket and briefcase with one arm, and his head was slightly tilted to the side in a quizzical way. He looked tired, but his smile was warm.
"Nothing important," Nezumi replied as Shion moved forward, leaving his things on a chair before stopping in front of the couch.
"Is that so?" Shion asked with a slight grin.
"Yes," Nezumi briefly answered before pulling on Shion's wrist until he fell onto the couch. Circling one arm around the white-haired man's waist, Nezumi kissed his lips gently.
As they broke contact, Shion chuckled softly and let himself fall into Nezumi's embrace. The taller man heard him yawn.
"Tired?" he asked, rubbing Shion's back.
"Very. Today was crazy; I didn't even have time to eat lunch with all these meetings."
"If you start not eating again I'm going to tie you to the bed and force you to take some days off."
"Don't worry, it was only today. I promised I wouldn't make myself sick anymore. Although…" he trailed off, lifting his head to meet Nezumi's gaze, "… You tying me to the bed sounds interesting."
Nezumi snorted and kissed Shion's teasing smile. "Idiot," he whispered against Shion's lips before deepening the kiss.
As their lips separated again, Shion laid his head back against Nezumi's chest. "Just saying…" he said as Nezumi was softly kissing his hair. "So, what did you do today?"
"Reading… Eating… More reading…" Nezumi answered against Shion's hair, his eyes closed as he was enjoying the moment.
"And listening to music," Shion added in a teasing voice.
Nezumi let out an exasperated sound. "So what, is there a law against it?"
"No, it's just I've never seen you do that," Shion answered.
"Well, I'm full of surprises Your Majesty. Hopefully you won't get tired of me too soon," Nezumi teased, before burying his face into Shion's hair again. He heard the other man laugh softly and felt him relax in his arms. It was nice. He liked those days, when he wasn't working and could welcome Shion home in the evening. They would always end up sharing quiet, intimate moments like that. Somehow, those were the moments that Nezumi cherished the most.
He stopped kissing Shion's head and let his head fall back against the couch's cushions. "I was bored and turned the stereo on randomly."
"You don't have to explain, I was just kidding you know," Shion said, his voice muffled by Nezumi's shirt in which his face was buried.
"I know. It's just, that song… It got me thinking."
Shion lifted his head again and stared at Nezumi with wide eyes.
"Shut up," the dark-haired man said.
"I didn't say anything."
"No, but you wanted to."
"I didn't say anything!"
"Right. Anyway, forget it," Nezumi said, glancing sideways.
"Whatever," Shion muttered with a soft chuckle, his face regaining its place against Nezumi's chest.
A few minutes passed, the only noise breaking the silence was the sound of their quiet breathing. Nezumi was rubbing Shion's back absently, but then stopped to tighten his hold around the other man's body. Holding Shion close, he lowered his forehead until it came in contact with the top of Shion's head.
"Nezumi?" Shion's voice was questioning, but not worried.
"Thank you," Nezumi whispered in a very low voice. He felt Shion's arms tighten around his body, and he was sure he could feel Shion's smile against his chest.
"You're welcome," came the muffled answer.
The sun had now completely disappeared from the sky, and the living room would have been swallowed by darkness if it were not for the streetlights shining through the window. On the couch, two silhouettes were embraced tightly, relishing the shared warmth of their bodies pressed against each other, proof that they were alive.
Wasn't that too cheesy? I'm sure that was too cheesy. *runs into a corner and hides*
Anyway, I really needed to write this and I hope you liked reading it!
Big thanks to Ahiku for your all your comments and finding those typos^^ I'm sure our conversation about "Beyond" was partly responsible for that story, by the way!