- Please keep in mind that English is not my first language, and this translation is unbetaed.
- I wholeheartedly apologize to the readers who work in health care. Rest assured that I'm perfectly aware that head injuries and hospitals don't work as depicted in this story.
The deceiving sensation of wellbeing lasted for a couple of hours and then the pressure inside his head started to increase, gradually, without stopping.
It began as a dull, throbbing pain behind his eyes that he tried to ignore, but then it became a piercing stab that made him flinch and groan against his will.
Since he had awoken at the hospital, dazed and disoriented, he had instinctively withdrawn, showing distrust toward the medical staff and the nurses. He had concealed his confusion and refused to answer their questions.
While he waited for his mind to clear up, and for his memories to return, the urge to get out of there as soon as possible started to grow.
He was considering what to do when Kyo arrived.
As opposed to the other people in the hospital, Kyo didn't make him feel distrust. His presence was familiar, although not precisely pleasant. In mere seconds, judging by Kyo's attitude, Iori was able to conclude that they were not close. Kyo seemed impatient, as if the entire situation was a responsibility he didn't want to accept. For a while, Iori wondered if they were co-workers, sharing an obligation.
Kyo's behavior was strange and unnecessarily confrontational, especially the insolent way in which he talked to the nurses. For Iori, it was perplexing that he found it easier to trust someone with Kyo's attitude, instead of the nurses who had shown him nothing but stern gentleness.
However, each minute Kyo spent in the room accentuated the familiarity. Kyo's aura conveyed something that Iori could not describe with words. Kyo's determination seemed to assure him that everything was going to be alright, but at the same time Iori found Kyo's self-confidence irritating. The annoyed concern shown by Kyo was exasperating as well, because Iori didn't want to look vulnerable in front of him.
Ironically enough, following Kyo's indications had a calming effect, and for a brief moment, Iori understood that he wasn't alone. He didn't remember who Kyo was exactly, but he had known that Kyo could be trusted.
When he looked at Kyo's face, no memory came to his mind, only contradictory and confusing emotions. The brunette's cocky smile was unpleasant to him, but there was warmth in his eyes sometimes, and Iori couldn't help but wonder why. How was Kyo related to him?
The question was partially answered when Kyo explained that they weren't friends.
But Iori was dissatisfied with the answer, because Kyo couldn't be a mere acquaintance.
And when he dug further, Kyo was unable to explain.
Iori tried to remember who Kyo was, and he felt the pain flare behind his eyes.
" Yagami, are you okay?"
The voice was soft, but the chair's scraping against the floor when Kyo stood up made Iori hold his head and grit his teeth.
Kyo rushed out of the room and moments later Iori felt someone pushing his hands aside. He heard muddled, urgent voices around him. He tried to open his eyes, but the dim light next to the bed triggered a sharp stabbing pain within his head that shook his whole body and made him scream in agonizing pain.
The last thing he heard before losing consciousness was Kyo muttering his name.
Days passed, but for Iori they could have been weeks or even months. He remained in a state of half-consciousness, unable to form coherent sentences due to the permanent, unrelenting pain.
He wasn't in any capacity to make decisions about his own health, and one morning Iori saw Kyo signing some documents on his behalf.
Gloomily, Kyo explained that Iori's condition had worsened and that he needed surgery, but smiled confidently the next moment.
"I know you'll pull through," Kyo said.
Iori didn't feel so confident. Not with his head hurting like that and his body refusing to obey him.
However, he didn't have the strength to argue and he simply nodded weakly.
Time went by, unrecognizable, fragmented. At one point, Iori was lying on the bed in his room, and then, he was on a stretcher, being wheeled along a cold cement corridor.
The light hurt his eyes, but Iori perceived Kyo's presence like a blurry silhouette close to him.
Hazily, Iori wondered why Kyo spent so much time by his side.
If they weren't friends or relatives, then why…?
He wanted to ask him, but Kyo had been stopped by the hospital's staff, and soon Iori lost sight of him.
Kyo was waiting in the empty room, looking through the window at the grey buildings that surrounded the hospital. Several days had passed since the fight against Verse and the stadium's collapse, and the press had finally given up. The people who suffered minor injuries had returned home, and the hospital's corridors and wards where quiet.
Kyo had remained there, to the surprise of his teammates, who had returned to Japan without him.
"Are you that worried about Yagami?" Benimaru had asked when they said goodbye at the hotel's lobby. The blonde couldn't understand Kyo's decision. "If you want, I can try to contact his relatives in Japan. Let his family take care of him."
With a faint grateful smile, Kyo had shaken his head.
"He doesn't have anyone."
Benimaru had not insisted, but he looked troubled, because he knew that things between Kyo and Yagami were not easy. It could be dangerous for Kyo to spend time with the redhead, especially if Yagami wasn't under complete control of himself or his state of mind.
"You aren't blaming yourself for what happened, are you, Kyo?" Benimaru had asked. "He got hurt because he tried to protect you, but it doesn't mean that he's your responsibility. I'm sure Yagami knew what he was doing."
"Would that be a valid excuse to turn my back on him?"
"Of course not," yielded Benimaru quickly. "I simply don't want you to feel guilty. This is out of your hands."
"It's not guilt." Kyo had paused to decide what he was willing to share with his teammate. "I'm just returning a favor," he explained. "I'm in debt with Yagami."
"But he doesn't remember it," joked Benimaru, realizing one second later that it was a tasteless thing to say. "It must have been a huge favor," he added smoothly.
Kyo had nodded, his thoughts going back to what had happened years ago, in the months after the battle against Orochi and the confusing turn of events that followed.
"I didn't think I'd be able to repay him," confessed Kyo softly. And then he looked at Benimaru straight in the eye. "What I'm doing, he did it for me, years ago."
Benimaru quickly hid his astonishment.
"Are you talking about the…?"
"It's late, I should go," interrupted Kyo. "I'll return to Japan as soon as Yagami recovers. See you."
The conversation with Benimaru had ended there, but the topic had not left Kyo's thoughts.
There was a period of his life he didn't like to talk about. And he tried his damnedest to avoid thinking about those days, because, every time the memories came back, the resentment they caused took entire days to die down.
The memories were related to a kidnapping, to days spent in an underground laboratory, at the hands of scientists who had experimented on him and with him. Kyo didn't remember those days clearly, because his body had been saturated with drugs that dulled his will and his thoughts, leaving him helpless, unable to resist or defend himself.
At the beginning, Kyo had tried to fight them, or at least hinder those scientists' plans. And they had soon lost their patience. They didn't need his consciousness, only the power of the relic hosted within his body.
Thus, the drug doses had been increased, exceeding even the reasonably permissible limits. Kyo was unconscious for days, and he was jolted awake by stimulant discharges when the researchers needed him to summon his power. The cycle of being put to sleep and then violently awoken was repeated so many times that Kyo started to question his life beyond the walls of the laboratory. Maybe it had been a dream, and he had never lived outside the lab…
But, one day, someone burst into the laboratory, and the familiar voice of Yagami called his name…
If only he had helped me escape and nothing else, Kyo thought, smiling ruefully, although not really angry at Yagami.
Iori had taken care of him in the weeks that followed, giving him time to recover from the damage and the experiments. He waited patiently while Kyo's mind struggled to come back to reality.
The redhead had seen him at his lowest, and had remained by his side. And more importantly, Yagami had not lost interest in him.
Kyo wanted to do the same for him. It was the least he could do.
"Mr. Kusanagi, are you still here?"
The nurse's voice interrupted his thoughts and Kyo turned around. The nurse was the same young blonde woman Kyo had seen the first day.
"The patient is out of surgery, but he will be kept under observation until tomorrow. Maybe you should get some rest. You've been spending a lot of time here."
"How is he?"
"We can't tell for sure until he wakes up."
It's Yagami we're talking about. Of course he'll be fine, Kyo thought, but he hesitated anyway.
"Please go get some rest, we will give you a call if anything happens. You can come to see him in the morning."
The young woman's words were kind. Kyo had spent so much time on that hospital floor, the staff had warmed up to him. The indifference of the first day was gone. Some nurses even regarded him with sympathy, moved by the dedication Kyo showed towards his "friend".
Kyo stood there, uncertain. He was tired, true, and not just because of the long hours spent at the hospital. Every time he heard Yagami groan or saw him clutch his head, his first thought was that Verse's power was trying to get a hold of the redhead again.
If a possession took place while he was away and Iori suffered the Riot of the Blood inside the hospital, the number of casualties would be high. Kyo didn't want more lives on his conscience.
But I can't save them all…, he reminded himself, just as he had done the first day, when he saw the number of victims claimed by the collapse. My only concern is Yagami. The world is not my responsibility.
"Okay, fine," Kyo replied, walking toward the nurse and placing a hand on her shoulder. "Call me if something happens. Even if it's something insignificant, I want to know about it."
The nurse nodded, and Kyo left the room without noticing that the girl had blushed under his touch.
At the hotel, Kyo tried to relax, and he almost succeeded.
He was still staying at the accommodations booked for the Japan Team. Their room had three beds and an adjacent living room. The place wasn't big, but it was more than enough for him.
The tournament's organization had made the reservations at a hotel close to the arena, and the facilities were comfortable, although not overly sumptuous. The room was sparkling clean and looked new, as if the room had never been used before. The sand-colored wallpaper matched the light carpet and also the brown and beige couches.
Kyo took a long shower and ordered dinner. He lay on the sofa for a long time, writing messages on his cell phone to inform his family about what was going on. He also replied to his friends' texts asking when he would be back in Japan.
He kept the TV on, with the volume set low. The images showed the rebuilding works carried out at Antonov Arena. The debris had been removed, but the burn marks left on the area where they had faced Verse were still visible. The stadium's grass looked dry and yellowish.
Kyo stared at the screen absently. He became aware that the tournament had ended several days ago.
He wanted to return to Japan soon, but he wasn't sure if the circumstances would allow it. He would probably have to travel with Yagami, and the redhead didn't look well enough to get on a plane.
The city they were staying at was nice, but Kyo was growing weary of the chaotic traffic and the language he couldn't understand. His routine involved going from the hotel to the hospital and back. He didn't talk to anyone, with the exception of the hotel's staff, the hospital nurses and Yagami.
Kyo stopped paying attention to the television and he stretched, thinking about Iori.
Keeping an eye on Yagami went beyond repaying a debt. The redhead was the protector of one of the Sacred Treasures, after all, and his current condition left him vulnerable to anyone who wanted to steal such power. It had happened before, when Yagami's flames had been taken away with astonishing ease by an unexpected enemy. There was no telling if something like this could happen again.
The first day at the hospital, Kyo hadn't been quick enough to stop the gossip about Iori's situation. The other fighters had heard that Yagami was hurt, and some of them even asked Kyo if it was true that the redhead was suffering from amnesia. Kyo didn't confirm it, but the rumor reached everyone's ears anyway.
When Kyo contacted the Kusanagi family to discuss how to proceed, his parents suggested him to remain close to Yagami. The heirs to the relics where supposed to look after each other, after all. Kyo's father, Kusanagi Saisyu, commented that Yagami's memory loss was a good thing. If the redhead didn't remember his pointless rivalry with Kyo, maybe he would start focusing on fulfilling his duty.
Kyo listened to Saisyu and admitted that his father wasn't completely wrong, but, deep down, he disagreed. The fact that Iori had to lose the memories that had shaped his character in order to fulfill a responsibility was too unfair.
He didn't say his thoughts aloud, however. He had known for a long time that the clans did not see their heirs as persons. In the eyes of their families, he, Yagami and Kagura were nothing more than vessels for an ancestral power. Their bodies and lives were unimportant, just provisional receptacles which only served a purpose until the power was transferred to the next generation.
The conversation ended with Saisyu suggesting to place Yagami under custody of the Kusanagi clan as a precaution. Kyo assured him that it wasn't necessary and that he would take care of it. He knew from experience that the "custody" mentioned by Saisyu entailed locking Yagami up in a remote property of the Kusanagi clan.
After hanging up, Kyo entertained the idea of hiding the truth from Yagami and letting the redhead live as a "normal" person, at least until his memories came back. Was it really necessary to explain to him about the rivalry of the clans? If he kept Iori in the dark, handling him and making him cooperate would be easier.
Kyo dismissed the idea immediately, because it was impossible to hide that kind of thing. It would only take a quick Internet search for Iori to learn about many details of his life.
But even so, the idea kept circling his mind. Unlike his father Saisyu, Kyo could not see Iori's amnesia as something "good", but he welcomed the chance to give Yagami a few days of respite. He didn't want to inform him about the pact with Orochi, or the side-effects of Iori's purple fire. And he dreaded having to mention that Iori should have died years ago, as a consequence of the curse he carried in his blood.
It wasn't necessary to overwhelm Yagami with those details. All those matters could wait.
Still half-asleep, Kyo sat up abruptly on the couch of the dimly lit hotel room. The gray sky outside the window was gradually becoming more luminous, but the sun hadn't risen yet.
He had been awakened by his phone ringing and a troubled voice had informed him that Iori had left the hospital.
"We don't know how this happened… He wasn't unattended… We have already informed the…"
Kyo cursed to himself, and stopped listening. He looked at the ceiling in exasperation, and he realized that he wasn't surprised by the news. At all. This was typical of Yagami. The redhead hated hospitals as much as he did.
The problem was that Iori had been through surgery. He couldn't leave the hospital and be done with it. It was too dangerous.
"I'll help look for him," Kyo said on the phone. "Let me know if you hear anything."
Kyo didn't waste time. He got dressed quickly, took his jacket and left the room. He bought a coffee at the vending machine next to the elevators and, when he reached the ground floor, the paper cup was already empty and he felt more awake.
Out on the street, the fresh air helped him clear his mind and Kyo set off toward the general direction of the hospital, along empty avenues where the streetlights were still on. He didn't have a specific destination in mind, because he had no idea where Yagami could be. He merely focused on Yagami's presence, and trusted that his instinct would allow him to find Iori.
Wasn't this how Yagami usually found him? The ability worked both ways.
Suppressing a smirk, Kyo wondered if he could install a GPS tracker on Yagami.
He didn't feel guilty for taking the situation in a lighthearted way, despite knowing that Yagami's injury was more serious than he had initially thought. He was concerned, but the concern didn't run too deep, because he knew that Yagami was stubborn and he would overcome any situation, even if he didn't recover all his memories…
Kyo shook his head. No, he wasn't like his father. He wasn't going to start thinking like this.
After several blocks and with no clear indication of where he should start looking for Yagami, Kyo hailed a taxi and went to the hospital.
From the vehicle, he scanned the streets, but he only saw pedestrians on their way to work. Where was Yagami? What did he intend to do?
In front of the hospital, Kyo cursed inwardly for forgetting to warn the hotel's staff about Yagami, in the unlikely scenario that the redhead might had headed over there. However, Kyo got the feeling that Yagami wasn't far from him. Stubborn or not, Iori was in no condition to simply disappear.
Closing his eyes, Kyo ignored the curious glances people threw his way. He envisioned Iori nearby, in a quiet and empty place, far from the noise of the cars and the morning crowds.
Once again, Kyo set off. He never got a clear indication of Iori's location. He simply walked aimlessly, paying attention to each person he saw on the way, expecting to see red strands of hair, or crimson eyes staring at him from a distance.
I'm the one looking for him this time… This must be a first…
Some minutes later, Kyo reached the entrance to a vast park. The paths undulated between the thick trunks of the trees, leading towards an artificial lake at the center. Few people were there so early in the morning. A woman was walking her dog, a tall middle-aged man was jogging.
Kyo hesitated before deciding to explore the park. If he didn't find Iori, at least the green landscape would offer a less monotonous view than the gray office buildings surrounding the area.
The trail's gravel crunched under his feet and some birds took flight. Soon, the tree trunks drowned out the rumor of the vehicles speeding down the street, and Kyo found himself surrounded by silence, only broken by the soft splashing of the lake.
Maybe he's not here…, he thought, scanning the surroundings.
And then, with a start, he saw a familiar figure sitting on one of the wooden benches near the lake.
Iori was leaning back, one leg crossed over the other. His arms were crossed too, and his eyes were looking straight ahead, at the surface of the water. He wore his wine-colored coat, and the head bandages were gone. If the surgery had left any trace, it was hidden under his red hair.
Kyo strode toward him.
"How did you find me?" Iori asked harshly, without taking his eyes off the lake.
"Sixth sense," Kyo replied, trying not to sound too mocking, because it was the truth. "You shouldn't be here, don't you think? You were in surgery only hours ago…"
"I feel fine," Iori interrupted. His low, unfriendly growl both angered Kyo and made him feel relieved, because that was the usual tone Iori used with him.
"And… Can you remember anything?"
Iori turned his head slowly to look at him.
"Ah, forget I said that," Kyo added quickly, not wanting a repetition of what had happened when Iori made an effort to remember while at the hospital. "Uh… that didn't sound good…" Kyo went on, realizing that the verb he picked wasn't very appropriate given the circumstances.
"Are you stupid?" The deep voice and angry inflection were just right, and Kyo couldn't help but smile in relief. Iori frowned at him but didn't add anything else. His crimson eyes scanned Kyo's face slowly, from his dark eyes to his lips, and the brown, silky strands of hair framing his cheeks.
After a few seconds, Iori winced and closed his eyes tightly.
"Yagami…" Kyo took one step toward him. "You are not okay. You should…"
"I won't go back to the hospital."
"I know, I wouldn't want to go back either, if I were in your place."
Iori was puzzled by the reply and he opened his eyes slightly to look at Kyo.
"I'm staying at a hotel not far from here," Kyo explained. "Actually, we both are. There must be a room reserved under your name. We can go back so you could rest. I can see that you're not feeling well."
Iori kept silent and Kyo went on: "We'll go to the hospital on our way back and I'll ask what medicines you need to take. That should be enough, I guess."
Kyo sounded optimist while making such a drastic oversimplification of the treatment Iori needed. It was as if he were dismissing the preliminary diagnosis given by the doctors, which had not been promising.
The injury Iori had suffered had led to fluids accumulating in his brain. The surgery had drained them to relieve the pressure, but the damage caused could not be assessed yet, nor the persistence of its effects.
The doctors had used complicated terminology and vague phrases, but, in summary, they had concluded that there was no specific treatment to be followed. All they could do was wait.
Iori wondered if the medical jargon had been too much for Kyo to comprehend, but he quickly realized that this was not the case. Kyo knew perfectly well what was going on, and his nonchalant attitude was his way of facing the problem. Even though Kyo acted as if taking care of him was a burden, he was always ready to help when Iori needed him.
He has always been like this, Iori thought, and he instantly wondered why he was so sure of this, if he couldn't even remember who Kyo was.
The distressing pain came back sharply, and Iori doubled over, clutching his head. He felt Kyo's hand on his shoulder.
"Let's go back, okay?" pleaded Kyo, and Iori agreed, because going to a hotel wasn't worse than staying at the park.
He stood up with effort and staggered, unable to fully control his body. Kyo quickly held him by the arm providing a firm support, and led him toward the park's exit, without letting go.
"We should have stayed at the hospital," muttered Kyo.
They had just got out of a taxi in front of the hotel, and Iori was leaning on the vehicle, trying to keep his balance.
"I'm fine," Iori growled while Kyo paid and quickly went over to him to hold him up.
"Yeah, I can see that you're perfectly fine," muttered Kyo, waiting for Iori to start walking.
However, Iori didn't move. He suddenly turned around and looked at the opposite sidewalk. The effort of doing so caused a groan to escape from his lips, as once again the stabbing pain flashed inside his head.
"What is it?" asked Kyo, alert, scanning the empty avenue.
"Someone is watching us," Iori answered through gritted teeth, one hand against his red hair.
Iori sounded sure of it, and Kyo narrowed his eyes and analyzed the buildings and small shops. There were some customers inside a coffee shop, and open windows could be seen in the upper floors. Kyo didn't see anyone suspicious, but he knew that Iori wasn't wrong. There was someone hiding, spying on them.
Were his worries coming true? The enemies that wanted Yagami's power were already on the move?
"Let them watch," Kyo said disdainfully, acting as if it wasn't of any importance. "As long as I'm here, they won't be able to do anything."
"Do you know who they are?" Iori asked in a low voice, because Kyo was taking it too lightly.
"No idea," Kyo replied, and it was a half-truth.
They entered the hotel and went to the elevators, ignoring the puzzled looks of the reception's staff. While going up, Iori used the elevator's wall as support, moving away from Kyo and his help. But Kyo remained close.
"You can stay at my room, there are two free beds," Kyo said, making it clear that he wasn't giving Iori a choice in this. "I'll go see if I can get your luggage."
Iori nodded faintly.
The elevator stopped and the doors opened to a long carpeted corridor. Kyo's room wasn't far, but they walked slowly, with Iori using the wall to keep his balance. The redhead's eyes were low and angry, as if he needed to use all his willpower in order to take each step, because he didn't want Kyo to see him stumble.
Kyo kept supporting him in complete silence. Seeing Yagami like this was nothing new to him. Years ago, Iori had faced the same difficulties, with his health deteriorated due to Orochi's presence. But, unlike that time, now Iori accepted his help, and this was satisfactory as well as troubling.
When they reached the room, Kyo took Iori to the sofa.
"Are you hungry? I'll order breakfast," Kyo said, and he picked up the phone without waiting for an answer.
Iori leaned back and watched Kyo for several minutes. Eventually, Kyo sat down next to him, taking the medicines they had bought at the hospital's pharmacy out of the pocket of his jacket. There were several colored pills, and Kyo patiently divided them in groups, comparing the names written in Cyrillic to the prescription issued by the doctor who had treated Iori.
Breakfast arrived soon after, and it was served on the living room's coffee table. Iori wasn't hungry, not even after days of eating insipid hospital food, and he only drank some coffee. However, Kyo piled up some bread, biscuits and ham, and handed the plate over to him, together with some pills.
"You need to eat. Or in addition to the head injury, you'll end up with ulcers for taking antibiotics on an empty stomach."
Iori stared at him for a long while. Kyo sounded impatient, but the disapproval in his eyes was actually masking his concern.
With a disdainful huff in the general direction of that strange Kusanagi guy, Iori complied and ate.
Kyo hid his surprise and nodded approvingly.
"It'll be better if you don't move around so much," he commented. "Stay here while I go investigate your room". After a pause, Kyo asked, pointing at Iori's coat. "Do you happen to have a key?"
Iori was about to take a sip of coffee, so he produced a black wallet from the coat's pocket and handed it over to Kyo.
Kyo hesitated before taking it.
"I guess you already went through its contents…"
"They didn't help much, but at least I know my age and where I live."
Kyo nodded. Iori's ID was there, together with a driver's license.
"This will be useful," joked Kyo, taking out a credit card and waving it in the air with a smirk. "And here's the key. Your room is on the upper floor." Kyo held a plastic card with the hotel's logo and a number written on its back. "Finish your breakfast, and I'll…" The words trailed off and Kyo frowned. "You won't try to escape as soon as I leave you alone, will you?"
"I'll be here," Iori replied, but Kyo kept looking at him suspiciously. "Didn't you say you could find me using your sixth sense?"
"Oh, did you believe me?"
Iori's face darkened.
At that moment, Kyo realized that Iori was truly in a disadvantageous position. Unable to remember, Iori had to trust everything he said, and assume that he was telling the truth. And Iori had not doubt him once. He had trusted him from the start.
"I wasn't lying," clarified Kyo. "But having to look for you is annoying."
The shadow on Iori's face cleared, but he kept staring at Kyo with hard eyes, pondering if he could really trust him blindly.
Kyo stood up, angry at himself, feeling that his silly joke had ruined the good attitude Iori had been showing towards him.
"I'll go look for your things. It won't take long."
Iori waited, without leaving the sofa, feeling the strange void left by Kusanagi's absence. With each second that passed, he felt the urge to go after Kyo. Why?
Kyo thought he would try to escape but… Kyo could also decide not to come back…
Iori needed to learn more about him. He wanted to be sure that he would be able to find Kyo if they became separated.
Iori ran a hand through his hair and closed his eyes.
Kyo's presence had kept him calm until then. There hadn't been time for him to feel overwhelmed about his missing memories. When Kyo was with him, a strange serenity enfolded everything, even the urgency to remember. He wanted to remember who Kyo was, true, but the rest of his life seemed less important.
A noise in in the hallway interrupted his thoughts and Iori stood up, alert. He felt dizzy and had to hold on to the back of the sofa, but even so, he moved toward the door, using the walls as support. The head injury had been affecting the coordination of his movements for days, and Iori hated feeling so unsteady. He didn't want Kyo holding him because he couldn't walk on his own. He was intent on pushing his body to recover, despite the doctors saying that the damage could be permanent.
Iori opened the door roughly. The hallway was empty but for the trace of a presence. The same that had been watching them at the hotel's entrance.
What did they want? To reach him? Or Kyo?
The possibility of Kyo being the target of an unknown party set off a wave of overwhelming anger in Iori. The intensity of such emotion was disturbing, because Iori wasn't able to explain it. All he knew was that, if Kyo was in danger, he wasn't going to let anything happen to him.
"Yagami? What are you doing?"
Kyo appeared on the corridor, walking casually toward him. A relatively small bag hung from his shoulder.
Iori reflected for a moment and, without really knowing why, decided not to tell the whole truth.
"I heard a noise."
"You shouldn't be walking around," Kyo said, grabbing him by the arm to take him back to the sofa. "I only found this bag in your room. I didn't expect that you would know how to travel light. "
They sat down again, closer than during breakfast. Kyo moved the plates and cups aside and left the bag in front of Iori. The redhead went through the outer pockets first and found a cell phone. He turned it on unconsciously, without needing to stop to think if he remembered how to use it.
"I'm not sure what you'll find there. If you overload yourself with information, maybe your head will hurt again..." warned Kyo.
Iori ignored him. The battery was almost empty, but it would last enough to take a look at the contents. He checked the contact list and read some names that weren't familiar. None of the people listed there had "Yagami" as surname, but he found one entry simply labeled as "Kyo". The call and message history associated to that number was empty.
The mobile phone had no files or logs that could shine a light on who Iori was, but the dozen or so photographs stored in the gallery might be able to help.
Iori blinked in astonishment when he opened the main folder.
"You have nothing to worry about," Iori muttered sarcastically, bewilderment still clear in his eyes.
"What do you mean?" Kyo asked with curiosity.
Kyo leaned toward the phone's screen and saw the picture of a handwritten music score. He casually touched the screen with one finger and swiped to look at the next picture, and what he saw made him go wide-eyed.
The photo showed a sleepy orange cat sitting on a brick wall.
Kyo swiped to the next picture, and the next one after that.
"You only have pictures of cats?" he asked in disbelief, and then he started laughing, while he continued looking at the rest of the photos, which were all of cats of different colors. "Then the rumor that you like cats is confirmed…"
Iori looked at Kyo, who was leaning very close to him. It was the first time that Iori saw him smile like that, so openly amused. The impatience and irritation were gone from his brown eyes. Kyo looked comfortable and content with their proximity.
Without thinking, Iori raised a hand and touched Kyo's dark hair.
Kyo turned toward him and held his gaze. He wasn't surprised, but there was an apologetic expression on his face, which was quickly hidden behind a mocking smile.
"What are you doing, Yagami?" Kyo asked, firmly pushing his hand away, without being overly brusque.
"The first time I saw you, you were hurt," Iori said in a low voice, looking at Kyo's hair.
"It was just bruise," Kyo replied.
"What happened?" Iori waited for an answer, but Kyo hesitated. "I know you were there when the stadium collapsed."
"I didn't mean to hide it from you, but trying to remember didn't seem to be doing you any good. I can explain now, if you want…"
Kyo glanced at the living room's windows, putting his thoughts in order. Eventually, he decided to share the events that Iori could learn by himself by simply reading the news: he spoke about the tournament, the final match, Verse…
Kyo made a pause when Iori narrowed his eyes at the mention of the creature.
"Facing supernatural beings who want to destroy the world has become routine by now, they don't stop showing up," Kyo said. "I know it sounds like madness, but I'm telling the truth."
"I believe you," muttered Iori.
"What other choice do I have?" Iori said. "But don't try to take advantage of this. If you start lying to me, you will regret it."
The threat sounded serious, but it made Kyo smile.
Iori was taken aback. He couldn't figure out why Kyo was smiling and not getting angry at him.
"Don't worry, Yagami. I gain nothing by lying to you," Kyo said. "When Verse appeared, you intervened… You're skilled at fighting, by the way. I know you don't remember this, but maybe you can feel it…"
Iori kept his thoughts to himself. His face remained expressionless while he waited for Kyo to continue.
"It took time, but we defeated him. Verse's energy made the stadium unstable. That's when you were hurt." Kyo sighed, uncomfortable. "You protected me from the falling debris. But you couldn't move aside on time and…" A slight surprise appeared on Iori's face. "I guess what happened to you is my fault." There was a pause, and then Kyo added, softly: "I'm sorry."
Kyo's gentle voice awoke conflicting emotions in Iori. To him, Kyo didn't look like a person who would apologize like that, and this made him feel inexplicably angry. However, knowing that he had protected Kyo caused him intense satisfaction.
The anger he had felt at the thought of people spying on them to get to Kyo now made sense. Even though he didn't know the reason, he wasn't going to let anything happen to him. The injury he had suffered was proof of that.
Iori chuckled, very faintly. Now he understood that the trust he felt toward Kyo, and the calm that enfolded him in his presence, were traces of his forgotten life. His memories eluded him, but he was getting an idea of the type of person he was, thanks to what Kyo made him feel.
Kyo looked concerned.
"Okay, this wasn't the reaction I was expecting," he said. "Are you alright?"
Kyo frowned, doubtful, and Iori continued:
"Why do you look so worried?"
"You've been eerily calm since this started," explained Kyo in a low voice. "I thought you'd become agitated as time passed, but… It seems you don't care about what's going on…"
Iori set the phone aside and he leaned back on the sofa, crossing his arms.
"I don't feel an urgency to remember," he admitted, gazing at Kyo calmly. "But I want to remember you."
Kyo blinked once and then lowered his gaze, suppressing a weak laugh.
"Then everything is going to be alright."
Iori was puzzled by his words. What did Kyo mean?
"I'll take care of everything until you recover, Yagami," Kyo continued, raising his eyes. "Take this time to rest, don't try to escape, and as soon as you feel better, we'll go back to Japan. Maybe the familiar surroundings will be beneficial to you."
"You are considerate, despite not being my 'friend'."
Kyo ran a hand through his dark hair and smiled as if to say: I know.
A blond man was half hidden in a recess of the hallway that led to Kusanagi's room. It was the same person who had been watching the hotel when Kyo and Iori had arrived, and the presence that Iori had felt in the corridor.
Some people walked by and didn't pay attention to him, because the man was propped against the wall, looking at his phone's screen with a bored expression on his face. It was easy to mistake him for another hotel guest.
When the corridor was empty again, the blond man dialed a number and put the phone to his ear. Despite his posture, his light-blue eyes were alert.
"Yagami and Kusanagi are back at the hotel," he informed using a professional tone. "Yagami is still unwell, but we should be careful when tailing him. When I let him sense my presence, he almost got me." The man paused and listened to his boss's rich voice on the line. "I still need to confirm if the rumor about his amnesia is true," he added, and then he straightened his back and frowned. "Yes, I can do this alone, Geese-sama."
After the call was over, the blond man glanced at the closed door that separated him from his target and he smiled. The mission entrusted by his boss might prove to be an amusing one.