It's been a month, but here it is: Nevermore, chapter five, featuring Satoshi angst, some Daisuke point-of-view, and the foundation of the next stage of the plot.
Disclaimers: Characters are Yukiru Sugisaki's, title inspired by Poe, quotes from Eliot and Marlowe, the latter of whom shares dibs on Mephistopheles with Goethe. Hey, the story's original title was "Ashes of Mephistopheles;" I figured the guy needed a reference somewhere. This fic is slashy, but this chapter on its own is rather obstinately PG.
Love to my beta-readers -- Defectus, Vampire of the Light, and Danski -- without whom this chapter may very well have been utterly unreadable.
Nevermore: Chapter Five
"Thinkst thou that I who saw the face of God,
And tasted the eternal joys of heaven,
Am not tormented with ten thousand hells,
In being deprived of everlasting bliss?" – Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus.
"There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea." – T.S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock."
It was not, oddly enough, the fact that he had his arms around Daisuke's waist that surprised Satoshi when he woke up, but, rather, that Daisuke's hair tickled. He propped himself up against the head of the bed, blinking at the sunlight, and looked down. There was Daisuke, smiling faintly as he slept, resting against Satoshi with a content, peaceful air. No tossing, no turning, no fits in the middle of the night. Satoshi sighed and sat up completely, burying his head in his hands. Daisuke—
The redhead stirred and opened his eyes bemusedly. "Satoshi…?"
Daisuke sat in a swish of sheets. "Ne, Satoshi, are you alright?"
Alright? Alright? Of course he was alright. Daisuke was getting better, Krad and Dark were gone, there was nothing to worry about… but still, something nagged at him. Guilt? The emotion was familiar enough. He looked fleetingly at wide-eyed Daisuke and sighed. "I'm perfectly fine."
Daisuke rested his head lightly on Satoshi's shoulder. "You're lying," he said quietly. "I'm fine, Satoshi-kun. You should be, too." He kissed Satoshi's cheek lightly and smiled. "Don't feel bad. I'm here with you, you're here with me."
"I know," he said, looking up at the blank ceiling. "I know."
Satoshi's phone rang while he was making breakfast, though somehow he didn't hear it and Daisuke was the one to pick up. The redhead padded quietly into the kitchen without the other boy noticing at all. "It's Inspector Saehara."
This, of course, lead to an awkward period in which Satoshi had to explain that Daisuke was sick and that the Niwa family was away, and yes, a meeting was quite inconvenient for him today, but if there was no way around it, then Satoshi would be there.
"How much of that did you catch?" asked Satoshi resignedly.
Daisuke lifted his head blearily from the kitchen table. "All of it, I think. Don't look so upset, Satoshi-kun. I'll be fine. I was last night, wasn't I?"
Satoshi shrugged silently and set a plate of toast in front of Daisuke, who at ate and chattered idly away with reassuring energy. It was just like old times, more or less, though the redhead kept holding Satoshi's hand. This in itself, making the boy smile again, was worth all those hours at Daisuke's side.
"What is it?" the redhead asked, as Satoshi poked absentmindedly at breakfast.
He squeezed Daisuke's hand gently. "Nothing," he said, and, this time, he meant it.
The meeting was dull, but that was only to be expected. Satoshi contemplated sleeping while Saehara switched between frothing at the mouth and putting on a properly rueful face for his superiors, apologizing for the minor disaster the public relations department was going through.
"And you, commander, what do you think? Will Dark be back – the real Dark?" It took Satoshi a moment to place the speaker – the man who'd been promoted to replace his foster-father.
"He might," said Satoshi carefully. A flat-out "no" would mean an explanation of things that were best left within the bloodline, but leaving an answer open could mean being pulled out on more ridiculous stake-outs like last night's.
"You don't know?"
Satoshi gave the man an icy stare and shrugged the question off. "The phantom thief has stayed away from the museums for long periods of time before. I don't see why he wouldn't come back."
The supreme commander sighed, then straightened up and smiled amiably. "Well, commander, I'd hoped you could clear the issue up for my department, but if no one has anything else to add…?" He stood, closing his folder in clear sign of dismissal. "I'll see you gentlemen at the Narcissus Museum in two hours, then. We've received another advance notice." He tossed a small white card onto the conference table that read, in looping, tight handwriting, "I will take Pandora's Box at eight o'clock tonight. Signed, Light."
Saehara was the one who went insane at this particular announcement, but it was Satoshi whose heart sank into the pit of his stomach. It was not the fact that there was an advance notice that worried him – this idiot, after all, was calling himself "Light" and hopping onto a cramped bandwagon – but what he was stealing.
It was pure coincidence that this particular imposter was going after one of the most powerful Hikari works, surely… it had to be. No one knew, no one was left who could or would go after the fragments… Coincidence, he told himself, but there was a familiar tingle of tense energy running up his spine.
Satoshi, naturally, was not in the brightest of moods when he returned to his flat, and he almost knocked Daisuke out when the boy jumped him at the curb. "Daisuke-kun?" The redhead was dressed in one of Satoshi's old shirts and a pair of too-long pants that bunched over his bare feet. "What are you doing?"
Daisuke pulled his demon-bunny out of a pocket and smiled. "With and I needed some fresh air," he said brightly.
"You're sick." Satoshi put an arm around Daisuke's shoulders, and the smaller boy leaned complacently into the gesture.
"We were fine," he said cheerfully. "We just wanted to step outside."
Satoshi shrugged and pulled away, but Daisuke caught his fingers and held his hand as Satoshi veered him back inside the apartment complex. It was a nice day, he told himself; he was being completely irrational. But he didn't want Daisuke hurt all over again…
This is something that you would never have dreamed of before. You used to be without attachment… You never used to let your heart be hurt for the sake of an outsider…
But he was worried, damnit, and if anything happened to Daisuke…
"Ne, Satoshi-kun, why is the bathtub under the stairs?"
He blinked out of his reverie. To be honest, Satoshi had no idea. He couldn't even remember where he'd gotten the thing. "It's a magic bathtub," he said dourly, opening the door, "one of those Hikari artworks you never heard of." Daisuke blinked. "There's a shower in the bathroom, you know."
"Oh, I saw that," said Daisuke blandly. "The one next to the study, right?"
Satoshi froze. Had Daisuke seen it? No, no, it was fine, he'd hidden them all, just in case… Hidden them out in the open, where any lowlife could try to steal them, he thought bitterly, eyes flashing angrily.
"I – I'm sorry, Satoshi-kun." The redhead recoiled like a rabbit suddenly worried that the fox might be angry enough to leap, his familiar starting to glare at Satoshi. "Did you want me to stay out of there? I didn't get into anything…"
"It's alright, Daisuke," he said, putting his arm back around the boy and watching worry drain out of the redhead like water spilling out of a sieve. "It's not you. You can go through the study if you'd like…" Having Daisuke in the study was better than having Daisuke wandering around barefoot on the street.
"Good," said the redhead, face brightening. "I saw your painting, though, the one in the corner. It's amazing."
"It's a Hikari thing," he said, all nonchalance, "like the blue hair."
"Harada-san thought you dyed it when you transferred," said Daisuke, and reached up to muss Satoshi's bangs.
"Did she now?" asked Satoshi, catching Daisuke's hand with a cat's lazy ease.
Daisuke shrugged. "It's the sort of thing Risa-san thinks about. You weren't very talkative, so…"
"I had other things on my mind," he said, waving whatever suspicions Risa might have held away.
"Then what's on your mind now?"
"More Dark imposters," he said sourly. "You made stealing famous artwork trendy, Daisuke-kun."
The redhead rolled his eyes. "You wouldn't be worried about that, though. At least, you didn't seem too worried about the theft last night…"
"I'm not worried," he lied smoothly. Last night had been different. The stakes had been low last night – a random criminal and a random art-piece. Tonight, the thief was still probably an asylum escapee, but there was always a risk to be run, and if this would-be phantom thief managed to steal Pandora's Box…
It seemed that Daisuke wasn't the only thing Satoshi had to worry about now.
Daisuke flopped down on the couch, cuddling With. The flat was quiet without Satoshi – too quiet and too lonely – but Satoshi would be back soon, and that made the empty silence a lighter, warmer burden. "So, With," he sighed, "what are we going to do?"
The redhead smiled absentmindedly and got to his feet. "Come on. Satoshi-kun said there was something to do in the study." Technically, Satoshi had given him the okay to go in the study, but Daisuke took that to mean that there was something in the little room worth looking at.
The study was just as one might have expected from Satoshi: organized and full of books that were all very thick or very old, the smell of parchment and paper clinging to the air. A small corner was devoted to heavy tomes that appeared to be all mathematics or criminology, but most of the books had titles like "Studies in Historical Art" or "The Cultural Revolution and the Death of the Classical Era." Daisuke shied away from those (their veritable layers of dust were enough to keep anyone away) and moved, wide-eyed down the shelves. The books here were well-thumbed and, for the most part, ancient, with leather spines and peeping sheaves of parchment. One was titled simply "Historia." Daisuke pulled it down and leafed carefully through the pages, whose heavy parchment seemed clean and un-aged. Some of the pieces were familiar from Dark's heists – he lingered for a moment on the description of Saint Tears's restorative powers and moved hurriedly on from the Fallen Angel's Love Potion – and some he'd seen down in the basement, but most were works he'd never seen before, all carefully and elaborately sketched in bright, fresh ink.
On the very last pages was the Black Wings.
He thought, for a moment, of slamming the book shut (With was hissing at the rendering, after all, which was typically a good warning to stay away from something), but even though the book itself went on and on about the dangers of the sculpture, he read on. Dark had been born and then disappeared thanks to this thing, and Daisuke wanted to know how and, dammit, why his other self had vanished.
We have bound the Black Wings as best we can for now, though so long as fragments of its power remains in the world, it will never be sealed completely. There is a harmony that cannot be fully explained between the Black Wings and its curse-children, but no matter how many hours we put into its study, with the ritual interrupted we cannot tell what powers the Black Wings has, simply that they are vast and somehow attuned to its children…
The rune-etched silver that binds the Black Wings cannot hold forever, despite our efforts. The chains that bind its wild power will always have a weakness; Mephistopheles will always come to claim a soul and a life's work can always be undone.
Mephistopheles? Daisuke flipped back through the book to a page he'd only half-seen, titled in flowing calligraphy "Fang of Mephistopheles." It was an axe, cruel and barbaric and unlovely, all black and stark, cold silver, but he'd seen it before, that night at the museum…
The chains… a weakness…
His heart was pounding a relentless beat in his chest as he stared at the page, at the picture, at the words. Things could be undone, wrongs righted, injustices repaired and a life returned… Things hadn't ended; not now, not yet. There was still time and a chance…
Niwa Daisuke closed the book quietly and stared at it for a long, long time.
I think I've said this for the last few chapters, but I don't like this chapter. While the kana and the show say "Wizu," I'll stop switching between spellings and use "With" for the rest of the fic in protest of Tokyopop's uber-not-cool "Wiz." Several of you mentioned that you thought the story was moving too quickly, and I'm truly sorry. It was much slower paced on the outline, but somehow the whole thing was fast-forwarded.
Eighty-seven reviews! Love and kudos to kaori-chan, SilveryKitsune, Enkay, kawaiidark, Flighting dreams (yes, it is illogical, and I feel bad about sacrificing logic on the altar of moving the story along. And yes, confusion has been caused by fake-Dark.), Sage of Angst (yay for Greek mythology!), Ayame-Sohma, Leland Lancaster, fowler Nsow, LittleDarkOne, Uzumaki-sama, digitalized, xxphatxbaybeexx, Ember Elidd, golden-flame4, KimiKodokuu, Eizoku (the kana reads "Wizu," I believe, but Sugisaki-sensei has written it out in English as "With"), forgottenfayth, Defectus (I tried to avoid it, but the phrase ate my soul and threatened to steal my law dictionary), Hikaru, Danski, Madness, Nocens Calamus (it'll be a long fic, but you can imagine the lemon if you'd like!), Severed Glass (I'll work on the things you brought up), Vampire of the Light, B.G. Pendragon, Sleine, Xelena, Shen3 (heh, I thought about that, then realized that getting Daisuke out of his wet clothes would mean Satoshi undressing him and decided that would be more awkward than it was worth), Falling Cinders, Jaded Gossamer, and Naoko Kensaku. So many of you, and I love you all!
Now the tangled web is set – review, smack, appraise, cheer!