By: Banshee Puppet
Chapter Eight: While You Were Sleeping
"I think, yes, it's love…but also, it's so much more complicated than only that…" Takaya
Beep. Beep. Beep. The steady rhythm of the machines monitoring the young man beat out a morbid song. It seemed like everyone was injured, the stress of too much fighting and too little achieved falling heavy around them. Brad and Nagi had never returned. Takaya was just plain missing. But more than that, or perhaps, in addition to that…
"Shu-hei," he pronounced the name slowly, saying it, now, for the very first time as he read it off the clipboard at the foot of the man's bed.
"Narita-kun," Omi said as he entered the darkened room. "I brought coffee."
Omi shook his head a bit as the dark beverage passed hands. "We've been through a lot together recently. I don't mind if you call me Omi."
"Then would it be alright if I, also, called you Yuzuru?"
"H-hai," Yuzuru's voice cracked and he covered his face with his hand as ha few tears escaped.
Omi helped him into the chair. "What's wrong Yuzuru?" he asked gently.
"I was just reading the medical chart. His name is Shuhei. Shuhei Chiaki. Did you know that? I didn't. I—I called him my best friend, but only just now did I learn his first name. I realized suddenly that I don't really know anything about Chiaki. I want him to wake up and tell me." Yuzuru's hands shook, so Omi took the coffee from him and put it on the bedside table before the other teen collapsed against him. "Why won't he wake up? Omi, when is he going to wake up and scold me like always for worrying too much? Why won't he wake up?!" he demanded pitifully.
"Shh," Omi soothed. "There isn't any reason. He'll open his eyes when he's read. Just like Aya-chan did."
Chiaki Shuhei had fallen into a coma. It was psychosomatic the doctors said. Physically, there was no reason for it. Going only on the physical, Chiaki should be awake now, and in quite a bit of pain. But for some unexplainable reason—he just didn't want to wake up.
There was the matter of Takaya. Takaya was missing. But Yuzuru knew that Takaya was strong, and also, Takaya had Naoe, and Naoe would go to any extreme to see Takaya returned safely. Yes, he was certain, Takaya would be fine. Somehow, he would get through this. But Chiaki…who was looking out for Chiaki like that, if not him? Eventually, Yuzuru managed to fall asleep from the sheer exhaustion of it all.
Settling him back against the chair, Omi pulled a thin, spare blanket over him and let him rest, leaving the room quietly.
Chiaki was comatose. Takaya was missing. Haruie's hands shook and Naoe paced, trying to think, to clear his head long enough to figure out where his lord may have been taken. There was nothing he could do for Chiaki right now, and everyone knew who was more important to him anyway.
"How is he?" Ran asked when Omi exited the room. The redhead's arm was in a cast, broken in three places.
"No change," Omi replied.
"And Yuzuru?" Saori asked, looking up. She'd been lost in thought a moment ago.
"He's asleep," Omi answered. "Finally."
Even Saori hadn't escaped unscathed this time. A few scratches and a bump on the head. Nothing major, but it served as a reminder of how much trouble they'd gotten into this time.
Aya and Yuuiko were fine, though Yuuiko seemed distracted. Sakura, the same—a few scratches, but little of note. Ken was on crutches for a sprained knee and Yohji had been lucky enough to get out of the affair with surface bruises everywhere but little worse than a slight concussion. Farfarello had managed to break his leg and some twenty bones in his right hand. Feeling no pain, of course, but it was difficult to move.
Now Schuldich came out to the lobby. His arms hurt like hell and he didn't have the energy to be sarcastic and annoying. The Tsutsuga had done a job of him and he now had well over a hundred stitches between both forearms. 'These are definitely going to scar,' he thought with a slight frown. And Omi hadn't even asked if he was okay goddamn it! He pulled his sunglasses down over his eyes so that he could brood properly. He tired reaching out to find Brad or Nagi, but there was no sign of them anywhere. And Omi was ignoring him. Yeah, so he was brooding. He knew he was brooding. Woo-fucking-hoo. He didn't know what to do about any of this, but he had to do something fast or he'd go insane.
Takaya groaned awake. He had a killer migraine and the starch white walls and fluorescent lights weren't helping. It took him a few minutes to focus his vision.
"Goddamn DOUBLE-CROSSING BASTARDS!" Crawford hollered at the ceiling and kicked the wall. Bradley Crawford throwing a fit. If the situation wasn't so dire, Nagi would've laughed. Definitely one for the record books.
"Kicking the door won't make it open, you know," the teenager commented.
Brad glared at him and shoved his glasses up his nose. His powers appeared to be on the fritz. He should have seen this coming. Yeah, better to blame it on that than not learning from past experience. Estet had always been a treacherous and self-serving employer with little regard for those in their employ. Nothing had changed.
Takaya's eyes focused on Crawford first, and he leapt to his feet. Ow. Bad idea. "YOU!" Yeah, that was intelligent, but Takaya had never been known for his stunning command of language. He grabbed his head. Dizzy. Shouldn't have gotten up that fast. The last thing he could remember was this guy holding a gun to his head.
"Please sit down before you hurt yourself…both of you," Nagi sighed. Why was it that he had to be the responsible one? He looked at Crawford. "I told you that going back to Estet was a bad idea." Actually, he'd said it was the stupidest idea Crawford had ever come up with, but no use splitting hairs now. He looked then at Takaya, "and you don't even know what's going on."
Takaya sat back down grumpily. He had a point, and the other guy seemed to be too busy beating himself up to give a damn about shooting him again anyway.
Nagi decided to begin. "My name is Nagi Naoe…"
But before he could say more, Takaya was already taken aback. "You're Nagi?! Then who was that other kid?!" Great, now Takaya was confused again. Nagi sighed. "Okay, maybe you should start from the beginning."
Mistaken identity, familial ties…this whole thing was a mess, and it only half-added up.
"If he's only in his thirties, or something, how can he be my grandfather?" Nagi asked finally. The math just didn't compute.
"Well, you see…he's not actually a blood relative. He just, kind of…used to be."
"That makes even less sense," Crawford blanketed.
"Well, I don't remember so well, but, essentially, these aren't the bodies that belong to us." Takaya chewed at the inside of his cheek. How to explain? "That is to say, we're Possessors. Our souls, or whatever, hop from one body to the next through time. I'm…well, as Nobutsuna explains it to me, I am both Takaya Ougi, and also Kagetora Uesugi who died five-hundred years ago."
"And you retain your memories life after life?" Crawford was starting to put the pieces together. True immortals—of course Estet would be interested in this.
"Well, of the first life way back then. We're supposed to remember that. I don't, but all of the others do."
"How many others are there?" Nagi asked, awed by the very concept.
Takaya shifted a bit and looked at the telekinetic boy. "A lot," he answered finally. "I don't know—enough that counting is pointless." He paused again, remembering early on in this whole mess, what it was that Naoe had called them—the Netherworld Uesugi Army. "An army's worth, at least," he finished saying. A dull humming in the back of his mind—something too familiar trying to awaken. "The Netherworld Uesugi Army…our job is to exorcise vengeful spirits in this world and return them to the next. But there are others who are also Possessors but have different goals." He blinked. Where did all that come from. He'd never sounded that lucid on the subject before now. 'Was that…the part of me that is Kagetora?' he wondered. It was all way to confusing and he didn't want to think about it.
"So then, why you?" Nagi asked earnestly. "Why not any of the others?"
"Well, because…" Takaya hedged. It would sound much more convincing if he remembered it all clearly. "Because I'm Kagetora Uesugi," he shrugged. "And lots of people want me dead, I guess." 'In that fun, permanent way,' his mind added bitterly.
Crawford understood at least. "You're someone important in this army of immortals. That's the reason."
Takaya nodded. "That's what they tell me. But we're not immortals. We die just like everyone else dies. It's just that we keep coming back, time after time, whether we want to or not."
'That's what it means to be a Possessor, eternal life without choice, and inescapable battlefield. What a pitiful existence,' Crawford thought. 'But also, not much different from the life of an assassin.'
"What is your relationship to my Grandfather then, Takaya?" Nagi asked. He didn't use a formality because he was sincerely at a loss over which one he was supposed to use. Well, Takaya didn't seem to notice or mind anyway.
The possessor colored a bit at the question. "Nobutsuna is…I guess you would say…"
"He's your lover," Crawford observed quite frankly.
Takaya turned bright red at this. "Nooo," he hedged. "Not yet…but…we've loved one another for a long time, I guess. It's complicated. But, something like that. We're…together."
Nagi smiled to himself. "It sounds like you love him very much." It was oddly nice to know, even if he never met the man, knowing he had family out there, sort of, and that that family had someone who cared about them…it was kind of a nice feeling, as bizarre as the entire situation was.
"Yeah," Takaya answered, not knowing how he'd missed it until now. "I don't know what I'd do if he wasn't beside me."
Dreams. They tell you things about yourself—oftentimes things you don't want to know or were afraid to ask. Yuzuru's dreams were like that. It was dark. He was alone and crying. And then Chiaki was standing there…right in front of him. "Why are you crying?" he asked in that way he had that feigned indifference even though if you knew him, even a little, it was easy to tell that he cared—so much.
Yuzuru tackled him in an embrace. "I thought you were leaving! It was lonely without you." So warm with Chiaki's arms around him. "Shuhei…"
And then he was gone again and Yuzuru jolted awake. What a miserable nightmare that had been.
"Shuhei…" he whispered. "Don't you dare leave. Please come back. I'm cold." He curled deeper into the blanket and wrapped his fingers around Chiaki's complacent and doll-like hand. "Without you here, I'm so very cold."
A/N: Well, I made you wait again and basically nothing happened. Heh. I hope you can forgive me! I've been so busy. Damn me for being too creative. Don't worry though, I haven't given up on this story. It's really a lot of fun to write! But poor Chiaki. Every chapter I feel worse and worse for him. In honor of that, I've decided that this year's Christmas fic will be a Chiaki story! Woot. So look for it. It will be up by Thursday night or Friday morning at the absolute latest since I'm leaving for Jersey around then and my computer will be well, at home and I'll be without for a few days. Yeesh, it's going to be another cavity story!
Also, those of you who are very familiar with MoB might find that my timeline does not match up precisely with the Mirage timeline in regard to how Naoe is Nagi's grandfather. I'm close, but I believe on careful scrutiny, I would be about five or so years off. We'll just pretend it works, heh.
Again, thanks to my reviewers!
Remember to look for the Chiaki Christmas fic…which I'm off to go write now…