Disclaimer: I do not own the characters or situations of DN Angel.
A/N: This story takes place after the last even of 'The Second Hand of Time'. The time frame begins the night at the museum, a few hours after Dark returns from Daisuke's painting with Daisuke. Riku and Risa are at the museum as well, where Riku has woken up to find Daisuke beside her and Risa has woken up lying on a park bench covered by a jacket containing a single white feather…
Chapter One -- They Stood Alone On Separate Ways
They stood alone on separate ways
Two pillars made of ice and snow
And on into the passing days
They hadn't the heart to stay or go
She was lost, unknown, confused
A rose caught in a devil's snare
He was tired, used, abused
An angel in a monster's lair
Two troubled souls of black and white
Searching for answers they did not know
Yet left in reach of blinding sight
The answer etched in ice and snow…
He shut the door with a slam and leaned his back against its smooth wood, deep breaths escaping him as he fought to gather his composure. For a moment there was nothing but a strange fog clouding his vision, and then he noticed that he wasn't wearing his glasses.
Of course not. He wouldn't be wearing them…he didn't need them in his other form.
A trembling hand dug into his pocket and fished out the smooth metal, pulling it out and securing it before his azure eyes. Things began to slowly come into focus: the laces of his shoes, the mud on the hem of his trousers, the white feathers littering the floor around him. He stole a deep breath and held it.
Goddammit, he hated white feathers.
He slowly exhaled and looked up and stared out of his window. It was night, late night, and the moon shone regally in the sky. He hadn't been paying attention to what time it was back at the museum. So much had happened, and there was already so much on his mind…
He shivered involuntarily and wrapped his arms around himself. Cold, why was he so cold? He had dressed properly for the evening, right? He remembered doing so…
Ah. His jacket. He had given it to the younger Harada so she would not freeze during the night. Such a stupid gesture, exposing himself to the brittle air when his health was already so low. He would have brought her to her home, but he didn't know where she lived.
Not that he should have or anything.
With a groan he pushed himself from the door and slowly trudged his way to his bedroom. He passed his desk on the way and dropped the cloth containing his tools on its wooden surface. He glanced back to look at them. That mocking cross, pretending to encase paraphernalia made to create art when, in reality, housing artifacts used to reawaken monsters.
With much effort he tumbled into his bedroom, collapsing onto his solitary mattress. After a groan or two of frustration, he sat up and tore the shirt off his back, wincing at the sharp pains in his side. His fingers carefully grazed over his body, analyzing the damage. Two broken ribs, a fracture on the third, bruises all along his torso, and a minor sprain in his wrist. His collarbone sparked with the taunting of a break, there were shallow gashes across his left forearm and back, and every muscles in his body screamed in agony. He'd be sore as hell in the morning.
Not even bothering to remove his trousers, he laid back amongst his strewn bedclothes and removed his glasses, folding them carefully and tenderly placing them on the floor next to him. He would not attend to his injuries tonight, even though the intelligent thing to do would be to go straight to the hospital. But no, he hated hospitals, hated the way they always reminded him of his low blood pressure, or how feeble his health was becoming with each passing day, or how they constantly asked the origin of his pains.
He'd wait until morning. He'd wait until the sun came and then he'd worry about the condition of himself. But until then, all he wanted to do was rest.
The Second Hand of Time was quiet once more, satisfied with itself and dormant once again. Dark had returned and had brought Niwa back with him. Older Harada had her painting back. Younger Harada had his jacket. Freedert had Elliot. And Hiwatari had broken bones and a monstrous headache.
Everything was at it should have been.
There was a soft buzzing sound and a vibration in his pocket. Satoshi sought out the disturbance and withdrew his cell phone, silently ringing. He checked the screen.
With an effort he threw the phone across the room where it shattered against the far wall. Satoshi turned onto his side and closed his eyes. No matter how lonely he was, or how unneeded he seemed, or how uncared about he felt, it would never be enough for him to be glad to hear his father berate him on the phone.
Risa doused her light and slipped under her covers. Her curtains were thrown wide open and her room blazed with moonlight, but she had no intention of shutting it out. She was used to the light streaming through her window. It comforted her.
She sighed and flipped on to her side, breathing deeply. Her head soon filled with the aroma of perfumed linen, lavender soap, and the night air hinted with cotton. Her fingers tightened their hold on the jacket lying next to her head as she closed her eyes.
She had nearly fainted when Riku lost her balance and fell from the roof, and then actually did so when she slipped off herself. The last thing she remembered was a flurry of white wings and the swaying sensation of being lifted into flight. She had hoped that it was Dark who had saved her, but he had gone after Riku.
And Dark's wings weren't white.
She breathed in again. Night air, clean and fresh. Mysterious. Shadowed. Dark.
Dark's jacket. It had to be. Her beloved Dark had left it for her so she would not freeze. He had brought her and her sister to safety and had covered her so she wouldn't be cold. Yes, that reasoning seemed to make sense. Who else would be there to take care of them? No one else was there…
She opened her eyes, thinking. If no one was there, then who was it that Dark was speaking to before they arrived? Someone else…with wings…white…?
She squeezed her eyes shut again. No. No one else was there. Just her, her sister, and her beloved Dark. And later on, Daisuke, when he showed up with Riku. Otherwise, there was no one else there. It had to be Dark's jacket. It had to be.
She flipped back onto her other side.
She'd just pretend that she hadn't found the white feather.
Daisuke glanced over his shoulder, his brow furrowed in worry. Hiwatari's seat was empty. Again. Empty for four days straight. That was hardly like Satoshi at all. He, himself, hadn't felt at all up to coming to school, what with Freedert and Elliot still pulsing through his mind, but he had dragged himself in despite his depression. He didn't want to raise suspicions on himself. Besides, Takeshi was getting diligent with the rehearsals for the play.
Which, on their own part, were difficult without the lead male role. So what could have happened to Hiwatari? The only other time he had been absent was when he was ill. Was he sick now? And if so, then it was a small wonder to why he had been gone so many days; there was no one at his apartment to take care of him other than himself.
Daisuke turned his eyes back to the teacher and away from Hiwatari's empty desk. Today, after school, he'd go and check up on Hiwatari. Maybe he'd ask Riku to come with him. Yes, that would be much better. Having Riku by his side would make things a lot easier. And she wouldn't ask questions to why he was sick because she was much too polite and kind for that.
Although, whatever injuries Krad and Dark had inflicted on Hiwatari had to be awful to make him disappear for four days.
There was a loud banging sound and then voices—muffled voices—calling his name. More banging. More calling. Couldn't the world just leave him alone! One night; just one night of peace and quiet for him to rest and heal. He had only gone to bed a few hours ago, and he still needed many more for his body to analyze its injuries and settle into a comforting ache with them. All he wanted was undisturbed sleep.
Satoshi groaned and turned his face into the soft linen of his pillow. Just give him a few more hours…just a few…
"He's not answering, Niwa-kun. Maybe we should just leave." But even though she said it, Riku could not bring herself to simply turn her back on Hiwatari's door. They had never been close, personally, and she couldn't really consider him to be a friend, what with his isolated exterior, but Daisuke did, and she was still worried about him, regardless.
"He's got to answer. He's home. I know it." Daisuke banged his fist on the door again, three times. "Hiwatari-san! Hiwatari-san! Hiwatari-san, answer the door!" He banged again. "Satoshi-kun!"
Riku pressed her ear against the cool wood and listened. "Nothing," she said, looking at Daisuke. "I can't hear anyone inside."
Daisuke sighed. "I'm really worried about him. It's not like Hiwatari-san to be gone so long, or ignore anyone at his door."
"Have you tired calling him?"
"Yes, but every time I dial his cell phone there's a recording saying that the number was disconnected."
Riku frowned. "That doesn't sound promising."
"So what are we going to do?" a voice asked behind them. Daisuke and Riku turned around to see Risa sitting on the floor behind them, waiting. Daisuke hadn't intentionally thought to bring her, but he couldn't bring Riku without taking her sister. "Are we just going to give up?"
Daisuke looked down and Riku shrugged. "It he's not answering then we can't help him."
"But what if he can't answer?" The younger Harada stood up and dusted off her skirt. "I've seen the way he gets when he just takes off his glasses, so if he's actually sick it must be horrible for him to just get out of bed. If we came to help then we have to get inside."
"How can we if he doesn't answer the door, Risa?"
She shrugged, looking down at her school bag clutched in her hand. "I don't know. I just know that we have to." Riku followed her gaze and noticed the sleeve of a jacket protruding from her sister's bag. It wasn't one that she could remember Risa owning.
Meanwhile, Daisuke continued to bang on the door and call out Satoshi's name. If he really was hurt badly, then he needed help, fast. He dropped his arm and stared at the closed door. Frustration was never an emotion that he dealt with easily.
He dropped his gaze to the lock. It was such a simple bolt, and one that would take not even an eye blink for him to break into. He glanced back at the Harada twins. Riku was facing her sister and had her back to him, and Harada-chan was looking down, preoccupied. They wouldn't notice if he simply cracked the lock configuration…
"Hey, look. The door's open," he announced, swinging it open. Riku and Risa both looked over, surprised.
"It just swung open like that?" Riku asked, taking a step forward and peeking into the apartment. Daisuke nodded, holding his breath.
"Hmm, that doesn't seem safe at all," Risa contributed, looking in behind her sister. "But at least it's open. Come on, Riku." She walked past her sister and took her hand to make her follow. Daisuke sighed dramatically and shook his head. He hated having to hide his training, but if he told both Harada's that he had opened the lock, things would have gotten uncomfortable and suspicious. "Come on, Niwa-kun," Risa said. He nodded.
"Coming." He closed the door behind them and looked around. Hiwatari's apartment wasn't any cleaner than when he last saw it, but there was a different feel to it. Not the same, distant aura that pulsated from it but something older, stale, bland…
"What is this?"
Daisuke looked up. Both girls had stopped in the middle of the room and were staring at the floor. Daisuke looked under his own feet and saw that he was standing on a blanket of snow white feathers, each one fluttering at the disturbance of their feet in the room.
Daisuke's heart stopped.
"White feathers, everywhere." Riku spun around herself, causing a flurry of white to swirl about her feet. "But why?"
"I—I don't know," was all Daisuke could say.
Risa remained silent, staring at the scattered mess with her hand over her mouth.
"Come on," Riku said, casting the feathers a wary glance before turning to Daisuke. "Where's his bedroom?"
"Oh, right." Daisuke hurried past Risa and towards a small hallway, Riku in his wake. Risa, however, stayed behind, too stunned to even hear them leave.
"They're…white…" she whispered to herself, remembering the feather that fell from the jacket. "Why are they all white?"
Satoshi cringed even in sleep. He hated hearing his name. For some odd and obscure reason, he hated hearing his name.
There was another loud bang, but this time it was much closer and much, much louder.
With a cruel effort, Satoshi opened his eyes and looked towards the doorway to his bedroom. His vision was slightly blurred, but he could make out two figures standing within the doorframe. The first one, slightly taller than the second, was crowned with unruly, flaming hair and was the owner of the frantic scream. The second, smaller and slender, was clutching onto the door frame and staring at him with wide eyes. Satoshi almost felt like smiling in amusement.
Niwa and Harada to the rescue.
"Satoshi-san!" Daisuke ran in and dropped to his side, bending over him. Satoshi somehow always found it hard to look directly into those eyes, especially now when they were filled with pity and sympathy. Pity and sympathy for him. Two things he never accepted from anyone.
"Niwa-kun, is he alright? He looks awful." Older Harada had come up from behind Niwa and was peering down at him too. It was a bit awkward, seeing such a brave girl as her cower at the sight of fatigue and agony in another human being. Satoshi nearly felt accomplished, being able to make Riku Harada scared just by lying in pain.
Daisuke frowned. "He's really beat up and it doesn't look like he's tended to any of his injuries in the last four days."
Four days? Niwa must not have been thinking straight. The battle at the museum had only happened last night and he had only a few hours of sleep since then. He wouldn't have been so careless as to not take care of himself for four days.
"Will you help me lift him into a sitting position?" Daisuke asked Riku, and she nodded. Satoshi tried to protest and tell them he could do it himself, but nothing came from his throat as he opened his mouth to speak. His voice was far too tired to come out and his body had not even begun to recuperate yet.
He was worse off than he thought.
There was a tightening grasp on his arms and Satoshi noticed that Riku had taken hold of his wrists and was hoisting him up. Daisuke leveled him in a sitting position and let him lean against the wall. He groaned. The position did nothing for his broken bones.
"Hiwatari-san, can you talk? Are you alright?"
Riku shook her head, bending down to look into his eyes. Satoshi tried to lean away, unused to the close proximity with a girl. "I don't think he can talk, Niwa-kun. He's probably been asleep for these four days, so his vocal chords aren't working right yet."
Asleep for four days? Had he really been out for that long!
"Wh—what…what are y-you…" Speaking truly was an effort. His throat had been stripped raw and he could barely breath without a stabbing pain in his chest. "What are you doing here?" he rasped, sucking in the air around him. He wrapped an arm across his torso, trying to ignore the jolt of fire that came from his broken ribs.
Daisuke looked confused. "We were worried about you. You haven't been to school for four days so we decided to come check up on you."
"Y—you didn't…didn't have to," he answered.
Riku shook her head. "Yes, we did. Niwa-kun is your friend, Hiwatari-san. He wanted to come and make sure that you were all right."
Satoshi looked over to her and then at Daisuke. Having Niwa by him was fine; he'd come to understand the concepts of friendship and his own caring for the boy. But having yet another person who worried about his welfare was nearly overwhelming. It wasn't just the fact that it was a girl, because he had had enough of girls following him around everywhere and staring at him. More over, it was the fact that it was someone other than Niwa; someone who worried about him and wanted to be his friend simply because she wanted to worry about him and be his friend.
"Niwa-kun? Riku? Where are you?" Someone was calling from the hall outside. All three of them looked up to see Risa peek tentatively around the doorframe. Satoshi nearly blanched. Daisuke being in his apartment was unexpected but accepted, Riku being in his apartment was unexpected and in the process of being accepted, but Risa being there too? It was just too awkward and, frankly, starting to get a little crowded.
"Risa--," Riku started to say, but was cut off.
"Oh my goodness, Hiwatari-san!" Obviously seeing someone as beat up as Satoshi was at that moment was new to younger Harada. She jumped out from behind the frame and hurried toward him, kneeling next to her sister. "What happened? You look horrible…and you're bleeding!" She pointed to a red spot that had dripped onto his bed sheets. He shrugged. It was probably from the gash on his back.
"I'm alright, really," he whispered.
"No, you're not," Daisuke countered. He looked up at Riku. "Riku-san, could you please make Hiwatari-san something to eat? He won't get better unless he has something in his stomach." Riku smiled and nodded.
"No problem, Niwa-kun. Don't worry, Hiwatari-san. I'll make you something simple so it'll go down easier." She got up from his bed and headed back out to the hall. Risa continued to look at him with such a liberal amount of pity that he had to look away from her. It made him slightly sick.
"We need to bandage you up, Hiwatari-san, so do you think you could sit up on your own?" Daisuke's words were polite but his tone was solid. Satoshi nodded and pushed himself off the wall, ignoring the burning in his side.
"Careful, Hiwatari-san. Don't move too fast." Risa rested her hands on his shoulders to steady him and all his muscles tensed at the contact. The feel of her hands on his bare skin was foreign and awkward, and he did not like it at all.
But, then again, he wasn't really in any shape to dismiss help.
"I think he has some broken bones and we need to secure them so they can heal properly. Would you help me with this, Harada-san?" Daisuke handed her a roll of bandages and she nodded. Satoshi simply sat quietly and let them do their good deed for the day.
"Is that better?" Daisuke asked. Satoshi sat up straighter and arched his back. The pain in his side was still there, but the bandages helped keep the bones from shifting and lessened it to nothing but a dull ache.
"Yes, it's much better. Thank you." He relaxed once again. He sat on the edge of his bed, Daisuke to his left and younger Harada to his right, with his elbows resting lazily on his knees and his head bowed forward. It was easier to breathe this way and it allowed the other two to commence with their nursing. Aside from binding his middle they had splinted his wrist and salved most of his bruises. He didn't like having them attend to him but he had no other choice.
"This one looks really bad," Risa said. She had moved to sit behind him and was looking at his back. He glanced back at her, waiting. "It's not deep, but it's big. We need to clean it properly first. Niwa-kun, can you get a disinfectant for me?"
"Yeah, sure. Hiwatari-san, where's your bathroom?"
He looked out of his door. "Down the hall to your right."
"Thanks." Daisuke quickly got up from his seat and hurried out, leaving Risa behind. Satoshi frowned. He didn't particularly like being left alone with only Risa Harada as his companion.
"This is such a long gash, Hiwatari-san. How did you get it?" she suddenly asked. He sighed. Could he really answer her truthfully? Could he really say that it was a product of an airborne fight between his alter ego and her beloved Phantom Thief Dark?
He knew it was a feeble excuse, but it was the simplest and vaguest he could come up with.
"Does it hurt?" she continued. He was about to answer when a chill ran up his spine. She was tracing the outline of his wound with her finger, sending an electric charge all through his back. The sensation surprised him and he didn't like it. He quickly stood up and moved away from her, disregarding his bodily limitations.
"No, it doesn't," he lied. He turned away from her and headed for his closet. His half-nakedness made him self-conscious, so he quickly donned a black shirt, loose enough so that it wouldn't disturb his bandages. He slipped his arms in and moved to pull it over his head, but the motion taxed his sore body and he groaned involuntarily. Risa, who had been watching silently and meagerly, jumped up to help him.
"You know, you don't have to do everything yourself," she said, matter-of-factly. She helped him pull the shirt over his head and straightened it gingerly over his middle. Satoshi stared down at her, wondering where this sudden burst of kindness had come from. Risa glanced back up at him and smiled. "Your glasses are crooked." She reached up and leveled them. Satoshi lifted his chin and stared down at her.
"Thank you," he said again, and moved away. He let his eyes wander about the room, looking anywhere other than at Harada. He took at his bed, sent askew with rumpled sheets and strewn bandages, his cell phone, lying in pieces near the far wall, and Niwa and Harada's book bags, each one resting innocently beside the door…
His blood ran cold. There, peeking out of Harada's bag, was the white sleeve of his jacket, the same one he had given to her four nights ago. His mind began racing with panicked questions: Did she know it was his? Did she see him at the museum with Dark? Did she see him at the museum as Krad!
But aside from that, another question surfaced: Why was she carrying it around in the first place?
Risa watched him hesitate for a second before sitting back down on the bed and bowing his head so that his eyes were obscured by his hair. She thought it strange that it occurred to her now, but she never noticed how submissive Hiwatari could seem at times. Not that he was weak in any way; he always seemed to have control over everything that happened in his life. But there was also the quiet obedience he had about him and the extreme amount of patience. He could easily scare away every girl who ever stalked him with just a few words in his icy tone, but he let them be, conversing with them only if their presence was absolutely not needed. He could have declined from the play and his part to play Dark, (which he obviously disliked), but he took the role quietly and without retort.
And even that time when he asked her for help, something about femininity, she wasn't sure anymore, but he had done it so calmly and without demand, and had even taken off his glasses when she requested it even though it made him extremely dizzy.
If Risa thought about it, Hiwatari could be a very kind, humble person. Certainly not all the time, but he wasn't cruel. Probably just a bad case of being misunderstood.
"Hiwatari-san," she started softly, not wanting to surprise him. He looked up languidly and stared at her. Maybe it was the ice-blue of his eyes, but there was always an uncomfortable feeling when Satoshi looked at someone directly. She swallowed. "Hiwatari-san, why do you live alone? Why don't you live with your family?" She knew she was prying. She was always prying. But, for some reason, she just had to know.
Satoshi held her gaze a split second longer before breaking the contact and falling backward onto his mattress. He flinched as he laid down, hissing between his teeth because of his back, but he relaxed just as quickly. Risa had to fight the urge not to rush to his side.
"I don't have a family anymore."
Her jaw nearly dropped. "You don't have a family?" she asked helplessly. "How could you not have a family--,"
"I don't have a family…other than my father. But he lives in a mansion outside of town. He works long hours and is hardly ever home, and his property is too far away from school for me to travel to every single day. So I stay here, in my own apartment in town. I can go to school easily and work at my part-time job without too much hassle." He stretched his legs out. "It's a better arrangement. For everybody."
Risa continued to watch his lounging form, wondering. What was it like for him, coming home to an empty apartment each day? Sitting in his living room, alone, and watching TV by himself? Or going to bed at night without another presence in the entire apartment? He hardly spent time with anybody at school either, so were his days filled with nothing but himself? No friends, no family, no nothing. It was horrible, depressing, pathetic…but it oddly did not degrade Hiwatari in any way.
Risa suddenly realized that despite the years they had spent together as classmates, she knew almost nothing about him.
"Don't you ever get lonely?"
Satoshi tensed. Risa clamped her hand against her mouth. It was such a personal, intimate question that required such a personal and intimate answer, but it had simply come pouring out of her mouth. She hadn't meant to say it, only think it. "I'm so sorry," she squeaked, bowing her head in apology. "I didn't mean to be so rude."
Hiwatari didn't move. He just laid there, staring avidly at the ceiling. But his fists were unknowingly clenched at his sides and his breathing had become shallow. "Harada-san--,"
"Forgive me, Hiwatari-san. I'll leave you alone and go help my sister," she suddenly burst out, and then turned her back and fled from the room feeling completely embarrassed and also completely disheartened.