Whoa, the longest time I have taken to update—the longest chapter yet! (I'm not lying, the last chapter was 8 pages, this is 15½, bwahaha) I know from experience that overly long chapters can seem to drag on forever and you loose concentration but I beg all of you to read it nonetheless.
The End, this is it people. I want to thank all of you that kept reviewing my pointless fic, it meant so so much. Oh, I promised myself I wouldn't cry There is some stuff in here in reference to the end of WHR, you know the whole 'truth' about Robin, but it is just a reference in passing, no big deal…unless I feel like doing a sequel or something of the sort later on. O
Okay then, enjoy, read this freakishly lengthy chapter and review no matter what. Was it good, bad? Should I pat myself in the back or go crawl under a rock?
Amon looked ahead to the illusion that was Robin whose green eyes would flash occasionally as she turned to check to see if he was following. He didn't hurry or hesitate, his stride was calm, slow and deliberate but his heart pounded like a bass drum on the base of his throat. The Orbo gun and ammunition weighted on his sides making the whole experience somewhat unreal as if he was underwater and a heavy current held him back. The air was humid and the absence of the two or three stars in the light pollution-sky signaled storm clouds overhead. He wondered how long till dawn. For some reason he counted on the cloak of night to keep this mission going, as if the first rays of light touching the ground would be the climax of it all. The rising sun would be the end, he would run out of time and Robin would be lost to him forever. Or that was how he saw it.
The fake Robin turned back once more but then began to run. Amon halted for a second before following it. They were running in a vacant alley where trash bins occasionally got on his way. His eyes widened as the fake Robin passed easily through them like a ghost. She wasn't real, he knew this but…
His breath came out in icy puffs and incoming frosty drizzle settled on his brow. Puddles in which he splashed in occasionally had soaked his legs up to the knees and the cold air he was breathing in burned the insides of his nose.
It was discomforts he had gone through in the past in the job. He would have to stake out in the cold following a witch, watching its home. This idea brought back a flash of memory in which Robin had been by his side, sneezing in the cold pretending to keep watch while dozing off standing up when she thought he wasn't looking. She had been there by his side all along, and he had taken it all for granted. In his mind Robin would remain his partner until…until he could gain the courage to accept her further into his life. She would always be with him no matter what if only for staking out witches. He hadn't asked for more thinking that her company was all that could be had. She was a child after all, a craft user. Now, running out of breath chasing what was surely a trap Amon realized he couldn't be satisfied by simple company from his green eyed partner.
She was to be with him, to be a 'Partner' in the very extent of the word. There would be no 'if' about it, not anymore, not even for him. Karasuma had been right; he should've told her sooner. He would tell her now though; it would be the first thing he would tell her once she was with him again.
'Go in there'
Without realizing it, the destination had come into sight. The illusion had led him away from the streets into the back entrance of a building he knew well. It was the abandoned Tokyo police station. Five years ago, with the overpopulation reaching high peaks, the authority had taken extreme measures and build an even larger station to fit in all of the law enforcement they could in order to control the masses. The less spacious building they had used earlier had been forgotten, left to be pillaged by the homeless and anarchic. Robin's sick imitation pointed to a wide opened metal door with a padlock broken in half hanging by. She pointed to the shadows inside, showing she wouldn't go any further.
Amon stopped in his tracks and stood his ground. It was an ambush; any fool could figure that one out. It had all been a game according to the Seekers, a game that leaded to him being completely isolated from help aside from himself. He was bound to get killed, at least that was logic told him. There would be no hope if they had illusions to confuse and toy with his mind. How to know what was real and what was not?
'She's waiting,' the phantom suddenly uttered startling him. It wasn't the cryptic statement or the fact that it kept speaking that awed him, but the way it said it; as if it was anxious too, afraid of the outcome.
"Is she still alive?" he found himself asking.
An eternity passed and the night fell silent. Amon held his breath drilling his eyes into the girl trying to read something but her own eyes remained blank like a doll's. Cars passed at the end of the alley but no one stopped to notice the man about to trespass into a government building and who apparently was talking to himself.
"Is she still alive?"
Having to repeat himself wasn't something Amon did often and when he did he became rather curt but not now. His voice shook uncharacteristically and his tongue felt made out of sand but she—it refused to answer and just stared at him cocking its head as if hearing a distant sound.
'I…don't know,' it finally said. Amon stomach gurgled in sickening realization; it wasn't using Robin's voice any more. Out of its mouth came out a deep husky sound that had no definition between a woman or man. 'But…he needs her, ever since the beginning she was something precious he had to have. He kept telling me…he said she was 'perfection'. I didn't understand—I still don't.'
'Neither do I,' Amon riled scowling at the fake image that disappeared like a wisp of smoke in a breezy day leaving the mystifying entrance more conspicuous. After it was gone he realized that his mind had cleared even though he had never realized it had been clouded in the least.
Without giving an opportunity to second thoughts, Amon stepped over the threshold and felt the shadows wash over him like thick fog. The honks, sirens and barking dogs came to a sudden halt as if someone had put ear plugs on him or the outside had gotten a sick sense humor and silenced completely on purpose. Whatever the case, the world had shunned him to an alternate dimension in which nothing his eyes saw might be real. It was a place where he couldn't trust even himself, it was ironic.
In the room far off in the empty hallway two unconscious women seemed to be coming to their senses. Louis was seated in a corner humming a minuet but stopped and stared cunningly as they began to move. He was a predator and they were innocent prey.
The corner of Robin's mouth twitched as if she was on the verge of smiling while her head moved from side to side and Jung rolled on the ground clutching her sides and groaning. It made Louis grin broadly in pleasure, it was perfect timing. He reached down and lifted a crying Jung from the floor with unbelievable ease. Her face was puffy and purple in many places, and her hair was a tangled mess. At the moment she was uttering curses and other words he couldn't identify because of her swollen lips. It made him chuckle good-naturedly, Jung was such a doll.
"Oh Jung, it's time! Aren't you excited—I'm excited," he bubbled pushing her to the door but her legs gave under her. Louis didn't let go of her arm but he didn't bother to keep her from falling hard on her knees.
"We can't have that now," he chided picking her up and holding on to her waist, "Get a hold on yourself pretty girl, he's here, I can feel him: your Amon. You don't want him to see you like this, do you?"
Jung's head flopped in his shoulder and her eyes, two slits of swollen mass, barely took notice of their surrounding.
"No, of course you don't. You have to get ready, nothing a couple of Ibuprofen can't fix, really, you look gorgeous, pumpkin. Just remember to do what I told you and smile," Louis opened the door and managed a wobbling Jung out. She seemed to be coming to her senses, whimpering at the pain all over her body. Louis turned back to the nodding Robin and the countenance of 'Louis the piano tutor' returned like a simple swift movement of removing a mask and putting on another one. "I'll be back for you after Jung is done. I'm sure your partner is anxious to see you."
The lights went off and the door slammed shut but Robin could have cared less.
She was faintly entertained by strange blobs of color erupting before her closed eyelids. They moved smoothly and disappeared in the corner of her eyes every once in a while then reappeared in different shapes. They vibrated with every throb of her head like misshaped Jell-O, little Jell-O men…
It was time, she knew it, the back of her hallucinating mind knew it….but what to do? She was in pain, in chains, her only source of power taken. Amon would come, or at least she hoped so. If Louis hadn't been lying, Amon was in the belief that she had sided with the enemy. What she wanted more than anything, even freedom, was the assurance that she had been right on telling Jung that Amon knew her. That Amon believed in her and hadn't shot her on purpose. Amon…he…Amon was…
Robin lifted her head from her shoulder and blinked hard. If he had shot her mistaking her for the real thing— no! It was sheer terror to simply think of it as a possibility; she would rather remain in this dank room for eternity than to have that be the truth. She squirmed in her chair, the metal of the handcuffs clanking in deafening volumes in the thick silence. Her burns had begun to bother her once more; she supposed it was because they needed more ointment. Her ears strained for any movement around her, was Masuo here? He hadn't treated to her wounds for the last hours. He had before, changing her bandages and such every once in a while. It hadn't occurred to her until that very moment that she had grown accustomed to the old man, even taken him for granted. He had always treated her—better than the others, that was for sure. Yet he was no where to be seen…or heard in her case.
'It's time,' she reminded herself growing cold all over. Masuo, as one of Louis's minions, was probably out there waiting for Amon. 'But…what if he doesn't come?'
She gulped and instantly regretted it, her throat felt like a beat up mass of a tube. It was probable that she would be unable to speak until the pain and swelling went down. Robin tried to breathe deeply from her nose and settled to forget that ominous thought. Amon would come; she knew he would…wouldn't he?
Amon would save her and take her away from this jail and torture, he had to!
'What if he doesn't come?' her brain persisted making her heart begin to race, 'He would be coming to a trap. Amon wouldn't come on this sort of mission knowing fully well that witches outnumbered him…Amon's logic never fails him. He uses his brain—he won't come.'
When she really got down to it, why would he even want to? She was but a fifteen year old girl who had ailed him with her mere presence from the very beginning. Robin had only been an abnormal child who happened to be able to set things on fire or at least that was how he had always made her feel in their encounter. Karasuma, Doujima, Sakaki, they were all hurt because of her. Why would he come for a useless girl like her? She wasn't worth it, not at all.
'He'll only get killed'
Like a bolt of lighting the thought struck.
He could die….
It had never occurred to her for it to even be possible. Her death—yes…his, never.
In a transition of a nanosecond Robin went from a fragile hostile to a mad woman. She twisted and thrashed on her chair until the very last breath was clutched out of her. The thin bandages on her wrists weren't enough to protect from the hand cuffs, she could feel them pulse in renewed pain, but it didn't matter, none of it did.
She didn't want her freedom anymore. How could she have been so selfish as to wish Amon to come? By doing so he would not only risk his life, he would simply loose it.
The silence surrounding her was appalling but there were worse things in life. Like his grey eyes blank with lack of life…
It was funny, how the human mind would go from black to white in a second's time… seemingly and ambivalent place whose decisions were taken by the heart when it was dictated to.
All Robin wanted now was to remain in her little space knowing fully well that he hadn't come. That he had forsaken her for his own well being.
'I don't want you here!'
To her there wasn't any point of having freedom in a world without him.
'Don't come Amon'
Four bright orange pills shook in Jung's unsteady hand but she managed to toss them in her mouth. With a small bottle of water she washed them down but half of the liquid spilled on her face because of her shaking hand. She leaned against soot stained wall which clung with the smell of smoke from the several fires homeless people had lit in large tin cans through the passing of the years and a different smell, one she couldn't place. It upset her stomach more than anything to the point where she had to lean down and take deep breaths, forcing the pills to not come up. The room she was in was dimly lit with one or two fluorescent lights from the ceiling, others were broken, not working or blinking continuously, it gave it an odd bleached look about it.
'Wait here, he'll come, I'll make sure of that,' Louis had told her not five minutes ago tossing her into the room and thrusting a bottle of pills and water. Wait…right, like she could move a yard without keeling over. Moving beyond the door had been a hassle, she was sobbing harder than a damn child for Pete's sake!
Jung licked her lips and tried to straighten herself somewhat assured she wouldn't barf anytime soon. The man Amon was coming. No matter how much she wanted to kill Louis, torture him slowly even, she still had a job to do. It wouldn't be hard, she wouldn't have to pretend that much anyway.
She closed her eyes and ignored the tears that slid through them. In her mind she pictured the girl, young, pale, defiant. It was electricity through her body that rippled as smoothly as a piece of silk in a soft breeze, she felt her body change. With it, her injuries appeared nonexistent covered over by untouched skin that wasn't hers. The pain was still hers though vague, as if she had undergone a shot of mild anesthesia. With green eyes that weren't swollen or red from crying she surveyed the room. It was a shooting range.
The smell that had stood out more than smoke was none other than gun powder. Her borrowed face grinned in spite of herself. There were cubicles separated by high, thick walls of bullet proof glass. Unlike the building itself the glass seemed intact, even crystal clear except for one of the walls which had been shattered beyond repair. Pieces of it sprinkled the entire room's ground in different sizes like misshaped, shiny confetti. Beyond on the range were target boards with charred bullet holes. They were stale and yellow-looking; age had done too much to them. Trashcans littered dumpily about just like old newspapers and moldy blankets draped the floor. A gooey yellow puddle was on the distant corner of the room ceiling, leaking reek-smelling water from broken plumbing. Jung sighed eyeing it all appreciatively; Louis sure liked to plot his dramatic soap operas.
She staggered to one of the glass walls and slid down almost cutting her right hand in a rather large piece of stray glass. Looking at it Jung saw a pair of green orbs reflected. They were nice, she had to admit, a bit too dark compared to her light ones, but nice.
Male voices drifted in not too far off. They were soft and undefined so she couldn't understand what they were saying but it was surely Louis with her future play toy Amon. Jung sighed and made herself comfortable on the floor leaning against the wall far from the puddle forming below the sallow ceiling, her part was about to be played.
It hadn't been more than five minutes of meandering aimlessly before Amon heard it. It was a whisper, more like a giggle. He had been in the main room of the police station where desks were sprinkled about with broken phones and paper covering every inch of the floor, broken computer chairs looked sad and decrepit like doll with their heads torn off. The windows were covered with newspapers whose ink had begun to fade because of the daily sunlight. The room was pitch dark of course but Amon, after cursing himself for forgetting a flashlight had scavenged among the rubble and found one with dying batteries. Even now as he directed the beam about the place Amon could see how dim the light was becoming.
He wasn't scared of being stranded in the place without a source of light, but the idea of someone slithering unknowingly from the shadows kept him tightening his grip on the fading light. Being prepared for a sudden attack was staple but an itching thought the back of his head told him that if he held his Orbo gun any more rigid, he would do permanent damage to his hand.
Then the laugh came
It wasn't a child's voice but an adult's. The giggle was deep but sounded far too amused to be a chuckle even if Amon was positive it had come from a man.
"You made it, I'm so proud of you."
A man came into the room from a door that led farther into the building. The sudden appearance wasn't at all surprising and anyone who looked at the man would think him far from intimidating. He was wearing a normal business suit with a neat grey tie and his hair was neatly combed back, there was a small smile playing on his lips. To Amon the man looked too far out of place in the muddled room. That was the sign more than anything that made Amon cock his gun in the man's direction ready to shoot.
"That is rude," the man chided with a mock tone of fright, "And those eyes! Has anyone told you they are petrifying?"
When the Amon didn't answer the man laughed heartedly, "Oh Amon, that is your name right? Robin has been talking nonstop about you."
"Where is she?"
"Down to the point, I see…
"She's alive, waiting for you just beyond this door actually," with small smooth steps Amon had fail to notice, the man had removed himself from the doorway to the side. The door was wide open, urging him to hurry into it. "Though I'm afraid you are loosing your time, and foolishly also your life."
Amon forced his eyes from the door to look at the man, "Why is that?"
"Robin is human like you and me," the man began almost in a relaxed conversational voice, "And us humans have strong survival instincts, Robin has just happened to follow them like her nature dictates her to."
"What do you mean?"
The flashlight had died so he tossed it to the floor grateful that the man's outline was still clearly visible even without light.
"I admit that she was put through—ah, unpleasant ordeals and—."
"You harmed her," Amon spat.
The man seemed to think about it, rolled his eyes and lifted the palms of his hands in a sheepish manner as if saying 'Well, what can we do about that now?'
"You kidnapped and hurt her," Amon continued enraged that the man would use plain words like 'unpleasant ordeal' to justify the true meanings.
"When you put it that way you make it sound like it was something bad—ha ha, I'm kidding boy! I see you have no sense of humor…pity.
"Anyhow, as I was saying, Robin has gone through things—things she would rather die than experience again, hence the survival instincts. Her sense of loyalties was traded for peace and shelter."
The wheels in Amon's head twisted and turned trying to make sense of the words. The man was speaking in riddles or maybe his brain couldn't fully grasp it, he didn't know which.
Sense of loyalties…traded…what?
"She expects you but I'm afraid she won't be glad to see you."
When Amon's only respond was to scowl the man shook his head grinning, "I mean she works for me now; that is what I mean. She has strict orders to kill you as soon as you come to her sight…the poor girl will suffer if she is forced to come to that dilemma. You wouldn't want to make her endure that experience would you? My heart cries out for her, really it does, but my hands are tied, I want you dead."
"And you want her to do it."
The man giggled as he had behind the door just a few minutes before; apparently delighted he had caught on so quickly, "Yes, it will be her entrance exam. I will take off her chains, literally, and let her join me. She has agreed to it, the poor thing was in too much pain to refuse."
Amon's face felt like a mask to him, so full of disbelief and shock. He hadn't been aware when he had let his emotions surface but he got a hold of them and eyed the man with fresh hatred. He was lying, he had to be. Robin would never do that. She…
Before his eyes he remembered her standing far off while the large wave of water had struck him and the others, saw her aim her craft at him. It had been real, the flames. They had stung even if for a few seconds. They hadn't been an illusion like the Robin a few minutes ago. The Robin in his room and the kiss, that Robin…it hadn't been her, right?
Amon gulped, doubt shook him all over, Robin, his partner, planned to kill him—it was a lie.
The man shrugged in a weary manner, "As you say, I'm lying, it is all a lie. Go beyond the door, she is there. It is not a figment of your imagination, that is your partner in there and she will kill you without a second thought."
"Are you sure?" Amon wasn't trying to keep the conversation going but he was searching the man, studying any point of his expressions hoping for any signs of deceit.
"Oh positive," the man piped giving him a toothy smile that showed off his canines making him look like a hungry hyena. "And if you are wondering, the game is still on. I have not won just like you haven't either. It'll be over as soon as someone drops, but rest assured that it won't be me."
When the gun went off the echoing sound startled even Amon who had not felt his finger pull the trigger. He watched with detached fascination the icy mist flowing easily out the barrel and the green Orbo oozing out of the man's chest. The thick liquid glowed ominously in the dark like a small star in the sky—in his heart.
Perhaps if he hadn't been too busy watching the wound Amon would have seen a small smirk appear in Louis's face.
"Tell me boy," Louis suddenly murmured coldly, "do you know what astral projection is?"
Amon's eyes snapped into focus while his finger applied the smallest of pressure to the trigger once more, "An outcrop, usually of the mind: an out of body experience."
To Amon the man seemed pleased, even smug. His mind roared in comprehension and fury. It was a place where he couldn't trust anything because nothing was what it seemed. How could he have been so foolish as to forget that?
"You are a witch using astral projection—you are not here," Amon finally seethed lowering his gun. What was the point of wasting ammunition on a chimera?
The man clapped enthusiastically, "That is correct, way to state the obvious. You are so bright hunter Amon. My body is somewhere lying peacefully on a soft bed, goose feather quilt I believe: very warm. You are just watching the reflection of my true being, which I assume has disappointed you."
With feline steps, the man walked farther from the door but his body shimmered like a dematerializing ghost. "I hate you, do you know? I hate everything you represent, everything you do. When he came and offered me you and your organization in a silver platter…well, I could barely contain my excitement.
"It's was perfect since the very beginning. He searched for me witches with the power of illusion, did it drive you crazy? My little puppets really had you sweating didn't they? Ha ha, yeah, he told me they would. You can't stand things you can't understand or keep in check. Now that Robin has joined as well you'll end with a tan, a toasty one. You can't harm me hunter Amon," he added seeing Amon lift the useless gun once more. "You can't hurt what you can't touch."
It was a staring contest, full of freezing mutual detestation.
Like a child who had just heard his mom calling in the distance the man blinked and looked away, "Well I have to get going, it was nice meeting you. Now be a good boy and don't play with fire."
The room was clustered with desks and broken chairs all over. Paper acted as a second floor and the covered widows gave off a stale odor from their dirty newspapers. Nothing had changed; nothing was standing next to the open door. There wasn't anyone except Amon and his mounting doubt and rage.
The man had left in the blink of an eye, back to his own body in place probably very far from here, a place unreachable where Amon wouldn't have the satisfaction of killing the bastard.
He walked to the second open door of the evening that led only to disaster. A long hallway awaited but a lit room far ahead with a continuous blinking light was where he was heading, Robin would be there. Yet as he walked apprehensively ahead, he couldn't stop a nagging thought.
The man had referred to a 'He', the instigator and helper according to the man. After Amon got through with this he would kill the 'He'. Then maybe he would be able to get some sleep.
Robin's hair lifted off her sides as the door to her incarceration opened with a flurry. She gasped but choked with saliva in her injured throat. Coughing only made it worse; Jung had definitely aimed for the kill when strangling her.
"Go, you are free," she heard Louis whisper feverishly while his ice cold hands fumbled with the hand cuffs, she could hear keys jingling. A second later the bandana was ripped from her face.
For the first time in what seemed eternity Robin's eyes blinked and saw their surroundings, actually were able to see. It had been all too fast like a dream, was she asleep? What exactly was going on? Robin lifted her arms before her relishing the absence of metal. In the darkness she could still see the white bandages all over them; she could see her wrapped palm. To her, her hands were just a small part of her body that looked and felt pitiful and marred. She found that she could see easily, her eyes were far too accustomed to obscurity.
This was absurd, she was definitely hallucinating.
"Louis?" she croaked tentatively, afraid that the man was in hiding waiting for a chance to choke her too. No one answered.
He had been there a second ago…hadn't he?
She had been too entranced by the sudden release she hadn't noticed him anywhere near her. Robin narrowed her eyes preparing her craft which came back in a rush even though she hadn't used it in more than a week; it was like riding a bike.
"Louis?" she repeated louder but inhaled sharply as her throat closed in pain. She had been right, talking was not an option.
At least no one had answered; there weren't any movements about either. Slowly she managed to stand up from the chair and walk to what she assumed was an open door. Like an electric shock, the muscles of her legs shuddered in protest sending her sprawling to the floor. Thankfully the door had been open otherwise she would have hit it head on. The fall had made her bite her lip, she tasted blood.
It was too much, her body was beat in every place, nothing had been spared. Robin kneeled and held to the doorway with all her might as she tried to stand. The act was tough and cold sweat dripped from her body but Robin managed to stand and take her first step.
With the deciding step Robin found herself in a vacant hallway. By her state of body and mind it seemed an endless road with no destination.
Go, you are free
She shook her spinning head and made her way by holding and inclining against the wall while her legs wobbled freely.
'Amon you don't have to come, I'll be fine. I'll go to you.'
It was a shooting range. When he really though about it Amon would have never expected less. He could see the targets, the glass walls, the filth all over, the puddle and the weak girl crying on the floor.
In a sick, perverse way it all seemed to fit perfectly. This was definitely the stage of a well laid game. Amon lowered his gun in spite of himself and walked towards his partner, shards of glass crunching under his heel. A calm had settled all over him at the sight of her. She was okay; she was alive even if her appearance screamed a thousand words on her meager condition.
Her long dress was in shambles, torn in places from the skirt and arms. The light brown hair he had always seen so well combed was loose in sad strands. For the moment she sat on the ground in the fetal position with her hair covering her face, sobbing softly. His eyes spotted bandages in her wrists making his stomach turn. Unconsciously he had begun to scoot down ready to kneel down alongside her.
'I can't trust myself,' he remembered retreating in a hasty step, 'I can't trust her.'
"Robin, are you okay?"
His voice sounded cold and demanding, he was in control.
To his dismay she had only jumped slightly at the sound of his voice but continued crying.
"Robin, look at me," he snapped shrilly. Amon winced, he didn't want to be cold but he couldn't help himself, it was second nature for him to treat her like that. He had drilled himself all his life to treat everyone like that. "Are you alright?"
Her voice was soft, it was deplorable and it ate him inside. Her head lifted from her arms and he saw Robin, the real Robin look up at him. The green in her eyes was clouded with tears and dread that had been drilled on her for the past days. Everything about her looked fragile, from the torn hem of her dress to her trembling brow.
His gun shook in his grip but he refused to let go, he couldn't let himself trust, not yet, "Can you get up, we have to go."
She stared at him eyes wide, lips slightly parted, "I can't go."
Three simple words, three simple common words that formed a phrase Amon didn't find conceivable, "What do you mean you can't?"
Robin's face fell even more at the harsh tone of his voice and new tears began to trail down her whitish face, "I can't, I'm so sorry Amon."
A loud clatter filled his ears and a sting felt all over his knees. It took him more than a second to figure out he had dropped his gun to the floor and kneeled on the ground where miniature glass had cut into his knees but none of it mattered. Robin was sobbing freely in his arms, a sob so profound he could feel it shake him too. His arms tightened possessively over her brittle figure and he buried his face on her matted hair.
"Why do you apologize?" he asked hoarsely "I let this happen to you, it was all my fault. Why do you apologize?"
Her arms untangled themselves from underneath his hold and wrapped themselves around him, holding as firm as they could. Her heartbeat was strong and steady even as she cried against him. It was like that time not so long ago when he had first seen her cry. A witch had brutally murdered his children and wife then acted as if it had meant nothing. Amon had never been so satisfied at seeing the Factory custodians take him away never to be seen again. A case as emotional as that one only came once in a blue moon and Amon had felt it was a misfortune Robin had had to experience it at such a young age. She had been with them for some time and demonstrated real stamina against some of the most frivolous witches. And yet she had cried….
He had turned his back on her for a moment and upon looking back he had seen a thin strand of water spill from her eyes. At nights in his cozy dark apartment he wondered if that had been the time he had fully felt it—his infatuation for her. Maybe not felt it, realized it.
His arms had gone around her before he could stop himself. It was like everything that involved his green-eyed partner made him loose his reason and self-control. He couldn't live that way, living by what his hearts' desires dictated he just couldn't, even if it felt so good to give in.
"I can't go with you…"
Her cracking voice brought him to his senses but he didn't release her. It would be a long time before he would be able to hold her like this again.
"I can't leave you here either," he replied, his curt tone back in place.
"He said I have to kill you."
His body froze and every muscle he possessed stiffened, so the man hadn't been lying.
"You don't have to Robin."
"He said I had to join him because I was a witch just like him."
"You are not a witch," he protested callously beginning to remove his arms and move back.
"Yes I am."
Their eyes met inches apart and Amon could feel himself being dragged into the green pools. There was sadness and pain in them, but most of all there was a sinister gloom dancing behind. It was her craft dormant yet ready to strike. Her face was the mask of determination and remoteness he had seen her wear that night she had attacked him by the pond.
She didn't blink or breathe in even as he did. The movement of her hand had been swift and unseen. Amon looked down in mild shock at a large piece of glass embedded between his shoulder and collar bone, her milky white hand still held it. He seemed to have stopped breathing completely as he looked back to her eyes then to the wound: she had been aiming at his heart.
There were two types of pain in the world, physical and emotional. Humans naturally would reject things that caused bodily harm yet they insisted on having things that would cause them eventual pain like friendships, openness, and love. Amon had found it odd at times why people did that. It seemed to him they were just pointless rituals that were bound to bite them back in the long run. The term 'broken heart' had amused him as well because it was astronomically impossible for that to happen in the true sense of the words. To him all those people were fools, masochist fools.
The blood ran along one of the edges of the glass and dripped to his duster becoming an invisible dot in all the black of their clothing. He watched this but turned once more to her.
It had taken a while after he had met this girl to actually accept her. She had been naïve and eccentric in her own way but a good witch hunter to have around. After 'accepting', he had then opened himself to the young girl by actually bothering to acknowledge her, to stop thinking of her as a craft user and more as a partner. He then decided she was something of a friend. In other words he had, like everyone else, invited all those things he had known would be tedious. All his previous scorn at those things had been ignored, even forgotten. Why? Because he had become one of the fools, one of the masochists fools.
'Timing is all wrong, huh? You should have told her earlier'
"I love you Robin."
Physical pain burned his chest and arm but his heart was intact, beating fiercely, waiting.
Robin's face fell and she gave a strangled cry retrieving the glass in a flash. Amon yelled and tumbled backwards clutching the open wound.
"Yeah well, I don't."
Sprawled on the soiled ground Amon watched as Robin got on her feet, bloody weapon at hand. The orange flames of her craft danced behind her eyes but he rolled away just in time as the hot blaze was shot. He could feel it singe the hair in the back of his neck but he moved too quickly and was soon on his feet. Robin stepped back but didn't attack, just stood and glared at him. She let the glass drop from her hand; it shattered into several crimson pieces on the ground.
"I'm a witch," she finally stated clearly.
He jumped to the side into the protection of a glass cubicle as the flames tried to assault him again, almost slamming his good shoulder on the metal barrier from the shooting range, his new protection. He heard her run to the cubicle but he had jumped into the shooting range before she could attack.
"I don't love you," she cried out, "how could I?
"You are nothing more than a disgusting hunter."
The words hit him hard but he scooted down on the barrier rushing away from the sound of her voice.
"Once this is done Amon, there will be nothing left of the S.T.N-J. No more Orbo to destroy my kind…no more you. Do you know why you kill us off? Because you envy us, you know we are a million times more powerful than you and you just can't stand it."
He risked looking up from his cover. In a second he spotted his gun not two cubicles away, three far from where Robin stood. Thankfully Robin was too busy shooting her craft at random things on her way to notice his peek.
"Louis gave me an opportunity," she was saying looking off at the wrong direction. "I can live a normal life without having people like you on my back all the time. He told me we could rule Tokyo together if I wanted, isn't that nice of him? You are allowed to live if you surrender, you can live as my personal pet."
Amon jumped over the barrier with astonishing agility for someone with a bleeding wound. Robin had turned just in time to see this and fire her craft but two thick walls of glass protected him from the angle where she stood. The glass not only was it bullet proof but fire resistant as well. He picked his Orbo gun and aimed at her through the glass. They stood like that for a while, both threatening each other knowing neither could cause damage. Small fires she had ignited burned themselves to ashes and the odor lingered sourly around.
"I'm no ones' pet," he panted composedly holding his gun steady.
What was he doing? His brain screamed at him to stop but his hunter instincts took over searching for the quickest way to accomplish a shot. He didn't want to hurt her, not even if she actually meant half of the things she was saying, he didn't. He was also confused, his chest and arm had become numb because of a stronger pain taking over. It hurt deeply just to look at her, see her green eyes filled with so much dislike and repulsion. Was this it? The emotional pain, the so-called Broken Heart?
She didn't… she had meant it when she had said…
His eyes clouded and his trigger finger loosened. He couldn't shoot her; his was an empty threat, nothing more.
"If that is the case," she said pouting, "then I'll just kill you like Louis told me to. After I'm done with you maybe I'll head over to Raven's Flat and see my old friends. Maybe they will like to be my pets, who knows?"
"You can't do that."
"Why, because you say so or because they are my friends?" she asked innocently taking a step backwards.
"Both," he felt his nostrils flare in trepidation. He had to do something, how could he had let everything get out of control? Robin now stood not too far off ready to kill at the slightest provocation, leering at him. The thought struck him that she was like the others, the witches.
No—not just the witches: Kate. Robin was so much like her, loosing control and letting her craft posses her, because there was no other way he could justify what she was doing except that she had lost complete control. His mind wandered back to the time he had shot his past partner. He hadn't committed those foolish emotional mistakes with Kate but it still felt the same: him pointing his gun as she was ready to attack. Same scene, different girl.
Could he do it this time? Could he shoot her?
Before he could come to a decision Robin turned and ran out the open door he had come in through. Amon didn't want to follow. Maybe if she ran far away to the point where he would be unable to follow then he wouldn't have to make a choice.
'I'm such a fool,' his head droned as his feet began to run after her, 'Emotions aren't part of this, they were never suppose to be.'
'Just a little more,' Robin thought optimistically. Her goal was a window whose boards had fallen down. Faint light from the streets poured in making it all easier to see. Her whole frame trembled in exhaustion but she refused to stop, it was so close.
She cheered herself by thinking that in perhaps hours she would be back at Raven's Flat with Michael and the others. Her bed in Touko's apartment seemed like a delicacy she must have. Also, the fact that Amon hadn't shown up had lifted her spirits reasonably. He was safe, away from all of this.
Her sweaty palms slipped on the smooth wall she was leading herself on but she caught on and kept going. When her hand gripped the windowsill her eyes filled with tears. Being a hunter was the worst thing in the universe because she didn't have a normal life but being kidnapped had proved her wrong. At least hunting gave her freedom and the sight of the city sky.
Like a drowning girl Robin looked at the outside as if it was her only source of oxygen. Only her eyes ached at the sudden light and she had to look away. Apparently it hadn't been a light street coming through the window but the faint light of full moon half covered by clearing translucent storm clouds. She looked once more, captivated by the sight she had taken for granted her entire life, it was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. Well, one of the most beautiful things.
The moon light illuminated some of the hallway which was lined with doors she had never seen before, but that didn't matter because Amon was there looking at her on a distance.
Robin cocked her head wondering if it was her imagination or the moon rays that caused this sight. He was there in his duster standing staring at her like he always had, calm and collected. She tried to smile and say his name but her throat was clogged.
This whole thing had been a nightmare full of torture and abandon but he was here, he hadn't forsaken her no matter how hard she had wished for it.
She attempted to take a step forward but was stopped by his deep voice.
"You are a witch," he said monotonously, "And I'm a hunter, this is how things should be."
Robin saw the cold barrel of his gun appear out of nowhere, aimed at her.
A nightmare's voice spoke in her ear, 'If you are not a witch, then why do you hurt everyone around you?'—
But she wasn't a witch, she wasn't! Who had she hurt to deserve the label?
The idea had never really occurred to her: in her entire life, she had hurt no one she cared for. Wasn't that a witch? A person with powers whose feelings for others were nothing but contempt? She wasn't like that! She cared, she loved, and yes, she hated but weren't all those feelings what made her human?
Amon's eyes were hard and silver in the moonlight; they were eyes she had grown to love.
'I'm not a witch Amon, you know me! I know you do!'
Robin's eyes lingered in his for a moment and he blinked in recognition. She saw him stop, never had his eyes shone with such misery.
He did know her he was the only one who did.
Robin turned to the majestic moon and its surrounding clouds. She wasn't a witch to go about hurting other people, and she wasn't about to start now. She closed her eyes but a tear managed to slip out before the thunder roared in her ears and her chest exploded.
"I wanted to stay," Jung complained sulkily, staring out the car window watching the city lights fade in the rearview mirror.
Louis sighed patiently eyeing with distaste Jung's grimy outfit, it would ruin his car seat, "Why can't you change back? Your stupid dress is dirtying my leather."
Jung shrugged, "I like her, she's pretty."
"You mean you like her craft."
"Yeah, that too."
They rode in silence, the country side of the outskirts of the city rolling by. The storm had cleared and dawn was approaching casing the sky in a rusty pink-orange. In the far distance they could see a dark car parked to the side almost covered by two large timber trees. Jung grew pale, "You told me we were getting out of the city, not that we were meeting your boss."
The car filled with Louis's cold chuckle, "That's right, I forgot you were afraid of the man. I suggest you change back, He is not too fond of the girl."
"I'm not afraid, He is just a weird man," she replied furiously. Licking her lips Jung closed her eyes and transformed back, Robin's features washed away for her own injured ones.
It seemed the car's occupants were still inside waiting for them. They halted in the rear and got off. Jung stayed by the car pretending she needed to grab the hood for support, anyone seeing her injuries wouldn't see it any other way but the truth was she refused to get any closer to the window that had just opened.
"How did it go?"
Louis scratched his chin and shrugged, "The girl was killed, and the man is walking like you wanted."
"Masuo seems to have run the hell away," Louis continued breezily, "I couldn't astral project to him anywhere in the city."
"Yes, he tried to elope but my team caught up with him."
They let the ominous enunciation pass by but Jung heard this and took an unintentional step back.
Louis nodded nonchalantly, "He was boring anyway."
The sun had begun to rise high above the wildlife around them. There were small green hills all around covered with night frost.
"I suppose we can leave now," Louis stated putting his hands in his pockets and extracting his car keys, "You will keep your promise, right? Immunity to you any of your kind in the entire country."
Shivers ran all over Jung's bruised arms and legs at the tone of voice coming from the window. It had sounded more like a hiss than anything. The wind seemed to begin blowing differently and she could see Louis begin to look alert.
"But you haven't told me why you wanted the girl so much."
This seem to amuse Louis, "Oh that! It doesn't matter anymore, she's dead. Though it is a great loss, let me tell you."
"You promised you would tell me," the man so softly Jung had to strain her ears to hear.
"I didn't promise," Louis scoffed, "I said I might tell you, there's a difference."
When the door clicked and swung open Jung wondered if this was karma.
A tall man whose countenance meant business emerged, "I know what you are planning to do with the STN Louis, it is a very foolish thing to plan if you really think about it….I assume you are not astral projecting, this is your real body."
Louis's real body fell to the floor after the first three shots but the man kept pulling the trigger. Green wounds blossomed all over the scrupulous man Louis had once been.
Jung didn't look away, not even as the gun came in contact with her head, it felt cold and hot like an ice cube. For the last remaining seconds she forcer herself to think positively, maybe it wouldn't be all that bad, maybe it was like going to sleep.
"Aoyama was seen in a concert at the public city hall. He claimed to be retrieving his cello he had left on the backstage at the time but his alibi didn't hold. People saw him quarreling with Lucy, the victim, half an hour before she was found strangled," Michael said raising his voice over the large conference monitors with the picture of a young man with a long mane of grey hair.
"Wasn't she strangled with a cello string?" Doujima asked making a face either at the horrendous action or at her hot coffee.
"Yeah it was a D string," Sakaki added taking notes in a small pad, "Okay so what do we do? It seems like the normal act of a maniac not a witch. Why are we even spending time on it?"
They turned in anticipation at the sonorous, aloof voice of their leader.
"Aoyama comes from a direct line of witches," Amon explained, "There is one in every generation, the least we could do is keep vigilance concerning this, at least until we make sure it was a normal homicide."
The meeting was adjourned but the only one to leave was Amon who mumbled about talking to Zaizen and stalked off. They looked at one another but their eyes wandered to two empty chairs on the table.
Doujima made sure he was out of hearing distance before rolling her eyes at them and making a noise of irritation in the back of her throat, "I can't believe him."
"Lay off Doujima it has been weeks since that," Michael muttered unplugging his notebook from the conference station and headed for his own desk.
"But she is right," Sakaki intervened furiously going after the spectacled boy, "Have you seen him? The way he acts? It's like he didn't even do it!"
"No remorse whatsoever," Doujima added.
Michael gave them an exasperated look but it faltered after a while, "Yeah, he is the same as back then."
"Back then? You mean what happened with Kate?"
"Yeah…" Michael turned to his screen but seemed to think better of it and swiveled his chair to face them, "He shot Kate but it was his duty, he had to do it. You all heard his side of the story. In his shoes what would've you guys done? Let Robin roast you like marshmallows?"
"It was a fake Robin," Doujima countered with a nodding Sakaki right by her shoulder, "He should've been able to tell the difference."
"And what makes you think it would've been any different with you? Neither of you, including me, would've done what Amon did because lets face it: we are not half the hunter he is. Amon can tell between right and wrong and I respect him for it," deciding he had made his point clear enough to end the conversation Michael turned to his beloved computer but his hands were no closer to the keyboard before they started again.
"But it was Robin! Robin his partner! If that had happened to me, I would've never shot Doujima," Sakaki protested taking a chair next to Michael.
"Oh Sakaki, you are so sweet."
"You don't have to roll your eyes when you say that you know?"
Doujima rolled them dramatically but became sober after a moment letting her depression show, "It just gets to me. How could he be so…cruel and unfeeling? I actually thought—you know that he… For Robin, I mean."
Sakaki leaned on the desk and laid his head on it, "You aren't making any sense Doujima."
"I mean that…it's sad for him to act this way. He is alive and he breathes and talks but he is, uh, the word I'm looking for is—stone, yeah. He is made of stone," both guys stared warily at the blonde, she was definitely warming up to the subject, "We work with him! We trust the guy with our lives, you would think he wouldn't shoot us the moment he thought we were about to give him a scratch! And I am sure, positive even, that he—."
"He didn't apologize, yes you are right."
Eyes wide with embarrassment, the three refused to meet Robin's eyes as she strolled in the room and sat lightly across from them.
"And if you are wondering," she went on conversationally, "He didn't go to the hospital either in all this time, I asked the nurses."
"What are you doing here Robin? Zaizen gave specific orders for you to remain at home for the rest of the month," Michael glued his burning face to the computer screen praying she hadn't heard him justify Amon's actions against her.
Robin shrugged a small smile coming forth to her face, "I was bored so I went to visit Karasuma today. I didn't get to see her as much when I was in the hospital too."
"Oh, I haven't gone since yesterday morning," Doujima added grateful for the change of topic, "How is she? The doctors say she's fine but they don't let her go."
"The swelling went down completely but there is something wrong with her left pinkie, she keeps saying it feels asleep but she can still move it."
It went on like this for the rest of the afternoon, they exchanged pleasantries but none spoke of what had shaken their organization to the core. As Robin headed home she wondered if Louis had accomplished what he wanted, he had weakened the moral of the STN.
During her time in the hospital bed while her burns healed and the Orbo was painfully drained out of her system, Robin had dreams of her captors. They were more like nightmare fueled by the knowledge that Louis had runoff with Jung, not leaving a trace to their names. They could come back at any moment and take advantage of this… She began to shake at the thought fearing for her precious freedom and sight. She didn't know if loosing them for the second time would be bearable.
The day was still early but it darkened with snow clouds crowding overhead. Before she knew it the first flake of the day landed with weightless grace on the tip of her nose. She brushed it off but stopped walking and stood in the middle of a deserted street as the snow fell all around burning her face with its chill.
He hadn't apologized or even spoken with her except to tell her Zaizen was giving her leave for a few weeks. It hurt, much more than the shot itself.
But now, all alone in the cold Robin touched her wound lightly with the tip of her right finger. Even through the layers of her new dress Robin could still feel the thick oval scar right in the middle of her chest. According to the doctors that had waited on her hand and foot through her stay in the hospital, the scar would never fade in the slightest. It wasn't a bad thing though, at least not to her. It would be a flesh reminder of this time just like the marred strips of skin around both of her wrists. Memories would be framed in her mind; she refused to let them go even if they left her waking in the middle of the night in cold sweat. She might end traumatized for the rest of her life or simply have the experience help her grow, she wasn't so sure yet. Her strength sources had been depleted; she was a girl with battle scars.
The snow had thickened to a soft crunch under her feet by the time she approached her apartment building. There was no sound as if the snow had covered the city in a soft blanket shushing it to sleep. Her keys jingled but she let them fall on the concrete steps when a shadow appeared from behind.
Her chest clutched in sadness and the wound began to throb in pain, "I thought you would never speak to me again."
Robin did a full turn and faced Amon who was but two steps down. Flakes of snow were settling on his hair and his shoulders were full of them, it seemed he had been waiting for some time.
"I almost killed you," he stated dryly as if that explained it all.
She looked to the ground not wanting to see his distant eyes the snow was cold enough, "But you didn't."
"You closed your eyes."
Robin frowned all she wanted was to disappear in the face of the planet.
"It was too late but I saw you close your eyes, that's when I knew…" he persisted, "That was why I only shot you once…"
This confrontation was sickening. She was too exhausted to hear his reasoning for shooting her. He had done it, wasn't it enough? If truth be told, she didn't hold it against him. Only the fact that he kept acting like it had meant nothing, that—that stung. For nights in a row in the desolation of the cold hospital she had waited hoping he would come even stand at the foot of her bed not saying anything, just being there but he hadn't come, not once. He hated her, he didn't care.
'Please, no,' her head moaned as her face grew hot and her eyes began to blur, 'Please care for me Amon, care!'
She sobbed freely into her cold-numbed hands, cried and cried for her self. Falling apart had never been so refreshing even if she was crying like a child in front of Amon. It was something that couldn't be helped, she just felt so sorry: for herself, for her friends, for the affection of Amon she would never have.
"Why are you crying?" he asked coming up a step.
"Don't—," she cried desperately making him halt at arm distance. Rushing Robin reached down for her keys and entered the building in a run. The elevator awaited and as the doors admitted her with no one in the inside, she couldn't help but remember that fateful day when the 'old' Robin had done the same thing then. And just like on that time she scooted down on the floor before the doors closed behind her, and sobbed. Nothing had changed, life would go on in its tedious daily schedule but nothing would change.
"I'm sorry for what I did, but will simply saying it make you feel any better? Can it change the stupid mistake I made?"
Robin looked up; the elevator was still open held by Amon's arm as he led himself in. He kneeled next to her but his face was the vision of vacancy, there was no emotion in it.
"It would help," she heard herself say then wiped her face with her sleeve. If he meant it, then it would help, it really would.
He nodded in full agreement, "I'm sorry Robin."
She gulped excess tears patting her face dry. So this was it, what she wanted, it was done. The small ding of the elevator signaled the arrival of her floor. She stood up and tripped on her dress, the hem was too long for her. It was about now when Robin began to feel embarrassed. Her face was probably blotchy.
Being a teenager, it was normal to feel that way, right? She sighed in relieve when the elevator doors shut behind her but once before her door she realized mortified that Amon hadn't left, he was there standing behind her.
She turned to see his hand outstretched to her. On the palm of his hand her blood-red pendant sat like a miniature heart—her heart, he had it in his hands and he always would. When she reached for it he closed his hand over hers like an iron grip.
"I want to be your partner," he said looking at their clasped hands.
"I am your partner Amon," she said confusedly but slightly distracted, his hand felt so warm against hers.
"I want to be your partner," he repeated this time looking at her. He never smiled while saying this or betrayed his feelings with a random facial expression. He was Amon, solid and whole as always but it didn't matter, she understood.
"I love you Amon."
Just like there were her scars that showed past hardship to keep the memories flowing, there was their first kiss to mark the changing of times.
Of course change would come slowly but Robin was patient. Time would pass and life would continue for a while before he would begin holding her or form the courage to tell her that he loved her once more, but in those hours of long witch hunts alone, he would hold her hand, and refuse to let go.
DONE! OMFG! This was baffling even for me. Was this a good or totally sucky ending? Please, please do tell me! I know the climax was easy to figure out, wasn't it? I bet all of you totally saw that coming, I'm so predictable XD. I am also aware that I put cryptic stuff in the story but I'm sure they were easy to figure out too…if not ask ask ask, I'll answer. I hope you guys enjoyed it, I know I did writing it. I'll take a small break now then return doing a fic for….huh, I'm not so sure but I'll return at some point. If you guys have any ideas of what I should do next tell me cuz my brain is dried out of creativity Oh well, please review, I welcome flames, they'll help me improve some way or other. I'll miss all of you.