"Do you remember?"
"The story…the Oceanfire."
"…why would I remember that?"
"Medic! Hurry up and get that damn autopsy! You there, detective…detective Ulki! Go search for evidence!"
It felt like a melting pot, with people ploughing through each other like cattle, each with a destination in mind. Of course, being human always means getting somewhere. He kicked the body gently. Of course, this poor soul has just finished his. He pulled the cigarette from his lips and tossed it into the snow. He felt cold.
He saw the children very clearly. The youngest one, the girl was sitting on the ground, clutching her knees tightly while the boy stared onwards, impassively. Their shoulders had a fine dusting of white snow, indicating that they had been there for a while. He walked upto them and shook the boy slightly.
"Time to go kid," He said as gently as possible.
The boy turned his head slightly for Tibarn to make out his eye colour. Impassionate blue. Tibarn shook the boy once more, but there was still no response. The younger child was already dehydrated, trying to squeeze more tears and sobs from her parched throat. The boy took off his jacket and hung it over her shoulders. Tibarn watched as the boy walked forward and gently touched the wall. There were still bloodstains on the ground.
"Kid—," Tibarn stopped as the boy punched the wall. Furiously, the boy continued punching the wall. Fresh bruises appeared on his fists. Tibarn immediately grabbed his hand and shook his head. The boy dropped his hand to his side and walked back towards his sister. Tibarn watched the boy from the corner of his eyes and sighed.
He felt cold again.
"It's an old story…"
"Why are you talking about it now?"
"…I don't know."
"Ike! Ike!" Titania poked her head into his room, "Don't be late for school!"
Ike ignored her as he shoved his books into his bag. It was still dark outside. Titania entered quietly and asked, "Do you need any help?"
"Do I look like a twelve-year old?" Ike retorted, brushing her off, "I don't need you."
Titania flinched and said softly, "Come home on time okay?"
Ike slammed the door.
"Maybe I want to remember."
"I thought you wanted to forget."
Ike paused, watching the seniors beat the boy against the wall. He heard the crunch of bone and he cursed himself. In a flash, he shoved the seniors away and they bolted. On the ground lay a child (the size of Mist) with eyes so red that Ike almost believed he was bleeding.
Ike extended a hand. The boy refused to move, staring at him with wide eyes. Ike frowned and slowly retracted his hand, but the boy latched onto it like a false hope adrift in the storm. Ike felt his hand being opened slowly as the boy slowly slipped his fingers in between his own.
"Ike," he said softly.
The boy tightened his grip, "Soren."
"No it was not."
"I gave you my hand. If it was fate, I would have walked away."
Ike picked up the gun and balanced it in his hand. He bought from an alleyway pawn shop. Titania would never know, he thought as he cocked the gun and pointed to an imaginary target on the wall. He saw the man, saw his father, saw the gunwound, saw the fall, saw the ground rising like the tide and he knew.
Killing people was easy.
"Where did your strength come from?"
"You wanted to kill someone."
"That's cowardice. Don't get them mixed up."
Mist fingered his hands, just like Soren did the other day. She rubbed circles into his palms and closed her eyes softly, "I won't tell her," she said, tears in her voice. There were no tears in her eyes. She had spent all that night.
Ike threaded his hands in her hair and wondered at its softness, its texture. He drew his hand away and saw Mist turn away from him.
"I won't tell," she repeated, but he knew she wouldn't support him either.
He gently touched her shoulder, but the moment passed and he walked out. She was still there. She would always be there, staring at his retreating form like a ghost.
Ike touched the gun every night before going to sleep.
"It burnt me."
"I don't like it."
Ike knew Soren always watched him. When he didn't get his lunch, Soren would bring him pieces of his bento. When Ike misplaced a textbook, Soren would give him his own. But today Soren seemed sullen and quiet. Ike sat down next to him and he watched Soren tense at his presence.
Ike didn't care to ask. Why should he? Why should he care for this boy he saved on a whim?
Soren pressed his hands to his sides, his legs swinging and said, "I heard you have a gun."
"Who told you that?" Ike replied without missing a beat.
Soren turned those eerie red eyes on him and said, "Why?"
"You didn't answer my question, I won't answer yours," Ike retaliated, "Who told you that?"
"No one. Your hands are red and I smell gunpowder," Soren said, "Now answer my question."
"No," Ike said, "I don't want to."
Soren glared at him for the first time, "Why not?" he demanded loudly, "We're…friends right?"
"Don't be stupid," Ike snapped, "I didn't save you. I saved myself the trouble of feeling guilty."
"So that was it," Soren's eyes were burning, so bright that Ike had to look away, "You are a horrible liar."
Ike got up and walked away.
"Still running away!"
Ike didn't look back.
"You never look back."
"Sometimes I think if I look back, I will see Mist there. Standing there, not saying a word. She won't be crying, but sometimes, sometimes I wish she was. At least then, I could feel a little better."
Ike slipped the gun into his pocket quickly and Titania stepped into his room. She looked nervous and she bit her lip in confusion. She started and paused, her eyes darting all over the room. Everywhere but him, anywhere but him.
"Ike," she said softly, trying to summon up her courage, "I-I know I'm not a very good p-parent," she stumbled over the word like a child in the playground, "But I just want you to remember that I'm here. You don't have to do anything on your own. Okay? I won't let you down. I-I promise."
Her eyes were soft, soft like Mist's hair in his hand. He nodded because she was genuine and he felt unworthy.
It was doubt, he realized as he left the house, doubt had infected his mind.
The eyes were still burning in his mind.
"How is she?"
"I see. That's good."
"Yes. Yes it is."
Ike was walking down the street when he heard a screech. He turned to see Soren leaving his house with a large cut across his cheek and arm. He watched Soren stumble towards the lamppost. Someone from the window threw aletter openerat him. Soren dodged, butit nipped his ear. He winced as he clutched onto the lamppost for his life.
"GET OUT, GET OUT AND DON'T COME BACK." With that parting remark, the window slammed shut.
Soren stood up, his legs wobbling and his eyes met Ike's. Ike wondered what course of action he should take. Then he realized that the answer should be obvious.
Quietly he walked upto Soren and hoisted his arm over his shoulder. He slipped an arm around Soren's waist and muttered, "We have to stop meeting up like this."
Soren laughed. It wasn't a pleasant laugh. It was too brittle and too harsh. Almost like a crow's shriek.
Ike didn't mind it.
"Why are you helping?" Soren taunted, "I thought you didn't care."
Ike said nothing.
"You need to stop being so distant," Soren said, his eyes centered on Ike, "It's not that bad."
"What's not that bad?"
"Having people to rely on."
"You don't rely on anyone," Ike said.
"Only you," Soren replied.
Ike didn't say anything. Soren's face twisted into a sardonic smile and drooped his head onto Ike's shoulder. Ike jerked slightly before relaxing.
It was a long walk to the hospital.
"It was a tough act."
"Mist?" Titania shook her roughly, "What happened? Why are you shaking? Mist?"
Ike looked at the program Mist was watching on TV. He saw newsreporters shifting through their papers, Mist covered her eyes and started to sob.
"…and it seems that the police lost the trail of the 'Black Knight' around Melior this evening. Although the police have cornered him, there is no way to enter…"
Mist continued to shake hysterically. Ike's hand went to his pocket. He gripped the gun tightly and without a word, left the house. The blood was pounding in his ears and he was so close, so close.
"The legend you keep talking about…what happens?"
"Oceanfire? Hmmm…I'm not sure. It still seems hazy."
"Where are you going?" Soren said, tugging at Ike's sleeve, "Hey, I asked where are you going!"
Ike stopped and Soren tentatively let go of Ike's sleeve. He was breathing heavily, steam coming out of his mouth in short gasps.
"I'm going to kill someone," Ike said softly, "I should be back soon."
Soren stared, "Who?"
"The man who killed my father. The Black Knight."
"Don't be stupid, he's a serial killer!" Soren looked desperate.
"I'll be right back."
"Ike! No, you can't go damnit listen to me!" Soren's voice cracked, "You can't go. You-you just can't."
Soren started sobbing, "I don't get this, I don't get you, I don't understand what you're putting yourself through and every time I think I'm getting somewhere, I lose you and I, fuck, I," Soren's knuckles went white, "I…"
Ike laid a hand on Soren's shoulder and watch a shudder ripple through his body. Gently, he pressed a kiss to Soren's forehead and repeated the words, "I'll be right back."
Soren's reply was a choked sob, "Y-You do that."
"……..it's cold tonight."
Tibarn couldn't understand why the damn guy kept coming back to this town. Honestly, was he so confident or just dumb? Criminals and their sense of logic. He stubbed out his cigarette and turned to see a rather flustered rookie approach him.
"Detective Tibarn sir!" the rookie-what was his name? Rolf? "They found him."
Hallelujah, he thought, "So have you caught him yet?"
"Sir, he's dead."
Tibarn narrowed his eyes at the rookie, "What?"
"Sir, someone shot six bullets straight to the head."
"Wow," Tibarn said softly, "What a way to go."
Tibarn rubbed his forehead. At least the hard part was over, "Take the body to the forensics. I'll join up later."
Tibarn stepped out, watching as the streetlights flash in amusement. It was an odd ironical cornerstone. The serial killer was killed in a more brutal manner than the murders he committed himself. It just goes to show how predatory human nature tended to be.
Well, one good thing happened out of this whole business. He gets to sleep in tonight.
"The legend. The Oceanfire. What was the moral?"
"Like stars frozen in the sky…"
Soren heard his window rattle. He got out of bed and opened the window. Ike slowly clambered into his room. Soren shook slightly before pressing his hands onto Ike's face. Ike closed his eyes letting Soren move his hands over Ike's face. Soren didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
He settled for hitting Ike instead.
Ike winced from the blow and he watched Soren's eyes blaze. He smiled softly and said, "Will you let me sleep here tonight? I don't want to go home just yet."
Soren's expression changed from furious to confusion to understanding. Slowly he pulled back the covers and let Ike snuggle in. He covered himself as well and slowly kissed Ike's hands, gripping them tightly.
Ike pressed his forehead against Soren's and started to cry.
"….we move by our own choice in the oceanfire of our making. We choose what we become."
"What did you choose?"
"I chose to start again."
"The oceanfire of my making."
"…How long will you be able to hold to that idealogy?"
"As long as you're with me, I doubt I can go wrong."
Reviews are always appreciated. And chocolate.