Black Cat – Chapter 1 – Unlikely Savior

There were a lot of names for the young man with dark hair and a golden decorated gun. Those who feared him called him "the number thirteen." Those who mocked him called him an "ex-eraser from Chronos." The ones who respected him called him "Black Cat." And the people that knew him personally, however few they were, always called him "Train." In the eyes of everyone around him, Train had become a symbol of whatever they had wanted him to be: their fears, their desires, and their emotions. It was something that Train didn't fight against. Why should he? He had earned a sturdy reputation by being a man who was absolutely unstoppable and not killable. So, how had it been that a little blond girl and a middle-aged man had somehow managed to worm their way into his heart? He had told himself in the past, time and time again, that he didn't care. What could he say? He lied. Now, here he was, hanging off a cliff and clutching the hand of the little blond girl who had managed to convince him that a bell tied around his neck was not only fine, but over time it had become his fashion statement.

Train looked up, seeing nothing but his own hand desperately clutching a tree root. The other hand held his gun. Further up from the hand that held his gun was the arm that was encircling Eve, holding her with all the strength he had. How had this happened? Sven was going to kill them both when he found out what Eve had gotten herself into. In short, Train was supposed to be keeping an eye on the girl. Train had gotten distracted like he always did. Eve had wandered off. Someone had managed to knock her unconscious (though how they managed to do it was the main mystery Train wanted solved). At the last second, as Eve started to fall from this cliff, Train had found her and come to her rescue. As a result, he was here, hanging from a cliff, with no hope of rescue any time soon.

"Princess?" Train looked down at her, calling her hopefully.

The blond girl didn't move. Train's eyes narrowed. He wasn't quite tired yet, but he knew that in a few more minutes he would be. If only he could wake Eve. If she woke up, not only could she get herself out of this mess, but him as well. But that was all a loss now. Eve was out cold. Sven was out looking for bounties in the middle of town, and everyone else who could've helped him didn't know where he was. No, it was back to Sven and Eve. Sven was the only one smart enough to find them, and Eve was the only one capable or getting them out of this situation without his help.

Train felt his palm scrape against the tree root in his hand as his slid slightly. He gritted his teeth, attempting to hold on tighter—pain pulsing through his arms. His whole body felt as if it were on fire. It would be bad enough if he dropped off of a cliff. He was at least agile enough to survive until he could find help. Eve, on the other hand, sure, she seemed indestructible, but that was when she was awake. Would she still be that way when she was asleep? Train groaned. Yeah, Sven was definitely going to kill him. And if he managed to somehow have the good luck of dying before Sven got the chance to finish him off, he was almost entirely certain that Sven would find a way to bring him back to life, just to kill him all over again.

Train's hand slipped, making him let out a strangled yell. Closing his eyes, he tried to focus on keeping a good grip on Eve and the tree root. An idea suddenly struck him. If he moved just right…just before his arms would go so numb that he couldn't hold on any longer, he could always push off the cliff and use the momentum to swing Eve onto solid ground. Sure, he was guaranteed to fall at least fifty to one hundred feet if he did it, but in the end…if all went wrong and no one found them, then at least he could save her for sure.

Train was hurting pretty bad now. It wasn't just the weight of him and Eve. It was the rotten, cockeyed position that he had managed to end up in. Looking down at the trees below, Train started to think that perhaps he might do the ass-kicking when Sven returned…just for going off and looking for bounties alone, and leaving him with Eve. After all, if Eve had the maturity to quench her curiosity once and a while, they wouldn't be there, hanging off a cliff right now.

"How ironic," Train whispered to himself bitterly. Indeed, how ironic it was. Black Cat, the legendary number thirteen, a deadly eraser from Chronos in his past, was now unable to even do as much as pull himself up a cliff.

Train's hand slipped down the root another inch or so, earning a small grunt of pain in return. He had to make sure that no matter what…even if the root slipped out of his hands…he couldn't let go of Eve. The arm that held Eve and Hades gave a sudden stab of pain. At first it was minor and contained to the lower part of his arm. Then as if knowing that this was all too easy to resist for Train, the pain started to spread up to his shoulder, gradually becoming more intense as it went. Train let out an indistinct sound, attempting to keep from screaming.

"Uhn…Princess…ugh…come on…Sven…HURRY!"

Train's fingers weakened and his grip around the root slipped again. By the time he managed to tighten his grip again, he was only holding onto the tip of the root. Train had waited nearly forty-five minutes to be rescued. By the end, he was holding on with shear willpower alone. No one had come for them.

"Princess…" Train said, his voice strained with effort and pain.

Eve did not answer him.

Finally, unable to hold on any longer, Train pushed off of the cliff. Using the tree root as momentary leverage, he managed to get the momentum in the direction he needed before he let go of the tree root all together, grabbed Eve's body with his other hand and forcefully used his last remaining ounce of strength to swing her up over the edge of the cliff. She barely made it.

Exhausted, Train fell towards the bottom of the cliff like a bird that had just been shot down in mid-flight. Again, the only person to save him would be himself. In this case, he wasn't even sure if he had the energy to do that anymore. He just managed to turn himself in a way that might brace his fall when the world around him faded and he remembered no more…

--

When Train opened his eyes, he could see the bright, but stale light of a setting sun through the trees above. Everything in his body was sending stabbing pains through him. He had no doubt that he had broken a few things at least. He dare not move, not even to get help. If no one found him, then he would surely die this way. That was all there was to it. Perhaps the next time, he woke he could attempt to see what still functioned. Once again, the world grew blurry, and Train lost all track of time and space.

--

The next time Train's eyes opened, it was to the sight of someone sitting next to him. Voices could be heard all around him, but none of them were very loud. Thanks to the dim light, he also could not see who the people around him were.

Train attempted to reach for his gun, but his arm let out a sharp pain in protest. So it was broken too, huh? Helpless and pretty much paralyzed, Train lay silent, hoping that it wasn't Creed.

The voices around him grew slightly louder, "…course you would. But we were under orders to stop the hunt for Thirteen. He's not our target. And what's more, if you go dragging him all over the countryside before you take him back to base, then he'll die."

"Serves him right for betraying the numbers. And what's more…serves him right for being weak enough to get injured," growled another voice.

"I can't imagine this guy simply falling off a cliff and then getting himself injured for no reason. There had to be a reason for it," said the first voice calmly.

"We could always finish him off right here and now. No one would ever know. The official story would be that we found him dead from a fall off a cliff," growled the second voice.

"No! You will not! I won't allow it. Killing him is not our mission! Got it?"

Train watched the two. He could see now that they weren't looking at him, but at each other.

"So…Chronos…was the one…to find…me…" Train managed to croak out.

He could see the nearest figure look down at him. Even in the darkness, he knew that he had seen the man before.

"I know you. You are…number seven…Hazard was it?" Train groaned in agony.

"Easy there, Heartnet. You're in no condition to move for a while. We can't take a good look at your injuries until it gets light so don't move around."

"Why? Why are you…helping me…Hazard?"

Jenos looked away from Train, "Tell me. How is Rinslet?"

"The last time…I saw her she…was fine, but that was…a few weeks ago."

The moon shown in Jenos's eyes, "I see."

There was an awkward silence between them for a moment before Jenos spoke again.

"Can you move your gun hand at least, Heartnet?"

"Nah. It's…busted to hell."

"Damn," said Jenos quietly.

Train's mind whirled in confusion. Judging from Hazard's reaction, he wasn't going to be killed by Chronos. In fact, since they were staying with him, they seemed to be trying to help him. He had left Chronos, so why were they helping him?

"We just happened to find you at the same time we wanted to camp for the night. That's why we're here, in case you care, Heartnet," said Jenos.

Train let out a strangled laugh, "Bullshit…Hazard."

"Yeah, that excuse would have worked on anyone but a number. Unfortunately, you are a number…once a number, always a number, Heartnet. You may have left Chronos, but that doesn't stop you from being fully capable of kicking my ass," said Jenos.

"Considering…the situation…at the moment…I'd say…you have the per—fect opportunity to…change that," said Train.

"I don't kill already half-dead men, Heartnet. And right now, what you did in the past doesn't really matter to me. You're not Creed," said Jenos.

"Hey, Hazard…I think I'm going to…rest a bit…"

"Fine then, Heartnet," said Jenos softly. His eyes managed to just brush over the scene of Train's face when Train's eyes rolled back into his head unnaturally. Jenos heart skipped a beat. His stomach clenched in fear. "Hey. Hey, Heartnet."

Train did not answer. Jenos got to his feet, only to kneel on the ground beside Train. Bent over the man who was maybe just a few years younger than himself, Jenos started to shake Train.

"Heartnet! Hey Heartnet! Train! Marduke, get over here and help me!"

"No thanks, Hazard. Just let him be," said the other man.

"Train Heartnet! Can you hear me?"

"Let me…sleep…"

"I think you have a concussion, Heartnet. Stay with me. You can't go to sleep yet, you hear me?"

Jenos's head shot up. He could hear voices in the distance. Listening carefully, he determined that they seemed to be calling for something. After a moment, he heard it.

"Train! Are you here, Train?!"

Jenos could barely see light coming from the base of a flashlight. Getting to his feet, he looked toward the direction of the light, unmoving. He couldn't abandon Train. If he abandoned Train, then so would his cold-hearted partner, and then there would be no finding Train again in this darkness. If that happened, Train would surely die.

"Train!"

In an instant the image of a sharp-eyed blond girl, and a harassed-looking middle-aged man with an eye patch appeared. Among them was a violet-haired Rinslet Walker.

"Jenos?" said Rinslet first. Her face wreathed with pure shock and confusion.

"You're looking for Heartnet, right?" Jenos said. His skin was unnaturally pale in the dim light.

"Yes," said Eve in her cool voice, almost hopefully.

"He's here," said Jenos. He stepped aside, revealing Train who was on the ground. At first glance, he would appear to merely be asleep, but Jenos's coat had been slung over most of the younger man's body to keep him warm. "I think he fell from the cliff. He's spoken since we found him, but I'm not sure how bad he is. I think he may have a concussion too."

Sven was already kneeling next to Train by the time Jenos had stopped talking.

"Eve. Shine some light over here," Sven urged.

Obediently, Eve walked over to Sven and shined the flashlight on Train. Sven pulled Jenos's coat away from Train's body. At first glance, he seemed to be okay, but looking harder, he could see that Train's arms were bleeding. A bone on the lower part of his gun arm was sticking out of the skin in a grotesque way.

"Oh, god. Train…" Rinslet managed to say.

Sven was shaking with fear as he pulled away the rest of the coat.

"If he fell from the top of that cliff, he's lucky to even be alive," said Jenos, watching sympathetically. "Even unconscious, he's still a number."

What Sven saw didn't seem to be all to bad on the outside, but there was still the factor of Train wearing clothing. And on top of that, Sven didn't even want to imagine the amount of internal damage that Train had sustained.

"What the hell happened, Train?" Sven whispered, his voice sad but angry.

Train remained still and unmoving. He couldn't hear Sven any longer. Every voice around him was nothing more than part of the darkness now.

'What now?' said a voice somewhere in Train's head.

--

"We need to get Train out of here and to a doctor," said Rinslet. "I'll even pay for it this time."

Jenos watched Rinslet bite her lip. He knew that she was worried. She never would have offered money to anyone if she weren't absolutely sure that a friend's life depended on it. Rinslet may have been a thief, but she wasn't cold-hearted.

"I'll help get him out," Jenos said after a long moment.

Rinslet surveyed Jenos quietly. "I believe we parked about a mile and half away. If you can just help us get him to the car, then I think we can find a way to get him to a doctor."

"You really leaving?" said a gruff voice from a short distance away.

"I'll be back soon, Marduke," said Jenos coldly.

With that, Sven, Jenos, Eve, and Rinslet gently lifted Train off the ground, careful to support his entire body. In minutes the four disappeared into the darkness. The only evidence of Train ever having been there were a few small bloodstains on the ground, and the still figure of Marduke. The rest vanished into the blackness of the night…

--

Hey there! First time I've written for Black Cat. Different story, and probably a different kind of audience. Hope you liked it. Let me know what you think.

If you're waiting on chapters for either my Full Metal Panic, or Witch Hunter Robin fan fic… Don't worry, I have a computer again and I'm already half done with both of them. Hope to upload them soon. See you next chapter!