A/N: All right Chapter 2's up, for those who bore through the first chapter with me, thank you so, sooo much. I know it's slow and everything; and I did promise to quicken the pace, so I really hope this chapter's better than the first. It might get a little confusing, but hopefully, you'll get the gist of it. The page break separates the different perspectives. It's third person, partially omniscient. First in Amu's, then in Ikuto's. Literature students should get that. But argh… you'll get what I mean. Once again, flashbacks are in italics, Ikuto's flashbacks this time. Please, please don't give up on me. And for those really nice reviews (and all right I admit it, also for myself) I gave Ikuto a super early appearance. Okay I'm rambling too much, and you did not click on the link to this story to hear me ramble so… On with the story!
Disclaimer: Shugo Chara! Characters and quotes belong to Peach-pit and respective authors.
Her eyelids fluttered open, and she lay there for a moment, numb and unfeeling. She was… warm. It felt… nice. The walls were… brown. Brown was a warm color. It was nice. Amu placed a hand un the blanket laid over her, she felt the textured thick wool, so unlike smooth silk sheets… Why did she think that? Amu shook her head, her mind uncomprehending.
She sat up, the blanket falling away. Her shirt was white. Cold, so cold. She turned to the side, a picture stood under the table lamp. A laughing baby, the sort you saw in photo frames on display, before you bought them. It felt… unreal. She pushed the blanket aside, and felt at a lost immediately. Who…was she? Why…was she here? Was this…home? She set her feet onto the carpeted ground. It was soft. Not hard, like those horrible tiled floorings. It felt warm. Warm was nice.
Amu took her first step, and fell to the ground instantly. It hurt. Pain was burning hot, it wasn't nice, but it felt real. Was...she real? She hurt, so she must be real, she had to be real. Amu gritted her teeth, and gripped the blanket in fists, forcing herself to stand on her own two feet. It was a familiar feeling, not being able to get up; she didn't like it, not one bit. It made her insides go cold, and her knees quiver, and her lips tremble. No, she didn't like it at all.
"What are you doing?"
Amu gasped, and fell back down immediately.
"You're supposed to be in bed."
She turned around, and there at the doorway stood…The Devil, with a beauty so potent it almost hurt to look at him. In most books, they said he was blonde, with green eyes. Green was (strangely) always the color associated with beings from hell. No, he wasn't blond, and his irises weren't hellfire-spitting emeralds either. He had deep blue hair, unruly bed hair that somehow seemed appealing, and looking into his eyes was like looking into the ocean. Never ending sea. It was…familiar. And unnerving.
The Devil glared at her, but she wasn't afraid, she just felt…numb.
"Nobody you need to know, lady."
"'Lady' has a name," she snapped.
He raised an eyebrow, "And what might that be?"
He laughed, fierce mocking laughter. It scared her.
"Stop that. Stop that! Stop that!"
He stopped, and looked at her funny.
She bit her lip, doubtful if her explanation made any sense, or mattered at all, "You sound like…" Who had he reminded her of?
Otousama was dead…Wasn't he? Why was he dead? Who killed him? Who…Who…She did. She killed him. But she didn't feel bad. No, she felt good. Did that mean she was evil? Amu bit her lip. She didn't think she was evil. Why did she kill him? Why…Why…
"You should get some sleep."
She scrambled back under the covers, "What about you?"
"I've got some calls to make."
The Devil walked out the room, running a hand through his tousled hair.
Amu sat up. She wasn't sleepy; in fact, she felt as if she'd been sleeping for a long, long, time, years too long for the average person. She didn't want to go back to sleep, now that she was finally awake. She crawled out of bed, quite literally in her case, and carefully picked her way into the hall. The Devil was talking into the phone, his voice quiet and subdued, but no less powerful and deadly than it should have been.
"The girl is safe and well."
Was he talking about her?
"No, she seems to be suffering from a case of memory loss."
That wasn't very nice.
What was he agreeing to?
"I'd expect no less from you, Hinamori."
Hinamori… Hinamori… She was… Hinamori Amu. She had... a wonderful mama, and a sweet imouto. Otousama hurt mama, so she killed him… She didn't mean to, but she did. She didn't feel guilty about it, because she protected mama. She loved mama, and Ami-chan, and the rest of her family, except otousama… But they betrayed her, every single one of them. They locked her away, because she did the right thing. Condemned, because of her foolish ideals, because she couldn't bear to stand at a side and watch mama be tortured.
Now this. They sent this to get her, to take her back to that dreaded asylum. But she wasn't going, not without a fight anyway. They'd thought she was drugged senseless, well they'd thought wrong. She was wide awake, or awake enough to know that The Devil wasn't looking out for anyone's interests but his owns; much less hers since he was going to hand her over. He hung up, and a cold silence engulfed them both.
"I know you're listening."
Amu curled up against the back of the couch.
"Don't play games with me."
She tensed, waiting.
"Oniisan! You're no fun!"
The Devil sighed, as if exasperated. It made him somehow less… intimidating, and more real at the same time. It was like he'd put away a mask he's put up in front of her, and on the phone. Amu let out a breath she hadn't known she was holding, peeking out from her hiding place, and catching a glimpse of the honey blonde whose voice she heard. The girl was as beautiful as her brother; but as The Devil was a fallen angel, his sister was an angel. She had violet eyes, fronged with sweeping beguiling lashes, a harp nose with pronounced cheekbones, and pink lips that promised untold delights; Amu felt positively plain in comparison.
"I don't have fun on a job, Charm."
The girl pouted, "You don't use my name anymore."
"That's because I'm on a job."
"But you're always on a job."
"And that's exactly why you should address me by my codename, instead of oniisan this, and oniisan that; you don't want anyone else to know that we're related, do you? It's be… horrible if an… enemy of mine chooses to exact his revenge on me through you. I'd be drowned in guilt, Charm," he took a deep breath, "I don't want to be responsible for your death, for bringing ill to my blood."
"And what about your Sky Jack? What if someone hurts him?"
The blonde frowned prettily, "No, I don't want that."
"Then you should not fail to see the danger you're putting yourselves in."
She blew out a breath, "It's no danger, Lynx."
"Charm, " The Devil said with reproach, but Amu heard the approval below the surface, "You know every bit as well as I do of the danger to be tangled with each other. It's in The Code. The Code that teaches us the way to be; The Code that gives us a reason to be; The Code is there for a purpose; The Code is purpose itself on its own; it is why we absolutely must follow The Code, for–"
"The Code is our only way of life. I know, I know, don't nag."
"I'm a grown man," he forced out through gritted teeth, "and we don't nag."
"You were! You were totally nagging!"
Amu stifled a giggle. Lynx and Charm were a funny pair. They complimented each other well, just as Ami and her once did. The thought had her spine stiffened immediately. She'd bet Charm wouldn't allow her brother to be taken away, even if that cost her her life, or her freedom. It was evident that Charm could sacrifice anything for Lynx, and Lynx for Charm. She'd do the same for Ami, she believed she would, she knew she would; but did Ami do anything for her? No; it was not small price to pay, but Ami wouldn't even try. Did she mean nothing at all to Ami-chan? Nothing at all to mama? Nothing at all to the rest of her pathetic family?
Amu shook her head, she was being unfair. Ami had been just a tiny tot when they were separated; she was probably lied to, deceived. At least… That was what Amu liked to imagine. To pretend that she was still wanted around. By someone. Anyone. She sighed. What was she doing? Who was there to listen to her anyway? To save her? No one at all. Why had she even bothered with escaping? It was useless, utterly, completely useless. She could simply fall off the edge of the earth, and not a single person would care.
Except… Maybe… Ikuto-niisan. The smiling perfect memory that kept her alive when she'd thought she was dead. Yes. Ikuto-niisan would know what to do. He was clever and good and well… decent. She'd depend on him to do the right thing when the whole world was wrong, just as it was now. She'd merely have to find him and he'd protect her, just as he had before. Amu needed to escape. Again. Lynx would take a dim view on that, and she did owe him her life, but she wasn't repaying that debt with her future. Not with Ikuto-niisan in it. No siree. She was going to escape. And that, as they said, was that.
"She's really quiet." Utau mused, playing with a lock of her gold hair.
"That's because," he leaned over, "she isn't there."
Utau jumped, "What?"
Ikuto grinned, a predatory look in his eyes. It was that particular look that earned him his title, 'Black Lynx'. Many who crossed paths with him said it gave them the impression of a great stalking cat on the prowl. It was (apparently) quite unnerving. Although Utau, on the contraire, appeared not in the least unnerved. She was more of… peeved. Or irritated. Or perhaps annoyed. Violet eyes shooting daggers, check. Dangerously sweet smile, check. Twitching eyebrows, check. Fingers clenched into a fist, check. Which meant… Uh oh. Big uh oh. Not good, maybe she was a little more than peeved… Or irritated… Or perhaps annoyed.
"I thought you said," she sank her nails into his skin, "'It's a green light, Charm.' Or was that just me?"
"Just you, Charm dearest."
Ikuto unsheathed his dagger, pressing the blade flat against his sister's femoral artery, seconds before Utau's gun was shoved into his ribs. It was a close match, Utau was getting better, best he'd not forget that. As much as he loved her, The Code's first rule, the golden rule of all golden rules, was survival above all else. Blood ties was supposed to come a little down that list, and love further down, way, waaay, down.
"Rusty already, Lynx?"
"Not quite, sweetheart. Best you'd not forget that."
Utau laughed, "Don't worry, Lynx. You taught me everything I know."
"But not everything I know."
"You never let me forget that," she complained.
"The day you forget that, Charm, will be a very short day."
She waved her hand breezily, "It's not coming anytime soon."
"Good to know," he smirked, "Now follow my lead." Ikuto raised his voice, such that it would carry to his charming little escapee, "It's rather late now, Charm. And I do believe I haven't had my dinner," he paused, listening for that tell-tale sharp intake of breath, "How about accompanying me to the bar down the road? I feel up for a good drink, and after all, it's in The Code that alcohol is not alcohol when you're alone. Think you can beat me this round?"
Utau made a sound which would have passed as a snort for her, "Bring it on, oniisan. Anytime. Anywhere." Then she rolled her eyes at him, speaking under her breath," A word of advice, Lynx. Never consider the media industry. You'd be such a failure. The wolves will devour you."
"You mean the paparazzi, don't you?" Ikuto whispered back.
His sister gave him the look. The one that she wore when facing down opponents in one of those cattish fights that involved designer handbags, lots of flaunting, and really good mani-pedis. Utau's nails of steel had gotten the best of every battle, and she'd always emerge unscathed, or close to it. She was a survivor; they had it ingrained in them. They were taught that what seemed like only yesterday. For Ikuto, it had been job after job, kill after kill; and not having to spill blood after all this bloodshed, was only too refreshing.
Utau hadn't taken a job in months, maybe a year, since she'd marry her Sky Jack. His name, in truth, was Kukai. And he'd been the best of the best. An assassin with a good sense of honor, a fierce sense of loyalty, and a wicked sense of humor. There were rumors of the origins of his title, 'Sky Jack', but what Ikuto found out from his brother-in-law was just a tad too disappointing.
"Huh? My name?" Kukai had cocked his head questioningly.
Ikuto clarified, "Sky Jack."
"Oh!" he had laughed, punching Ikuto on the shoulder in an act of brotherly affection, "You mean the rumors! Nah… I just liked the name Sky and the name Jack, but figuring out on which was giving me a giant headache, so why not both? There's nothing in The Code that tells me I can't! 'Sides girls totally dig guys with two names, something about sounding more and all that crap my Charm can feed you. Wait…" Kukai practically crowed with good-natured irony, "I bet she's been doing that for what? Twenty years? You're her oniisan for Pete's sake! And don't tell me you believed all that talk about me being The Jack Frost come to life!"
Ikuto had almost snorted then, not something he'd often do, "No, not particularly, no. But I was, in fact, curious. Especially after Utau introduced you as my new brother-in-law."
"So you don't think I can be Jack Frost?"
"You're too sunny. I was going with the Anakin Skywalker theory."
"All right, "Ikuto had conceded, "Luke Skywalker then. But as your brother-in-law, I must –I feel obliged to– inform you that assassins do not, ever, take names after good guys."
"You're quoting The Code again."
"As I'm sure our dearest Charm must have warned you."
"Oh yeah, "Kukai had shrugged, "She told me you were a real rule breaker."
Ikuto had given in to his urge to snort, "Hmm. How very… charming of Charm."
"So, "Kukai had kicked back in his chair, "What about you?"
"You know. 'Death Rebel'? 'Black Lynx'?"
"Ah… 'Death Rebel' was the name I came up with. It reminded me of a… a close friend I had. She once told me what a rebel I was, when I was having my typical bout of rebellious adolescence, and she was… close. Real close. 'Black Lynx' came up later, it was a name I earned, and I do prize it, but I guess somewhere inside me, I've always been more of a 'Death Rebel' than a 'Black Lynx'."
Kukai had grinned, "So where's she? This ah… friend of yours?"
"Oh… I'm sorry."
Even after seeing this much death, even after delivering so much of it, Kukai had actually sounded sorry. Sorry of a death of someone he didn't know. Funny. And somehow rather comforting.
"Because you love her."
"I don't," Ikuto had insisted too quickly, "And she's not dead."
"She became… a danger. To everyone around her. And herself."
"Oh. I'm still sorry."
"Because you lo– I mean, like her. A lot."
It was what made them friend, true friends, and not simply allies. This quiet mutual understanding of something Ikuto refused to admit, but Kukai knew all the same, and Ikuto knowing that he knew yet still refusing to admit. The 'L' word wasn't something Ikuto would lightly use, and definitely not something he would freely give. Now, he had the younger sister of the girl he 'liked a lot' (being a typical wild child, with the whole run away from home shindig) in the same room as him, breathing the same air as him, basically within his grasp; and she looked a whole lot like Amu. As her family had promised.
It was a bit of a shock. The Hinamoris had sent him after Ami after a bit of persuasion. Retrieving lost objects wasn't his particular forte, but he owed it to Amu to help her family and her well-loved imouto in their times of need. He hadn't visited Amu a single time after she went… slightly delusional. It wouldn't have helped her, but he just felt guilty. He hadn't been there for her. He hadn't shown her support when she most needed it. He hadn't been a true friend.
So when he received a call saying Amu's precious baby sister (now not exactly a baby) was out in this cruel, cruel world all be herself, he knew he had to get her back into safe hands, her family's hands. Amu would have wanted him to do exactly that. Still, he couldn't deny the spark of attraction he felt when he had caught sight of her huddled in the cold. And the spark ignited again when she was stumbling out of bed, bleary-eyed.
It was strange. He hadn't felt anything when he saw her before, during their previous encounters when she managed to slip past him. But he felt it now. She looked more world-weary, more beaten, as if some part of her had aged while she went scouting the world for adventure. If someone had hurt her, by The Code he'd kill that someone. Why would someone bear to hurt a fragile helpless thing as that? Or maybe that was just him projecting Amu's image in the place of Ami. It was certainly easy to do so.
Ikuto slipped out of the apartment with Utau, waiting silently at the door. The Hinamoris said that Ami wasn't too much of a daredevil. A spoilt little girl maybe, going through her difficult phase, as Midori –Amu's and Ami's mama– had so eloquently put it, but she wasn't as… brave as her onesan.
"You're sure she'll come though this way?" Utau raised a delicate brow.
Ikuto raised his right back at her, "We're fifty-four floors away from the ground, Charm."
"The way I remember Amu, she'll jump out the window."
"But this is Ami, not Amu. You're projecting again."
"Lynx, you're such a hypocrite."
Ikuto grinned, but some part of him wanted Ami to escape through the window. He couldn't fathom why, but he wanted to see at least a shred of Amu in her little sister. It was all quite stupid really. But as they waited by the door, cold as statues, and second ticked by, Ikuto grew hopeful, as much as he hated to admit that. She was taking far too long. Perhaps… she had… escaped? He signaled Utau with just the slightest trace of a frown, and they went in, eyes and ears on the alert.
It was only a matter of time when Utau started giggling, yet it wasn't for the reason he'd come to expect; not the mocking 'I told you so' giggling Utau was more than capable of, but a truly amused one. Ikuto looked at the sleeping figure incredulously, not believing his eyes, a first for someone who had seen as much of the world as he did, "She went back to sleep?"
Okay so how was that? Not too bad? It's pretty confusing I know. But don't give up on this fic, any queries I'll answer in the next chapter, or well… future chapters. Since this is sort of a romance-thriller, it's kinda hard to get the feel right. I need to unveil the truth layer by layer. The difference between a thriller-romance, and a romance-thriller. Huh. So please review. I know you guys can do better than 4 reviews. Please. And I believe some thanks are in order so here we have it:
Kyuu no Amuto
Kyuu no Amuto
Huge big thank you. And credits to the fanfic author who invented this format of giving our thanks as a fanfic author to our reviewers. I'm sorry I forgot your pen name, but if you just pm me your pen name or whichever way you wish to inform me of it, I'll give you your due credits. That aside, read Shugo Chara! Chapter 42 yet? My heart was crying when he said 'I'll never see you again'. Amu, if you waste your chance and let Ikuto go just like that, I'll never forgive you. Or Peach-Pit. Okay, review for those who want Amu and Ikuto to stay together forever!