fragment of the fragmented

Akihiro approached the end of the platform, knowing long before the visible figure was distinguishable to his naked eye that it would be Shin waiting (for him) there. Walking closer revealed those smaller tell-tale details; the way he stood, the way his hair caught in the occasional breath of wind, just-- him.

As he walked, Akihiro let his fingers toy over the handle of the dagger sheathed in the band around his waist. Every time he saw Shin, his touch would run that familiar journey. Yoshikuni's words would ring in his head and he would vehemently disagree (as he had then, he still did now) and then would remember Keigo's words and wonder. It was obvious, now, that this was something bigger than all of them. Sadly, frustratingly, this was all that was obvious. And he would think on those words and think of his given duty - the duty that had been given to him specifically - and he would wonder. They didn't know anything, really. Yoshikuni acted like he knew more than anybody else, but that was just what he was like, what he'd always been like and what he would continue to be like, even now, even here.

He saw Shin startle as he approached, then turn around as if to confirm his suspicion.

"... I knew it'd be you."

"Yeah, well. Wouldn't be anybody else, would it?"

"... You can't know that. It could have been anybody, surely..."

"You knew it was me, though."

"... Yes."

Akihiro came to a halt on the very edge of the platform, mirroring Shin's own position. Technically, he supposed, he should feel some lick of danger. The ruined world stretched out before them on all sides and only the elevation of this particular fashioned landmark gave them any kind of vantage; if they fell, it would mean certain death. ...Almost. Akihiro looked to Shin; if Shin fell, it would mean certain death. (Probably.) If he fell, he had newly-discovered powers and abilities to call on. If the worst came to it, he'd use those abilities to save Shin, not that Yoshikuni would thank him for that. And yet, for all the potential danger of their position, Akihiro didn't feel like this was dangerous. Didn't get the feeling that Shin thought so either. He remembered all of the times on the school roof, back there and back then when even surrounded by the wire fencing, Akihiro would worry. Because Shin gave him reason to worry. Here, now, all bets were off and they were suddenly level with each other. Nobody knew what was going on and like that they were all stuck in the same situation, but more than that, Akihiro noticed how... calm Shin had been since they had found themselves here, wherever 'here' happened to be. Only some of that could be blamed on Shin's own powers, he felt. For somebody who felt the stress and strain of their daily life as hard as Shin seemed to, getting suddenly transported to somewhere like this... wasn't that almost a relief, somehow? Now, just for now, he could forget all of those things that drove him so hard. And they were looking for a way out and back, everybody was or so Akihiro had thought, but he'd look to Shin and he'd wonder. He'd see serene eyes looking out over the dead landscape and wonder if Shin wanted to escape at all, and how dangerous that prospect was (or could be).

"Has Wada said anything else?"

Akihiro was broken from his thoughts by that soft voice, staring at Shin for a little longer than was particularly necessary before looking back straight ahead. "... Not recently."

A laugh, "It must kill you, mustn't it?"

"Hm?"

"Having to answer to him."

In truth, this was the case. Nonetheless, Akihiro was still loathe to admit that even to himself, let alone other unconnected people who might ask. Especially to Shin, who would ask in such a light tone and while smiling. Akihiro bit his lip before answering, "It's not like that."

"Right."

"No, really. I'm there for Keigo, that's all."

"Must be nice to know Katsuragi's loyalties, too."

"You're having fun, aren't you?"

"Maybe."

Akihiro couldn't really comprehend what this all was like for Shin. He believed his position in the situation more or less sensible; like any and all of them, he had woken up in this strange world, had become aware of these strange powers, had ended up falling to one of the inevitable factions. Like that, he supposed, it was quite strange, just somewhat. That he should end up beneath Yoshikuni, of all people... most of the actual Student Council (as it had been) had fractured off into their own little groups, either that or were taking this individually. Keigo had, however, sided with Yoshikuni; also inevitable, Akihiro knew. They at least were working together and Akihiro saw the sense in such a thing, if they worked together then they were more likely to be able to find and share a solution than those who worked individually, but... just the fact that it was Yoshikuni left a bad taste in Akihiro's mouth. Technically, on a technical level, he supposed there was no other he'd want on his side - before anything else Yoshikuni was the consistently highest-scoring student in the school and surely he wanted out as much as anybody did, but just--... just him. Just the fact that it was Yoshikuni that Akihiro now felt he had to rely on... and surely there was something to rely on since Keigo had been doing so for so long, but Keigo had always had a different perspective on this matter.

"We either stay here or we leave here. Those are the only two options."

Then had been the incidents with Honma, with Kudou. (Akihiro couldn't say he was unhappy at least about Kudou's circumstance.)

"Are they really dead, though? We saw them die, but it--... somehow, it says to me--... something. Something I'm not seeing just yet."

There was Shin, too. Shin, Aihara, that kid with the short brown hair and that kid with the blonde hair nobody knew or recognised.

"I think... they're something to do with this. Jinguuji, you're close with Nishimura, aren't you?"

He was and Yoshikuni knew it. You don't need to ask. Why do you even need to fucking ask?

And so, Yoshikuni had got strange ideas in his head. Strange ideas that Akihiro supposed at least some degree warranted, given the strange situation they found themselves all in. He still wasn't beyond classifying this all as some strange dream, though he'd never had a dream so realistic. Shin didn't seem to care either way. Yoshikuni seemed determined for a solution and Keigo seemed fine with whatever Yoshikuni decided. Of course. Of course. Some things never changed.

Again, Akihiro's fingers played over the handle of his dagger. It was ridiculous, wasn't it? It was all ridiculous. Just because Yoshikuni had some theory like that didn't mean it was going to come true, and what kind of plan was it to hold such risk!?... If nothing else, the fact that he had given this duty to Akihiro was just cruel, and Akihiro wouldn't have expected anything less. He would feel the dagger and look at Shin and remember all of the times that they had been on the school roof or Shin had phoned him in the middle of the night, all of the frantic and fractious times and now, now, Shin seemed content. Happy, almost. Akihiro couldn't understand it, but understood at least that he couldn't do what Yoshikuni asked. He just couldn't. There was no reason Yoshikuni couldn't draft some other member of the Student Council for it, surely? Even better, why not do it himself...? That was, however, wishing for undesirable things. If Shin was somehow special, if Aihara was, if those two other kids somehow were then how could this plan ever work? Akihiro was still sceptical, but Yoshikuni never listened. Even somewhere like this, it still came across as Yoshikuni feeling threatened that there might be some force of power in the area stronger than he was. First Ouran, now this. Then what? Akihiro would smile for how bitter he felt.

Perhaps they did need to harness the power of those four. Perhaps. Maybe. It seemed undeniable that they had something to them, though Aihara seemed less concerned with Yoshikuni's circumstance than he did of his closer friend groups, which Akihiro supposed understandable. If Yoshikuni went after him, would Aihara agree or disagree? If he was in possession of some kind of power and disagreed, what would that spell for those on the opposite side?... And then, then, then there was Shin. Akihiro supposed him their closest 'ally' in this circumstance, as much as anybody could be considered such a thing. If, again, they needed such power, then... then why was Yoshikuni so determined on his destructive plan? Akihiro couldn't understand it and every time he considered it, he felt more and more determined to protect Shin from anything that threatened to hurt him. If that was Yoshikuni or Keigo or even he himself, Akihiro felt that he would do anything.

Even the changed setting hadn't affected his view of Shin. There had always been something about him that hadn't quite felt as if it fit with the world around - and that was still the case, somewhat, except the exact opposite. Akihiro would look to the world and see nothing that fit with his own view, then look to Shin and see something that fit perfectly. This world, him... perhaps there was no battle that could be won because, after all, they were the intruders. He couldn't know that, and Shin wasn't going to tell him. Every time, Akihiro knew that Shin would say nothing but every time, couldn't help but ask.

"... What about now, Nishimura?"

"Hm?"

"Ready to tell me anything yet?"

A smile, "No."

That smile suggested that there was something to tell, but Akihiro didn't know if Shin would ever tell him. Couldn't help but think that he wouldn't mind even if Shin never did. If he knew something then it had to be some secret of this world, surely? Some secret that Yoshikuni could take and break and exploit.

(Maybe, for now, it was alright not to know anything.)

end

29th of September 2009