"Definitely not the one we're looking for then?" asked Hyuuga as he handed Ayanami a small black wooden chest.
"You are being too persistent on this subject Hyuuga," replied Ayanami as he slowly opened the container.
"I'm just curious as to why you would go through all this trouble for a simple slave," Hyuuga explained calmly leaning against a nearby wall.
"I am free to do as I please with my property, am I not?" said Ayanami pulling a purple collar from the chest.
"Of course," replied Hyuuga and proceeded to silently watch as his commanding officer placed the contraption around the unconscious slave's neck.
If it had been up to Hyuuga he would not have allowed for such a thing to happen. Teito was already at a disadvantage. There was no way he could fight or even escape Ayanami at this point. In his opinion a Promise Collar was an exaggeration. Obviously this was not a precaution against Teito himself; it was against Mikhail.
Did Ayanami truly believe that such a thing would give him control over the archangel? Even if it could restrain Teito, was that enough to bind Mikhail? The poison in his food had clearly worked but the amount they had to use in order for Ayanami to feel confident it would work had been enough to paralyze a throng of elephants. It was dubious if it would kill him and now it was impossible to tell when he would regain consciousness.
Frankly speaking Hyuuga was surprised he had not noticed there was something strange about the food that night; but then, that was why Ayanami had insisted on using Mikage to ensure he would consume every last bite. After all the trouble he had gone through to warn Mikhail about the young soldier he was appalled to find he had fallen so easily. Perhaps he would have been more careful if Hyuuga had not warned him in the first place.
Hyuuga snapped out of his musings as he heard the soft clicking of the collar closing around the boy's neck. He watched as Ayanami deliberately pulled off one of his gloves and neared his hand to the back of the slave's neck.
He was more than a little surprised as a large yellow eye appeared in the center of it and a tiny mouth opened as Ayanami's hand approached it. He had heard about this type of collar, of course, but he had never actually seen one before. Hyuuga gulped and crossed his arms over his chest to mask his discomfort when the thing bit Ayanami's finger and licked some of his blood.
Ayanami smirked as the collar made a soft screeching sound and slowly closed its eye. With this the blood contract was completed. Everything was proceeding even more smoothly than he had anticipated.
He took a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped the thin crimson line trickling down his finger. After discarding the piece of cloth over Teito's unmoving form he put his glove back on and turned to Hyuuga.
"From now on nobody enters this room without my permission."
"I'll set a guard schedule for the-."
"No. You will stand watch over this room at all times," ordered Ayanami. "If he regains consciousness you immediately report it directly to me. Understood?"
"What? I'm to stay here indefinitely?"
"Well what am I supposed to do while I'm here?"
"I'll have one of the guards send over all your overdue paperwork."
"Ehhh!? That's not fair Aya-tan~!" Hyuuga pleaded desperately.
"You are not to step out of this room. That is an order," said Ayanami before walking out.
Hyuuga figured this was his punishment for being nosy, if the tiny grin in Ayanami's face was an indication of anything.
"So… I guess I'm stuck here with you," he said looking at the slave lying unconscious. "Great…" he sighed. He should have stayed out of this after all.
Some time later, after the piles of due paperwork were delivered, Hyuuga sat on a chair staring at the ceiling. Not all the free time in the world could make him consider doing any of that. He tapped his foot on the ground and whistled a random tune. How long would it even take for the effect of the drug to wear off? It could be days! He slowly stood up and walked over to the boy's side.
"Come on then," he said grabbing a hold of the boy's right hand and poking the back of it with his finger. "Wake~y, wake~y, sleeping beauty," he cooed softly. "I know you can hear me so open your eyes already."
He took a step back and placed a hand on the hilt of his sword. "You know… I'm something of an impatient man," he said unsheathing the blade. "And I know you don't like it when I attack your ´master' either; but if it's going to be like this every time…" Readying his sword Hyuuga called out one more time. "See? You leave me no choice…"
The instant he prepared to strike the boy, Hyuuga felt a faint wind against his cheeks. Surprised he looked around the room. There were no windows that could be opened on the ship. They were just glass to let light through. Immediately he looked down at the unconscious boy.
"You really can't get up, can you?" he asked placing the blade back in its sheath. "And even still you're desperately trying to protect his life." He noticed the boy's right hand twitching slightly.
"Fine," he grumbled in exasperation and sighed deeply. "I'll watch over him for you. There, happy?"
Hyuuga walked over to the piles of papers and rummaged through them absentmindedly. He groaned and picked one of the files from the lot. Pulling the chair close the bed where the young slave lied, he begrudgingly sat down and began skimming through the papers.
"Oh," he exclaimed while scribbling on the file. "This is a report from when we raided that terrorist hideout. Very violent, lots of deaths… I think you'll like it. We had them completely surrounded and then when we got the order to attack we-."
Hyuuga suddenly became silent when he felt the faint wind on his cheeks once again. Was he perhaps being a nuisance? He glanced at the sleeping figure from the corner of his eyes and caught a glimpse of the tiniest smirk on his mouth.
Whether he was supposed to take it as encouragement to continue talking or as a warning that Mikhail was planning to dismember him as soon as he opened his eyes, Hyuuga did not know. Either way he carried on with his bloody tale and as soon as that file was over with he moved on to the others and repeated the same process.
Afterwards the span of those few days would come to be known as 'The Legendary Week when Major Hyuuga finally did something productive around the ship for a change.' The reason behind it however remained a mystery that none of the crew members were ever able to decipher.
During that time it was said that Chief Ayanami himself was carefully overlooking his work and rumors quickly spread about his daily checkups on Hyuuga. What ever happened inside that room nobody knew but Ayanami would emerge from it mere minutes later with a sinister expression on his face.
It was on the dusk of the fourth day that Teito finally came to. He had been pretending to be unconscious while listening to Hyuuga talk about some mission to escort a certain dignitary somewhere and silently waited for him to finish. Teito had absolutely no idea what was happening. He vaguely remembered Mikage brining him his meal and then… nothing. He watched as Hyuuga stood up and turned away from him and began sorting some papers.
Teito took this chance to scan his surroundings. The room he was in he did not know. He had not been here before but he could see the sky through the windows. He was still onboard Ayanami's ship.
"You know," Hyuuga's voice echoed through the silent room.
Teito immediately lied back down and closed his eyes before the older man turned back to him.
"If he doesn't wake up soon he might starve to death," he added as he slowly walked to Teito's side. "I can't protect him from that."
Who in the world was he talking to? Where they not alone in this room? Had they already noticed he was awake? Teito panicked as a hand held on to his own and roughly stroked the back of it with its thumb.
In his anxiety Teito suddenly reached out with both his hands and clasped Hyuuga's neck. His lack of strength was apparent but combined with Hyuuga's sheer confusion he managed to unbalance him and quickly put all of his weight into tackling him to the ground. For a split second Teito thought Hyuuga looked slightly contented with the turn of events as they both went toppling onto the cold floor. The moment was short lived nonetheless and just as suddenly his contented smirk changed into a look of disillusion.
"Oh… it's just you," he commented outright ignoring Teito's grip on his neck.
Well… Of course it was him! Who else was he expecting? And what was with the disappointed tone?
"I guess I shouldn't be too surprised though," Hyuuga stared into Teito's emerald eyes and smiled slyly. "Then again," he began placing both his hands around the younger man's wrists, "if this is how it's going to be…" with one quick pull Hyuuga removed both of Teito's hands from his neck and proceeded to roll him over onto his back.
Restraining both of the younger man's arms above his head Hyuuga gazed deeply into Teito's eyes and spoke "You saw what happened. You know exactly what his situation is. So, I can either report this to Aya-tan right now or you can face me."
What was he talking about? His situation, who was he talking about?
Teito shook his head furiously. "I don't know what you mean," he replied desperately trying to break free. "Who-?"
Hyuuga held both of Teito's arms in one of his hands and placed the other around his neck. "It doesn't have to be this way every time," he said slowly tightening his grip.
Teito struggled under the soldier's grasp. "I… don't-." he frantically gasped for air.
Hyuuga smirked as a tint of ruby flashed through the boy's eyes but just as quickly it faded back into emerald. Frustrated he placed his other hand on the slave's neck. "I'm not playing. I really will kill him."
Teito grabbed the older man's wrists in an attempt to remove his hands but to no avail. For a split second his irises flashed bright red and in a hazy voice the word "Can't-." escaped his lips.
Almost instantly Hyuuga released Teito and watched him curiously. How was it possible? If the effect of the drug had worn off enough for the boy to be awake, why was Mikhail unable to manifest? Was it a lie so that he would stop endangering the young slave's life or was there something else? Sighing Hyuuga decided to temporarily let it go and stood up.
After taking a deep breath he looked down at the boy and smiled brightly at him. Extending his hand down to help him up he spoke in a cheery voice. "Up you go then."
Still a little out of breath Teito hesitantly took the other man's hand and shakily got on his feet. Not entirely comprehending what had just happened he stared at Hyuuga in a daze. Who was he talking to back then? At the time even if the soldier had been looking into his eyes to him it felt as if he were looking through him rather than at him.
"Why?" Teito asked rubbing his own neck gently.
"You must be starving," replied Hyuuga disregarding his question completely.
"Why did you stop?" he repeated.
"You can have my dinner, I still haven't touched it," he continued ignoring the boy's concerns.
The overly-friendly smile on Hyuuga's lips made Teito slightly uncomfortable. He would obviously be getting no answers from him at this rate. He looked sideways to the table where the food Hyuuga mentioned was placed. He briefly thought about the last memory he had before losing consciousness and looked suspiciously at the meal.
"Don't worry. This one is clean," said Hyuuga as if reading his mind.
Teito's gaze traveled to the beaming man and he eyed him doubtfully for a moment.
"I suppose it's natural that you don't trust me," Hyuuga began as he paced over to the table. "That's what betrayal does to most people…" he finished grabbing a piece of bread and biting down on it.
Following the loud grumbling of his empty stomach Teito begrudgingly walked to where Hyuuga was standing and nodded before sitting down.
"There's a good boy," said Hyuuga grinning widely as he sat on a chair some distance away from Teito.
Before he started eating Teito had not realized exactly how hungry he actually was. How long had he been asleep anyway? He wondered to himself as he quickly gobbled down the food in front of him.
Hyuuga watched the young boy carefully. It had already been a while since he had been brought on to the ship yet somehow it seemed like Ayanami was trying to keep him hidden away from everyone. In truth very few people on board had actually seen Teito, which was a good thing considering that in the time he had been here his appearance had changed quite a lot. He remembered the skeletal child whose wound he had treated but the young man sitting in front of him right now seemed like another person.
Even though the injury had long since healed the bandages had not yet been removed. Hyuuga wondered if this was because Teito had no other clothes to wear and had simply left the bandages to cover his chest. They way they were wrapped around him did not seem like it had been done by someone who knew what he was doing. It baffled Hyuuga how no one had bothered to bring him new clothes yet. Had he at least been allowed a shower since he had gotten here?
"I'm sorry," said Teito suddenly surprising the other man.
"For the food," he explained. "It was meant for you and I ate all of it."
"In that case you mean 'thank you.'"
"Oh, I'm sorry," he pondered for a second. "I mean, thank you."
"Don't worry," replied Hyuuga smiling brightly. "I'd be in trouble if something happened to you."
The soldier's constant grinning made Teito inexplicably uneasy. There was something about that smile that felt wrong.
"Shall we get going then?" asked Hyuuga standing up. "I believe Aya-tan will be most pleased to see you are awake."
"Are you displeased?" asked Ayanami flicking through some papers. "Your family is out of danger and the slave is unharmed as promised."
Mikage clenched his fists. They would have not been in danger if it hadn't been for you, he had wanted to shout. What kind of monster was the Chief of Staff? Had he no regard whatsoever for human lives?
"May I ask one question, sir?" enquired Mikage.
"You may not," replied Ayanami immediately. "Dismissed"
Mikage clamped his jaw tightly and saluted his commanding officer before turning to walk away and without any reply he left the room.
As he walked down the quiet corridors Mikage heard the sound of footsteps approaching his way. When he turned the corner he saw Hyuuga walking towards him and lagging behind he recognized the figure of Teito.
Relief washed over him as he saw the young brunette up and about. Inadvertently a tiny smile crept up on his face and all of a sudden the feeling of guilt started building up from him stomach when he noticed the purple collar around Teito's neck.
Mikage cast his eyes downward and walked forward hoping he would go unnoticed in the gloomy hallway. However there was no such luck as Teito picked up his pace to reach his side.
"Mikage!" he called excitedly as he shortened the distance between them.
Hyuuga stared at the young slave in surprise. Was this the way you would normally greet a person who pretended to be your friend and then poisoned you? Could he truly believe Mikage had nothing to do with the incident?
Keeping his eyes fixed on the ground Mikage simply walked past Teito and silently continued his march.
"Oi, Mikage!" the brunette called once again placing a hand on his friend's shoulder.
Instinctively Mikage turned his head and caught a glimpse of Teito's concerned expression. It was unbearable. He felt like he was being crushed by the weight of those uncorrupted jade eyes. Unable to cope with the pressure any longer Mikage ran away without a word and without looking back.
Startled Teito attempted to chase after him only to be stopped by Hyuuga pulling him by the arm.
"Let me go!" protested Teito. "Can't you see he-!?" Bewildered by the bitterness in the taller man's gaze Teito lost his words and found himself unable to finish his sentence.
"Such ruthless innocence," commented Hyuuga as he dragged the speechless brunette down the corridor.
Teito had thought Hyuuga's smile was terrifying, but this… he had no words to describe the chill that had run down his back the moment their eyes met. It astonished him how easily he slipped back into a bright smile as he knocked on a certain door.
"Aya-tan~!" Hyuuga sang gleefully. Without waiting for a reply he pushed the door open and walked in dragging Teito behind him.
Ayanami looked up from the papers on his desk and stared directly at Teito. A malicious smirk played on his lips as he eyed the young slave standing before him. His lavender irises pierced through Teito and froze him to the core.
"You can go, Hyuuga," ordered Ayanami from his place behind the desk.
"Aya-tan," ventured Hyuuga grinning widely. "May I suggest playing nice this time?"
"What I do with my property is no concern of yours, Hyuuga." stated Ayanami suspiciously scrutinizing his subordinate.
Hyuuga faltered for an instant under his superiors gaze but immediately recovered and beamed at him. "My apologies," he replied bowing his head. "I shall take my leave then."
"Hyuuga," said Ayanami before the other man had a chance to leave the room. "Tread lightly."
Hyuuga smiled pleasantly at him and after a quick salute exited the room closing the door behind him.
As he paced down the hallway he mentally scolded himself for letting such a stupid sentence leave his mouth. Of course it was no business of him what Ayanami did with his slave. He obviously had no intention of killing the boy anyway so there was no need to worry about Mikhail showing himself; not that he could if he wanted to, now that he thought about it.
Finding his way to his own quarters Hyuuga lazily lied on his bed and prepared for four days worth of rest. He was done meddling into this whole Eye of Mikhail affair. God knew he did not want to irritate Ayanami any further than he already had. Besides, he could find countless other amusing things to entertain himself with.
Now then, step one was simple enough. Stop thinking and go to sleep, he repeated over and over in his mind, everything will be all right in the morning.
A/N: Oh boy, I'm enjoying writing Hyuuga's character so much I'm starting to fear for his safety.
I hope you liked this chapter and as always thank you for your support. I definitely promise more Aya-tan screen time on the next one!
To be continued…