AN: Chapters 1-7 heavily modified 8/18/2013. Hopefully it's a little more palatable now.
He wouldn't be caught.
Teito ran like the wind, using his zaiphon to knock down the guards that rushed at him. His breath made little clouds in the cold air. He ignored the burn in his limbs and when he spotted the gates up ahead he ran quicker, desperation fueling him. He was so close.
He was so close.
Any second now, something would jump into his path and stop him from escaping. He knew it. At a time like this, when he was so close to freedom something would stop him. His intuition screamed at him as he sprinted towards the gates panting. And he was right, but the bastard didn't show up until after Teito made it up the steps, shooting away the two guards that jumped at him; after he blasted the gates open, the red fire of his zaiphon lighting his face and revealing the desperation etched there; after he ran out the gates, giddy relief leaking into his limbs.
Then, he appeared.
Teito felt the brush of air against his cheek and eyes widening, whirled around.
Nothing there. But when he turned back around, he immediately jumped and started backing away.
It was a tall blond man with an intense look in his blue, blue eyes. He said something and Teito angrily retorted in response. They exchanged blows. Or rather, Teito blasted his zaiphon at the man, who dodged it with nimble feet and a grave frown. It was child's play.
Teito fell to his knees with a cry as a fist mercilessly caught him in the stomach. His green eyes glared at the figure above him.
The man said something.
Teito struggled to keep his eyes open. The world was fading into a jumbled blur.
He replied...did he reply? What did he say?
The man was saying something again when he finally collapsed. As the world went black, Teito could have sworn he felt gentle fingers sifting through his hair.
ONE YEAR AGO
There was someone in his room. That was the first thought Teito had when he woke up that morning and for a few seconds he wondered whether or not he should confront the intruder or stay silent. Then...
"Good morning, Teito. It's good to see you're finally awake."
Teito's eyes shot open. Seeing the bishop at the end of his bed, he lunged forward and threw himself into the man's open arms. He buried his face into the soft depths of the bishop's robe. "It's you, it's you, you're here," Teito babbled in disbelief. "But why? Father, why are you here?"
"I've come for you, dear child." A hand softly caressed his head and the warm smile on his Father's face was the same as ever. Teito found his throat clenching uncomfortably.
"Then, you know?" he whispered.
The smile turned a touch melancholy. "Yes, I'm sorry, dear one. I came as soon as I heard."
"He..." Teito cleared his throat and tried again. "I can't believe he's gone." The white-clad arms curled around him and that's all it took for him to break down, finally. In the arms of the man who was the only real parent he knew, Teito sobbed out the grief that had smothered him for weeks.
Father just held him quietly as he cried.
Teito had two fathers.
One always seemed to be shrouded in light. His Father's gentle smile and warm, engulfing hugs were what Teito remembered the most clearly from his youth.
In comparison, the other (the mere thought of him) would send an instinctive shiver down Teito's spine and wherever he was, he would unconsciously straighten his back and shoulders and hide his open palms like a soldier safeguarding chinks in his armor.
Teito's blood father had eyes like the cool mint Teito used to find in the manor gardens. Even though he had been warned not to, Teito had curiously tried a raw sprig and had ended up with teary eyes and a mouth burned numb. Teito remembered that horrible mint now as he tried to keep nauseous fear from bubbling up his throat.
His father was furious. As slitted green eyes pinned him down, Teito's hands curled in so the palms weren't visible.
"And what were you thinking when you decided to run out in the middle of dinner?" his father asked, voice brittle as he walked around Teito's chair. He looked like a snake waiting for the right moment to strike. "Did you just suddenly have the urge to make a complete fool out of yourself in front of our guests? To make a complete fool out of me? To make me look as if I couldn't even control my own son?!" He punctuated the shout with a (bang) fist against the table and Teito flinched, head lowered.
"Well? Explain yourself!"
Teito hoped his father couldn't hear the slight tremor in his voice as he said, "I'm sorry. I didn't think. When Lord Ayanami was discussing the upcoming wedding, I felt...(trapped-cornered-panicked)...I needed some air."
His father sneered. "'Needed some air'. Pretty words for that asinine attempt to run away." Teito fought to keep his face blank when the man in and his cruel eyes were suddenly much closer.
Teito's mouth started to tingle. There was acid on his tongue.
"Listen to me. I do not care if you don't enjoy the idea of a marriage to Lord Ayanami. You can sulk all you want, throw another one of your juvenile tantrums, I do not care. Because in the end, you will marry," his father promised and his teeth bared in a mockery of a smile. "You will be joined by your sixteenth birthday and that leaves us with less than half a year to prepare you. Any more attempts to run away from your engagement are welcome but know that when the guards drag you back through those gates, I will punish you myself until you beg for forgiveness." The words were so deadly Teito could almost feel the violently red crackle of his father's zaiphon.
"Do you understand?"
Teito didn't curl away as his instincts ordered him to. "I understand," he bit out.
His father studied him and Teito felt a twinge of pride that despite how he felt inside, he could still look his father in the eyes with a straight face.
The cold fire drained away as his father brought up his own mask. "You better. You have been nothing but difficult since you were born. I have tolerated your behavior so far, but in the past few months you have been almost impossible to endure."
Underneath the table Teito's fists clenched. Thanks, father. You really know how to make a boy feel special.
"If only I still had Mikage."
Teito stood up abruptly. Head lowered, he asked stiffly, "It's getting late. May I go now, Father?"
A sniff and, "Go on, get out of my sight."
Teito was out so fast the door closed on nothing but his dust.
"They don't seem to have any idea yet."
Frau cast a side glance at Castor, who had drifted beside him and was regarding the view of the garden outside with great interest, (or what appeared to be great interest to anyone who didn't know him well enough).
Frau grunted. "I could tell. If the father knew, he wouldn't be so eager to marry off his son."
"He is being unusually enthusiastic, almost like he sees Teito's birthday as a deadline," Castor said with a heavy frown. He stopped and sighed at Frau's blank look.
"Were you listening at all during dinner today?" Castor said irately.
"I'm sure Frau was more interested in his food at the time," Labrador chuckled as he entered the room. Like his companions he was still in his traveling robes, but somehow his had remained a pristine snow white throughout their four-day journey, unlike Frau's robes, which had snatches of dirt and dust embedded in the cloth and a mud-laced hemming at the edges.
Frau shrugged. "Can you blame me? It's the first time in years I've had meat without the old man breathing down my back."
"And considering your great lack of respect for church customs, I don't blame Archbishop Bastien for his behavior at all," said Castor unsympathetically.
Frau pulled down one eye and stuck out his tongue.
"...Are you a child?"
"Anyways, I know that we were talking about the kid's engagement to that walking ice cube. I wasn't that out of it," Frau said.
"Teito's engagement is to be fulfilled on his sixteenth birthday, when he's legal to be married," Castor said brusquely, his mouth thinned in a way that showed he didn't approve of the decision at all.
Frau vividly remembered the look of the boy just before he'd been forced to knock him out to keep him from struggling. Fierce determination, with a heavy slab of desperation, the look of a caged animal. "Tch, he's still a kid though. Rich people," Frau said scornfully.
"What I don't understand is why Lord Klein is marrying Teito off when he only has Teito to inherit his name," Castor said with a suspicious gleam in his eyes.
Frau blinked. "Didn't the Church files say that Klein had two sons?"
Castor bristled all of a sudden. "Don't you ever listen to anything I say? We went over this already!"
"I was drunk off holy pork," Frau said as he shrugged repentantly.
Labrador stopped Castor before he went for Frau's throat with the ease of practice. "You need to clear out your ears, Frau," Labrador rebuked gently, making the bishop mutter an apology.
The shorter bishop explained, "Just recently, Teito's older brother Mikage passed away while at the military academy both brothers attended. The details are hazy but the general report said he got into an accident during one of the academy tests."
"Making Teito Lord Klein's sole living heir," Castor added. "See the problem? Usually, nobles want their name passed on but Lord Klein is marrying off his son as soon as he's legally allowed."
Frau frowned in confusion. "What the hell? Makes no sense to me either."
"I wonder if Teito knows why," Castor mused.
"I should hope of all people, Teito-kun doesn't know why," said Labrador, eyes trained on the garden outside and his deceptively light tone made Castor's glasses flash and Frau look away with a grimace.
"You have a point there, Labrador." After all, no child should bear the burden of knowing how eager his own father was to get rid of him.
The problem was, they all knew Teito most likely already aware.