A/N: Sorry for the late update! I've been busy with the uni lately. :-/ I tried my best to keep updating though! Nudge me every once in a while to remind me, would you?

Hey you! Yeah you! I bet you haven't seen this yet have you? Check my deviantart page; (/OAO)/

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Chapter Seven: A Race of Time

Gilbert's crimson eyes shone as he breathed out roughly.

He felt a stinging pain burned the skin beneath his limp arm. He felt weak. A wave of nausea pooled deep within his abdomen, liquid gathered at the back of his throat threatening to purge out. He swallowed with gusto, eager to prevent himself from throwing up all over Francis' car - the frenchman wouldn't like that, neither will Gilbert.

Francis was driving on his right, while Gilbert seated on the front seat silently - too silent for his usual loud demeanor - just sunk into the leather seat with clenched jaw and balled fists hidden under the lent coat he wore like a blanket, pretending to be asleep when he felt like shit. He'd thought he'd be fine after he pulled off that recent escapade, but he guessed wrong. It was stupid to attempt to forcefully disjoint an entire limb while he was still injured. What was he thinking?

Beads of sweat made its way stealthy down Gilbert's temples. Now he had to pay for the price of his recklessness. He gritted his teeth, attempting to drown the aching pain in his right shoulder joint discreetly. The last thing he'd need was Francis noticing the change in his behavior and probably starting to fuss over him. To distract himself, Gilbert looked intensely at his own lap.

Regretting what had been done was even more foolish. It was a necessary option. He was running out of time back then. Gilbert admitted he panicked a little. He was even desperate enough to commit to such a risk. A dumb, dangerous decision; had he mistook the location or had Francis never came to help him, he'd be in deeper shit that he already was. That loony Russian would beat the crap out of him if he'd failed. Or he might be killed. Tortured to death.

He shuddered at the thought.

But he did succeed. He did go to the right place and he met Francis. He might have to bear the consequences of his current state of health, but it was worth it in the end. A little pain like this was nothing when given the joy of freedom he'd achieved with his own hands.

But damn, his arm was fucking hurt.

"Gil. Wake up, we're almost there."

Francis' gentle voice nudged him out of his trance. Almost forgetting he was supposed to be acting, Gilbert quickly enclosed his eyes and pretended he didn't hear Francis' call. He could feel the car shifted direction then Francis called him again.


Gilbert didn't reply. He planned to go through with the pretense for a few minutes just to make it a little more realistic. He heard his name being called again and thought he should probably began to 'wake up' when he felt something brushed against his eyebrows, pushing some strand of hair that fell to his eye.

He stiffened.

But it was not so obvious as to give away his sleeping pretense.

The too gentle touch lingered just a few moments too long and then it vanished, followed by a heavy silence along with Gilbert's lost chance of breaking the acting. He heard a soft sigh seconds before something shook his shoulders, Francis' voice calling him again, louder and rougher this time. "Gil! Wake up! We've arrived!" A hard pinch on his cheek.

"… oooww!" Gilbert languidly exclaimed, feigning an abrupt awakening. He rubbed his aching cheek with his left hand, glaring at the tenacious pincher. "What'dja that for?"

Francis laughed. He didn't seem to notice Gilbert's bad acting. And he was supposed to be a professional con artist, too.

"You refused to wake up even after I called you so many times! Look, we're here already."

Francis said with a grin.

Gilbert looked over. The car had pulled over and parked in a public parking lot of a local market. He raised an eyebrow. What a choice of place to be, for a couple of wanted fugitives. He glanced at the taller man, who smiled in response to his muted question. An assuring smile who told the german to just trust him. Gilbert nodded in approval. After all, any hesitance he had of the man had been thrown out of the window a long time ago.

Francis shut off the engine while Gilbert clumsily shuffled his way to unbuckle himself. He creased his eyebrows in displease that the attempt was in vain because he could only use a hand, only managing to get more entangled in the harness. Francis chuckled at his failure, receiving a deathly glare from the albino.

"Dammit, Francis! If you had time to laugh, help me outta this fucking crap!" He barked with reddened face, irritated that he couldn't hit the man across the face in addition, being strapped to the seat.

The frenchman was still laughing softly.

"Alright, alright. Pipe down the language, Gilbert. I'll help you even without you asking me to."

Having already freed himself first, Francis leaned over to Gilbert's side. The german wrinkled his nose when a wild lick of Francis' blonde blob tickled his nose, it strangely smelled like roses. The sweet scent contrasted to Gilbert's usually cigarette-scented self. Only he hadn't smoked for weeks, so he probably smelled as sickly sweet as the flamboyant frenchman.

"…this reminds me of the old times."

"What?" Gilbert gazed down to meet Francis' own, that was looking up to him. His hands working on the seat belt.

"You always get into some kind of trouble when we were young, and I would always come and had to clean up after your mess." He smiled fondly, as if reminiscing.

His gaze went down until Gilbert could see the length of Francis' light-colored lashes. He had such long eyelashes despite being male. He had to admit Francis was a good man; handsome, suave in his mannerism and stylish. So very unlike his unruly, wild self, Gilbert mused. If he shaved his goatee he'd look much more effeminate and younger, though, even with that lame patch of facial hair grown on his chin, women still flocked all over him. The lucky bastard.

"What the hell. I never asked for your help, but you came anyway, meddling bastard." Gilbert snorted.

Francis laughed.

"…true, that. I wonder why I keep coming back even after all that?"

The german paused. The memories of their childhood flashed before his eyes. How happy they were back then, how care free and full of joyous spirits, having nothing to fear.

"Sure is nice. Back then at the orphanage." He closed his eyes, smiling fondly.

"We used to be such a pain in the butt for the sisters, always up to for some kind of mischief. Stealing the sisters' undies and stuff. Haha… You, me and Antonio… you two were always by my side even when we got punished a lot by the headmaster…" His vermillion-tinted eyes fluttered open to meet Francis' oceanic gaze right before him, their faces very closely apart.

Gilbert paused and they held their gazes to each other for a moment. Suddenly the nostalgic air turned into something Gilbert couldn't quite put his finger on, as the two completely stilled on the spot; Francis leaning in to his side with arms spread at either side of Gilbert's seat, effectively trapping him there. A pregnant silence emerged, neither broke away their gazes off each other. Something flickered in the german's mind when he saw something within his friend's eyes.

"… are you done yet? We gotta go quickly." Gilbert broke the silence, his expression and tone of voice void of any emotion. He raised his left hand to press at Francis' shoulder, pushing him in a very light manner.

Francis, as if snapped out of his trance, turned his gaze down. He was the first one to break away from their fervent staring bout. Gilbert stared at him. Francis' expression hid beneath those long bangs of his, giving nothing for the german to read. He could hear a soft intake of breath from the blonde before him.

"Ah. Pardon." He murmured, then without further ado he withdrew to give Gilbert some space.

With his body freed, the albino grabbed the thick coat on his lap and slipped into it, his left hand helped his right arm slid into the sleeve. His right arm was completely limp and hurt. A lot. Though Gilbert refused to let it show on his face. He wondered vaguely whether he'd worsened his injuries. He couldn't feel anything but numbing pain. He wasn't sure if he could heal as quickly as before, having overexerted his wounded limb over and over again.

Toris was a really good doctor, to be able to cure and rehabilitate his arm to be as good as yesterday. What with the crazy Russian mob twisted his arm and all. But he'd probably ruined all that effort by now. He felt a little guilty for that.

He looked over at Francis, who had the window on his side down and now currently staring outside with a new lit cigar hung between his lips. When the putrid smell of burnt nicotine reached his nostrils, Gilbert gulped. He hadn't smoked for so long. He missed it. Hmmm… Ashton. Francis had impeccable taste in the finer things.

"Give me one. The strongest you have." Gilbert nudged him.

Francis gave him a sideways glance, before handing a box of cigars to him. Two of them jutted out from the rest of the neat rows. The box was a bit too far for Gilbert to reach so instead he leaned to his right, gingerly bit down onto one of the two that stuck out. He heard Francis breath hitched ever so softly as the german pulled out with a cigar between his ripe maroon-tinted lips. He glanced at the blonde from beneath silver lashes, he caught him staring at Gilbert.

"… Gilbert…" Francis breathed. His oceanic eyes flared deep gleams, never leaving the other.

The said german hadn't withdrawn just yet, still leaning close to the blonde. When he spoke with something between his lips, it sounded slightly muffled. "Gimme fire." He gestured to the lit cigar Francis was having, then he lifted his chin slightly, anticipating.

He could clearly see how Francis' adam's apple moved up and down, before he bent his back and leaned in until the tips of their cigars met. Then Gilbert sucked at the other end. They stayed that way until smoke began rising in the german's tip, bright red spots blinked at the dull end.

Gilbert withdrew to his seat, inhaling the pungent smoke deeply.

"… you're cruel, Gilbert." Francis laughed humorlessly. He hid his face in the steering wheel, his arms folded around his head. Gilbert gave him a brief sideways glance, only to turn his gaze absently at the sight of the crowded market far beyond the dashboard.

He kept his gaze steady and calm.

"You know I'm not like that, Francis. I'm not interested... in having a relationship." He uttered quietly. He took out the cigar with his left hand, blowing out gray smoke. Then he sucked again, inhaling deeply. He turned to the impassive blonde, his expression unreadable. He looked so unlike the usual Gilbert; he was now stern and serious. Enigmatic, even. A rare sight.

"I love you, Francis. But not in the way you want me to. You're like family. I don't want to do anything to jeopardize our friendship."

He could see Francis twitched slightly. He slowly rose to meet with Gilbert's scarlet eyes. Then he shuddered. Those red-colored eyes could be so intense at times; dangerous, but sensual and sinfully alluring. Something about them did things to him, more than any lover he had ever courted. Even at times like this when Gilbert was rejecting him, he still felt enamored by his strong gaze. How unfair.

"… even if it's just casual?"

He tentatively asked.

"Why ask when you already know the answer, Francis?"

He answered a question with another question. Francis sighed. "I know." He uttered, a forlorn smile written across his lips.

Gilbert twisted his eyebrows.

"Don't smile, idiot." His crimson eyes downcast. "I'm sorry."

Francis shook his head. "Don't be. You know I will not force you into something you don't want to do, Gilbert. You're still my dearest childhood friend first and foremost." He caught a hold of Gilbert's head and pulled him into a friendly hug. Gilbert didn't answer as he let Francis draped an arm around his shoulder and pulled him closer.

The frenchman smiled gently. The crowded market made inaudible noise outside, but inside the car, it felt as if the world shrunk and only the two of them existed.

"I should be the one who's sorry. I made you feel uncomfortable, aren't I? Did I disgust you? Do you hate me now?"

"… don't be stupid." Gilbert barked, his fingers playing with the half-burnt cigar. "There's no way I'm gonna hate you. Though you are a bit disgusting."

Francis laughed. "Only a bit?"

"And… you can be super annoying sometimes."

"Ha! Right back at you."

Gilbert snorted.

How strange. The tensions had vanished somewhere. The escape plan, his aching arm, Francis' feelings for him and his guilt for not being able to respond to them. Everything didn't matter at that time. Aah. They had to go soon, quickly. But Gilbert felt a bit tired. And this position was so comfortable, it made him feel sleepy. He smelled a familiar scent, with an old friend. He felt at ease. Like he was home.

Damn, he missed home.

He felt his eyes burned hot and wet. He closed them. Shit, he was being too fucking emotional.

Gilbert gritted his teeth.

"Let's go." He declared before he reached the door and unlocked it. Francis followed suit. The german stepped out and closed the door behind him with a click. He looked down at his limp arm and once again he felt a sense of futility. The pain aside, he was angry at himself for letting it be his weakness in the first place. The idea that he needed other people's help to survive didn't go well with him. He always preferred to go solo.

"Hey, what's wrong?" Francis came to his side, effectively pressed a hand on his shoulder.

Guess that meant Francis was his right hand now. Gilbert shook his head.

"Nothing. Let's just get out of this city, quick." He said, letting the frenchman wound his hand around his waist.

"Gilbert, is it okay for you to follow my lead?" Francis smiled, pressing their bodies together.

The albino glanced at the taller man's possessive arm around him. He understood this way people would notice his limp arm less. Although the idea of getting too intimate with his long-time good friend threw him off a bit. People would think they were gay or something. Gilbert clearly wasn't, though Francis was a faithful bi.

He shrugged. "Sure. Whatever. As long as we got this done."

"Alright. Don't mind if I do." Francis grinned as he moved closer.

Toris could see something twitched from the corner of his eyes.

He fearfully turned his gaze around only to meet something that made him wish he hadn't turned. Ivan Braginski was standing next to him. A dark shadow cast upon his stiffening visage, his amethyst eyes flashed a dangerous gleam as he watched the two fugitives from the large screen above their heads. The other employees in the office didn't seem to notice as they busied themselves with tasks given to them, lost in blurs of noise of their own making.

Ivan looked serene and composed. But Toris, having served the man for the last ten odd years, had grown to understand him more than he would've wanted. Ivan was a special case, his thought process and behavior vastly differed than other people in general.

Toris knew too well. From the way Ivan held a hand to cover his mouth discreetly as if thinking, to the small hints of body language. The way his eyes stared at the monitor without blinking and the faint trembles of his hands, he knew.

Ivan Braginski was angry.

He turned to the monitor and saw the unfortunate objects of his wrath; Gilbert Weilschmidt and his unknown accomplice were making their move while attached to each other not unlike a pair of lovers. They seemed to be very comfortable with each other. Toris wasn't sure whether they really were intimate or they were just familiar with each other. Either way, they were definitely close.

"… the target is spotted walking into the local fish market on the Western side. He's together with an unknown accomplice. A tall man in his early thirties. Has shoulder-length blonde hair, wearing white knitted sweater and jeans." Reminded of his job, Toris gave orders to the microphone of the headset he wore.

"Requesting nearby teams for a search and capture operation. I repeat, requesting nearby teams to search the local market; location on Block 29 Newton Street. Capture the target on sight."

Several answers laced in incorrigible buzz answered his call.

"Copy that. Team Ruggard's going to the scene. Will report upon sight. Over."

"… team Jack here on location. Will initiate search and capture as soon as we spot the target."

"Roger. Rosemary's be on our way."

Toris felt a bit relieved that several of their staff started making a move. He could feel the emergency in the situation. With his employer's mood dropping to a dangerous limit, Toris must do anything in his power to fix what was initially his error. The thought of being the receiving end of Ivan's wrath was unnerving, especially since he was the one to lose the target.

He was worried though; as far as he'd known, Gilbert was quick and smart enough to fool them. One wouldn't have expected he would go to such measures in order to get away. Even though he was injured. Gilbert was a skinny man, but squeezing through such a small opening of a restroom window would've worsen his injury again. Toris didn't know what manner of technique he used to escape, but he assumed it was something hazardous.

Then again, that would mean one thing.

When an idea emerged in his mind, Toris immediately caught a hold of his microphone closer to his mouth, directing orders.

"Toris Lorinaitis here. Attention to team Ruggard, team Jack and team Rosemary. Keep in mind that the target's right arm is temporarily immobilized. I repeat, the target's right arm is injured and rendered useless as we speak. Use this to your advantage and subdue him. However, DO NOT harm the target more than necessary. We want him captured alive and unharmed. Got it?"



"Got it."

Toris glanced at Eduard who's working on several spy monitors in his private work desk, two seats away from him. The bespectacled man nodded, turning his head at his monitor and wearing his headset. His monitors bleeped for a second and changed into different sceneries, changing into the security cameras all around the market.

"For now follow instructions from Eduard on channel 6. Report every five minutes. Fill me in the important parts only. Over and out."

Toris felt his throat burned slightly and his eyes tired. He wanted to sit back and relax, but he couldn't because Ivan was still standing next to him while observing the whole process. To be seen slacking off by your own employer would mean asking to be skinned alive. Toris shuddered at the thought, shaking his head. He couldn't rest now. Not until he could give Ivan some results.

So instead he focused his mind on observing the target's movement. He realized the two of them had vanished from the previous monitor. Taking a sharp intake, he switched to the other spying cameras and saw only glimpses of them. There were too many people squeezed into such a busy street. Even with squinted eyes, Toris could only manage a blob of silver amongst many others. Gilbert wasn't very tall, thus he seemed to merge into the crowd even more.

Oh God, this didn't seem to get easier.

He wasn't sure if the search teams would be able to spot them. Even if they did, it'd be quite a task to subdue them in a huge public place. There were also chances of mistaken identity … they could've gotten the wrong people instead. Toris bit his lower lip. They were smarter that he'd thought. This was like looking for a needle in a stack of straws. They needed to know where they were heading to, or they'd go scoot off free.

Panic rose to his throat, then the Lithuanian turned to Eduard. His tone of voice alarmed yet still calm. "Eduard. Watch the target closely, otherwise we'll lose him in the crowd. Be very careful." He warned, which was responded by a quick nod. Eduard returned to his spying work, seemingly more focused.

Perhaps, I need to do more. He thought as he set the microphone closer to his mouth, punching some buttons on the control panel in front of him.

"Toris here. Team Ruggard, Team Rosemary and Team Jack, you copy?" He heard responds from both teams.

"Place some of your men in every exit, also the parking lot, hidden paths and alleyways. Some should go to a higher place to scout. I'll call for more reinforcement soon. Copy?" Satisfied with their answers, Toris changed lines to Vash and told him to get more people in the scene.

"Got it, Toris. Over."

"Okay, it's good for now - "

Toris was about to turn off the channel when another one bumped to his.

"… oris. …Toris." A familiar voice called him. The voice was unclear and bleeped in buzz, but Toris could still recognize it.

He pressed the speaker against his ear. "Feliks?"

He heard faint laughter mashed with incorrigible whirr.

"Hey…. How are you man? You sound desperate there. Was worried." The voice sounded sarcastic, yet in good humor.

Toris gave a nervous side glance at Ivan, before turning his gaze downward. "Feliks. It's not the time to have casual conversation. We have a situation right now and it's an emergency." He tried to reason softly, though urgently.

"I know. I'm in the search team too."

That explained the awful noise in the background.

Toris sighed. "If you know that, please don't abuse the line. I am very busy at the moment."

"You're no fun." Toris couldn't help but smile, imagining Feliks' childish pout by the sound of his voice.

"But that's not why I call you, you know. Just wanna know the reward for a job well-done."

"Ah. I'm sure your team will be rewarded handsomely, Feliks, given if you deliver good result…"

"Stuupid. Not talkin' about that. I want a personal reward. From you."

"Huh?" Toris quizzically uttered. "What do you - "

"I want your ass."

Toris' jaw dropped. He stared wide-eyed at the sceen, gaping.

"… hello? Hello? Earth to Toris? Do you hear me man?"

He could hear dull tap tap from the other side.

"Yes I heard you Feliks! J-just stop talking!" Toris exclaimed in whisper, beet red to his ears. Suddenly he felt like it was to breathe. His whole body felt impossibly hot and his brains muddled in mush.

He breathed deeply in and out to calm himself, to no avail. "Listen Feliks, this is hardly the time to joke around or discuss about… about that. I'm serious, Feliks. C-concentrate on your job as I will do mine. Otherwise, Mr. Ivan will have my rear-end instead." He spoke the last statement as softly as he could so his employer wouldn't hear.

"Well. Okay. If you say so." Toris sighed in relief when Feliks finally gave up.

"But remember! Don't give your ass to anyone else. It's my property. I don't do sharing… …huh? Who am I talking to? To my honey of cour - "

Toris slammed a hand onto the off button, unable to bear with further embarrassment any longer. How he wished he could curl up into a ball and sink into a hole, then die there.


He felt like his heart jumped out of its ribcage as he snapped his gaze towards Ivan, gulping down noisily. Toris half-expected to be scolded for slacking off, but Ivan only stared at him in odd silence. "Y-yes sir?" He choked out, wondering if Ivan heard his conversation with Feliks. But then again, Ivan couldn't have. He didn't wear any ear piece.

"Come with me, Toris." Ivan commanded, turning on his heels.

"Oh. Ah. Yes, right away, sir! Eduard cover for me. Call me if anything happens." Toris promptly took off his headset. Eduard nodded knowingly, waving a hand at him. Toris replied with a stiff smile.

The Lithuanian quickly caught up with his employer, keeping a fair distance behind him. Ivan led him out of the room and into the corridor. Toris fished out an earpiece and a clip-on microphone from his pocket, proceeding to put them on. He checked the reception and tested a call to Eduard. Everything seemed to be fine. After he'd established a means of communication, he turned to the enigmatic russian, wondering where'd they go.

"Excuse me, sir. May I ask where we will be heading?" He politely asked.

Ivan stopped on his track, prompting his assistant to halt his steps as well. Then he looked over his shoulders, smiling a sweet, sweet sugary smile that whipped a chill down Toris' spines.

"We're going to pick up our dear Gilbert." Ivan spoke cheerfully, although his eyes weren't laughing. His eyes were gleaming dangerously. He kept the jovial pretense as he continued, dripping sweet venom from his mouth. Toris felt as if air was caught in his windpipe, rendering him breathless.

"He has been a bad, bad child… taking off with a stranger and worrying us like that. Bad children… need to be punished."

"… I think we lost the fifth one."

Gilbert uttered, peeking behind a square-shaped pillar of the gellato shop. He creased his brows, clearly displeased.

"It would appear so." Francis panted softly, his eyes scanning the throng of people walking back and forth in the streets. No men in black suits on sight. They had managed to lose them yet again.

"Fuck. Why are they even following us?" Gilbert spat to the ground distastefully. He was sweating furiously underneath the heat of the sun and the jacket he wore, plus he stank of fish and other people's sweat mixed in together. The smell was appalling even for someone like him. His arm still hurt like a vengeful bitch.

And then there were these weird people in suit tailing them everywhere they go, thankfully not bright enough to realize how conspicuous they looked in that get up. They immediately knew something was off with them. Soon they were practically everywhere, thus it made it hard for them to move. And they were quite hard to shake off. It was a good thing they were in such a crowded place, hiding in the midst of a crowd wasn't too hard. But Gilbert was seriously ticked off.

"Don't tell me it's that fucking russian lunatic's fault. Just what is it with him? I don't fucking get it. He could've just chosen another fucker to play with. Why can't he just leave me the fuck alone?" Gilbert wiped away the sweat from his forehead with his sleeve. With this much people in one place and in summer, the heat was too much.

"I must say, this man you're talking about must have a crush on you, Gilbert. For him to do so much just to get you back." Francis joked, which received the german's wrath in return.

"Don't even joke about it! You don't know how creepy that russian shit is. He's a psycho, I tell you! A fucking nutcase! I want to get away from him as far away as possible." He glared.

Francis laughed. "Just joking. We need good humor in these times of danger to calm our nerves."

"Shove your jokes up your ass. I'm not in the mood for that." Gilbert blurted, checking his surroundings.

"Hey. Look like it's clear over here. Let's look for the exit."

"Fine plan. But how about the butcher shop? We need to treat your injury." The taller man pointed it out.

"Idiot. If those guys are really all over the place, we'll just get our asses surrounded quicker in one place. Don't worry about my arm. I'm tougher than I looked. Let's go." Gilbert tugged at Francis' arm and dragged the cooperating man across the street, lunging into a throng of mass.

"Oh shit." Just before they reached the other side of the alley, Gilbert spotted some of those men in suit again. He promptly turned on his heels, grabbed Francis and went the other way.

They moved slowly with the crowd, pretending to be a part of some tourist group. Francis even had the knack to chat with them to gain cooperation. The smart bastard. The market was quite the huge place, as it was the largest local market in the city. There were hundreds of small booths and stores and the paths were like maze. It was an easy place to hide in, but it was hard to pinpoint their location. There wasn't a map too. Neither Francis nor Gilbert was familiar to the place, thus they got lost a lot there.

Francis and Gilbert stuck with the tourists until they lost another group of stalkers, then they made a run for it. They repeat the process of hiding and running. It was becoming too much to handle. Francis was still fine, but Gilbert could feel the excess physical activity started taking a toll on his body. He became exhausted faster, and the pain in his arm intensified as time went by.

Even after they lost their trackers, they somehow managed to spot them again and again. They were lucky they'd slipped by so far. At first Gilbert thought of using the shortcut alleys and small paths, but the numerous coincidental brushes made him think that it was safer hiding amongst the crowds. They must've known the ways there very well, taking those shortcut would be willingly stepping into their traps, with nowhere to escape.

"Is that the exit?" Gilbert choked out, breathless. The way out of the market area was just across the street over there. Finally! They could get out now...

"Wait, Gil." Francis pulled him back. Gilbert looked up at him. The frenchman had a grim look painted on his face, his lips formed a stiff line. "Looks like we're surrounded."

Colors drained from Gilbert's face. He unconsciously gripped at the front of Francis' sweater. Though the men in suit hadn't noticed them yet. Francis gingerly pulled the unresponsive german aside to a blind spot inside a souvenir shop. He looked outside the shop while holding Gilbert against him, keeping a close watch.

"Fuck. What should we do? They probably have other exits covered." Gilbert breathed, pressing his face to Francis' shoulder. "Dammit. I didn't know that fucker has such influence in this city. Should've known better! Else we wouldn't be in this situation."

"I have expected he has power and money from what I researched, when I was looking for you, but not to this extent." Francis uttered, stroking Gilbert's hair comfortingly.

"… fuck. I even got you into this mess… I'm such a fucking idiot." The german balled his fist that was clutching Francis clothes. The taller man looked down at him, but Gilbert was looking away that he couldn't see his face.

"What if they do something to you, too? … I'll never forgive myself. Shit."

Francis smiled, encircling his arms around the smaller man. "Stupid." He said softly. "There's no way I'm not helping you when you asked me. Besides, it is not over yet. We're still here uncaptured, aren't we? Where's the usual optimism, Gilbert? This doesn't seem like you. Come on, look at me!"

Gilbert turned and looked at him. He looked upset.

"You're a big idiot, you know that?"

"Haha. I know." The frenchman smiled brightly.

The corners of Gilbert's lips twitched. "Well, I'm an idiot too." He muttered softly, pushing Francis chest. "… 'kay. Let's look for other ways."

"That's more like the Gilbert I know. Always up for mischief."

Gilbert grinned.

Both of them peeked at the outside and found the exit was heavily guarded as before. Gilbert and Francis were discussing ideas of how to get past by their guard when at that moment, the masses suddenly split to half because a delivery truck made a way inside. Gilbert blinked, then an idea hit him on the head. He turned to the frenchman, a look of childish enthusiasm written on his face.

"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" He smirked devilishly.

Francis winked. "Mon ami, we're a bad, bad egg."

"Heh. I'm better looking than you." He flicked a tongue towards the frenchman, whipping his gaze towards the delivery truck. "Now which one should we hitch-hike? …oh by the way. You have a cell with you?" He asked without looking.

"In a matter of fact, yes I do." Francis fished a smartphone out of his jeans pocket.

"Oh good. I need you to call Antonio, just in case."

to be continued…