Ch 10: The Hounds' Knell Is More Mournful When there Is No One To Hear It

Somehow Akio was able to suddenly move. It could've been his love for Rose taking over Hell's control. Either way he was able to move so he rushed over to her side as fast as he could. Hell's foot had already moved away, assuming that the two were dead. Akio jumped down into the crater where Rose's crippled form laid. He slid down the side of it and inhaled at the sight. Tears dripped down his face and landed onto top of Rose's. He gently picked up her head and cradled her in his arms. He could feel her broken bones beneath her skin, like glass in a bag. Spots of blood creped out of her skin where a bone had ripped open the flesh.

He bit his bottom lip as an attempt to control his haphazard emotions. Rocking back and forth he stared up at the sky, or at least where the sky was behind the fog. He ran his fingers through her silky hair like a brush. Surprisingly her eyes fluttered open. Her black eyes stared up at him like space, deep and empty. A small smile formed on both of their faces. "Rose," Akio sighed. "I'm—I'm so sorry for what I did to you…I never meant to hurt you…" He traced the side of her face with his hand.

"I know you didn't." She smiled, grabbing his hand. "It's just…." Her voice trailed off. Akio brought her closer to his ear.

"What, what is it?" He asked nervously as if hearing her last words.

"I'm just pissed that I didn't get to fight longer." She peeped. Akio chuckled.

"You'll get to fight again; you're not going to die." He said trying to assure her, even if it meant lying.

"Die?" She laughed. "This is just a flesh wound…" The two laughed, but Rose grunted and clutched her side. "That's enough of that…" She whispered. Akio stared down at her, his tears slowly stopping.

"Rose…" He began. "Rose I love—" He was cut off when a gun fired. Rose grew limp. Akio couldn't breathe. She was just alive, just a second ago…why is she dead now? He thought confused. Her eyes were wide, but her pupils were nothing but a speck. Fresh blood was splattered next to her head, a bullet hole on both sides. Akio's body began shaking. With trembling arms he put her limp body back onto the ground. He took a deep breath and closed her eyes with his hand. He gave a final pat on her collar before standing up.

Akio looked where the shoot could've come from. To his right he saw another Hound standing on top of a rooftop, there he was lowering the smoking barrel of his gun. This Hound could've come to this world with Hell, with his blonde hair and red eyes. But Akio didn't have time to think about that for he was already rushing at the man. As he sprinted towards him he became even more and more visible in the fog. The Hound lifted his gun up to fire again. His calm aura showed that he obviously had faith in his skill. However, when the bullet missed him, the Hound flinched in fear.

Akio growled like a wild animal as he leapt to the top of the building, his silver gun in his grasp. The other Hound stumbled back in fear. Akio landed on top of him and shoved the barrel of his gun right into this man's mouth. Without hesitating he pulled the trigger and watched as the Hound's brains splattered out behind his head onto the roof top. The man's mouth slowly rolled off of Akio's gun and his body then slumped to the ground. Akio stood there, hovering over the Hound's body, panting. His mind was empty for a moment, his actions slowly catching up with him, but then everything hit him. His gun fell out of his hand and he collapsed next to the dead body. With his arms and legs sprawled out in the shape of a star, he stared at where the sky should've been. He should've been staring at the stars, but seeing how there were none, it made sense to him for the star of his life just left this world.

Akio screamed; his fangs bore sharply in the air. He felt empty, nothing but a shell. For once he had no tears to cry, Rose was already dead. Surprisingly he didn't see anything to cry about. She died, she was dead; she's gone. He had killed her murder. What was left for him to do? There didn't seem to be an answer to that. He rolled over onto his side and curled up into a ball. He reached out and grabbed his silver gun and pulled it close to his body as if it were his lifeline. He felt the coldness of the rooftop come in contact with the skin of his face. Everything was silent, there weren't any footsteps, he wasn't making a sound, of course the guy next to him wasn't; even his mind was empty. He listened; he couldn't even hear his own heartbeat. He slowly turned the mussel of his gun and pointed it at his forehead. He stared at the darkness inside the barrel. His finger gripped the cool, metal trigger and he was fully prepared to pull it when something else snapped him out of it.

Zoro screamed as he ripped at the ground with his finger. He was a puppet who lost its strings. No matter how much he screamed or pawed at the ground he couldn't find the strength to move his whole body. He felt his chain scrap against the ground every time he squirmed. Akio was able to move because of his love for Rose, then why didn't his feelings towards his nakama break Hell's control? This frustrated him to no end. His fingers were being ripped up in the rugged asphalt and they bleed into the earth. Hell just burned his nakama with torturous, black flames. Even thought he might have saw escape from the flames he had to be sure. But his predicament robbed him of that chance. "Damnit….Damnit….Damnit…" He mumbled with his face flat against the ground. "Damn it all…" He picked his head up and slammed his forehead on the ground. He felt warm blood pool under his skin. His breathing was heavy; his chest rose and fell in slow, yet fluid motions.

He was beginning to feel empty; as the sound of his heart beet grew fainter and fainter he got the feeling as if he was dying. But nothing happened to him; sure he had a few broken bones and cuts but not enough to kill him. This perplexed him but his thoughts were too scrambled at the moment to think about it too deeply. The only thing he knew—the only thing he knew he had to do was find his nakama and make sure they were safe. He was a Hound; Hounds were loyal to their master, or friends in his case.

While he continued to struggle he felt darkness surround him. It couldn't be the fog; he was used to that by now. No, this was something new. It was dark, cold, threatening. He could feel his body weakening, his eyes slowly closing. He yelled at himself, screamed. He couldn't fall asleep now, he had to find everyone, make sure they were safe. However, the darkness sang to him, almost like a lullaby. He tried lifting his head but the chain and collar felt heavier than normal. His whole body felt as if I were filled with lead. Soon the darkness's song became too enchanting and he gave in to the nothingness of the shadows.

Like a small dog Akio's ears perked up at the sound of Zoro's scream. He sat up with new life in his veins. Zoro…How could I forget about him, his nakama...Percy…? He crawled over to the side of the roof and looked around. He heard the scream again. He began to get nervous, but he couldn't see anything through the fog. Somehow it seemed thicker than before, heavier, darker. Sudden fatigue swept over him but he fought to stay awake just a little while longer. He looked for someone, Zoro's screams slowly died down, none of his nakama were around, Percy wasn't here, in fact neither was Hell. Something doesn't feel right… He thought as the fog swirled around him. It was the suffocating darkness that gave him this feeling. Slowly everything was turning darker and darker. Akio rubbed his eyes to make sure it wasn't just his vision giving out, but it actually was getting darker. He glanced up at the sky but he still didn't see anything.

Akio suddenly collapsed under his own weight, his arm dangling off the side of the roof. Something like a sweet melody was singing to him; a soothing voice hiding somewhere in the darkness. He thought that if he closed his eyes he could find the source so that's just what he did.

Sun shone down upon the ground and warmed up the earth. A few morning birds flew over head and chirped happily about the new day. Everything seemed perfect. There was a slight breeze blowing up off the coast and clouds leisurely drifted across the sky which was a dazzling blue. Someone's feet slapped against the ground while their chest heaved in painful breaths. They looked around nervously, trying to find something they seemed to have lost. After running down street after street they came back to where they had started. This part of the city was deserted of people leaving only an ominous silence which was broken every minute or so by a passing bird.

The streets here were cracked and full of deep, huge craters. Blood splattered the destroyed buildings and one of the craters had a pool of blood at the bottom. However, there were no bodies. What ever happened here must have been devastating. The person looked at this apocalyptic scene without much surprise or shock. The person sighed when someone else called their name.

"Hey, Zoro." Zoro turned around to Akio who walked up to him with his hands in his pockets. "I'm guessing that you didn't find them…" He said sadly. Zoro's expression was enough of an answer for him. "I'm just confused as to why he didn't take us?" Akio asked looking up at the sky which he could finally see.

"He thought we were already dead, remember?" Zoro said through narrow eyes. Akio sighed.

"Do you want to go?" He asked suddenly.

"Huh?" Zoro looked up at him with wide eyes, confused.

"Do you want to go?" Akio repeated. "Go rescue them I mean. Of course I'm going 'cause Rose and Percy's there….I was just wondering…" Akio bit his lower lip and stared at the ground.

"What made you doubt I would?" Zoro asked coldly. Akio fumbled with his fingers in his pockets.

"I just thought…" He began when Zoro looked away proving that he didn't care what he thought. Akio sighed again. He pulled his right hand out of his pocket which was holding his silver gun. "How do you want to do this?" He asked sheepishly.

"There's only one way for us to get to Hell…" Zoro replied bluntly. He pulled out Wado Ichimonji and watched it glisten in the sunlight. Akio laughed.

"What?" Zoro asked curious, however, he didn't take his eyes off of Kuina's blade.

"It's ironic," He explained. "That even now, when we're best friends, we're still going to kill each other…" He voice trailed off. Zoro grinned remembering the first time they met and the stupid battle they got into and how they ended up killing each other.

"I guess it is." He smirked raising the blade to Akio's throat who pointed his gun at Zoro's head. "On three." Zoro ordered.

"Now do you mean on three, or after three….cause we can't mess this up you know; Hounds can't kill themselves…." Zoro glared. "Ok, ok…" Akio sighed. "On three…"

"One…" Zoro began. Neither of them could look the other in the eye so instead they stared at their feet. "Two…" Both took a deep breath, the last of their breaths in this world. Zoro hesitated. Akio glanced up at Zoro and saw a strange expression on his face. Don't tell me he's going to back out now… "Three." He said suddenly. Akio flinched. The trigger was pulled; the sword sliced and blood splattered.

End

I want to say 'thank you' to everyone who stayed with it until the end. I hope the ending was satisfying. Yes, there will be a sequel, so you can look forward to that. Now, when I first started writing this I just planned on writing a one-shot, but look how it turned out! Thanks for all of the wonderful reviews, but I'd love to get more. Tell me what I could improve on for the second one. TELL ME WHAT YOU THOUGHT! PLEASE! ~CYA