Warnings: Spoilers for Emil's background story; disturbing imagery; implied children's abuse and experimentation; this isn't a happy story
The story bases on highly speculative theories of mine on which I'll never judge or insist that they're right or wrong. Grimoire Nier, the game's information book, gave me the push for some of these theories about Emil's background story; the book gave me also the inspiration for the title. A cookie if you tell me to what it refers in the game.
I also tried to experiment with the style of the fic to achieve a distorted feeling, as if you're in a dream. Due to both cases, it could mean I have written something that makes no sense at all. If it's the first, I'll provide information on how I came to certain points in the artist's comments. If it's the second, then I have to rewrite the fic. Simple as that.
Thrilled whispers had flittered around the groups of children in the mess hall. The women and men clad in white had huddled at their table, sometimes pointing at him but not for him as words fell like "progress", "accomplishment" and "breakthrough".
He couldn't understand how they could use these in connection to the girl he found after two days of absence in their shared room. The long stripe of cloth glided out of his hand, pooling forgotten behind him. Nobody had cared to tell him she was back. – then, nobody ever cares; and why should they? –
He stared at the girl in front of him as he stepped to the bed. The bulb at the ceiling flickered. Her face almost vanished in the white sheets, hadn't it been for her ebony hair and the shadows dancing across her features, dipping parts of the skin into deep shade; her chest was rising and falling so slowly he wasn't sure if he was truly seeing the motion under the gown.
Suddenly her eyes fluttered. Black strands fell over her temple as she turned her head to the side – the pupils were dilated and seemed like ponds in her fallen eye sockets. When they found him, they took only seconds to focus and clear and she smiled with hollow cheeks at him that he couldn't stand to return her gaze.
"Hi Emil. I'm sorry it took so long." The words fell out of her sprung up lips like dried petals, so delicate that they could crumble any moment. A fine tremor went through her left arm as it slowly lifted and reached for him. He suppressed the sting in his throat. No time for crying now.
After he sunk to his knees, trembling hands held her steady one, the limb so much thinner than two days ago. He touched, not pressed the knuckles to his forehead – oh gods, are they supposed to peek through the skin, what if I break them – closing his eyes. Not to hide them, not here. Not now. Not with her.
Energy pulsed against his skin, hand to forehead, forehead to hand. Sometimes he wondered if it could shine through their skins when there was so much of it in their bodies – they are called Snow White; black and red dribbles from their mouths over smooth skin, clutching at each other, two terrified pairs of eyes asking what is happening, what is changing inside them – but then, the scientists said it had fused with their cells already.
Emil concentrated; he felt something stir at the back of his mind, pressure behind his eyes. Even with how different the scientists treated and trained them, some of the magic they had gained they had made their own, and as it was with everything that one had, everything that was part of one, that also belonged to the other. Or maybe it was just because energy reacted to energy of the same kind – it still was the same, alien from this world energy after all that inhibited them. Whatever the truth was, he only knew one word for both.
Resonance. Because he was calling for her and she always answered.
His magic stirred even more and suddenly it shot through the contact, taking Emil with him through Halua's hand. Up her arm into her head he felt himself be dragged and when he opened this time his eyes, he looked down to his head where he was still holding his sister's hands and didn't find it strange that he saw the darkness behind his closed lids at the same time. He felt a smile, on that wasn't on his face but on hers; the smile felt strangely heavy and somehow too strong. He couldn't help mirroring his sister still as he watched his mouth curl.
Then the smile vanished. Slowly Emil sank into Halua's memory of the last two days and he held her tight mentally, so tight that he felt what she had felt, sensations, and emotions, and feelings. He felt both cold and hot at the same time and gasped at the magic – it tastes like blood and ink, liquid, living words – rolling into his body by his sister; and yet he was only a watcher, sitting in an isolated from outside the events.
He thought he felt in the distance something like a cold tremor, hairs standing on edge, a coil tightening around a chest while he watched. It all happened outside of the room, notable, but not affecting him here. Only when they reached the end of the memories – one of the 'caretakers' carrying Halua to their room and dropping her into the bed – did he notice how his hands were shaking, the wetness on his face.
Unwanted, tears he had been holding in his burning eyes slid beyond his lids, over his cheek, even before he had returned to his own body. He rubbed them away with his free hand in vain, embarrassment and shame tinting his words.
"I'm so sorry, big sister. I'm such a cry-baby and coward – no matter how hard I try, I'm too scared to protect you against the adults. And I can't control my eyes, the only thing they're useful for-"
"Emil." Just his name. So soft. "Emil, please look at me."
The sobs racked now the boy's body, making his frame shake. Holding the girl's hand he carefully lowered their intertwined fingers as if he feared hers would crumble up, up, up her wrist until fissures were covering her whole body. Rising his head Emil swallowed as he opened his eyes, another sob escaping, and then there was Halua's smile at him.
Bloody red greeted her mournfully, only few purple isles still left in the ocean of magic his body was infused with in between. A prickle covered her skin, her own powers easily blocking the petrifaction. Even now he tried holding back although he could do little once his eyes were open.
They were still Emil's. Nothing would ever be able to corrupt that, he would always be kind and clumsy and the sweetest person in the world.
"You and I, we are just children – and they will forever be, trapped in the magical cage of their own bodies while the world around them keeps changing, keeps dieing, keeps being born – Of course you are scared, Emil. I'm scared too."
"Sca-scared, you?" Gaping at the girl, he surged up and supported himself on his hands, bringing his face close to hers. "But you're never scared! Never!"
She shook her head. Her little brother sometimes really thought too high of her. "I just can hide it better than you. I've been scared since when we came here, for the both of us. Of the scientists, of the other children, of the next treatments, of the other experiments." For the first time since days the bitter edge returned to her voice, sharpening and hardening thin words, but it softened again as she gazed into his eyes; the prickle grew stronger now. She took solace in that.
"But you are also kind, nothing like any of the others. I understand that you don't want to hurt anybody.
"You aren't a monster – she knows she is because she belongs to them – You can't shut your powers off, but you have literally blinded yourself outside this room because you're terrified you could petrify someone by accident. I know this won't happen because you won't allow it."
– he sees out the corner of his eyes how the man who was so angry seconds before crabwalks away from him as he puts on the blindfold again, trying to ignore his stinging cheek; the girl takes her brother in her arms, slowly stroking through his hair; her glare promises red-black-shining bullets from her rod what sends the man finally off on his thick legs –
"And some day -" It was hard but she tried and tried, feeling a joyous twist in her chest as she lifted her hand, gently laying it against Emil's cheek. He leant into her, eyes closing.
"Some day you will save someone with your powers," she whispered, stroking with a thumb over his cheek. "That's the reason they exist after all – for we are weapons. But you, you will do only good things because you are a good person." She wished she could say that for herself but it would never be. Still, the smile she cast him shone even when it stretched her dry lips even thinner.
"That's why your powers aren't a curse or a sin. They are a vital part of you now, of Emil, just like my powers are now part of me. Please never be ashamed of yourself for them because you have no reason to be ashamed of yourself.
"Please never forget this, little brother."
Curling her hand behind his head, she brought him down, both their foreheads touching. Halua closed her eyes as well, fighting own tears now and the lump of fear that was steadily building inside her throat.
She hoped Emil would be strong enough for himself. She knew she wouldn't be able to stay with him much longer.
– the scientists and their superiors are blind to what they are creating; all experiments before have failed in one way or another, dieing after their minds steadily deteriorated so they weren't children anymore but demons; with her, with no. 6, they think it to be the breakthrough in the research, because they can control her and for them and their glory she will fight the Legion-
foolish humans; they are all the same, it whispers in her head when bones begin closing around her
and she shivers –