Disclaimer: Tekken and Tekken characters are the property of Namco Limited. This is nonprofit fan fiction.

Warnings: Slash, m/m romance, UST. Charged, uncomfortable depiction. At this point, it is unspecified what the rating stands for.

Pairing: Lars/Tougou

Never Lose, Never Give Up

by Salysha

Chapter 1: Millennium Tower

Lars stared at Tougou's body in horror, and then the man of action in him kicked in. "Anyone alive? Answer me," he shouted as he scooted beside Tougou. "Alisa, find me a hospital that still works."

Lars tried to wake up Tougou, but Tougou had slipped away. No coaxing or shaking brought forth a response. "Don't die on me, Tougou," Lars swore. "You hear me? Don't you die." His lieutenant did not respond to his attempts.

"Anyone? Answer!" he called out one final time, but no one made a sound. Lars took only a flick to think through his COA, but he was out of options. His next move would have been easier without their armors on, but there was no time to get rid of them. He had only poor choices to make.

Lars removed the blade from Tougou and set it aside gently, then pushed a hand behind Tougou's back, grabbed a hold of his wounded arm with the other, and started hauling them up. Tougou was dead weight in his hands.

The weight was overbearing; his sight danced in bright, blinking spots. He wasn't well enough to do this. His head hammered.

"Alisaa! I need the data." As Lars hauled both of them on their feet and lifted Tougou off the ground, something snapped. His back... The notion was vague through the adrenaline, but it held true with dread-inducing consistency. Lars buried the fear and focused.

Showing almost inhuman strength, he gathered Tougou in his arms. Even then, he looked around in regret. The decision to leave his men behind was painful. He should have looked after them, but the living came first. I won't let you die. I won't lose you, too.

"Alisa! Show me the way," Lars commanded and started the painstaking, snail-paced run for the nearest hospital that had survived. Neither he nor Alisa stopped to wonder why no one ambushed them on the way out, like a guardian angel was tracking their path.

The staff at the central hospital was imprinted with a memory to last when a soldier carrying another one pushed through the doors and demanded care for his friend. Half-frantic with exhaustion and shock and justified worry, he was close to collapsing.

Lars himself came to when he realized he was sitting in the hallway and that Tougou had been taken from him. His arms ached like he was still carrying the burden. He still feared the adorned breastplate of his armor would do further damage and cause his grip to fail. The disarray persisted until he spotted a familiar figure. Alisa was standing by, hovering. Not literally, thankfully. She was observing him with concern. Someone came to ask for more information. He confirmed Tougou's name, but when asked about an emergency contact, he faltered.

"I am his commanding officer. There is no one else," he said numbly. He had no idea if it was true.

He was alone again, and he crunched his hand into a fist. His gloves had blood on them. He had blood on his armor, too, and then the emptiness hit: Tougou's survival was not in his hands anymore. He did not have the prerogative to wait around for the news, either; he had to go on.

He felt emptier than he had ever felt, even in the darkest hours. It hurt to have a path laid out before him, without the right to remain behind and wallow in misery. In his heart, he was almost sure he had lost Tougou, and for all the fighting, that felt like his biggest failure.

"Come on," he said and stood up. He had no place there.

"The mission continues?"

"The mission continues."

Alisa thought about it, tilting her pretty head to the side, and replied, "Hai."

The mission continued, but with a retrograde step: the Millennium Tower. Lars expelled the trepidation and approached the scene with his guard up. Alisa scanned the grounds as well, but none came to impede their passage. The area that had been swarming with troops earlier was now deserted.

As they came close, it became evident that the site had been cleaned up. The casualties had been taken away, and the ground was less bloodied. The shell casings were few in-between, and the air no longer smelled of iron.

The van was still in place. Lars made his way over and discovered that not the entire battle scene had been cleaned up: the bloodstains on the ground were visible and even extended to the side of the car. Lars swallowed painfully and spotted a familiar artifact on the ground: Tougou's prized blade.

He squatted down and picked the blade up. It was still freshly stained. If Tougou was gone, this was the only thing left of him. It was a stopping thought.

"Are you all right?"

Lars secured the blade carefully; Tougou would have wanted someone to care for it. "I'm fine," he said and rose. He should have done more for his men, but it was out of his hands now. "Let's find the car." Even the thought of trekking that part of the journey filled him with fatigue. The ache and the mind-numbing pain weighed down his every step, but he didn't have a choice. Together, he and Alisa started for the car.

It was night on a much later date, after days out in the cold. The hospital staff would not have allowed Lars in at that hour, except he would not be held back. He would have broken through the front door, had there been no other way. Lars strode down the corridor until he found the room. He stopped in his tracks. His heart was pounding as he finally cracked the door open and took care to make as little noise as possible slipping in.

He scouted the room nervously; the beds were empty. No! He blinked rapidly and went further in, guided only by the nightlight, wincing at the nasty creak from his boots. Lars looked over the rows, but he saw only mixed colors of light blue and white until... there. The bed closest to the window had an occupant. Even before a visual confirmation, Lars was sure it was Tougou.

He had been directed here to see a live patient, but he hadn't dared hope it was true. By the bedside, Lars inspected Tougou anxiously, but he couldn't see past the medical equipment. The familiar face was at peace. He didn't find signs of life until he got used to the semi-darkness enough to see that Tougou's chest was rising and falling steadily.

Tougou was sleeping, and the relief came crashing down. Anything else could wait until the next day. Lars leaned on the bed rail and bowed his head, reciting something thankful in his head. He opened his eyes again. His head was swimming.

It was Lars' intention to move on and leave everyone to his rest, but he wasn't needed elsewhere. He started for the door, but he was ready to drop. Before he could fall on the floor and wake the room, he stumbled forward and collapsed on the bed next to Tougou's.

To Be Continued...

Published December 10, 2010.

Thanks to Gypsie (Gypsie Rose) for the proofreading!