I finished before the deadline, amazing. Figured I should post it as it'll be difficult when I get to Chicago with weird internet. Anyway, to you who have favorited thanks and Fortuna Draken you made me blush a bit when I read that review. I was hoping it was in character. but here's the point where the story wanders into fanon territory while still keeping to the canon. Enjoy.


Molting

Examination Table

The morning arrived and Akito yawned, rolling out of her bed. She had chosen not to stay with Ikki, as there was so much to do today. It would be cruel to disturb him. She stood up, going to rush into the shower. In her head Agito continued to snooze. She giggled at the expression her other half wore as she scrubbed. It was cute, not like the menacing shark at all. As she reached her back, she winced as the soap trickled into the wounds. She ran her hand down the two jagged lines. Agito was right. Something was poking out and she didn't want to know what it was. It doesn't seem as though I have much choice in the matter.

Finishing her quick bath, she climbed out to dry off. Every time she cleaned up here, she always found herself marveling at the size of the bath. It would be funny to ice skate there, she thought. Akito glanced at herself in the mirror and winced, feeling unwanted memories force themselves to the surface. She hated mirrors, one for the sake of her head and two because she didn't like seeing her dead eyes staring at her accusingly. It wasn't her fault she was born. Everything else though...

You are everyone's catalyst child. The blame will be shoved upon you for this war, for you are the flame that rekindled it all. Whether you end it is entirely up to your holder. You have no choices.

They had made certain she knew just what she was. Even if she knew nothing of it in the beginning, she learned it all in the end. She slipped on the old straitjacket, feeling the stitches rub against her skin. Ignoring the discomfort, she continued getting dressed. She had learned to ignore discomfort. It wasn't hard when the person who raised you punished your wrongdoings. She was nearly a master at it.

I made a mistake last night.

She had. Ikki was not meant to see her so vulnerable. He would be suspicious now, which put her in all the more danger and him as well. She had to keep acting, had to keep pretending, and hope he would forget. But he wouldn't. Somehow she knew that. He was smarter than he pretended after all, more than even he knew. Slipping on civilian shoes, she lifted her Air Trecks over her shoulder. Silently, she slipped out of the house and up the road. The moon seemed to wave her off as she jogged. It was a long way down.

Ikki woke up to it being oddly quiet and slightly... cold. Huh? He's not here. Weird. Disturbing as it was, he had grown used to Akito sleeping with him. He was so quiet; it wasn't surprising he didn't wake up each time. The boy was usually there and would smile (always sadly, he noticed, always a falsely happy smile) but the absence was more startling than the boy himself.

He got up and went to take a bath. He's probably downstairs already. But when he got down there fully dressed, Akito was nowhere to be found.

Rika peered in. "No sign of him either then," she concluded.

Ikki couldn't help but whistle. "Damn, what time did he leave? Sunrise?"

"Would that surprise you?"Rika asked, smiling at Ume as she practically floated down the stairway in search of food.

"Hah. No." I think he's avoiding me. After last night, can I really blame him?

The walls were their usual clean selves when she arrived. There was no one in the waiting room chairs. There hardly ever was. Most patients lived here, oddly enough. Why you would willingly cage yourself in a hospital was beyond her. Miyoko was typing at her computer, brown hair covering her ears to hide the music she was listening to. Akito smiled warmly. Miyoko acted very childlike for someone who was almost thirty. It didn't help that she didn't look even close to twenty-three. Akito went up to the front desk and waited. Luckily the woman could somehow hear through the floor.

Miyoko looked up and smiled, putting a finger to her lips as she snuck the headphones out of her ears. She gave her familiar smile. "Good morning Akito!" She spoke in a cheerful yet quiet voice. Not even she could be loud and bubbly at seven in the morning. There were no honorifics from her, not after all the time she had been there.

"Good morning Miyoko-san. Tired?"

"Very." The woman sighed. "Advice for you girl: never become a secretary." Akito giggled.

"I don't think they'll let me get a normal job," she remarked. Miyoko nodded in agreement, glancing around as though afraid they would pop out of nowhere. Admittedly that was likely.

"All right you know the drill," she chirped, handing the girl a stack of forms and a pen. "Better hurry: I'm sure they can't wait to examine you."

"I think we're both certain of that." Miyoko rolled her eyes at the blunette's cheek and waved her off. The girl moved toward the chair and winced at the discomfort of the hard plastic. Biting the pen top tiredly, she began scrawling what he had memorized an age ago.

We're here? Agito's sleep-drunk voice filled her head and she nodded. Behind the autopilot functions her body performed, Akito saw her reflection staring at her with a clearly half-conscious stare. Mn… too early.

School starts at eight, she reminded the girl, who scowled.

I sleep through that too.

Lazy girl.

I don't care. Akito giggled to herself and finished the pages, signing her name quickly. Do you even know what you're putting on those forms anymore?

No. I never bothered to think about it.

Doesn't it bother you at all, who we are?

Not really. It's not like I've ever been a big worrier about that sort of thing. Does it bother you?

Not really.

Good. Now go back to sleep, the doctors will be here any minute. The other personality scowled but complied. Akito hated her seeing the doctors, whether it was for her mental state or keeping the doctors alive neither was quite sure. Neither really wanted to find out either. Besides, she was tired anyway.

As though her reading her fragmented mind-which was a terrifying concept to be honest- her oh-so-familiar doctor stepped up to her, looking down on her as he always did. His expression was its usual smile but like he had taught her, a smile was the best expression to hide behind.

Akito really wanted to see her other doctor now. Mr. Tafumi was much better or at least, he was more truthful. Kind treatment didn't have to be an option in her opinion. She rose in silence and stepped forward before he could even speak a word. The man followed, a smirk upon his lips.

As soon as they were in the office, he locked the door. "Strip," he ordered monotonously. She obeyed silently, wincing as she removed her shirt. The shirt and bra must've been enough before she found herself firmly pinned against the wall. He wouldn't do anything; scientists had better things to do than corrupt their human bodies with experiments like her, though she was certain he wanted to. A hybrid would be an interesting specimen after all.

A cold metal ran down her spine as he asked. "Did you feel that?"

"…Yes sir." The cold came again and she heard him begin to speak again. But the words were lost in a blaze of white-hot agony. Something was pressing on her back, slicing it open. It was gouging straight through to her ribs, stealing her breath, stabbing her heart. She struggled futilely against the wall to move, face strained as she held back the screams she wished she were allowed to utter. Tears pricked the corners of her eyes as something began to force itself out of her torso, bringing a terribly broken pain to her.

Agito was awake by now- had to be, she wasn't that numb- and through the haze could be seen almost in tears herself. This caused Akito to forget. No. Agito should not be in pain right now, not now or more than she had to be. Agito wasn't allowed to suffer. No, goddamn you, leave her be!

As if obeying her, the feelings and pain abruptly ended, not as though they had never been, but with the air of someone who knew they'd be back soon and simply couldn't wait to continue what they had started.

As she gathered her bearings again, Akito became aware that the doctor had left. She looked around, sensing Agito retreating reflexively again, licking her wounds like a frightened animal. Akito winced. Blood, fluid, fibers, and what could have been muscle and skin were in a small puddle behind where she was standing.

"I wonder what the janitors will think," she mumbled. Suddenly self-conscious, the girl drew herself up on the examination table and rested her head against her knees.

"Looks like you've made a mess again," a gently aged voice commented to her, startling her from her thoughts. "What would Rinta-kun say?" Akito winced as her head snapped up.

"Ta-Tafumi-san…" The old man gave her his customary kindly look, something she still didn't quite get even now, limping to the chair next to the table.

"My assistant…" he began after a moment, searching for the words that were beginning to fade from his genius mind. "Came to get me after you suddenly collapsed. You were having spasms that are quite unlike you, little zero." The pet name made her twitch, the information nervous.

"I-I was?" she whispered. "T-Tafumi-s-san wha-what's happening to me?"

The old man sighed and pointed to the mirror behind her. "Look at your back." Reluctantly she turned her head and immediately a sickening bile rose in her throat.

On her back were…wings. Still forming, with no feathers and little skin but the shape could only be that. They were small, just poking from the two large slashes that had pained her for many days now, but she could practically feel them forcing themselves from her back, growing. Agito sensed her agitation and peeked; only to pale and scramble backwards, cursing foully.

Akito could only stare in shock until some part of her frozen mind managed to remember speech. "T-Tafumi-san… what am I?"

"Only Rinta-kun can tell you that," the man replied gently.

"W-What's gonna happen to me?" she rasped, her hands moving to hold her head, trying to regain some hold over he vanishing sanity. "This- this isn't possible."

"I do believe it is," Tafumi corrected kindly. "And… judging by the development. It is slow but gradually increasing in speed. This will put a great strain on the body, specifically the heart. My guess is… you only have a few more months to live."

There was the sound of a sliding door from the front. Ikki glanced out from his room, clutching an AT in one hand. Akito slipped the door shut, toeing off his shoes. Ikki stepped out, looking amused to hide his concern.

"Never thought you'd be the one to skip school, even if Agito sleeps through it." To his surprise Akito didn't reply, dropping his ATs at the entranceway with a small thud. His hair hid his eyes and a numb expression covered the rest of his visible face. "You all right?" He struggled to keep the worry from his voice this time and failed. Akito said nothing for a moment then he stumbled forward, resting his head against Ikki's chest.

"Can I…" he asked in a hollow whisper, almost like a sob. "Stay in your room for a while? I won't… do anything so, please? I- we- don't want to be alone right now."

Under any other circumstance, Ikki would have refused. But he couldn't do it now; not with how desperate and helpless Akito sounded. So he nodded and the boy followed him inside. Silently, the child crawled on the bed on top of the covers. The amber stare watched him listlessly as he worked on repairs.

"What happened?" The words burst from his mouth before he could stop it and Ikki inwardly cursed his severe lack of tact. Even Ringo would have been pissed.

But Akito didn't really react. After a moment, a pretty, dead smile crossed his face. "I don't remember. Early morning, I went out so Agito could train. I... met up with someone. We were tired and Agito had fallen asleep. After that, I don't remember anything, but it was all red."

He's lying. But this time Ikki held his tongue. He wasn't certain he wanted to know the truth just yet. "If you say so." He reluctantly went back to his Air Trecks.

Akito just kept watching. Agito was silent, for the first time feeling true fear. All the preparation in the world couldn't have prepared either of them for the sudden reality.

I have wings…and they're going to kill me.

Oh the irony.