A/N: A year later and I update…
Tsuna sat on the couch while hugging his knees to his chest with his chin on his knees. The brunette was watching his favorite anime with Giotto, but couldn't wait for the blonde any longer and started watching it without him. The anime was about super heroes who used their super powers to help those in need. Tsuna couldn't believe how easy the super heroes' lives were depicted in the cartoon. Tsuna found it hard to believe that humans could easily accept those irregular people in their society. In the real world, Tsuna and his kind were punished and hidden from society. Instead of being publicly famous, Tsuna and his race are matured in military training facilities where they would grow to become weapons, the total opposite of heroes. Tsuna only watched the fictional cartoon because it was funny and was very cute as any cartoon should be. Tsuna watched cartoons and other shows because it was an escape from the ordeal of emotions he felt everyday by Giotto. It was a tiny, yet superficial escape but Tsuna needed something to feel less human. Emotions and sensations are a nuisance to endure and Tsuna wanted to feel them less and less. It was a pain the brunette didn't like to feel and choose to avoid feeling it if he could.
"Tsuna, what are you watching?" Giotto asked from inside the kitchen.
"Tiger and Bunny." Tsuna replied in a deadpan type of voice that Giotto couldn't obviously hear from within the next room.
Giotto was busy making popcorn since it was Friday night and that meant anime night. The blonde watched the paper bag spun around inside the microwave slowly before going over the past few weeks in his head. G already found a different girl to chase which wasn't all that surprising. What was really surprising was Cozart and his new strange habits. The redhead spends the entire day sleeping and leaves in the night to devote his time with some unknown girl. It was strange because Giotto never expected Cozart to be one who spends so much of his time with a girl. Giotto only expects that from G. Giotto smiled down to the floor when his mind began to fade away from Cozart and came to Tsuna. The boy was slowly making his way inside of Giotto's heart much like G and Cozart had done. Giotto is becoming attached to the boy who had nothing but dog tags and a brand on the back of his neck. Tsuna was a question. Giotto loved the idea of taking care of Tsuna, but there were so many questions he had with no answers to. Giotto was curious, but was also kind. It was as if having the little brother he never had, but also having a stray wild creature.
When the bell to the microwave rang and the popcorn was done, Giotto poured the buttery snack into a bowl before walking into the living room. The blonde sat down on the couch next to the brunette before taking a small handful of popcorn for himself. He offered the bowl to Tsuna with a smile. Without looking away from the television screen, Tsuna reached for one popped kernel and placed it in his mouth. Giotto chuckled quietly since watching the fourteen year old eat one popped kernel at a time was cute.
"Who's those two?" Giotto looked to the screen when he tired from watching Tsuna. He passed the bowl to Tsuna again and from the corner of his eye he could see the brunette reaching for another popped kernel.
"Tiger-san and Bunny-chan," Tsuna answered before eating more popcorn. "They're partners."
"Oh, what are they doing?" Giotto continued to ask questions.
"Fighting." Tsuna replied and gave the bowl back to Giotto.
"Fighting who?" Giotto asked through a mouthful of popcorn.
"Lunatic." Tsuna answered, his eyes never leaving the television.
"Oh, I see." Giotto offered the bowl again and Tsuna shook his head. "You don't want anymore? You had like, four."
"Tsuna is thirsty. Can Tsuna have lemonade, like the day Tsuna first came here?" Tsuna asked and looked to Giotto only to receive a dazed stare from the blonde. Giotto couldn't believe he forgotten such an important day. Tsuna remembered it clearly, but he completely forgot about.
"Sure, just give me a minute." Giotto smiled before getting up. The thought of Tsuna never forgetting such a day made the blonde extremely happy.
"Tsuna wants to help." Tsuna said as he stood up.
"Don't worry. I'll take care of it." Giotto waved it away and headed back into the kitchen.
Tsuna dropped back down on the couch upon hearing those words acting as a key and unlocking a hidden memory from within his past. Tsuna stared openly into the air when he began to remember the day when he made his first real friend. He remembers being wild and having nothing but the desire to murder and become the strongest weapon at the facility. He was only a toddler who fought to hear Byakuran's praise and to survive. That was once the meaning to Tsuna's life, to kill and survive. The day Tsuna formed a bond with another Altered and formed a partnership was the day Tsuna made a true friend. The teenager's face turned for the worst as he continued to remember that day. He lowered his head into his hands when he began to feel the worst feeling of all the human emotions. Sadness and regret were the worst because it took a long time to fade away.
"Do you wanna play with somebody X-27? Hmmm~ Wanna play with X-59? As long as you play nice I don't mind the mess you make with him~" Byakuran's voice gave the brunette chills. He sounded so friendly and warm, but the meaning was entirely different. His words meant to kill X-59 without even breaking a sweat. It was a test Tsuna couldn't afford to lose.
Tsuna will always hold in his heart the kindness X-59 showed him that day. It almost brought him to tears just remembering the fight. Tsuna had to learn the hard way that an Altered's partner had to be his equal. That is why Tsuna couldn't kill X-59 and learned that day to admit defeat. The two toddlers spent hours after hours trying to brutally murder the other, but in the end they both dropped to the ground bloody and torn from their never ending fight. At that time, Tsuna had no clue of the process of their fates being sealed together at that moment. The teenager bit his lower to stop the tears that were coming. It wasn't fair how he formed a friendship that only lasted a year. X-59 should be alive just like Tsuna was alive today. They were friends. Aren't friendships meant to last forever? Like Tiger & Bunny or was that a lie as well?
Tsuna was always alone in his secured chamber and was use to the solidarity feeling washing over him. It was a huge change for the brunette to talk to someone let alone even care for his wellbeing. There were too many changes that day for Tsuna to even understand why they were happening. Tsuna remembers tasting his own blood for the first time and hating the new and horrible taste. Tsuna thought he was going to die for the first time. He thought everything he worked for, every trial he survived went towards nothing. Tsuna thought he'll never reach the end and see the sunlight he yearned for. That was his dream once when he was as a child. His life's meaning was to kill, but he dreamed of seeing sunlight. Now as a teenager, that was different. He once had the desire to feel the sunlight warm his face and brightened his hair, but the longer he spent chained up like a wild animal the more it became a far off wish and later won't be achieved in the next seven years. It wasn't until he learned the value of true friendship and wanted that more than anything in the world. Currently, life's meaning meant enjoying a lukewarm friendship, but for right now, Tsuna had no dream. All he wanted was his friendship with Giotto, G, and Cozart. That was a dream in itself.
"Hey…? Hey! Wake up!" X-59's voice echoed in the recesses of Tsuna's head. The teen trembled on the couch as he continued to hear the strain of X-59's voice. Why is he remembering this now, of all times? X-59 is dead and gone. What was the point of remembering? Tsuna wanted to go back to where he came from, back to the facility. At the facility, there were still cold places on that island that held X-59's warmth. Tsuna gulped and could see X-59 crawling all the way to where his toddler self's lay. The young silverette grew tired and began to drag himself while leaving a trail of his blood on the floor. X-59 kept Tsuna alive with the sound of his voice and the touch of his hand for what? Why did he do that? Tsuna never had the chance to ask.
"Hey…? Are you alive? I didn't mean to hurt you. I just have to, you know? Huh? No! You're not going to die! Don't worry! I'll take care of it! I'll take care of you! Leave it to me! I know a way to save us both!"
Tsuna sat up from the sofa quickly for he couldn't handle the pain of regret any longer. He regrets living without X-59, his best friend and partner. He rushed to the stairs and escaped to his bedroom. There was a spare room that Giotto allowed him to sleep in instead of sleeping on the couch every night. The bed was much better than the sofa and Tsuna took the offer rather too quickly. Tsuna wanted to sleep the memories, feelings, and tears away. Tsuna liked sleeping and saw that as a cure for everything bad with him. He hid under the covers and shut his eyes tight to hold back his tears. He wanted to lock those memories up again. There was a reason why they were locked away.
Giotto was use to Tsuna's bizarre mood swings. He was use to Tsuna leaving everyone around him in order to be alone with his thoughts. It was okay, but it was wrong how he deals with such things alone. When will Tsuna ever learn that sometimes you can share those feeling with others, just so it doesn't hurt as much as when you're alone. Giotto saw the teen run up the stairs and only frowned at the sight. The blonde placed the second glass of lemonade down on the coffee table before taking a sip from his own. He sat down on the couch and watched the anime alone. The popcorn had a soggy texture when not sharing it with anybody else and wasn't worth eating anymore. The lemonade was sour and wasn't perfect as it was on the day he made it for Tsuna. Giotto sighed as he sank deeper into the couch. How was he going to teach Tsuna that having friends meant being open?
The sound of rushed footsteps coming down the stairs made Giotto believe it was Tsuna running down to hug him in search of comfort, but he knew too well that will never happen. He scoffed at his wild imagination and only brought his self-esteem down. He couldn't get the brunette to say his name much less get him to speak his feelings. Giotto stayed put on the sofa and watched Cozart run out the door like there was a fire in the house. Who was this girl that was driving Cozart wild? Cozart was probably late for a date and probably didn't want to disappoint her.
"Stupid…" Giotto mumbled as he leaned back on the couch and stared at the television. The blonde envied his two best friends. Their love lives are only getting better and Giotto's has even started! Why is he curse to grow old and never experience such a wonderful feeling? It's not like he's asking for a whole lot. He's just asking for a true and fruitful love. It's not like he wants to marry the person off and have kids. He just wants to experience it. Doesn't everybody in this world have the chance to experience a love before death? Isn't everybody's life story truly a love story? Where does his begin? Summer was only going to last two months. He was hoping to find someone. But truthfully, it's only been a week and he's given up. He should just enjoy the rest of the summer of vacation with his two best friends and Tsuna.
Giotto sunk deeper into the cushions when he thought of Tsuna. What will happen to the brunette when Giotto and his friends have to return to Italy? He simply can't take Tsuna with him. Tsuna may not have a family or someone to claim him here in Japan, but Giotto had no right to take Tsuna with him like some souvenir. Giotto also couldn't leave the poor teenager alone. He couldn't abandon him like he was some sort of unwanted house pet. Giotto stared at the ceiling and couldn't create a solution for this problem. He'll solve it later when he has to cross that bridge.
The blonde blinked upon hearing his name through sobs. There was only him and Tsuna in the house. Was that really Tsuna's voice just now? Giotto sat up quickly and much to his shock, he saw Tsuna crying his eyes out behind him. His eyes were red and chubby, but not to mention his nose as well. Giotto's mouth dropped open as he stammered, trying to understand what he was seeing. Was the brunette truly looking for his comfort?
"G-g-g-giotto!" Tsuna hiccupped loudly before holding out his hands to the blonde. Tsuna showed Giotto his wet fingers and snot stained wrists that he used to clean away his sadness.
"T-t-tears…so many…" Tsuna sobbed. "He-help me…"
Giotto sat up and walked over to Tsuna. "Hey, what's wrong? Why are crying? Tsuna?"
"Sad!" Tsuna cried out before rubbing the back of his hands to his eyes. "So sad! Tsuna so sad!"
"I can see that, Tsuna. Don't do that. You're only making it worst and making your eyes red." Giotto stopped Tsuna from rubbing his eyes and lowered the teen's hands back down to his sides. Giotto kept his own hands holding onto Tsuna's, not even realizing they were holding hands.
"I know crying and being sad doesn't feel…great." Giotto tried to reason with Tsuna. "But you know, explaining to someone why you're sad is much better than enduring it alone. Speak to me Tsuna. What's wrong? I want to help you."
Tsuna sniffled and looked up to the blonde. "Tsuna…..Tsuna…..Tsuna…" He trailed off. He sounded like a toddler whining sobbing loudly between his words. A very small curve on the corner of Giotto's bottom lip began to rise into a grin, but he managed to hide it. The brunette was too cute for words. Tsuna continued to cry while staring up at Giotto. He had no idea how to transmit his regret into words.
"Tsuna is what?" Giotto asked again.
Tsuna shook his head before dropping it against Giotto's chest. He gave up trying to speak and just wanted to cry again. Giotto blinked and didn't know what to say or even do at this point. Tsuna only lowered his head and Giotto's chest just happened to be the way. Were they that close to each other? Giotto recovered quickly when he felt Tsuna nuzzle into his chest in search of comfort and warmth. The blonde smiled warmly before releasing Tsuna's hands to wrap his arms around the teen in a warm embrace. Upon feeling the embrace grow tighter, Tsuna cried harder and gripped onto Giotto's shirt. He wishes he never has to lose this friendship as well. He wasn't it to last forever. Giotto hugged Tsuna tightly and did his very best to comfort the teen. The night wasn't what they planned, but it was better than watching late night anime.
"I found them." Enma explained as he held up a box of kittens to Cozart. It wasn't the fact that the teen found the three starving kittens that bother Cozart or the fact he went on a journey into the city alone in the middle of the night. The fact that Enma didn't tell anybody and could have been discovered is what scared the redhead. Cozart always kept Byakuran in the back of his mind. Nobody knew what that albino was thinking or when he was going to act. Who knows when Byakuran will want his weapons back. Cozart tried his best to be serious and even prepared himself to scold Enma, but the kittens. They were whimpering in hunger. They looked so lost without their mother. They looked so cute! The redhead looked away and sighed in defeat.
"Are you mad at me, Cozart?" Enma asked before lowering the box away from Cozart's face. He placed the box of kittens on the table and decided to feed them since they sounded hungry. There were pizza crusts inside the box, but Enma didn't understand why the kittens didn't eat them if they were hungry. The teen wasn't sure what he should give them instead, but he walked over to the fridge anyway and searched for food.
The fridge was stored with countless items of foods, snacks, and drinks. It was fit enough to feed maybe twelve families. Enma blinked and was surprise to see how quickly Cozart took on the role as the sole guardian to him and his family. The abandoned ship at the city's docks became home for Enma and his family. Nobody complained about it since it was much better than living in an enclosed room with chains and straps. Cozart was the only one who provided everything for these teenagers and Enma and his family were more than grateful for the food they eat, the clothes they wore, to the teachings of control for their powers. It was all of Cozart's doing and just him alone. Enma smiled silently at the warmth building in his chest and the thoughts of Cozart. Enma was new to the feeling of being cared for or even loved. He enjoyed the feeling instead of fearing it.
"I'm not mad. I'm just…not happy with you." Cozart answered. It took Cozart a while to realize Enma wasn't a telepath and wasn't reading his mind like he originally thought he did. Enma's Altered power was still unknown, but Cozart had a feeling that Enma's ability to communicate with him without speaking was definitely not the power of a telepath. Cozart sneaked a glance at Enma and smiled warmly at the sight of the teen smiling to himself. He looked so happy. All the pain he and his family must have felt while living in that facility that resembled hell always made Cozart sick to his stomach. He frowned and wished he could have saved them all sooner.
"Then why do you look upset with me?" Enma replied when he found a carton of milk. He closed the fridge and placed the milk on the table before looking into the kitchen's cabinets. The teen titled his head at an old rusty soup dish he found, but that's all he could find to pour the milk in. It was better than nothing.
"Enma, please!" Cozart intervened and took bowl away from Enma. He slammed it down on the counter and grabbed hold of Enma's shoulders. "I'm being serious! You shouldn't be alone! Ever! And you should never go into the city!"
"Why? Is it because I'm different? I can't control myself in a human environment?" Enma countered while glaring up at Cozart. Enma wasn't afraid of Cozart or his outburst. It made Enma seem inhuman to not be afraid. Enma was trained to never be afraid, but there is always something in this world that makes anyone scared. Cozart knew that very well. Anyone should be afraid of something if they were human. Enma wasn't scared, but he really didn't like how Cozart raised his voice to him and was squeezing his shoulders to get his point across. The warmth Enma had in his chest grew into a raging fire in seconds. The love he experienced had turned to hate.
"No! Because someone will find you! Maybe even Byakuran himself will find you and take you back to that place! I don't want that! Don't you understand?! I have to protect you and your family, but I can't do that if you're running away from my protection!" Cozart shouted.
"This is your protection? A forgotten metal ship? You can't stop Byakuran-san. He wants to collect Altered for what reason, I do not know. All you can do is delay the time he'll find us. Whether that day is tomorrow or a year from now, Altered are fated to remain away human society. We are destined to remain enclosed. Humans are easy to kill. Altered are hard to understand. This world is not ready for us." Enma explained while glancing away from Cozart's warm red eyes every now and then. He couldn't stand them while enduring the heat of hate in his heart. Cozart's eyes were making it hard to hate him.
"If that is true then why did you chose to be free when I literally broke the facility in half? If Altered are meant to stay locked up then why did you and your family chose freedom?" Cozart snapped.
"Look at the kitties!" Maggie shrieked as she rushed into the room when she saw one the kittens popping over the fold the box. Maggie's cry stopped the two from arguing and Cozart silently thank whatever powerful being for sending Maggie into the room. The tension was only becoming tighter between him and Enma. Cozart was only back tracking when he needed to become more forward. He wants to be on better terms with Enma because he wants to help him and his powers. He was only one that Cozart hasn't help yet.
"They're so cute! Enma Onii-san, where did you find them? They look so soft! Are you going to feed them? Can Maggie feed them too? Maggie wants to feed them! Look Adelheid Onee-san! Doesn't this kitty look a lot like Julie Onii-san?" Maggie rushed a million words per second as she picked up a black furry kitten and showed it to Adelheid.
"Magalia, put that creature down." Adelheid stood strong in the metal door frame. She was the oldest in Enma's family and had a mature body to go with that description. She glanced her cold red eyes around the room before stopping to glare at Cozart and Enma. Enma's and Cozart's heart jumped when they caught the stern glare. They knew exactly what point Adelheid was trying to get across. They were arguing and it had to stop because it wasn't like them to fight like that. Everybody knew that the two got along quite nicely.
"Why?!" Maggie whined at Adelheid. Adelheid snapped her attention back to the youngest in the family.
"The creature is gross and it is very late in the night. It is time for bed." Adelheid explained before folding her arms over her large breast.
Cozart smiled weakly to Maggie and had to agree with Adelheid. "She is right, Maggie. You really need your sleep. I don't want you tired when you're practicing your powers."
"That's different! Maggie can control it! Maggie tries hard! Besides! Cozart and everybody else stays up! Why can't Maggie?!" Maggie swiftly turned to Cozart and whined again. She cuddled the tiny kitten to her chest and nuzzled the top of its head.
"I stay up because this is the only time I can visit you and your family." Cozart explained as he walked over to the seven year old. He kneeled down in front of her and petted the kitten's head. Cozart was trying his best to reason with the stubborn toddler.
"I don't wanna go to bed, Cozart! Don't make me! I wanna feed the kitties! I wanna be with everybody else! I wanna be with you!" She croaked, sounding ready to cry.
"That is not Cozart's or your choice, Magalia. It is something that must be done." Adelheid explained while looking to Enma. He looked like he was there, but his thoughts seemed to be somewhere else. Enma was concerned with Cozart's other life. Enma knew Cozart had some human friends whom he loved dearly, but he didn't understand why. Those humans, Giotto and G must be very special and must have done something very great in order to have Cozart in their dept. Enma felt like he robbed those humans of Cozart, but he knew he and his family needed him more. Was it selfish to think that?
"How about I make a deal with you?" Cozart grinned at Maggie. "If you promise to go to bed on time every night then you can have the kitties all to yourself! But that means to clean them, feed them, and watch them, Maggie."
"Really?!" Maggie jumped. "Can I really?!"
"Of course! I mean what I say!" Cozart nodded his head happily. Maggie giggled and wrapped an arm around Cozart's neck. She did her best to hug him while holding a kitten in her other arm. Cozart chuckled and loved the small tight hugs the little girl possessed. Enma blinked and was a bit confused as to what had happened. It zoned out through most of the talking and didn't understand the hugging. He seemed left out. He fidgeted where he stood and Adelheid stared knowingly at Enma.
"How annoying…" Adelheid mumbled while looking away from Enma. "Hurry Magalia. I have to put you to bed before I can make my security rounds."
"Listen to Big Breast Ice Queen, Maggie! Don't wanna disturb her rounds~" A fedora wearing boy passed by the room and snickered as he did. He tipped his hat when he knew Adelheid would follow after him.
"Julie! I dare you to repeat that!" Adelheid hissed. In seconds, her whole right arm became frozen solid of ice. "Repeat! Or I'll beat it out of you!" She demanded before following after him, the sound of her heels clacking away on the metal floors.
Cozart chuckled at Adelheid and Julie before looking back to Maggie. "Come. I'll put you to bed then."
"No! Maggie wants to go to bed on her own now! Maggie has her own kitties to take care of now!" Maggie walked away from a baffled Cozart before walking to the box. She placed her kitten inside and picked up the box of kittens.
"Maggie is going to bed now! Good night Cozart and Enma Onii-san!" She walked by Enma and kissed his cheek before doing the same to Cozart. Cozart frowned slightly and whispered a good night before looking to Enma.
"Should I put you to bed as well?" Cozart joked and Enma's face only turned serious.
"If you spend the whole night here with us then you must be tired when you are with your human friends. Why do you do that to yourself? Your humans are important to you, are they not?" Enma started the next argument.
"Listen, you know their names. You went into my head, didn't you? Giotto and G are they're names and they are not my humans. They are my friends." Cozart returned rather too quickly.
"I did no such thing. I'm not a telepath. I did not enter your mind." Enma snapped and felt falsely accused.
"Then how did you do it, Enma?!" Cozart raised his voice.
"With my powers!"
"No shit! Could have fooled me!" Cozart shouted.
Enma's hands turned into fists. "Are my powers that intriguing to you? That you would dare push me into hate and anger in order for me to use them on you?! Just so you could see them! My powers are based on hate and anger! Do not tempt me!"
"Maybe that's the plan!" Cozart took a step forward to Enma. "Why are you hiding your powers from me?! Can't you see I'm trying to help you! I know you can't control them!"
Enma quickly placed his hand on Cozart's chest for only a second and Cozart jumped back when Enma did so. It was easy to see the fright in Cozart's step, but he didn't even have the time to ask what Enma did and was on his knees. Cozart coughed horribly while gripping his shirt. It felt like his heart was torn right out from his chest. Enma frowned at the sight of Cozart suffering in pain at his feet. He never wanted this.
When the pain began to fade and Cozart regain his breath, he glared up at Enma. He was shocked that Enma would even try to hurt him. All Enma did was touch him. All that pain inside his chest with just a single touch. Did he do something? Or was it just fake? Something must have been inflicted, but Cozart was starting to feel fine.
"What the hell…did you do to me?" Cozart hissed.
Enma only blinked down at Cozart. Cozart narrowed his eyes at Enma.
"Not answering me now?" Cozart slowly rose up on his feet. "How dare you try to hurt me? I'm only trying to help you!"
Enma's red eyebrows only creased slightly, but eased later.
"What you don't believe me? You can't see it, can't you? How can I prove myself? I forget you're nothing but an Altered! You don't feel emotions! You're nothing but a soulless creature that romans this Earth! Tell me Enma, how I should help you further if you don't give me the goddamn chance!" Cozart shouted and the sound of metal bending echoed throughout the whole ship.
Enma only stared. Unfazed and unchanging.
Cozart's jaw clenched and he took a small moment to think of his next words to say. Enma only blinked and waited for what Cozart had to say next. Unclenching his jaw, Cozart made a choice and it hopes Enma learns from this lesson.
"Is this how you want to remain the rest of your life? Behaving just like the type of Altered you were trained to be? You want to be cold and inhuman like the fucking walls of this place!" Cozart swiftly turned away and left, the walls crumpling together like paper with each step he took. He only left ruffles in the walls and could not entirely destroy them like he pictured in his head. Cozart still had a heart and still cared.
Enma could only watch the redhead leave and blink when he was alone in the room. He gulped and placed a hand over his chest. His heart was beating wildly in pain and sadness, but Enma didn't know that. He just knew it was hurting. He was suffering from a pain that had no relief. He bit his bottom lip till he tasted his own blood. He touched his lip and realized his mistake.
Cozart was on the beach and far away from the ship, but that didn't stop him from yelling out in frustration to the crashing waves. He growled to himself and ran his hands through his hair, his nails dragging against his skull. He felt his dog tags in his pocket becoming hot like coals from the rising of his anger. He grinded his teeth together and didn't what his power to be influenced by his emotions. He was angry and he knew that he couldn't return home behaving like this. He sat down on the sand and blew out some air from his mouth. He needed to calm down before going back home to Giotto and G. He was such a hypocrite. Teaching teenagers control of their powers when he can't even control his own.
"Ahhh! That fucking dog! Jirou! Jirou! Come back!"
Cozart continued to stare out to sea and ignored the people yelling behind him. Sounded like someone was chasing after a dog…
"Don't run after at him! He's only going to run faster if you do! He likes to be chased!"
"Shut up, idiot! It's your fault he got off his collar! Fucking Jirou get your hairy ass back here! Arrgg!"
Cozart lowered his head into his hands and wished he was somewhere quiet to calm him anger. All the yelling was only adding oil to the flame to his heart.
"Mu…ku…ro…" X-69 whispered his new name while staring at himself in the bathroom mirror. He raised his hands up above his head and watched himself from the mirror as he ran his hands through his light blue hair. He smiled when he felt the silky strands of hair pass between his fingers. He lowered his hands down the frame of his face then to his cheeks before pinching them. He chuckled quietly because it was fun being in another person's body, especial one that is larger and matured. His hands fell to his sides when he realized his eyes were different as well. They had a dark blue color with an odd diamond shape inside them. X-69 remembers his eyes clearly for they were anything but normal. One of his eyes is blue and the other is red. It a nice change to see two eyes with the same color, but he misses his own only because they were his own eyes.
X-69 looked down to his hands and wondered how he got in here. To be honest, he doesn't remember much. X-69 knows that this isn't his own body. His body is much younger and still has a long way to grow. X-69's memories are gone because Daemon purposely erased them, but that was completely unknown to X-69. In fact, X-69 doesn't remember anything from where he came from or remembers anybody. The teenage soul resting inside Daemon's body only knows of the kindness that's been shown to him by an Altered named Alaude. Alaude was the one who explained to him what it meant being an Altered, but X-69 could only understand that it meant being different. Alaude gave X-69 a name because it pained the blonde to stare at him and even try to call X-69 Daemon. It was Daemon on the outside, but on the inside there was only a complete stranger. When they met, Alaude heard a different voice from within strange thoughts and knew it wasn't his Daemon. Alaude couldn't pretend it was Daemon when there was somebody else inside. Mukuro became his name and Alaude felt like he was raising a man-child.
Mukuro became bored from staring at his face for too long and decided to explore this sensual body even more. Mukuro lifted up his black t-shirt and blinked at the sight of a carnal chest and stomach in the mirror. For a body that wasn't his, he felt proud to have it. Mukuro wanted to see more and took the shirt off completely before curving his shoulders back and seeing his muscles flex. The sound of silver dog tags hitting one another caught Mukuro's attention and he creased his eyebrows at them through the mirror. How did he not notice them before? They were dangling from his very neck. This body is so intriguing that it captured Mukuro's full attention. Mukuro looked down at the dog tags before holding them in his hands. There were numbers on them, but it didn't make sense to Mukuro. The numbers probably belong to the person whose body he took control of. He frowned at the silver tags before taking them off in a hurry and placing them down on the sink. He saw no reason to wear them if they identify somebody else.
Mukuro lost interest at staring at himself and quickly walked out of the bathroom shirtless. He wondered if Alaude was up yet since he always slept in. It was only two in the afternoon; he should be up at this time. Mukuro was lost at first in this new house, but found his way rather quickly. He crossed the hallway and into the bedroom where he knew Alaude always locked himself in. He stopped in the middle of the room when he caught a glimpse of himself in a body sized mirror. He was tall and skinny, but a man. Not a boy as he knows his soul is. His hair was short and it perfectly framed his face, but for some reason he didn't like it. He rather have his hair long and in his face for no particularly reason. Mukuro staggered a step forward when he saw an odd tattoo on his right shoulder. He turned himself in the mirror to get a better view of the small printed numbers that ran vertically down his shoulder. He frowned when he realized the numbers on his shoulder were exactly the same as the numbers on the dog tags.
"X-04-D…" Mukuro whispered before passing his fingers down those small black numbers.
Mukuro wondered why numbers that had no meaning to him was printed on his body and why he even wore them around his neck. He knew they weren't his and that this body wasn't his, but there must be a reason why. Who and why would keep such strange numbers on their body forever? He looked away from the mirror before his eyes stopped at Alaude's figure. Alaude was sleeping quietly underneath a thick warm blanket and Mukuro could only stare from the distance. His chest began to hurt severely, but Mukuro could stand there watching Alaude forever while enduring such a pain. He slowly walked over to the bed and stopped at its edge when he felt the pain spread across his whole body. The pain spread into a tingle in his fingertips, it twisted in his stomach, it compressed in his heart. It was weird, but it felt strangely good.
Alaude had his arm under his head while lying on a pillow and looked at peace. His spikey yellow hair wasn't in his face like always and Mukuro liked Alaude even more when he wasn't hiding behind his bangs. Mukuro liked seeing Alaude's face completely. It made him warm inside just from watching the blonde sleep. Mukuro kneeled down beside the bed and smiled sincerely when brushing the back of his hand against Alaude's cheek, his gentle attempt to wake Alaude.
"Alaude," Mukuro spoke softly. "Please, answer my question."
Alaude scrunched his closed eyes tighter when he heard the call of his name. Why is he curse to take care of a child in a man's body? And not just any other man's body, but the body of a man he loves. The sight of waking up to Daemon's smiling face made Alaude's heart clench tightly, but when reality hits Alaude after, the sensation dulls when he realizes it's only a child inside that body. Alaude is tortured every second when Mukuro is in his presence because all he saw was Daemon. He was looking straight up at him, but it wasn't him. It was Mukuro. It will always be Mukuro from now on. How unfair…
"What?" Alaude croaked coldly.
"Look here, please." Mukuro turned his body slightly and showed the numbers on his shoulder to Alaude. Alaude sat up and rested his back against the dashboard of the bed before narrowing his eyes at Mukuro. He didn't know how to explain it to him nicely. It was pretty obvious why and how he has those numbers. Any artificial created Altered has one, but Mukuro wasn't artificial created and doesn't remember anything from before. So it wasn't obvious to him. Alaude ran a hand through his hair and sighed softly.
"What is this?" Mukuro asked, referring to the numbers. "I don't understand."
"I don't know…" Alaude lied before looking away. He knew if he tried to explain it, all he would be doing was confusing the boy.
Mukuro frowned and expected Alaude to know everything. Alaude caught the frown from the corner of his eye and felt the sudden need to prove him that he did know. He scoffed at Mukuro before raising the short sleeve of his shirt above his shoulder and folded it there. Mukuro blinked curiously at Alaude's sudden rush of actions, but his eyes widen slightly when he saw numbers tattooed on Alaude's shoulder.
"We're not different, you and I." Alaude stated blankly.
Mukuro swiftly leaned in forward and reached for the collar of Alaude's shirt. Alaude jumped at the sudden attack; his heart racing from the close encounter, but understood when Mukuro only reached for his dog tags underneath his shirt. Mukuro read the numbers on the tags before checking them on Alaude's shoulder to see if they were the same.
"X-01-A…" Mukuro looked up to Alaude.
Alaude only raised an eyebrow. "Yes..?"
"Does that mean you have two names?" Mukuro asked.
"I believe so." Alaude answered. "One was given to me because I'm different and the other out of love."
Mukuro dropped the tags and pulled away. "Different? Love? What does that mean?"
"I already explain it to you. You're an Altered. You're different." Alaude rubbed his temple slowly, easily becoming annoyed. Alaude deliberately disregarded to answer the other question.
"Oh, I remember now." Mukuro nodded his head. "But what is-"
"Is Dino awake yet?" Alaude cut Mukuro off.
"Dino was awake since the sun came out." Mukuro answered with a slight chuckle in his voice. "What time do you think it is, Alaude? It is not morning."
Alaude scoffed while unfolding his sleeve. "Well, excuse me for being tired."
"Kufufufu~" Mukuro laughed and Alaude couldn't help to notice how similar his laugh was to Daemon. It was scary, but it was nice to hear it. He felt like the illusionist was still alive and that he lived through Mukuro. Alaude smiled sadly to himself and stared at Mukuro's face, enjoying the sight of seeing Daemon smile.
"Mukuro…" Alaude called and Mukuro placed his elbow on the bed before resting his chin on his hand. He grinned at Alaude and waited for him to continue. Alaude chuckled and shook his head at Mukuro, the difference between him and Daemon becoming very little. The stuck up and sassy attitude was beginning to show. How annoying.
"…Why are you shirtless?" Alaude's voice turned into a scolding tone and Mukuro flinched when he heard it.
"I was looking at myself in the mirror~" Mukuro answered before rising up. "Look! I'm very tall!"
"Go put a shirt on, idiot." Alaude said sternly as he began to push the blankets away and wanted to start his day.
"No! Alaude! Don't get up!" Mukuro held up his hands to prevent the blonde from getting up.
"Why?!" Alaude snapped. "I have things to do!"
"Just stay for a second! I'll be right back!" Mukuro urged before dashing out the room. Alaude deeply sighed and had no choice but to wait. It was probably something childish. He just hoped Mukuro came back wearing a shirt. Not that is was distracting because it was Daemon's body. Mukuro needed to show some respect for another person's body.
"Look, Alaude! Now we are even more similar!" Mukuro rushed back in the room and this time was wearing a shirt, but dangling around his neck were the dog tags he took off not too long ago. Alaude blinked and didn't understand at first. Mukuro chuckled before sitting on the edge of the bed.
"The numbers on your shoulder are the same on your tags. The numbers on my shoulder are the same on my tags. We are the same. We are Altered together." Mukuro explained and Alaude's heart clench.
"…yes, we are the same." He nodded his head. "And…we are partners."
"Partners?" Mukuro questioned and Alaude painfully smile down at his hands.
"Yes." He answered. "Partners. We complete each other."
"Is that the reason why this body shakes?" Mukuro pushed closer to Alaude.
Alaude looked up. "What does that mean?"
"I don't know how to explain it. It feels nice, but it hurts too." Mukuro looked away and stared at the corner of the room. "When I'm close to Alaude, this body begins to hurt. It feels funny, but you said we're partners. That explains why it hurts." Mukuro looked back to Alaude and saw a confused expression on the blonde's face. Mukuro frowned slightly and had no other way to make Alaude understand.
"Uhuh…" Alaude raised an eyebrow.
"Feel," Mukuro grabbed Alaude's wrist and placed his hand on his chest. Alaude blinked furiously in question, but his eyes widen when Mukuro leaned into him. Alaude's cheeks grew hot and red when he felt their foreheads touch. Mukuro closed his eyes when he felt the pain intensify in his chest and heart. The closer he was to the blonde, the stronger the pain grew. Mukuro rested his forehead against Alaude's and the telepath couldn't help but hear his thoughts.
"My chest hurts and clenches tightly. It always hurts when we're this close. This body is very strange…"
Alaude gulped and had to fight himself from hearing anymore.
"…Has it always been like this, Mukuro…?" Alaude asked; his own heart ready to collapse within his chest. Alaude could feel a heart beating hard against his hand and it made him smile softly to himself. Daemon's body behaved exactly the same as Alaude's whenever they were together. It was a heavenly sensation to know that Alaude's feelings for the illusionist were matched. It made the blonde more than happy, but sad as well. Alaude couldn't love just Daemon's body. He wanted to love Daemon as a whole.
"Since I woke up next to you, yes…" Mukuro replied in a whisper.
"…How cruel…" Alaude uttered to himself and gripped Mukuro's shirt. Mukuro opened his eyes and pulled away. He didn't understand Alaude's words. What was cruel?
"Is something wrong, Alaude?" Mukuro asked.
Alaude remained quiet as he lowered his head onto Mukuro's shoulder. Mukuro blinked and sat still when the blonde wrapped his arms around him. Mukuro's eyes widen when he experienced a hug for the first time in his life. Suddenly, the pain was all gone and everything inside him turned still and hot. Mukuro looked down to Alaude and wanted to shout to the rooftops in joy that the pain was cure with this strange close embrace, but he went speechless when he heard sobs escape from Alaude. Mukuro liked the hugging and copied Alaude's actions. He wrapped his arms around the blonde and Alaude nuzzled deeper into Daemon's chest. Mukuro closed his eyes and simmered in the heat of the embrace. There was so much he didn't understand, but he understood one thing. He liked Alaude.
"This is the twentieth Altered he killed, Byakuran-sama! I think he is doing it on purpose! X-18 doesn't want another partner if he keeps killing every one we send in! We can't afford to lose any more Altered! We lost a bunch already from last week's breakout!" Shoichi complained as he took his thick glasses off and pinched the bridge of his nose. The ginger stayed up all night trying to bond X-18 with other Altered, but X-18 was only killing them all. X-18 would fight each one and they would only last in the room for an hour at the most before being brutally murder. Shoichi worked throughout most of last night, most of the day and couldn't endure it any longer. He loved his work. He really did, but he wasn't going anywhere with X-18.
Byakuran swirled in Shoichi's desk chair and giggled at the feeling.
"Byakuran-sama!" Shoichi snapped at the albino.
"I heard you~ I heard you~" Byakuran stopped his spinning and pouted at Shoichi. "What does Sho-chan want me to do, huh?"
"I don't know…" Shoichi placed his glasses back on and looked back to the large flat screen in his laboratory. The video feed was a live recording of one of the Altered training rooms and X-18 was standing alone in one. He was waiting for the next Altered specimen to enter and fight him or her. Scattered around him on the floor and walls were the blood and bodies of the others he killed. X-18 looked bored, almost tired. Shoichi's eyebrow twitched in annoyance when he watched X-18 yawn loudly at the camera in the top corner of the room.
"You see! He doesn't want one! Why am I wasting my time and other Altered teenagers on him! It was a stroke of God that X-18 found a partner many years back, but X-69 is dead now! It is very easy for an Altered to find another partner once they already lost one, but why is it so difficult for X-18?! Not to mention I have a ton of experiments to run and reports to write! I still have to finish processing X-69's body before extinguish it and I have…"
"Sho-chan~ Oh Sho-chan~" Byakuran called in between the ginger's never ending speech.
"What is it Byakuran-sama?!" Shoichi snapped back to the albino once again.
"Come here~ Come here~" The director of the Altered facility waved his favorite scientist over.
"What for…?" Shoichi asked.
Byakuran raised a perfect white eyebrow at Shoichi. "I'm helping you, Sho-chan. Don't cha want my help?"
Shoichi dared to walk over to his desk and linger behind his boss' shoulder. "Please show me, Byakuran-sama."
"That's my loyal Sho-chan~" Byakuran spin in the chair to face the ginger and pat his cheek before spinning back and turning the computer on. Shoichi watched and didn't seem impressed. What good could Byakuran do if Shoichi has done everything he can?
"…huh, how do I get to the Altered data base? I'm looking up someone special for Sho-chan~" Byakuran cutely asked before looking up to Shoichi.
"I'll do it. You never use the computers here, don't you?" Shoichi leaned in and worked over the albino. Byakuran blinked at the close contact and titled his head when he saw the ginger type furiously on the keyboard.
"Why is Sho-chan so angry?!" Byakuran placed his hands over Shoichi's and caught the ginger off guard.
"Because I'm tired, Byakuran-sama…" Shoichi pulled his hands free. "There is the search engine. Who are you even looking up? I pretty much know most of the Altered stationed at his facility." Shoichi adjusted his glasses.
Byakuran blinked with a smile on his face when he saw a container of lollipops on Shoichi's desk. He reached forward and took one, blinking curiously when he saw a small little cut in it. It wasn't a whole lollipop! Byakuran pouted and groggily took the wrapping off. He wanted a whole lollipop…
"Byakuran-sama you are easily distracted…" Shoichi hissed.
"I am not! I choose not to answer your question, Sho-chan!" Byakuran placed the candy in his mouth and smiled brightly at the taste of strawberry. Byakuran leaned forward before typing into the computer. Shoichi sighed and watched the albino typed in an Altered I.D number, but a profile didn't show up.
"You're sure you have the correct number? I never saw that number before." Shoichi adjusted his glasses once more.
"Hmmm…" Byakuran pondered, passing the lollipop from cheek to cheek with his tongue.
"Is it even an Altered? There are two separate search engines for Altereds and humans who were genetically developed into Altered." Shoichi explained.
"Ohh! Now I remember! He is in my favorites!" Byakuran closed the search engine and opened up the home screen. He logged in and a bunch of unopened emails appeared on the screen.
"Hehehe~ Ignore them~ They're not from my secrete admire, Sho-chan~ Don't worry~" Byakuran snickered and Shoichi flustered on the spot, fixing his glasses yet again. Byakuran clicked on his log in again and a different username and password appeared. Byakuran typed it in quickly before a different type of search engine appeared. Shoichi's expression turned into utter confusion when he saw this new search engine. Byakuran typed in the same number before and a profile did in fact appear.
"XX-0101-XX is my favorite because he is much older and listens to me all the time~ So loyal~" Byakuran placed his chin in the palm of his hand, admiring the picture of his favorite Altered.
"He is X-03-D's older brother…" Shoichi was busy reading the rest of the Altered's file.
"He is. When X-03-D was human and chosen to take part in experiments of making humans into Altered, XX-0101-XX tried to follow after him and stop his little brother from making a horrible choice. I stepped in and got the price of two Altered instead of one~" Byakuran laughed at his own joke.
"What does that mean?" Shoichi asked and looked down to Byakuran.
"XX-0101-XX is a natural Altered. He was born that way. His little brother was human who was going to go through the process of becoming an Altered. I had two Altereds in the end, Sho-chan~" Byakuran explained and poked the ginger's nose. Shoichi pulled away and had a strange feeling in the pit of his stomach.
"What makes him your favorite, Byakuran-sama?" Shoichi dared to ask.
"Husssshh~" Byakuran placed a finger over Shoichi's lips. "That's a secrete~"
"…and you think he would be a perfect partner for X-18?" Shoichi raised an eyebrow, pulling away from the albino.
"Just like we're partners, Sho-chan~"
"You're my boss. I'm just one of your many workers. Different relationship, Byakuran-sama…" Shoichi scroll down to read more about XX-0101-XX.
"It is still a relationship, my dear Sho-chan~" Byakuran sang.
Shoichi cleared his throat before speaking again, flustering again. "Byakuran he is not even station at this facility. He is station in Italy. It will take him days before he gets here. By then, we could all be murder by X-18 just because he's bored."
"I just need to make a phone call and he'll be here~" Byakuran finished his lollipop and threw the stick away before getting up from the chair. Shoichi nodded his head an okay before shutting the computer down. He had no idea what Byakuran meant by those words, but knew he had a lot of things to do by the end of the day and needed to get started on them. He glanced shyly at the albino and couldn't help to hear the conversation. Byakuran always wore white and tight clothes. For a man in his mid-twenties, he looked like a teenager in ripped jeans. He spoke in a childish manor and even behaved that way as well. Byakuran didn't look like an evil person. Neither are his intentions, right…?
"Pass the phone to Kikyo-chan~" Byakuran sang happily and Shoichi looked away. It was hard living in between these two worlds. The human side and the Altered side. He looked at the container of lollipops on his desk and could only remember his friend who gave it to him. Shoichi was honest with himself and really did miss him, but that's why he's working here. To see him again.
"Sho-chan~ Sho-chan~ Come here! XX-0101-XX is coming! Come see!" Byakuran waved the ginger over again and Shoichi sighed before looking to the albino.
"There is no way he is-" Shoichi froze when he saw air and space begin to condense in a single area, a few feet in front of Byakuran. The albino could only smile at Shoichi and secretly enjoyed the sight of seeing the ginger confused and scared. Shoichi blinked and there stood XX-0101-XX in cloud of black fog around him; right there in front of Byakuran and the albino only greeted him with a smile. XX-0101-XX yawned quietly and stretched his arms out above his head, the spirals of dark fog beginning to fade around him. Shoichi stepped back in a hurry and couldn't believe what he had seen. It was if XX-0101-XX magically appeared.
"Welcome home~" Byakuran clapped his hands together and XX-0101-XX forced a smile in way to greet the albino. "XX-0101-XX, please meet my good friend, Sho-chan. Sho-chan meet my favorite Altered."
"I am not your favorite," were XX-0101-XX first words to the albino and Shoichi gulped. He looked exactly the same as X-03-D, only older, mature, and with different hair color. X-03-D is a fresh and smart blonde with the perfect sense of being a leader, but being so young he has made so many mistakes in his time being here. XX-01010-XX stood with a strong and determined stance, ready to take the next action. He too had the sense of being a leader, but he sounded cold or almost dead when speaking to the albino. All it did was make his appearance even more frightening. He spoke normally for an Altered. He probably wasn't raised here much like the other Altereds like X-27 or X-00-X who hardly spoke at all and if they did, it probably sounded wrong.
"Ehhh? What's makes you think that?" Byakuran whined.
"Because I am not here protecting you, Byakuran-sama. You sent me away to become stronger because the past me was not fit in your eyes." He replied coldly.
"That doesn't mean I don't like you. I wanted you to train harder and become the strongest Altered I ever raised~" Byakuran explained cheerily.
"You have raised stronger Altereds from the youngest of ages. I am one of the many you cherish, but not your favorite." XX-0101-XX explained and crossed his arms over his chest, his dog tags chiming against each other.
"Um, may I, may I say step in and say something?" Shoichi stammered, raising his hand like a good student in a classroom.
XX-0101-XX gave the ginger a sideways glance and Byakuran gave his full attention to Shoichi, smiling too.
"I'm sorry to interrupt this reunion, but we called you because we need your help. Before I even explain to you the situation, may I ask if you already bonded with another Altered or have done so in the past?"
"I never had a partner." XX-01010-XX replied bitterly and Byakuran chuckled.
"Sho-chan~ It was written in his file~ Didn't you read it thoroughly?" Byakuran teased.
"That was my question. Why does Byakuran-sama need me so suddenly? Is it a mess I have to clean up?" XX-0101-XX looked back to the albino.
"No~ No~ I need you to bond with one of my baby Altered. He is the one making a mess of things. If you could so kindly calm him down. I believe he is killing every Altered we send in, is his way of mourning the loss of his previous partner. How sad~" Byakuran explained.
"First off, I can not willingly choose him to be my partner nor can he for me. Second, why not put your baby Altered in his place. You have done that many times in the past and Byakuran-sama is not hesitant about correcting any individual. May they be human or Altered." XX-0101-XX replied sternly.
"Stop it~ Making me blush~" Byakuran smiled from ear to ear.
Shoichi gulped and ready himself to speak again. "Please. We have no other person to look for, XX-01010-XX."
The raven snapped a glance at the ginger, glaring at him. "It would be a human to beg for help and try to equal himself to a superior being.
Shoichi's inside clenched when he felt those coal dark eyes stabbing at his whole body. He looked away and adjusted his glasses, noting to never speak to the Altered ever again.
"Now, now, XX-0101-XX no need to be this angry. Take your anger out on X-18. Show him his place. Can you do that for me?" Byakuran asked, stepping in between the raven and the ginger.
"What do I get in return?" XX-0101-XX snapped.
"Your baby brother."
"You have promised me such a reward many years ago. I have accomplished everything you asked. I am still waiting for my brother, Byakuran-sama." The raven hissed out his words.
Byakuran chuckled. "This time, seeing how much you matured and grown in such a short amount of time, I will arrange a meeting with you and your brother. If he is still alive at that point of time."
XX-0101-XX narrowed his eyes. "Knowing the human family we were brought up in, my brother will not die without at least putting up a fight. Hold your words to your heart, Byakuran-sama and not to your cunning smile."