Chapter 1: The shattered mirror
It's been a long time since it rained.
Even from here, he could see the sunlight straining through the thick curtains that blocked most of the view from the French windows. It burned bright red through the crimson lace and soft white through the gap, threatening to blind his eyes in the intense darkness.
Relentlessly, he kept staring at the light, keeping his gaze anywhere.
Anywhere but at him.
He seemed to acknowledge the younger boy's tenacity, preferring instead to silently stare at him, his sharp eyes not missing a single move the boy made; the hand on the knife that buttered the bread, the eyes that stared dully at the glass and the lips that refused to say anything.
The boy could feel the stare like a lead weight on his shoulders. He took his time, slowly chewing every last morsel of food, prolonging the moment he would look up at the man finally.
"...Have you finished?"
The plate was swiped out from under him and he felt a sliver of shock on his face, despite himself.
This was different.
"...Yes." The younger one answered, keeping his voice even. The man looked at him coolly, then proceeded to drop the plates on the floor. The room echoed with multiple crashed as each plate broke into crystalline fragments. But the boy didn't bat an eye, keeping his expression calm and steady.
"Aren't you going to be late?" The man asked, leaning over so that the boy was forced to look at him.
"No. I'll make it, in plenty of time." He replied, "Besides, there's an administrative meeting in the morning, so even if I'm late, I won't miss anything."
"Don't even consider the possibility." The man's voice was colder than ice. The boy's eyes widened slightly at the change in tone, and he stared harder at the eyes in front of him.
"Forgive me." He pushed his chair back and walked across the room, hooking an arm through the black, leather bag that slumped over the recliner, "I didn't mean anything by it."
"Didn't mean anything by it?" The man was amused now. The boy could hear his steps towards him as clearly as hammer on iron. Unconsciously, he felt his fist curl on his bag strap.
"You didn't mean anything by it?" He felt a hand slither through his hair, its warmth a few degrees higher than that of a corpse, "Tell me, how long has it been when you said something you did not mean?"
"I don't understand." Still, the same, flat tone. There was no point really. It was already too late.
"You say these things with an open face, grinning at me all the while I drive my own self crazy. Half-sentences with a double meaning, leaving me to guess for myself whether you mean to make me or destroy me." The man's hand gripped the boy's hair and pulled his face up. The mad gleam was back in his eye.
Already too late.
"I plan to do neither." Was all the boy said. Already he could feel that damned choking feeling in his throat, slowly creeping to his already-numb legs and rigid hands.
"I was hoping you would say that."
Flash of silver. The knife was missing from the table.
And the last thing he remembered was a fleeting shard of pain and blood touching his eyelids, while he kept thinking one last thing. A memory.
"No-one will ever come and save you."
"You got sent out of class? Again?"
Teito winced at the volume of the yelling. Half a mile away from him, girls shot him nervous looks, while the boys merely shrugged their shoulders. It was Teito Klein after all.
"Mikage..." Teito muttered into the phone, an annoyed tick on his forehead, "I think you just blew your cover."
"Hm?" Teito heard the dry rustle of static, then a very brief but colorful span of cursing, "Shit, I gotta go. I'll call you back soon."
Beep. Beep. Beep.
"When will he learn? He'll never be an army cadet at this rate." Teito sighed. Yes, he'd been sent out of class. Again, as his best friend so kindly reminded him, but it was Kyouya-sensei after all. He didn't need much to take on disciplinary measures, especially when it came to Teito, who he loathed with every fiber of his being.
Join the club. Teito thought wearily. He'd been falling asleep in class more and more lately, not that it worried him much. He never found the need to pay attention, not when every lecture that the teachers give are picked up, word by word from the textbooks.
A triple-beeping sound in the air broke through that line of thought. He picked up the phone and said, "Now, what was that you were saying again, Mikage?"
"I don't want to talk about it." Mikage sighed.
"You were implying that being sent out of class was a bad thing." Teito informed him, grinning now.
"Yeah, I found it liberating actually." Mikage replied...grudgingly, it must be admitted.
"Well, at least, staying out is better than listening to the old-man's droning on battle strategies, right?"
"How'd you know I was in Techniques and Weaponry 101 now?"
"You wouldn't be calling me in-between otherwise."
"...You alright over there, Teito?" At that, Teito's smile slid off his face like sand in water.
Caught on again, Mikage?
Really, how was someone who could barely handle the issues on his own plate, able to tell when Teito felt like shit? It was almost as if those damned eyes in the sky wanted Mikage to know what he was going through.
"Yeah. I just had a weird dream when I fell asleep in class." Teito said, "I think it was one of you eating the Church cake again and Sister Libelle was yelling at me." Teito sighed, "I still can't believe you ate the whole thing; it had to be at least seven layers."
"But it tasted like Yakisoba!"
"I really wonder how the lunch-lady manages to feed you."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Mikage sounded so defensive, that Teito really laughed that time. "Seriously, how's it going over there?"
"Mmm...alright, I guess." Teito responded, "Exams are over, so it's mainly lessons and a lot of free time now."
"Yeah? Lucky kid. My exams are coming up soon and I barely have time to sleep or eat now."
"Idiot, you have to sleep properly! What's the point of studying like a dog for the exams, if you're not in any shape to write them in the first place?"
"I was just exaggerating, Teito. Come on. Hey, maybe I'll take a leaf, from your book, hm? Those desks sure look uncomfortable though."
"You know I'll take care of myself, Teito." The cheerful tone was still there, but with a serious undertone to it, "But don't expect me to slow down. I'm giving it my all in my exams, so I can get that week-off from the academy. You've been dealing with things all by yourself right?"
"...Use it to go see your family, moron."
"They see me every other day. At least, my dad does, and my mom knows I'm fine, too." Teito shook his head and was about to respond to this a screeching bell from the other side interrupted him," Look, I have to go now. Wait for me, alright?"
With a weary sigh, Teito relaxed on the tree trunk, feeling the rough bark scratch against his back. He could never win with Mikage, no matter how hard he tried. And his headstrong friend didn't look like he was going to deviate from the plan either.
Really. Teito felt a faint smile cross his face.
He hasn't changed at all, has he?
Teito opened his eyes and saw a man stand in front of him, with his back turned to the sun. Even though, the only light in his face was their glare off the man's glasses, Teito could recognize him.
"I thought you might be out here. Kyouya-sensei asked me to give this to you." He held out a file of tightly-bound papers, with a grin, "You exceeded your previous performance. Congratulations."
Teito inspected the file and said, "Thank you, Castor-san."
The man made no attempt to leave. He just stared at the sky, a smile on his face.
"...You didn't just come here to give me my file, did you?"
"Well, I wish that were the case, Teito-kun." Castor said. Teito pulled himself up and looked at him closely. From this angle, it seemed like the man was calm, but he could see the slight facets of strain in those eyes.
"I've been hearing more and more things about you lately. None of which are good." The man frowned, "And that was an understatement."
"Are you talking about Grace Lockhart?" Teito asked, looking away. "...Yeah, I suppose she had plenty of stuff to tell you."
"I know that Lockhart-san's behavior belies the others' belief in her...but she claims she saw you on the school wall yesterday in the dead of night..."
"It wasn't me." Automatically, lacking any emotion. "I was at home last night with my guardian."
Castor had heard the excuse many times before, but he made no attempt to prod the boy further. He'd become well-acquainted with Teito on the many occasions that he'd been sent to the elder's office, enough to know when Teito would clam up and not tell anything more.
"Yes. That is what I thought. Well, anyway, about the file...Kyouya-sensei felt that there would be no need to ask him any questions regarding it."
"He says it won't be necessary, since he's leaving."
Teito looked back at the man, "Seriously? But I thought that he cancelled his resignation."
"Let's just say that it took a lot of persuasion and a little help from his wife to give his knee a break." The man coughed, "Well, anyway. The new homeroom teacher'll be here tomorrow, so at any rate, you may as well keep it with you."
"Now, you better get back to class. I understand that you have a project to finish today? Try not to stay too late after school."
On that note, Castor walked back towards the school. Teito watched him silently, leaning back against the trunk.
"Well, I better get back too. It won't be good if I delay for too long."
It seemed like there were none who whispered of it.
But there always were few who broke the unspoken rule. There always was in this never-ending labyrinth called society.
He heard the rumors too. Rumors about things that the other did, that chilled his core.
He looked back at the man again, as he slumped on the black armchair, expression entirely unreadable. He seemed to notice the eyes that stared at him, for his own raised upwards and looked at the younger one.
Calmly, he stood up and walked towards the boy, sinking down to his knees in front of him. One pale, gloved hand raised the face in front of him and a grim chuckle echoed in the room.
"I know that look in your eyes. I wore in too once." He brought his hand towards the lower side of the cheek. The boy didn't answer, but merely stared ahead, not looking at anything. The man dropped his hand and looked with detached interest at the freshly-stained glove, with its blossoming crimson strain.
"You look the most beautiful with death in your eyes." The knife in his hand traced the skin, drawing a weeping line of blood where it touched. The boy took a deep breath, willing himself not to flinch.
It would all be over after a while.
"A pity that you have stopped for the time being...doing what you were born to be, that is." The man sneered, "But no matter what guise you walk around in, they can see in your eyes and tell, can't they? That you are different. The monster's keeper."
He walked back towards the armchair, without sparing a glance at the broken teen, even as he fell to a fresh wave of hacking coughs.
"Your name and your appearance can never silence him forever."
And as the boy that was just half a day ago called Teito Klein fell unconscious he heard a voice resonate in his mind.
"No-one will ever save you."
Yes, I've chosen to burden myself with more multi-chapter fanfics and am currently on four cups of coffee right now. And yes, I'm lacking sleep again. My plot-bunnies are more like plot-owls*rolls eyes* but whatcha gonna do? *grin*
So, welcome to my newest 07-ghost fanfic: Papercuts. It may take on an angsty undertone overtime, which explains the M-rating. I'll try to do my best in this one as well so please bear with me.
And I'll try to update my other stories as soon as possible. Please forgive my lateness. *teary eyes*
Well, see ya!
(J to you and me~)