A/N: Alright readers! Thanks so much for the positive feedbacks (favourites/etc.) and (to those who reviewed with compliments so on and so forth) the confidence boosts on the last very much overdue chapter. :) You guys are the best! Anyway, this is the next chapter to Love only Me (obviously) so, I hope you guys will enjoy this. :)
FYIs and/or BTWs: Since I've changed the original 07 Ghosts' plot concerning Mikage's death and almost nearly everything about Teito, there will also be some OCs (Original Characters), Made-Up Places, OOC-ness (Out Of Character) of certain characters (though I will try to keep them in character) and more; fair warning to those who do not/cannot/will not/could not/etc. accept these changes.
DISCLAIMER: This story is on a fan based site that doesn't make any sort of profits. What more do I have to say?
People, there is a reason why programmers created the 'Back' button. You don't like it, well then scram. Spare your narrow-minded brain the cells you'd use up in the process to think up the insults and whatnots in your silly little hate flame.
With that said, let the story begin…
CHAPTER FIVE: Of Me
"A friend?" intoned Teito rather suspiciously albeit groggily, his voice was hoarse from long disuse; he eyed the blue rose with the kind of suspicion called for situations like these. He tried to lift his arm that was placed under the coverlets but found that he couldn't. He felt boneless.
"That and maybe more than just a friend sooner rather than later," he pulls the rose closer to him and sniffs at it. When he saw that Teito still seems suspicious he plucked a petal.
"Did you- Did you just eat a blue rose's petal?" he asked weakly, questioning the sanity of the man before him, a blue rose is as poisonous as any Nightshade…
"I did," He smiled as if amused by Teito's reaction, "Worry not, it's edible and non-lethal; I grew them to be that way. Villagers often ask for these when they complain of feeling tired, weak and without energy. They have many healing properties." He cheerfully said and handed Teito the flower again. This time Teito took the flower albeit warily and seeing the man stare at him unblinkingly, he plucked a petal, very slowly brought it to his mouth, chewed on it even slower and swallowed.
Huh, Teito bemusedly thought, he wasn't kidding.
The flower did give him some strength as he no longer felt boneless but instead tired and slightly weak.
The taste though, had left Teito shuddering.
It had left very much to be desired.
"So," Teito began, "How did I get to the 7th distr-"
"How did you know you were in the seventh district?" the man cuts in, his gentle tone belied the sharp quality of his question. 'How curious,' thought Teito rather amusedly, 'this reaction of his…'
He let his gaze flit above the man's face where the headwear sat atop his head and let it linger there for the whole of five seconds before travelling downwards towards the man's collar and chest before slowly bringing it upwards again. He smirked slightly when he saw those brown eyes followed the trail his own set of jades had set. This slight smirk turned full-blown when he saw the light of realization enter those eyes.
He wiped the smirk off of his face and raised an eyebrow; his face displaying just exactly what he was thinking.
'Are you stupid?'
And the man laughed.
Now on any other day, Teito would have reprimanded himself for allowing confusion, of all faces, to colour his face. But this day or night (he couldn't quite tell, the curtains blocking the window were too heavy and dark coloured to be of any indicator) he allowed himself to do so.
He waited until the man's bout of laughter ended and plainly asked with no small amount of irritation, "What's so funny?" His eyes narrowed in an almost child-like petulance.
The man laughed the last remnants of his laughter and answered with a non-committal shrug and an easy smile and said, "You just remind me of someone dear to me is all." A light of an old, but great, grief and something Teito hadn't recognized entered the man's brown eyes but they were gone the second the man blinked.
"I haven't introduced myself have I?" he shook his head as if chastising himself and held out his hand to Teito, "I'm Labrador but they usually call me Lab." A small smile plastered itself to his face.
Teito shook the offered hand with slight difficulty, his muscles still slightly stiff, after all; the rose only brought back some strength, not healed. "Teito, Teito Klein." In vain, he flexed his hands in an attempt to get some feeling back into them; they would come to him in their own time. He sighed before asking, "How long was I out and how did I get here?"
"You've been out quite long, nearly five days in fact and…"
Has Teito mentioned he really hates when people pause before answering/saying/continuing/etc. something?
Well, he does. He hates it with a passion burning brighter than the sun on the hottest days.
Why, you ask?
Because it means that they are either trying to think up of a lie or omitting an important fact out of a statement or supposedly saving someone from an emotional scar or all of the above. Three of those are essentially the same and yet are entirely different at the same time and-
"Your teammates brought you here."
Or they're considering whether to tell you the absolute truth or not.
After all the lies he's told, he would like to think he's really good at detecting them as he is good at telling them. And if he was any good in this branch of oral deception, and he is, he is ninety-nine point nine percent sure that the man wasn't telling a lie.
It was, in fact, the truth.
Everything about the man's body language screamed truth; it wasn't a lie. It was a spick and span clean truth.
But that wasn't the problem.
"My teammates?" He echoed disbelievingly, "Correct me if I'm wrong, Bishop, but we're in the 7th district's Church that has all but declared their refusal to assist Barsburg Military Forces whether human or Warsfeil," he curled his hands into tight fists, "especially Warsfeils."
"And if I was brought in by my teammates who all but one begleiter and I, are Warsfeils, I must have also been wearing my military uniform so I ask you," He narrowed his eyes in suspicion, jade eyes glittering with the intensity of it.
He released his Zaiphon, commanding the blue ring of energy to circle around the blonde's neck.
It circled there loose and unconstricting but that only made it worse. This was only meant to be a threat and a threat it would stay lest a situation calls for it. Teito had never appreciated unnecessary deaths even during that time of his life and he never would.
He had lost a friend to that.
But now was not the time to reminisce and Teito never wanted to reminisce the memories of those days.
"I ask you," he said, tightening the Zaiphon coil just a little more so that it'd hover close to the skin of his vulnerable neck, "Where are my teammates and what have you done with them?"
Labrador didn't even look the least bit intimidated.
The air smelled of ash and burnt flesh and all he wanted to do was nothing but wake up in his own bed.
He crouched on the ground and studied the footprints leading out of the blackened gates. There were four sets and all four were not the ones he had wanted to see. Two were too big and deep (tall and heavy individual, most probably male) to belong to a forty-eight years old woman and an eight year old girl. The other was either too wide or too narrow to belong to a fifty years old man of tall, fit and lean stature and a lanky teenage boy.
Yes, there was nothing more than he would like right then than to wake up in his bed, bathed in cold sweat and stinking of fear, only to realize minutes later that it was all a just a stupid, stupid dream.
Just a stupid, terrible, horrible, vivid nightmare…
"You've been quiet." Stated a voice quietly from above, he ignored it. "Are you alright?" He stood up and looked at the black-haired male in front of him in his eyes.
Flatly and bluntly, he said "No." turned his back and walked away.
Michael was stunned but recovered and started to follow in the direction his friend took when a female voice, sharp and clear, rang from the other end of where he was standing. "Leave it, Michael. He-" Her voice cracked but as the strong character he had come to know of his friend, she regained composure as quickly as she had nearly lost it, "-He needs some time to himself. I know you want to help-everyone does-but the only way we can do to help him is by figuring out who did this and why."
"Are we clear on that, Michael?" Her tone was the one she used only for no-nonsense situations and Michael knew that this was not the time to call her Alice or any other names other than the title given to her.
He nodded, "Yes, Captain."
She nodded to him in grim satisfaction and walked away to some Forensic Officer to ask about whatever detail that came to her mind.
"The Captain's right, you know. Besides," He looked toward the source of the voice, it was Yui. Her deeply blue hair shined almost black in this light. "He'll be alright."
She smiled, but he could see that it was strained. "You know Mikage, he'll be sad and depressed at first but right after, when he's got his things together, he'll bounce right back up and leave the rest of us eating dust."
"How can you be sure that happens?" Michael asked, still looking at the direction Mikage took off into but sometimes giving sideway looks at the crime scene behind them.
"Because I'm always right!" She smiled wide and mock punched his shoulder. He flinched at how similar that action was to what Mikage always does. And maybe she realized because she smiled a little dryly as she left.
"I hope you'll be okay Mikage."
Just as he left, a strong gust of wind came and blew the ashes that covered the name plaque cemented to the brick post. The way it shined and gleamed a little when it caught a bit of the light from the sun, you could tell the family was a happy one. There were barely any scratches on it, save a few that could have been of accidental causes.
Michael wondered if he and the rest were close. He looked back to the charred gardens and the burnt swing and slide set; he could see him and his siblings spending time together there. Yes, they probably were. Very close.
He turned back and walked to his friends again and the sun finally came out of its hiding behind the dark clouds. With his back turned, he didn't see the name engraved on the plaque as it shined under the sunlight but he didn't need to. He already knew it.
For the plaque read, "Celestine"
"I really do."
"So you're telling me that if I go out the door right now, I will see my teammates sitting at a dining table somewhat isolated from the rest but well and eating nevertheless?"
"Will you let me out of these handcuffs now?" A bite of snark in his tone but what the heck; he's got a pair of Zaiphon blocking cuffs on him; he's got a right to be snarky.
"Will you attack me if I do?" Flat stare, the kind that meant business.
Sighing in defeat as he saw no way out, Teito acceded. The blonde smiled widely and approached the brunette to unlock the cuffs. Teito sighed appreciatively, his wrists were throbbing. He brought them down to rub at them and he flinched when his fingers touched the inflamed skin. He knew why they were like that, what he didn't know was how.
"What're those cuffs made of?"
"A small dosage of the Dieffenbachia and a kind of metal infused with Zaiphon insulating properties." Labrador looked at him curiously, "Why do you ask?"
"Curiosity," Teito smiled all charming and innocent, "It's one of my besetting sins according to a good friend of mine."
"I don't think curiosity is a sin, I think it's what helps humans evolve and start to help themselves." Labrador said and handed him a jar of something that smelled like a curious fusion of raspberry and oak (which he hoped isn't) and something tangy that he couldn't quite place. "The salve is to reduce and heal the inflammation on your wrists." He continued, eyeing the nasty looking inflamed skin of Teito's wrists.
"You wouldn't have had that if you weren't resisting those cuffs so badly, you know."
Teito just shrugged indifferently and took the salve and immediately applying copious amounts of it onto the angry red skin of his wrists. He sighed in relief and part gratitude, his wrists were throbbing.
Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Labrador pull out a black fabric from out of a wardrobe he hadn't even noticed before. 'Huh, a wardrobe carved in a wall…' its door was even coloured to match the walls! 'Wouldn't have even noticed it if he hadn't done that…"
"Here," Labrador said, facing Teito with a smile on his face and a flourish of his hand, he pointed to the clothes he had laid out on the bed. "When you're done with the salve, you can put it on the bedside table and keep using it until the inflammation swells down, and put these on." Again he gestured to them but with a little less flourish.
"I'll leave now to give you some privacy." He was nearly out the door when he suddenly turned and chimed, "And hurry or you'll miss dinner with your teammates!"
And the door slammed shut.
Yep, that settles it.
Teito hated this guy.
He lied without lying, he practically man handled him into those cuffs, then he gave him a salve to make him like his blonde self and then he gave him a morsel of what he had been wanting just as he left the room without giving him any chance to ask any questions.
Yeah, Teito hates him alright.
Chuckling, Teito screwed the jar close and revelled in the relief he felt from the salve soothing his wrists. He placed the jar on the bedside table and picked up the long-sleeved shirt laid on the bed.
"You've gotta be kidding me!"
'Hyuuga will never let me hear the end of it!' He flung the shirt back to the bed and began a search for clothing of any other kind that what was on the bed though he doubted he would find such a thing because, well… it was what all of those people would wear here! Finding nothing, he sighed in defeat.
"Well, first person to laugh gets the right hook I guess…"
In the dining hall close by, Hyuuga shivered.