Disclaimer: I don't own Garo. I just like playing in this 'verse a great deal.
Author'sNote: I wrote this post-episode 6 of Makai Senki. There are spoilers for Makai Senki in this, from world-building to plot, as well as spoilers for Rei and Silva's backstory from the original series. Hopefully you enjoy!
Rei cries out in his sleep.
It's something he hasn't done for a long time—not since his final battle with Barago. The scars that Barago gifted her Knight with hadn't healed that night, not entirely, but watching Kouga put down the rogue warrior had fixed some of what was broken in her human.
Some, but not all, and she listens quietly for several minutes as his cries become louder, sharper, more piteous.
She would have loved this, once.
She is not supposed to remember that—not as clearly as she does, at any rate. She didn't remember it so clearly, before Rei. The joy of finding young men, beautiful, untamed… the savage glee of bending them to her will…
She remembers their cries, sometimes, confusion and horror and, most often, disbelief. Their cries had been her sustenance, their mixed terror and need her substance.
She does not like hearing the echoes of those cries in Rei's voice.
"Zero!" She calls his preferred chosen name sharply, slicing through the webs of dream that bind him.
Before her words can echo in the corners of his dark bedroom he is on his feet, both sheathed swords in his hands. His eyes, dark shadows in the moonlight, quickly scan the room. Analysis of the situation done, he relaxes just slightly and turns his gaze to her. "What is it, Silva?"
It's the only human thing she can do. It's the loyalty that was forged into her being at her creation meeting the fierce attachment she is maybe-not-supposed to be able to feel and creating something new.
Something magnificent, and painful, and her eyes are fixed on the mark carved into Ginga's chest by enemy hands. The mark that Rei bears easily, almost beautifully, as though it doesn't matter, and she thinks that she loves her Knight more than she is supposed to. "There's a Horror gate nearby."
There is always a Horror gate nearby. She suspects that there always will be, if what she has seen of humanity is true.
Rei relaxes completely, blades falling to his side. He makes no mention of the fact that this is the same excuse she used the night before, and three nights before that, and two nights before that. "Ah. Best get to work, then."
He already has his black pants on. Ever since Barago slaughtered their family, he has never gone to bed in less. If he is to die, he smiled and told her once, he will die with a look that he can be proud of.
His black shirt, sword sheaths and trench coat he slips on in less than a minute, reaching down to lift her from the table and attach her to his glove as the last step.
She was happy when he changed her location to match Zaruba's, seeing the connection he had forged to Kouga as another step toward healing for her Knight. The location means something different, now. It means she doesn't sit right above the cursed lines that will spell his doom, and she isn't sure if she is grateful for that or not. She shudders once, the slow malignance of its working bitter to her senses even on his hand.
"Where to, Silva?" He smiles as he says it, stretching his arms above his head with a leonine grace, and there is no trace of the nightmares she woke him from.
Never any trace of the nightmares, Ginga's suffering drowned in Rei's laughing indifference, and Silva is silent for a long moment as she bends all her skills on finding the nearest Gate.
He seals four Gates and two Horrors before the light of dawn touches the eastern horizon. It is how he likes to work when he is angry, or frightened, or feeling any other strong emotion at all, really.
Being a Knight comes easily to Rei, but that is no surprise, since Rei was created to be the knight that Ginga's father had wanted him to be. Not the knight that Shizuka could have loved, because Ginga was already that knight, but the knight who could bring about vengeance for her death.
The knight who could smile and move forward, when Ginga would have lain down gladly beside her, and Silva knows she is thinking too much on the past these days.
Dwelling on the past, because the future looks far too short, and Rei will not listen to any of her attempts to fix that.
He does fine, after the Gates, because he can seal them without calling on the power of his armor. He even does fine after the first Horror, barely a break in his step as the lines of power burn fire-cold across his chest, stealing strength from his body.
He staggers after the second Horror, though. Blood drips down his arm, patters gently into the street from a wound that would not have been so bad a week ago. A wound she would not have noticed a week ago, that his more-than-human body would have healed from without difficulty, but now…
He allows himself to lean against the wall of a building, left hand pressed against the tear in his coat that hides the full extent of the damage to his right arm. His breathing is short, sharp gasps for almost two full minutes. The curse burns hot, cold, bitter hatred and violent wishes given form, given substance, given power over her Knight.
She hates the mark. She hates it more than she can ever remember hating something, and yet she sits quiet, jaw clenched tight until the magic fades again to a passive malevolence and Rei straightens.
He turns his head up, smiling as the light of the sun touches his cheekbones, paints his face in shadows and softness that make him look haggard, young, beautiful, broken.
"Yes, Silva?" Straightening from the wall, hand still held to the dripping wound, he strides the few steps to the corner and turns, putting his back to the sun.
"We could go to Kouga's house." They are near the edge of their range and the start of Kouga's, as they have been on over half the nights since the curse was first laid. Sometimes she thinks it is Rei's doing; sometimes she thinks it is hers; sometimes she thinks it is both of them, an unspoken wish they share that Rei will not allow to come to pass.
"No." He looks down, just briefly, giving her a better view of his smile. "We can't."
"He said you're always welcome. They'll have breakfast, I'm sure, and one of them could see to your—"
"I'm fine, Silva." He moves his hand away from his arm, and his blood patters just slightly faster to the ground. The black of his gloves is darker, slicker, wetter than usual, and there are faint red streaks of blood across all of his fingers. "We'll go out to eat somewhere, perhaps. There's a little café just a few blocks down from where we've been living…"
She lets him talk, but she doesn't listen. He's talking to fill the silence, to keep her from saying anything more that would make him uncomfortable, but he's not saying anything important.
He's already told her the important things. He's already turned his back on Kouga's offer of food… of family. He will not rethink that choice.
He will not be the dead man that others weep over. He will not be the one mourned, when he has spent so long in mourning.
He will not be bound by loves, and joys, and the need for vengeance. Not again.
He will not die loved, or watch those he loves die, or allow them to watch him die.
He freezes at the whispered name, as though she has struck him in some way, injured him more deeply than the Horrors or the curse on his chest.
"Weren't we getting breakfast, Zero?" She speaks cheerfully, as though her slip of the tongue hadn't happened. "I'd like you to get tea this morning. I prefer the aroma to coffee."
"Oh? And I should let your preferences for smell determine what I want to taste?" He smiles, the same smile he has given her since he claimed her fully above Douji's grave.
"All I have is smell, Zero." She pouts, so he will not understand how true and frustrating a statement it is. "It should count for something, shouldn't it?"
"I suppose." He grins again, and the blood has almost stopped falling in a silent rain from his right arm. "Perhaps I could get both. Coffee for me, tea for you."
"Perhaps." She realizes, belatedly, that he hasn't had tea since the last time they saw Kouga. Since Gonza and Kaoru offered tea to all of them, and they left before dinner, running from the promise of anything more than the friendship they already have. "Or perhaps coffee is fine. Coffee with vanilla. How does that sound?"
"Like a girl's drink." He pats her, blood from his hand smudging the palest shade of red against her silver. "But I suppose I can do that. Anything for my best friend."
She doesn't say she is his only friend. She has not said that in years, not since he pronounced himself zaruba to Kouga and Kaoru. She's fairly sure he doesn't even want her to, that the old patter just falls easily from his mouth when he isn't thinking about it clearly.
Like he isn't thinking clearly, now, about where they should go and what they should do.
Or perhaps is thinking too clearly, in a way that only humans can.
She doesn't know. She is a false creature, a facsimile of a human personality built on the bones of a Horror's soul, and she is not supposed to understand her Knight.
She is not supposed to love her Knight, as she is not supposed to remember how closely his cries mimic those of the humans she once drew sustenance from. Was it his rebellion, his bending of the rules until they nearly broke, that changed her in these subtle ways? Or is it merely her age, and the things that she has seen, the Knights she has watched die?
It doesn't matter. As she helps him to pretend that he isn't hurting, that he isn't dying, that he isn't lonely or afraid or any of the other things that a human should be, she finds there isn't time to worry on the nature of love, or the strength of hate and memory.
Maybe tonight, when he sleeps, before his cries signal the start of another hunting spree, she will worry, again, about what is happening to her Knight, and what will happen to her if he truly dies.
Later, when Rei's words aren't there to give her something else to focus on, his taut energy and desperate desires sending them on quest after quest.
For now, all that matters is being what Rei needs her to be.