Title: Mirror of the Past
Author: Dark Nuriko
Category: No. 6
Warnings: Language, Boys Love, Adult Situations, Angst, Boys Being Boys(trust me, this warning is needed, since boys tend to always irritate people in some way, be it other boys, girls, or any other living creature.)
Rating: PG-13 to R, depending on content.
Disclaimer: No. 6 and its characters do not belong to me, mores the pity. Instead, they belong to the wonderful and amazing Atsuko Asano. I write this solely for fun and seek no profit from it at all.
Author's Note: Having watched the anime, as I'm sure all fans of the series have done, I have found I was left unsatisfied with its ending. Having since sought out the novels from which this series was spawned from and the resulting manga its being made into, I find I still can not find translations for the whole thing. Its an amazing tale and I just couldn't help but want to change the ending from what was given, to something a little more brighter. It won't begin happy, but I promise, if you stick with it, you'll be rewarded.
Mirror of the Past
Chapter One: Five years after the fall of No. 6's Walls:
The landscape had seemed to have undergone a rather drastic change. There was little that seemed the same as that day five years ago. The once barren and deteriorating sight of what once made up the West Block was completely missing from the scene that greeted weary storm gray eyes. Five years was a long time to stay away, but surely it hadn't been so long that the town he'd once called home could have been removed so completely from the land.
The rubble of the town, as well as the once proud white walls that had encompassed the area known as No. 6 was completely cleared away. In its place, simple homes seemed to make up a majority of the area, leading into the town of No 6 proper. A bustling market place seemed to run up the main street, which had several trees scattered among the buildings. They were all rather small, but sturdy, and obviously thriving where once almost nothing could live.
Patches of green grass seemed to also be attempting to turn the dirt and grime that the young man had grown so used to seeing and was changing the scene before him in new and pleasant ways. It was… something he had never expected to see. Not while No 6 itself still remained. Yet he couldn't deny the flow of people from between the main city and the newly established West Block. And it was that very movement that made the man now turn his attention to the main city. No 6. No longer did it look like a shining, perfect city. The Moon Drop, that had once been its central hub, where the Mother computer had been and the city had it been run from was no more. In its place was a sprawling forest. A park… where only iron and glass had once ruled. It seemed a fitting end.
Each side seemed equal. There was nothing to say one person was better than another. That's what finally hit the man as he gazed out over the city and took notice of all the changes five years had brought. There was still a correctional facility, seeming hidden up behind the trees, but then, a city this large and open to all couldn't possibly exist as it once had. There was sure to be theft and fights. Perhaps even murders. While it looked equal, the man was certain there was always someone better off than another. Isn't that how it always went. Someone had to be in charge… and there had to be many who didn't like him, or her, or them. It had been a collective group once that had run No 6. A committee, if he recalled right. What was to say that one didn't run it still?
For as much as he could see, there was so much he wouldn't know till he got closer. That he wouldn't be certain of till he stepped into the city itself. So, instead of hesitating, the man took a single step forward, then another, moving to come down the hill and toward the former West Block he had once called home. His gray eyes searching all around him nervously as his dark violet-black hair seemed to sway in the high ponytail it was set into. When he'd left, it had been such a small tail. His hair had only been a little past his shoulders.
Five years could change a person. Especially one who had left because he had believed he had nothing to stay for. That his sole purpose in his life had been completed and there was no reason to remain. No 6 had fallen and his life had suddenly become so empty and devoid of a purpose; a drive. His revenge had become complete and yet he hadn't been happy about it. He'd just… felt empty. Like there had been nothing to replace the bitterness and utter hatred that he'd felt for years toward a city and a place that he had come to know so well. One that he had come to despise so well. It was almost silly how much things had changed. How different they had been, in those last weeks before its fall. Especially with how much one person who had come from that very city had come to mean to him.
Nezumi paused suddenly, looking toward the city he had once hated, but now, wondered about. The walls were gone. It certainly seemed as if the once holy place now cared about the people outside its walls and it didn't seem, from the outside at least, that anyone was forgotten or ignored. It had his touch all over it. He always did reach out to people. No matter the status or situation. Even now, what once pissed the man off brought a smile to his lips. He hadn't been cut out for life in the old West Block and now… he seemed to have recreated it into one he could survive in very well.
"Sion," the man murmured, feeling the ache that had become so much of his past five years begin to once more poke and prod at him. As if it was begging him to move quicker. To swiftly get down there to see the one whom he couldn't seem to stop thinking about. A soft chirp at his shoulder made him turn to see a small brown rat sitting on his shoulder. Cravat, who was named thanks to the boy he was currently thinking about, seemed eager to go forward as well. "Ah, you miss him as well, don't you?" he asked the rat, receiving two small chirps in reply as an answer. He'd sent Moonlit, the small black rat that usually ran around with him ahead of them, to see if he couldn't find out where the boy in question was. It was always easier when he knew where to go. There was a third to his little rat group. A small silver-white one named Hamlet. He'd chosen to stay behind, with Sion. For Nezumi, he felt like a part of himself was able to be at the boys side, despite the fact they'd had to part ways for a while.
Another chirp, this time from his other shoulder, had him turning, finding the black one had returned and had climbed up to his left shoulder while he'd been lost in thought. He swiftly shook his head, wondering if the airhead was beginning to rub off on him the closer he was. Especially since he was closer to being near the boy again. "Moonlit, did you find him?" he asked, hearing a couple sounds from the rat before sighing. "Well, I suppose that's better than nothing. Lead the way," he called, watching the rat run down and start heading for the town. Nezumi didn't hesitate, he ran after him. He hadn't found Sion, but he'd found his mother, Karan. While it wasn't what he'd been hoping for, he knew that she should at least know where her son was. And he was certain she'd be willing to point him in the right direction. They'd talked a lot, via letters. Especially back when Sion had been with him, before No 6 fell, and so he felt comfortable with her being the first person he met.
Running through the streets, the first thing Nezumi began to notice was that he wasn't being chased, or shot at, or anything of the sort. In fact, most people who were still moving around as evening began to come on didn't even seem to give him more than a passing glance as he rushed past. There were a couple men he'd passed with security uniforms and weapons at their hips, but they never bothered to attempt to stop him or anything. It was as if they were there to keep the peace with their presence alone, instead of their actions. Nezumi made a mental note to ask about them later, but he had more on his mind right now and had to keep up with a rat that seemed to be in more of a hurry than he was.
He slowed as Moonlit came to a halt to a small bakery inside of the area once known as Lost Town. The sign read 'Karan Bakery' and the lights were still on in the little shop, although from his place near the window he could tell there wasn't much left of the days wares. The rat slipped through a small crack in the door and Nezumi moved to follow, only he opened the door. The delicious smell of baked goods filled the air and while it wasn't freshly made, it still trigged a small growl from the man's stomach.
"I'll be right there," a warm, friendly voice called from the back, before a woman who didn't look like she could be the mother of a twenty one year old boy came out. She had brown hair that was tucked under a white handkerchief. Dark blue pants and a light blue top covered the rest of her form, which was a little fuller of form. Possibly from tasting all her baked goods before putting the rest out for sale. Her eyes were a warm golden-brown. A color he could recall Sion had once had, before his run in with the Parasite Bee. "I'm sorry there isn't much left, but I'll be happy to having something fresh come morning if it isn't here now," she remarked, giving him a warm smile. It was just like her sons. Open and warm. Even to a complete stranger. Yet before he could open his mouth a speak, Moonlit chose that moment to speak up himself, chirping. That made the woman look down, her eyes widening before she looked back up to him and caught sight of the little brown one on his shoulder.
Those expressive eyes went from wide-eyed shock to tearful surprise and then to a crying happiness in a matter of seconds and then she was moving. Nezumi had never saw it coming. One second he was standing there, the next he was being engulfed in a hug. The scent of yeast, sugar, and various other bakery affiliated scents assailed his nose as she held him, and just like her son, she'd gotten past his defenses and seemed to just find the way to get close to him. "You're… Nezumi… aren't you?" she whispered, even as she held him, which seemed awkward, considering she was shorter than him and her head barely came to his shoulders. "Thank you…. Thank you for everything you've done for Sion."
At that name, Nezumi's whole body seemed to relax and he slowly, almost hesitantly, moved to hug the woman in return, although his actions were a lot more awkward than he would have liked them to be. He'd talked to the woman lots of times, but if he was honest, it was the first time he'd ever met her. Certainly the first time they'd ever talked face-to-face like this. Then again, hard to talk face-to-face when she was the only one saying anything.
"You don't have to thank me," he answered, although his voice sounded weak, almost too quiet for him. He cleared his throat. "You helped us a lot as well. Your letters, they meant a lot to him as we were outside the city walls."
Karan laughed, wiping away tears. "Well, then we've both been a big help. I'm sure you're hungry after traveling so far. I've been making a stew in the kitchen. I believe I've got some cherry cake baking as well. You're more than welcome to join me. Its the least I can do for you."
Nezumi wanted to protest, but his stomach made itself known just then, casing a slight pink color to dust the boys cheeks. "Um, I guess, I'll be joining you, then," he answered, clearing his throat. Lord, what had happened to his confidence and swagger. Here he was, in front of a woman who was smaller than him, and he suddenly felt like a child. It was a little unsettling, but not unwelcome. He'd never really had a chance to really have a carefree life and it seemed things were different now. Perhaps, he could allow himself a small chance to relax. If just for this one moment. "Where's Sion? I was, hoping you would help me find him. I… I suppose its only proper that I visit him first so he knows I've returned."
Karan smiled, but it seemed a little sad, not as bright this time. "You managed to just miss him. He left for No 4 about a day ago. He should be back in a week though. You can wait here if you like. I've got a spare room downstairs. Its Sion's old room. He's got his own place just on the other side of town, closer to the government building. He's head of the committee for public welfare. After the reconstruction, No 6 set it up so that there was no one who would be forgotten. A lot of people died, on the Holy Day five years ago. There was so many homes and such left abandoned, so the committee moved to help people without homes and jobs find both. Its been going rather well. Without the walls, there is a bit of crime, but its been pretty peaceful and nice, for the most part." She moved to lock up her store and lead the way toward the back, where the smell of a rather thick and savory stew and a sweet desert could be smelled the closer they got to the small kitchen.
"They've come a long way in five years. I wouldn't have expected so much," Nezumi murmured, feeling as if he'd just stepped back in time, when he'd last eaten Karan's cooking, although the other didn't know it. In fact, it was stew and cherry cake, just as she was making now, and a wave of nostalgia seemed to sweep over Nezumi. He wanted to offer his help, but she waved him to sit down before he could and all he could do was comply with her wishes. Once seated, she served him up the stew, along with some pieces of French bread she'd made to go with it.
"Most people weren't expecting it. We all figured we'd need at least ten years before things were okay again. But, my son, well, he's always been pretty smart. He's not so good when it comes to some things, but planning and memorizing and helping out mentally, well, he's always excelled at that. He came up with a way to clear the rubble quicker. To even out the homes. He put most of the cities robots to work. Before long, it was as you see it. There are agricultural robots that leave the main city every day to tend the young trees out in the various blocks. And help the grass to take root again. We never realized just how much the robots that were set to such simple tasks could help out. Sion knew. He'd worked with them a lot, before he'd left No 6. So he knew just what they could be programmed to do. He took charge and they elected him their spokesman." Karan used her bread to dip into the stew and scoop some up to eat and ate a little before continuing.
"He's gone to most of the other area's at least once. Mostly to fill them in on the changes to No 6 and the wonderful progress they've taken. Some of them are even adapting to our ways, instead of remaining tied to the old. He's really grown up, but I'm a bit sad at knowing that. He's become distant lately. He works so hard. Has seen so much. Its almost like he's a different person," she told Nezumi, almost as if wanting to warn him before the other was reunited with him. "He was a bit sad at first. Almost as if he felt he was missing something. But then there was the little one to care for and the city to rebuild. He just… seemed to let work become his main focus."
Nezumi felt a frown tug at his lips, even as he continued to eat. Sion had made work his focus instead of the child? That didn't sound like the young boy Nezumi had come to know. That sounded a lot more like someone else Nezumi was rather close to. So close, he saw that person every time he looked into a mirror while he had been away. "What happened to the child?" Nezumi asked.
"Sion is fine. He's a rather healthy and happy six year old. He's usually with me most days, since Sion travels so much. Tonight he's over at a friends house for a birthday sleepover. You'll meet him tomorrow if you plan to stick around." Karan smiled and moved to get up and head into another area further inside. She grabbed some pictures and returned, holding them out to him.
Nezumi accepted them and smiled, seeing Sion, his head of white hair prominent. The band that started at his cheek and moved to wrap around his throat standing out against his pale skin. In his arms was a baby Sion, who was smiling just as the one holding him was. He flipped through the pictures, seeing the baby grow up before his eyes. He could also see the distance that was coming over the older Sion. The smile began to fade a little more with each passing picture. Till finally, Nezumi was at the most recent one.
A six year old boy stood in front of the bakery, a large grin on his lips and his eyes wide and bright. Just like Sion's used to be. The man behind him had obviously grown from the slight, thin young man of sixteen into a young adult. His ruby eyes seemed distant and the small tilt of his lips looked more like a self-depreciating smile than a carefree one he was used to seeing. Like himself, Sion had grown up. They weren't the sixteen year old boys they'd been when he'd left. They were adults. Both twenty-one years of age and both having done and accomplished much in their young lives. He didn't see the boy he cared for in that picture. All he could see was himself. As he had been. Back before a rather air headed and open young boy had shown him kindness. Had shown him that his way hadn't necessarily been the best way. Or the most promising. It was like looking at a mirror that showed the past. Yet it was in his present. Nezumi had returned because he'd hoping that Sion would be able to teach him what he wasn't good at. The things he'd forgotten in his crusade against the town. What he found was that he not only couldn't be taught by Sion, but that he'd have to somehow break the other's shell as well as his own without his aid. He wasn't certain he could do it, let alone know how to do it.
Flipping back to the first picture he traced a single finger over the smiling Sion he had been remembering all the time he'd been gone and his jaw set. He was going to stay and help get him back. He owed the man… and his mother that much. What happened to himself afterward didn't matter. Right now, all he wanted was that smile back. "I… I want to stay in town. Think you know a place I can find work and shelter?" he asked, looking up at Karan.
Karan had been silent as she watched the emotions crossing the boys features with each picture. She knew he had noticed the changes just as much as she had. "Are you against early hours and hard, hot work?" Karan asked, giving him a smile. "I need help in the bakery and you're young enough you should be able to handle it, if you don't mind early hours and a tyrant boss in the kitchens."
Nezumi blinked, before a slow smirk crossed his lips. He broke the bread and tossed pieces to Moonlit and Cravat before looking into Karan's eyes. "When do I start? It isn't acting, but I think I could enjoy having a tyrannical boss, since she's shorter than me and cooks rather well. Much better than that son of hers who was still in need of learning back when I was living with him."
Karan laughed, smiling back at him. "Good. You start tomorrow. You can have the downstairs room till you've saved up enough to get your own home, if you wish. And I'll have you know size isn't everything. Its what's inside that counts."
Nezumi felt himself genuinely smile back, the warm feeling something he didn't mind growing inside. Perhaps, this is what it was like to have people you could count on. People who were kind and willing to be there for you. No matter what. It was a feeling he was beginning to understand. "Good," was all he answered back, suddenly looking forward to what the new days would bring.