Please excuse the shitty proofreading, grammatical errors, any typos, awkward phrases, or possible loopholes. Love you guys, x.

"Your mission, Mikage Celestine, is to bring Teito Klein back to the military by any means possible."

Mikage stepped off the Hawkzile, sighing heavily. Ayanami's orders had been clear, and Mikage had agreed to carry those orders out without truly questioning them. For one, there was no way he could refuse a commanding officer – especially one with Ayanami's position, at that. For another, Mikage wanted to help. Barsburg was where Teito belonged, wasn't it?

But now…

Now it was as if the full weight of those commands had registered, reminding Mikage of what this task truly entailed. Retrieve an ex-ally who had denounced his loyalty to the Empire – the supposed simplicity of it made Mikage snort. Simple? Yeah, right.

Mikage supposed he had to start thinking of what to say to Teito. Perhaps some ideas for conversation would come if Mikage tried putting himself in Teito's shoes - but how the hell was he supposed to do that?

With logic, of course. Come on, Mikage, focus!

For one, Teito must have had a damn good reason for leaving the military in the first place. Mikage just couldn't envision Teito as someone who would betray his own sovereign, no matter how stoic and cold the boy could be. Teito was incredibly smart – no, he was a prodigy, and the military appreciated his efforts, didn't they? Teito was brilliant, talented –

…and he was also enshrouded in mystery.

Mikage cursed in frustration, realizing that there was so much about Teito that he did not know about. Was there another story to this? What exactly had Teito done? Sure, he had denounced his loyalty to the Empire, but how? Did Teito write a letter, or did he take off in the night? Mikage knew he should have asked Ayanami the finer details, but he hadn't. And yet here he was, standing outside the Seventh District with no idea how this would turn o ut.

If it ever boiled down to violence…

Mikage shivered. The idea of battling against Teito gave him the chills. While Mikage had always done reasonably well in combat and Zaiphon classes, Teito's abilities heavily outweighed his. If they fought, Mikage knew he would lose. Badly.

And yet I don't have a choice, do I?

"Alright, I'm off," Mikage said, giving the Hawkzile a pat. "I'll be back soon…hopefully with someone else."

With a bulky pair of flight goggles resting on his sandy hair, Mikage stepped into District Seven. He would find Teito Klein, talk to him, and ultimately have him return to the military.

That was all Mikage knew he could do.

Castor's question had been simple.

"How is Teito?"

Frau plucked the cigarette out of his mouth, allowing it to rest casually between his fingers. How was Teito, indeed? A few days had passed since the brat's encounter with Ayanami, and not a single word had passed between Frau and Teito since then. Teito had been embarrassed by his tears, and Frau had wisely decided not to bring it up. He wanted to give Teito space - something he knew the teen desperately wanted.

But perhaps he had given Teito a bit too much space.

"…I don't know," Frau answered truthfully.

Castor folded his arms, his eyes narrowed slightly. "You haven't spoken to him."

Nope. Frau knew he hadn't.

"You've been keeping up with your tasks lately," Castor continued, and oh Frau could practically smell the disapproval. "The Archbishop and I are pleased."

You have to talk to Teito sometime, you know.

Frau snorted. "I'm glad it pleases you, your highness." I'm not an expert in child-fucking-psychology, and I want to give the brat some space.

Castor sighed, deciding to address the topic directly. "Frau, what makes you think Teito will ever be ready to talk? What makes you assume that giving him 'some space', as you eloquently phrase it, is the best for him? Teito needs guidance, Frau - you cannot just abandon him in this irresponsible manner."

"I'm not abandoning him," Frau responded, sounding irritated. "I'm just saying that sometimes people need time, Castor, and that's a concept you clearly don't get."

Labrador merely smiled in that enigmatic way of his and turned to address his russet-haired companion. "Calm down, Castor. I believe we have to trust Frau's judgement just this once. Take a look at the child, and you will understand what I mean."

Castor raised an eyebrow. Labrador's request to trust Frau's judgement was like the equivalent of quitting sewing as a hobby, but then the bespectacled man gazed to Teito - who was in their view - and understood what his lilac-haired companion meant.

Teito was sitting by the fountain with one foot tucked under the other, seemingly engrossed with Razette's presence. The pink-haired mermaid was humming a tune, a tender smile on her face. Teito's gaze was filled with so much emotion that it struck a chord within Frau, and the blond Bishop wondered briefly whether he had the capability to aid this teen through whatever hell he would have to put up with. Could Frau - and Zehel - protect the Prince of Raggs? The Bishop briefly cast the tattoo on his arm a withering glance, knowing that he would have to use it more often in the future after all. Protecting the brat was going to come with a high cost, that was for sure.

It wasn't like he minded, though.

"Do you see?" Labrador asked gently.

Castor nodded, albeit somewhat reluctantly.

Frau knew what Labrador meant. After some good food and rest, Teito had taken the initiative to explore his surroundings. The brat kept his blades close – that much was obvious – but instead of adopting the stance of a wary hunter, Teito now observed the church with a sort of childlike curiosity. Sometimes Frau would catch Teito admiring the flowers that Labrador had so lovingly cultivated, and sometimes he would be seen observing the sunset on the church's balcony. This didn't mean that Teito had grown to be unwary of his surroundings - his blades were always by his side, ready to be flourished at a moment's notice - but Frau knew just how huge these steps were for the guarded teenager.

Now if only he knew what exactly was going through that brat's thick head...

"Why do you have so much faith in him, Frau?" Castor asked quietly. "Why do you trust in your judgments so much, especially when it comes to Teito?"

The blond Bishop merely gave a small smile, dusting cigarette ash off his robes.

Teito found that there was something soothing about Razette's singing. She seemed to know what sort of melodies he liked, and the sweetness of her voice lulled him into relaxation. Teito couldn't recall the last time he had experienced a small moment of peace like this – the sunlight, the breeze, the cool granite under his fingers – the urge to sprawl himself over the fountain's edge was tempting, but Teito resisted.

The peace and calmness Teito felt was strange. For the first time in a long time, Teito allowed himself to surrender to the freedom of no longer being under Ayanami's control. Teito would have his vengeance on that despicable man somehow - and that was something Teito would swear to himself in private before he went to sleep, mulling over the past as he did - and that while Teito himself would wake up in the dead of night gasping, panting, drenched in painful memories - he knew that he was alive, and that he could not die before fixing the things that he had to fix. While the teen's blades were always by his side, Teito recognized, albeit unwillingly, that not everyone around him was an enemy. That included Castor, Labrador - and Frau, the Bishop who possessed traits that ironically dictated the opposite.

The voice that interrupted Razette's melody was familiar. "I'm surprised at how much she likes you."

"Hakuren," Teito said stiffly, reluctantly acknowledging the voice's owner. Hakuren seemed to fit the categories of both a potential enemy and a friend - Teito found it difficult to assess the violet-eyed boy's motives, but something told him that Hakuren felt just the same way when it came to him. It wasn't something Teito wanted to deal with - he had enough going on with the Bishops already, and another nosy individual would just get in the way.

Hakuren casually sat by Teito, spreading out a paraphernalia of scholarly-looking volumes all over the fountain's edge. He set his glasses carefully on top of the pile and asked, "How have you been?"

Teito groaned. Best to keep the conversation short. "Don't you have anything else to do?"

There was a shrug in response. "Nah. It's fun to mingle with the grade-school kids, y'know?"

"Why, you shitty little…"

"In all honesty though, how have you been?" Hakuren questioned insistently. The traces of humour had vanished from his face, and there was something like concern in his violet eyes.

Teito blinked and contemplated Hakuren's question, taken aback by the teen's apparent sincerity.

How was Teito, exactly?

One - Teito had failed to kill Frau, which evidently resulted in him no longer being under Ayanami's command. Two - Teito had discovered that he was the Prince of Raggs. Three - there was a God called Mikhail residing in him. These were the main issues Teito knew he was facing at the moment, and the simplest way to phrase it to Hakuren was thus a simple, pragmatic "I don't know".

It wasn't entirely a lie, either.

Hakuren nodded, choosing not to comment. Razette, not being able to participate in the conversation, merely smiled in understanding and dove away, the pink of her hair disappearing as she swam further into the water's depths. Teito stood up, satisfied that Hakuren had fallen silent.

"Did you know my cousin very well?"

"What?" Teito asked, startled.

"My cousin," Hakuren repeated. "Did you know him well?"


"Was he in your class, though?"


"How was he like?" Hakuren pressed, the curiosity in his voice obvious but reluctant.

Teito paused and thought for a moment before replying.

"An idiot."

And then the unexpected happened – Hakuren burst out laughing, his expression one of mirth. Hakuren laughed and continued laughing still until tears prickled the corner of his eyes. Teito, already startled by Hakuren's question, now looked positively scandalized. He patiently waited for Hakuren's laughter to subside before asking, "Why are you laughing?"

"The way you said it was hilarious!"

"I fail to see how my insult of Shuri Oak would be hilarious to you," Teito deadpanned.

Hakuren chuckled. "My cousin and I don't really get along."

"…I can see that." Hakuren's icy reaction at being mistaken as Shuri on the first day they met had told Teito that the two Oaks weren't the best of friends, and Hakuren's blunt statement only served to confirmed Teito's suspicions.

There was a niggling curiosity in Teito that wondered why, but the teen knew it wasn't his business to know. He couldn't help but marvel, though, at the differences between Shuri and Hakuren. While they were similar to a certain extent - Hakuren and Shuri looked physically alike, and the flamboyance was definitely a trait that ran in the Oak family - but to Teito, it seemed that Hakuren and Shuri acted on different motivations. There was a prominent difference in the way their minds were made up, and Teito wasn't exactly sure where this difference began.

"My cousin will never be as charming as I am, for one," Hakuren said smoothly, flashing a charming smile at a girl nearby. Pink dusted her cheeks as she scurried away, emitting a small squeal. Teito merely rolled his eyes. Both Oaks were just as idiotic as ever.

They lapsed into comfortable silence, with Hakuren making idle comments from time to time. Teito listened mostly, but he didn't mind. Hakuren's chattering was somehow pleasant, although it did grate on his nerves from time to time.

"Hey," Hakuren called out casually. "Are you still in danger?"

Teito stiffened at the question - he didn't want anyone to find out more than what was necessary, and this went for the Bishops and civilians like Hakuren. Still, Teito knew it wasn't in him to lie, so he settled for a neutral response instead. "Possibly."

"And is there any way to remove these dangers?"

The brunet sighed. "...Possibly."

"Have you tried talking to the Bishops about this?" Hakuren asked.


Teito knew he had avoided speaking to the Bishops, and that had seemed to work in preventing the Bishops in gaining any additional information on him – at least for a while. Every single bit of new knowledge they gained on Teito would mean that they would be greater danger.

Frau, Castor and Labrador weren't enemies. It wouldn't be right to endanger them further.

But Ayanami had seen them. Ayanami knew who these Bishops were. And as long as Teito was affiliated with them, then they, too, would remain as targets. Since Teito had denounced his loyalty to Ayanami, returning to Barsburg wouldn't be an option. What was he to do now? The Bishops were already going out of their way by housing him, feeding him, saving him when he was in danger - that was enough, they had done more than enough -

Hakuren smiled, and this time there was nothing but genuine kindness in them. "Kid, you should talk to them. Didn't I say this before? The church exists to help anyone in need."

"That's not the point," Teito huffed, "and would you stop calling me 'kid'?"

"You are a kid," Hakuren answered with a snort. "You're short, rebellious, and have no proper manners that I know of."

Teito twitched. Well, two could play this game. "You are an arrogant prick - who needs to have better hair."

Hakuren looked downright offended. "My hair is fantastic, thank you very much."

"It looks stupid."

"That's pretty mature, coming from someone who looks no older than twelve."

"I'm fifteen!"

"Quit whining. My point, if you'll just listen to me, is that while you may be a brat without any manners - "

Teito's response was laced with mock pomposity. "And manners are given to those who actually deserve it - "

"…The fact is that you're in trouble, and you need help." At Teito's insistence on interrupting, Hakuren growled, "Don't even try telling me otherwise, because that's not true and we both know it."

Silence. And then -

"You're not as much as an idiot as I thought you were," Teito confessed.

Hakuren smiled triumphantly.

"But I still think your hair looks stupid."

Teito's demand was straight to the point - no fuss, no frills. "The book you have on past historical events about the Barsburg war and the military. I need it now."

Frau's next question cut through Teito like a sharp blade. "Why? Wasn't history a compulsory subject in the academy?"

"I never had the chance to learn it," Teito replied stiffly. And that was because my days were spent on physical training and assassination missions, which Ayanami deemed were more important than other forms of formal education.

Frau's gaze was calculating. Teito knew that the Bishop was trying to determine his motives, to see what he was so desperate in finding out. Teito held that piercing gaze challengingly, as if daring the blond to question his thoughts.

"Fine. I'll get it," Frau said, standing up. Seeing that Teito wasn't moving, he continued, "What are you waiting for? Come along."

Teito followed, the corners of his mouth lifting into a small smirk. Well, that went easier than expected.

"You two had better come along as well," Frau added, glancing at the two Bishops.

...Or not. This meant that Frau wanted Castor and Labrador to witness whatever that would happen next, meaning that Teito couldn't escape their judgments and opinions.

No one noticed a pair of amber-coloured eyes observing them from a distance, its owner's face shrouded in shadow.

Spying? Counter-spying? Wdf? First Teito, now Mikage? I don't even, structural parallels in story hahahahhahhh forced humor oh dear god what am I doing *dies*

I haven't written for a long time, so if I'm losing my quality and this seems like crap, please tell me. I think my writing abilities are dying.

Review, review, reviewwwwwww.


- Anne