From the moment I finished the last episode of No.6, I realized that Shion really looked like one of those women whose husband leaves her and their child behind for a journey of his own. Lol. Then, I wanted to write about what might have happened if the series continued. Also, I decided to make the child a girl. Hope you guys enjoy it!
This fic is also dedicated to Nostalgia on 9th Avenue for so graciously dedicating her time to make the No. 6 novel available to people who can't read Japanese. Thanks a lot for all the lovely translations, 9ave! This is for you! For those who are unaware of her blog, google the full title and it should come up as the first option. If not, I can give you the link. ^^
P.S. I don't own No.6.
The moment she opened her eyes to the dawn of each new day, the name echoed tenderly in her mind.
The moment she looked up and caught sight of the walls of the Holy City crumbling and broken, the name resounded, hopeful and urgent.
She took off, running.
The white-haired, fair-skinned boy was a rare sight to behold to those within the wall, as well as those outside it. But the people all around him did not bother, for they were too busy—they were fixated on the empty space where the wall once stood, mouths agape with utter disbelief. The boy, too, did not bother with anyone else. He was studying the bright face before him in awe. The baby he was cradling close to heart was sleeping, taking inaudible breaths one after another—proof that she was alive. Obviously tired from the vigorous happenings around her, she fell into a deep slumber soon after Shion began walking. Shion kept a constant, easy pace, stepping around stones and twigs with utmost care—he feared that the sudden noise might break the lull of peace that had settled nicely between the four of them.
Yes, the four of them.
Hamlet and Inukashi's dog (whose name he had yet to discover), were right there beside him, as he made his way back home.
Shion allowed a small, amused smile to cross his face.
When had No.6 ever been 'home' to him?
Not in Chronos, not in Lost Town. There was always this feeling of restlessness wherever he stayed, always at the back of his mind. So then, where was his 'home'? He stilled, his footsteps slowing as his mind held the thought. An image of an underground space with a small kitchen, next to hundreds and hundreds of old, worn-out books stacked neatly on shelves, with the atmosphere warmed the gentle glow of a lit candle, and alluring silver eyes.
His smile faltered.
And his heart began to throb painfully, yearning. Yearning. Every fibre of his body, every part of his being ached to crane his neck—
To look back.
The dog whine softly, pressing her soft, warm body against Shion's right leg. Shion squeezed his eyes shut, and trembled ever so slightly.
Tap… Tap… Tap…
Sandals collided with the hard ground, occasionally making scratchy noises as the soles rubbed against the sand. The ground underneath his feet returned somewhat, even though it was the familiar, almost soundless thud of boots he had grown used to. As he gazed out to the horizon, his eyes made out a head of swaying brown hair, much like the original colour of his own.
He began to walk again.
Small steps soon transformed into full-length strides. His hold on the small bundle of life tightened a little. The dog was trotting gaily to match the sudden change in speed whilst Hamlet dropped to all fours, so that he wouldn't fly off with the wind that blew past him.
Again, there was that stinging sensation in his eyes. He closed them, but it didn't help much.
"Shion!" Another choked cry, husky from the myriad of emotions that were to be conveyed.
Lithe arms wrapped around his body, tight. So tight. As if those arms daren't let go. Karan pulled back to get a proper look at her son, with eyes that were shimmering with tears of joy and love. She threaded her deft fingers gentle through his hair, mouth opening to say something. A thousand thoughts swirled in her head.
How did his hair turn white? Was he ill? Did he lose some weight? Had he grown taller again? What happened to his eyes—why were they red? Had his shoulders always felt this broad? There was blood, so much blood staining his side—was that his blood?
Was he hurt?
Her hands rested lightly on Shion's cheeks, holding them, caressing them. He had his eyes closed again, seemingly in deep thought.
Oh Lord, was he hurt?
And then, they opened. Shion just fell into her open arms, pressing close. As close as he could.
The baby shifted slightly, being squished by the two warm bodies. Her big eyes rolled open slowly, wide with curiosity. Shion's shoulders were jerking as he took each lungful of air. Karan was no better—tears streamed down her cheeks, like twin rivers as he heart began to beat once more. The crystal drops falling onto her shoulder formed a dark spot on her blouse. The fact finally started to sink in after the initial shock had worn off.
They were alive.
And they were together.
Yes… Shion thought.
Somewhere amidst the chaos he had forgotten.
This was home too.
"He's… alive." The voice shook.
"Who?" Another one joined in, weary.
"Trust me, old man. She walked with him. And gave him the baby."
"It's a miracle… A bloody miracle."
Karan set down a cup of hot tea in front of her son, feeling a little apprehensive as he thanked her (manners—she had made sure that it was habitual). She clasped her own with both hands, her gaze following the steam that wafted up from her drink. She once again noticed the slight movement that was hardly concealed by the thin blanket, and she contemplated.
The two of them sipped in silence, with the baby making gurgling noises from time to time.
"Shion," Karan began hesitantly, "is Nezumi a girl?"
He choked, coughed and sputtered, turning away from both his mother and the baby he was holding. A beautiful red dusted his cheeks, spreading right to the tips of his ears, showing his embarrassment to all.
What a reaction. Then again, Karan smiled, resting her chin on one hand, whenever I asked about him…
"Mom!" Shion said indignantly, still flushing from what he deduced his mother's thoughts to be. "It's not like that! I saved her from getting killed. Her mother… is dead." He trailed off, his words suddenly bearing an oppressive weight.
"Oh…" Karan held a hand loosely in front of her mouth, for lack of anything better to say.
"Safu…" Shion continued, with a slight quaver present in his voice, "Safu's gone too. I couldn't save her."
Just like that, all the breath was knocked out of Karan. She swayed struggling to control the sudden nausea. Gripping the mug as if it were a lifeline, she straightened her back, and met her son's now smoldering crimson orbs in the process. Once more, the top of her nose began to tingle (as it always does), before the onset of tears.
There was just so much reflected by those eyes.
Did Nezumi have something to do with the growing depth of her son's gaze?
Shion refused to let them fall, even though he felt warmth pooling beneath his eyelids yet again. His face held steady—there was steely determination and strangely… just a tinge of melancholy.
"Do you want to take this child in?" Karan cleared her throat softly, before gesturing at the baby.
"Yes." His answer was immediate, and resolute.
Karan stood up, untying her apron, "It's tough work, Shion. Being a parent."
A smile crept up Shion's lips, "I'll learn. And besides," He added knowingly, "I have you, Mom."
"I look forward to raising my first grandchild then!" Karan returned the smile with a warm one of her own.
As if on cue, the baby opened her mouth and wailed. She began to cry with an increasing volume, her little hands scrunched up into tight fists. Shion proceeded to rock her gently in his arms, making soothing sounds in hopes to placate her. But her cries did not cease.
"Wait." Karan teased the baby's lips with her finger.
The infant latched on, sucking furiously.
"She's hungry." Karan tutted, pulling her finger away. "And she looks to be about three to four months, so she can't eat baby food yet."
"Oh…" Shion turned to her, rather dazed as he processed the information, "But then we would need—,"
Hamlet magically appeared on Shion's right shoulder, nose twitching and breadcrumbs coating his whiskers. The distraction was welcomed, because the baby was now concentrating on the fluffy mouse, giggling with obvious delight. Shion breathed a small sigh of relief. Then, seconds later, came scratching at the door, coupled with an urgent whine.
"It's that dog from just now, isn't it?" Karan went to answer it. "I was wondering why she suddenly left, instead of coming into the house with us."
Indeed, the same dog greeted them once the door was opened. She set a wrinkled, but otherwise decent brown paper bag down at their feet, tail wagging. Puzzled, Karan bent down to pick it up. The paper bag rustled as she opened it.
"Shion," Karan showed her son it's contents, "I believe there's a good Samaritan at work."
Inside lay a baby bottle, a pacifier and two small tins of baby formula. Shion stared, completely rooted to the spot as his surroundings dimmed. It couldn't have been none other but Inukashi and Rikiga. But how…? It had been what? Barely two? Three hours since the Correctional Facility? He caught a glimpse of the sky from the window. The sky was in the midst of darkening, hues of purple crawling lazily across it's wide expanse. How?
With one hand, he emptied the bag onto the dining table behind him. After that, he filled the bag with as much bread as he could from the shelves, whilst keeping a careful hold on the baby. Karan held herself, her smile growing at the edges. There were no questions to be asked—there wasn't a need for answers. Although she did make a little prayer, silently wishing happiness for whoever it was that helped her son. Including Nezumi. Not once did Nezumi fail to live up to his (or her) words to her.
"You know them." She stated simply, in her motherly way.
"Yes." Shion nodded, eyes softening greatly. "Yes, I do."
He bent down, allowing the dog to nuzzle the infant with her wet nose, blowing softly at her. She squealed, wriggling in the crook of his arm.
Looking deep into the dog's kind and wise orbs, Shion held the overstuffed bag out and swallowed thickly, "Thank you."
With a quiet but grateful 'wuff', both the bag of bread and the dog were gone. Hamlet chittered from his perch on Shion's shoulder, as if bidding the dog farewell. Shion thought of both Inukashi and Rikiga, hoping, hoping that those two words alone would suffice to convey the enormous depth of his gratitude.
Karan touched Shion's elbow lightly, and both shared a little bout of laughter before heading to the kitchen to prepare for the baby's feeding. She watched Shion as he followed her instructions with great care, leaning her back lightly against the wall. The baby cooed, trying to reach for the white mouse that was now sitting on his head.
He has yet to realize… Karan observed, recognizing the touches of love and the protective gestures as well as the light of utter joy in his eyes. Did you know, Shion? The love you are showing is already that of a parent's.