Chapter Twenty-Three: Lamb

"Hiro-san! HIRO-SAN!" Nowaki bellowed as he neared the flaming crash site. He looked around frantically for his lover's white jump suit amidst the wreckage, all the while praying to God or fate or someone that Hiroki was still alive. Soldiers scrambled about, but they were far too afraid and disoriented to even think about trying to stop him as he began to dig furiously through a pile of smoldering flotsam.

"Please," Nowaki murmured to himself frantically as he dug. "Oh god please."

Finally as he shoved a large piece of the helicopter away, he saw a single hand lying amidst the wreckage, but underneath all the blood stains Nowaki could make out white fabric wrapped around the wrist. A quiet groan came from the area, and the giant immediately recognized his lover's gruff voice.

Now that he had found Hiroki, Nowaki slowed down and began to dig very carefully, but when his Hiro-san was finally revealed, tears sprung up in his eyes. His lover lay unconscious, his jumpsuit stained with blood like a lamb's wool. There were several gaping holes in the chest where Hiroki had taken bullets, and embedded in each of his legs were large pieces of shrapnel.

"Oh Hiro-san," Nowaki choked out, kneeling bedside his lover. With two fingers he reached under Hiroki's neck and to his eternal relief, found a faint pulse. His eyes sparkling with tears, Nowaki looked at the chaos around him and the destruction they had caused. He knew it had been more than sufficient to the plan and now he was going to take his lover away from it forever.

With gentle hands, Nowaki picked up Hiroki bridal style and began to hurry back to their base in the cliffs where he'd left ample medical supplies. He knew had Hiro-san been conscious, he would berate Nowaki for carrying him like this. However from the look of his wounds, it would be a long time before Hiroki bounced back. But after a few minutes, he looked down in shock as Hiroki's eyes fluttered open. The wounded man let out a gasp of pain as he looked about.

"Hiro-san?" Nowaki said. "Can you hear me?"

"…Yes." Came a whispered reply. "What happened?"

Nowaki nearly began to cry again at his lover's words.

"You…You were so brave Hiro-san. I love you, and I thank god you're alive."

Too wounded to reply, Hiroki's eyes rolled back in his head and he fell unconscious again, but the smile and tears never left Nowaki's eyes as he took them up into the hills.

Misaki's heart raced as he pounded through the ankle-deep water inside the sewers, and he dared not look behind him as he ran. But the hair on the back of his neck stood as he felt an iron hand brush his shoulder in an attempt to grab him. Thankfully in the water, Zeta couldn't use his electricity but Misaki still let out a gasp of fright and ran faster, only to suddenly find himself heading towards another dead end. Seeing this, the teen knew he would have to stop running and face his brother sometime, but he honestly didn't know if he could seriously hurt Takahiro. His beloved Nii-chan was still in there somewhere, wasn't he?

"UH!" Misaki cried out as a felt a hard shove knock him off his feet. He landed in the water, sputtering from the cold and the blow, but he barely had time to brace himself before Takahiro grabbed him by the shoulder and kneed him heavily in the chest. Misaki coughed in pain as he felt rib crack, pushing frantically at Zeta's arm to break the grip. Another blow came, this time to his head, and Misaki's vision blurred, his whole head dizzy.

The boy felt his shoulder released and he fell hard on his side, coughing weakly as Takahiro stood before him.

"Admit defeat and you will not be killed Digamma," Zeta said coldly. "Master Omega is omnipotent and resisting him is futile. In fact, your Alpha has probably already fallen under his mighty hand."

Takahiro saw the boy's form still, his sopping bangs covering his eyes. Sensing that Digamma had given up at last, he stepped forward and grabbed the teen's arm to haul him up, but when he did, a fist shot forward and landed him square in the face, forcing him back several feet. And his black brow arched when he saw Misaki shakily get to his feet, both of his fists raised.

"Usagi-san is not dead," Misaki panted, looking at Zeta with a fire he'd never felt before. "And he's not going to be because he never gives up! My real Nii-chan would know that!"

Before Zeta could react, Misaki flew forward and delivered another shattering punch to Takahiro's face before casting a kick to his side. His brother doubled over in pain, but it didn't take long before Takahiko and Misaki were trading heavy blows, each hell bent on bringing the other down. The teen even drew the ka bar knife from his belt, but it was knocked into the water from the force of one of Zeta's punches. The bigger, taller superhuman was slowly backing Misaki into a corner again, and the teen quickly began searching for a way out in between their blows. But the only thing he could see was a series of metal rungs attached to the wall that lead up to the surface, and it was far too risky to leave his back open to climb them.

Fear creeping into his mind, Misaki shoved Takahiro away with a hard kick and dug into the pouch at the back of his belt, looking for something, anything, to use against Takahiro.

And when his hand touched it, his eyes widened. A seemingly useless object that would guarantee his victory in the right circumstances. By some miracle, it was still dry, but he had to be careful, for one careless move could prove to be his own demise.

The boy's momentary surprise broke as Takahiro jetted forward and grabbed Misaki by the collar and forced him back against the wall. Zeta flexed his fingers into a fist and drew back, deciding to smack Misaki's head against the concrete wall in order to knock him out.

The moment was perfect….but as Misaki drew the taser out of his belt and aimed it at Takahiro, he felt himself torn in two: his body screaming at him to kill Zeta while his mind flashed images of his brother's smiling face…

And Misaki found he could not do it. He couldn't kill Takahiro, even if he was now a monster. He let his hand fall to his side and gritted his teeth, expecting a heavy rain of blows to fall.

But the second Zeta saw the electrical taser, he immediately jumped back, knowing full well what kind of damage it could do with so much water around. But looking at the boy sparked questions in the superhuman's head, and he struggled to comprehend them.

"Why?" He finally spoke. Misaki looked up at him with glistening eyes, knowing what he was questioning.

"Because you're my Nii-chan…no matter what."

Misaki lowered his head, expecting Zeta to take advantage of the situation, but for some reason, he hadn't moved.

"Nii—Nii-chan?" Zeta spoke to himself, trying to uncover meaning behind the sacred word. For some reason the way Misaki spoke it seemed to spark something inside him, and in the foggy, brainwashed depths of his mind, a light went off.

"Mi—sa—ki." He whispered slowly as a sudden image came to him of his younger brother, five years old, staring up at him and grinning. Misaki responded to the call and looked up, his eyes widening in fear, and hope.

"Takahiro?" He murmured. "Nii-chan?"

Suddenly, for a brief moment, the cold tint in Takahiro's eyes faded and Misaki saw his brother inside, struggling against what he had become. Like a shaking lamb, Takahiro looked around, as if he wasn't able to comprehend what he saw. Then his eyes landed on his younger brother.

"Misaki! What—what's happening? What are we doing in a sewer? UMPH!" Takahiro's breath was cut off as Misaki bounded forward and enveloped his brother in a triumphant hug. Still confused, Takahiro wrapped his arms around his brother, stroking his chocolate brown hair.

But all too soon, that hug turned into a grip that had Misaki gasping for breath. Catching a glimpse of his brother's face, Misaki immediately knew that Zeta had resumed control.

"Nii-chan! I know you can hear me!" He called frantically as Zeta's hands wrapped around his throat, choking him. Moments before the teen blacked out, Takahiro returned, only to be a sputtering mess as he let Misaki go, shoving him away lest he hurt his beloved brother again. Misaki toppled into the water and looked at his brother, who clutched his temples as if they hurt intensely.

"Misaki," Takahiro gasped out. "There's someone else in here…. He's telling me to—to hurt you…I can't…I can't hold him off for much longer—"

"Yes you can!" Misaki cried. "Fight Nii-chan! Fight back!"

"Misaki…please…you have to…you have to kill me."

"WHAT?!" Misaki bellowed, tears gathering in his eyes as he watched Takahiro stagger against the wall, clutching his frazzled head. The pain on his face was plain to see as he fought against Zeta's control, but Misaki couldn't even bring himself to move. This was worse than he could have ever imagined. He had finally gotten his loving brother, his Nii-chan, back, only to have him gripped in the claws of a superhuman monster. Takahiro was suffering and the only way to end it was to take both of their lives.

Suddenly a blood-curdling scream came from Zeta's mouth as he staggered towards Misaki, murder in his eyes even as tears gathered in them and spilled. But even as Zeta reached out, Takahiro fought back, floundering about like a creature with two heads.

"Misaki!" Takahiro screamed. "Please! Do it! Before I—I lose myself…"

Tears rolling down his cheeks, Misaki backed up and grabbed a hold of metal rungs, lifting himself up out of the water. Sobs began wracking his chest as he aimed the taser towards Takahiro, and he closed his eyes and whispered his final words.

"Nii-chan… I love you."

Takahiro's eyes also leaked out tears and he nodded, and both brothers closed their eyes as Misaki pressed the taser button and dropped the device into the water. Light flashed as the taser hit the water and electricity zinged through it, hitting the only target still left in its wake.

Misaki shut his eyes and sobbed as he heard the awful screams that followed, and when all was silent, he let out a howling wail, for he had lost his Nii-chan a second time.

After a few minutes of choking sobs, Misaki finally opened his eyes and looked down upon the body in the water. He wanted to make sure he knew where it was so that after all this was over, Takahiro could have a proper burial.

But as heart-wrenching as his emotions were, Misaki knew he would have to wait to mourn. Turning away from his dead brother, the teen began to climb up the rungs. He had to get back to Usagi-san.

Thank you everyone for your awesome reviews. Next up is the final battle between Akihiko and Haruhiko.