Title - A Rare Sight
Disclaimer - Shirow Miwa owns all, I'm just playing.
Timeline/Spoilers - spoilers up to and including chapter 57
Warning - mentions of violence and abuse but if you've ever looked at this manga, you already know it's going to contain that.
Summary - It's a pretty rare sight to see him with a girl.
Author's Note - written for Springkink written for the prompt: Heine/Naoto: desensitization - each time he can get a little closer. It came out more of slow building of their relationship than anything sexy, I'm afraid. I hope that's okay. It ends with chapter 57 events since that's all the further I've seen. Lines of dialog were lifted directly from various chapters of the manga and belong to Shirow Miwa, not I. Thanks to evil_little_dog for the beta.
She walked right up to him, so damned determined. Back pedaling meant nothing to her, nor did his outright hostility.
"That's a pretty rare sight, you with a girl," Badou joked, nearly swallowing his cigarette at Heine's answering glare.
It wasn't entirely Badou's fault. He didn't know what Heine had been through. No one except Bishop had any clue about Einsturzen and he hadn't even told the priest all that much. Badou didn't know about Lily. He couldn't understand why Heine didn't want to be around women, why he flinched away from the girls at the restaurant even though he knew them.
But the dark-haired girl wasn't going to take 'I don't know,' and the unspoken 'go the fuck away' for an answer. Heine just wished he could have dragged the chair at Granny's place further away from the girl's. As it was, he just did his best to ignore her, even though having an unknown individual that close to him made his skin crawl. That would have been the same even if she was a guy, but she wasn't.
Heine looked at her out of the corner of his eye. Definitely far too female, but hard, like she had seen some shit, too. Well, who hadn't in this pisshole of a city? It was best that he didn't even think that much about her.
Ignoring her lasted just as long as it took for his twin 'sisters' to show up. Naoto fought next to him. Oh, how she could fight. It was nearly a thing of beauty. He could have been mesmerized for a moment if thoughts of Lily hadn't bubbled up. The sight of the twins froze him. His issues with women nearly undid him, not that it mattered. He could take whatever they threw at him, survive it, heal it. It was Naoto who was the real problem.
He noticed her. The dog inside of him bared its teeth and Heine felt things almost entirely foreign to him. It was beyond admiration of Naoto's skill with a sword, her determination to find her way below or even her ability to look at monsters like Noki and Loki, like himself, and not even blink. The dog had caught her scent and it made his body quiver. Heine didn't like it. Kerberos didn't need to be aware of her.
It only lasted until she gazed at him with quiet revulsion as he plucked his sister's knives out of his chest, not having the decency to die from those wounds. She saw him as he was: a monster. Somehow that suited him fine. Thoughts of her floated away as his mind snapped back to that place, to the feel of Lily dying in his arms.
It was better he had nothing to do with women.
"That's a pretty rare sight, you with a girl.".
Badou's words echoed in his head. What a shit voice to hear. And it didn't help Badou was filling Heine's ears with new words, equally annoying. "How long are you two gonna keep staring at each other?"
Like Heine could help it. Naoto had a lot to learn about reading the eyes of a predator. Everything about his body posture should have told her to go the hell away. And yet she lingered, gazing at him as if she could read the map to the hell under the city in his face. He could understand her motivation. What he couldn't understand was his own? Why was he staying there, almost close enough to touch? He should be somewhere else and yet, he couldn't take his eyes off of her and it wasn't because he didn't trust her.
What he did next made even less sense. He took Naoto home with him, Badou trailing along. In the back of his mind he thought maybe Bishop would know something that would make her go away. On the other hand, he was taking her to the place where the one girl who didn't freak him out lived. Granted, he could pull Naoto apart like a kid with a butterfly if she hurt Nill. Turned out he didn't need to worry. Nill took to Naoto instantly. What was that about?
Who knew Nill would play dress up with her? No denying Badou seemed to like Naoto in one of that shit priest's lolicon dresses. The unexpected part was Heine sort of did, too. He didn't have time to think about that. Badou forced him to talk about the worst time of his life. Well, not so much forced but still, anyone could see Heine didn't want to talk about it, but he knew Badou well enough to know he wouldn't let it go.
"Collar?" Naoto regarded him in confusion.
"Yeah, you don't have one, do you?"
The cruel dog in him smirked, hoping to shock her. Heine wasn't prepared for the hardening of her eyes. She seemed angry for his sake, throwing him for a moment. He should care that she was standing right next to his chair, but somehow that barely registered as he related the whole sordid story. They all listened, learned the type of freak he really was, and at the end, Naoto's only question was the one he couldn't answer: how to get back down there.
Heine was glad of Badou's sudden burst of domesticity in fixing Naoto's clothes. It took those dark eyes of hers, filled with pity and disappointment, away from him. His only regret was Nill's silent laughter interrupted Naoto before she pounded Badou. Frankly, Heine wanted to see that. It could have been exciting.
Careful what you wish for, he was reminded of that a moment later as an explosion rocked the city. He was surprised and somehow pleased as Naoto followed on his heels to go investigate, but he'd be damned if he knew why he cared one way or the other. Heine didn't have long to think about it, not after what Bishop revealed. Naoto, lying at his feet, unconscious, suddenly became less important to him.
"That's a pretty rare sight, you with a girl."
He was going to kill Badou for putting those thoughts in his head. Even though Heine had told Badou and Naoto about his past, there was so much more to it, too much pain and horror that he couldn't share. Hell no one needed to know those more private hellish parts of him where the monster lurked.
Heine stole a glance over at Naoto, sitting next to him in the pews of Bishop's church. He didn't like to be near her on one hand, but on the other, he had already caught her once, not letting her hit ground hard after she fainted. Okay, he had dropped her afterward, but the point was, he had touched her without flinching, without screaming and backing away. Of course, the rescue had been partially instinctual and the thoughts of that woman, thoughts of Lily came secondarily. That's when he dropped Naoto.
But he had touched her. That was something to think about. Even more to think about, he was actually sitting with her willingly. Okay, he was on the opposite end of the pew, but he was relaxed in a way he only was with Nill. It was like he was getting used to Naoto being around, and since Bishop ran the fuck out on them, he might need to get really used to Naoto waiting around for him.
Heine didn't even care when she followed him outside, walking so close that an outsider might think they were a couple; of course they'd have to be blind to facial expressions but still. She didn't like it when he suggested that she was like him, but the way her sword countered the barrel of his pistol proved her wrong. She had moves and he liked that. Well, hell, he actually liked it. He was almost starting to like her. Too bad he didn't have time to think about it.
Trouble raced by them in the form of a redheaded, one-eyed dumbass. Naturally Badou couldn't keep his misfortune to himself, drawing Heine and Naoto along in his chaotic wake. Sometimes Heine thought that it was Badou's special skill, dropping himself and anyone around him into the soup.
Of course, some of it might just be all in his mind – or was that the mind of the thing that lurked in his spine – and that being around Naoto was anything other than her needing information from him. She hadn't seemed pleased to see him at Granny's tea house. But what was up with the niggling discomfort at seeing Nill being chummy with Naoto? Was it jealousy or worry that the swordswoman would be in his life even more?
Why was he even wasting brain cells thinking about it? The less he had to do with women, the better, really. That didn't mean he wasn't the least bit curious as to what Granny would dress Naoto in after having her girls haul the swordswoman off for an overhaul.
Bet she'll be hot, His inner dog whispered and his cock gave an answering twitch.
That was too much for Heine. He bailed while he had a chance.
"That's a pretty rare sight, you with a girl."
Not any more it wasn't, he thought, dragged right back into another damn battle. He had to protect Granny and the transgenic girls who worked for her. Hell, Nill was there and she was special. He definitely needed to protect her. Naoto was at his side again and that felt right. He didn't worry about protecting her. She could take care of herself.
Or maybe not. It got hairy and he realized he might lose her. Why did he give a damn about that? She wasn't a killer. She wasn't a mad dog like him. Out of the blue, he felt protective. These creatures attacking them weren't really alive, not human, even less so than he was. She didn't need to hold back and needed to know that.
"Just think of it like a game and let them have it."
And she did, but he didn't get time to admire her skills. Giovanni colored everything there after. Crybaby Giovanni, why wasn't he ever done with him? Peripherally aware that Naoto stood behind him, Heine killed his brother again. Of course, Giovanni didn't have the decency to stay dead. As Giovanni gloated and a creature near them exploded, Heine found himself on his knees next to Naoto. He was so close to her he could smell her sweat, but he didn't try to move away.
Giovanni looked right at her and cut right to the core. "Heine, you've accumulated too much baggage living up here. Time to throw it all away."
To Heine's surprise the first to items of baggage to mind were Nill and Naoto. Two women. He'd be dammed if he let Giovanni hurt them. Before he could move, Naoto defended him.
Heine felt more stunned by that than the bullets that had shredded his chest or Giovanni's words, which had hurt more than the bullets. What hurt the most was losing Giovanni's trail in the monstrous explode that followed.
She struck him. "It's over."
Naoto had struck him and the dog inside him heeled at that touch. Heine shook himself as if rousing from sleep. Definitely, it was no longer a rare sight to see him with a girl, at least not this girl. She stood by him at the funeral, by him when Granny's people wanted to blame him for the attacks.
Heine's stomach twisted when he realized Naoto saw him as a protector. "Are you any different?" she asked him, but he was. Granny's people were right to suspect him. Naoto was wrong to think he was another more than the beast he claimed to be. He was the pet of Kerberos and it had made that clear to him from the first moment he willingly submitted to the thing.
But what if he was wrong and Naoto was right? Hadn't he just protected her, Nill and Granny? Hadn't he accepted Kerberos in order to save Lily, Arthur and the rest, even Crybaby Giovanni? Saving Lily meant killing her. Didn't Naoto understand that? He would be the death of her.
"Protecting, saving, all that shit. They're not shit someone like me can do." Even as the words tumbled from his mouth, Heine felt like crying. He hadn't felt like that in so long. The looks on Naoto's face, Nill's, too, were almost more than he could bear. A part of him wanted to touch Naoto, to bury his face against the crook of her neck and cry for himself and for the things he could never have. Each time he spoke to her, he could get a little closer. This might be the time he allowed her to touch him. He wanted to feel Naoto's arms around his shoulders.
It was time to replace the only memories he had of being embraced. It was time to write over the feeling of Einsturzen's arms around him, whispering insanities into his ear, the feel of Lily's arms around his neck as her blood and entrails dripped into his lap. All he needed to do was take two steps toward Naoto and he could touch her this time. Heine knew he could.
And to prove his life was meant to be unending hell, the moment shattered as some mad-looking douchebag strolled up. Naoto spooked. Her emphatic 'no' to Heine and douchebag's chorused question of 'Is he your boyfriend?' left Heine feeling off-kilter. He wasn't her boyfriend, but damned if he wasn't jealous as all hell right now.
Naoto was a girl he didn't mind getting closer to. He was getting desensitized to her. But of course, he'd have to wait until he dealt with whatever fresh hell this was before he could figure out what he really wanted to do with Naoto. His biggest worry was what did Kerberos want to do with Naoto, but it would all have to wait. Fuck, why did life have to be this hard?