Basically, the idea for this story came and I couldn't really stop after that. D: It was Stephanie who re-ignited my love for Angel Beats, so you can thank her for this. This story will be a two-shot - maybe a three-shot if two doesn't cover it. Contains HinataxYui, mentions of OtonashixKanade.
Hideki Hinata was not a soldier.
At least, he told himself, he didn't want to be seen as one. Being a soldier meant witnessing blood, death and destruction – contributing to the whole fiasco, even. It wasn't what he wanted. It wasn't what he was cut out for. He had seen how soldiers killed each other all the time on video games, but taking a life with his own two hands was very different. It wasn't just about overcoming the squeamishness of witnessing someone dying before your eyes; it was also about being humane. It sounded ridiculous to him, but he knew it was the truth.
Hideki Hinata didn't want to become like the others around him. All of them possessed callused hands that came from days of warfare and physical training. Their eyes were hardened and killing came easily for them – there never was any sympathy for the enemy, regardless of who it appeared to be. They shot their machine guns and sniper rifles with practiced ease, utilizing their minds and physical strength with only one aim in mind – which was to take down as many enemies as possible.
In short, the last thing he wanted was to be a cold-blooded bastard.
Hinata looked up cautiously, scrutinizing the two figures in front of him. The boy in front of him couldn't have been older than eighteen, with chin-length olive green hair and a shrewd smile on his face. Next to him stood a frowning girl, her sea-colored eyes sparkling in something like curiosity and annoyance.
The girl fingered the headband in her hair. "You're the one who just arrived to this regiment, aren't you? They said that you refused to go out on the front lines. Is that true?"
"I s'ppose." Had news of him spread so far already? Well, then Hinata was going to be as brief as possible.
"So it is true," the green-haired boy said, his eyes shining in glee. "You really are a coward."
The girl shoved an elbow into the boy, hard. "Shut up for a moment, Naoi." Turning back to Hinata, she asked, "Why are you so reluctant anyway? You do know that this is what we have to do to survive, right?"
The blue-haired boy refused to answer. He concentrated, instead, on the bright fire burning in front of him. The nights were often chilly, and even the uniform of a soldier didn't provide much warmth. He hugged his knees for comfort; thoughts flying back to how simple life once was without the whole warfare business.
Hinata had been a high school student a few months ago – perhaps not a particularly bright one, but life was still enjoyable back then.
However, the revolts against the government had happened. The country had split into two factions – the government and the rebels. Not being one for politics, Hinata had automatically sided with the government, assuming that life could carry on as usual. Well, he had been mistaken. Within a few days, he had been forcefully enlisted in the government faction's army and was required to endure military training – something which he wasn't fond of.
"Hey, I'm talking to you."
Hinata blinked, surprised to see the girl and her irritable companion sitting down next to him by the fire.
"Is it the killing?" the girl asked. "Are you frightened by the idea of taking a life?"
Hinata sighed, running a hand over his messy locks. "It's not that I'm frightened. It just…doesn't feel right. I don't want to lose myself in this whole warfare business, you know?" He bowed his head low, knowing that they were listening intently. "I'm just a student – a student who knows how to handle a gun. This whole soldier thing is a little hard to deal with."
The girl's eyes softened. "I see. You're confused."
Hinata barked out a short laugh, watching his breaths come out in little white puffs. "Yeah, I guess I am. Call me cowardly or whatever, but I don't really care. I don't like how things are at the moment. That's all."
There was a long period of silence, to which all that could be heard was the crackling of orange-blue flames. Finally, the girl asked, "What's your name?"
"I'm Hinata. Hideki Hinata."
"My name's Yuri Nakamura." She jerked her head to the boy next to her, who was still looking at Hinata with disdain. "And this here is Naoi Ayato." Without waiting for a response, she continued, "I'm familiar with the leader of this regiment. I'll have a word with him, have you do something that doesn't involve being on the front-line."
Hinata looked up. "What? You don't have to."
"Well, but I want to." She gave an inelegant snort, standing up to leave. "You can thank me later."
Hinata merely sat there, looking bewildered.
It was to be an infiltration mission.
Hinata felt slightly more at ease. He could handle something like that. The task he was to complete involved sneaking into a nearby rebel base, finding out how they functioned and what were their weakest points. In order to avoid suspicion, he was even supposed to treat any encountered rebels as allies.
In short, there was a lot of sneaking and pretending to be done. Hinata didn't mind that so much. How difficult could it be? Sneak in, discover secrets, sneak back out.
"Hey, I think I see their tents just up ahead." The orange-haired teen who was sent on the mission with Hinata, Otonashi Yuzuru, was an insightful and empathetic individual. Hinata suspected that Otonashi, like himself, probably disliked the idea of killing as well.
"Yeah," Hinata mumbled back through a mouthful of grass. They had been crawling on their hands and knees in the past hour, using the tall grass and bushes as cover. "What do we do now? They'll see us if we go any closer, and we'll be shot at first sight if they think we're the enemy."
"Well, we are the enemy."
Hinata bit back a groan. "Thanks for stating the obvious."
Before he could comprehend anything else, the blue-haired teen felt something sharp and cold forcefully pressed to the base of his neck. Otonashi, who was now experienced the same thing, gave a yelp of fear. No way – had they been overheard? Hinata broke into light sweat, feeling his heart thud dangerously in his chest. But Otonashi and I had been so careful!
"Stand up and turn around," a feminine voice standing over Otonashi said.
"I think this one's trembling." Hinata felt the sharp object poke him lightly, and his breath hitched. The second voice was also female, albeit a pitch higher. She sounded more curious than wary.
Slowly, Hinata and Otonashi turned around to face the two girls. It wasn't an easy task, considering how they had been crawling for hours. The blue-haired boy gave a gasp of surprise – he had been expecting two grown women, but this? This was two girls – two young girls, he might add. One was fair-skinned and silver-haired, with amber eyes that glowed in the dusk. The other one had shocking pink hair done up in clumps with equally striking pink eyes to match.
And she was in a wheelchair.
Noticing that his eyes had trailed to her disability, the girl kept the spear in her hands aimed carefully at his throat, her face twisted into a scowl. It was a little difficult for her to do that, since Hinata was much taller than her. If not for the serious predicament they were in, the blue-haired teen would have found it amusing.
Hinata grinned, and the teasing question slid out before he even knew it. "Are you even capable of holding sharp, pointy objects like that in the first place?"
The effect was instantaneous. There was a howl of rage from the pink-haired girl, and she swung the handle of her spear so hard at Hinata that he crumpled to the ground with a groan.
"State your name and your purpose," the silver-haired girl interrupted coolly.
"My name is Otonashi, and this here is Hinata. We're students who're running away," Otonashi replied in a convincing tone that even Hinata was proud of. "The government faction has been trying to recruit us into its army, and we're doing our best to escape. Please, could we join you?"
The amber-eyed girl didn't seem convinced, and the pinkette was still seething in rage. Hinata sighed – the mission was obviously off to a bad start. He'd have to change that.
"Look, I'm sorry for being so insensitive," Hinata said, giving her a pleading look. "It's just…you know, something you don't see often – a girl who can't walk, threatening someone with a spear." What else could he say that would appeal to her? Ah, this would probably do it. "If I told my friends back in school, they'd laugh at me for being knocked over by someone like you!"
It worked. The girl took the bait, puffing herself up proudly. "Of course! I'm one of a kind." She turned to look at the silver-haired girl. "Let's bring them back."
The pinkette's companion didn't look so certain. "Are you sure, Yui?"
"It's fine. They look like idiots, but we can use an extra hand or two anyway."
"I really don't think Shiina would approve. There's so much about them that we don't know about."
"Shiina?" The girl named Yui waved a hand uncaringly. "She needs to relax a little. We're not going to get any new people to join us if she keeps that attitude up all the time."
"If you say so." The girl's amber eyes assessed the two boys carefully, as if trying to decide whether they were trustworthy or not. Hinata and Otonashi did their best to smile reassuringly.
Yui grinned at the two of them. "Well, what're you boys waiting for? Follow me."
The next few days passed by quickly without any incidents. Hinata and Otonashi stayed close to each other, avoiding contact with most of the other rebels. The last thing they wanted to do was to attract any unwanted attention. Sometimes Yui and the silver-haired girl, Kanade, would drop by for a short chat – but that was it. They hadn't been pestered to fulfil their loyalty or to do any jobs for the rebels, which struck the two boys as odd. They weren't complaining, though.
Still, it was time to wander around for some answers.
"Otonashi? It's midnight. We promised to go look around the campsite," Hinata whispered, prodding the sleeping orange-haired teen's back.
Otonashi gave a grunt and swatted Hinata's hand away.
"Damn it, Otonashi!" Hinata hissed in irritation. "Fine, looks like I'm on my own tonight."
The blue-haired teen crawled out of the tent. Most of the people were asleep, save for a few who were on night duty. The area was mostly illuminated by dying fires and oil lamps, casting shadows on the ground. He made his way around warily – there was always a chance of him being attacked by one of the other rebels. Not everyone was as trusting and accepting as Yui.
Thinking about Yui made him cringe. What an idiot, he thought. Who the hell would blindly trust some random strangers without even an interrogation? A part of Hinata was satisfied at how her trusting personality made things easier for him, but another part of him seemed to be filled with regret. This was a young, impressionable girl whose trust Hinata was going to betray. He was going to leave her scarred for a long, long time. It was just like killing someone, except that it was done in a different way.
To top it off, Yui wasn't a bad person. He had seen her smile and laugh with the others. Hinata also knew that she could have easily killed him on that day if she wanted to. In fact, it was thanks to Yui that Otonashi and him were still alive. Kanade probably wouldn't have been as kind.
Hinata shook those thoughts out of his head, darting from tent to tent as inconspicuously as possible. There had to be an area of supplies somewhere – it would be good if he could find out how much food and weaponry these rebels had.
"What are you doing?"
Hinata turned to face a weary-looking Yui, unsure of how to respond. "Uh…"
"You can't sleep too?"
Hinata nodded fervently, glad that Yui had given him the answer to her own question. He sighed in relief, thankful for the fact that she didn't look the slightest bit suspicious. If anything, she looked exhausted. Her pink hair was sticking out in odd angles and there were dark circles under her eyes.
"You're tired," Hinata said.
"Yeah." Yui rubbed her eyes, stifling a yawn. "Things have been…getting chaotic, with the government forces trying to crack down on us and all. It's getting harder to get supplies from our other teams up North."
Hinata's fingers balled into fists. Yui had just unknowingly revealed three things to him – first, she was admitting that the rebels were running out of options – secondly, that other rebel factions existed other than this one – and thirdly, the location of their allies. Hinata hated how she was making this so easy for him. He hated the fact that she seemed to trust him so much.
"Can I ask you a question?" he asked, trying to keep his voice as steady as possible.
"Why are you fighting?"
She glanced up at his question. "Because the government is trying to stop free will, which is why the rebels have joined together and…"
"No, no." Hinata cut her off, shaking his head. "I'm not asking you why the rebel faction is going against the government. I'm asking why you are fighting." Seeing that she still appeared confused, he continued, "Look, you're paralyzed waist-down. That's a fact. You don't have to fight, y'know? I'm sure you'd be better off somewhere into the countryside with some relatives instead of being on a battleground, where things can get ugly."
She huffed. "I'm perfectly capable of handling myself, thank you very much."
"I know you can – you were the one who knocked me down, remember? But that doesn't answer the question."
There was real laughter from Yui this time, and Hinata waited for her answer. He felt genuinely curious of this bright-eyed girl who could have chosen a different path for herself. It just didn't feel right for her to be involved in this.
"I just want to, I guess. This," she tapped her wheelchair for emphasis, "Was from an accident from years ago. I supported the ideals of the rebels, and so I came. It's that simple."
"But you don't have to," Hinata pleaded. "You don't have to go through all of this."
For a second, he was tempted to blurt out everything on his mind – his mission, what he had to do, and who he really was. Hinata wanted to scream at Yui to get out, otherwise she was going to be killed someday – especially with the disability she had. The other soldiers from the government faction wouldn't sympathize with her – someone like Naoi would take her down without a second glance.
It just wouldn't be fair.
"I want to." Yui's tone was steely, and she was glaring at Hinata with determination in her eyes. "I don't want to stand around being unable to do anything with my life. I don't want…to be some stupid wallflower, or a burden to anyone else just because I can't walk!"
"This place will be a battlefield, Yui!" Hinata yelled, using her name for the first time. "You'll die!"
"Who's to say that I will?" Her pink eyes were bright with fury. "I mean, is there a prophecy that said I would? Is there something you know that I don't?"
"No 'buts'. What do you understand anyway? You've been able to move freely throughout your entire life!" She was angry, and Hinata could see it. "I don't need your worries or sympathy. Don't speak of this to me ever again!"
She wheeled herself away into the night, leaving Hinata behind. He gazed up at the inky sky, noting how bright the stars were twinkling. At that moment, there was nothing else that Hinata felt but hatred – hatred for himself and what he had to carry out.
He would be the main cause of Yui's death – Hinata was certain of it. The worst thing, however, was that there was nothing he could do to stop it.
Please review! (:
Ps: Forgive me for the dubious setting (don't ask me how the government vs rebel thing works, I have no idea D:), and forgive me for the OOC-ness in characters if there are any.