Disclaimer: not mine. not even all of the words belong to me. It's based heavily on the 1st ep of the anime and the 1st chps of the manga and the novel, so some of the dialogue in particular is copied over for purposes of being true to the source material.
Spoilers: only for the 1st ep/chps, so seriously, if you haven't gotten that far in to the series, why the hell are you even reading fanfiction?
A/N: This cute little thing is what happens when I'm bored in astronomy and have caffeine. It gives more insight into what Nezumi was probably thinking during the first encounter he had with Shion, while still preserving some of Shion's thoughts about the whole thing. I like it, personally, even though it does stick super close to the source material. It's adorable and the source material is amazing. ^_^ Enjoy!
Filthy and wet like the rat he was, stinking and bleeding and already as cold as a corpse, Nezumi was sure he was about to die. Why he had kept pushing forward for even this long was a mystery to him. It had been futile from the start.
Now, collapsed in the back-yard forest of some well-off sap of the City, Nezumi was sure that it was over. Face-down in the muddy puddle he'd fallen into, he wondered how long it would take him to drown, and if the bleeding would make him black out first. He wondered which would hurt more, which would be a more pathetic end to his short life.
Drifting off, Nezumi let his face sink into the icy water of the puddle, feeling the wind rip across his back with the full force of the typhoon. He'd been a fool to think he could survive it in this state, fleeing for his life, malnourished and wounded. What he needed was a nap, to slip into the cold arms of unconsciousness for once uninhibited by drugs.
A sudden yell from above startled him, making Nezumi jerk his face out of the puddle and splutter as gritty water was instinctively pushed from his lungs. While Nezumi coughed, he glanced up at the person responsible for the yell, the person that had delayed his death for another few minutes. The shout was full, brimming with all of the air the child could fit into his lungs, laced with pent up rage, frustration, boredom, anxiety, fear, emotion. Nezumi had never heard anything like it.
The boy above yelled himself out. That one deep breath, that one shout to the storm, and he was done, sated for the moment. He turned around and went back inside, innocently leaving the wall window of his balcony open to the interior.
Looking up at the opening, Nezumi felt the will to live rear up. He dragged his numbed limbs under him, pushed himself up out of the slop by exploiting the carefully tended forest around him. The trees shook in the typhoon and Nezumi could pretend it was the wind that caused his knees to shake as he made his way to the edge of the building. Clambering up the side of the cubically constructed domicile was simple, and in the din of the storm, relative silence was guaranteed. The last steps to the window left plenty of time for Nezumi to plan his attack.
Killing the child would be easy.
It would give Nezumi a warm place to spend the night, so no other option seemed to be worth considering. Killing this child would save his own life; it was a simple equation of relative values. The outcome was little more than child's play to determine.
The child in question wasn't even looking in his direction when Nezumi shuffled inside. Instead, he was messing with the digital control panel for the house, turning off the alarm that had sounded because of the inability for the climate control system to compensate for the open window. A few quick taps on the touchscreen turned it off.
Nezumi laughed quietly. It carried through the room in a lull of wind as the papers strewn about fluttered to a tense and temporary quiet. The child turned around, startled by the sound. Seeing the intruder, the child stepped back against the wall in surprise. He and Nezumi stared at each other in a silent eternity for the stretch of a heartbeat.
The intruder was quite the present for Shion's twelfth birthday. As if the typhoon wasn't enough of a gift from the heavens, this stranger had appeared to bring ripples to the calm and tepid waters of his life. Shion was instantly intrigued. The boy looked to be the same age as himself, even if he was of decidedly smaller stature. Who was he? Where did he come from? What was he doing out in this storm? Why was he holding his shoulder like that?
And then Shion spotted the stain of blood, black in the dim light.
Instinctively, Shion reached out his hand.
The movement sparked a reaction in Nezumi. He'd been trying to catch his breath, to steady his feet, and to make the dizziness of blood loss settle. The movement of the child's hand out towards him caught his attention immediately. Threat.
Within a breath, his hand was at the child's throat. His sloppy transit had knocked a lamp to the floor and stirred up a whirl of papers. It didn't matter though, no matter how shamefully obvious Nezumi's movements were, the child's reactions were far too slow to counter. All Nezumi had to do to finish this was lean into his hold on the child's throat, close off the air and wait for him to fall into the sleep he would never wake up from.
Nezumi's words rumbled in the quiet, his grey eyes glaring up without feeling to bore through the blanket of calm surrounding the child of privilege.
Shion stared back, awed at the silver grey hue. The intruder's eyes were flat expanses, as if a screen onto which the whole vastness of the world was projected. Being choked from below, Shion struggled to look deeply into the untold wonders the intruder's eyes hid.
Swallowing hard against the incredibly firm grip on his throat, Shion said, "I'll help treat your wound. You're hurt, right?"
No response. Perhaps a slight loosening of the hand on his throat. Shion thought that it might be possible the intruder didn't understand his words. He could be a foreigner, a visitor from district four or somethin whose trip had taken a turn no one could explain.
"Treat. You know what I mean, right? I'll help you."
Nezumi's eyes narrowed, suspicion tight in his body. He was so numb from pain, exhaustion, and chill that he could barely feel his body. Nezumi gave a barely perceptible nod and let his grip on the child's throat loosen.
Then the panel beside his head burst into a trill of bings that announced an intercom call. Nezumi's hand slammed back around the child's throat. The child nodded, as best he could while in Nezumi's grasp. What the nod was supposed to communicate, Nezumi couldn't exactly say, he was too weak with blood loss to be thinking clearly. He took it to mean that the offer of aid still stood, that the child would take care of this in a way that wouldn't betray Nezumi's presence. Nezumi let his grip loosen again.
Faced with the tentative trust of the intruder, Shion forced himself to be calm as his mother's voice called his name. He needed to be able to respond normally.
"You have the window open, don't you?"
Carefully pulling in a breath, Shion forced his voice to be normal; the innocent and cheerful, daydreaming tone he usually spoke with. "The window? Oh, yeah . . . it's open."
"You'll catch a cold if you don't close it."
Short sentences made good use of the little air that Shion had in his lungs. The intruder was eyeing him warily as his mother laughed from the other room. The cold fingers slipped a bit more against his skin, letting in a fraction more air. The intruder's fingers were a solid force against Shion's neck, a sturdy grip that he would not have expected by looking at the boy responsible.
"You're turning twelve today and you're still acting like a little boy."
Another shallow breath. "Okay, I get it … Oh, Mom?"
"I have a report to write. Can you leave me alone for a bit?"
"A report? Hasn't your Gifted Curriculum only just started?"
"Huh? Oh... well, I have a lot of assignments to do."
The lie would have been obvious had his mother really been listening critically, or expecting him to try to hide something, but in Kronos he had no reason to lie. Everything he could want was given to him. For that reason, his mother had no idea that he ever would lie, and she accepted his explanation at face value.
"I see... don't overwork yourself. Come downstairs at dinnertime."
The woman's voice fell from the intercom and the child stretched out his arm to bring his wristband to the control panel. The resulting beep signaled that the connection had been cut. Another few beeps and the window closed itself, leaving the room in a vacuum of noise and air.
Nezumi let his hand fall away from the child. Warily, he braced himself for combat as the child moved away from him. Even though the child had promised aid, he clearly knew how to lie and if he knew deceit, he could know betrayal as well. Nezumi would have expected no less.
"I have to stop the bleeding."
So straightforward, so matter of fact, and yet there was a tinge of emotion, of concern that Nezumi could hear in his voice that made the child sound entirely unreasonable. He stayed tensed for combat while the child darted about for a medical kit and the climate control system caused warm air to begin to circulate throughout the room.
The tense posture was something Nezumi couldn't hold forever, not in this state. As the child was rummaging through the cupboards he collapsed slowly to a stilted kneel that was very nearly feral. He scrounged up the energy to claw his way back to his feet when the child returned.
It was a shaky stance and the intruder's weakness was obvious.
Cautiously, Shion asked the intruder to follow him to the back room where he could have more light to work by, without needing to turn on the overhead. With far more wariness, the intruder followed Shion to where he'd laid out his medical supplies. Leading by example, Shion took a seat on the floor underneath the warm yellow light of his desk lamp. The intruder let his legs fold beneath him with an air of having given up on the concept of standing altogether.
Taking care to move gingerly, Shion placed his hand on the intruder's arm, slowly moving closer like he was trying to free a wounded animal from a net. The intruder watched him, his ash-grey eyes unblinking and unfeeling. Slightly unnerved by the intense scrutiny, Shion focused on tending to the intruder's bleeding wound.
Shion tore the intruder's sleeve. The thin blue fabric was stronger than it looked, much like the boy wearing it, but the super-fiber ripped easily along the tear at the center of the blood-stain. The tear in the fabric was mirrored on the boy's skin, a clean slice of red at the joint of his thin shoulder and bicep.
"This . . ." Shion could hardly accept the sight before him. "A gunshot wound?"
The intruder was offhand in his reply, "Yeah. A bullet nicked my shoulder. It missed everything important."
Shion decided not to respond, he simply focused on cleaning out the wound as carefully as possible. The intruder didn't flinch under his ministrations, though Shion was sure that it must have hurt to have the debris dug out of a wound like this.
The pain was certainly intense, but Nezumi was used to pain. This was hardly anything compared to the bodily torments he'd felt in the past. Strangely at ease with the child who was carefully tending to his wound, Nezumi looked around the small room they were seated in with bored curiosity. The multitude of trophies on the nearest bookcase told the story clearly.
"Gifted Curriculum, eh?"
The intruder's voice was rough, as if he hadn't spoken casually in a long while, and it was much deeper than anyone would have guessed from looking at him. It was oddly soothing to Shion's nerves as he worked on the intruder's arm.
"Hm. The official announcement was made this morning."
"Congratulations. Your IQ must be amazingly high."
Shion could feel the mockery in the intruder's voice, the sandpaper aggression that was almost scorn. In retaliation, Shion slapped the gauze pad in his hand onto the intruder's wound much harder than was necessary. "Are you making fun of me? That's rude, you know!"
"Of course not!" the intruder replied, the sarcastic color still coating his words. "You must have gotten an A-ranking on you two-year-olds' exam, and been shepherded into the best school in all of No.6. And now at age twelve, you're progressing into the Gifted Curriculum. Really, you're an elite among the elite, the top of the top class. It's quite the accomplishment."
Nezumi looked back at the child, wondering why the chatterbox had decided to stop responding. He jumped back from what he saw: the child was carefully measuring out a clear liquid in a syringe tipped with a hypodermic needle. "Hey, wait a minute. What are you going to do with that?"
"It's local anesthetic."
Scooting backwards from the child, who was now wearing a look of excited and innocent glee, Nezumi demanded, "You're gonna numb me up, and then what?"
"You need stitches; I need to suture the blood vessels and repair the skin protecting them," the explained simply. There was definite enthusiasm in his voice, like he was thrilled about the idea of poking a needle through Nezumi's flesh and stitching him up like a doll.
Maybe the child was just another sadistic and repellent human. However, he was offering anesthesia, so maybe he wasn't entirely cruel.
"You have experience with the whole stitches thing?"
The child laughed.
"Of course not! I'm an ecology major!" He went on at the intruder's appalled expression, "I do have a basic understanding of medicinal suturing."
In Shion's mind, this was an exciting experiment. He was watching his theoretical knowledge be put into practice. This sort of thing never happened in No.6 and Shion could imagine no possible way for his birthday to improve. This was a gift beyond any he could have dared to ask for.
"Basic understanding, huh?"
The intruder was wary, eyeing the syringe with a deep mistrust.
"Hm," Shion responded cheerfully. He held out his hand, asking silently for the intruder's trust. He had faith in himself that he could do this, all he was asking the intruder for was to believe in him.
With suspicion lacing the movement, the intruder extended his arm to place his hand in Shion's. Grinning at the small expression of trust, and at the opportunity he now had to test his comprehension of medical texts, Shion gave three quick injections around the site of the wound.
While waiting for the anesthetic to kick in, Shion stared at the wound, and at the boy who was so stoically enduring it.
"I can't believe it."
"That you got shot," Shion said, balling his fists on his knees as the intruder nonchalantly tried flexing his hand cautiously.
The city was safe, and there was no need for the average citizen to carry a gun, no allowance even. Only for hunting would the rules be lifted, and hunting season only came twice a year. During the month long seasons, olden-day firearms were slung over shoulders, and hobbyists would venture into the northern mountains. Mom didn't like them. She said she didn't understand how people could kill animals for enjoyment, and she wasn't the only one. In periodic censuses, 70% of citizens expressed discomfort at hunting as a form of sport. Killing poor innocent animals―how violent, how cruel...
But the bleeding figure in front of Shion was no fox or deer. It was a human.
It was a young boy, about Shion's own age.
"Was it an accident by the hunting club? Is it even hunting season yet?"
"The hunting club?" The intruder's lip curled back ruefully, imitating a smile but containing nothing more than ironic amusement. It was an unsettling expression for Shion to see. "Well, I guess you can call them that. But they didn't shoot by mistake."
"Someone actually shot you?" Shion asked aghast. "Knowingly? That's horrible!"
The intruder shrugged. "Is it? It was a foxhunt with different prey, a quarry just as tricky. Humans even have a word for it, a 'manhunt'. It's simply how things are."
"What are you talking about?" Shion asked, his voice high and hoarse from horror. He couldn't stop himself from picturing the intruder as prey in the woods. More than feral enough, the intruder's malnourished frame, his defensive and quick movements, and his ever staring, ever wary eyes were just what Shion would expect from an intelligent predator that had been weakened into becoming the prey of something larger. Of something that cheated and used guns.
"There are the hunters and the hunted," the intruder said simply.
The child shook himself, trying to expunge the nervous feelings Nezumi's words had instilled in him. Taking pity on the child that was helping him, Nezumi changed the subject, "You're really going to sew me up?"
The child brightened immediately. "Hm. I've always wanted to try it! I've watched videos about it, but I never thought I'd actually get to put the knowledge to good use."
Nezumi arched an eyebrow at the child.
Maybe he was insane, and that's why he was helping Nezumi. He was doing this at great personal risk to himself. It was possible that he didn't know how much trouble this could get him into with the authorities, but that was unlikely. He'd made sure to leave the security system off when he'd closed the window, Nezumi had noticed. Otherwise, the alarm would have sounded within minutes as the pressure sensitive floor detected an unidentified body.
As the child set to work threading a needle through the torn skin around the wound, Nezumi stared at him. The child had been well cared for his entire life. Even at twelve he was beginning to fill out well. He would eventually grow into a handsome man well worth any bit of the attention his prestigious position would grant him, though Nezumi suspected that his baby-face would stick with him for the rest of his life.
Though, if he was as insane as he seemed, the Health & Public Safety Bureau might not overlook him which would mean that the rest of his life was a rather short period of time.
"You're really messed up, aren't you?" Nezumi asked bluntly, startling the child as he tied the final knot on the thread holding together the bullet-ravaged skin.
"W-what? Why would you say that?"
The child was leaning away from Nezumi now. He was blushing and almost giddy with embarrassment, like this was a thought he'd had himself many times. There was no 'if' in Nezumi's mind anymore. His savior was insane.
"You're doing all of this, hiding me in your home, treating my wound, and yet you won't even ask my name," Nezumi responded, staring the child down with a blank expression and discerning eyes. "Don't you think that's strange?"
Recovering quickly, the child snapped forward with a laugh. "Well, that's because I haven't told you mine yet, either."
"Shion, isn't it?" Nezumi asked, recalling the voice on the intercom. "Like the flower."
Looking down reflectively, the child smiled. He wasn't ashamed to be a boy named after a flower, not in the least. Instead, it seemed like he was recalling a fond memory as he explained, "When my mother was younger, she used to love wild-flowers."
For Shion, it was a fond memory. He couldn't remember when, but sometime when he was little, his mother had stopped cultivating her love of wild flowers. Since they'd moved to Kronos and its splendors, she'd hardly mentioned them and looked sad whenever Shion did.
"Hm?" The intruder's word caught Shion in a daydream, he couldn't have heard right.
"My name. Nezumi."
"Nezumi? That's odd," Shion murmured. The intruder's eyes weren't the grey of any common rat. They were something more elegant. Like the grey of a cloud bank, just as a storm's first cry of thunder sounds. Or the sweep of sky just before dawn. Or, like Shion had thought the first moment he'd seen them, the flat expanse of a screen onto which the whole of the world could be projected and captured.
Shion flushed abruptly. Here he was sounding like a poet or something, like the literary majors had infected him with their wishy-washy wonderment of words. To cover up his embarrassment, Shion focused entirely on adhering the protective gauze pad to Nezumi's wound. He had to rip away more of Nezumi's over-long shirt, exposing his sharp collar bone, to get enough clearance to wrap his arm in a compression bandage.
When Shion had finished, Nezumi inspected the neat dressing. "So you really are smart."
Proud of himself, Shion reveled in the compliment, even as he said, "I'm just pretty good with my hands."
"Not just your hands. That brain of yours. You're only twelve, right? And you're going into the Gifted Curriculum of the highest educational institution. You're super elite."
This time there was no sarcasm. There was no awe either, as most people would have felt upon hearing of Shion's status. If anything, there was resignation in Nezumi's voice.
There was a moment of silence as Shion packed up the first aid kit and Nezumi stared out the window.
"You should stay here until the storm settles," Shion mentioned, indicating the staircase that led to his bed. "There's a sweater on my bed. Go ahead and change into it."
Shion waited for Nezumi to head up to the loft, feeling out what he should do next. On a whim, he decided to whip up some hot chocolate. His bedroom had enough of a kitchenette to provide for warm drinks. After having been out in the storm for who knew how long, Nezumi could definitely use something to warm him up. Even Shion was feeling the chill, and he'd only been outside for a few minutes.
"This isn't exactly fashionable, is it?" Nezumi called while Shion was busy with the hot water. Looking up, Shion saw Nezumi sniff suspiciously at the sweater Safu had given him.
Shion had to smile briefly. "At least it's better than that wet and bloody thing you're already wearing," he said as he mounted the stairs to join his patient.
He arrived just as Nezumi was pulling Safu's sweater over his head. Shion spotted more wounds on Nezumi's back, recent scratches and deep scarring that was far less recent.
Turning around and noticing Shion on the stairs, noticing that Shion was staring at him from the stairs, Nezumi asked, "What?" It wasn't defensive, at least like his other words had been that evening.
Shion didn't want to upset his patient. "Oh, nothing," he said simply, climbing the last of the stairs and passing Nezumi a mug of hot chocolate.
Sniffing the contents guardedly, Nezumi took a sip. For a fraction of a second, Shion saw the grey of his eyes change with a flicker of pleasure.
Nezumi closed his eyes for a second, letting the warmth and the sweetness wash over him. It was a sensation unlike any he'd ever experienced before, startling in its intensity. "It's good," Nezumi commented. "Much better than your suturing."
"Hey! It's not fair to compare the two!" Shion retorted indignantly. "It was my first time giving someone stitches, and I think I did pretty well considering."
Nezumi took another sip.
"Hey," he said, swallowing and holding his mug in both hands, absorbing as much of the warmth as possible. "Are you always like that?"
"Do you always leave yourself wide open? Is it just you, or is it normal for all you Petri-dish elites to have zero sense of danger?" Looking down into the swirl of cocoa, Nezumi went on, "I guess that you guys can just get along perfectly fine without feeling any danger or fear toward intruders, huh?"
"That's not true," Shion said quietly. "I do feel danger. And fear, too. I'm afraid of dangerous things and I don't want anything to do with them. I'm also not naive enough to believe that someone who comes in through my second-floor window is a respectable citizen."
He looked pointedly at Nezumi.
Nezumi stared right back, his grey eyes blank and secretive.
"Eh? Why would I help you?"
It was a valid question. If the authorities found out about Shion's new friend, they might see him as someone lacking the good judgment to be a genius. His test scores may have been flukes, when really his mind was unstable and unworthy of regard.
The shade of Nezumi's eyes changed slightly. Shion felt like they were seeing straight into his head, reading his thoughts like words out of an old-fashioned comic. There was a hint of amusement in Nezumi's eyes, something akin to laughter.
Shion glared at him. "If you were some big, aggressive man, I would have set the alarm off right then and there. But you were small, and looked helpless and like a girl, and you were about to fall over. So... So I decided to treat you. And..."
"And?" Nezumi prompted, no longer mocking but searching.
And, Shion thought, your eyes . . . something in your eyes drew me in. You needed my help and . . . I needed to help you.
If Nezumi really was a mind reader, Shion would have just made an awful fool of himself. At the same time, he almost hoped that Nezumi could feel his thoughts somehow. He seemed like he could use the emotional support.
"And . . . I just wanted to try suturing a wound, I guess," Shion supplied lamely.
Nezumi shrugged and drained his hot chocolate.
Staring down into the empty mug, Nezumi said, "Thank you."
It was the first sign of gratitude Nezumi had shown and Shion's heart leaped at it. He knew that Nezumi wasn't just talking about the hot chocolate. His tone was sincere in a way that spoke volumes. It made Shion want to do even more to help him.
"Will you be okay here for a minute?"
"Mom will wonder why I'm not coming down for dinner," Shion mentioned. "She'll come check on me if she worries too much."
Nezumi nodded. He watched Shion descend the stairs and slip out the door. Nezumi thought about making a run for it. Shion was surely going to get the authorities. Turning his eyes to the storm outside the window, Nezumi began to calculate his odds of survival now that his wound had been tended to. They were still not high, but they were much higher than they had been only an hour ago.
And yet, it was warm here. Nezumi ought to escape while he could, but he found himself not wanting to. He would stay until the child returned. Shion; until Shion returned.
He didn't have to wait long. The pneumatic swish of the door announced his arrival.
"Don't turn on the light."
Shion nodded. He had guessed that Nezumi wouldn't want light, simply from his actions earlier. That didn't change the fact that Shion couldn't see anything in the dark. The desk lamp was still on, so part of the room had a faint glow, but it didn't reach the side Shion was in, nor the loft above where Nezumi was sitting.
Stretching out a hand to the wall, Shion began to guide himself to his bed. Above him, he heard Nezumi laugh.
"Can't you even walk in your own room?"
"I can't see anything," Shion replied, inching forward. "I'm not nocturnal."
Nezumi snickered again. "It's your room, you shouldn't need to see."
"But you can move around just fine?"
"Of course, Nezumi means rat after all and rats can see in any light."
Finally reaching the last stair, Shion looked in Nezumi's direction. The shadow of a figure on his bed was all he could see while waiting for his eyes to adjust to the darkness.
Coming to sit on the other end of his bed, Shion said, "You're famous."
"VC103221. It's all over the news, how dangerous you are."
Tensing for combat, and readying for the betrayal he assumed was coming, Nezumi asked, "The real thing's much better than the one on TV, you know."
Shion could feel the tension in Nezumi's words, sense it in his body. He set the tray he was carrying down at Nezumi's feet. "I brought you some stew, and cherry cake."
Nezumi had slipped into a near crouch when Shion had sat down, but now he dropped out of it in disbelief. It simply didn't make sense. Why hadn't this child, Shion, betrayed him yet? Shion had no reason not to, everything his life was had been endangered when he'd first let Nezumi into his room. He knew it too, and yet . . . he'd brought Nezumi food.
The smell of it made Nezumi's mouth water.
He couldn't remember the last time he'd had real food, something solid with taste, rather than the nutrient IV drip he'd been sustained by until recently.
As Shion proffered the tray closer to the escaped convict, Nezumi asked, "Is this okay?"
"Of course!" Shion responded. "I told Mom that I have a lot of assignments to deal with so I needed to eat dinner in my room."
Nezumi laughed. Whether it was at Shion's foolishness or his ridiculous kindness, Nezumi couldn't say. "It smells great."
"Mom's cooking is the best, especially the cake."
Taking a quick spoonful of stew, Nezumi agreed, "It's delicious."
There was a moment of quiet, while Nezumi downed Shion's dinner with the great care of one savoring something he rarely had and while Shion watched him with concern.
"Will you be able to get away okay? After the storm settles, I mean?"
"Eh? But what about all of the security systems? The VC tracking device inside you?"
Nezumi shrugged. "The chip was easy enough to take care of, like everything else in No.6, it's just a toy. The security here, even in Kronos, isn't half as flawless as you've been brainwashed into thinking it is." With derision creeping into his voice, Nezumi went on, "You've all been programmed nicely to believe that this fake mess is the perfect utopia. But it's so screwed up that it must just be that you want to believe it, so you accept the programming without question."
His words sunk heavily into the soft carpeting of Shion's room.
"I don't think this place is perfect. I never have."
The words tumbled out of Shion's mouth, surprising both boys into silence.
"You're strange," Nezumi said, his voice so low Shion could barely hear it.
"A super-elite doesn't say things like that. You've been raised in perfect comfort. Besides, wouldn't you be in trouble if the authorities found out?"
Shion nodded in the dark his eyes were finally adjusting to. "Yeah, big trouble."
"You took in an escaped VC, tended to a wound inflicted by state order, and you haven't even reported it to the Bureau," Nezumi mentioned, his voice still low. "If they find out about it, you'll be in even bigger trouble. They won't let you off easy."
Fed up with Shion's nonchalance, Nezumi grabbed onto the arm of his savior. His bony fingers dug into the flesh of Shion's arm. "Do you? Do you really?"
"You could ruin everything for me."
"I could. I mean, it's not my problem if something happens to you, but if you're wiped out because of me it wouldn't feel good," Nezumi said, his grip on Shion's arm tightening ever so slightly. "I could easily be enough to trigger them to wipe you out."
"Then are you gonna leave?" Shion asked, looking worriedly towards the window, beyond which the storm was still raging.
"Of course not, there's a typhoon. Besides, I'm tired and it's warm in here."
"You're being contradictory."
"I'm adapting to circumstance. Like I said, if anything happens to you it has nothing to do with me. I would just feel bad about it for a while," Nezumi explained, letting go of Shion's arm and turning back to his supper.
"I guess I just got lucky, finding someone so strange."
Nezumi ate his commandeered dinner in silence. He licked every crumb of cherry cake from the plate, scraped out every drop of stew. When he'd finished, he placed the dishes neatly on the tray and set the tray on the floor beside the bed.
While he had been eating, Shion had been staring out the window. As Nezumi settled back on his bed, he asked, "What were you arrested for?"
"It's a secret," Nezumi replied, curling up.
"They said you were en-route to the Correctional Facility."
"That's a lie." Nezumi explained, "I'd already been at the Correctional Facility."
Shocked, Shion asked, "You escaped the Correctional Facility? Is that even possible?"
"Of course it's possible."
"How did you get into Kronos?"
"I was escorted here. They were bringing me to the Moondrop when I escaped."
"They brought you here? Why? And why did they want you at City Hall?"
"I'm not going to tell you."
"Eh? Why not?"
Nezumi looked hard at Shion, his grey eyes firm and knowing, "You'll be better off if I don't explain."
"It's a secret."
"But I'm asking you!"
"Shut up already. Just let me go to sleep."
"Nezumi!" Shion nearly shouted. "Tell me!"
"Once you've heard something, can you forget it? Can you guarantee that you can completely forget everything? Pretend you didn't hear? Once you know, you won't ever be able to go back. Trust me: you're better off not knowing."
"Nezu-mi," Shion said quietly, frustrated with Nezumi's logic.
"So don't ask me anything," Nezumi's voice was just less than outright angry. Then the tone suddenly flipped to light-hearted mocking, "In return I won't tell anyone about you."
"What about me?"
"About how you were yelling out the window."
Shion's face flushed bright red in embarrassment. Sensing his discomfort, Nezumi sprang up gleefully, acting out the scene as he described, "It totally caught me off-guard. I snuck into your yard and was wondering what to do next, and suddenly the window opened and you stuck your face out. I was watching for what you'd do next, and then you started screaming. I don't think I've ever seen anyone screaming with a face like―"
Shion lunged at Nezumi, trying to tackle him in an attempt to get him to stop talking about the scene he shouldn't have seen. Shion was mortified that someone had been watching him when he'd been acting so ridiculous. His tackle failed miserably, all he felt in the dimness was his own pillow being kicked into his face.
Elegantly, Nezumi sidestepped Shion's lunge. He kicked the pillow into his face and made him fall on his back. Another smoothe movement and he'd lifted Shion's shoulder with his foot, kicking him over onto his stomach. Then he dropped down from the bed, landing silently on the carpet, and whipped Shion's arms behind his back, holding him in place without the slightest effort. A hand grappled blindly for the spoon he'd used for his soup, and within an instant of finding it, Nezumi had twirled the metal in his fingers and pressed it firmly to Shion's throat. Nezumi's knees pressed into the bed on either side of Shion's hips and he leaned low to whisper right in Shion's ear, "If this was a knife, you wouldn't be breathing."
He pressed a little harder with the spoon. "Even with a blunt object, I could press hard enough on your artery to deny your brain oxygen until it begins to devour itself."
Awed by how completely Nezumi had immobilized him, and how easy it had been for him to do so, Shion struggled to swallow. A muscle in his neck twitched.
Nezumi was caught off-guard, so entirely that his grip on Shion loosened a bit, the hand pressing the spoon into his neck let off.
"That was amazing! Is there a trick to it? How could you immobilize someone so easily? Are there like special nerve points you can press down on?"
For a moment, Nezumi didn't react at all. Then Shion felt the weight pressing down on him relax as Nezumi sank on top of him. Shion could feel him shaking- he was laughing.
Nezumi rolled off of Shion, the arm that had been pinned to Shion's back was still locked tightly in Nezumi's grip. "You're messed up. You are really so messed up. I can't believe how hilarious you are."
As Nezumi's laughter subsided, his grip on Shion loosened. Shion move his arm, sliding it through the hold Nezumi had on him until his hand slid in to hold Nezumi's in return. The skin felt hot to Shion's touch. It had him worried immediately. He pulled himself up and pressed his forehead to Nezumi's quickly. "You have a fever! You need antibiotics!"
Shion was about to spring from the bed, when Nezumi's grip on his hand suddenly tightened dramatically. "It's fine."
"But you're burning up! If you sleep like this you'll just exhaust yourself!"
"You're pretty warm yourself," Nezumi murmured with his eyes closed. He didn't let go of Shion's hand as he curled up to sleep. Drifting off and shifting a bit more towards Shion's warmth, Nezumi murmured, "So, living things really are warm."
His words confused Shion, but seeing Nezumi's breathing level out and his face relax made Shion want to keep him hidden away in his room forever. He fell asleep with his hand still in Nezumi's and their foreheads pressed lightly together.
When Nezumi woke up just before the dawn, he found himself staring into the sleeping face of his savior. Without Shion's help he would never have lived through the night. Now, recovered, fed, and healing, he had a solid chance of living through adolescence.
For a moment, Nezumi just watched Shion sleep.
His life would never be the same. Nezumi might escape from here, but he knew that it would be impossible to hope that the authorities didn't find out about his stay. Thinking about Shion's innocence, his endearing naïveté, Nezumi almost regretted coming here, even though the alternative was death.
What Shion had done was more than just save Nezumi's life. He'd saved Nezumi as a person. By the point when Nezumi had given up on living, he'd also given up on humanity. That he saw, they were all perversions of nature. Humans were just animals dressed up in funny suits and the trappings of kindness and community that disguised their yearning to rip into each other's flesh, to watch rivers of blood flow through their fingertips, to poke and prod and provoke in the name of science and the creation of an even more 'perfect' world.
But Shion had proven him wrong.
Maybe it was true of most people that cruelty lay just beneath the skin, but it wasn't true of everyone. It wasn't true of Shion. He may have been the outlier that proved the rule, but still he was an exception and he was exceptional. Nezumi felt deeply guilty about ruining his life.
"Thank you," Nezumi whispered. "Shion."
He slipped his hand out of Shion's and padded down from the loft. He picked up the first aid kit and made his way to the window. He wasn't going to make a break for it just yet. He would leave Shion's home, but he would not leave Shion. Not until he knew what he had caused Shion to suffer would he leave. Not until he knew where he could find him, how he could keep tabs on him, would Nezumi make his final escape from No.6.
"I'll pay you back for this, Shion, someday. Definitely."
His whisper fell on sleeping ears. Nezumi could hear Shion beginning to stir in his bed, but he couldn't see him from the window. With one final vow to return the favor that Shion had done him, Nezumi slipped outside and out of Shion's world.
A/N: I might have another little story for number six coming up, possibly even two. It all depends on how Finals go. Encouragement here will boost the chances of more stories by leaps and bounds! ^_~