Summary: Escaping No.6 is the most important thing that ever happened to Shion. It showed him how brutal the world is, and also how beautiful it can be. Shion struggles to deal with reality as Nezumi saves his life over and over, at the cost of killing others, and brings the sheltered No. 6 boy into an all new world called reality. Two-shot.
A/N: This is another part of that portfolio I was talking about earlier, Journal 5 (witnessing a Death) & Journal 6 (1st line: 'they came out underwater'), if you're curious. The goal was to accomplish massive sensory input about specific events in about 1000 words. I hope you like them!
Shion was frozen.
He was staring and speechless and standing still in a bubble of cloudy disbelief that muffled the outside world and sharpened the details of the scene before him until they were like etchings on the blade of a knife.
A smoking gun. It had been pointed at Shion's chest, but its aim had been thrown off as the arm supporting it went limp. Nezumi had saved his life. It was the third time in the past hour, but this time Shion couldn't bring himself to say thank you. He couldn't bring himself to say anything.
Nezumi had saved his live by taking another's.
Shion had watched as Nezumi's knife flew from his hand in a perfectly directed arc that slammed the blade into the man's flesh right at the joint of his neck and shoulder. There was no pause, no moment of timelessness. Blood pulsed in regular beats, pumping out of the gaps around the blade without hesitation in a quick and rolling ooze like cake batter being poured from a bowl.
The dying man couldn't scream. A garbled sound escaped him and he convulsed as bile bubbled his through trachea, causing him to fall limply to the cement floor. The man became a body quickly as an eerie stillness crept into his limbs and biology dictated that one last attempt at purging was necessary for the system.
It was vile.
Shion couldn't feel his stomach. His limbs were numb and leaden as his hands lifted to cover his mouth in horror. The sickly sweetness of acid burned his tongue and traced scorching patterns in his nostrils.
A buzzy tremble hovered on his shoulders, an almost-shiver he couldn't shake.
"Y-you . . . you killed him."
"He sure as hell ain't alive."
Nezumi approached the body. He nudged it with his toe, careful to keep clear of the pools of blood and gunk leaching out of every orifice. The body gave no reaction other than a slight blub of black-brown goo. It resembled the seepage of icing onto a cake when pressure was applied to the limp plastic tube that stored it.
Scenes of baking with his mother flashed through his head, the innocent joy of those ancient-feeling moments set a stark contrast to the tragic horror of the present one.
Shion shuffled forward, barely trusting his legs to hold him. He drew even with Nezumi and the body and fell to his knees. The fabric of his pants soaked up the less viscous excretions, lukewarm for its contact with the icy floor after having dripped from its once-warm hold. Shion didn't particularly notice. Instead he placed his hand on the dead man's chest.
There was no heartbeat, no breath, no movement. No life.
Bending down to pull his knife from the body, Nezumi jerked roughly on the handle. The motion caused the body to shudder with the inanimate reverberations of a force rippling through matter. Shion felt it in jolts under his fingertips.
As Nezumi used a clean patch of the dead man's uniform to clean his knife, Shion reached up to brush his fingers over staring eyes, pulling the eyelids down to leave the man in eternal slumber. The man was still warm, but already there was an unsettling chill to his skin.
"You didn't have to kill him," Shion said quietly.
Nezumi didn't look up from cleaning his knife. "If we manage to escape on his watch, he's better off dead."
"Better off?" Shion demanded, horrified, "How can you say that?"
Pocketing his blade and standing up, Nezumi responded, "You can't torture a body."
"But . . . killing him . . ." Shion could hardly comprehend the idea. "What about his family? What will happen to them, now?"
"You have to stop."
Nezumi was looking into the distance as he spoke, half scouting for the other staff members of the facility they were hiding in, and half just to be dramatic and distance himself from the boy trembling at his feet.
"You have to stop thinking about life as something beyond precious. Life is. Death follows. That's all you can count on," Nezumi explained. "You just have to accept that. Living through today is not a certainty, for any number of reasons. Even if you weren't being targeted by the guns of these mercenary corruptions of authority, you could be hit by a bus crossing the street, or your heart could just stop."
"What are you saying?"
Nezumi turned his stare on Shion, his grey eyes as flat and cold as steel, but with a spark of life burning in them. "Life is not a gift to cling to, it is not a guarantee. It is. You are alive and you can either stay that way or not." Nezumi held out his hand, silently commanding Shion to stand. "I'm going to live."
Lifting his hand from the dead man's cold face, Shion hesitated. The sound of footsteps pounding urgently down a distant hall reminded him of the immediate danger. Even the smoothest of prison breaks was fraught with risks, and this one had been anything but smoothe.
A smack resounded through the room as Shion clasped hold of Nezumi's hand with firm resolve. Whatever this was, this philosophical Life and Death thing going on in his head, could deal with it later. Right now, he wanted to live. The man here had died because of Shion's efforts to live, and it only seemed right to make his death count for something.
The warmth of Nezumi's hand as he pulled Shion to his feet was blistering in comparison to the limp chill of the tepid body. Nezumi nodded and jerked Shion after him as he bolted down the hall opposite the direction the sounds of footsteps were coming from.
Living things are warm.
Shion remembered the words Nezumi had spoken to him a lifetime ago.
He had been right. Such a common-sense thing, when experienced first-hand like this, became quite the marvel.
Shion squeezed Nezumi's hand as they ran, and smiled at its warmth.
A/N: Part 2 will probably go up tomorrow! ^_~