Between the Lines part three: Schism

Notes: Final part! Thanks much to all who reviewed, I'm really glad people enjoyed this :) I'm sorry for any hearts I've ripped out.


There was blood dripping down Yata's cheek and he kicked angrily at the nearest rock.

"Yata-san, let's go back to the bar." Kamamoto was following along behind him, trying to calm him down, but Yata barely paid any attention to him. The cut on his cheek stung.

He had seen Saruhiko today for the first time in that uniform. He'd just been walking around town with Kamamoto, doing nothing in particular, and then they'd come upon a Scepter 4 roadblock — who knew what the damn Blues were doing in the middle of the road but there was no way through it. They'd decided to make a wide detour around the blockade and that's when Yata had nearly run straight into Saruhiko.

He didn't look right in the blue uniform. It didn't suit him at all. And his hair was all messed up, even more than usual. Yata hadn't even realized who it was at first, until he'd passed by and heard a voice behind him.

"Well, well. What are you doing here, Misaki?"

It had been Saruhiko's voice, and not Saruhiko's voice. There had been — something — in it, something Yata couldn't think to place—

(No sanity in that laugh, but that wasn't Saruhiko, couldn't be Saruhiko.)

He had looked up to see the person who had once been his best friend in the whole world standing there in front of him, one hand resting casually over the sword at his waist. Saruhiko had been smiling, smiling in a way that had chilled Yata to the bone.

He'd felt angry then. More than angry, totally and utterly pissed off. The bastard had betrayed them. He'd left them (left me) and now here he was draped in the colors of a rival clan. There was no way Yata could just pass him by, not after that.

Words had been exchanged. Saruhiko had parried every accusation Yata made, laughing and smiling and calling him by his first name again and again until it was clear the bastard just wanted a fight. And there was no way Yata was backing down from something like that, that was for damn sure. He wasn't afraid of Saruhiko, of all people. He had even been looking forward to the fight in a strange way. As if a small part of him was hoping desperately that if he could only defeat Saruhiko in a fight, then maybe Saruhiko would realize that he was wrong, that he'd gotten weaker rather than stronger by joining Scepter 4. Then Saruhiko would have to come back to Homra.

(Would have to come back to him, because they were supposed to always be together.)

It hadn't worked. He hadn't been able to beat Saruhiko, had barely gotten a punch in before a commanding female voice had called out Saruhiko's name from somewhere nearby and with visible reluctance Saruhiko had made that 'tch' noise he always made when something irritated him and the sword had gone back into its sheath. Yata would have been more than happy to egg him back into the fight, but Kamamoto kept pulling him by the arm and trying to tell him that they really shouldn't be here, they were surrounded by Blues, it wasn't worth it just to kick this traitor's ass, and think of the trouble it would cause for Mikoto if they ended up arrested or something.

That had finally been enough to break Yata from the haze of anger he was in and he'd spat in Saruhiko's general direction and stalked away. Saruhiko had muttered something under his breath about Mikoto that Yata supposed it was just as well he didn't hear, because then he really would have had no choice but to kick the bastard's ass, Blues or no Blues. He didn't even understand how Saruhiko could say those things about the man who had once been his king, the man who had rescued them both from the streets and given them a place to belong. Didn't understand how Saruhiko could betray them all so easily and bend himself to the will of another king for no other reason than power. As if nothing else meant anything, not loyalty to a king or to a friend.

Yata kicked viciously at another rock. It pissed him off, all of it. They had been saved. Everything had gone the way he had always dreamed of it. A real life hero had come out of nowhere and taken them along to a place where there was always warmth and laughter and family and something to be proud of. It was everything Yata had ever wanted. Homra was the best thing that had ever happened to him.

(Homra, and Saruhiko.)

They had been together. He didn't understand. Hadn't Saruhiko wanted it too? When Yata had taken his wrist, Saruhiko had come along. He hadn't pulled away. So why hadn't Saruhiko been saved too? Yata had always wanted a hero. He had never wanted to give up his best friend in order to find one.

And after everything, Saruhiko had broken it. Yata's fists clenched so hard he could feel his nails digging into his palms. Everything they'd shared, every bond they'd forged — Saruhiko had burned them all away as easily as he'd burned the tattoo off his chest. Yata hated him for it, hated the Saruhiko that dressed in the Scepter 4 uniform and laughed with the voice that wasn't his. Yata had to keep telling himself that, that it was the Scepter 4 Saruhiko that he hated, because the Saruhiko he had known wasn't there anymore.

Saruhiko had been dressed in blue and his eyes had been wild. That wasn't his Saruhiko.

Because if it was then Yata hadn't known Saruhiko as well as he'd thought, and that stung more than the cut.

Yata would never forgive him.

(You betrayed me first.)


Fushimi stumbled into his room like a person walking in a dream.

The dorms of Scepter 4 were never much to look at, but Fushimi suspected his room was more drab than most. There were no posters on the walls, no photos decorating the desk, not even so much a single small memento or precious item displayed proudly for all to see. Fushimi's room was stark and empty, with only the rumpled sheets on the bed to serve as proof that anyone lived there at all.

Fushimi walked stiffly past the bed and collapsed in the corner, pulling his knees up close to his chest and lowering his head as one hand scratched distractedly at the burn mark on his chest. It had been two months since he'd destroyed Homra's mark himself and still the wound was raw and sore.

He'd seen Misaki today.

They'd been sent on a routine call, something boring about a wayward Strain causing damage somewhere downtown. It hadn't even been that difficult of a task. He'd been sent out to head the operation and had remained back while he sent the others out to round up the Strain causing trouble, and then they'd all prepared to make their way back to Scepter 4 headquarters. He had been returning to the car when he'd happened to look down beyond an overhanging rail to see the figures passing below.

Four Homra members, out doing who knew what. The Red King himself had been there, slouching and smoking and looking mildly annoyed even as he purposefully slowed his pace to allow Anna to keep step beside him. Totsuka had been just behind them, smiling in that calm, laid-back way of his. And Misaki had been on the other side, riding on his skateboard, smiling and laughing and talking excitedly with Mikoto. None of them had even so much as looked up to see him standing there.

Misaki had been there, smiling and laughing.

Fushimi felt something tear itself out of his throat, something that might have started as a sob and ended in a laugh as he clawed absently at his own skin. Two months. It had only been two months, and Misaki was smiling and laughing.

(I was all alone in a dark, dark room, and then you were there.)

Fushimi hated it. He hated all of it. Kings and clansmen and the entire world. It could all break into pieces for all he cared. It could be drowned in blood and he would laugh over it as it went. There was nothing else for him in this world now.

People didn't like Fushimi Saruhiko. He knew that. He had always known it. Once, he hadn't cared. In many ways, he still didn't. He didn't care if his subordinates didn't like him, didn't care if Lieutenant Awashima didn't like him, cared less than nothing if the even the Blue King didn't like him. No one needed to like him. No one needed to do anything for him or be anyone to him.

Only Misaki. All he had ever needed was Misaki.

Fushimi could feel the blood seeping under his fingernails. Awashima had scolded him the other day, when she'd caught him scratching it. The wound would never heal that way, she'd told him severely. He had only laughed at her. The wound was not supposed to heal. He never intended to let it heal.

Fushimi's entire body was a wide festering wound that burned and twisted inside him, and that would never heal.

And Misaki had been laughing.

It wasn't fair. He'd always known it, but it wasn't fair. He had nothing without Misaki, had never had anything besides Misaki. But in the end, Misaki had everything. A hero. A ridiculous little play family that pretended to love him, until the day they stopped. Fushimi knew all about these things and he had never been willing to play along. He was never meant to be a part of that place. Homra would have rejected him eventually, unless he rejected them first. It was better if he and Misaki left before that happened. He'd wanted to say it, to tell Misaki that he was leaving and ask Misaki to come with him.

He was laughing uncontrollably now and couldn't stop. Fushimi had never asked Misaki to choose himself or Homra, because he'd always been afraid of the answer.

(You were everything to me. I had nothing else precious but Misaki.)

Misaki didn't need him. That was the sharpest pain of all, the deep unending fear, that while Misaki had been everything, Misaki had been his only thing, that feeling had not been returned. Maybe it never could have been. Maybe all along Misaki had only stayed because Fushimi was the best he could find, and once something better came along he let go of Fushimi's hand and reached for that brighter warmth instead.

(There was rent, until there wasn't and nobody ever remembered the little boy with the thick glasses and creepy stare, who sat on the steps in the darkness and waited for someone to come pick him up, until hours had passed and he finally began to walk away on his own because no one would ever come for him.)

Fushimi scratched harder at the scar, dug his fingernails in as deep as they would go. He wanted to bleed. He wanted everything to bleed. He wanted to take his knives or his sword and stab something. Maybe Misaki. Maybe himself. Maybe both at once, Misaki with a blue sword buried in his gut and Fushimi with a red knife in his heart. The image gave him a sudden rush of purely unintended pleasure. Yes, that would be nice, wouldn't it? The two of them, dead, together.

Or maybe only himself, dead by Misaki's hand. Then surely Misaki wouldn't be able to smile, wouldn't be able to laugh. Then he would know the feeling of the raw red wound that didn't heal. Fushimi would be the eternal scar, the infected cut that ached and oozed and hurt, and then Misaki would never forget him. If death was what would make Misaki think of him, Fushimi would welcome death, would hunt it and chase it down like a fox hunts a rabbit.

(Don't leave.)

He couldn't move. Fushimi's legs wouldn't let him stand and he was shaking with laughter as blood flowed down his chest. It was stupid. It was all stupid. Everything had always been this way, and he'd never been smart enough to realize it.

(Look at me.)

(Look only at me.)

He would re-open that wound as many times as it took. He would make it bleed fresh, no matter how deep he burnt his own scars.

(Don't leave me behind. Don't let go of my hand.)

(Please…just look at me.)