Title: La Nausée
Series: Off
Pairing: Zacharie, Batter
Rating: PG-13
Author's note: hc_bingo: nausea. Spoilers, a missing scene for part 3.

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The feeling clenched in him, strong and sudden. He leaned against the wall, a quick weakness which needed to be exterminated. He coughed, feeling the ash dry in his throat.

"What is it, friend?" said a familiar voice. Zacharie came around the corner, tilting his masked face like the cat he was playing at being.

"Nothing," he replied.

"You look a bit under the weather, truth be told," Zacharie said.

"I have a mission to complete."

"Yes, yes, but you forget; this is a video game. You could sunbathe in the reflection of the plastic all day and the timer wouldn't go back a bit!"

He didn't reply. Instead, he steeled himself, trying to push on. Push on to the very end. Zacharie's cryptic mocking meant nothing to him. Just more white noise to join the whispers in his ears.

"May I propose a special deal?" Zacharie said. He could hear the smile in his voice, even if he couldn't see it behind his mask.

He didn't reply, but Zacharie simply continued over him. "I carry a pack with me, and what do you know? There's a bed in back. I happen to have a potion I have no use for. Say, five-hundred credits. It's quite a deal."

He narrowed his eyes at Zacharie suspiciously. "And what do you get out of this?"

"Your credits, obviously," Zacharie said with a chuckle.

He tried to move, but the rushing, churning sensation continued. He closed his eyes. Mission or no mission, he was in no condition to fight a guardian.

"I accept."

"Splendid. Follow me this way."

Zacharie opened up a way into the counter, and he followed, slowly, the pain increasing with every step.

Zacharie paused and considered him. "Do you need help?"

"No," he said, hoarse and dry, his mouth tasting of ashes and smoke.

"I'll make it cheap," Zacharie said.

He glared, tightening his grip on the bat. Zacharie just came closer, lending his shoulder to lean on whether Batter liked it or not. Their steps aligned, and he made it the rest of the way without losing himself.

"There, a few more steps, and there we go!"

The room was covered with masks. A bird mask with plumes rising up, a fox, a woman's face. Unnerving, but not a surprise.

"Fond of the decor?" Zacharie said.

Batter didn't reply. He laid down without bothering to take off his clothes. He was covered in dirt, blood and grime, but even the thought of removing them was too much effort.

Zacharie pulled the blanket up over him. He looked up, suddenly feeling warm and dizzy again.

"Just tucking you in. Sleep well."

Zacharie was the last coherent image he saw before he closed his eyes and lost himself to the feeling of being torn up inside, like he was stretching and something was clawing at his chest, trying to get out.

.

Once he was sure Batter had gone off to sleep, Zacharie returned to watch over his slumber. His teeth looked sharper than before, and black blood fell from the corner of his mouth. It was only a matter of time before the end of this whole messy journey came about. Such was life. There could be only one end for them all, that monochrome 'purity' Batter so sought.

He laid a damp rag across Batter's forehead. Batter groaned and turned towards him. He'd miss the Batter in all his quiet viciousness. He'd proven an ideal customer, after all. Even if he did have a habit of destroying the worlds Zacharie actually lived in.

Oh, did he say the word Batter never let himself use or understand? He meant 'purified,' of course. As if it were some noble thing he was accomplishing.

"What do you see in your fever dream, Batter? Her face? The past you once treasured?"

Zacharie knew it'd never be his face. More likely, the Batter didn't dream. He was too single-minded and vicious for something like that. Oh, gods and heroes Batter might think himself akin to, but it was monsters he most resembled. Every day that resemblance became clearer.

"Do you even know what is happening to you? Perhaps you knew all along, and this is your last ditch effort to cleanse the impurity you see, when the very impurity you loathe so has taken under your skin?"

He rested his hand on the blanket, near Batter's own hand. His nails were growing longer, sharper. "Is it painful? It must be, to have put you out this far. The egg has hatched, and it's only a matter of time before it claws its way out of you, leaving you and all your memories as nothing but a husk."

Zacharie sighed. Things had been set in motion long before then, and now they would just be following the path. Linear motion of their king. Everyone up until this point was just an orbit to the fiery path of the sun.

"Ah, well, friend. The end is nigh. I'll be with you until almost the very last scene. After all, it's scripted."

He chuckled to himself and got up to leave. There was no use in lingering in the dying and cursed. When everything was pure and settled, he'd have a new mask and enough credits to bring over things from other lands Batter never even dreamed of. Who knew, maybe he'd even become king of this godforsaken wasteland!

No, he was never the type to be a ruler. He'd killed one king, helped another. Still, not all was lost. What the Batter thought he knew and what the world actually was were two different things entirely.