A/N: Hey there! I just wanna say that this came to my mind a while ago, but I was too lazy to write it down XD well, I love Elliot and Leo, and I miss them but so much, but somehow I love all the angst that surrounds this pairing, and I felt like writing something for them... This is kinda dark, so if you don't like please don't read. Plus, there're spoilers of the manga, just in case you haven't read it...
Oh, another thing. I used italics to point out the thoughts of the characters (especially Leo's), stress some words and for some quotes. And I used bold&italics for Humpty Dumpty's voice/thoughts/whatever they're supposed to be. Just so you know, I hope this doesn't turns out confusing *facepalm*
Anyway, please leave a review and tell me what you think of this *laughs evilly and leaves*
End up like this
Could you remind me of a time when we were so alive?
Do you remember that? Do you remember that?
Elliot's eyes were wide open, staring into nothing and everything at the same time. Leo couldn't stop staring back at him, his eyes wide as well, as to the point that they might just come out of the sockets.
Everything happened so fast and yet so slow, and Leo's thoughts raced, but his legs didn't move —they just wouldn't. And he didn't notice how he'd been holding his breath until he needed to breathe again, and then his knees felt too weak to support his body and he just fell to the ground because life didn't mean anything anymore.
And even in the haze of his agitated mind, the only thought that lingered was "How did we end up like this?"
Elliot was the kind of boy Leo just couldn't stand.
He was so short-tempered and proud, like he deserved some kind of different treatment because he was the son of a noble (and seriously, why are all the noblemen like that?). The first thing Leo thought about him was that he was just another spoiled child and he didn't bother in paying him attention. Elliot stormed out after a while, but then he came back. They ended up arguing again, and again, and every time he came, they argued. Sometimes they even hit each other. But Elliot always came back.
And Leo was starting to like that.
They became friends after a while. Despite being so irritable, Elliot was the most sensible person Leo had ever met. He knew how and when to keep quiet, he wasn't afraid of him like the other orphans at Fianna's House, and though he'd asked about why Leo's hair was always so messy, he didn't expect him to cut it off. He accepted him just the way he was. They discovered they had so much in common, not only their foul tempers but their enjoyment for reading and music —especially the piano. They both liked to play the instrument and compose songs. Elliot was somewhat jealous of Leo's talent, for the noirette told him he was self-taught. But there was so much to learn about him, Elliot was much more fascinated than envious. Eventually, they'd even exchange songs as a gift to demonstrate their friendship.
One day, Elliot asked Leo to be his servant. He looked so cheerful, and Leo loved the expression in his face when he said no... Elliot certainly didn't see that one coming. But it didn't take much for Leo to be convinced by him and his ideals and they ended up shaking hands, establishing a new relationship between them both.
Too bad, Elliot's family didn't like it.
But that didn't seem to bother him. He ignored their comments and always defended Leo. At first that bothered the raven-haired youth, not because he liked being rejected by the Nightrays, but because of the fact that no one had ever stood up for him no matter what, and he didn't know how to feel about it.
Leo supposed that this was possibly what other people called happiness.
A few months later, Elliot and Leo visited Fianna's House. They were greeted with the news that some of the children had gone into the chasm without permission.
"Damn… We can't wait for Pandora!" Elliot exclaimed as he rushed out of the orphanage. "Let's go, Leo!"
"Wait a sec, Elliot!"
"I said let's go!"
"Damn.. I guess there's no choice," Leo muttered to himself. It was hard to discuss with Elliot once he'd made up his mind at something, so he did as he was told.
They walked in silence once they were at the chasm, the atmosphere feeling quite tense. Leo stopped all of a sudden, and Elliot did too, staring at his servant with wide eyes.
"Elliot…" Leo whispered.
In front of them, the bodies of some children were lying on the ground, blood pooling around them. All of them looked as if something had pierced through their chests. Elliot and Leo stood there, watching the horrible scene in pure astonishment; when suddenly Leo ran away at the sight of something.
"Leo!?" Elliot exclaimed as he followed after the raven-haired boy. Leo knelt down in front of an abandoned girl (Helen was her name, the youngest Nightray learned when his servant called her) and asked her questions about whatever had happened.
"Jo-John started acting weird," she bawled, "and then…"
It was when he noticed it.
"LEO!" screamed Elliot in his loudest voice at the sight of a thing —a creature, its body round and white; and with multiple, void eyes and a large, agape mouth that showed its many teeth— hovering over the two orphans. The thing let out its incredibly long tongue in a threatening manner and Elliot drew his sword without thinking, for the only thing in his mind was to protect the only true friend he'd ever had: Leo.
Leo tossed his head at the noble rushing towards him. "Elliot!" he couldn't help crying in despair, when suddenly the blonde tripped over a stone and fell to the ground, the sword clinking next to him as they both hit the hard floor.
"…This is kind of embarrassing, but I slipped, hit my head and lost consciousness."
Every coherent thought in Leo's mind suddenly vanished when he realized what was happening. Elliot was lying on the ground, defenseless, and the thing —the monster —the chain Elliot must have seen before, the reason why he was so distressed just seconds ago— seemed not to be content even after he was knocked out, for its large appendage aimed directly for the blonde, and…!
"STOP!" Leo shrieked as he covered Elliot with his body and the chain's tongue pierced right through him. As soon as it realized the mistake it had made, it let go of the teen.
Leo fell with a thud, and he coughed as he became aware of the warm liquid that was spreading through his clothes, pooling around him…
"S-stop," he repeated, almost choking.
"It didn't mean to hurt you." All of a sudden, there was a voice, calm and masculine, inside of his head. It… It was one of them! Leo, he had forgotten about them, since he hadn't heard them in a good while. "You again!" he retorted within his mind. "Why now, when you've been silent for so long?!"
"Only because you rejected us." Glen; Oswald, continued. "You refused to listen, you refused to see; and thus denied our existence."
"…Hindered by your stubborn self-awareness, our consciousness, our memories, remained faint. Since you rejected us, we had no choice but to vanish."
"I told you to shut up..!"
"But now," he went on, despite Leo's orders; "even if unconsciously, you were seeking our help."
"…Help?" Leo asked, dumbfounded. Why would he seek for their help? His injury was critical, but he was a Baskerville. He'd be fine.
"Yes. The chain was just trying to protect you from that boy —it must've thought he wanted to hurt you. But you got in its way to defend him, and though you won't die, you know this isn't over."
Leo blinked slowly, feeling his energy drain minute by minute. The blood brought an unpleasant taste to his mouth as he dizzily watched the chain still floating in the air, its mouth still open; and his bigger fear turned into reality.
Glen was right. Elliot was still in danger of being attacked, wasn't he?
"It isn't satisfied." Leo mumbled mentally.
"No, it's not. You know that a chain that is contracted illegally by those who are not Baskervilles need humans in order to satisfy their hunger. And since it won't eat you, that boy…"
"I get it, I get it!" the servant cried desperately. "Just tell me the way to save his life before it's too late!"
Glen smirked. "It's simple. Make a contract with it, and it'll become stable again. Drink its blood and say its name."
"Its name?" Leo inquired.
"Yes. Unfortunately, it's been so long so we don't remember what its name was, so you'll have to guess by its appearance."
"And that will save Elliot?" questioned Leo impatiently.
"It will… For now." Glen gripped Leo, rather harshly. "But don't forget that those who are Baskervilles always bring misery amongst those who are close to them. May this serve you as a lesson from today on: you might have saved him now, but this was all your fault!" Glen shouted, and Leo thought that he'd never seen him so angry before, but that was not the time to dwell in those things. He yanked from his grip, deciding to do as he was told.
"D-don't do anything to him…" Leo coughed once more, finally speaking out loud. He stretched out a hand at the now-eerily-close chain and fingered a small amount of its blood. Weakly, he took it to his mouth. "…Don't hurt him…" he went on in a fainter voice; "and I'll make a contract with you."
"…I-I'll make a contract with you… Humpty Dumpty."
The first thing Leo saw when he woke up was Elliot standing in front of him and panting, as if he'd come running to the bedroom. Maids were behind him, staring at him with surprised expressions. Leo sat up immediately, but he regretted it when he felt a terrible pang of pain in his torso.
Elliot's eyes widened and he pushed Leo down. "Don't make any effort, you idiot."
"Elliot…" Leo murmured in a weak tone, lying back down. "What happened?"
"You were injured. Jeez, you worried me so much, Leo! Don't ever do something like that again!"
"W-what happened?" Leo repeated. Elliot let out a sigh to calm himself down and explained to him that they had gone into the chasm, but Leo couldn't remember anything. He told him that somehow, perhaps due to the strange aura in Sablier, they both had fallen unconscious. Elliot then woke up with a terrible headache; plus he couldn't remember anything. But then, when he noticed his servant was lying next to him in a pool of blood, he forgot his superfluous pain and carried him back to the Nightray manor, where they had attended his wound. Elliot didn't know how it had happened, and he passed so many hours of agony where no one would tell him how Leo was doing. He was going crazy, until they finally told him that, miraculously, the boy would be fine.
Then he'd rushed to his bedroom and checked on him when Leo had suddenly woken up.
"And the children?" Leo asked. Yes, he remembered what Elliot had told him, but just vaguely. He remembered going to Sablier to save the kids, and then nothing.
Elliot chose not to tell him the truth. Because, when he'd woken up down there in the abyss, the sigh greeting him had been one of despair. Bloodied corpses were around him; and, for a minute, he'd thought Leo was one of those corpses too and the anguish had consumed him, until he realized Leo was still breathing… Barely, but breathing, and he took him to the mansion.
Elliot faked a smile. "They're safe."
"Elliot and mother will escape with the guests. Then the two of us will dispose of Gilbert and Vincent, as planned."
"Come on! Have you lost your nerve?" he berated his brother, Claude, as they walked down the hallway. "Didn't you brag in front of Elliot, saying you'd kill the headhunter, even at the cost of your own life?"
"Yes… but… We've already failed once. Those two will be on their guard," said Claude.
"That was all your fault! I thought a fast-acting poison would give us enough time to behead him once he died. Please Claude," Ernest begged. "We've already come this far."
"Alright, alright," Claude finally gave in as his brother patted his shoulder.
"Come on, let's go. It would be a real shame to die in a fire we started ourselves."
Elliot punched the wall. "I can't believe it! I can't believe it!" he thought frantically. "What the hell are they planning to do?!"
He clenched his fists so hard it hurt, but he didn't care. "I'll teach them a lesson!"
"Yes, alright," Ernest continued. "And once we've gotten rid of those two… We'll dispose of that Leo as well."
It was then when Elliot stopped breathing for a moment and his heart skipped a beat. His stomach plummeted and his mind raced. Leo?! They… They couldn't kill Leo! Not Leo!
"…I don't know how Elly can keep him around. We'll find him a proper servant," Ernest's eyes narrowed with malice and he smiled evilly. "You know… To be killed by the headhunter is to be acknowledged as a member of the Nightray family," he chuckled; "Could we offer a higher honor to the three of them?" he finished before exploding into a fit of laughter.
And it was then when Elliot knew he had to do something if he didn't want to lose his friend.
"...Elliot?" a quiet voice distracted him from his thoughts, and Elliot started. He turned around, only to find Leo.
"Leo! What are you doing here?" Elliot asked, flustered. Had he heard something? He hoped not, because he didn't want Leo to worry, or even to be scared. It wasn't like Leo was a damsel in distress, Elliot knew he was tougher than that. And yet, he also knew that Leo was pretty much defenseless against his brothers, for he wasn't good with neither swords nor guns. Elliot liked to feel like he could protect him, and so he would.
"The question is... What are you doing here?" Leo asked, unafraid. He and Elliot were like equals. "We should be leaving now."
"No, I can't," Elliot replied energetically. Leo frowned.
"Where are the others?"
"Your mother and Miss Vanessa are waiting for you…"
"And Gilbert and Vincent?"
The question surprised Leo. He raised an eyebrow. "I don't know. They must be heading out also."
"Are you sure?" Elliot said, fidgeting in his place.
"Why the insistence?"
"I need to get them. Leo, please tell mother and Vanessa that I'll see them outside. And please," he placed both of his hands on Leo's shoulders, looking straight into his eyes (or at least trying, for Leo's mane and glasses didn't really let him); "take care. You'll be safe outside." Elliot said. He knew Leo was in danger too, but he also knew that Vincent and Gilbert were the first ones that needed to be protected. He turned his back on Leo to get his foster brothers before Ernest and Claude could find them. Later he'd think of what to do with them.
A hand grabbed his wrist. "No, Elliot. I'll go with you."
Elliot's face contorted in rage, but it was just that he was so worried. "You stupid…!"
"I won't leave you alone!" Leo screamed as he pulled Elliot down the hallway, and the blond boy knew there was no way to make him go back now, so he let it go, mumbling a curse. Well, at least Leo was with him and he knew that he was not in danger.
They found Vincent and Gilbert soon enough, and to Elliot's surprise, even before Claude and Ernest. He supposed they must've been delayed by the fire.
The four of them left the building and met with the other Nightrays. Ernest and Claude were the last ones to arrive, for they must've been searching for the two orphans they would never find in the manor. And though Elliot was relieved no one was harmed, he knew by the grim expressions of his brothers that this wasn't over just yet.
And that scared him.
"…Elliot?" called Leo in a soft voice, after the blonde had put his pajamas on and lain down on the bed to try to sleep. He knew that something wasn't quite right since the fire. It was the way Elliot fidgeted, the way he shifted his eyes and fell into a reverie all day long. And it worried Leo, what could he possibly be thinking? What could possibly worry Elliot so much?
"What is it, Leo?" Elliot answered. His back was turned to the servant, however.
"Is there something troubling you?" the valet asked tentatively. Elliot grunted, but then he made a pause and sighed. It was so hard to lie to Leo.
"It's my brothers," Elliot ended up admitting. Leo waited patiently for him to speak again, and he did. "They worry me."
Leo's eyebrows met in confusion. "Why?"
There was a lump in Elliot's throat, and he shivered with fear and anger, remembering the cruel words he heard them spoke earlier that day. No, they wouldn't take Leo away from him, no matter what he had to do…
And yet… He didn't want to lose them, either… He had already lost Fred…
"They… They're planning something bad," he chose his words carefully. To his eyes, Leo was so innocent and had already suffered enough, he didn't need to know about all of this.
"Bad? Elliot wouldn't be so worried if something wasn't terribly, terribly wrong." Leo thought.
"You can't let him suffer like this," said a voice in his head, and Leo's eyes widened because it wasn't Glen: it wasn't a single one of them; Leo had memorized all of their voices already.
"What if it's dangerous?" the voice insisted. "You know they are no good. You said it yourself, he wouldn't be acting like this if something wasn't wrong. You don't want to see him like this. Wouldn't you like to erase all his problems? That way, you'd never have to see him suffer again. You don't like seeing him suffer."
"But Elliot's brothers—!"
"Kill. Make all of his problems disappear."
"B-but I can't!"
"Of course you can. Nobody has to know. We can blame it on the headhunter."
"What is it?" Leo finally asked insistently, trying to keep the voice in his head away. As if he had touched a nerve, Elliot crumbled under the pressure and he sat up in the bed and turned back to look at his servant as he snapped:
"It's none of your business! Ah, Leo, why do you have to be so nosey sometimes?! Really, for God's sake—!"
He shut up when Leo embraced him and buried his head in his neck. Yes, it was right. He didn't like to see Elliot that way. "Don't worry," he reassured. The words echoed in his head; nobody has to know. Elliot watched him, eyes wide, but eventually gave into the touch and caressed Leo's raven mane. "It's gonna be okay."
"You don't even know what you're talking about," Elliot thought, but he decided he liked the comfort. He nodded. No matter what, he had to find a way to save Leo and his brothers at the same time.
"Thank you, Leo."
Leo nodded back, and they lay on the bed together until the blonde fell asleep. Once his breathing was even and slow, Leo carefully undid his embrace and climbed off the bed, closing the door quietly behind him.
He took Elliot's sword with him.
"It's gonna be okay," he said to himself. "Just leave it to me."
Things were starting to get strange between them.
It was not the fact that they'd finally realized they had feelings for each other, or that they'd let themselves go one night (their first night) at Lutwidge Academy. No, it was something darker than that.
On the outside, everything seemed normal. They were friends still —perhaps a little too friendly now, but that was okay… it was the way things were meant to be from the very beginning—, but it was the little details what set them off. Leo was acting strange. Elliot was acting strange. One of them was going crazy, but whom?
Or were they both?
Elliot mourned the loss of his brothers. Leo comforted him, and that was fine. But now, Leo always had nightmares. Elliot took care of him. The other day, a boy named Oz Vessalius came to the school and they fought the Baskervilles with him. But why would the Baskervilles be there?
And why did the boy asked for a song Leo had written? Or was it Elliot?
Elliot responded it had been Leo. Leo didn't say anything. Yes, he wrote the song… He thought. It was the song that had always been in his mind, 'Lacie', wasn't it? And Elliot wrote 'Statice' for him, right?
Why were his memories so blurry?
And why, for God's sake, every time he slept the image of blood and headless corpses would be in his dreams?
"Leo! Hey, Leo!" Elliot called out desperately, searching for him in Isla Yura's library. Things had gotten completely out of control and what was supposed to be a Second Coming-of-Age Ceremony for Oz Vessalius, had turned into a disaster of arson and the decapitating of bodies.
"I have to apologize for what happened!" Elliot thought in a frenzy, recalling their fight a while ago. He couldn't leave without Leo, he couldn't…
"Elliot!" A feminine voice snapped him out of his thoughts, and he turned to see his sister and her valet, searching for him.
"What are you doing here, stupid?!" she demanded, walking towards him. She seemed really upset.
"You and your servant need to leave now!" Elliot retorted as he strode towards her as well.
"You've got to be kidding!" Vanessa shouted, grabbing Elliot by his jacket and shaking him violently. "How could I leave my little brother behind?! A man has just been beheaded!" She informed, and suddenly, fear distorted her beautiful features. "The headhunter c-could be somewhere around here! Fire is blocking all the exits; people are panicking. We need to find a way out of here!"
"I can't!" Elliot yelled. "I have to find Leo!"
"You might as well leave him behind! And where is he, by the way? What kind of servant leaves his master's side at a time like this?!" she cried, trying to talk some sense into his brother's head. "That's why I was against your decision to take a commoner as a servant! And yet you…"
"Vanessa…" Elliot tried to speak, very gently, but…
"…And the same goes for today," she went on, hysteric. "No matter how much I try to stop you! Why are you willing to risk being attacked by the headhunter for the sake of that Vessalius boy?!"
Elliot snapped out of her grip, causing her shock. "I don't plan to ignore the Vessalius household anymore!" he stated firmly. His sister looked at him with pure astonishment written in her face.
"What… did you say?! Your servant talked you into this, didn't he?!"
"He did not," said Elliot firmly.
She didn't listen to him, though. "Why are you always taking his side? He's a bad influence on you! Hans… Hans!" she called out; "take Elliot away immediately."
"Don't worry," Vanessa said, completely berserk. "If something happened to that servant, I'll find you a new one myself."
That was the last straw.
Elliot slapped Vanessa's cheek, completely angry. "That's enough! Cut it out!" he barked. Vanessa could say all she wanted about him, but she should never mess up with Leo, or she'd be messing up with Elliot himself. It didn't matter if she was his sister.
Vanessa looked at him with fiery eyes and retaliated. Suddenly, her eyes were filled with tears. "You're the one who should cut it out! Don't you realize that you're the only one I have left?!"
Elliot's eyes widened at his sister's vulnerability.
"Fred, Claude, Ernest… The headhunter killed all of them!" she sobbed; "Because of that, our mother lost her mind and... Fell prey to the lies of that foreigner. And our father still pretends not to notice what's going on!" she broke, drawing her hands to her face to cover herself up. "What would I do… If I lost you, too!"
Elliot pulled her close, stroking her hair to give her some comfort. He felt a little embarrassed for not having noticed what this meant for Vanessa, and that she didn't have bad intentions at all. "I'm sorry… I'm really sorry, Vanessa…" he apologized. "But still, I want to catch the headhunter no matter what. That's why I came here today: I wanted to discover the connection between that man and the headhunter. I didn't want to leave it all to Pandora."
"To defend the honor of the Nightrays?" she asked between sobs.
"Of course!" Elliot declared, thinking to himself that it had nothing to do with Oz, before returning to his crying sister. "Don't cry…" he pleaded. He hated seeing her like that. "You should try to cheer up a bit… Next week is our mother's birthday," he reminded her. "We should celebrate even more splendidly than usual, since we also have to celebrate on behalf of our brothers…"
"Don't worry…" Elliot continued softly. She was still crying, but she seemed a bit more controlled now. "I won't die that easily. Got it, big sis?" he whispered tenderly, leveling with her forehead, his hands cupping her face lovingly as she sniffed. However, that little moment of solace was interrupted by a pop. Both siblings turned to look around them and noticed there was fire in one of the corners of the room.
"Has the fire spread this far already?!" Vanessa squealed. Hans was at her side in a minute, waiting for her to get out. "Elliot, this way!"
Elliot blinked and he followed in a state of shock. Suddenly, he was feeling very dizzy with all the commotion, and his legs wobbled. He still had to find Leo. He kept walking automatically as black dots filled his vision and his body couldn't take any more stress for what was happening. He blacked out then, his body falling limp and to the floor.
Vanessa heard the sound of something hitting the ground, and she stopped to get her brother. Hans went downstairs, not noticing the two Nightrays weren't following him anymore.
"Elliot?!" Vanessa knelt down to check him, but it was useless. Elliot was unconscious, and she could not carry him. She sprang to her feet, searching anxiously for help. "Hans! Hans?!"
Steps echoed in the stairs, and she turned to look at the source of the sound. Her expression soured as she realized who it was. "You…"
"Are you alright, lady Vanessa?" Leo took another step. "Miss, please calm down and listen to me. Mister Hans has been killed downstairs; his head has been cut off…"
Vanessa's eyes widened. Her servant was… dead?
She started shaking with fury.
"It's you… You killed him, didn't you?!" she snapped. "You're in league with those intruders in the hall, right?!"
"No… I…" Leo started trying to explain as he stretched out a hand to try to calm Vanessa, ignoring the voice ringing in his mind. She, however, rejected his hand and pushed him away.
Leo fell down the stairs, but he honestly didn't mind the physical injuries much. Suddenly, it was like he wasn't in control anymore: it was Humpty Dumpty's emotions that were flooding through his veins; his sick, infuriated thoughts filling Leo's mind. Leo grabbed his head and moaned in pain, this was too much to take.
"How dare she… Injure the vessel of Glen Baskerville!"
"Ever since you appeared, everything has fallen apart…" Vanessa ranted.
"…Our brothers died, our mother lost her mind…"
"…Everything. You ruined everything!"
"No, stop it." Leo thought as he tried to stand up.
"…Stay away from Elliot!"
"I don't want this."
"If something happens to him, I'll kill you!"
"I WILL KILL YOU—!"
"I need to protect Glen Baskerville."
It was then when Vanessa's head fell to the floor and rolled downstairs. Leo stood there, frozen for a moment as he watched her body go down, and down, and down until there was no sight of it from where he was standing. His hands were quivering and his mouth was dry, and "...how the hell am I gonna explain this to Elliot?" was the thought that crossed his mind, and suddenly he wanted to throw up. "I didn't mean to kill her... I didn't wanna kill her... It was you, all along!" he accused Humpty Dumpty, for its presence was still near. Leo didn't realize he was shaking or that his breathing was quickening until a wave of serenity washed over him.
"Calm down. We'll blame it on the headhunter, like we always do."
Leo didn't want that, but the anxiety was calmed, and he knew Humpty Dumpty was possessive like that —he wouldn't let absolutely anyone injure or threaten its master. Leo should've learned the lesson by then, but he always forgot. Always forgot about everything.
So Humpty Dumpty washed the bad memories away again.
Leo opened his eyes. He felt sore, and he realized he was in the middle of the stairs.
"Did I faint here?" he thought as he stood up and the first thing he noticed was that upstairs and right in front of him there was a body, and it looked so very much like...
Leo rushed upstairs and knelt down on the floor in a frenzy, getting close to him. He grabbed his wrist and sighed in relief when he realized he'd got pulse. Elliot must have fainted while trying to escape, too.
However, Leo's relief only lasted for a second.
"Leo?! What's wrong with Elliot?!" a frantic Gilbert suddenly approached them. He was rushing and that put Leo on edge.
"I-I don't know," Leo stuttered nervously; when unexpectedly and apparently out of nowhere, he felt a strong grip on his arm. He turned his head, a bewildered expression still on his face and he frowned as he realized who it was.
"You'd better not resist, Leo," said Xerxes Break, giving him a harsh look. "Or should I say… Headhunter?"
For an instant there was silence as the weight of Break's words sank in. Leo and Gilbert exchanged shocked expressions.
"M-me? The headhunter?" Leo finally whispered breathlessly. Break's expression didn't change at all. Leo smiled sardonically. It sounded so out of place. He had always been the weird one, but he wasn't a murderer.
"Are you crazy? Why would I do something like that?"
"Given the circumstances, it's not inconceivable. When I rushed here, I felt its presence, and you were the only one here," Break said. Leo looked down at Elliot's limp body and thought that no, he couldn't do something like that. No matter how bad they treated him, he wouldn't kill Elliot's family, because that would mean hurting Elliot, and that was the last thing he'd ever do. "No!" he cried desperately, but Break was stronger and he pulled his hands down his back in order to immobilize him.
"Well then, it seems we have no choice. Gilbert, please, with your own eyes, look to see whether there is an illegal contractor's seal on his chest."
"Break," Gilbert uttered in horror. Of course he didn't believe Leo was capable of such a thing.
"Come on, there's nothing to be afraid of," Break encouraged with a sly smirk. "As I told you a little while ago, while I'm doing this, neither he nor Fianna's children can use the power of Humpty Dumpty."
Break explained that he had spoken to Rufus Barma and he'd told him that the Nightrays were experimenting with the children of the orphanage, making them form contracts with the same chain. Both Gilbert and Leo listened to the theory in complete shock, for they didn't know such a thing was possible. But it was, and he also explained that the more contractors, the slower the hands of the Incuse would advance. Leo wasn't very worried about that, but what did catch his attention was when Break said that this chain had the power of erasing the bad memories of its contractors, replacing them with fake ones. That… That would explain a lot of things, wouldn't it? Like, why had things turned weird between Elliot and himself lately at Lutwidge, to the point that both of them had even asked themselves if they could possibly be losing it.
For a minute, pure horror filled his chest as he considered the option that he could be a contractor of Humpty Dumpty; or even worse, Elliot. And yet, as Break explained all those things, the only thing Leo could watch was Elliot's unconscious frame and the even rise and fall of his chest, the slight parting of his lips where slow breaths left him. And he knew that Elliot was too noble to do something like that, and why would he kill his own family? About himself, however, he didn't know. Leo had always thought there was something wrong about him, had questioned his sanity many times. And yet, as he remembered Elliot's face when he'd found out that Fred, Ernest and Claude had been killed, he knew he couldn't have done it. He'd never do something that would cause Elliot's sadness, at least not purposefully.
"Hurry up, Gilbert," Break pressured him as he finished his explanation. "If you don't, the seal will disappear."
Leo squirmed at those words. "N-no! I'm not the headhunter! I would never… I could never do something that harmed Elliot!"
"Shut up!" Break snapped. "It's useless to try to buy yourself time. You…—"
"Break! Let go of him!" Gilbert ordered, suddenly looking very authoritative and silencing both of them, making them cast him a stare.
"Were you even listening to me?" Break frowned.
"There's no way Leo could be an illegal contractor!" Gilbert objected. Leo was somehow relieved that at least someone believed him.
"Then what's the problem? Hurry up and check!" Break yelled desperately.
"Why me?! Why do you want me to do it?!" Gilbert snapped. "You're not acting like yourself…" he added, now in a calmer tone. "I understand you're worried about Reim, but this is too much!"
Gilbert had touched a nerve, for Break suddenly squeezed Leo's wrists a little too tightly. "Don't you dare talk to me like you know me!"
"STOP!" Leo finally interrupted. In all honesty, he was scared, but they needn't a fight now. "It's okay, I can do it myself."
Before they could even answer him, the sound of footsteps somewhere around them caught their attention.
"Who's there?" Break asked, turning his head in all directions before a man came into sight and started babbling from upstairs.
"P-Please help me! H-he's going to kill me! That guy suddenly started… c-cutting off h-heads!" The man said in panic. He turned around, as if he'd seen something —or someone— behind him, and let out a screech of fear.
"What?!" Gilbert exclaimed. Before he could even utter another word, the man's head was tossed in the air, splashing blood all around him. The now lifeless body fell to the ground. Gilbert's golden eyes widened and he turned to look at his white-haired friend, who was still clutching Leo with one hand and with the other holding his head, as if in a trance.
"Break! What the hell are you doing?! The murderer is upstairs!" Gilbert shouted. Break let go of Leo, rather roughly; and then, they both ran off. Leo hit the balustrade of the stairs and the last thing he heard before everything went silent again was Gilbert's voice.
"Leo! Stay right here!"
He chose to obey. There was a sickening knot in his stomach, and the image of the man's headless body was still fresh in his mind. Break's story was too, and it was starting to worry him. What would become of the children of Fianna? They were the closest thing he had to a brother or a sister.
He decided that it wouldn't hurt to check. What Break said couldn't be true, right? He wouldn't kill Elliot's siblings. Also, the recent murder of that man had proven that he couldn't be the killer. There was nothing to lose. There'd be no Incuse in his chest.
And yet, he crawled away from Elliot. Just in case he woke up, he didn't want to see him so... upset. Elliot would worry.
Leo started unbuttoning his shirt and slowly, he looked down at his torso, expecting to find nothing...
He was wrong.
Marring perfect white skin, there was a handless clock in his chest.
Leo's breath sped up and his fingers started shaking. "W-what is this...?" he mumbled to himself. A few tears welled up in his eyes. "What is this? I can't be the headhunter, I can't..."
"Does it hurt?"
"Does it hurt to know that you've betrayed your best friend? That all this time, you've been lying to yourself... You've been lying to him."
"NO!" Leo cried out loud, shaking his head. "No, I haven't been lying, the one who was lying all this time was you!"
"…I can make you forget. All this pain, I can erase it. You don't have to suffer. I'll take care of eveything."
"N-no... I don't wanna forget... I don't wanna cause Elliot more pain," Leo sobbed. "I want to remember... this..."
"What nonsense are you saying? I'll make you forget, like I did before. You won't have to deal with these painful memories anymore."
Before Leo could even finish that sentence, a haze took over his mind. The last of his tears fell, but he no longer remembered why he was crying now.
"Tears?" he asked out loud as he touched his wet cheeks. It was when he noticed that his shirt was open, and he remembered that he was checking if he had a seal or not. But his skin was completely untarnished, and he let out a relieved sigh. He buttoned his shirt and stood up, thinking that he needed to take Elliot to a safe place and...
"You," speaking of the devil, a hoarse, masculine voice spoke up. Leo turned to look where it came from, and his face lit up when he realized Elliot was standing up now. He hadn't noticed when he'd woken up.
"Elliot," he suddenly turned serious. "C'mon, let's get out of here—"
"I can't believe... It was you, all this time." Elliot was looking down, and Leo's eyebrows knitted in confusion. Something was very, very wrong.
"What are you talking about, Elliot?"
"Don't play dumb!" Elliot screamed. There were hot tears streaming down his face. "I saw it, that thing on your chest… You are the headhunter, Leo! Why?!"
At the mention of that, memories hit Leo all of a sudden. They invaded his mind mercilessly, filling him with images of death, murder, blood, a chain, a seal… And all of the times, Leo was there.
He was the murderer.
From the very beginning, he had been the murderer.
It was so much information, and it came so abruptly, Leo had to hold his head. He shut his eyes and tears flooded his vision. Elliot was right. He was the headhunter.
"N-no…" he whispered in a broken voice. "N-no, this can't be true… I, Elliot, I…"
Elliot's fists were clenched, and suddenly Leo realized he was holding his sword's handle with one of them. He muttered, very slowly: "You killed my brothers."
"No, Elliot, I didn't mean to—!"
"I'm sorry, Leo," Elliot answered lowly, shaking his head. He suddenly raised his gaze to look at him, and the disappointment in those icy pools broke Leo's heart. "But I can't forgive you."
"He's going to kill you, and I won't allow that."
"NO!" Leo screamed desperately. Now he couldn't stop the crystalline drops from rolling down his face, but it was just that the prospect of losing Elliot was too painful to even think about it. He'd rather be killed by him, but he knew that wasn't possible. He needed to keep Elliot away, or else he'd…
Elliot drew his sword out and started walking slowly towards Leo. The action filled the noirette with despair.
"I'm sorry, Elliot!" he shrieked sincerely, backing a few steps away. "Just don't… Please don't come any closer!"
"I need to protect Glen Baskerville."
Suddenly, Leo knew that Humpty Dumpty must've had summoned itself despite his opposition by then, but that didn't make Elliot back down. He stopped for a minute and stared at the chain with blank eyes, but then a look of determination crossed his face and he screamed as he started running towards them, sword pointing at them and ready to kill them both.
"NO! ELLIOT, PLEASE STOP!"
There was the intake of breath, a surprised gasp, and a sickening sound. All the time, Leo didn't even blink, and he watched in pure horror as Elliot's head was detached from his body and blood sprayed everything around him.
Elliot's body hit the ground.
Leo stood there, completely frozen. There were a million things running through his mind, memories, both good and bad, of all the times he'd spent with Elliot. Elliot, Elliot, Elliot. "No, Elliot, you cannot leave me, you're my other half, you're the only one I have, my only friend, my only…!"
The voices of Humpty Dumpty or of the other Glens were probably present there too, but Leo couldn't hear anything except for his own thoughts, the sound of his own misery and how he brought it upon himself alone.
"…don't forget that those who are Baskervilles always bring misery amongst those who are close to them. May this serve you as a lesson from today on: you might have saved him now, but this was all your fault!"
"You are what I've always been looking for. Someone I can speak to openly. My friend and equal."
"I accept your offer, master."
How… How did we end up like this?
Something fell in Leo's hands as his knees gave up and he fell to the ground.
"Statice… Something that never changes, right?"
We were never supposed to change.
Soon, Leo noticed the bulk in his hands, and he realized it was Elliot's head.
His dark eyes widened.
Elliot's handsome face was stained with blood and his mouth ajar in a silent gasp; but what took Leo's breath away were his eyes: they were still wide open, and they still seemed so very alive and piercing, like Leo always pictured them in his mind whenever he thought of him…
"It's my fault, everything it's my fault, and I CAN'T DO ANYTHING TO CHANGE IT!" Leo finally broke, crying at full volume and hugging Elliot's head close to him. His icy blue eyes might still be open, but they were no longer staring at anything.
And as he realized he'd lost everything, Leo screamed.