The sun had set over West Block, the decrepit and industrial structures looking ghostly without its crimsons rays. In a hole in the ground, a rat and a snake sat side by side as they partook in their sparse evening meal: a few stale pieces of bread, its middle speckled cyan with mold, and a small amount of withered vegetables. The rat ate with delicate hands, thankful to have any food at all though slightly irked by the prospect of having to share it, while the snake picked at the food nervously, his stomach growling as he tried to keep the look of disgust off his face.
"Sorry it's not up to your high standards," Nezumi snapped as he glared sidelong at the boy beside him. "We're lucky we even have this much. If you don't want it I'd be more than happy to take it off your hands."
"Ah- No. It's fine. I'm eating it." Saying this, Shion took a large bite of the bread, pointedly looking at Nezumi as he did so as means of affirming himself. As he chewed however, he couldn't help but long for his mother's fresh bread. He'd grown so accustomed to waking up to the scent of her baking that he now felt like he was betraying her by eating such a tasteless baked good.
The two ate in silence, a thick cloud shrouded over them as neither spoke so much as a whisper. For Shion, this was because he could think of nothing to say that wouldn't increase the awkward silence hanging between the two of them. For Nezumi on the other hand, his reasoning was that he felt no need to fill the silence with empty banter. He'd lived for so long now with only himself for company that silence simply seemed more natural to him. The only reason he felt any urge at all to vocalize his thoughts was in frustration of the figure at his side, who was acting more as if it was the rotting remains of an animal splayed before him rather than food. Despite this, he held his tongue. At least the boy was trying. Nezumi had to understand that this had been an abrupt change for Shion. Of course it would take him some time to adjust.
Swallowing back the last of his meal, Shion stood then and paced towards the door, saying shortly that he was going to take a bath as way of explanation."Sorry this place is too filthy for you," he heard the raven haired boy beside him mutter just before the door clicked to a shut behind him.
Shion sat motionlessly in the tub for what to him felt like hours stewing over the events that had unfolded over the last couple days. A week ago he would have though himself crazy to imagine anything of real note would happen in his near future, yet happened it had. The strange body in the park would have been more than enough to put him in a state of unease, but then had come the addition of Yamase's death and his own arrest. Being told that he would be taken to the Correctional Facility and the certainty of that he would die there. The last glimpse of his mother, completely unaware of what was happening to her only son as she went about her day in ignorant bliss. Everything had been happening so quickly, passing by in such a blur of various emotions, that Shion had felt as if his life had been caught in a tailspin.
And then Nezumi had burst into his world once again, a beam of light tearing through the murky darkness. The injured child who had vanished seemingly into thin air four years earlier had resurfaced, now stronger and with an even more biting tongue, if it was possible. Nezumi had rescued him when he'd felt all hope to be lost and although the horrors still continued, they now seemed somehow indelibly more bearable. Even as Shion had struggled for his life against the parasitic bee, Nezumi's voice has resonated from beside him, refusing to let him give up.
It seemed to Shion that the dark boy always brought harsh changes along with him, but as long as they were together, he felt that everything would work out in the end.
As long as they were together.
Nezumi's eyes panned over the words floating before him, not processing a single one. The book in his hands was an old copy of All's Well That Ends Well that he'd just started reading the day before he rescued Shion having realized how long it had been since he'd last read it. It was one of his favourites, yet now he found himself unable to concentrate.
Ah well, he thought, sighing internally, I'll just have to try again later. He placed the tome gently on the floor and rolled over so that he was almost pressed against the wall.
Laying there, he allowed his thoughts to wander freely, not paying much mind to any of what arose until he found himself beginning to drift into the realm of unconsciousness.
It was just as he was about to give himself over to sleep that he heard the door open and close once again, its hinges squeaking slightly as he heard a short intake of breath seconds before the light in the room was extinguished. Light footsteps could then be heard padding across the room and Nezumi had to stifle a giggle as he heard the boy's legs bump into the coffee table in the center before he eventually drew up to the bed. Soon after this, the edge of the mattress sunk, the springs giving soft cries of protest, before rising again slightly as the snowy haired boy lay down at Nezumi's side. No voice made itself known. Shion must have thought Nezumi had fallen asleep and had he returned just a few minutes later he would have been correct in this assumption.
Now however, Nezumi was awake once more. The simple entrance of another figure had alarmed him for a heartbeat before he'd remembered Shion and scoffed at his own absentmindedness. He had listened to the boy's placid steps, trying to discern exactly what the rest of his body had been doing while his legs were at work. And now he listened to the soft breaths sounding beside him.
It had been so long since he had lived in the company of another. It seemed so foreign to him now. The feel of the bed shaking slightly whenever Shion shifted his position, the occasional pull on the thin blanket they now shared… All of this was so unfamiliar. The last time he'd spent a night in the company of another had been… He searched his mind, trying to denounce his initial thought but being unable to. It had been on that rainy night four years before. Had it really been so long ago?
Nezumi's breath caught in his throat for a second as the frame beside him rolled over so that it faced him, warm sighs contrasting the coldness of still-damp hair as the smaller body snuggled against his back. The violet-eyed boy's breathing was slow and deep, a telltale sign of slumber. Shion was relaxed and limp beside Nezumi, unlike he who was rigid against the unexpected touch. This wasn't a situation he had ever found himself in, or if he had, the memories of such had been pushed to the furthest reaches of his mind.
"Mmm…" Shion murmured in his sleep, "Don't… Don't take me away…"
Is he having a nightmare? Nezumi realized with a start that this guess was most likely correct in light of recent events. But still he did nothing. What was he supposed do? Ignoring that one incidence all those years ago, he had only known Shion a few short days. It wasn't his responsibility to comfort him.
Yet in the back of his mind a series of images played like an old movie; a boy standing in the downpour, head back and hands extended as he let out a release of energy in the form of a scream that told of a want for freedom before he retreated back inside his cage, the wide maw of the balcony door open and inviting; the same boy's throat between his clenched fingers, his voice hoarse as he asked not for his own unhanding but rather to help his captor; a needle and thread suturing his shoulder, guided by thin fingers that trembled ever so slightly; cherry cake, stew, and hot chocolate; a change of clothes; a warm bed; a smile that offered salvation and requested nothing.
Exuding a sigh which he was too exhausted to berate himself for, Nezumi rolled over in the too small bed.
Hours later Shion groggily woke, still half asleep as he wiggled lazily closer to the warmth in front of him. Inhaling deeply, a dry, pungent scent filled his nose, so different from what he was used to waking to. He smiled softly and he peeled his eyes open slightly only to have them shoot open a moment later, all tiredness vanishing as he took in the sight before him.
In front of him was Nezumi's sleeping form, its peacefulness looking odd in comparison to the boy's usual stern expression. In his surprise, he tried to nudge towards the edge of the bed but instead found himself ensnared by a strong pair of arms. His own were folded against his chest and as such were the only things between his torso and the silver eyed boy's, and he felt a blush colour his cheeks as he realized Nezumi's legs were entwined with his own. He tried to push against the impeding chest as means of releasing himself, but in doing do the arms tightened and the legs folded, drawing him even closer so that he could feel breath stirring his hair.
It was then that he heard a deep intake of air, and Shion's body stiffened as he realized Nezumi had woken. He lay still, breath baited as he waited for the other boy's reaction to the situation at hand.
Silver eyes opened to a world of unfamiliarity. Before them was not the usual darkness that, without a lantern on, filled the room even during the day, but instead soft white fibers that seemed to shine slightly despite the near inexistence of light.
He blinked a few times, trying to make sense of it as he slowly became aware that his body was wrapped around something large, warm, and moving.
Realization struck him like an arrow and he retracted his arms, shooting up into a sitting position as the sudden movement knocked Shion off the narrow bed. In the few seconds it took for Shion to re-emerge rubbing the back of his head, Nezumi managed to recompose his shocked expression and remember why exactly he had been holding Shion so close. "You were having a nightmare last night," he said, maybe a bit too hastily. "It was annoying listening to you babble in your sleep, so I thought I'd try to-"
"Thank you," Shion cut him off suddenly, averting his gaze. "It's fine, you don't need to explain. We can just forget it."
Nezumi found himself surprised by the usually bubbly boy acting so demur, but regardless, he dropped the subject. Something about Shion's attitude told him it would be best to do so, and he personally had no strong desire to make a scene about it.
The rest of the day proceeded as was usual for the two, and the topic would not be mentioned again until years later when a wandering star had once again found its way back to a fixed one.
A/N: This is just a quick thing I started writing a while back and finally got around to finishing. I'm not crazy about the ending, but oh well. I hope you enjoyed it.
All characters and settings of No. 6 were created by Atsuko Asano and are property of her and Studio BONES. I own nothing but my imagination.