Forsaken Qualms

Out of Obligation


Barsburg Church, 7th District, 8th March, 8:58 AM

That morning, the church bell rang.

That morning, the bells telling of the death of Assistant Archbishop Bastien echoed.

Beloved by many people, deprived of the kindest and gentlest of a mentor, the world seemed dull without the figure of such a man. It was a grave loss to them, both felt by the church and its members. Palpable in the mood exuded in the grieving air. Nevertheless, bright morning light placated the doleful parting of a once, highly regarded man. A positive impression – the first for those who knew him not, and the foremost last he left for those attending the passing bishop’s funeral – in memory of this humble servant of God.

The assistant archbishop’s death came to a shock to almost everyone within the church’s community; of whom who respected him, of whom who was close to him. The devastating of it all however was the truth behind the good man’s death, the truth that has yet to be accepted.

The truth that that man used Warsfeil.

And with the offence he did the unthinkable, breaking taboo, pursuing the forbidden arts: He took the lives of people before it was due. He smeared his hands and killed the criminals without remorse, using the souls of their untimely death to do his bidding.

Why did Bastien-sama do something like this? He was the least expected person to be considered warsfeil. It did not even cross anybody’s mind to doubt him. Had his sense of justice been too strong? Had he been too weak to resist the temptation? It is one thing if some ruffian were warsfeil. But Bastien-sama… Bastien-sama was more than some ruffian.

Still, the question remains unanswered. The real truth will be buried down with him, only to be replaced with some form of twisted conviction to satisfy their denial; in order to retain the beloved bishop’s good image.

Not necessary a bad thing, all things considered.

But with his presence gone, without Bastien’s power, the intruder warsfeils that had worm their way into their ranks cannot remain in the church – this, the knowledge the three bishops essentially shared amid their selves are aware of. The threat, in spite of every precautions done, every measures taken; everything, has not been cleared yet.

Their main concern is Teito. The boy pursued by the military, the Eye of Mikhail’s important vessel.

If someone were to come into contact with wars, it would not be a surprise for that person to become infected. And Teito, making direct contact with such exposure, was vulnerable to this corruption.

Castor had been planning of baptizing the teenage brunet, unconscious at the time, from the things of darkness when they first brought him to the church. It was part of their duty to watch over the human souls before it return to the Chief of Heaven purified, innocent like a newborn infant. But as Labrador testified for them it was too late for him.

That child had killed too much, pertaining to his status as a former sklave. How the honest green-eyed brunet remains unaffected is anyone’s guess. It was just a matter of time, and only time can tell…

Nearly getting their identities revealed by innocent, curious nuns – they shouldn’t have figured it out. Heck, no one else should – Frau, Castor and Labrador made their hasty escape. A necessary retreat. The misdirection, one that involves exposing dirty magazines, courtesy of Frau’s ludicrous idea of an offering, should more or less dissuade the three females’ suspicions from getting any ideas for the time being.

“Now, Frau,” Castor said warningly once they reach Room 1075; Frau’s room. “Be careful what you say to him. Teito-kun is still recovering.”

A snort was heard from Frau. “Yeah, yeah,” the taller man waved it off. He pushed open the door and let themselves in. “Hey, damn brat!” Frau called out in greeting, expecting to find a sleeping brunet sound asleep in his bed. The usual smug smile lit his face seeing Hakuren keeping an awoken Teito company. “I see you’re finally up.”

“Ah.” Hakuren, rising from his chair at the trio’s arrival, offers as a courtesy, “I’ll go get some water.”

Exchanging nods of acknowledgements between bishops and acolyte, the long haired blond left the room. Castor and Labrador was going to place the first aid box and a vase of flowers they brought onto the desk when Frau was punched in the face. It was sudden, Frau falling to the floor unceremoniously with Teito on top. They managed to get out of the way and salvaged the items.

Judging by the grunt of pain Frau must have had upset Teito greatly to deserve retribution from the surging volatile emotions of a prime adolescent.

Whatever has said, it was enough to make him drew blood.

‘Hurry and wake up?!’ ‘It’s alright if I kill you?!’ You don’t know anything!” was all but screamed. Teito grabbed a fistful of black fabric only to seize a golden strip and pull it taut, slightly lifting the broader chest forward. If he was expecting Frau to counter back, Teito did not let him.

Frau was too stunned to say anything though. They had been in this situation once before, only now he’s the one being pinned down. He was not one to be the dismissive party. But he caught the hurtful look in the other’s eyes despite the glare. One thing he learned about damn brats, aside from embarrassments and irritation at the playful teasing, is to keep his mouth shut and listen.

Tears practically threatening to pool underneath, Teito continued. “Who was it who told me to live?! You’re selfish too! Aren’t you running from the pain of your own loss?!” he cried breathlessly.

Salty secreted liquid hurt his eyes, yet he forced himself not to let one single drop fall. He accepts the fact that the Eye of Mikhail resides within him. However, in spite of it, he refuses to accept the reality what the Eye had nearly made him do. But hearing Frau deeming it was perfectly fine to be killed by him, seconds before retreating backwards to his subconscious… What in the world is he saying?!

“If you die… If you die…!” Teito hitched, his throat burning like sandpaper. “Go die by your own hands!”

Nothing was said afterwards. Frau inwardly sighed, placing a hand on his face resignedly, when Teito finally calm down a bit. “You misunderstood, damn brat. I wasn’t thinking of following Bastien-sama.” Muttering “That hurt, you bastard,” under his breath Frau pulled his upper body up to level his gaze with Teito’s. “It’s just that I like your soul,” he explained as if it was that obvious.

Teito was taken aback at that, a faint blush warming his cheeks. At a loss of words he sat back on the toned muscles below him. Whether Frau was aware of it or not, he chose not to comment on it.

“If your soul wanted, I thought it’d be alright to be killed if it were you. But if that’s a burden, it doesn’t matter if you throw it away, alright?”

Teito bit his lips. He nearly pouted, but he did not allow himself to do that. Bellowing viciously at Frau’s ear the teenager dashed off, leaving a biting Mikage injuring Frau further. He deserves that, Mikage decided for him. “I don’t like you at all!” was all but blurted out as Teito left.

“Well,” Frau said, having recovered rather quickly, sat up. “I’m still picture-perfect even after getting dumped.” Mikage was earnestly biting his hand off, though Frau did not seem to mind with the pretentious air of supercilious confidence he flaunted.

Labrador squatted down near him. “You’re bleeding,” the petite bishop blandly pointed out. Half chastisement was in his tone. “It’s because he hates that you skipped an explanation and told him the conclusion.”

You…” Frau paled at the new voice. “Just what exactly did you say to Teito-kun?!”

The menacing air made tangible by Castor seemed to bounce off in the room. Frau did not need to turn around to see it; he could feel it ablaze. Castor’s voice was equally laced with blatant venom. The bespectacled man before him was the epitome of fury, incurring his wrath brought unimaginable havoc and suffering. And he was made the scapegoat of his own undoing.

“What did I tell you about minding your words?” Castor seethed with a piercing glare and an accusing look burning behind his eyes at Frau. “What you said just now was the very example of it... This isn’t the time to tell him that!”

Frau raised both hands up in defence. Their faces were dangerously close. Had a bad feeling the other wanted to tear him apart and wipe him from the ends of the world. He backed away just a tad distance from the glowering russet. “I know! I know!” Frau said as a means to appease. He looked away, blaming it all on the Eye of Mikhail. How dare that damned bastard disappear when it’s convenient…

Suddenly he regretted forgetting the demon that has yet to be sated within the vicinity.

Castor stomped Frau right in the head, his foot sole grinding the delinquent bishop’s face to the floor. In the same manner as one would squish a pesky bug to a pulp.

“Oho… You think you don’t have to listen to me? Really? So that’s how you’re going to be?”

As Frau gurgled in between incoherent pleas of pain and mercy from his punisher, Labrador stayed as he was. He did nothing but smiled at the act of violence. Mikage sat on one shoulder, his head tilted slightly as both the pretty man and young Fyulong pup watched on.

Barsburg Church, 9:03 AM

Storming off from Frau’s room Teito slowed down to a walk. He could not believe himself what he had blurted out just now. In front of Frau. In front of everybody. It was a pretty reckless thing to do. He regretted it every step of the way as he attempted to clear his head, which did nothing but.

Teito felt strangely vulnerable at that moment, and feeling vulnerability is neither an emotion nor an experience he was accustomed to. How could he lose his cool like that? He was better than that; better at keeping his emotions in check, better at suppressing them all the same.

So, what changed? Why now? Why does it always happen when he’s with Frau? Why does everything got to do with that damn, perverted bishop every single time?

God must have really hated him. Even so he felt like he wanted to protect him, wanted to protect the important things around him, at the same time. Hell. He blew his chance.

‘I…’ Teito morosely thought, riddled with a sudden sense of overwhelming guilt. ‘I didn’t mean to say that.’

Yes it was stupid of him, careless even. But the more he thought of his misdeed, the more negativity shrouded him. He could not help himself. Because he… Because he…

‘I just don’t want anyone else to die anymore.’

Deep in thinking Teito was pulled back into the depths of depression, reeling back into the flashes of unpleasant memories. He thought about Mikage. He thought about Bastien. These two people whom he knew and cared in this lifetime died because of him.

He thought about Hakuren. The many instances he had brought jeopardy to the blond, the constant attempt at the cost of his dear life. He should have avoided him, left him. Should have cut ties with him – not dragging him deep into this twisted mess. Wouldn’t that be simpler?

And then he thought about Toshiro.

The thought all the more added to the baggage of guilt he carried. It reminded him of the encounter he had with that arrogant blond’s so called twin.

The stranger Teito met at the refectory yesterday night was a surprise. Claiming himself to be Toshiro’s brother, Teito was naturally suspicious at first. Why confront them? Why did he tell them this? Better yet, how did he know he’s a friend? He knew not Toshiro even has a brother. If he did, Teito had not expected the latter’s sibling, or family for that matter, to have sided the church.

While Mikage on the other hand, though reacted strongly at the new face of a fellow examinee – his tail had been wagging excitedly in tandem with the rapid flutters of his wings – his small companion appeared to have accepted him. Hakuren on one hand made no comment and listens instead.

So they were twins…

Teito noted the similarities here and there, but they did not look identical to each other. One could see the small differences in eye colour, posture and facial structures. The younger, surprisingly Toshiro, sibling’s facial expressions were formal and cool. As reflected in the way he carries himself independently. The older brother was more animated and optimistic, slightly clumsy and genial in character. He had a feeling the younger brother is the responsible one in their brotherhood.

…Or maybe it’s because of the glasses.

Toshiro’s lookalike explained himself straight without beating around the bush. “My dear brother,” the blond stranger had begun, Teito being in his centre of attention while addressing Hakuren as well. “He’s been keeping a close eye on you.”

“Toshiro is here… at the church?” he had replied in astonishment. Teito had mixed feelings when he processed that information; touched that his friend was looking out for him, yet troubled for his reason of being here.

Had Toshiro come for him? But for what, exactly – is he following the military’s command, or is it pure coincidence? From his brother’s description, he seemed to be partaking on the examination. Can it be certain it isn’t a ruse, a show?

What if Ayanami captured his soul? Will an innocent life be claim and destroy then, before that person could take on the promising future ahead of him? Similar to what he did to Mikage? Would he lose yet another person to that dastardly bastard?

If that were to happen, if he could not prevent it, if that were true…Teito would break. For sure he would break.

“Are you his friend?” was the question that caught him off guard.

Teito honestly did not know how to answer that. He hadn’t thought much of it. Because he wanted to move on, wanted to leave the attachments, anything connecting to the military, behind in order to pursue atonement. Their friendship had oh so ended on the day that incident, his escape, come to pass. It is selfish of him, calling Toshiro a friend. But is he worthy enough to be his friend? Does Toshiro even consider them, the three of them, friends?

The brooding teenager hung his head low, right hand resting over where his heart should be. Somehow it felt like it was being squeezed tightly… the heart he so believes is not pure. It brought immense pain, pain he had no idea could torture him so much. He clenches the fabric upon it hoping to lessen the pain. It did not. It was consuming him whole, slowly and utterly.

Unpleasant thoughts plague his mind. He knew it wasn’t the truth, he knew the real truth: He knew they were friends. Always will, Mikage taught him that. Yet some force was pushing him to deny it. He was in between despair and dejection, easily eating these lies whatever was feeding him in the dark. He did not know what caused it, did not know why this is dampening his spirits. But he felt sad. He felt totally, incredibly… sad.

“…Teito? What’s wrong?”

He hadn’t heard the concern, hadn’t realized the approaching footsteps cut short. He felt numb all over. Couldn’t think anymore, couldn’t care the noise that seemed to drown his surroundings. All he could see was darkness; all that was left was the murky darkness. And he surrenders to that darkness with the enthusiasm of a dead man.

Hakuren was bringing a jug full of water and an empty glass made of clear crystal on a silver platter when he saw his partner ahead at the intersection. The brunet was slowly, languidly, treading the hall which was thought to be marginal disorientation before he suddenly stopped to a halt. Confusion was naturally the common of all reactions. But Teito did not answer him. His green eyes the shade of brilliant emeralds was dulled and foggy. Its beauty degraded, lifeless.

That was when Hakuren knew something amiss.

With a startling start, ominous shadows emerging from its hiding began to drape Teito in black. Tendril-like protrusions, claws as sharp as fangs, around him projected from his right hand become wild and volatile in a matter of seconds. On instant, ignoring the mess he would soon create, Hakuren dropped the tray.

Fragile glass broke into smaller shard fragments upon impact, the cool sparkling water spills from its storage and puddles the smooth surface floor. The shrill sound that could be heard at close proximity was deaf upon Hakuren however as adrenaline rushes up and magnify his senses. He became alert. He became aware of Teito.

Body instinctively lunged forward Hakuren cried his comrade’s name. There was no time, the situation dread. He had to act fast. But before he could touch him, before he could dove for him in time, a ball of ringlets of zaiphon was flung at the blond. He had not seen it coming.

Barely bracing himself in time Hakuren willed his offensive turned defensive form to draw back, fortunate enough to evade the blast as the ground bears the brunt of the attack. It widened his distance from Teito. Shielding his eyes with his sleeve from the resulting smoke, Hakuren searched his assailant through the thin cover.

Then, at that fraction of a moment, he sensed a looming presence behind him. Without warning he felt an acute pain, sharp, behind his neck. Nerves bundled, the next nothing. Turned to some sort of jelly-like state, Hakuren found himself unable to move a muscle. He fell. Rendered useless and numb; hitting the ground with a painless, dull, thump. Hakuren watched helplessly as the darkness – the wars – consumes Teito.

However, before the ball of black sludge entirely scoops in he caught a glimpse of pale blond and white joining Teito. White the colour he recognized to be an acolyte’s attire. He couldn’t see a face, couldn’t recognize the person who forced him to retire. But he saw a glint. A flash of a gleam what a simple pair of spectacles might cause when reflected by light.

Faintly aware of quick feet rapidly approaching behind him, Hakuren lost his consciousness.

???

It was inevitable, he knew. Yet he wished it would not have come to this. The situation at hand did not allow it. Unfortunately. He had to go.

Back at the realm of darkness it would seem, even an ordinary person could sense the threat and terror present in this seemingly confined yet spacious place. Toshiro could see, physically see, the wars are riled up the moment the sinister mass of a globe shut the lights out completely. A stark darkness, he repeated his earlier muse, without the liberating warmth in this cold, cold domain.

He would have wander lost in the dark if not for the reminder of the heat from the thin body he kept near in his care.

Toshiro glanced down at a transfixed Teito. The brunet’s lustre has dimmed, tainted with trite and insipid entity as ebony as night curls his form. Both in mind and body. He had been informed what consequences Wars might have an effect on humans. To witness one so close affected by it in this condition, he could not help but feel mortified at his detachment.

He let it happen.

He let it happen, knowing that he could have done something to prevent it.

A sense of loss wrung the imposter applicant’s chest. A twinge of ache he felt impeded his ability to properly circular his breathing. It made him light headed. Little exchange of oxygen and accumulating carbon dioxide in his system did things to his sanity.

Unblinking eyes, lifeless in its clarity, stared at all the world and nothing at all. Toshiro couldn’t tear himself away from the vacant stare focusing in on him. Its gaze as though blaming, as though judging, whether they mean to or not. His mind nearly convinced him Teito was dead.

The touch of lukewarm skin against steady hands, the slow heave of Teito’s chest, and the rational part of him denies Toshiro of the blind assumption; of the illusory perception muddling his temperament. He had to remain cool, sanguine. It was not a guarantee the Wars would ignore the opportunity to mark and claim his soul despite their master’s command.

Once one develops a taste for the forbidden fruit, it would be hard to resist sampling it again.

Toshiro did not know much about the late Bastien-sama but he understood the woe felt by one who lost a person he or she knew and loved. Regretfully the esteemed bishop was Warsfeil. It did not look good for the man in the general public. People were too trusting, easily blinded, to realize until it was too late.

When word got out regarding two applicants had rushed to his room, no doubt Teito and his partner were the ones who confronted the assistant archbishop. It would not be a surprise for both of them were infected.

So when Toshiro was already in position of apprehending Teito – he waited for the signs – in that hallway, he had not anticipated the other. Reading the obvious bond of camaraderie between them Toshiro had to neutralize him before things started to get… problematic, for both parties. Owning his share of knowledge concerning the human anatomy, Toshiro hoped he had not caused permanent damage to the long haired nerves once he awoke.

Unsure whether continuing on touching Teito directly without a ward is safe Toshiro laid the brunet down gently, kneeling. “…Teito,” he ventured on despite the expected lack of response. Teito would not hear him. His voice must have sound distant, Toshiro supposed, in his current state. Still, he tried. “I am afraid I might do something I would regret. I do not ask you to forgive me, but I ask of you to please understand.”

Coiled vines hidden in sleeves for emergencies, the self-taught Kind der Natur called the tendrils to come forth and unfurl to their length of origin. With the flick of a wrist the pale blond summoned his zaiphon. Bold words were manipulated with practiced ease and precision, nudging the evergreen encouragingly and entangling them against one another.

Lone humble carnation with its large snowy white petals blooms rich in the centre of attention. Paired with it side by side were a couple of mellow bearded crepis and charming acacias, their vivid shade of luminescent yellow almost commending the purity of the modest flower. Adding a touch to the small collection was leafy hederas rounding the array, delicate and pale in contrast against the shrubs but therein lies a significant purpose speaking for itself.

“Please, understand.”

Toshiro tucked the assortment under the folds of Teito’s robes in time as darkness shows its impending rupture. The real world was soon revealed to them. They were teleported outside it seems, the ever existing light beaming much needed warmth – the sky as roof, the roof as elevated ground beneath their feet. The unnatural squall of air caused by an operating aircraft ruffled the mane of his hair.

“I see you’re here,” came a cheery greeting of some sorts from Kuroyuri. It didn’t take long for the subtlety of it to be ruined. “Took you long enough!”

Toshiro didn’t answer straight away. He made himself stood up with the additional weight of Teito, his arm slung over his shoulder as support. “I apologize,” Toshiro muttered audibly in response.

Narrow teals widened at the novel oddity before him. With thorny stems much similar to deadly roses, black butterfly-shaped petals latched itself upon Haruse’s person. Its edges glow a vibrant pink as they coiled around him, as though the plants were warning others to keep their distance away. Nurtured instincts told him it was more than just a shielding agent.

“Haruse-san, those flowers…”

Ever the kind person Haruse gave the young cadet officer a docile smile. “It’s nothing. I’ve underestimated the enemy, is all. This is just a simple reminder of my carelessness.” He neared Toshiro, ignoring the culpable glance at his back burning like sin as he motion the blond to hand over Teito to him.

The strange flowers twitch upon closer inspection, his surprise masked by remaining neutral as Toshiro did as told without demur. He could easily tell that Haruse avoided elaborating. While Kuroyuri was strangely quiet for once, the child of high rank seemed to be distant. He hadn’t missed the look on his face at the mention of the flowers. It was not his place to pry, Toshiro knew, but the muffled whispers he was unable to distinguish is a valid cause for concern.

Following them from behind to their means of transportation Toshiro voiced his freedom of speech. “Excuse me.” He paused, in turn acquiring the two warsfeils’ attention. “If I may be bold so as to ask: What happened back there, Haruse-san? It is clear that those flowers are not ordinary flowers. Why is that? Were you unable to–”

“Shut up,” was all but curtly snapped. If Kuroyuri hated his guts before, then he despises the blond’s very existence with every fibre of his being. He is unwanted here, read the fucking situation. “Know your place, Toshiro.”

Toshiro inwardly flinch as his name was said with what could be equivalent to a dark growl.

“Don’t you dare stick your nose to where it doesn’t belong, don’t you dare question us. What would you know? Our world is different from yours.”

Haruse tried to voice his protest, wanting to assure his dear commander as many times as it takes to relieve him from feeling responsible… from blaming himself. But his words did not reach him, did not deter the other from professing his self-reproach. And lashing at the newcomer.

“Even if we told you, what could you do?” Mock was present in his tone. “You’re nobody. Only a meagre human. This is far from your power to do anything to those pesky things. They’re practically draining Haruse dry! If I can’t rid them of him, what makes you think you’ll make a difference?”

“Because I am human,” Toshiro replied evenly without missing a beat.

All eyes were fixed on the boy pretending to be the confident soldier he is not. His riposte came off as smooth as cutting through slivers of thin ice.

Four words. Those mere four words were enough to render Kuroyuri speechless and Haruse surprised. Incapable of understanding human emotions and thinking, piecing together the word into the equation of this solution is lost upon the two warsfeil. An unexpected comeback to an unintentional asked question.

It didn’t make sense.

“These flowers… they eat up dark powers, correct?” Toshiro approached the tall blue haired. “They weaken the Wars within Haruse-san.” He caressed the flowers with a touch of gentleness.

“Stop,” came the terse warning before his fingers made contact, their whispers clear. “Do not be involved in this fight, Kind. Beautiful Profe will be sad.”

Still, it did not stop his advances. Black petals quiver at Toshiro’s touch, threatening to grow itself more. They screech. He did not falter.

“I understand that this person be purified,” Toshiro prompted, disregarding the cast looks aside. “I understand that you would not defy him.” The flowers had often mentioned of this Profe person in high regards. He was aware of his fellow communicant, amazed to learn there was another, but Toshiro did nothing to connect. He let the messages be relayed through the flowers. This is the first he would reciprocate the exchange. “But hear me and weaken.”

“Why do you desire so? His wish is for you to leave. Return. For your sake. If not, then for your friend’s sake.”

“I cannot simply do that, dearest. Surely that person would understand… Do not fret. Grant me this one wish, and I shall not impose on you to act upon this discomfort. With my word, I ask of you: Weaken.”

Bright blue strings were summoned manoeuvred around Haruse. Bold words of healing zaiphon ruptured into green light flecks that showered the parasitic plants, but never a speck touch the warsfeil. Their high-pitched screech was unpleasant indeed. Bearable, to an extent. Seemingly harms Haruse than Toshiro. Some petals, slowly but surely, began to shrink and shrivel before the process abruptly interrupted.

Hot white pain seared through Toshiro’s vulnerable side. The air was knocked right out of him taking a double over at the blow. “What the hell are you doing?!” he heard Kuroyuri practically roared, taking a glimpse of the pinket’s form stepping beside his Begleiter in an instant. Toshiro stumbled on all fours, failing to catch anything to hold on to as he was shoved afar.

“Kuroyuri-sama- The flowers… He –”

“Haruse, what’s wrong? Haruse!” Kuroyuri panicked. Haruse was slurring sentences cut short he didn’t quite understand. “What did he do? What did he do to you?”

He should have known… That brat shouldn’t be trusted! Watching him nearing Haruse, Kuroyuri admitted, he was curious to see what Toshiro was trying to do. The first red flag rose when those parasitic plants went astir. And then he was talking to them, calming them. That is his biggest mistake.

Toshiro cough dryly as he willed his body up. “Hurts…” he muttered, tenderly clutching his aching stomach.

Perhaps he should have warned them before he carried out the extraction. He seemed to have voiced his thought though when Kuroyuri snapped his head at him, ready to take him out. Fortunately Haruse managed to keep the child at bay in time. Toshiro didn’t think he would have stood a chance surviving another blow.

“I apologize for my actions. I was trying to reduce their numbers,” Toshiro explained with difficulty, wheezing slightly after each word was said. “Haruse-san’s strength should return in full.”

His eye for a second did not leave Toshiro’s own. Kuroyuri wasn’t a fool to believe him blind. “Is that true, Haruse?”

However,” Toshiro quickly added. Prodding the child warsfeil seemed appealing at the moment... “The procedure was disrupted before it could properly finish. I can only do so little to alleviate the affects for a short period of time. Unless its owner revokes this virus, I am afraid there is nothing more I could do.”

He did not wait whatever their reactions, letting himself blend into the background and board the aircraft. Much as he was in pain, Toshiro needed to shed his clothing into appropriate attire. His uniform felt rigid than he remembered though. The silence was kept short however as it was broken by Haruse.

“…Why are you helping us?”

Toshiro made himself look. “Out of obligation,” he simply said with a neutral expression, the corner of his eye sneaking a look past his friend before returning to his sleek, silk uniform. “And I need to gain your trust” was left unsaid.

Somewhere up in the sky, 9:20 AM

The first thing Hakuren notice when he woke was the continuous gust of air brushing past him. His neck felt stiff, his body heavy. It was as though he had been sleeping forever. Remembering what had forced him to fall into oblivion, his eyes shot open. Teito. His mind screamed Teito. Hakuren jolted and squirmed, crying out for his friend until the remnants of his stunted adrenaline ran out.

That is until a familiar voice told him to calm down.

“Bishop Frau…?” Hakuren blinked away his stupor. He immediately clung to the older man’s waist like dear life depended on it when he realized he was not at the church, but in fact on a flying hawkzile great distance above ground. Demanding how the hell he got here wasn’t ideal at the moment. Instead Hakuren asked, “What happened? Where’s Teito?!”

Frau focused his attention steering the hawkzile. “‘Dunno,” he said, a bit frustrated. He didn’t bother to look over his shoulder. “You tell me. I only found you out cold on the floor.”

“I… I was on my way to your room,” Hakuren jogged his memories, “bringing water as promised when I saw Teito. He was standing there at the hallway alone, unresponsive. As if- as if he was in a trance. That was when the Wars out of nowhere started to surround Teito. I tried to make for him… but someone knocked me unconscious.”

“Huh. It’s probably one of those military dogs,” Frau supplied. “Sure are persistent. Don’t know when to quit those bastards.”

Frowning, Hakuren shook his head. “No, it wasn’t. It was an applicant.” It is Frau’s turn to frown at that. “He’s familiar, I’ve met him before. I think he’s a friend of Teito’s. But I don’t understand why he’d –”

“Wait. The brat’s got a friend?” Frau echoed. He recalled Labrador telling them someone Teito knew from the military is at the church, looking for Teito. Maybe, just maybe, he should have listened. “Great,” he sighed exasperatedly. “S’pose we should pay him a visit then.” Frau looked over his shoulder. “Hold on tight, Hakuren. We’re coming for the damn brat.”

And Frau stepped on the accelerator. The exhausts fired bright luminal blue.

They hit the skies. Frau figured they might catch up with Teito’s kidnappers. Even for warsfeil they needed aircrafts and hawkzile, he put his money on the former, to get around the districts and fly. At high speed, the current felt like pressure was practically building down on their skin. The oxygenated air proves too much, Frau admitted, that it was harder to breathe.

It was worth it though when a single aircraft is soon seen leisurely soaring through the sky. They couldn’t see much its passengers, but the black of their clothing greatly signifies that they are military. That was enough for the both of them. They close in the distance and went for the kill.

Hakuren threw his zaiphon directing it at the engines. He still felt sore all over, his joints loose – his body basically wanted to shut down and sleep and rest – but his aim hit the target. The group of warsfeil had not expected retaliation it seems.

Two figures were thrown overboard; one of Teito helplessly tumbling, and the other of – assumed to be – warsfeil was plunging head first for the unconscious brunet. Following behind was a large claw made entirely of wars extending after them.

Before either two caught Teito, Frau propelled the hawkzile downwards on the double. He left Hakuren in charge with the offensive. “Stay away from Teito, you!” Frau heard him warn the other blond. The cadet however made no attempt to evade his thrown zaiphon – ain’t the lad confident? – only using his weight and gravity to his advantage as he zooms in like a human bullet.

He was fast, but not fast enough.

The hawkzile veered off in the nick of time before anyone on board made contact with the water below. With no splashes heard behind them, it was unknown what happened to the blond officer. But that doesn’t mean they were safe just yet. Military forces on hawkziles scattered like annoying flies were waiting for them. Frau and co passed the imperial security force, choosing to ignore their warnings of halting.

‘Cause let’s face it: Who would want to? The law enforcers gave chase, of course.

Frau cursed under his breath. They headed into the clouds and use their copious nature as cover. When the lot finally lose their tails, Frau slowed the hawkzile down. He fished a vial of holy water from his robes with his free arm. The other occupied on the wheel, he yanks the cork open with his bare teeth.

“Bishop Frau,” Hakuren voiced his concern, “how’s Teito?”

The bishop did not answer him. And Hakuren did not push. “I hope this works,” Frau said to the bottle before turning to the brunet in his arms. “Wake up, Teito!”

Generous amount of holy water was poured over Teito’s face until the last drop. There was a sizzling sound, rather unsettling. No evident of skins being burned there though. It took less than seconds for the dark markings to effectively disappear. Teito gasp for air coughing out invisible excessive water as life returns to his eyes. Relieve was tugging at both blonds, but it was too early to celebrate.

“Listen, Teito! Wars have entered the Eye of Mikhail,” Frau broke the news. “Take out the Eye so I can break it!!”

Teito looked up at the concerned faces of his saviours, Frau being the focus of his attention. He didn’t know what to say. Teito understood very well what Frau was demanding, begging, out of him… but the Eye of Mikhail is a part of him. Even if he tried, Teito was not sure whether he could take the Eye out or not. He felt weak, he felt drained. And Mikhail took over, although partially.

“That’s futile.” Firm blood red eyes of the archangel, replacing Teito’s weak jade green hues, met deep blue pairs. “No one, whoever he may be, can destroy me. If you try, I will respond as though you were an enemy.”

Frau tsks. “Look, they’re already headed this way! So stop being difficult.”

Up ahead the dense clouds began to thin out the further they went in. And eventually, at the end of this vanishing trail, a fleet of identical aircrafts reveals itself. Dragons donning pale grey armour meant for war… It appears that the army is looking for a fight.

Somewhere up in the sky, 9:47 AM

Toshiro did not know what made him do it. He did not believe instincts influenced him nor did the situation calls for him to act in accordance. Part of him did it because two Black Hawks were watching him; because doing nothing would not good look on him. It made him useless. Part of him did it because the fact being that Teito is his friend – one of two persons he could call them as such – was not lost on him.

Either way, Toshiro knew what he was doing.

He was prepared to dive into the merciless cold depth of a river below when he jumped out off the aircraft for Teito. His chance of surviving the plummet is far from pleasant, the minimum harm he would probably sustain as a resultant is water entering his lungs; might eventually lead to pulmonary edema from likely potent hypoxia though. But he was prepared still. What he had not prepared himself was the unexpected.

For Commander Kuroyuri to have rescued him, the act is surely out of character. Toshiro was more inclined to believe it was unintended, a spur of the moment kind of thing. The wars were meant to capture and secure Teito – he could see the disappointment and frustration on the pink lad when he caught Toshiro instead. An unreadable expression flash onto his features, relaxed he absent-mindedly thought, for a second though. Their relationship sour as it already is, the blond chose to disregard it.

Toshiro watched from afar his brunet friend and his saviours from his seat. With the earlier aircraft they boarded smashed to smithereens the three of them got separated, it left Toshiro with the child warsfeil riding on another airship. It seems that the hawkzile they rode was slashed into two. By who, the person was too far away for the bespectacled blond to see.

The tall man clad in black hijacked one of the few military’s hawkziles, while the other was apparently rescued by their ally. Toshiro searched for Teito as his zaiphon soothe his pain. It took him moments to recover before he could eventually breathe normally. Hearing a subtle smack of feet onto metal, Toshiro looked over his shoulder.

Wide eyed teals equally met rounded crimsons.

There was Teito, Teito, crouched on one knee. Although his eyes were not the familiar hues he was accustomed to. The red was valiant, enraged, fuelled by crazed-hatred. But upon recognition, its glare drastically changed. The brunet was utterly shocked, disbelief marring his face.

Toshiro revert back to wearing his mask. It proves to be too difficult for him however to maintain it when his name escaped his friend’s lips. There was no relief, only fear colouring his voice. No one could blame him. He looked into those pools of red, pleading, wanting answers from him. To tell him this is all but real – the first signs of denial. Toshiro said nothing.

“You’re not getting away this time,” broke their stare off, reminding them that they are not alone.

A black sludge ball the manifestation of wars was summoned by the warsfeil. Toshiro restrained himself from leaping into the fight and stop Kuroyuri. Before the pink head had a chance to attack, black protrusions from Teito’s right hand retaliate. It knocked Kuroyuri off of his feet and threw him overboard. Teito was rather guilty about it. Living at the church must have ‘softened’ him for that was his greatest mistake.

Upon distraction, Toshiro raised his zaiphon. He lunges forward at the opening. If he concentrates his zaiphon on his hand and jabs it at Teito’s certain focal point, he might be able to temporarily paralyse him. His intention was to bring back Teito in one piece and avoid conflict between them. Maybe a chance to explain himself. But Teito intercept his attack.

Toshiro froze at Teito’s shout of “Stop!” The same protrusions that had attacked Kuroyuri earlier entrapped him, sharp points aiming for his neck. The distance was alarmingly close. Too close for comfort. One false move, just one false move, and instant death. Instincts kicked in and he comply the order.

“We don’t have to do this.”

And he saw it: The hesitance in his eyes, the quiver of his lips and the pain in his voice. Teito was not afraid of him. Teito was afraid for him. Of what or why, Toshiro did not know. Suddenly a length of black lasso of some sort acts as a noose around Teito’s neck. The protrusions receded at the tug, Teito staggering at the tightness in the process as he struggled not to choke on limited air.

Toshiro trail along the other end, and saw Haruse. The verbal exchange between Haruse and Teito was tuned out in favour of worrying the danger the blue haired warsfeil is facing.

Haruse’s condition has worsened, far dire than what the situation intend to reveal itself. Left with hardly any flowers last he saw Haruse, the flowers at present have grew in innumerable numbers. Each petal pulsated pink around the edges at the use of darkness.

He knew it; Toshiro knew it in his gut that his little ministrations will do nothing to help the warsfeil. He should have act fast, should have completed the extraction. But as he said: Until those parasitic flowers are removed from his body the plants will continue to feed from him, sapping Haruse all of his warsfeil powers.

Who is he, exactly? Between admiring and hating this fellow gardener, Toshiro is unsure what to make of it.

But does Haruse know? Was he aware that the more he uses his powers, the brutal the flowers will react? Without a sliver of a doubt Toshiro is certain Haruse had known it all along. Then, if that was the case, why is he exerting himself?

“Toshiro,” the blond teenager heard the Begleiter said his name. Haruse’s expression was unreadable, torn between reluctance and acceptance… as though a last confession to admit forced his hand by the situation. “With this I’ll perform my last duty. I will become one with Teito Klein and take him back to the military. Please, take care of Kuroyuri-sama for me.”

“Haruse-san, stop! Don’t –”

There is nothing to be said, nothing to be done. Toshiro can only watch as Haruse used the full extent of his warsfeil ability to lift Teito and himself away from the aircraft and him.

They were watching him. Ayanami-sama, Kuroyuri-sama, the Black Hawks: Everyone. He heard Kuroyuri cried out his name in a desperate plea, ordering him to pull back. But even that was also ignored by the blue haired man.

Would he miss this? Would he regret this?

He thinks he would miss it all, and no he would not hold any regrets. But the one thing he would regret was leaving his beloved superior. Yes. He would definitely miss his dear Kuroyuri-sama the most. And he felt… accomplished, despite it all.

Haruse gave one last satisfied smile before a red blinding light engulf the two of them.


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