Nezumi used to wonder what it would take to break Shion. To take all the innocence away, to harden all the soft smiles to wary looks. To truly make him a residence of the West Block. He sometimes used to hope, in moments of annoyance, that whatever it was, it would happen soon, because he couldn't keep on looking after Shion forever.
Now he knows, and he's never regretted his thoughts so much. He slips into their home, footsteps making no sound as he walks around the stacks of books that he knows by heart. The room is cold, dark, silent, and for a fleeting moment he remembers warm soup and flickering candlelight and the hum of onetwothree before he chokes back the memories and continues to look for Shion.
Get rid of those thoughts. They're dangerous. Throw away unnecessary things. Focus on your survival.
Nezumi held back a bitter laugh. When had he become so bad at following his own advice? How had he let it come this far?
Your claws aren't so sharp anymore, Nezumi! You've gone soft. The one with something to protect always loses.
Nezumi's lips twist into a bitter smile. He has always hated losing.
He turns the corner around the last bookshelf, to their little living area, a couch and bed and mirror tucked away in a room full of books, a room full of delusional stories.
Shion is sitting by himself in the dark, turning something over in his hands. Nezumi recognizes his knife, his constant companion in the busy streets of the West Block. It was something he had always forbidden Shion from touching, for fear the airhead would only hurt himself.
"Nezumi," Shion whispers. "You never told me your real name."
Nezumi watches as Shion takes a deep breath with his eyes closed. When he opens them again, they're a burning red, hard and distant, and Nezumi wants to scream and yell and this never should have happened, okay?
He drops to his knees in front of Shion. "I'm sorry," Nezumi says, and there's a catch in his throat that he can't identify. "I'm sorry," he repeats, and he doesn't realize he's crying.
He reaches out for Shion as Shion stands in a rustle of cloth.
"I'll avenge your death, Nezumi," Shion vows, and walks right through him.