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Hamartia

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The smoke clears when Twelve wakes up to cracked concrete and fallen pillars.

His back’s against a wall, but his vision’s still blurry—must’ve banged his head because it’s pounding right now. But they did it. They got Rising Peace Academy’s records and now they just gotta run back to the van where Nine and that detective Shibazaki were waiting.

Twelve tries to stand, but hisses; his legs throb and his body aches all over, so he stays sitting on dusty cement. His vision clears enough for him to find his pants scorched, his legs scratched, his arms bruised all over.

The radio in his ear buzzes. “Twelve, you there?”

And there’s Nine now. He tries to laugh, but coughs instead. “I’m okay, I think.”

"What happened? Shibazaki ran out the van, so stay where you are."

Not that he can move anywhere—unless if Lisa can help him up. Doesn’t take long to find her though. A foot away to his right, he spots Lisa face down on the floor. She has an old cellphone in her right hand and Twelve’s hand in her left. He smiles. He’d been holding onto her when they ran from their pursuers and he must’ve dropped the trigger along the way. Smart girl, setting off the bombs herself.

"Lisa," words clog up his throat as he struggles to choke them out, "pressed the trigger a little too early though." Poor girl can’t get anything right, but at least she stopped their pursuers from the other side of the debris. They probably have worse injuries than Lisa and him if they were any closer to the blast.

Not that they’re in any better shape. There’s shrapnel lodged in her back and his waist, burns on their arms, blood on her side.

"Twelve? Hey! Answer me, damn it!"

Oh right, Nine can’t hear him if he doesn’t hold the speaker button. He’d move his arms, but he’s just so tired right now and his skin burns enough as it is.

Lisa soon groans and Twelve snaps up to attention.

Her voice strains, “Did it work?”

"Yeah," Twelve croaks. "Stopped those people from chasing us. Run faster next time though."

She mumbles, “Sorry.”

"It’s okay."

He shouldn’t have let her come. He knew her reflexes weren’t fast enough to outrun pursuers. Yet he still didn’t send her back to the van when she followed him into a building he was supposed to infiltrate himself.

But he admits without her help, he wouldn’t have been able to carry out as much of the records on his own. She still has her backpack sprawled on the side, though Twelve’s bag flew off a few feet away.

"I messed up again, didn’t I?" Lisa says.

And he chuckles this time even though he chokes on his own breath. “On the bright side, we don’t look bad as your cooking.”

She’d be laughing, he bets, if her stomach wasn’t bleeding out. Or is that his blood on the floor? Hard to tell.

Instead, her voice cracks. “But I—”

"Lisa." Please shut up. “It’s okay.”

"Is it?"

A tear streams across a line of dirt down her cheek, and it’s a shame he can’t move or else he’d wipe it off for her.

"I can’t feel my legs."

"Me neither." Twelve smiles. "Nine said Shibazaki’s coming though. He’ll have to carry us. Poor old man. You’re heavy enough as it is."

"So mean," she murmurs, voice so faint, Twelve almost didn’t catch it.

"It’s true. Needed Nine to help me carry you to the couch when you had that fever before."

Twelve glances at her face once more and hears her force out a hoarse giggle. He smirks. There it is. Just keep going, he tells himself. Keep them both awake till Shibazaki gets here.

A few seconds of silence pass before Lisa speaks again. “Kokonoe is Nine?”

Ah, he forgot. He sighs. “Yup.”

"And you’re Twelve."

He chuckles. “You heard?”

"Overheard Kokonoe say it before. Such," she says between forced breaths, "weird names."

Twelve finds his head tipping, vision sinking, but tries to stay upright.

She waits a few moments, and then speaks once more. "Should I call you that too?"

He shrugs. “If you want.”

"Okay." A pause. "Twelve," she strains out, nowhere near as smooth or natural as he hoped for it to be.

"You’re saying it wrong." Twelve chuckles. "Try again."

She sighs. “Twelve.”

"Again."

"Twelve." And she continues repeating as if printing his image in her brain. His name. His identity. And he knows how bad it is to push Lisa in her current condition given his own lungs are slowly giving out, but he keeps going.

"It’s just a number," he says, unable to hide his laugh despite how it grinds his chest. "How come you keep getting it wrong?"

But she’s stubborn and they both know it.

Then next try comes out perfectly.

"Twelve."

And he smiles.

She must’ve noticed it too because she continues on. “Twelve.” She grins, and his smile grows until they both start laughing even though his throat burns to do so. “Twelve.” Like he’s waited too long to finally hear it. To have this moment. To wonder why he hesitated to mention his name sooner.

But soon Twelve notices her eyes closing and he grips her hand tighter.

"Stay up, come on now. Don’t stop."

Yet she doesn’t answer and he sighs. Can’t believe she decided to sleep first, but he can’t blame her. He’s tired too. But that Shibazaki guy will need them awake.

And yet he closes his eyes, breathing in the dust and silence.

A few minutes pass when he hears footsteps echoing at the end of the hall and he shakes Lisa’s hand again. “Look alive, Lisa.” But his voice comes out so hoarse he can’t even hear himself speak. “He’s here. He’s here.”

Someone’s heat radiates like a shadow looking over him when he feels two hands grab his shoulders and shake his body. “Kid, wake up. Oi!”

His eyes drift open and meets Shibazaki’s gaze through his blurred vision, but he’s too tired to answer. Instead, Twelve lifts the hand holding onto Lisa a few centimetres off the ground—high enough for the detective to shift his sights to her.

"She fell asleep," Twelve finally says. Shibazaki hold two fingers to Lisa’s neck. "Careful," Twelve adds, but coughs. Lisa’s injuries probably burn as much as his own, though she’s lucky she’s sleeping it off—such a bad girl. He shakes her hand again. Wake up, Lisa. Come on.

Shibazaki soon flips Lisa onto her back—Twelve forced to let go of her—pressing an ear to her chest. A minute passes when he faces Twelve with wide eyes. “Kid…”

"What…?"

He tries to focus in on Shibazaki’s answer, but his head goes dizzy.

"She’s— wait, are you—?"

And Twelve’s body tips to the side. landing in the puddle beside Lisa.

Shibazaki’s shouts sound all garbled now. He shakes Twelve’s body, but he lays still, eyes glazed open.

Twelve wants to laugh, but can’t. Lisa must’ve rubbed off on him.

Ah geez.

His eyes close.

And he hopes to wake to Lisa saying his name again.