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To Care For The Dead

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Innocence.

A word so widely use with the world, but lost on the damned and broken. Tainted by death, corrupted by the things they’ve done…too numerous to count.

Gloved and armoured hands drenched in blood that is not their own.

But he supposes that’s one of the things he likes so much about the knight, asleep on the bed across from him. The raw, dead look in his eyes that resonated with his.

Perhaps, that’s why he saved him. Pulling his broken and battered body out of the wreck of Baction before the falling rocks could crush him completely. He was sure he’d be greeted with that cold stare, that look of disappointment that he had survived, but… There was something that compelled Yeager to protect the man regardless.

It had always been there, ever since the knight had first caught sight of him in Dahngrest, a mere two years after their deaths. He knew he recognized him the instant their eyes met, and he was surprised that the bubbling corvid inside Schwann hadn’t confronted him then and there.

But to see someone as broken as he… what little remained inside of Yeager that was allowed to care became attached, and when he met him once again back at Zaphias… he was smitten.

Schwann Oltorain, the Sole Survivor of the Great War. A hero, a soldier… a puppet on a string just as he.

But strings always get tangled, and Yeager was notorious for breaking his own… Alexei knew Schwann would die that day, and the arms dealer had decided not to let that happen.

So here they sat, the knight’s unconscious body covered in bandages, his armour removed with the worst of his wounds tended to by his girls… And the weapons dealer perched beside him, waiting patiently for Schwann to awake.

Two dead men that should’ve stayed that way.

 

The sheets rustle as the other man stirs, pained, sharp inhale as the brunt of what he’d gone through is finally felt. The girls’ healing artes can remove the severity but not the feeling of those injuries that battered his body so. It’s almost comical watching Schwann try to ignore and mask it, dull grey eyes glaring at Yeager the minute they cracked open. That aforementioned disappointment so obvious it hurts.

He was alive and relatively ok… and it was apparent he did not want that.

Schwann tries to move, to sit up, but the sharp intake of breath signals he’s in too much pain to do so. The bandages across his torso cover the gem in his chest, and Yeager watches as the man subconsciously brushes over it with his hand. Almost as if he was testing to see if it was still there, still running.

“Why am I here.” 

The words are cold as ice, and Yeager can’t help the smile that twists its way across his face, sharp canines flashing. 

“Isn’t zhe answer to zhat kind of obvious?” His smile widens, and he flicks that long fringe to the side.

“You’re here because it vould’ve been so boring for you to die in such a place, you know! All alone, broken und sad! No, no, no it just vouldn’t do to see zhe prestigious Captain Schwann get crushed by falling rocks!”

“That is not why you saved me.” 

The smile falters slightly. Resting his hand across his chest dramatically, Yeager brushes the statement off as if he never said it before crossing his legs, letting his body rest against the support of his arm on the bed.

“Anyvays, vhat matters is zhat here you are, all patched up und safe und sound~ Und all thanks to zhe vork of my daughters’ healing artes! You should say zhank you vhen you can be up und about~”  

The weight shifts in the bed, and Yeager almost topples as the man finally sits upright, as if the words had struck a chord.

“That is not what should have happened.” Empty eyes practically look through him, and the man can’t help the pity that itches inside.

“You should have left me there.” 

“Now vhat benefit vould zhat have? To die in a manner so lame? Vhere is zhe flare, zhe excitement? If you are going to leave behind zhose zhat depend on you, at least be flashier about it, ja?” 

The implication is far from hidden, and Yeager catches the glare from the corner of his eye, Schwann’s usually emotionless face frowning. Of course he knew the man wouldn’t care, those kids that loved him so… Loved Raven, not him. But perhaps he wasn’t talking about them.

Scooting across the bed so he was an arms width from the now upright soldier, Yeager gives him a wink, flashing a smile once more.

“You may not think it, Schwann, but zhere are people out zhere zhat may just care about your vellbeing~ Dying vould be awfully inconvenient for zhem you know.”

“That is no concern of mine.” Schwann’s voice is flat once more, and any trace of the previous emotion is gone.

“Yes, vell maybe you should start to care, ja? You do know Alexei thinks you are dead. Dead as a doornail und not coming back. How sad zhat zhe little birdy has novhere to go… Und he does not care at all! Boo!”

Yeager can feel his playful tone slipping. He’s so very good at putting on a front, but something about the empty, broken man makes that crumble. It’s irritating but not unwelcome, and the arms dealer finds himself wanting to protect him further. To make him understand that he cares.

But the man is looking past him, staring blankly at the sword laden wall and Yeager lets that smile drop.

“It is my duty as a knight-“

“It’s vhat you need as a person!” He cuts him off before the man can finish, the rise in Yeager’s voice uncharacteristic and serious. With a sigh, he flicks his fringe once more before adjusting his gloves, the tight leather tugging against his palm.

“You think you are unable to be cared for, nozhing but a tool to be used und discarded vhen Alexei sees fit. Not a person, just a veapon zhat is now broken und useless.” He takes a breath.

“Und yet zhere are people who vant to love you, vant to protect you. But you are oblivious to zhe fact zhat they care, und you refuse to be treated like zhe human you are. It’s so sad, so very  very sad indeed, you know, und yet you still don’t care, do you?”

Schwann’s voice is calm, and void of any emotion, as if Yeager’s outburst left him unaffected. “It is of little consequence. Feelings are irrelevant, and are not required for the fulfillment of my duties.”

Yeager felt his irritation slip, another loud sigh escaping his lips. How cruel fate was to make him fall for such a man, one who didn’t even think himself a person. Schwann’s stubborn inability to view himself as anything but a tool was depressing, and not even fake bravado could hide the sad look in Yeager’s eyes at his words.

“Zhat doesn’t mean ozhers don’t have zhem for you.”

The knight tilts his head, as if about to speak, but before he can reply, Yeager cuts him off and presses a light, quick kiss against his chapped lips, hands cupping his face to do so. Schwann is ridged beneath his touch, and there is no reaction as he pulls away, though it wasn’t unexpected.

Quiet falls between them as Yeager presses his forehead lightly against the knight’s, dull hues staring up at him in shock. It’s far from obvious, but the stiffness his body holds is enough to indicate, and he doesn’t know whether to be proud or sad that he’d stunned him into silence.

“To think I’ve fallen for anozher knight. How sad for me, boo hoo!” The arms dealer lets out a light but sad laugh, and he pulls himself away from the silent man, hands falling from his face gently. Dull, dead eyes stare up at him, and Schwann's lip twitches.

“You are making a mistake.” Yeager can feel what’s left of his heart ache.

“It would be best if you stopped.”

Yeager can do little but force a smile, letting out a chuckle as he sits back, away from the other.

“You should rest, you know. Zhose wounds may be healed, but until you can valk, zhere is little else you can do~”

Getting up, he gives the knight a dramatic, and sweeping bow, any trace of his previous sadness once again hidden by that grin that painted his features.

It was how he coped, how he dealt with all this, and giving Schwann a wink he turns on his heel.

“I vill have zhe girls check up on you in a few hours, don’t strain yourself mein liebchen~”

He hears the sheets rustle behind him as he opens the door, and when it clicks shut behind him, he can feel that it'll be the last time he sees him.

 

How very, very sad indeed.