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The best lies are the ones shrouded in truth.

Chapter Text

“This is fucked up. This is so fucked up.”

 

Kuwata’s hands shake as he drops the gun, but I have bigger things to worry about. Once I’m sure that I’m not in any immediate danger, I take my attention away from him, turning around and dropping down to my knees again to access Shirogane’s injuries. From what I can tell, she’s already sustained a pretty gruesome bullet wound to her midsection. But the blood that is dripping from the injury is minimal, so I don’t think she’s in any immediate danger. At least, not from the bullet. I swallow down what remains of my modesty and scan the rest of her figure.

 

Her face and arms are scratched and bruised. She’s sporting a particularly nasty cut on her left shoulder. I’d really hate to be in her shoes right now; my stomach clenches in sympathy. Her t-shirt, once a pale blue, is darkened with the red of her blood. I pull off my jacket and tear the fabric at the seams, using the sleeve I’ve just destroyed to wrap her cut. I’m trying to focus on my task, because if I think too hard about it, I know I’ll just end up losing my resolve.

 

Then, a pale hand stops one of mine. Her grip is surprisingly firm, and I’m so surprised that I meet her eyes.

 

“Saihara-” she begins, but I must make a face, because she hesitates. As much as I don’t want to overthink this, I also want to hear what she’s going to say, so I make an effort to relax my facial muscles. From where her wrist touches the back of my hand, I can feel her pulse. Her heartbeat is slow. “I… you shouldn’t. Save me, I mean. It’s plain to see that we’re enemies. You’re risking your life defying the Future Foundation.”

 

I sigh, and then look back to where I tied my sleeve. It seems to be soaking up the blood from the cut fairly effectively. I need to prioritise. The bullet wound on her torso probably didn’t hit anything too important, or else she’d have lost more blood. But the rest of her wounds are superficial. I mean, I don’t know very much about medicine, or how to judge the severity of an injury. It’s possible that she’s gotten seriously hurt somewhere else that I just can’t see. But I should think about how to stem the blood flow from her bullet wound. No matter how little of a concern it might be, I don’t think ignoring it is necessarily a wise course of action.

 

“I, uhm,” my fingers find the hem of her t-shirt and I pause, wondering how to verbalise my thoughts. “Ah, your injury… I need to lift your shirt to…”

 

Shirogane seems to appraise me. For a moment, she doesn’t understand. But then she catches on. “Oh! Yeah, that’s okay. I’m not all that worried about you being a creep while I have a bullet in me.”

 

Since there isn’t really a good way to answer that, I instead peel her shirt up until the wound is entirely visible. Beneath the fabric, I can see the faint outline of her ribs, and I have to wonder about the way that Enoshima treats the people who work for her, because this is just…

 

I grab my jacket from where I put it to the side and begin to tear the fabric into a long, thin shred. My hands are shaking from the effort I have to put into it. Frankly, it isn’t so hard to do. In theory, all I have to do is rip across the base of the jacket until I reach the other side, and stop about an inch from removing the section of cloth completely. It’s rugged and uneven by the time that I’m finished, and my hands are tingling and red, but it’ll do.

 

As I wrap what used to be my jacket around her abdomen, Shirogane speaks again. “Why are you helping me, anyway?” Her voice sounds small, which really makes my heart begin to ache. When she’s speaking so quietly, she’s not able to hide very much of what she’s feeling, and I can hear the pain seeping into her voice. I try to be more gentle wrapping her wound. “I’m not a good person, you know? I’m just plainly a part of the government that your Future Foundation hates so much.”

 

My hands tremble a little when I tie the cloth into a knot. I suppose I should answer her… if only because I feel bad. “I’m not with the Future Foundation.” I mutter. “They’ve hurt too many good people.”

 

“What?” Shirogane is confused. “Then, wait, what side are you on? Don’t tell me you’re siding with Junko.”

 

I can’t help but notice that Shirogane and Enoshima are on a first name basis. I can’t even imagine being on a first name basis with somebody like Enoshima. “No. I’m not on either side.” I feel my voice shaking and try to reign it back in. “I’m not on any side. I’m fighting for what’s right.”

 

At this, she laughs. I’m startled by it, and a little peeved, but all that evaporates when she breaks off mid-chuckle and holds her stomach, pain flashing across her features. For a moment, she tries to compose herself, and I wonder how I can help her, but then the moment ends and she looks me in the eye, a weirdly disjointed smile on her face. “On the side of what’s right… you sound like him. ” Shirogane narrows her eyes at me. “You’re interesting, Saihara.” Then she stops, appearing as though she’s muddling something over. “But, I don’t think that your heart is-”

 

Whatever she is going to say, I suppose I will never hear it, because just then, three gunshots ring through the air. Behind me, there is a thud, and Kuwata screams in pain. I can only assume he has fallen to the ground. But I don’t get a chance to turn around and look at him, because simultaneously, two spots on my back erupt in pain. Unlike Kuwata, I barely make a sound as I fall forward, catching myself on my forearms only to sink down onto my stomach.

 

I’ve been shot.

 

The thought barely registers in my mind. Shirogane is screaming, maybe louder than Kuwata. There is a note in her voice that I sort of recognise, find almost familiar. It’s… it’s desperation, I think. She’s…

 

There’s a lot to unpack in that. But the edges of my vision are rimmed with black, and already keeping my eyes open is a battle. I feel the strength draining from my limbs rapidly, and what little of my senses remain pick up that I’m now lying in something warm, and wet. My own blood, I suppose. I’ve been shot before, but… somehow, now, the pain is unbelievable. I’ve never felt anything so painful.

 

At least… at least I get to die like he did.

 

Darkness takes me.