“Oh...did you not like it?”
The range of emotions he saw on the newcomer's face was shocking, considering only a handful of seconds might have passed. Normally the only expression across his face was blank, void - just like their blood code. But he saw so many in the span of a few seconds; Confusion, surprise, maybe even a spark of realization. Louis tilted his head, looking down at the book that had been handed back to him.
He had given this to Onyx as a gift a week ago. Onyx had said he was excited to read it and would tell Louis what he thought when he was done. Louis looked up, about to ask what he hadn’t liked about the book, only to watch Onyx run in the opposite direction. He swore he saw fear go across the other’s face as he turned to run, something he definitely hadn’t seen on the brave newcomer’s face before. “H-Hey!” Louis called after him, reaching out to try and grab his arm - but Onyx was much faster and was on the other side of the base in a matter of seconds. Louis could only watch in confusion as he quickly grabbed Io and ran off towards the back rooms.
“What was that all about?” Yakumo asked, walking over from where he had been standing at Murasume’s counter. Louis shook his head and looked down at the book in his hands. Why would Onyx run away?
“I have no idea. He gave me back the book I gave him a present.”
“Oh, I saw him reading that yesterday before we went out to the trenches. He said he was really enjoying it.”
“Did he?” Louis looked up and Yakumo nodded towards him. “Then why..”
“...He did die once while we were yesterday.” Yakumo suddenly said, crossing his arms. “Maybe he just - forgot about the book?”
“That’s an option.” Revenants couldn’t choose what they forgot, nor were they entirely aware that they had forgotten anything in the first place. That would explain the confusion on Onyx’s face when Louis had asked him about the book. “If it was just that he forgot, then this is just a misunderstanding, I’ll go return this to him. Thanks, Yakumo.” Yakumo gave a nod and Louis walked towards the bedrooms.
If it had just been a lapse in memory, Onyx didn’t have to run off like that. They were all Revenants, all lacking some part of them that was human. It was a natural part of the cycle. Louis stares at the cover of the book as he walked the familiar path towards the back rooms as if it would give him answers. Answers to why Onyx felt the need to run away from him.
He comes upon one room, the only one with the light on and the door mostly closed. He goes to knock, but his hand freezes when he hears voices on the other side.
“Io- I can’t...I can’t remember.” He sounded so ...panicked, scared, and Louis withdrew his hand.
“I’m sorry,” Io’s soothing voice cut through the panic. “I forgot to remind you about the book.”
“No, No! You’re fine Io, I forgot to ask you to remind me.” Onyx sighed heavily. “But…” There’s a nervous and weak laugh that might as well have turned Louis to ash then and there. He barely sees, or hears, any kind of emotion from Onyx. So hearing him sound so broken was unsettling, to say the least. “I...really am losing my memories when I die, huh?”
“Yes, it’s a natural part of being a revenant,” Io said bluntly. “Why does that bother you so much? You’ve never really told me.”
“Io...we’ve only been here a month. A month since I - we - woke up, with no memories.” Louis’s eyes widened as the pieces slowly started to fall into place. A month...they’ve only been here a month. “I just forgot a book now but..what else have I forgotten? Io, I only have a month of memories to lose.” Onyx sounds desperate, and although he feels awful about eavesdropping, he pushes the door open just a little bit more. Just enough so he can see the two of them sitting on the bed. Onyx is clinging to Io, head on her shoulder while she’s patting his pink and black locks. “What else have I forgotten?” He doesn’t want to register that Onyx is crying. “Sure, it was just a book now. But Louis, Yakumo, Davis-- they’ve forgotten entire people. What if- What if I forget one of them?”
Louis grips the book tightly to his chest, tearing his eyes away from the scene as he heard Onyx sob. He stands outside of the door, staring down at his feet as the only thing that fills the silence is Onyx’s sobs and Io’s comforting words.
How could he not have realized sooner?
The logical side of him says it is because the rest of the revenants are used to it. They have an entire lifetime of memories to possibly lose. No one could choose what they forgot, and while it terrified some - others didn’t see it as anything close to terrifying. It had been so natural to Louis, he hadn’t considered….
What was it like, having only a month worth of memories? What was it like having those ripped away from you?
Louis couldn’t pretend to know, but he suddenly felt a huge weight on his shoulders. It was him that asked Onyx to go out on these explorations, to help him find blood springs. He had failed to save Onyx a handful of times in battle - and while they were revived at mistles….
Was he just pretending not to see any fear on Onyx’s face when he was regenerated? Or was Onyx just good at hiding it?
Either way, Louis finds himself walking away from the room, not even registering that he had closed the door completely behind him. Onyx needed some time alone, some time with Io- he didn’t need to be here. He doesn’t realize how hard he’s clutching the book until he feels a hand on his shoulder. He jumps, dropping the book in the process and in doing so registered that his hands hurt.
“You must really be out of it.” Coco’s voice finally registered, and Louis blinked over at her as she knelt down to pick up the book and handed it back to him.
“Ye-Yeah...Sorry about that.” He mumbled, taking the book back.
“Something on your mind?”
He nodded, staring down at the book for a moment before back at Coco. She was never one to pry, having so many secrets of her own. But she was worried, he could tell. He gave a small smile and shakes his head. “It’s nothing. Just came to a realization, is all.”
She stares at him for a moment. He knows that she knows that it’s not the full truth, but she seemed satisfied that he at least said something. “If you’re sure.” She gave a nod before going back over to her normal spot near the car. He sighs softly and heads towards where they have their map set up. He places the book on the coffee table before heading over to stand in front of the map.
How many times had Onyx died? In how many places? He was reckless, always rushing in to protect one of them even if the damage was fatal. He knew it had to be at least ten times in the hollowing pit - the water and pitfalls there had gotten the better of both of them more than once. Yakumo said he had died in the trenches yesterday, but he knows there were at least two other occurrences there as well. There was at least twice in the city ruins, he had almost forgotten about those.
He doesn’t know if he had died before they had met either, even if according to Onyx there wasn’t a lot of time between him waking up with Io and their meeting.
For only a month, that was a lot of deaths. A lot of death and probably a lot of close calls he hadn’t realized. How blind was he to not have noticed? Louis crosses his arms, biting down on his bottom lip. How could he not see how hard Onyx was working, how willing he was to die for their cause? That was dangerous, he needed a break.
With all the progress they’ve made, it seems they’ve all got lost in their mission. Him, Yakumo, and Mia took turns going out with Onyx, but there lied the problem. Onyx was always going out, no one ever switched out with him. He had become their rock and their crutch all in one swoop. They needed to not rely on him as much.
Even if they had only gotten this far because of him….
Louis feels a hand on his arm and it brings him out of the flooding thoughts he was drowning in. He looked over to see Io. “Oh, Io - Sorry, I didn’t hear you approach.”
“Thank you.” She said, softly, with a monotone, as she always did.
“For giving him space.”
Ah. “You knew I was there, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” She nodded, “he did not notice, though.”
He ran a hand through his hair. Embarrassed that he got caught but angry with himself for eavesdropping in the first place - even if it had been unintentional. “I didn’t mean to-”
“It’s alright. If anything, I’m glad someone else knows.” The air was suddenly very tense. No one could hear them speaking right now - Coco was away from her shop for a moment and everyone else was gathered around the bar. It could be seen as safe to bring up, but….
Her hand grips his sleeve a little tighter, and he reaches over with the opposite had to put it on top of hers. “....How long has he felt like that?”
“Since we came here.”
Louis’ throat suddenly felt very dry. “That long?” He barely said above a whisper, his hand now gripping hers tighter.
“Not long after he started exploring with you all...he came to me in a panic. He couldn’t remember the name of someone he had known, and it affected him greatly.”
The way she phrased it, it didn’t seem like anyone from the base. So who? His question must have been written all over his face because she answered him without him having to speak. “Oliver Collins, that’s who he forgot.”
“I don’t recall anyone by that name.”
“He was the revenant you two fought to save me.”
Right, He did remember Onyx being shaken up before fighting him, and as they barely knew each other at the time - Louis only offered the cold hard facts. That the Lost were just that, lost. There was no turning back. “Were they close?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t get to really spend time with Oliver.” Slowly Io pulled her hand away, and Louis let her, his own falling back to his side. “But he is important to Onyx, in his own words - besides me - Oliver was the first person to show him kindness after he awoke with no memories. So forgetting his name was...”
“Difficult.” Louis finished, and Io nodded. “And ever since then, he’s been worried about forgetting us?”
“Yes.” Io confirmed. “He has been telling me things that he does during his days, about presents you all give him, about what he discovers while exploring. He told me he was telling me just in case he forgot, so I could remind him. But I guess I didn’t realize fully what that meant, and what he was asking of me.” She looked off towards the hallway where the bedrooms were. Io was hard to read at times, but Louis could tell one thing at that moment.
She was frustrated for not realizing it sooner - the same as him. He’s not sure she realizes this, though, she’s always had a difficult time with emotions. Louis reaches out and puts a hand on her shoulder, and she looks up at him.
“It’s alright, Io. I’ll talk to him.”
“He cares about you a lot, Louis.” There she goes, saying things like that out of seemingly nowhere. It always threw him off. When she said it, even with that monotone voice of hers, it felt like there was extra weight to that sentence. “But I don’t know if he wants you to know.”
“Well, regardless, I do know now. I will speak with him about it when he’s ready.” Io nods, agreeing with the compromise before going over to her corner on the other side of the room. He looks over at the map again, getting lost in thoughts of strategy and planning how to explore without Onyx. He’s not sure how long he stands there, but he doesn’t move until Mia walks over to check on him. Then Yakumo joins them after a couple of minutes as well. He explains the plan of rotating out with Onyx on occasion - and they both seem to agree that he needs a break.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen him rest, aside from him occasionally going to the hot spring when he thinks no one else is around or no one can see him go in.”
“Think he’s self-conscious?” Mia asked, raising an eyebrow at Yakumo
“Nah, I think he just likes being alone.”
That’s not it. Louis knows that’s not it, but he’ll just have to add that to the pile of questions surrounding Onyx. He’s already imposed on his privacy enough as it was, he wasn’t going to do any more damage today. “Regardless,” He clears his throat, bringing the other two back into the conversation at hand. “He needs a break, but we also have to keep up our searches, so I think switching out occasionally will prove beneficial. If we think we need him, we can always come back and grab him. Or we can all go together so he’s not pulling all the weight.”
“I’m fine with it.” Yakumo shrugs. “The Lost have been getting stronger lately, I think we will have to go as a full group at some point.”
“But if it’s just exploration, smaller groups and switching out is fine by me,” Mia added with a nod. “Now that you bring it up, I’m kind of worried about him too. I haven’t been here long, but he always seems to be on the move. Up before anyone else and goes to rest later than everyone else. We don’t really need to sleep or eat, but the fact that he seems to be doing neither of those things, at all, is…” She trails off because the three of them know what she’s going to say. Yakumo sighs heavily and rubs the back of his neck while Louis looks towards the map.
“Would you two like to take the first switch? We need to see what’s in this area of the trenches.” He said, pointing to an area of the map, the two of them walked closer to see what he was pointing at.
“I’m ready to go when you are,” Yakumo said, looking down at the blonde.
“Let’s go before Onyx notices,” Mia said, and the two of them quickly left in search of their blood veils and weapons.
Louis smiled and barely had time to give them a shout of good luck before they were gone. He shakes his head, those two were reckless but at least they could keep each other in line. He looks over at Io to see her smiling softly and nodded in his direction. She seemed to approve of this plan, at least. Louis’s eyes then fell onto the table where he had placed the book from earlier. While he said he wouldn’t talk to Onyx until he was ready - that didn’t mean he couldn’t return the book that was rightfully his. Even if he didn’t remember, Louis wanted him to have it. He grabbed the book and started heading towards the bedrooms.
However, he didn’t find anyone there. The room he and Io had been in earlier was empty and there were no signs of him in the other rooms. “Where could he…” The hot springs? Yakumo did say he would go in there by himself. There was also the storage room, though he doesn’t have any idea why he would be there. Still, it was closer and worth a look before he went to check the hot springs.
He makes his way down to the storage room, carefully, quietly. Truthfully, he could spend hours in this room. Some things were here before they started to settle in, he had found quite a few gems in here in form of books, drinks, equipment. It had been a while since he was down here, though. It was a lot more dust than he remembered, causing him to cough as he finally got to the bottom of the stairs.
There had been a passing thought they needed to clean down here, but that was quickly replaced with the sound of someone clearly being startled, “Wah-!” There’s a noise of something falling to the ground, and a scuffle of boots. Louis looked around - he didn’t see anyone at first glance. But closer inspection had him noticing the tip of what could only be Onyx’s coffin case that was always on his belt (how did that thing even stay on his belt? Well, he’s thankful for it now at least).
“Onyx?” Louis called out, walking towards the back of the storage room. There was no answer, but he definitely heard Onyx muttering to himself. It wasn’t until he was right behind him that he could hear it clearly.
“Sorry Oliver, I got you all dusty.”
Louis's eyes widened, and he took a step to the side to try and get a closer look at what the other revenant was holding.
It was a blood veil, a blue hounds one by the look of it. Though it was almost hard to tell, it was stained with blood and grime and torn in some places. He hadn’t mentioned it to Io but he barely remembered fighting that revenant - not because of losing that particular memory, but because fighting Lost such as that one was not anything new to him. It wasn’t a big deal as long as they survived, and he considered everything that came after much more important. If anything the only thing he remembered vividly was being a witness to the vestige left behind by Oliver.
Without Oliver, they wouldn’t have realized Onyx’s power.
He finds himself gripping the book tightly. Yet again something, someone, he took for granted.
“Oh! Uh-” He gripped the veil closer to him as he stood up and turned around. “Hi, Louis.”
“Hey.” Louis did his best to smile. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
“It’s alright, I was just about to leave,” Onyx said with a nervous smile before turning around. He grabbed a hanger and hung the blood veil on it to put safely on a clothing rack. There were a couple of blood veils on it already, possibly ones Murasame was working on fixing up.
He wants to ask, he wants to push, but he doesn’t. He just offers the book when Onyx turns back around to face him. “Here.”
“I--” Onyx hesitated.
“It was a gift, I’d like for you to have it. If you find yourself not enjoying it the second time around you’re free to give it back to me.” Louis reached out to grab Onyx’s hand, placing it on the book. “It’s alright if you forgot, it happens to all of us.”
“...Y-Yeah.” Onyx nodded, staring at the book and their connected hands. Louis blinked, he hadn’t realized he had kept a hold of Onyx’s hand and quickly pulled his own away. Onyx smiled and pulled the book closer to him. “I’m...still sorry - that I forgot.”
Louis shook his head. “You can’t choose what you forget. All you can do is rely on the people around you to help you remember.” Louis brought a hand to his chin and tilted his head. “I’ll start writing notes on the things I give you. I’ll tell the others too.”
“Huh?” Pink eyes met red, and Louis smiled.
“I think it’s a valid solution, don’t you?”
“I guess, but you really don’t have to go through the trouble.”
“Please, have you seen the writing I do on a normal basis? Writing a note is no trouble at all.” Louis chuckled and put his hand down. “Come on, let’s get out of here.”
“Oh, that reminds me. We still need to finish exploring the trenches-”
“Mia and Yakumo are out doing exactly that,” Louis said and started walking.
Onyx blinked, and stared, and “What?!” Louis found himself chuckling again as he heard Onyx stomping to catch up after him. “But- What if they need my power-”
“Then they’ll come back to collect you.”
“But-” Onyx tried to argue again as they reached the top of the stairs. Louis sighed and turned to Onyx with his arms crossed.
“You need a break. We revenants can regenerate but that doesn’t mean you don’t get exhausted in the field - and you’re going out every single time.” Onyx obviously tries to argue, but he doesn’t get very far. He opens his mouth and Louis puts his hand up to stop him. “Let us take care of things for once.”
Onyx fidgetted, as he often did when he was thinking. Louis watched as he messed with the bracelet around his wrist, it nearly blended in with the rest of his clothing seeing as it was all black. It was an onyx bracelet. He had once questioned if that was the reason for his name, but his name was one of the few things he did remember. Surprisingly, his name was actually Onyx, and he knew the bracelet came from someone important to him in the past, but that was where any sort of vague memories ended. Guilt stabbed at Louis again at the thought. Onyx was probably upset over forgetting the fact he couldn’t remember who gave him such an important thing, wasn’t he? Onyx went from messing with the bracelet to the headphones around his neck to the book, and then finally looked back at Louis with a huff. “Fine.”
“Glad you see it my way.”
“Like you’d give me a choice,” Onyx grumbled, and Louis couldn’t help but laugh. He had seen more emotion today from Onyx than he had in the last month. Maybe he was finally getting comfortable here, maybe Louis was finally starting to look closely and see it. Regardless, Louis started walking back towards the main room with the taller revenant following behind.
“You could start reading the book again, or go to the hot spring,” Louis suggested, stopping for a moment outside of the entrance to the latter. Onyx looks off for a moment before shaking his head and heading over to Io’s corner instead. He figured as much.
He goes back to the map, giving glances over his shoulder to see Onyx sitting on the couch with Io and reading the book together. A couple glances later and he couldn’t help but smile as he saw them both asleep on the couch, the book laying open in Onyx’s lap.
“We’re back!” Yakumo announced loudly but practically everyone else in the base shushed him. “What?” He asked in a more hushed tone. Mia elbowed him and pointed up to the couch area, and Louis, in turn, pointed to where Onyx and Io were sleeping. "Oh." He whispered, and Mia giggled softly before walking over to Louis is quietly as she could manage, Yakumo following suit. "Here's our map," Mia whispered, handing over a dirty piece of parchment.
"Thanks." Louis smiled, pinning it to the map on the board before motioning them to leave the area. "Let's let them get some rest."
"I'm going to head to the hot spring, wanna join?" Yakumo said, stretching his arms.
"Sure," Louis said, and Mia nodded as well and followed after Yakumo. Louis stopped next to Coco's car, looking back at the sleeping duo. "One sec." Louis quietly went back near the couches, pulling a blanket off of the bed Io normally used and draped it over the two on the couch. He froze as Onyx shifted a bit, but he didn't appear to wake and Louis gave a sigh of relief. He then quickly, and quietly, went back over to Yakumo and Mia. The former gave him a big slap on the back, while Mia commented on how cute the two looked sleeping like they were. Louis gave one last glance to the two before following the two into the hot spring.
He needed to have that talk to Onyx, but that could be saved for another day.