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All Part of the Game

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“Looks like we’ll be trapped for a while…” Luna noted idly, pressing a palm against the wall of the AB Room before glancing back at Dio with a soft smile. “Why did you pull us in here so early?”

The look, gentle but knowing, sent a shudder down his spine and he turned away so he wasn’t looking at her straight on.

“You’re not who you say you are,” the blond accused, folding his arms over his chest.

Even at that, Luna’s smile didn’t dissipate, he could see from the corner of his eye as she approached. She placed a hand on his shoulder, unafraid.

“Neither are you, Dio.”

The worst part was the complete lack of blame in her voice. Like it was a simple fact, unconnected to meaning. She knew he wasn’t who he said he was, and that meant more than likely that his cover was blown. She knew what he’d been sent to the Rhizome to do. But she still looked at him like nothing had changed.

“You’re working for Zero,” Dio spat, desperate to enact a change in the redhead’s demeanor.

“And you’re working for Free the Soul,” she countered easily, retracting her hand to fold it with the other, primly, in front of herself. “I guess we’re on opposite sides.”

A sharp laugh burst from Dio’s mouth and into the air of the small room.

“That’s it? That’s all you have to say?” he demanded. “I could kill you in here, right now, and there’d be no one who could stop me.”

Luna ducked her head, looking down at the floor, then met his gaze fearlessly and with a smile.

“I don’t think you want to, though,” she said. “Do you, Dio?”

Dio felt himself flinch back and hated it. Worse still, Luna took a slight step away – not in fear, but while holding up her hands placatingly as if he were the one afraid. The clone squeezed his eyes shut and snarled.

“I already killed the old lady to get into this fucking game!” he shouted at her, desperate for any reaction but the placidity she had been responding with so far.

Even that didn't crack through Luna’s calm.

“Is that so?” she asked, and something about her expression was knowing, patronizing.

“Yes that's fucking so! And I'd do it again! For Brother’s perfect world, I'd do anything!”

That seemed to throw Luna into a mood of thoughtfulness.

“Anything, huh,” she murmured softly, more to herself than anything, it seemed like. “For myself… I think… There might be some things I wouldn't do, not even for Zero.”

“Why the hell would you admit that?” Dio demanded. “Especially to me!”

Luna considered her response for a moment, fiddling with a tendril of her red hair.

“Maybe,” she decided at last, holding up her index finger next to her cheek in a thoughtful pose, “because there's no point in lying to you? It doesn't matter, to Zero or to me, if you know. And… I think it's best for equals to be honest with each other. Don't you?”

“Equals?” Dio scoffed. "Us?"

“I'd like to think so, anyway.”

And really, what the fuck was there to say to that? So he just glared back against the strength of Luna’s smile. They stayed that way, in a stalemate, for several minutes. Then Luna let out a soft sigh.

“Well. Let’s choose Ally, alright, Dio?”

“Stop calling me that!”

A slight laugh bubbled from her lips, and Luna put a hand to her mouth.

“I apologize, that was rude,” she said. “But, it’s your name.”

A grimace crossed Dio’s face as an acidic taste filled his mouth. She’d said it so simply.

“You work for Zero, you know that’s not true,” he snapped.

Luna exhaled, shook her head, and pressed a hand to her sternum with a firm expression.

“Well. It’s what you call yourself. I think that’s more important than what others call you. A name you choose for yourself, that means something.”

The way she spoke was too intense to be anything but personal experience; a mantra, a belief. Dio wanted to scoff but the most he managed was a pissed-off ‘tsk’. When Luna pressed the Ally button, he didn’t protest. What did it matter anyway? Things were about to blow up, figuratively or literally, now that the two of them were face-to-face as enemies.

Except, still, Luna made no move to begin the hostilities.

“Well? Now what?” Dio demanded at last, irritated.

“Has anything changed? We don’t need to fight, you know, and we’re in this game together aren’t we?”

“That’s bullshit!” he accused. “The world is on the line here!”

Luna continued to smile, slightly, but it was somehow sad. Then she nodded.

“Yes. It is. But, I think… Every life is precious, Dio.”

Unexpectedly, she grabbed his right hand, holding it between both of hers.

“Yours too,” Luna finished firmly.

The clone could feel his face go hot, but he couldn’t bring himself to tug his arm away.

And by the time the door to the AB Room finally opened again, they were both still alive and well. Deadly enemies trapped together in a room, for forty-five minutes. And despite all odds…

As Luna stepped towards the results on the wall, she glanced back at him. Her smile was sweet, genuine – but not guileless like he’d first assumed upon meeting her. Dio’s hands clenched into fists. His skin prickled where he could feel the bombs in his coat pressing against his body. His heart thudded hard in his chest for two beats before settling into its usual rhythm, and it made him grimace.

Something was really, really wrong with him.

Because looking at that smile, Dio could only think, I don’t know if I can go through with this…