Just in case it isn’t obvious, this account is on hiatus. Maybe forever.
Just in case it isn’t obvious, this account is on hiatus. Maybe forever.
Yoh was dejected, of all things. There was a resignation in the way his whole body drooped when he hid his hands in his pockets.
You talk like I’m giving up. Like you understand how I could do something like that. I can tell by the way you use the word ‘waste.’
Hao averted his eyes & crossed his arms over his chest.
You won’t give up on me, though. You say you’ll keep chasing me through the millennia… I realize how sad that is.
He dug his toes into the snow, resisting the urge to lash out & kick it. This kid was so dense, so hopeless, no matter how often he kept forcing smiles.
There would have to be something sincerely wrong with me to not feel that. We’re brothers, two sides of the same coin.
His mouth twitched in annoyance, pulling back to one side for a moment before he let out a slow breath.
Or, we were. One face has been scorched off that scrap of metal, though, & I can assure you that if it were truly half the remaining piece would surely crumple.
Hao paused for a moment. There it was, the truth of the matter. He could say it more plainly, & perhaps he would if it turned out that Yoh really couldn’t understand. For as long as he’d refused to join with him again, he’d been burning away.
I have grown without you, & you without me.
He sighed, waving his hand lightly, as though that were enough to brush his brother away.
We don’t need one another anymore. As soon as you realize that, you’re free. Your children are free, & theirs after them.
Slowly, a confident grin returned to his face. For Yoh to accomplish his dream, the easiest thing to do would be fall away from the path he thought was necessary to reach it.
The cycle resides within me. I continue it; I will continue it until its end, so that you don’t have to.
He smiled more softly. The look was tinted with something that almost looked like joy; in reality, it was something a little closer to triumph, even if it only lay in his ability to put his feelings into words that someone else could understand. He was being lenient, after all, wasn’t he? Merciful, even. That was more than fair.
You don’t want to fight me, but as long as you believe that I’m wrong then you stand in total opposition to my goal. So you can’t serve me.
If being forthright were harsh, it at least was warranted. Still, a part of him couldn’t help but want to take advantage of a piece that had once been his. He was allowed, at least for old times’ sake.
If it were your wish to aid me, I may not refuse, though I couldn’t help but doubt your intentions…
*He couldn’t help to frown. That whole two sides of the same coin thing had bothered him since day one, and, even if Hao was spilling out the beans, he still had to come to terms in his own way with it. It wasn’t as simple as to say he was free, because his family didn’t believe that, because his blood said otherwise. They weren’t the same person, he could give him that, but they were still the very same blood.
He was dumbfounded, really, but out of other reasons. He just couldn’t figure out a way to get in Hao. In his mind, in his heart, in his goal. It was all too shut down, with a huge sign saying ‘abandon all hope’ on the front metal reinforced door.
And then, of course Hao would try to manipulate him, but, come on, he was offering himself in a silver platter already, it could just pick up from here.
He sighed, eventually, after a moment of thoughtful silence.*
I still owe you that oath. You know I’m stupid enough to fulfill it.
*His breathing relaxed, although just a tad, because of the cold, and his hands burrowed inside his pockets a bit more.*
If you see, you’ll know I have truly no idea how to try and stop you if I do get it for you, so isn’t that better for you? Hey, as long as we’re already inside the Great Spirits, right?
A voice followed him & his hands tensed into fists. The fucker was still there, pushing his way out of the snow. Hao sneered, whirling on the spot.
I think you came all the way here because you’re an idiot who thinks he can somehow alter my fate by turning me to the ‘light side.’
It was true. Yoh realized that he was the ‘bad guy’ in this place, even if he couldn’t perfectly understand why Hao didn’t want to go along with him. Hao forced himself not to stomp, walking back to his brother & stopping just in front of him, staring him straight in the eye.
You can’t help me anymore, Yoh. At one point I suspected you could be of use, but that’s no longer the case.
Hao’s eyes narrowed. Their noses were nearly touching.
If you want to waste your time then you can go ahead & try, but don’t expect me to be pleased with your efforts. They’re meaningless, no matter how long you stay here.
He grabbed Yoh’s chin — not yanking, just holding him there. His mouth twisted, unsure of whether or not it wanted to abandon his sneer.
You can leave me alone, really. I don’t mind. I prefer it. That should be clear by now.
Hao cocked his head to the side, releasing his brother. His eyebrows loosened up, simultaneously softening his expression while still managing to make his plea appear more sinister.
Please? Just for me, just this once, couldn’t you just leave it?
*Hao, of course, rejected him. He even walked back to him, grabbing his chin to make a point. He could feela similar yet fake burn to the one Mephisto’s touch did on him, but he couldn’t be sure if Hao had the Spirit of Fire with him.
He shoved his hands inside his pants pockets once he finished talking, almost in place of a sigh.*
If I let go, all of your efforts would be turned to nothing. You would’ve lost half your soul, even. Do you really want that? Just waste another chance because some dude lost it on you?
*He looked up, his eyes soft against the cold wind.*
If you do, if you really are okay with that, I’ll leave you. I’ll train another generation to defeat you again and again until you get tired of losing.
*And he didn’t want that. He really wanted to stop that hatred, leave kids to have their own fates…*
We won’t go get one of the elemental spirits, even if we’re already inside. I get that.
<See, Hao… I don’t have a choice. I’ve never had it.>
Just tell me and I’ll find a way to leave you alone.
Hao rolled his eyes, gripping his fists tight at his sides. Yoh was trying to keep his anger from flaring, beating down the fire with his face shoved in the snow. However hard he tried to fight it, though, it would always well back up, melting away his reason. If it didn’t happen like that it just meant he hadn’t broken him hard enough out of the shell of his character.
I told you. No sweet-talking.
His mouth twitched into a grimace & he raised a hand, swamping Yoh beneath a snowdrift, trying to push him down through the frozen earth.
How far down do you think you need to be sucked before you can see him again? Or did he dissipate into the atmosphere? You could be breathing him right now.
He turned on his heel, about to walk away. He had said that he wouldn’t care if Yoh rotted there, but that would take too long. His eyebrows narrowed & he tilted his head back just enough to look at his brother, mock-concentration drowning in the amusement painted on his lips.
I wouldn’t mind breathing you, little brother. There’s got to be something left in that weak little system of yours that could intoxicate my mind for at least a minute or two.
Laughing indiscriminately, he faced forward again, crushing his fingers into his palms. Yoh, at least, he could squeeze out of existence. Satisfied that it would have been more than enough, Hao started walking, leaving behind what he assumed would be an empty snowdrift.
*A snowdrift fell on him, crushing him down, misplacing his shoulder again. Just as he had predicted, Hao could control the setting on his whim. The snow pressed him and tried to freeze him, but his skin was growing numb of it already. Forcing himself out of the snow when Hao started walking away, he stood as he could and brushed his shoulders off.*
If I were breathing him, you wouldn’t be telling me. If wouldn’t be fun for you like that.
*The crashing of the snow had cooled him down again, mostly with the shock of it just falling down without his provoking, and his voice spoke as if his words were a side comment, but strong enough for him to hear, but he wouldn’t directly look at Hao. It would only make him have more on his side to bitch at him.*
Seriously, you think I came all this way just so that you could throw a tantrum at me?
*He took one step towards him, weary of what he would send next to subdue him to his knees again. He just wished Faust’s landing kinder than his own.*
Read my head. Know why I’m here.
They each took their turns trying to get between him & the other, shaking in the winter boots they’d forgotten they probably wanted. Hao saw Yoh’s fingers digging a little too tight into Faust’s arm, saw the slight twitch of Faust’s jaw as he resisted giving his darling demon a helping hand. Hao saw, & he laughed, the sound piercing through the space between the four of them, a double-edged echo in the purgatorial abyss. Even if they put a hundred kilometers between him & themselves it would be the same as a single step. Effectively, it didn’t matter who stood between who. Yoh could toss around whatever phrases he wanted, & his sniveling wordsmith father could try as well. It wouldn’t matter. Every syllable would be torn from their lips & thrown into the wind, that mad, impossible, hail-stricken wind. Hao let his laughter cut off, trailing it into the gusts of snow whipping up around them.
Do you honestly think I’d expect you to come down here looking for a fight with me? I know you’re stupid, but that’s still not your style.
One step, a hundred kilometers, it was all the same to him. He bridged that gap, roughly knocking Yoh with his shoulder so he could grab Faust by the collar, dragging the taller man’s face down to his own level.
I wonder, though, if I make that ‘we’ an ‘I,’ if I make that ‘us’ a ‘me,’ I wonder, Yoh, if I could make you change your mind.
Closing his eyes with a blissful smile creeping over his lips, Hao made a face almost as though he were choosing a birthday wish. With a swift yank of Faust’s collar, his mouth broke out into a full grin & he gave the doctor a shove. He didn’t wait for the thud of the other man’s back against the snow to open his eyes because he knew it wasn’t coming. Only Mephisto gave a small yelp, resisting for a split second before cracking out of existence.
One more spare part. He must be so lonely to not be thrown out with the rest of the trash.
In one fluid motion, Hao turned on his heel & slapped his brother, the meat of his palm catching on Yoh’s jaw & gripping him tightly, forcing him to bend his neck at an unnatural angle as he was pushed down.
I will never be within your jurisdiction. You can’t sweet-talk me into anything, so you might as well rot for all I care.
*He would’ve been too much of a fool to believe Hao would actually listen. All he ever did was dismiss his entire existence, even in battle. His next move, though, kicked him off his feet. Faust got shoved down and disappeared, along with Mephisto, in less than a blink, right before his eyes. He felt Faust’s arm being ripped off of his hands and vanishing…
Before he could react, before he could expect it, Hao slapped him and shoved him down as well. He took it and fell against the freezing snow, his neck screaming something awful. He couldn’t get up right away.
His breath shivery, diaphragm shaking, he lifted his upper body up. Although that actually helped, snapping the initail fear off of him.*
…There’s no talking with you, is there.
*He could feel the warning on his entire cold body, of how his blood was about to start running again. He got on his feet, roughly rubbing the snow out of his chin. He had no idea where Faust had been sent to, but the cold had pushed him to reason. He couldn’t lose it, not with this guy, not with the person who had over 3 lives and still acted like a child, like Faust had so wisely called him. He had no way to try and find him, either, with Mephisto gone as well.
He’d just have to… stick to the plan and try not to engage into a battle he’d obviously lose. Taking a deep sigh, he shook his body and released it through his hands.*
With a crack, other living things — no, other dead things — had invaded his personal space. He sneered, crossing his arms without budging from his perch on a rock jutting out of the snow. These intruders were filthy, & he felt who they were before they probably had the chance to understand where they’d landed themselves. His eyebrows narrowed as his unwanted visitors gathered their bearings. Their sentimentality was enough to make anyone sick, & that fool brother of his wasn’t even heading in the right direction to find him. Not that he particularly wanted to meet, but if he didn’t dispose of them all they’d just wander around forever, never dying because their actual bodies had already done that job for them. He snorted, exhaling shortly through his nose & standing. The demon, at least, was a nice touch. He couldn’t say he’d been expecting that, though Faust’s change of heart hadn’t been at all subtle.
He had to cut around their path in a half-spiral, though it didn’t take long as Yoh was just wandering around in blind circles with Faust joined at his hip. When Yoh actually caught a glimpse of him & called out, Hao raised one eyebrow, the sheer strength of how unimpressed he was radiating outwards & cutting through what should have been howling wind. He forced his expression blank again, drawing from the snow as a guide.
How kind of you to visit, Yoh. Now I can add breaking-&-entering to your list of charges.
The corner of his mouth twitched just barely, betraying his sense of humour. Surely there was no one around to arrest his brother, logically leaving it to Hao to dole out his punishment.
Don’t even get me started on the old man.
A sick smile started creeping across his face & he let it, locking his eyes onto Faust’s & stepping towards him. Rather than reaching to strike the necromancer’s cold skin, though, he instead grabbed Mephisto by the neck, forcefully yanking it to the ground. His gaze was still all Faust’s.
Looks like your travel agent’s as bad as your real estate broker. Your vacation was only guaranteed one-way.
His smile slowed & a look of pleasure flashed across his eyes as he took a step back from the man.
Don’t worry, though. I’ll make sure you get a round-trip.
Yoh accepted the gloves, pushing down whatever hesitance he had. Faust was glad that he didn’t try to resist; it was better to just accept the small, sweet little gestures for as long as they could make them last. Yoh clung to his arm as they trudged through the snow, pulling him along in the hopes of finding Hao. Yoh couldn’t have known exactly where they were heading, but Mephisto urged them on & Faust decided to take what he could of that moment. If he tried hard enough, he could almost pretend that maybe they’d been hit by a blizzard on a trip out of town together. It was true at least to some extent.
The wind had slowed a bit & Faust glanced up at Yoh’s utterance, his eyes fixing onto Hao’s frame. A murderous scowl tugged at his face for a moment before he shoved it away, coming closer into view. Before Faust had the chance to step between the twins, though, the older brother turned to face him head-on, a smile twisting the cold corners of his lips. He felt a flinch starting in his spine but it got cut off when Hao grabbed Mephisto instead, throwing the demon to the ground. Faust swallowed hard, staring Hao straight in the eye. It was true that he didn’t have a return plan. He’d hardly even had one to get here in the first place. Still, it should have been just as easy to jump out of Hao’s Hell as it had been to jump into it.
Leave a little room for chance, won’t you?
They could leave, they could leave as long as Mephisto didn’t get overpowered. Faust almost wanted to offer it a hand to help it climb back to its feet, but instead he kept his eyes locked on Hao. The other shaman had backed up a few steps, though it was clear he wasn’t finished with them. Of course not. Faust stared at him, trying to take a deep breath even though the cold air burned his throat. He would’ve snapped at him, but the pressure of Yoh’s hand around his arm pinned him to the spot. He wasn’t the one after Hao’s redemption, if it could even be called that. He was there for Yoh’s sake, & even if it wasn’t the best reason it was all he had.
*He was truly an idiot. A complete and utter idiot. His body grew stiff at the sound of his brother’s voice, stuck in place as if his mere look had burned him to the same level of crisp that Faust had ended up as. Idiot, idiot, idiot — this kid, this man, was no joke, and even if he had a good intent by heart, that surely meant nothing for him and would most probably never would. An idiot who hadn’t thought of the fact that they were now at the mercy of his will entirely; every single bit of that space belonged to his consciousness, and he most certainly knew that by now. The entire stage was an obligatory set-up chosen by him and they were two strange puppets thrown inside it, now cut off of any threads that could’ve lead them over enough for them to escape the flames. He was the bad guy stepping into his territory, completely overpowered, defenseless, and just royally fucked up. In what mental case of an universe had he thought he would actually listen to him and his reason for, as he put it, breaking and entering, before burning his soul out of existence?
His body started trembling wildly, his hands clenching on Faust’s arm, prey of the rushing fear, almost in a panic. He couldn’t respond to his ‘greeting’. He could only stare at him, not blinking, not once. Faust spoke in return, Mephisto getting thrown to the floor, but he couldn’t, he just couldn’t move.
Clinging to his father’s arm, begging for a way out, his breathing irregular and loud, he could feel his cold sweat against his shivering hot back. He should have realized it sooner, how the cold snow and wind reaked of resentment. He was fucked up. Royally fucked up.
And when his dead illusion-like body refused to succumb to that panic, and he found himself having let go of Faust’s arm and standing now between him and Hao, he could have sworn his heart jumped out of pure fear.
But that was that. His being was stronger than his fright, stronger than his sense of survival and self-preservation.*
Believe it or not, we haven’t come here to fight you. You’re dead, what good would that give us?
*His fear tried make him swallow his own tongue, yet he resisted. Now there was to hoping Hao would actually listen to him, for once.*
Alright, y’alls, the time is coming! We’ll be starting in an hour (at 7 pm U.S. CST, GMT -6). We’ll be watching the first few episodes of Shaman King & generally just having a nice time, so you all should come! People new to the series are welcomed & heartily encouraged to join us, as we then can have yet another thing to enjoy together. SPREAD THE WORD! THIS IS GOING TO BE A REGULAR THING, SO WE WANT TO HAVE FUN WITH WHOEVER FEELS LIKE JOINING IN THE DERPY FESTIVITIES!
See you there~!
It’s tonight, people!! Come join us!! :D
Yoh let himself trail off on the specifics of the ‘plan.’ There wasn’t a clear place to start anyway. Everything looked basically the same — snow, ice, hail, wind, & mountains spiking far too high to just brush against the stratosphere. Faust shielded his eyes with one hand, looking down to see a smile slowly spreading across Yoh’s freezing face.
“I’m starting to think he looks like he could actually be related to you, Arzt..!”
Mephisto cackled, bumping Faust in the back with its elbow. Yoh quickly hid his purpling lips behind Faust’s scarf, which he had managed to procure from his pocket. The boy dug his fingers into the fabric as well, trying to retain whatever warmth he could. For a moment Faust started to question if they could really freeze to death if their bodies had already gone cold, but giving in to the temptation to test his logic would only lead to an acceptance of both their deaths. He pushed the question down, giving Yoh a soft smile instead.
Of course you can wear it. It’s yours…
He reached for the ends of the scarf, carefully tying them into a more secure knot. Yoh needed it now more than he ever would. The doctor dug in his pockets for a moment, pulling out his winter gloves. He hadn’t worn them since the day they’d had the snowball fight…
Put these on too. We don’t know how long we’ll be wandering around here.
He pulled at Yoh’s hand, putting the gloves in his palm & sandwiching them all between his own hands. Giving Yoh’s fingers a small squeeze, he smiled down at him. He could take whatever he needed from him. Faust wouldn’t ever mind.
*The air froze against his entire body. He was sure Faust was trembling too. But he wouldn’t shrug his gift away — if he did, he would end up doing more harm than help. So, he put on the gloves, didn’t protest, and walked beside him.*
*His cheeks warmed up with a small smile as the strong winds forced him to cling to the man’s arm. The weather was dangerous, and they could fall of a cliff if they weren’t cautious enough, but he wasn’t afraid. Not anymore.
He directed where they walked. He followed his hunch, which was the right thing to do, according to Mephistopheles. Actually, he didn’t care if the demon strolled with them. Whenever he remembered the fact, he just clung tighter to Faust, to make sure they were both still safe.
He slowly started to remember how his heartbeat was, against Faust’s arm…*
*The snow was slowly getting deeper and softer. He remembered that meant it was fresh, so they were closing on the origin of the hailstorm. He squeezed Faust’s arm once and nodded to him, not risking to freeze the inside of his mouth. He was sure Faust would understand.
They kept walking, even though it proved to be harder with every step. Until they hit a spot where the wind wasn’t punching their faces.
He dared to look up and try to see something between all the whiteness… and, to his surprise, he found a too-familiar cloak.*
He heard a scream ripping through the air & tried to reach out towards it, his arm going numb where Mephisto still held a tight grip on it. Yoh found him & grabbed his hand too tight. Faust felt the bones in his fingers get crushed to the threshold of snapping until they broke, one, two, three of them. Instinctively his throat tried to scream but it was so closed-up that only a pained groan came out, forcing his muscles to spasm him into the fetal position. He lay there, all crushed fingers & searing arm & face freezing into the snow. When he could open his eyes they were just blinded by the muffling white spread all around them. The wind pushed & shoved at his clothes, pelting his shaking body with hail. He was… almost surprised, in a way, though he didn’t really know what he’d been expecting. Everything about Hao was burning, always flaming, even the way that he looked at people — like they were just pieces of tinder. Faust shuddered harder & Mephisto yanked him upright, following after Yoh. The boy stumbled & the doctor felt his own steps going too painfully wobbly to keep himself up. He half-fell, planting himself in the snow near Yoh & forcing his arms to hold him in a sitting position. He hissed when his broken fingers curled into a chunk of ice. It was freezing.
It’s a getaway…
It wasn’t just an escape from humanity — it was an escape from everything that set Hao apart from them. It was a vacation from the fire, a trip away from himself. No one could cloud his judgement if he was completely sealed off from life itself. Faust’s throat closed up & he doubled over, thankful that he was already on the ground. If he’d hit his head again it could have taken him out permanently. Mephisto crouched behind him, propping his back with its knee.
“Someone’s got a better real estate agent than you, old man.”
Faust made a move to protest but the demon grabbed his broken hand, pushing it over his heart so that it could force his other hand on top. It held onto the doctor’s wrists, sandwiching his snapped fingers between his uninjured palm & his chest. The bones cracked slowly into place & Faust flinched. His head started to clear, though, & he let himself lean back against Mephisto’s leg, mumbling a little.
I’d fire you if I could…
It snickered & gave him a small push, nudging him to get back up. He slowly got to his feet, trying to stave off his body’s desire to sway. Stepping towards Yoh, he rested a hand on the boy’s shoulder as gently as he could without getting it knocked off by a stray ball of hail.
We still running planless, son?
*”It’s a getaway…”, Faust muttered. His eyes widened for just an instant. They slowly fell down to the snow next to his feet, his hands gripping themselves into frustrated fists…
Faust got up with Mephisto’s help, sort of, and fell on his knees. It had taken him a long time to get a strong enough of a grip to do so himself, so he tried helping Faust by supporting his elbow and pulling him up.*
Come on, old man… We gotta start moving or we’ll freeze.
*They couldn’t die, but freezing and be lost for all eternity wasn’t an option he’d ever consider.
Afterwards, he scratched his neck before thinking of a proper answer.*
For the plan, I guess it’s pretty straight-forward from here; we find him. And then…
*His throat psychologically sore already, his fingers slowed down all of a sudden, and his lips, also turning kind of purple, sketched a smile. He started digging in his pockets, mumbling to himself:*
I know I took it… I didn’t want it to get lost in the fire— ah!
*His smile broadened and he took out Faust’s scarf…
He surrounded his own neck with it, hiding his cold fingers between the folds. He had summoned it on his own will.*
Is it okay if I wear it…?
Yoh rubbed his forehead on Faust’s chest & the doctor exhaled slowly, allowing himself the luxury of that sigh. He would take whatever comfort he could, hoping it would pass onto his son. Even without their hearts, they still shared a pulse, whatever it may have been built from. A memory, perhaps, or a wish.
Faust held on tight to Yoh’s hand, squeezing it once before fixing the other on the upper portion of his opposite arm. Mephisto hugged Faust’s shoulders from behind, hooking its fingers just beneath his throat. A snap, then a thundercrack, & the graveyard vanished, red sky & robbed grave & broken boy with it. Faust didn’t open his eyes to see it all disappear. His stomach lurched & his feet landed with a crunch. His entire body cringed & he fell away from Yoh, his face crushing into hard snow. He tried to look for him but the dizziness wracking through more than just his head almost made him black out. A hand too hot to be anyone but Mephisto’s settled over his arm, trying to pull him up. He couldn’t move. Every nerve ending in his body was screaming like it’d been ripped open & gutted. Tears sprung to the corners of his eyes & he could do nothing to stop them, couldn’t even reach to wipe them away. Everything was cold, freezing over, everything but the demon’s hand wrapped tight around his arm. When he finally could manage a shallow breath, he spent it on a weak cry, his eyes still trapped shut.
Yoh… where… Yoh…
He gripped Faust’s hand tight and pressed his eyes shut, trying to remain calm, but keeping his body reactive, and at the same time wondering if he should have done it the other way around. He didn’t want to see the wall of fire again. Or maybe he should, figuring he should think of the wild fire that reminded him so well of his deadly older twin brother, even if he was actually running towards him.
He had no time to overthink, though, as Mephisto did the same jump thing, and, in less than a second, he felt as his entire body was sucked out, leaving his insides out. His hand stopped feeling anything but pain and he fell, void of strength to hold up any of his muscles. Excruciating cold burned his skin once he hit the ground, almost choking on his own vomit as he found it near impossible to turn his head. His skin reacted to the freezing before the hurt even started to decline, making him shiver and recoil in agonizing pain as he felt every muscle and sinew snap and bleed out in spasms. Dying, same suffering as dying, every part of his body and soul howling as they should be fading into darkness but weren’t, for he was surrounded by brightness…
He couldn’t hear anything but a cracked beep, feel nothing but the cold wrinkling away his touch, yet he still tried to open his eyes and finally become aware of his surroundings. Under him, white mass. Over him, a hail that didn’t help him at all with catching his breath.
When he located Faust, he flopped hardly on his stomach and crawled to him, screaming as his body split in two but not really, grabbing hold of his hand too tightly. Any other touch would make both of them burn as if Mephisto had taken a hold of them instead.
Standing up after his whole body exploded in parts, stumbling, no life force in his arms, he stared at the mountains in front of them, panting quietly. Why was it cold, if it was supposed to be the after-domain of the Fire Spirit’s master shaman…?
“Is… That’s against my religion, isn’t it.”
Maybe it wasn’t even entirely funny, but Faust couldn’t help smirking at that. He squeezed Yoh’s hand, earnestly looking him in the eye.
Honestly, I think it’s against everyone’s religion.
The boy stepped closer, pushing aside his hesitation. His faith was resting in Faust’s hands. He, too, was willing to make that leap, whatever it meant they were jumping towards. The doctor’s smile softened, hinging on what would have been a sad note if he knew a way to vocally express it. He gave Yoh’s hand another squeeze, glancing over at Mephisto.
You got jumped in here, didn’t you? Wherever you landed, it was outside the lock. Mephisto’s the one who set it up, so it knows how to get through them…
The demon raised its eyebrows, stepping back towards Faust & resting a hand over his arm, almost delicately.
“I can get you through, easy. All you have to do is know it, & know exactly what you want.”
It leaned towards Yoh, still hanging off of Faust’s arm. It blinked its eyes a few centimetres from his face, staring straight into him. Its voice dropped so it was just above a hoarse whisper, analyzing the boy.
“The connection could be closer, but for a starting point it’s good enough that you’re brothers.”
The demon pulled away, cracking its neck as it stood up straight beside Faust again. It hooked an arm around the doctor’s elbow, leaning into him.
“I’ll be escorting Papa like a gentleman. You’ll just have to hang on tight because I’m not allowed to touch you, Junge.”
It scratched a fingernail in the air just in front of Yoh’s face, cackling until Faust elbowed it again. His glare silenced it & it sulked, clinging to his arm.
It… it’s not going to feel good, I’m sorry. It’ll probably make you sick again, & probably worse than last time because we’re moving from one Hell to another.
He swallowed hard & shook the demon off, pulling Yoh into his arms one more time. He bit his lip & dug his face in his hair, holding his back & hugging him tight. Even if these weren’t their real bodies, he wasn’t going to let himself forget what it felt like to have Yoh close, just as he couldn’t let himself forget the sound of his son’s heartbeat. He murmured something into his hair, rubbing his back.
Always waste time on a hug.
“Otherwise you’ll always regret it.”
*He reduced his reactions to nods and shakes when needed. He felt he had nothing else to add. As soon as Mephisto approached them again, his blood started running faster again, eyes opening wide, throat drying. If he had had a heart, he was sure he would have it racing. He would’ve gotten more scared if Faust hadn’t stopped him like a mere dog.
He took his hand to his neck at the warning, swallowing hard. Throwing up even harder wasn’t a pretty thought at all…*
*Faust embraced him without notice, as warmly as he remembered he did when their hearts were beating…*
*He closed his eyes, releasing a sigh. He hugged Faust back, rubbing his forehead on his chest. It didn’t matter to him if it felt hollow or not. Right now, he was hugging his Pops.
Everything would be okay.
Squeezing him one last time, he parted the hug, smiling to him, holding his hand once again.*
When he turned back to Yoh, the boy was shaking. His fingernails dug a little harder into his palms & he tried to swallow, his head drooped. Yoh stared him straight in the eye, though, & he couldn’t look away. He was playing it tough, but his point was still sincere. He even smiled, just the slightest amount, when Yoh repeated his own words back to him. Again. They were always cycling through each other. No matter how many times it was said, the statement never lost any of its power or veracity — the apple not only didn’t, it couldn’t fall far from the tree.
“Even if we have time on our side, it doesn’t mean we can afford getting lost in an infinity of hurt.”
The demon pushed itself to a sitting position, rubbing its jaw. It stared at Faust’s feet, its own toes twitching, like it knew it’d only take one kick to trip him up. Still, it sat in silence, waiting for the other two to come to the conclusion it was waiting for.
“If you don’t wanna let me go, come with me. I still have no idea how to get there.”
Faust felt Yoh’s hand curl around his fist, holding him tight. They stood there for a minute, anchored like that. The earth, even if it wasn’t real, didn’t stop turning. Faust opened his eyes & looked down at Yoh, clearing his throat.
I’ll take that leap of faith. Only for you.
He held his other hand over Yoh’s, sparing him a small smile. The boy was right. They did have all the time in the world, that just didn’t have to mean they were free to waste it. Faust bit his tongue, glancing back over his shoulder.
I’m afraid I do have an idea, though…
Mephisto snapped to its feet, wrapping an arm over Faust’s shoulders. It tapped his jaw with one of its fingers, grinning wide.
“You’ve gotta teach the kid, Arzt. He still doesn’t know the key, does he?”
It flicked a finger to Yoh’s chest, jabbing at where the key to Faust’s house hung from around his neck.
“Not that one.”
Faust scowled & kicked it in the shin. Its hands recoiled from Yoh & it hissed at the doctor, its eyes flickering hot red.
I told you not to touch him. That hasn’t changed.
Mephisto rolled its eyes in response, clouding them back down to a deeper shade. It crossed its arms over its chest, glaring at Yoh. Faust patted the boy’s hand, trying to draw his attention back to his face, rather than the sour look the demon was shooting at him.
Mephisto’s going to get us out. I think that can be done, that we can jump. The shortest cut for conjuring is to pray devoutly to the prince of hell.
“& guess who we’ve got on hand.”
The demon rubbed its hands together, licking its lips. Faust shook his head, trying to ignore it.
I don’t know how safe it is, but I don’t know how much that matters here anyway… unless you have another idea, I think it’s our best option.
*Faust swore he’d take the leap with him — for him — and that brought a sincere smile upon his face, relieved that once again Faust knew for sure he wanted to get out. Faustrested his other hand over the two, and he could finally sigh.*
*However, he didn’t quite expect for Faust to know a way out of the time-lock, less even from the cementery they were in.
Mephisto jumped up and hugged Faust’s shoulders, making him jump right back a step, once again standing guard. It pushed his key, making it burn instantly and almost digging it in his ribs, pushing a grunt out of him. Not even a moment later, Faust kicked it down again. He could still feel the key burning over his chest, and his glaring didn’t help at all — as if taking his own eyes out of his would burn his skull with pure hatred…
Gladly, that wasn’t the case, and Faust brought his attention back, even if a bit startled. He explained Mephisto would be providing an exit, and a way to Hao.
He stared back and forth between the demon and the doctor, unsure whether to really ask or to whom.*
Is… That’s against my religion, isn’t it.
*His hand instinctively tugged at Faust’s, taking a step closer.*
…We have no other choice, I think. Hell isn’t the best place to stroll around, worst if looking for a particular one…
*He stared into Faust’s eyes, and, after a pause, slowly nodded.*
What do we do, then?
Faust’s head dropped & he smiled sadly to himself. Of course it was never his aim to be a hypocrite, but the advice he kept finding he had to throw at Yoh would have done him good to hear himself. He’d said it all on his own — he was the king of fools & bad decisions. Impulsivity went hand-in-hand with that. Yoh chuckled & Faust stared at their hands, loosely locked together. He felt the boy’s fingers tense as he took a deep breath, his back straightening as he prepared himself to launch. It was dangerous to live entirely for oneself, that was true. There was even a certain kind of selfishness in carrying out any sort of action in the name of your loved ones. His entire reason for entering the Shaman Fight was selfish. No one else on Earth had the sort of attachment to Eliza that he had. His reasons for fighting had shifted slightly, but he was still in the game only for her & only for Yoh. Maybe there was a bit of an ache for self-redemption mixed in there, but he’d never let that come to the forefront. That was only the main point when it came to his penance, & he tried to leave that unspoken until his mind twisted in his skull so terribly that he found himself in a place like this. Hell was what he made of it, but still he couldn’t let it go.
“That’s all I really need — To know that I can keep moving forward.”
Yoh was true to himself, even when he thought he’d nearly drowned in doubt. Faust met his eyes & choked a smile back at him. There was always a way back. Yoh would always come around.
It sounds — gnh-!
Mephisto snapped to Faust’s side & yanked on the back of his collar, the sudden tug tightening his shirt over his throat & choking him. The demon crouched next to him & the doctor took a hand back from Yoh & shot an elbow into its gut. It exhaled sharply but disguised it quickly behind a laugh.
“Come on, Johann, it’s not my fault you two chase each other’s tails in circles whenever your mouths start running. There’s only so much I can take.”
It hugged him from behind, pinning his arms to his sides & resting its chin over his shoulder. Faust scowled but didn’t try to shake it off.
We don’t exist for your entertainment.
“Sure you do. What else is there?”
The demon jabbed his sides with its long fingers, digging its nose on his neck. Faust rocked slowly to one side & then pulled back quickly, flinging Mephisto off his shoulder. It rolled into the dirt, lying there & snickering once it came to a stop. Faust moved to get between it & Yoh. Of course it had gotten bored. Of course it didn’t want him to say —
“If everything’s as alright as you want to think it is then you’ll have plenty of time to cry it out later, won’t you? So why do you insist on getting everything out in the open now? You’re so fucking scared that you’re wrong because it’d mean you were wrong about everything. You’re just dragging it out because you don’t wanna say goodbye.”
Faust pushed himself to his feet & kicked Mephisto squarely in the jaw.
His fingers curled into his palms & his head dropped before he turned back around to face Yoh.
*He was so willing to hear what Faust had to say, maybe believing he’d finally come around, but, instead, the chance got shot and he jumped to try and aid him as Mephisto called out his boredom. The more Mephisto yanked Faust, the closer he moved towards them, getting up and breathing quickly, readying himself to attack if—when needed.
Faust, however, got tired of it first, shaking the demon away, and getting between the two. Only then, he realized he had been trembling the entire time, his breath cold as ice.*
*His whispering cry for help got cut by Faust’s kick. Faust turned to him after that, apologizing… So he swallowed hard.*
*He took one deep breath, clenching his fists, tightening his back, frowning a little. After that, he stared right into Faust’s eyes.*
I know that it’s difficult, that it’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do… but it’s possible: you need to understand that it’s not your fault.
*He stood strong, gripping his fists tight. Then, he stared at the demon.*
Mephisto’s right. Even if we have time on our side, it doesn’t mean we can afford getting lost in an infinity of hurt.
*Turning back to Faust, he took half a step towards him and held one of his fists strongly.*
If you don’t wanna let me go, come with me. I still have no idea how to get there.