Author's Notes: …Yup. I hadn’t originally planned to, but after the subject was embedded into my mind I have been forced to turn this into a multiparter. Thanks so much to Masamune (I appreciate the intelligent input very much) and Eli_evermore (wow… I have a rabid fan… *feels special*) for reviewing the story; and thanks to Koorime of Noire Sensus for sending me an e-mail about it (this is the first time I’ve ever gotten an offer for my stories to be hosted somewhere, and it made me feel rather honored).
This part takes place the same time as the last; roughly a year after Clover 4. Ran, I hypothesize, would be about the age (perhaps a little younger) he’s shown as in Clover 3.
Part II - Mumbled Conversation
“What is it?”
“Huh?” Startled by the sudden noise, he whipped his head upward, only to come face-to-face with Gingetsu’s stoic glance. He sighed. “…Oh. Nothing.”
The older man watched him for a second more. Ran imagined that under that visor his eyes would be narrowed with suspicion; but, alas, he could see nothing through the painfully-opaque shield. He sighed again.
“Something’s wrong,” the man concluded.
“Oh- ah- no!” the boy exclaimed in a flustered haze, sitting up fully and shaking his head. “I- I’m alright. I was just… thinking, that’s all.”
“…Nothing important,” he replied vaguely. At this, Gingetsu gave him another odd stare; he let out another sigh in response. “Honest. If there was something wrong, you’d be the first one I’d tell it to.”
“Something is wrong.” Abandoning his post at the doorway, the boy’s caretaker walked over to him.
“It’s really nothing important,” the youth insisted again, blushing faintly as the older man sat down next to him on the couch. “You... ah… it’s nothing you should worry about.”
“Is it about me?”
The sudden question caught Ran by surprise; sending Gingestu a short glance, he shook his head.
“Is it about you?”
The boy blinked.
“Is it the weather?”
He cocked his head.
“…Why would it be the weather?”
“Is it about the bird that flew into the front window yesterday?”
Ran sent Gingetsu a positively odd look before shaking his head again.
“You want a girlfriend, then?”
The stare Gingetsu got at this comment was the longest, most bewildered one yet; but it was immediately followed by a sudden burst of chuckling as Ran nestled himself next to his older companion.
“You do have a sense of humor,” he accused playfully, looking up at the man with an affectionate glance. Gingetsu just glanced back at him, his tone emotionless as always.
“I do not.”
“Yes you do!” Ran insisted. “You just keep trying to hide it because if people knew they wouldn’t be afraid of you.”
Gingetsu watched the boy sitting beside him for a single, almost warm moment before transitioning topics.
“…Will you tell me what’s bothering you?”
Ran gave him a short, reproachful glance; then, letting out his fourth sigh of the day, nodded.
“Fine. It’s…” He paused.
“…I was thinking about A,” he admitted heavily
“A?” Gingetsu repeated in faint surprise. “…Your brother?”
The boy nodded, his face clouding over with an expression of melancholy. Gingetsu waited to see if he’d say anything before making another comment.
“You’re lonely, then?” he guessed. Ran glanced up at him before slowly shaking his head.
“…No… You’re all the company I need…” the boy paused again. “…But…”
“…I’m not your brother,” Gingetsu finished.
“…Yeah.” Ran sunk into the couch with a small frown. “He’s lonely.”
“How do you know?”
“I… hear him,” he explained, his eyes fixed somewhere on the hardwood floor of the sitting room. “In my head. He, myself, and B- we all shared a psychic connection, ever since the beginning. There hasn’t been a day of my life I haven’t heard one of their thoughts…”
“Couldn’t you talk to him like that?” Gingetsu inquired, glancing down. “Just through your mind?”
“…If I wanted to, yes,” he admitted. “He’s been trying to get in touch with me.”
“Do you miss him?”
“…Of course.” The boy looked up. “He’s my brother.”
“Why don’t you talk back to him, then?”
Ran took a few seconds to respond to this one; sighing heavily for the fifth time, he leaned back into the older man’s side.
“…I can never go back to the cage,” he admitted. Gingetsu nodded.
“I don’t want to- there’s no way I could stay with him for any longer than I did. Things were getting… dangerous.”
“I… get this feeling... that the more I’m around A, the more… possessive he gets. You saw how far he went. I couldn’t stay around him any longer.” The boy paused. “…I thought that if I tried to talk back it would just… encourage him; so I’ve been ignoring him. I figured that if I was silent for long enough… that maybe he’d stop trying. Maybe he’d forget about me.”
“But he hasn’t.”
“No…” Ran’s voice was filled with a melancholy guilt. “A’s so lonely… He wants me to come back. But he doesn’t understand…” He looked up with a hopeless glance. “It’s all my fault, isn’t it?”
Silence. The boy attempted to glance at the older man’s face.
“Do you want to think that?” The response was a very typical Gingetsu one; short, clipped, liable to take one by complete surprise. It was the kind of thing that one would need to ponder for a second in order to realize what he was referring to.
“Do you want to think that?” the man repeated. Ran watched him for a second in mild bewilderment then slowly shook his head.
“What do you want?”
A mild break from the routine. The boy stared up at him once more in faint surprise, taking a second to think.
“I want…” He paused. “I want to see A. Just once more- I… want to say goodbye.”
Gingetsu looked down at him and, for a fraction of a second, the younger of the two could have sworn that their eyes had met.
“…Then do as you like.”
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