Zero awoke to an empty room. He was still damp from his shower and shivering despite the regulated temperature in the room. It was another of those dreams, the ones that had lately been waking his roommate. He could barely remember them. There was just a vague memory of silhouettes, but it wasn't the visions that woke him. It was the feelings. The feeling of utter terror. The pain that throbbed throughout his body. It was those things that yanked him from rest with a terrified scream halfway out of his throat. It was those dreams that left him shuddering and sweating and chilled to his very soul. It was those dreams that plagued him, that kind that woke him up to either inquisitive red eyes or empty rooms.
Lately, Hiead had been unnerving him by his sudden interest. Zero often fought back hysterical fits as he found himself under the scrutiny of his roommate. At last count Hiead had hated him but suddenly it was as if the air that he breathed was interesting to Hiead. Could it be...did he suspect? Or was it something else? He wasn't sure what scared him more, the thought of him knowing, or the thought of him actually taking some strange interest. It was all a mystery. Everything about Hiead was a mystery. Like his whereabouts. Zero again looked around the empty room, feeling quite unnerved to be left alone in the room.
Watching the shadows warily, Zero got out of bed. He was halfway to the bathroom when he heard the door slide open. He was almost turned around when a strong hand clamped over his mouth and pulled him back into a hard chest.
"If you make a sound, I'll break your neck." Hot breath burned his neck as the threat was issued. There was no doubt in his mind who was standing behind him, even if his harsh words hadn't given him away, Zero would have known the clammy feel of Azuma's callused hands anywhere. That same feel haunted his dreams, sent shivers down his spine when he least expected, and not in a good way. They made him feel dirty. They were to be feared, and right now, he was scared out of his mind. Azuma had hurt him many times before, but he'd never threatened his life.
Azuma dragged him over to the nearest bed and threw him down on it, quickly coming behind and straddling Zero's much smaller body, making it hard for Zero to breath properly. He wheezed, taking a shuddering gasp of air and instantly recognizing Hiead's scent on the sheets. He breathed again, using the familiar scent to calm himself rather than struggling uselessly with the larger and stronger man. His heart raced as he fought to stay calm. Why was he here? He'd never risked coming to his room before. What had changed?
"You told," Azuma hissed. "You told didn't you." He pressed Zero down into the bed.
Zero struggled, trying not to allow his face to be pressed completely in the mattress. "No!"
"You told. They've come for me. But don't you worry, I took care of them. Now we have time. Time for me to teach you the price." Zero turned his head to see the instructor's fist fly towards his head. There was a flash of darkness mixed with pain so sharp his body was frozen in shock before a cloud of white swallowed him whole.
Hiead sat completely still in his chair, eyes fixed firmly on Colonel Tezuka in an intense staring match. Clay fidgeted in his seat, trying not to look at the Colonel or Hiead. He was feeling very uncomfortable in the silence. He just wanted something to happen to end the tension that he felt buzzing in his head. What happened was not what he expected.
One minute Hiead was staring down the Colonel. The next minute, he was on his feet. With an angry roar he disappeared in an astonishingly bright flash of EX energy. Clay blinked and looked up at the Colonel who looked quite surprised himself. They were drawn from their shock by a sharp buzz.
"Colonel! Instructor Azuma has slipped his guard. We have security forces sweeping the halls. Orders sir?"
Tezuka jumped out of his chair, reaching the same conclusion that was making Clay's face pale. "Send a team to the freshmen candidates hall immediately! I want Candidate 88 in my offices and under guard now! Search all rooms and observation rooms. I want Azuma found!"
Azuma's head shot up. He turned from the console he'd been adjusting, eyes wild as he spotted Hiead.
"Where is Zero?" the boy demanded, stalking slowly towards the older man.
An out of place grin slid onto Azuma's sweating face. "I am teaching him a lesson Candidate."
"What have you done with him?" Hiead snarled. He moved closer to the instructor, watching warily as he pressed a flashing button on the console.
A calm mechanical voice filled the air, sounding completely emotionless, but managing to send chills down Hiead's spine. "Pod launched."
"He'll learn his lesson now," Azuma panted, watching as the small funeral pod passed the view port. "He'll learn to pilot that craft to the end of the stars. He'll learn not to disobey."
"Monster!" Hiead yelled, leaping towards the crazed instructor. Azuma struck out, deflecting Hiead's blow. They grappled for a moment before Azuma used his superior weight to throw the boy away from him. Hiead crouched low in a defensive position. As Azuma stalked towards him, a wave of disorientation swept over Hiead. He closed his eyes and fought sudden nausea. "Zero." The whisper fell from his lips before Azuma struck. Hiead's eyes opened, focusing on the instructor. A flair of EX stopped the man in his tracks.
Azuma's eyes widened as he was completely frozen by the boy's power. If he could have moved, he would have trembled in fear of the angel of hell standing before him with eyes blazing like fire and glowing hair flowing like a halo around his head. He was suddenly like a small helpless animal staring down a deadly predator. Eye contact was broken when a surge of power sent Azuma flying back into a wall. He slid down in a heap, eyes still staring, terrified at the glowing boy.
Another wave of terror attempted to overtake Hiead, and he knew, even as he fought it down, that it came from Zero, trapped inside the tiny funeral capsule, watching the space that terrified him so, fly by. With his EX he reached towards the other boy, sending comfort, holding onto his being. Concentrating, he extended himself, sending out his spirit, his heart, wrapping himself around the tattered boy, who scratched bloody fingers at the unyielding plexiglass. He sent warmth, cocooning the boy, before he drew him slowly back, pulling ever so gently until there was a warm body in his arms.
Frightened violet eyes looked up into Hiead's face. "H-Hiead?"
"Are...are you real?" Bleeding fingers reached up to tentatively caress Hiead's cheek.
"Yes. You're safe now Zero. I promise."
Next --> Shelter