Faust shook his head a bit, watching Hao’s face as the boy got more irritated. The other shaman was angry; Faust couldn’t successfully talk him down now. He wasn’t done, though, not yet, & something compelled him to speak, despite the futility of the wish.
It’s not very fair of you to pry when you won’t let anyone into your own head, Hao. It’d be nice if you could find somebody you could trust, even just one person. That’s all you need, really.
Hao turned & crossed back to Mari. Faust squeezed his crossed arms a little tighter to his chest, lifting his voice enough that he could still be heard over the fire & the distance Hao had put between them.
But, no, I won’t lecture you. It’s not my place, is it? I’m not your father, nor your friend — I’m nothing, I’m the dead man, inconsequential. I’m aware of that. Almost to the point where it pains me.
The doctor rested his eyes for a moment, closing them to block out the flames searing up around them. At its first flares, fire was always so bright, but in the end it only left behind ashes & the charred mass of whatever had been torn to the ground. He blinked a few times, trying to keep his eyes clear of the stinging smoke.
You refuse to believe that anyone would be willing to understand the extent of your suffering. You act as though no one could ever come close, & that’s why they can’t, Hao. Your faith in them is worse than lacking, whereas their faith in you has driven the humanity from their thick skulls.
Faust held out his arms, letting his head drop.
Alas, my boy, I am a human, powerless, defenseless, & vile. That wretched thing that beats inside my chest drives me to a purpose never nearly as high as destruction, as extermination.
He laughed gently when the other shaman challenged him, the flicker of a dare bursting from Hao’s lips. The doctor’s face fell immediately at Yoh’s name, though, & he swallowed hard, an icy chill creeping down his back despite the heat from the growing fire.
”..and make him suffer.”
The cold shiver seemed to wrap itself around his spine & snap him forward, suddenly shooting him off into an unfocused panic. If his brain had had time to think he’d have wanted to scream, but there was no room for that between the few steps he took & the actual moment of impact. His body moved before his mind could process what was going on. His mental capacities failing in this short burst made way for his blind instinct to smash its way through the protective walls of his reasoning. They were crumbling as it was, trapped in a constant state of disrepair, torn down shortly after each healing moment he was able to steal. He was running on fumes & he knew that, he was aware of it every, every minute, every second but this one. Someone’s fist rammed into the back of Hao’s neck, someone heard the bones crack & snap as the base bent too far in the wrong direction, someone recognized that the fiercest flames deserted the house in favour of the invitation of flesh, someone saw Marion tossed to the ground like just another doll from the force of the concentrated blast —
Faust found himself suddenly aware of the feeling of his skin burning, roasting again again again but harsher this time, like the fire was trying to carve its way into his chest through his ribs, crash through his neck to crush his windpipe, eat away at his face in the hopes of breaking his jaw. This fire was real & it was alive & his heart faltered for what should have been one beat, two, three before he hit the ground, smashing into it & screaming as his burning shoulder slammed against the grass that was now covered with slush instead of snow. Tilted slightly on his side & physically incapable of turning away, Faust stared at the body beside him, Hao’s body, Hao’s corpse. He tried to open his mouth but his breath just rasped in his throat, ash scraping against his insides. He tried to reach a hand out to his son’s twin, but the movement only helped to tear new holes in his skin. His stomach gave a sickening lurch & his heart followed it, tripping out of sync with the rest of his body. His eyes narrowed as he tried to keep them trained on Hao’s dead form, despite the blackness that was pushing in around the edges of his vision. ”You’d say that no dream can live while the others survive. But anyone would do anything for the sake of self-preservation. If they’re sickly human enough, they might even sacrifice themselves to defend the dreams of those they love.” His heart gave another shudder & his body followed suit, shaking the rest of the firelight from view, & in another moment he was gone.
Lyserg was dreaming, a sad dream full of…nothing, in a way. Maybe it was because Jeanne had left to go visit the X-Laws, since Marco had wanted her back because of the whole Hao thing. Lyserg had wanted to go with her, but he was still somewhat afraid of messing up when he was around her…not to mention that Marco would slaughter him if the metaphorical cat got out of the bag.
In any case, Lyserg’s dreams were hazy, and scenes appeared in front of him only to crumble and disappear. His dream-self felt troubled, of course…but the haziness began to morph, becoming darker…and a smell began to fill his nostrils…
His eyes shot open.
He shot straight up, and he felt dizzy for a moment, but he quickly shook it off. He looked to Jeanne’s bed, but she wasn’t there, and Lyserg remembered after a moment that she was gone. His extreme worry turned to pure relief, and he took a breath, only to have the taste and smell of the smoke remind him that his life was in danger, too.
He stood up and grabbed his bag of belongings—thank God he had never actually unpacked—and he made sure Morphine was with him before he rushed out of his room.
“Is there anyone up here, Morphine?” His spirit shook her head, and he ran to the stairs, rushing down the steps. He was sweating from the heat, and coughing from the smoke, and it wasn’t until then, when he didn’t have anything else to worry about, that he realized that the fire had to have started from something.
Angered now, he rushed out of the house, moving to form oversoul, and then—
He wasn’t really aware of what exactly happened. It was a lot of movement, and a flash, and fire, and someone was dead—it was Hao, it was Hao, IT WAS HAO, Hao was dead, Lyserg felt so relieved, so happy, so—and someone was on the ground, on fire—
“You think I don’t know what a lovesick boy looks like..?”
“You put alcohol in the eggnog, didn’t you.”
“Lyserg… I know it’s not really my place, but if you want to talk it out with me, you can. I’ll listen & we can try to put your mind at ease…”
He rushed over to Faust, dropping his bag and pulling his shirt off over his head. He flapped the shirt over Faust and hit the doctor with the shirt, trying to beat out the flames. He had to save Faust—Hao was dead, Hao didn’t matter right now—tears formed in Lyserg’s eyes, Faust could be dead—Hao was dead—Faust needed his help…!