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13 October 2009 @ 10:35 pm
xxxholic; barcode, part ix, kimihiro, doumeki, kyle, yasha, R  
fandom: xxxHOLiC
story: barcode
summary: like anyone else who does not have a soul, you cannot stand anyone who has too much of one [doumeki, watanuki, violence, creepiness, weirdness]
notes/warnings: shoot me now. I know it's been ten months. the reveal you've all been waiting for, more Watanuki in withdrawal, Kyle being a bastard. The usual.

part one
part two
part three
part four
part five
part six
part seven
part eight



He sleeps. Every once in a while broth drips into his mouth and he can’t swallow, but someone rubs his throat until he does. A few sips later and he sleeps again.

Who knows how long it is before Shizuka finally returns to the living, but he wakes because his ribs are throbbing as the nanomachines set them and he knows.

Knows who It looks like.

His mind is earily clear, so much so that he remembers things he’s never remembered before, clearer than it’s ever been. And he’s certain.

“Kimihiro.” He shakes him. “Kimihiro.

“Whaa—fuck.” His eye is redrimmed and he suddenly leans to the side and throws up. “Need a hit, Ni,” he mutters, and retches again, but nothing comes out. Shizuka rubs his back. He looks up at Shizuka dazedly. He’s trembling. “Feel better?”

Shizuka nods, and his vision fuzzes. Odd. He shakes his head, but instead of his eyesight clearing, it gets worse. “What,” he says, and Kimihiro looks at him.

“You all right?” Kimihiro’s voice isn’t just hoarse, but muffled. But nothing covers his mouth. His lips are chapped, gnawed bloody.

There’s a sour taste in his mouth.

“Why’d you wake me up, Shizuka?” Ichi (no, that’s not right, there’s another word for him) asks slowly.

“I know—“ he can’t remember. He can’t remember anything. “Ichi…”

Kimihiro blinks and gags. “You haven’t called me that in—“

“Don’t remember,” he says.

Heavy, he’s so heavy—can’t move—

--

Great. Just great.

Shizuka’s drugged with something, but it might be different than Kimihiro’s drugs, than the drugs they’d been given on jobs. His body is limp, heavy, and his eyes are dilated and dazed. “I…chi,” he murmurs, and frowns. “Feel…heavy…”

“I know,” Kimihiro says. “Here, c’mon, sit up, you can lean ‘gainst the wall.” He helps Shizuka over. It’s been almost a week, and he’s noticeably thinner than before, but the bruises on his torso are almost gone. Kimihiro sets his hand just below Shizuka’s pectoral muscle and feels something beneath the skin shifting just slightly beneath his fingers, signs of the nanomachines working.

“Odd,” Shizuka whispers as he settles against the wall, drops his head on Kimihiro’s shoulder. “Feel odd.”

Kimihiro can’t stop shaking. His stomach growls, but then he’s not kept anything down for the past week, so it’s not like nothing would change now.

Goddamn, Kyle.

fuck.

--

One day Kimihiro feels a little better and then the next he wants a hit more than ever. It happens twice, a third time, and then he realizes: they’re keeping him in withdrawal.

They drug Shizuka now, and Kyle smirks whenever he comes in, watching Shizuka slow and lethargic and stupid from the drugs, trying so hard to remember something but never quite getting there.

It takes a while, but eventually Shizuka forgets what he was trying to remember, and then they stop drugging him.

It hasn’t acted up recently, except It acts expectant, like it’s waiting for something. Almost excited. It cowers whenever they get to close to It, too, which, while at first refreshing, is now confusing.

Kimihiro doesn’t understand.

--

Shizuka’s almost healed enough to get back to work. It’s been three weeks, they think, maybe less, and there musta been a lot of internal damage because the nanomachines are still finishing up his ribs and just starting in on knitting skin back together, things that are less important.

But he’s still stiff and walking isn’t easy, and so when they don’t drug his soup, every few days, he walks around the cell. One lap, the first day. Two, the second. Now he’s up to four but it’s so exhausting and he finishes and sits next to Kimihiro, who grabs a hand and an arm. They can’t not touch each other now, not with Kimihiro hurting all over, eye red, vomiting up nothing, trembling, not with Shizuka healing, in pain, and terrified that he’s given himself away.

For a while they switched soup, and so Kimihiro slept most of the time, which was better, because when he was awake he wanted nothing more than for them to drug him because he hurt so bad, and Shizuka walked around the cell. But then they stopped the drugs and now it doesn’t matter and Kimihiro just wants it to end.

And when they’re both conscious, they sit together, holding on like they might die if they don’t, and they rarely speak.

And the door opens.

Kyle.

He walks in, impeccable as always, white coat and hat, hair in the ponytail. “You look well, Ni,” he says, and turns towards It. “Visiting hours,” he says sharply.

“Wha—“ Kimihiro asks, and gasps as his head pounds, and Kyle looks at him and smirks.

“Having a hard time, are you?” he asks.

Kimihiro opens his mouth to shout but the intake of breath makes him gag and vomit again.

Shizuka frowns, confused. His cheekbone is deeply scarred, scabs still fading. “What do you—“

“Oh,” Kyle says, as if he’s just realized. “Neither of you have ever been in trouble when It receives Its yearly visit, have you?” He smiles, slow and cool. “It’ll be a learning experience, won’t it?”

He stalks out of the room and says, “You can go in now,” and someone comes in and the door slams behind him and there’s a flurry of movement as It darts forward in a blizzard of torn robes and dirty hair and flings Itself into the arms of the man.

Shizuka blinks. It’s Yasha, Yasha who helped him—

It can’t stand, not really, and so Yasha’s sunk to his knees and is holding the smaller creature against him, stroking Its hair. It is muttering, things they can’t understand.

“I know,” Yasha whispers, kisses Its forehead. “I know.”

“C-can’t,” It says. “H-hurt—th-th-th…em—“ Its face is buried in Yasha’s shoulder, but It turns just slightly and Shizuka can see Its one gold eye, full of tears.

“Shhh,” Yasha says. “Not your fault. ‘S not your fault.”

“Is!” It wails and clings tighter, fingers digging into Yasha’s waist, and sobs. “Left—I…I—left!”

“It’s all right,” Yasha breathes into Its unwashed hair. “It really is.”

“Ya…sha,” It whispers, and bursts into a fresh new wave of sobs.

--

It is Kyle's first experiment, so he keeps It out of nostalgia. A human, once, but not anymore. It started with genes, seeing what they could change and what Its body would do, everything from gender to blood type. And then they tried to make It regenerating, so you could cut off an arm and it would grow back, and they succeeded, but not without the loss of brain cells, lucidity fading with every test. Then there were mechanics and computers, let's see if we can make a human with the technology of an AI. Fused Its right arm with metal. Took metal and tried to cover Its face with metal, like armor, tried to computerize half his optics so It could register infrared and temperature and movement, but the wires into Its brain shorted out an eye, leaving it clear and milky, not gold. Kyle stopped that experiment halfway through, and now It has a mask of metal across half Its face. Kyle believes It can still see blurred shapes out of Its eye, but by the time they had tried to make him into a human suit of armor he was already mad, clearly unable to answer any questions.

The picture C saw when Kyle showed them It before the experiments—for he had no goal in mind, but he simply wanted to see what he could do to a human before they were useless—is a handsome, adrogynous youth, smiling slightly, hair dark and silky and very long, eyes so gold they seem unnatural. The youth looks oddly familiar, beyond the fact that they see It every day. No. Like…like someone else. But they can’t think of who.

It volunteered, Kyle said. It was the perfect testing tool. A blank slate, troubled by mental problems, suffering from a genetic disorder that caused It to be almost completely asexual—

It didn't know what It was getting into.

--


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fouloldron: Strip for cakefouloldron on October 15th, 2009 02:41 pm (UTC)
Great chapter, although now I am utterly conflicted over who A is.
Thanks for continuing this. :D