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Katsu looked over at Natsuo. "I see no reason not to thank you. No one's ever really said such things..." He almost added since Lyn, but decided against it given Lyn's apparent disinterest to really ever see him or talk to him again. It was a thought that made him a bit upset with the idea of even having to think of him again.
Natsuo was a much better place to rest his thoughts in.
As if it was spite, his phone chimed with a text message. He pulled out his phone and read the message.
Agent killed during attempted escape. East Side soldiers focused on the north. You've got four good hours.
A breath of relief escaped from Katsu's lips as he slumped a bit in his seat. "Good news and bad news. Good news is that we should be safe here for about four hours. The East Side seems to think we're up in the north, so we'll be good here. Bad news is that the agent they supposedly captured died during an escape." He fell silent, not sure if Natsuo had any sort of attachment to the other agent. If so, he didn't want to add anything that would seem insensitive at this point, especially considering that all it would take would be a few insensitive words to put a damper on any rapport they were building together.
Natsuo was a bit surprised when Katsu looked away from him, though it only took him a minute to make a guess as to why. He gets embarrassed easily. He thought to himself, turning his face away. He didn't want to make it worse, if Katsu could feels his eyes on him. Though, the thought of the blonde male acting like this made him smile, and it only grew when he was thanked, and then he caught Katsu's eyes again. He was already seeing so many new sides to the man next to him. That first day they had met, he'd felt like the blonde was as hard and solid as iron, with walls higher and more durable than China's. Walls that could, and would, keep everyone and everything out. He was stone; unbreakable.
But what he was seeing now was so different, Natsuo didn't even know how to describe it. Katsu's actions were almost...cute, even. Or, he would have thought so if faced with a girl. With Katsu, it was more like...he wasn't sure. Somewhere around refreshing and pleasing to see. Looking him over, he gave a half smile as his head tilted slightly to the side. "You don't need to thank me." he told him. It took him a minute to be able to finally pull his eyes off of the male beside him, but when he had managed it, they stuck to the window, covered by curtains. He'd meant what he said, every time he said something. To him, Katsu was nothing short of a hero. Going against everything he'd ever learned, and everything he'd ever fought for, for people he had hated his whole life.
He doesn't even realize how much this means to me. He thought to himself.
Katsu's eyes widened, and he turned his face away before his face could redden any more. Though it wasn't the first time that Natsuo had said anything like that to him, it was the first time he'd felt something different in it, whether it was from his own perspective or caught on the folds of reality. Still, it was hard to hide how much it made him flustered, and for reasons that he knew more than he felt he should. It was...different.
Katsu struggled to think of something to say after that. He wondered what would be appropriate to say, considering that Natsuo was so quick to defend his actions when there wasn't exactly anyone around to care about it besides him. It took him a moment or two before the idea of a "thank you" came to his mind, before he thought to even offer something like that.
"Thank you," he said, his voice small. He didn't look over to Natsuo, in fear that the young man would see the heat building beneath the skin on his face. He ran a hand through his hair, the resulting sensation causing the heat to dissipate from his face. He looked back over and offered a shy smile, though he couldn't think of a single word or gesture to accompany it.
Natsuo nodded as Katsu told him more about the East Side. To him, the notion of being "in the dark" was unfamiliar. Where he'd grown up, the government officials always spoke to the people. Though what they said varied, and how much information they gave out depended on the situation, but they still spoke about what the people wanted to know, what they wanted to hear...even the things they didn't want to know or hear about. The trivial things in politics, the criminals and the crimes they committed. The West Side wasn't anything close to perfect, but it had it's good points. As far as he could tell, even though Katsu hadn't really mentioned any, the East Side had their own as well. The East Side was more strict about who had knowledge of what, and what they would do if a certain knowledge leaked out to the wrong person. But, aside from the covered murders, they seemed to handle everything well. Except for this stupid lock down. He thought, almost rolling his eyes.
The thought of Katsu being considered a "fool" for doing what he was doing put Natsuo off a bit. He shook his head. "Do you believe in what you're doing?" he asked. "That what you're doing is right; that saving the lives of people you've never known, and were taught to hate, is the right thing to do?" He didn't need an answer to his questions, because he could see it in Katsu's eyes. And, after all, if he didn't believe in any of that, he wouldn't have been there, would he? After another moment, Natsuo dropped his eyes to his hands in his lap, fiddling with his fingers. "You shouldn't think about yourself that way." he finally said. "Because, I think what you're doing is amazing...you're amazing."
Katsu tried not to get frustrated at Natsuo laughing at his embarrassment, but try as he might, he found it a bit comical that Natsuo found it funny. He wanted to ask what was so funny, but the answer was quite obvious, so there wasn't any point in doing so. All he could do was really wait until Natsuo stopped laughing and continued. "Nice to see that I'm providing some entertainment," he said with a bit of a smug grin.
Katsu listened attentively at Natsuo's descriptions of the West Side. Some of his assumptions were confirmed, that the West Side was "softer" to its people, to those they governed. But still, to hear it being described as "free" made him a bit on edge, and yet eager to be over there to see it for himself. He wondered what people lived like without that tiny little suspicion that their every move was being watched and cataloged by those they would probably never come in contact with.
"I guess there are major differences," Katsu said. "People only really know one another here if they have the privilege of connections about the East Side. If they don't, then they are often in the dark. However, it's better to be in the dark around here, because everyone knows you're not capable of anything, and therefore no threat. There are some people around here that are only really vaguely aware of the East Side's presence and live their lives thinking that absolutely nothing is going on behind the scenes, that everything is completely okay. Those who aren't in the dark, they're always on their toes. They get afraid or suspicious. Some even end up either being completely compliant out of fear or to challenge the way things are like fools."
Katsu looked over at Natsuo with a bit of a sigh. "I guess you could say that I'm a bit of a fool here, huh?"
Natsuo nodded, feeling that mix of relief and hurt at Katsu's statement. It made him feel better that they both had the same intentions of killing each other, but it was still weird to think about it. Especially at that point in time, when they were sitting there in the abandoned building, talking like they were. At the mention of "bonding", Natsuo started laughing again. It was weird to think of it that way; that they were bonding. "I suppose you could call it that." he said, his voice a light, teasing tone. He could see the slight embarrassment on the other male's face, and it was...almost relaxing. "You don't need to be so uptight." he said, his laughter fading, leaving a smile on his mouth. "In fact, it's more comforting to find that you aren't made of stone, after all. You were quite intimidating when I first got here." He shrugged, the smile still quirking the corners of his mouth upward.
When asked about the West Side, Natsuo let his smile drop, and his eyes turned upward to the ceiling. Even though he was looking at it, he wasn't seeing it. Instead, he was seeing the place where he'd grown up, the people who had raised him, and the friends he'd been raised around. "The environment is different. Not the nature kind of environment, but the people. I wouldn't say the West Side community is more relaxed, but the government doesn't force people into fighting for it. Even I wasn't forced. Those who join, join because they want to. I guess you could say it's more...free?" he paused, taking his eyes away from the ceiling to look back to his companion. "In the West Side, everybody knows everybody. It doesn't matter what part you're from, or what you do. It's kind of...close knit, I guess you could say. Though, that isn't to say we all get along." He gave a soft smile, shrugging his shoulders again. He didn't really know how to describe the West Side. But Katsu would be there by tomorrow, he hoped, so he could see for himself.
Katsu nodded in thought. It was understandable that Natsuo would have eventually tried to kill him had things gone a different way, but he couldn't exactly deny what he would have done. "I have to admit," Katsu said with a bit of a grin. "Had I found out who you were, and if I was loyal to the East Side, I don't think I would have even given you a moment to try and explain who you were. Suspicion alone is enough to get killed here." He sighed, a bit glad that in the span of some hours, he could be leaving here.
"Perhaps this isn't the best sort of...'bonding' conversation to have, no?" He winced internally at his choice of words. He hadn't meant to say bonding, but it slipped out in the flow of his thoughts, and he sort of wanted to take it back. "I mean...well, you know." Katsu stammered. Part of him wanted to know a bit more of what Natsuo thought of the kiss from earlier, but it seemed like such an awkward conversational piece. Dancing around it wasn't getting them anywhere, much to the point that the two of them admitted that, under any other circumstance, they probably would have killed each other.
And yet, something over an hour ago, they had kissed, however brief it was.
"So..." he said, trying to distract himself from his thoughts. "I've been meaning to ask. I remember that you said the West Side wasn't all that much different from the East Side, but I kind of want to know what seems different about it aside from the geography."
Natsuo shrugged his shoulders, and was ready to blow off the subject of "what would have/could have been" and move onto something new when Katsu spoke on the subject again. The raven haired male paused, thinking. "Well, my original mission had been to gain your trust and whatever you knew about the East Side government, then to kill you.." he trailed off, thoughts still running. "Um, I'm not sure, actually. If you had come to me and told me what you knew, I might have assumed that you knew who I was, and that you were pulling me into some kind of trap. Though, if I know myself, I probably would have disregarded that eventually and believed you." he shrugged again, glancing over to the window beside them, even though he couldn't see anything through the curtain drawn across it.
After a moment, he looked back to the blonde beside him. "If you had found out where I come from, and there wasn't a plan to destroy the West Side...you would have killed me, right?" he asked. He knew it was a sad reality, on both of their parts really. Though, the thought still hurt a bit. Even though he knew they probably wouldn't have become close like they were now , and it wouldn't have mattered as much if Katsu had killed him then. Well. It still would have mattered, but not in the sense of betrayal. Actually, I might even feel better about intending to kill him if Katsu tells me he would have done the same. He thought to himself.
Katsu couldn't understand why Natsuo started to laugh. He thought for a moment that the young man thought he was stupid for thinking what he did was stupid, but when it continued, he didn't know what to make of it. He just sat in the silence of muffled laughter, looking at Natsuo for an answer.
"You know..." Katsu thought for a moment. "I'm beginning to wonder what it would have been like if I didn't have that email correspondence and just thought you were some follower I had. I wonder how far you would have gotten with your...'mission,'" he said with a small chuckle. Despite his curiosities, he was more than glad things turned out the way they did. At the very least, he could say he gained somewhat of a friend here.
"Actually, could you answer that for me? What would you have done if I thought you were an actual East Sider and tried to convince you to...well...go against everything an East Sider believes in?"
When Katsu began to speak, Natsuo listened. He wouldn't really say it was Katsu's "fault" per say, just his...better judgement. And, even though it had gotten them into this sort of situation, it had been better judgement. Protecting himself, protecting his Side. But, now he was protecting Natsuo's Side. When he thought too hard about it, his brain twisted into knots. His head told him not to listen to the man next to him; to make a break for it, get away; to kill him and escape the East Side, never to look back. But, against that was his gut, telling him that Katsu could be trusted, that he needed to trust him. And then there was his heart, torn between the two; he desperately wanted to believe that Katsu was fighting with him, and not against him. That Katsu was indeed his partner now, not just some person he could throw away later on when his use wore out. But it was hard, with someone you had been taught to hate all of your life. And he doubted Katsu didn't feel the same away.
A small smile appeared at the end of Katsu's explanation, and when he looked over to him, a small laugh bubbled out of his mouth. He put a hand over his mouth, though couldn't keep from laughing softly. He didn't know why it was funny, it just was. The way everything had turned out already, the way things might turn out in the future. But, in his mind, a thought kept running around telling him that maybe, just maybe, had Katsu not made that assumption and send that email, they wouldn't be there at that moment. Not just under lock down, but not as partners. Not as...as friends. Almost.
"Sorry for laughing." he finally said when he'd calmed. "But, I just can't help but thinking that I'm thankful. If you hadn't sent that email, things would have been so different. And that difference makes where we are now...not so bad."
Katsu sighed, feeling a bit guilty at this point for what could only be described as protocol. "Around the time you first came here, I was expecting a partner on some elimination assignments. I was against the idea, and fought it as much as I could. When you came, I thought that I was disregarded and, given the state of things, that I wasn't trusted at all and needed a partner, which is what the growing rumor around the mill was at that time. I'm sure you remember the looks I got in the training warehouse, right?"
Katsu cleared his throat and continued. "I had online correspondence with my assigner, who I was not all too fond of to begin with. At the time of your arrival, I sent him a message regarding my assessments of your abilities. That's how I figured out you weren't really from here, when I got a response saying that they had essentially honoured my request and decided not to send a partner. After we pretty much decided to work together, I made it look like you were someone in the training warehouse who simply really wanted to work with me."
He looked over at Natsuo and a weak smile came over his face. "I guess we can say they didn't believe that story, huh?"
Natsuo nodded, thinking about what they could do. For one thing, he knew that he himself as a pretty dead giveaway. His body language was the entire opposite of everyone on the East Side, his speech was different, and even the look of him was different. He guessed that everyone who knew of him; had seen him and lived, had reported back, and that his appearance was now common knowledge. I guess I could dye my hair... He thought, though in a moment, basically threw the thought away. That wouldn't help much, I don't think. It wouldn't throw them off for long enough.. He glanced over at Katsu, thinking the same thing for the other male. But even if Katsu decided to dye his hair the rainbow, it wouldn't help much. Actually, a rainbow might draw too much attention.
Natsuo sighed as he sat down on the couch again. He shrugged his shoulders, a bit heavily. "Sure, I guess. What do you want to talk about?" he looked up to the other male, scanning his features. His thoughts began to wander again..
Everyone who's anyone in this town knows who Katsu is and what he looks like. Sneaking him around is going to be even more difficult than sneaking me around. he sighed inwardly, slouching back into the couch. It wasn't supposed to be like this. he thought. It wasn't supposed to turn out like this! How had it turned out like this?
Natsuo looked back to the male beside him again, chewing the inside of his cheek. It hadn't been him, had it? But, we're on the same side...right?
"Katsu?" he finally spoke. "How did the government find out I was here?"
Katsu raised an eyebrow in suspicion. Not coming? He couldn't think as to why they wouldn't come, but he then realized it was obvious. With the East Side on lock-down, looking for any suspicious figures at any time of the day or night, it wouldn't be safe for an outsider to be here. He sat down and remained silent, a bit dismayed at the change of circumstances. He had to think of something to do.
"The cover of night would be best to move in. Both of us stand out on the empty streets during the day. Give it a few hours, and people will start to disregard lock-down to keep to their schedules. We could possibly find some way to make us harder to recognize." Katsu thought for a bit, then shrugged his shoulders. He was thoroughly lost for the moment, and wasn't at all sure what he could do at this point.
For the time being, they had to find a way to pass the time. He didn't do well when he had nothing to do, as he often spent most if not all of his time keeping busy with assignments. He didn't have any assignments right now with the state of things, treason and imminent trespassing to deal with at a later point. "So...Natsuo," he began, fidgeting with the hem of his jacket. "Wanna talk? To pass the time, at least?"
Natsuo glanced over at the other male at his question. It was scary to think that Katsu was dead on with where he had been going with the name thing. Still, he didn't answer. He felt there really was no point to it. With the situation they were in now, he figured finding out about this secret person, or whatever it was, wasn't a top priority. Right then, staying alive and getting over to the West Side were top priorities. He looked back to the blonde male, listening as he started to speak on the subject of apocalypse. Natsuo simply rolled his eyes. "I think you're thinking about that too much." he said, a small, amused smile on his lips.
Against the wall with no windows which held the door they had first come through, sat a clock, just opposite him. It was quite large, probably so that no matter where you were in the room you could see what time it was. At that moment, it read two forty-one. "It doesn't feel like it's been that long." he muttered, turning away from the qwartz circle and walking back across the room. He watched the blonde across from him, obviously still in thought. Though, at that point, he had no idea what he might have been thinking about. Breaking the silence, Natsuo said, "I still think we should leave some time tonight, but I don't think it matters where we go. My subordinate isn't coming, I can guarantee it, so there's no point going looking for him. But we should see if we can find a place along the border that isn't as heavily guarded as the rest. If possible."
Katsu's ears perked up. It sounded like Natsuo was onto something, something that he could almost get where he was going from what was said. He tried to go down the same train of thought, and he could almost think for a moment what he was going to say. "Were you going to say something about it being a name?" Katsu asked, curious. He couldn't imagine it being a name, but it kind of made sense. Either that or the name of a small group.
Katsu sighed and shrugged. He couldn't really think of where to go with the bullet, or who shot at him. It was trivial, made even more so by the fact that the bullet wasn't standard issue among virtually any official on the East Side. It was eating away at him more and more as he kept thinking about.
He needed a bit of a distraction.
The idea of apocalypse seemed amusing, amusing enough to entertain. "Well, the protocol seems the same for an apocalypse," Katsu mused. "There's lock-down, regrouping, then evacuation and reorganization, and finally relocating and salvaging." He laughed a bit at the thought. "Although, that's for nuclear threats or some sort of foreign invasion. I don't know how that would match up to a full-fledged apocalypse."
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