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Natsuo listened carefully, chewing the inside of his cheek absentmindedly. So, with regards to the symbols/labels, both sides did it the same. Though there were never the same symbols on a West Side item as there would be an East Side item, he gathered. But of coarse. Staring at Katsu's screen, he didn't know what to make of it. The symbol was clearly there, though it wasn't an exact match. However, it was still the closest they'd come so far. After a moment, he said, "Maybe the letters don't stand for the company. Maybe it isn't a company at all." he paused, looking up to meet the other male's eyes as he put his phone away. "You said you never really found any trace of it existing, or doing anything within the East Side, right? Then maybe it isn't a company. Maybe it's..." his words and his thoughts trailed off. He shook his head, leaning back in the couch. "Never mind. I don't know where I'm going with this."
With a sigh, Natsuo pushed himself off of the couch and walked across the room to the dining room area. He walked to the edge of one of the windows, pushing back the curtain ever so slightly to peek outside. Still no trace of anyone being out there. There wasn't a single hint that anyone had ever lived there, actually. Besides all of the buildings and the cars parked outside. "I feel like we're going through an apocalypse." he muttered, his words almost a sigh as he let the curtain fall back.
Katsu thought it over. Natsuo's words made a great deal of sense, and he couldn't imagine why he didn't think of it before. He pulled out his guns and inspected the bullets. On the shell casings, which carried matching designs as the bullets themselves, he could see almost the exact same designs, save for the elaborate "ES" marked in the enter of the emblems. But "SL" wasn't among a single one of them, which made him wonder profusely.
Then, something came to him.
"I think you're onto something," he said, before pulling out his phone and doing a quick internet image search. He checked various limited-edition dealers that would have marked their products as suck, searching all that began with "S" in the East Side. For each of them, they displayed their emblem on the cover page of the site, but none of them seemed to match. "Because of strict laws, arms manufacture and sales are strictly limited in the East Side. Black market bullets either have the standard East Side emblem or are left blank, save for a few 'authorized' private dealers that I've used before. I do recall one that I used to use that distributed a wide variety of weapons to the East Side that was...well, not tied to the East Side. It was shut down after suspected deals to the West Side, but there wasn't any proof on that. I was there on that raid, but no one on the team could find anything that wasn't on any listed contracts to East Side off-market retailers. That is...except for one company that couldn't be tracked down."
Katsu made a small "aha" sound before showing his phone to Natsuo, displaying an emblem that had the letters in the same exact style, but with a completely different backing design. "This is all we found when it was looked up. It was just a page with this image. And to this day, every time it's been shut down, it pops right back up with the same exact image and page. No links, nothing. Just that." He set his phone down and looked back at the bullet. "I just don't understand if this has something to do with that, or if it's just pure coincidence. The 'company' didn't even have a name to go by. Just the letters."
Natsuo glanced at the other man, though frowned at his question. "I...I'm not sure." he said after a couple of seconds, his eyes going back to the small weight in his palm. "Both before and after I was brought into the project of, well, eliminating you, I used to visit weapon stores every couple of months. It's possible I could have seen a similar design in one of those shops." But where? Most people didn't exactly display packs of bullets like a pack of gum in a convenience store. And he'd only ever bought owned three guns in his life, only two of which he'd bought himself. He chewed the inside of his cheek, his eyes locked with the small piece of metal. He felt like the answer was on the tip of his tongue; he almost had it. Almost.
And then it hit him. Natsuo reached behind him and pulled out on of his daggers, holding it carefully in his hand as his eyes traced up the blade to the hilt. There, almost invisible, was a small design etched into the side of the black handle. It was the same colour, so it was no wonder why he hadn't noticed it before. "I remember people always used to put different symbols on brands of things like this. Look." he held up the dagger for Katsu to see, along with the bullet. "It isn't the same design as the bullet, but it shows that it could be something like this. Maybe I saw it on a knife?"
Setting the blade on top of his thigh, Natsuo handed the bullet back to the blonde male. It was very possible that it had been something like that, with a greater chance that the design was on a knife rather than a gun. But, why was it on this bullet, then? "Could the gun have been a limited edition type of thing? Special time offer? Only five were made, kind of idea?" he asked, looking back to Katsu. He really couldn't think of anything else.
Katsu listened solemnly and nodded. It was nice to know that he wasn't the only one who had concerns about what would happen once he got there, once they got there. He had to admit that as the time got closer for them to leave, he did get a bit more nervous and even a bit scared of what could happen. Given that he had been taught to somewhat fear and hate the West Side, and now that he had a bit of a new perception thanks to Natsuo, he wasn't exactly sure what to think anymore, and it was that sense of the unknown that made him a nervous.
He nodded at Natsuo's decision not to go after his team member. He realized that, at this point, it was probably best to cut losses considering how tense and time-sensitive all the situations had become. Neither of them could really risk the time expenditure, given that with how much they had been waiting, they would certainly be cutting it close.
"You have?" Katsu asked simply, a surprised that it could possibly be of West Side design. "Could you possibly remember where you may have seen it before?" he continued. He was suddenly curious. How could it possibly be something that they may have both have seen before?
Natsuo paused as he listened to Katsu's words, and nodded. Even he had expected something like that. Though, he'd had his own little plan, whether it worked out or not. "Well, I had been meaning to fill you in on this, but originally I had just been planning to sneak you across the border and hide you in my apartment for a while. I was going to talk to my dad about the situation, since he's close to the higher-ups in the West Side, but not close enough to betray his family." He paused, before continuing, If he told me there was a right time to fill in the higher-ups of everything you've told me without having them throw you in a cell or something, I would have done that. I know nothing works out that way, but it's clear that it especially wont work out that way now. There's not even a reason for us to go and find my subordinate, because he probably hasn't returned here since the lock down." He sighed, running a hand up through his bangs and pushing them up atop his head. And it'll be even harder to get back across the border now, with all of the extra security. He thought, though he didn't voice it.
Glancing over, he watched Katsu handle the bullet in his palm carefully, almost as if it meant something more than just being a bullet. But, judging by his words, it did. It was a design the blonde male didn't recognize, but was in someway similar to the design of the soldiers' guns. Which didn't make much sense in Natsuo's head. Holding out his hand, he said, "Let me see it?" When he had the small piece of metal in his hand, his eyes raked over it, looking for some sort of clue. It came as a small shock to him that even he found the design familiar, though he couldn't place it. "It isn't an official West Side design." he mumbled, turning it over and over in his hand. "But...I think I've seen something like this before."
Katsu nodded, then began his own pacing about the room once he locked the door behind him. "I figured as such. I wouldn't be surprised if I was imprisoned the moment I stepped on that side. But....well, it would be better than not being able to do anything here. There are fates worse than imprisonment here, so I'd rather face that for any sort of treason, which is pretty much what I've committed."
Katsu sat down and pulled the bullet out of his pocket. "I found the bullet," he mentioned as he held it up to the low light. "But I can't make all that much sense out of it. It carries the insignia of the East Side, but the symbol is all wrong." He held it out to Natsuo, confused. He doubted Natsuo would be able to make sense of it, but at least he couldn't say he didn't ask anyone that was available for some help. He was confused and distracted, especially considering that Natsuo was there and he still hadn't exactly gotten over what had gone on between them. He couldn't really knock the thought from his mind, replaying it.
As Natsuo stared up at the pale ceiling tiles, his thoughts began to wander from what had occurred between him and Katsu, to things regarding their current situation with the East Side. They still needed to make it to the rooftop to meet up with the informant, somehow find a way to escape back over onto the West Side, all while avoiding the threats of death by the East Side. Sighing, he slouched down in his seat. This is stupid. He thought. There's no way we're going to get over there secretly with all of these soldiers tracking our every move. He blinked, sitting up straight. Wait a minute. If the government of the East Side was tracking down him and Katsu, surely the East Side would have found out about this. Which meant that there really wasn't any "sneaking" back onto the West Side. Which also meant that they'd have a bigger problem to face when they did get over the border of the two sides: once they shook off the East Side, they'd have to deal with the West Side. He knew the West Side government would be less than pleased with his actions, especially since he would be bringing an East Side official over with him. One whom he'd begun to trust, with almost everything.
At the knock on the door, the raven haired male jumped, his eyes flickering over. He listened as the first knock was followed quickly by five more, a pause, than five more after that. He paused, then stood and walked over to open the door. Standing on the other side was Katsu, looking like he'd discovered something, but also more confused than before. After he'd walked in and the door had been re-locked, Natsuo settled back onto the couch.
"I've been thinking." he finally said, looking up to the blonde male. "And, I've come to the conclusion that all of this," he motioned around them with his hands. "Isn't going to end once we get over to the West Side. Not even close."
It took Katsu just about fifteen minutes to get back to the alleyway in which he was shot at. Given that the route they came in wasn't exactly accessibly to make because he couldn't gain the momentum to go there, he went down and somewhat around through a narrow space between two of the back-to-back buildings. Though he found his mind wandering elsewhere more times than necessary, he managed to stay somewhat on task.
Finding where the bullet lodged into the wall was difficult, given that such wasn't the case. With the solid brick lining of the alley walls, the bullet ricocheted off of its initial impact and continued it's path to the back end of the alleyway where it came to a stop in the thick wood of a barrel down the end of it. Despite all the dings and deformation of the bullet itself, he could see the emblem on the backing of it through the scorch marks on it. And yet, what he saw was disconcerting.
The emblem was a modified version of standard-issue East Side soldier bullet emblem, ones that were put on bullets for regulation and accountability. This one, however, instead of having the standard "ES" flourish on the back, it had a mix of symbols that resembled an "S" and an "L", and only one of those symbols could he really find recognize. It reminded him a bit of Lyn's custom insignia, except that the styling was all wrong. Without a second thought, he pocketed it and headed back the way that he and Natsuo had originally entered in. It took him just a but under ten minutes, but he felt a bit suspicious about the silence around the area.
He tapped six times on the door for the letters in Natsuo's name, then paused and tapped five times for the letters in his. He then waited, holding the bullet in his pocket.
Natsuo nodded at Katsu's words, his thoughts brought back to when they'd first surfaced from the tunnels beneath the city and Katsu had been shot at. Well, he figured it didn't really make a difference if they found out who had shot at them or not, because the fact remained that someone had shot at them. But, Katsu was right. It would be a good way to kill some time. The raven haired male nodded again and turned back to face his companion. "I'll stay." he told him. "I want to make sure this place doesn't come under their control while we're gone, and then we come back to an ambush." He walked back over to the couch, returning to where he'd been sitting before he rose, beside the blonde male. "But come back within the hour. Just so I know that nothing's happened to you." he gave a small, soft smile, then nodded toward the door. "Think of some weird knock code, too, so I know it's you." he paused, then gave a small laugh. "I'm giving you quite the list."
He watched as Katsu stood from the couch and made his way to the door across the room, unlocking it the way he had when they'd entered the large sun room. He waved him off as he left, closing and re-locking the door behind him. And then Natsuo was alone, with his thoughts. He still couldn't believe that Katsu had done that. He'd never expected it, much less from the blonde male. Though, he guessed that he hadn't given much thought to anything these past few days, besides staying alive and being able to return to the West Side with Katsu in one piece. So, where had the other picked that up? He didn't believe himself to have been leading him on in anyway, but maybe it had been there for a while, and he'd just been so focused on surviving that he never noticed.
"I didn't really mind the kiss, though." he mumbled, thinking aloud. "It didn't feel bad or anything, and it didn't make me feel gross." He turned his eyes up to the ceiling, staring at the bland tiles overhead.
Katsu felt himself release some of the tension in his body at Natsuo's words, and he slumped visibly in response. He found it strange at how he was a bit relaxed by Natsuo's reaction, and yet he could find himself desiring something...else. But he could settle for now.
At the very least, he could take some comfort in knowing that he at least tried it. He had been somewhat curious about doing for a small while, but circumstances didn't allow it. At least he sated his curiosity for now by Natsuo's reaction that it wasn't so much of a bad thing. It was something he could work with in the future.
Listening to Natsuo's concerns, Katsu straightened up and thought strategically for a moment. "We could keep moving, but we should keep in mind the shot that was first fired once we entered. I'm not exactly sure if it was the shot from a soldier or just some over-eager resident down here." He thought for a moment. "If I could check out the bullet impact, I could tell if it is a standard-issue soldier gun or a civilian gun. They don't allow the public to use standard-issue, and the bullets have distinct marks on the back of the shells. You want to go see or stay here. I don't know what good it would be to find out, but it could kill time."
Natsuo watched as Katsu seemed to get more embarrassed by the second, which in turn brought out his own embarrassment. Though, he hardly noticed the heat in his face as he waved his hands around. "Don't apologize! You don't need to apologize!" he told him, his voice raised slightly. But, as he watched Katsu, it faded. He dropped his hands, some kind of shock setting in as he watched the blonde beside him becoming...vulnerable. Something new he'd never seen of him; never thought he'd see of him. And it made him feel even worse. "I've never been kissed by another man before." he said, eyes flickering down to his shoes.
"It wasn't...bad." Natsuo admitted, finally noticing the heat in his face. No, it hadn't been bad, even though it had been brief. He'd just never expected it. Hadn't expected anything like it to come from Katsu. Watching him a few minutes earlier, he'd gotten the impression that maybe, just maybe, some of those old feelings for Lyn had risen back up, bringing out that hurt he'd been feeling. But for him to have kissed Natsuo like that...well, maybe not, then. "I didn't mean to say it like that." he finally said, looking back up to the male beside him. "I'm just a bit surprised, if you couldn't tell." he gave a small laugh, though it sounded a somewhat forced.
After another minute, Natsuo stood from the couch again, feeling like his presence was only disturbing Katsu further. He walked over to the nearest window, standing off to the side as he pulled away one of the drapes slightly to see through a small crack outside, he watched as an empty street lay out before him. No people, no soldiers, nobody driving. Not even a single car parked. "Hey, Katsu?" he finally said, looking up from the window and back to his companion. "If the soldiers are waiting for us to go to that radio house...wouldn't it be better to escape this place now and go somewhere else? To throw them off a bit?"
Katsu moved back, feeling embarrassed at acting on impulse. He'd never done anything like that before, never had instigated such a think. And yet, he could still fell the faint pressure along his lips and the small but distinct pleasure gained from it. It was unreal, a contact he hadn't had in...years.
"I'm sorry," was the first thing Katsu said, before looking away to hide the red surfacing to his face. He felt a bit flustered by what he did, and nervous at how Natsuo was reacting to it. He felt almost an edge of discontent in it. Part of him almost expected the reaction, but the cut in it was real.
"I..." Katsu began, trying to think of a valid explanation for his actions. "I don't know why I did it. I guess....well, you're a great guy and...I thought.....never mind." He stopped his rambling and looked back down in his lap, fiddling with his phone. He felt like he'd made a mistake, a big mistake, and that he couldn't really undo it.
At first, Natsuo had expected his hand to be pushed away, or maybe even questioned for putting his hand on Katsu's shoulder. But, when neither of those things happened, and Katsu even placed his own hand atop Natsuo's, he was surprised. He had expected pretty much anything but the action to be welcomed, though at the same time, he was glad it had been. When he thought about it, it was weird to think of Katsu as someone who went through things like this. When they'd first met, the blonde had seemed like some unreal, bionic person. He seemed unbreakable, unshakable, and very guarded toward everything and everyone. His personality had been hard and demanding. But, it seemed like as soon as they'd found a sort of...common goal, with saving the West Side, things had changed. Katsu wasn't as hard anymore; he wasn't unapproachable anymore. And now he knew he wasn't unbreakable, either.
After a while of sitting there like that, his hand on Katsu's shoulder, Natsuo began to wonder what he was supposed to do now. He couldn't just keep his hand there for the next hour, but he didn't really know if he should take it away, either. Somehow, he'd managed to think up something in his mind to say, something that might have broken the silence, when Katsu looked up and closed the space between them. Natsuo stared at the male beside him, not really sure what to do. His eyes were wide, and he kept blinking in case he'd somehow managed to dream the kiss, and blinking that much could make him wake up. His thought from before was lost, but his voice seemed to have found sound, his mouth words; "You...you kissed me." he sputtered, the astonishment and question clear in his voice. Though it was probably fairly easy to read on his face. After another moment of watching Katsu, he spoke up again, "Why did you kiss me?"
Katsu jumped a small bit when he felt the hand on his shoulder. It wasn't exactly what he was expecting in the haze of his mind, and far from anything he thought Natsuo would react. He half expected some retelling of some similar situation Natsuo had been in, or even some vote of verbal sympathy for the trivial frustration. But the hand....it was oddly comforting in its presence on his shoulder, so much that he reached his hand up to touch it.
Katsu couldn't tell how long the silence lasted, or if any time had passed at all. It felt like hours in his mind, with strings of thought processes involving probably scenarios and likely outcomes. He played back and forth in his mind what could be done, how to do it, and how it would end up. Simulation after simulation played through in a matter of seconds, and eventually, he couldn't think of anything other than doing, as it was better than torturing himself with thoughts.
Call it desperation, or perhaps frustration when faced with such a predicament, but Katsu couldn't think of any other proper reaction. It was simply a hand on his shoulder, and yet in reaction to it, he looked up from his hands towards Natsuo, leaned over, and kissed him briefly.
Natsuo watched the male across the room from him carefully, keeping his arms by his sides where it would be easy to reach either his blades from his back or defend his front with his arms if Katsu did decided to turn on him. As he spoke, the raven haired male stood still, watching carefully still. Learning that this building was like a fortress didn't make his nerves cease to make him worry, though the knowledge did ease it some. At least now he knew that it was near impossible to be shot through the windows, and that they would have time to escape if the soldiers did return and try to break down either door.
When Katsu spoke again, Natsuo gave him a questioning look. He paused a moment, taking in the stress in the other male's muscles and the way his face was strained. It was easy to tell that something was bugging him. After another moment, he complied and walked over slowly, sitting down on the couch. He listened as Katsu told him what was bothering him, essentially what had happened over the phone call. Lyn. That was the name of the man who'd captured Katsu's heart, the one who'd been punished and sent away; the one Katsu had lost all contact with, never knowing if he was dead or alive. Now he knew that he was alive. But he guessed it wasn't exactly the reunion he'd been planning on.
Natsuo didn't really know what to say. Or, even if he was supposed to say anything at all. How did he respond to something like that, knowing that, even if it had been years, the blonde beside him was still so clearly hurt by the subject. Finding no words, he reached his hand out toward the other, hesitating slightly, before placing his hand on Katsu's shoulder. He knew that saying something as simple as "I'm sorry." wouldn't exactly mean anything. Though, would doing this mean anything, either?
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