Zero (not_a_nightmare) wrote in vanishing_court,

Hunter Base - [open to those with reason to be there]

The window was open to his world.

Zero frowned, staring out across the rooftops of Reality Vanish without really seeing them. His world was still there. Zeta's arrival proved that. Since then, the two worlds had seemed to shift in and out of synch with each other - mostly out. But it was enough to allow the occasional message through.

--Things are going well enough out here. There's been a bit of an increase in Maverick activity, but nothing we can't handle. Just enough to keep us busy.--

Busy. If Zero knew X, busy was an understatement. What he didn't know was whether X was busying himself with more work than was necessary, or if he was understating the severity of the whole situation. Zero snorted softly, a fond smile creeping across his face. The first one was almost a given.

--...miss seeing you around the compound. I hope things are going well.--

X wasn't asking him to come back. Not directly, anyway. Zero had made his decision back then and X respected that. Their world would have to be in a hell of a lot of trouble before he went back on that. Oddly enough, that thought was comforting. It meant that, even if X was understating matters somewhat, the situation wasn't nearly as bad as it could be. "But nothing we can't handle." X wouldn't lie about that.

So, where did that leave him?

With a choice. He looked up at the sky, ignoring the wind that wanted to whip his ponytail into his face. Rain was coming, and soon. He should probably get inside if he didn't want to get wet. There was certainly no shelter to be had sitting on the roof. I still have a choice. This time, the smile didn't creep onto his face. It came readily and easily, and it came to stay.

Yes. He still had a choice.

When the first fat droplets splattered across the roof, Zero had long since escaped. Before he made any decisions, there was someone he had to see.
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Not at all interested in getting a soaking, X had abandoned his plans to go wandering the beach again and instead was holed up in the kitchen of the townhouse.

Mercifully, Blues was nowhere to be found -- and thus X had had a certain measure of privacy while he sorted through his thoughts. And debated what to do about lunch.
In a place like the Hunter base, privacy was a fickle creature to be had anywhere outside of the bedroom, and sometimes not even then. This time was no exception. X had perhaps a few minutes to himself for Zero found him there.

"Hey, X," Zero greeted him. "You got a minute?"
A few minutes was better than no minutes; and, as Zero was much less likely to interfere in kitchen activities than the tiny sometimes-navi, X was hardly feeling put out by his arrival.

"I think I can manage that --"

He smiled, and rolled one shoulder in a careless sort of shrug.

"What can I do for you?"
That was all the invitation Zero needed to plunk himself down at the kitchen table. "I'm not sure," he admitted honestly. "But a listening ear and whatever thoughts you have would be appreciated."

He watched X for a moment, trying to see what the other was up to. It was a good opportunity to gather his thoughts. "I've been thinking about going home."
"I can certainly try."

X wasn't terribly up to much; the datapad on the table in front of him didn't look to have much aside from random jottings and a list of seashells on it, and while he'd been rattling through the fridge he hadn't taken anything out yet.

For the brief moment after Zero made his statement, one could have heard the proverbial pin drop. Then X blinked, once.

"Really? Can you get back home ...?"
"It's possible," he said. "Zeta's from my world, and since she showed up, I've been able to exchange a few messages with people there. I think my world was just out of synch with Reality Vanish for a while. Now it's coming back into focus."

Zero's attention shifted from what X was doing to X himself, carefully gauging the other's reaction. This was the part that concerned him the most. "If I went back, it might not be easy for me to visit."
Slipping back into listening-mode, X stayed stone-still as Zero spoke. That is, unless one watched his hands -- which were clenched tightly enough to tremble a little.

"It might not be easy ... It might not happen at all ..."

X spoke quietly, and haltingly, with his expression hidden under lowered face and thick crop of hair.

"But you were frantic when you were cut from them. From him."
That fact did not escape Zero's attention. He reached out to place a hand on top of one of X's, trying to still the trembling. "Yeah, I was. X means a lot to me." It was hard meeting X's eyes when his face was lowered, but Zero tried anyway. "But so do you. I want to know how you feel about this, X. Will you be... frantic if I'm cut off from you?"
X actually squeaked -- it was faint, but nonetheless a squeak -- as Zero touched him. Not that he made any attempt to snatch his hand away, oh no; but as a symptom of his sudden tension, it was certainly telling.

Before responding he lifted his head just the slightest bit, eyes dark.

"... It's not the same. You need to see him again."
"Maybe," Zero said evenly. "But later, maybe I'll need to see you just as much, so that point is moot. Besides, my need to see X is not what I'm basing my decision on."

His hand tightened around X's, giving it a gentle squeeze. "You're dodging the question. How do you feel?"
"Whether X or your world or something else, it's still not something that I have any right to comment on, yes or no --"

The trembling increased, despite X's clear efforts to manage otherwise; and he dropped his head again.

Zero nodded, unsurprised by X's answer. Then, with a sigh, he let go of X so that he could plant his elbows and rest his head on his hands. He allowed his eyes to close for a moment.

"In the spirit of honesty, I can't say that I don't feel the same way. It's a hard decision to make, and I hate that it has the possibility of being final. I want both worlds. I want all my friends. I want to be able to help where I'm needed, no matter where that is. Is that so much to ask?"
X squeaked again, sounding even more pained; the last thing he'd wanted was for it to sound as if he wanted Zero to decide. But -- to his admittedly emotionally-roiling point of view -- it sounded as if he'd somehow manged just that.

"No, it isn't! I --"

It was just as well X wasn't human, no matter how convincing he looked; most humans would've gotten whiplash or worse from looking away while simultaneously shaking their head, and at that speed.

"... It isn't. But ..."

"But this -- might be the only chance, isn't it? And you've known him -- them -- for so long ..."

"I --"

With another shake of his head, X went silent and then buried his own face in his hands.
Immune to whiplash or not, X's sudden movement still produced a sudden sound that made Zero look up. Despite the situation, despite everything, a small smile tugged at the corner of Zero's lips. There was just something about X that made it hard not to smile.

Quietly, he got up and moved to sit directly next to his friend, draping an arm around the other's shoulders as he did so. "If I go, and I do get stuck there, will you be all right?"
A draped arm meant that Zero was promptly being leaned into -- and then clutched in a desperate hug, X's face trying to bury into his chest.

"I don't know ... I don't know."

"But you'll be home -- that's the more important thing ..."

"I want you to be happy."
Zero didn't mind. He knew what he was inviting by holding X like that. Of course, that didn't stop him from shaking his head.

"You're not getting it, X," Zero said. "I'm not doing this to make me happy. I have higher things on my list of priorities than my own well being." If anyone who knew Zero thought about that at all, it would really come as no surprise. In fact, it would explain a lot about the way Zero behaved.

With his free hand, he gently tried to list X's chin so that their eyes could meet. He wanted X to know how absolutely serious his next question would be. "I want to be where I'm needed. I want to know, X: Do you need me?"
There was a long and uncomfortable pause before X made an attempt to answer.

He didn't want to be truthful; the truth would just make things more difficult. But being untruthful would be even worse, and it was the last thing he wanted. He didn't want to lie, not to Zero.

"... Yes."

There was another pause.

"... But I'm not the only one who needs you."

"You stayed behind once already; how can I ask you to do that a second time? It isn't right. You should see each other --"
"So you think you'll be all right?" Like the last question, this one demanded complete honesty. Zero actively searched X's face for any signs of a half-truth or lie.

His arm remained around X, offering comfort and support - for whichever of them needed it at any given moment.
That offered support was something that X was all too willing to accept; he burrowed against Zero, but kept his face tilted up to try to meet the other's eyes.

"I don't know ..."

"I'm sorry -- but I really don't know ... I don't have an answer for you. Not now ..."
Zero nodded. That was something he could understand.

"If I do leave, it won't be right away. Soon, but not not just yet. I still have loose ends I'd need to tie up and... I need to think about it." He rested his head against X's, enjoying the physical sensation of fluffy black hair tickling his cheek.

"But I didn't want it to come as a surprise if I decided to go back home."
"I ... can understand that. And I'm glad you wanted to let me know ahead of time; thank you."

For a few moments X was content to just sigh and lean against Zero; but it didn't last. He still had a question of his own.

"Will you be happy if you go back?"
"Happy?" Zero echoed. "I don't know. I think I will be, for the most part, but I can't guarantee that I'll always be happy. Especially if I'm cut off from Reality Vanish. Of course, the same is true if I stay here."

The faint trace of a smile crossed his face, only to disappear a moment later. "Now, if you'd asked me which world I'd be happier in... I don't think I'd be able to answer that. I just don't know. Maybe I never will." It was, after all, asking him to compare two different worlds and predict two different possible futures.
"It's alright. That's enough answer for me -- and I wouldn't ever ask that second question. That's not even remotely fair, or considerate."

Another sigh; but X seemed a little less tense now, which could only be a good thing. And as X relaxed, Zero would find himself being hugged.

"Whatever you decide, I'll be alright with."
"That's good to know. Thanks, X." X's hug was met with no protest, and perhaps more than a little interest. Thoughts of the future could wait for a bit. For now, Zero was content with this.