A/N: Well, this is the penultimate chapter! Technically, this is the last official chapter, since all I have left is an epilogue, but . . . anyway, thank you all for reading this story right up to the end! Enjoy Chapter 13!
Disclaimer: . . . Do I even need to do this anymore? I still don't own anything . . .
Crona felt like he was floating in darkness. He didn't know how long he'd been in this place, but he didn't mind; the blackness was . . . soothing, somehow. After a while, he began to hear some shuffling noises coming from somewhere to his right.
That's strange, he thought, frowning. He'd never heard anything in the darkness before. He also realized that he had his eyes closed, an action which he hadn't remembered doing. Slowly, he opened them and was nearly blinded with white light.
"Ow . . .," he moaned as sudden pain flared to life all over his body. He tried to bring his hand up to his head, but he felt something tugging on his arm. He glanced down and noticed an IV drip connected to his wrist. He then looked around and realized that he was lying on a bed, covered with white sheets, and he was wearing a blue hospital gown.
Wait . . . I'm in a hospital? He thought, confused. But, then that means . . .
"I'm . . . alive?" he whispered softly, finding it hard to believe. Surely losing all of his blood would have killed him, right?
"Hey, you're finally awake!" said a familiar voice. Crona gasped and looked around, trying to find Ragnarok, but he couldn't see the Demon Sword coming out of his back, or attached to him anywhere, for that matter.
"Geez, it took you long enough!" the voice said again, and that's when Crona finally noticed the boy standing next to his bed.
The boy had chin-length, striking black hair, which had four lines of white running all the way down to the tips at equal intervals. When the boy tilted his head, Crona noticed that the four lines joined together at the top of the boy's head to form an "X." The boy was wearing all black and had a fair complexion, contrasting greatly with his hair. His eyes were a deep black, just like his hair, and he looked only a few years older than Crona.
"Ragnarok?" Crona exclaimed, and the boy rolled his eyes.
"Of course I'm Ragnarok, you idiot," he said. He brought up his hand as if he was about to pull Crona's cheek, but then he thought better of it and dropped his hand to his side.
"How did you . . . I mean, why . . . what happened?" Crona asked, not believing that he was actually looking at his weapon in a human form, let alone the fact that Ragnarok wasn't attached to him anymore. Ragnarok just smirked at his Meister's confusion. He leaned in towards Crona, laughing when Crona tried to back away but realized he couldn't.
"Well, when you brought Tamaki back to life- that was an extremely stupid thing to do, by the way-, everything was okay for a few seconds," Ragnarok explained. "Then, all of a sudden, it felt like some huge force was pushing me out of your bloodstream and before I knew it, I was lying in a puddle on the floor. I heard Tamaki screaming, and I realized that it was because he thought you were dead.
"Naturally, I felt pretty useless just lying there on the floor, and then I thought, 'Hey, if I'm out of Crona's body, then maybe I can return to my human form.' So I tried it, and here I am!"
Ragnarok grinned, and Crona could only stare weakly back at him.
"So . . . this is what you look like in human form now," Crona said quietly. He gingerly lifted up his hand as high as he could with the IV attached and lightly tapped Ragnarok's hand where it was resting on the side of the bed, marveling at how different his weapon seemed.
"What, you want me to hold your hand or something?" Ragnarok sneered, snatching Crona's hand in his own and squeezing it roughly. Crona jumped, startled by the sudden movement, and the heart monitor he was attached to started to beep wildly.
"Hey, hey, calm down!" Ragnarok exclaimed, releasing Crona's hand and taking a few hasty steps back. "I'm not gonna hurt you!"
Crona frowned, not really believing that. However, after a few minutes of Ragnarok just standing there watching him, Crona realized that Ragnarok actually wasn't going to bully him. In fact, Crona thought he could detect a bit of emotion on the Demon Sword's face that he'd never seen before; Ragnarok looked almost . . . concerned.
"Ragnarok, are you . . . are you actually worried about me?" Crona asked, surprised. Ragnarok's face instantly twisted into an annoyed scowl.
"No, of course I'm not worried about you," he snarled. "It's just that if something happened to you, then I'd be without a Meister, and then I'd be useless."
"What do you mean?" Crona questioned, confused. He was still having a hard time understanding why Ragnarok wasn't beating him up when he was obviously so defenseless- it was the perfect opportunity. He never would have hesitated before, even if Crona was injured.
But, then again, I've never been hurt this badly before, Crona thought. Plus, we've never been separated since we've met each other . . . maybe that affecting him more than he's letting on . . .
"I'm not able to match soul wavelengths with just anyone," Ragnarok admitted, bringing Crona out of his thoughts. He looked at the floor and scratched the back of his head absently. "Actually, even though I was still a little kid when Medusa caught me, I was never able to match soul wavelengths before; you're the first Meister my soul was able to resonate with, and so far, you're also the only one. Not that I've had the chance to try and resonate with other Meisters, but still . . ."
The Demon Sword smiled at sheepishly and then, realizing that he was being almost friendly, quickly shook his head and frowned. He then noticed that Crona's eyes were wide, and the beeping on the heart monitor was increasing slightly.
"L-Lady Medusa?" Crona said shakily. "What happened to her? Is she here? Oh, I'm going to be in so much trouble-"
"Geez, no need to freak out," Ragnarok said quickly. "After your little rebellion she disappeared, along with that Lust woman. No one's seen her since; for all we know, she could've just gone back home."
"So she's not here?"
"No, she's not."
Crona sighed with relief. Then he frowned slightly and looked at Ragnarok questioningly.
"Wait . . . If the black blood got pushed out of my body, then how did I . . . how did I survive?" he asked, tying to work out how that was possible. "I mean, you need blood to live, right? And if it was all gone . . ."
"Well, it wasn't all gone," Ragnarok informed him. "There was just enough left for you to make it to the hospital, and then the doctors gave you a blood transfusion." The Demon Sword raised one eyebrow in what looked like disbelief, but Crona thought it seemed more like a form of ridicule. "I'm pretty surprised you made it through, actually. I guess you're not as weak as I thought!"
He laughed, but Crona just ignored him, staring down at the blankets. Thinking about his amazing story of survival had gotten him thinking about another person's brush with death . . .
He suddenly whipped his head up to stare at Ragnarok, his expression distressed.
"How is- ouch!- Tamaki?" he asked, wincing as he tried to sit up.
"He's perfectly fine," Ragnarok said, and Crona could detect a hint of disdain in his voice. "The blonde idiot's probably still standing outside the room as we speak- he hasn't left since you were put here three days ago."
"What? He's here? I have to go see him!" Crona exclaimed, and the heart monitor started to beep rapidly again.
"Will you calm down?" Ragnarok yelled, pushing Crona's shoulders down as the boy tried to sit up again. "You can't even sit up! How the hell do you expect to get up and walk anywhere?"
Crona struggled meekly for a few seconds and then flopped back onto the pillows, already wiped out. Ragnarok carefully released his shoulders, relieved that Crona still had at least enough sense to listen to him.
"Can I see him? I need to talk to him," Crona said, and Ragnarok nodded.
"Yeah, yeah, alright; I'll go get him," Ragnarok said. "But I'll have to leave; then only let one visitor in at a time." He smiled at his Meister mockingly. "Will you be alright without me, wittle baby Cwona?"
"Ow, Ragnarok! Stop!" Crona whined as Ragnarok ruffled his hair, laughing maniacally.
After giving Crona one last pinch on the cheek, Ragnarok sauntered out of the room, still chuckling to himself. Crona tried to rub his cheek, but the IV prevented him from reaching that far. He sighed dejectedly, but he had to admit that he was slightly relieved that Ragnarok was acting more like his old self.
Not that that's a good thing, Crona thought, wincing as the IV tugged at his wrist for what felt like the hundredth time. He closed his eyes and wished the pain would disappear; it was especially strong on his chest and back where Ragnarok had seeped out of his body a few days ago. Gingerly, he felt the bandages wrapped around his torso, whimpering when another flash of pain shot through his body.
"Crona, are you alright?" said a soft, familiar voice. Crona opened his eyes and found Tamaki staring down at him, the blonde's face twisted in worry.
"Tamaki!" Crona exclaimed, smiling with relief that Tamaki was still alive after all his efforts. Tamaki grinned back.
"Hi!" he laughed, glad that Crona seemed okay enough to smile. Suddenly, Crona's expression turned pleading.
"Tamaki, I'm so, so, terribly sorry!" Crona apologized, the anguish at what he'd done obvious in his sad eyes. "I tricked you, and you suffered horribly because of me! I had no idea you were the pure soul, or I'd never have become friends with you! Lady Medusa had this plan all along, and I couldn't do anything to stop her until it was too late! I-"
"Crona, Crona, calm down, it's alright!" Tamaki cut off Crona's rambling, getting concerned as the heart monitor started to beat quicker the more worked up Crona was getting. "I know the whole story; Ragnarok told me. It's okay- I forgive you."
"But . . . you were killed because of me!" Crona exclaimed. He couldn't understand why Tamaki was forgiving him, after everything he'd done. Tamaki merely smiled and placed a hand on Crona's forehead, brushing his pink bangs out of his eyes.
"I was, but you also brought me back," Tamaki pointed out. "In my opinion, you've already made amends. Especially when I realized what you've had to go through your whole life; all those horrible experiments . . . No wonder you couldn't say no to Medusa before!"
Crona frowned at Tamaki sympathetic expression, still not quite grasping why it almost seemed as if Tamaki was apologizing for his actions.
"You know about my past?" Crona asked, and Tamaki nodded. "Who told you? Was it Ragnarok?"
"Yeah; eventually I got him to tell me the whole story, though he didn't want to at first. I have to say, that boy is one of the strangest people I've ever met."
"Was he mean to you? I'm sorry- he's never been very nice, to me or anyone else." Crona bit his lip, hoping that Ragnarok hadn't been too horrible to Tamaki.
"Don't apologize; he was fine." Tamaki smiled at Crona, a knowing look in his eyes. "You know, I think he cares about you more than you realize."
"No he doesn't. He hates me. He's always hated me," Crona said, looking down at the blankets covering his legs. He made a move to grip his arm, but was quickly prevented from doing so by the IVs.
"I don't think he hates you," Tamaki said. Crona shook his head adamantly.
"He does. I know it."
"Think about it- if he hates you so much, why did he stick around for three days while you recovered? He was very upset when you were bleeding on the floor, by the way; he looked really scared and kept asking if you were going to survive. I don't know what he'd have done if you hadn't made it through."
"Really?" Crona asked, and Tamaki nodded. According to Tamaki, there seemed to be more depth, and possibly more compassion, to the Demon Sword than Crona realized.
Tamaki watched Crona as he became lost in thought, still amazed that this shy, frightened boy had actually been able to bring him back from the dead. And now that he'd learned the truth about Crona's past, the horrors he'd had to endure though his whole life until just three days ago, Tamaki wanted even more to make sure Crona knew that people cared about him.
Suddenly, Crona gasped and looked at Tamaki, his eyes wide.
"Edward and Alphonse! What happened to them? Are they okay?" Crona asked. Tamaki put a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
"They're fine, too. They've been waiting in the hospital along with Ragnarok and I. Ed wanted to leave yesterday, but Al convinced him to stay." Tamaki frowned slightly. "Ed is still pretty mad at you, but I've been trying to convince him that this was all Medusa and Lust's plan, not yours. Alphonse believed me, though, once he'd heard your whole story, and he's been really worried about you as well."
"Oh . . ." Crona sighed, knowing that Ed would probably never forgive him. He looked up at Tamaki and then squinted his eyes in confusion.
"What?" Tamaki asked as Crona studied his face intently.
"Where's the blood seal I drew on your forehead?" Crona questioned, just now noticing that it was nowhere to be seen.
"Oh, I . . . I'm not actually sure . . . It just sort of disappeared a little while after you were taken to the hospital." Tamaki half-smiled. "Ed and Al were really confused. Once they'd explained how you tied my soul back to my body, they said that the seal was supposed to last until it got washed off, and they didn't know how it could just vanish like mine did. They think maybe it's because I was reunited with my real body and not an inanimate object that the seal disappeared because, to their knowledge, that's never been done successfully before."
"Oh, I . . . I see," Crona said quietly, wondering if that was true. There was a moment of silence, and then Tamaki cleared his throat.
"Um, Crona, I know you probably don't want to talk about this right now, but we need to figure out where you're going to stay after you get released from the hospital," Tamaki said, and Crona stared up at him. "I mean, you don't really have anywhere to go, do you?"
Crona shook his head.
"No . . . the only place I've ever lived is with Lady Medusa."
"You don't have to call her 'Lady Medusa' anymore, you know; she's gone now."
"How can you be sure? What if she comes back for me? Ragnarok said that she disappeared, but how can you be sure? She could be waiting to come and get me!"
"We're not going to let that happen," Tamaki said firmly, placing a hand on Crona's shoulder as the boy started to panic. The look in his eyes was determined. "If she shows up again, we'll make sure she doesn't come anywhere near you. But let's not talk about that now; you need a place to stay, right?"
"Oh, well, I guess I'll be fine on my own," Crona mused, but Tamaki shook his head fervently.
"You're not going out on your own. You're going to stay with me!" Crona frowned at him, confused.
"I said you're going to come and live with me! At least until you're old enough to get a place of your own, if that's what you really want." Tamaki grinned at Crona's expression. "Come on, what do you say?"
"B-but . . . what about Ragnarok?" the shy boy wondered. "I'm sure he's not going to let me stay in a nice house while he doesn't get to . . ."
"No worries, he's already accepted the offer," Tamaki informed him. He smiled wryly. "He said that giving you two a place to stay is the least I can do after what I've put you guys through."
"Oh, no, I'm sorry!" Crona apologized, once again hating Ragnarok's behavior. "He's so rude . . . It's not your fault!"
"Crona, I understand, calm down," Tamaki reassured him. "I may have only known Ragnarok for three days, but I get the impression that that's how he is all the time. Am I right?"
"Yes, he's always been like that," Crona agreed. He looked up at Tamaki to find the blonde frowning slightly at him. "What?"
"Oh, sorry, I was just thinking . . ." He looked at Crona for another moment, and the he cautiously sat down at the foot of the bed, being mindful of Crona's feet under the covers. "I was just wondering about Ragnarok. I mean, how did you two survive for that long when he was . . ."
"A part of my bloodstream?" Crona finished, and Tamaki nodded. The pink-haired boy sighed. "I don't really want to talk about it . . ."
"That's fine; I'm sorry I brought it up! I know it must be a touchy subject for you."
"It's alright. I'll . . . I'll tell you about it later, okay?"
"Okay, but . . . is it alright if I just ask you one thing? It's about Ragnarok, but it's not about that aspect of him."
"Sure, go ahead."
"Thanks. I was just wondering something; Ragnarok keeps calling himself a 'weapon' and saying that you're his . . ." Tamaki's forehead crinkled as he tried to recall the word. ". . . his 'Meister,' is that right? I'm still not exactly sure what he means by that . . ."
"Oh, I guess you wouldn't understand, would you?" Crona asked, more to himself than to Tamaki. He sighed again, knowing that this explanation might take a little while. "Where we come from, there are basically four types of people: witches, normal humans, Meisters, and Weapons. Weapons are people who look human normally but can transform into some sort of weapon, like a sword or a scythe, for example. The Meisters are the people who actually wield the Weapons."
"But . . . what exactly do Weapons and Meisters do?" Tamaki asked, still looking confused.
"They hunt down evil souls. Well, they're supposed to . . ." Crona trailed off and looked down at the blankets. Tamaki wondered what that meant, but felt that Crona would probably tell him in due time. So, he settled for asking:
"And you're Ragnarok's Meister, then?"
"Yes," Crona nodded.
"What kind of Weapon is he, if you don't mind my asking?"
"He's a Demon Sword."
"A Demon Sword? What-"
"Hey, I'm back!" said Demon Sword announced loudly, coming into the room and stopping by Crona's bed. Tamaki noticed Crona flinch as Ragnarok came near him, as if he was afraid that the Weapon was going to hit him. "What're you guys talking about?"
"Crona was explaining to me what you meant when you said you were his Weapon," Tamaki informed him. Ragnarok turned to Crona and Tamaki was astonished when he started to rub his fists on both sides of Crona's head violently.
"Did this idiot give you a good explanation?" he asked, ignoring Crona's cries of protest. "I mean one you could actually understand?"
"Yes, and I don't think you should be doing that, especially since Crona is laying in a hospital bed recovering!" Tamaki said quickly, getting ready to try and pull Ragnarok's hands away if the Weapon didn't do it himself. Ragnarok shot him a glare but reluctantly let go of Crona's head, leaving Crona sniffling slightly.
"Do you wanna see my weapon form? Is that it?" Ragnarok asked as Tamaki continued to stare at him, the blonde's eyes slightly narrowed as he tried to figure out how in the world this normal-looking boy with the black and white hair could turn into a sword.
"Oh, well, I'm kind of interested now, yes," Tamaki admitted, but then he added: "But I don't want to put Crona through any trouble!"
"Aw, he doesn't have to do anything except try not to drop me on the floor!" Ragnarok told him, and then he turned to his Meister. "Ready?"
"Um, are you sure it'll work?" Crona asked tentatively. "I mean . . . we've never tried it when we were separated before . . ."
"That's because we've never been separated before, idiot!" Ragnarok yelled, lightly cuffing Crona on the head. Tamaki jumped up, already sensing that this was going to happen a lot, but Ragnarok held up his hands.
"Whoa, calm down, I'm not actually gonna hurt him!" the Demon Sword said, but his smirk said otherwise. He then glanced back at Crona. "It'll work, trust me. Now hold out your hand!"
"Okay . . .," Crona said nervously, and he stretched his hand out.
Tamaki watched with avid wonder as Ragnarok seemed to literally dissolve right in front of his eyes. He turned into deep black liquid that floated over to Crona's outstretched hand. Crona reached up into the mass of swirling darkness and grasped something, and when he pulled his hand down Tamaki saw that it was the hilt of a sword, silver with crisscrossing spikes around the bottom of the blade. The liquid then coalesced fully into a gleaming black blade with a line of white running down the exact center. Tamaki thought it was over, when suddenly a red mouth formed towards the base of the blade.
"See? This is what a weapon looks like! Gupi!" the Sword exclaimed as Tamaki stared at it in amazement. Finally, the blonde got over the shock enough to ask:
"Wait, what did you say at the end?"
"Oh, he just says stuff like that sometimes," Crona told him, and Tamaki shifted his gaze from the blade to the boy. He saw that Crona didn't seem any different, except . . . was it his imagination, or did his eyes seem a touch lighter than they normally were? It was almost like that time in the bathroom . . .
Suddenly, Tamaki gasped as the realization struck him.
"Crona . . . did Ragnarok make you go crazy that one time?" he exclaimed, and Crona flinched as the Demon Sword started to laugh.
"Yup, that was me! Gupipipi!"
"It's okay," Crona tried to reassure Tamaki as the blonde's eyes widened; he looked like he was ready to rip Ragnarok out of Crona's hands. "That only happens sometimes, and I can control it. Well, Ragnarok can."
"Oh, I . . . I see," Tamaki said, not fully believing this explanation. There was a silence for a moment, and then Ragnarok suddenly dissolved back into liquid and reformed into his human shape.
"Ah, this is much better!" he said, stretching his hands up in the air. "You have no idea how cramped it was before . . ."
Tamaki had no response to this; he was still having a hard time adjusting to the fact that Ragnarok had literally been living inside Crona's bloodstream for years, let alone the fact that he'd just turned into a sword. It was just too strange . . .
"Oh yeah! I came back in here for a reason!" Ragnarok announced, suddenly remembering. "Ed and Al are waiting to see you, Crona. Should I send them in?"
"Um, sure, okay," Crona reluctantly agreed.
"Alright, then you gotta get out, Blondie," Ragnarok said to Tamaki, jerking his thumb towards the doorway.
"Okay. I'll come back later, Crona," he said as Crona gazed up at him. Crona nodded and Tamaki ran his hand over the shy boy's pink hair reassuringly, happy that his friend was going to be okay.
Crona watched them disappear out of the room, and then the door opened a few seconds later and Ragnarok came back in, Ed and Al trailing along behind him.
"How the hell did it take you ten minutes just to tell him that we were waiting?" Ed was yelling to the Demon Sword.
"Shut up, midget!" Ragnarok snarled, once again stopping next to Crona's bed. Crona was about to say hello, when Ed exploded.
"WHO ARE YOU CALLIN' SMALL? I'LL RIP OFF YOUR FEET AND STICK 'EM ON YOUR HEAD!" the alchemist screamed, and his brother put his hands on his shoulders to keep him in place.
"Yeah, right!" Ragnarok laughed, and then he seemed to remember the reason he'd brought the Elrics into the room. "Well, here he is. Try not to make him freak out too much; the doctors said that it's bad for his recovery."
Crona stared at his weapon, shocked that he'd actually said something caring, but then he noticed Ragnarok's mouth curled up in a devilish smirk. The Demon Sword then strolled out of the room, but before he shut the door behind him Crona caught a glimpse of his expression. It was so fleeting that the shy boy wondered if it had been a trick of the light, but he could've sworn that for a moment his Weapon looked genuinely concerned about him.
"Crona, we're glad you're alright!" Al said, bringing Crona's attention back to the two brothers. Al elbowed Ed in the side when the blonde didn't say anything. "Aren't we, Brother?"
"Yeah," Ed muttered, glaring at the ground as if thinking of what to say. Suddenly, he whipped his head up and turned his glare on Crona. "Listen, just because you brought Tamaki back to life doesn't mean that I all of a sudden forgive you! The fact is that you had to bring Tamaki back because you sent him away in the first place! I'm glad you're not dead, but I'm still mad that you betrayed us!"
"I know, Ed, and I'm so, so, sorry!" Crona told him, begging the blonde with his eyes to believe that he was telling the truth. "I don't know what I could ever do to convince you that I truly regret everything I did to you all . . ."
"We both know that," Alphonse said, ignoring Ed's shake of the head. "Brother just has a harder time accepting it than me."
"That's okay." Crona sighed and looked down at his blankets. "I don't really expect you to forgive me anytime soon . . ."
The brothers were silent, and Crona glanced up to find them gazing at him curiously.
"What? What is it? Did I say something?"
"You're not stuttering anymore," Ed commented, and Crona blinked. Now that he thought about it, he'd only stuttered maybe once or twice since waking up in the hospital.
"Oh, yeah, I . . . I guess you're right," he said, smiling slightly. "I guess now that I know everything's going to be okay, I'm not so nervous anymore."
Crona could sense that if Al could smile, he would be grinning. Ed, however, still looked pensive. Eventually, he sighed and held out his hand.
"Okay, okay, I guess I can forgive you, at least a little bit." Crona slowly grasped his hand and shook it, but when he tried to pull away Ed tightened his grip and leaned towards him. "But you listen to me, Crona; if anything else happens, and I find out that it's your fault, I won't go easy on you, you got that?"
"Yes, I understand," Crona said, looking down shamefully. Ed stared at the shy boy for another moment before giving his hand one last warning squeeze and then releasing it.
"Brother . . .," Al said reproachfully, but Crona shook his head.
"It's fine, Alphonse; this is more than I'd hoped would happen."
Ed lifted his gaze to Crona again, and the shy boy smiled. Ed, who wasn't used to seeing any type of smile on Crona's face, was taken aback. Then, ever-so-slowly, his mouth turned up in a slight grin as well.
Just then, the door to the room slammed opened and Ragnarok strode in again, Tamaki practically barking his heels.
"Ragnarok, don't slam the door!" he said, sounding as if he'd just been taking care of a very problematic four year old. Ragnarok just rolled his eyes.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever," he said, and then he looked at Ed and Al and crossed his arms in front of him. "Sorry to cut your heartwarming visit short, but the nurse says you all have to leave. Now."
"Bye, everyone!" Crona called as the boys started to file out of the room. "Thank you for coming to see me!"
"We'll be back soon!" Tamaki called back, giving Crona his kind smile, and the boy with pink hair couldn't help but smile back.
"See ya later, idiot!" Ragnarok yelled as he started to close the door behind him. Then the door was shut and Crona was alone.
Everything seems to have worked out, he thought, smiling to himself. Even Ed forgave me a little bit . . . And Ragnarok's being sort of nice; well, nicer than he normally is . . . Yeah, I think everything is finally going to be okay.
And with that he closed his eyes and drifted off the first peaceful sleep he'd had in ten years.
A/N: The Epilogue will be up in a week. Review, please! :)