Whew, finally got this one out! I wrote this some weeks ago (probably) while I was sick, meaning I had no recollection of having written it at all. The idea sat in my head for months. Well, since I don't have the time to write that much at the moment I thought I'd just give this a proofread, fix the obvious mistakes and throw it at you.
I know the fandom is pretty much dead, but for those of you who might enjoy a short one-shot (that might get a second part if people enjoy it), this is for you. Reviews are greatly appreciated. Without further ado, on with the story!
It was the little things.
She was a Bey mechanic, used to paying attention to small details.
In hindsight she was sure Kyoya at least suspected. The blatant disregard of everything the other boy said. The heated glares he threw at the other whenever he thought his gaze would pass unnoticed.
You don't belong, his eyes screamed. In a way he was right.
It only became more painfully obvious over time.
He was quick to fall asleep.
That was the first thing Madoka realized about her traveling companion. They had known each other for these brief months since the end of Battle Bladers, yet the other managed to remain a complete mystery.
In comparison to the rest of their ragtag group, it became even more painfully obvious how different he really was.
Where the younger bladers jumped around from one side of the train to the other, he would calmly sit back and read from a small, leatherbound book. It had no obvious title she could see, and he managed to hide its content with the same lazy easiness he always displayed. She couldn't ever tell if he was playing her, watching for signs of her slipping into his space and closing the book before, if it was mere coincidence he had moved just slightly to the side, propping his long legs up on the bench and relaxing his back against the window. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't get a glimpse of it.
When it came to sleeping in their wagon, he laid down quickly, seemingly calm like the ocean. The perfect mixture between adolescent inertia and adult world wariness, drifting off to sleep within seconds after his head hit the pillow.
She found he was just as quick to wake. Even the most horrible shaking of the train failed to wake him, yet as soon as a door slid open he would open his eyes and scan the surrounding area. Their eyes crossed a few times during those events, hers curious and his devoid of any emotions. After the third time his gaze became understanding and slightly amused by her watchfulness. "See something you like?", he'd asked after the fifth. By the seventh he had to muffel his laugh as not to wake their dead to the world friends. At the eighth he merely grinned and advised her to get some sleep. "You'll need it."
"You don't?", she'd asked, put off by his strange behaviour. He didn't seem to mind her trying to figure him out at all. In fact, he looked way too amused by the whole ordeal.
"Not that badly. I'm used to staying up a few hours more than the ordinary teenager."
Madoka rolled her eyes, muttering about bullheaded boys. The question gnawed at her tongue. Just as she was about to open her mouth, he shook his head at her, his eyes moving to the sprawled form of Masamune. A wordless apology formed on his face. This was not the time or the place for such inquiries. Sighing softly, she nodded and settled down. Glancing at him one last time, she wasn't even surprised to find him fast asleep again. She knew he would wake again with the next sound.
It was an interesting difference to the plane though. There, he had cushioned himself with a blanket and covered his eyes completely before he was able to fall asleep at all. Did he feel more at ease here, lower to the ground? It felt strange, applying normal human fears to someone who was so far away from normal.
Masamune was not the brightest teenager and he knew it.
It wasn't that he wasn't intelligent enough – it wasn't only that – to deal with most everyday situations. It was... mostly the ease with which he became distracted.
He had always been able to notice things quicker. His whole life he had heard people whisper behind his back. Muttering about him being to fickle, too fast to jump on anything. Sadly, his interest could never be held by anything long enough to truly use this ability – for that was what it was. It wasn't a disability. Not by his book. He was different, he knew it, but he was not handicapped. Indeed, he was sure this ability made his life easier by a great deal. He could be as depressed as can be and would still notice the way the light sneaked through the area, caressing trees and forming figures of shadow whose movements were lost by other, more focused people.
Sometimes, this ability also made itself known when he was confronted by others. Times such as this.
It was almost imperceptible, the way his older teammate's – friend's? - glance passed across the pages. He was almost completely stoic, every few moments his hand would move to turn a page before settling down again.
He could feel Gingka and Yuu getting restless next to him. They were just as restless as him, sometimes even more so. However, at this moment his attention was completely and utterly fixed to the older boy.
He couldn't quite put his finger onto the strange feeling the darker skinned teen evoked within him. Somehow he just knew he wasn't really reading his book – such a thin book at that, too! With all the time he spent reading, surely the older boy must have finished the book long ago – but surveying the area.
He startled at that thought. In a way, the calm and collected way Tsubasa presented himself reminded him of that military officer he'd seen a few years ago. Some colonel, presenting the work of the army to children too young to be entranced by the power military weapons could pack or to be awed by a single man.
With Tsubasa, the feeling was stronger. He felt as if he were sitting in a lion's den, waiting for it to come out and slash at him. At first, he had merely envisioned the other as another pebble on the road to become strongest. One to look out for, but not dangerous...
Tsubasa glanced up, caught his gaze and arched an eyebrow. Holding his eye for a moment, the older shook his head slowly and returned his focus to the crowd. Not the book. Who was he watching?
Masamune growled at himself. Something was fishy about his new teammate. He wanted, needed to know what it was.
A loud shriek interrupted his thoughts. Looking up he found Yuu running across the hall, laughing like a miniature devil. He had a cone of ice cream in his hand – when did he get one? - and weaved through the waiting masses.
The spell was broken when Tsubasa, looking tired and worn, grumbling about him being too young to be a full-time parent, grabbed the boy by his collar and dragged him back to the seat. Dropping down he put the book away and relaxed. Everything seemed to tune down as the surreal aura surrounding the eagle dissipated and only an out of his comfort zone teenager remained.
Masamune kept his eyes glued to the taller figure. Another knowing gaze met his, amused eyes hardening somewhat.
All traces of the tired soldier were gone.
Yuu was close to Tsubasa.
At least that was what he liked to think. The golden eyed teen humored him most of the times, bought him ice cream – even when it was so much that there was no way Yuu'd be able to eat all of it. Then he would just grumble beneath his breath and gift it to Yuu nonetheless – and sat patiently by while the boy was ranting about whatever irked him that day.
It was strange, seeing this new version of him. During their time at the Dark Nebula, Tsubasa had been quiet and withdrawn, only appearing for missions. Even then his behavior had been cold and aloof, creating a rift between him and the other bladers gathered in the area. The calculated, pretentious words only served to broaden it.
After they both had left, Yuu felt he owed the older for making his job more difficult, so he stuck around. It definitely did not have anything to do with him being curious about knowing a real live secret agent!
It did take a bit of the fun out of the discovery when he noticed Tsubasa was unwilling to share even the tiniest bit of his intel, tactics or stories. The way some of the adult WBBA workers – perhaps agents themselves, Tsubasa surely didn't have too much to do with the large official, visible branch of his organization – greeted him in the hallways made him even more sure about his friend being an awesome badass.
Sometimes, however, he was glad he didn't know more. He remembered vividly the day he'd barged into Tsubasa trashing in his sleep, fighting an invisible enemy. His forehead had shone with sweat, his hands searching wildly for a weapon, any weapon he could use to defend himself with.
The most unnerving hadn't been when his fingers closed around the handle of the gun hidden beneath the pillow.
It had been the silence.
Even while he was obviously out of it, Tsubasa still managed to keep his body from making any noise. Not even his hitched breathing was audible.
Yuu had been too fearful to wake his friend. Being shot by a nightmarish agent didn't sound like fun. (Although it would have been interesting to see that one explained away. Did Tsubasa know how to hide bodies? He did not want to think about that.)
When Tsubasa's breathing evened out and he opened his eyes, he had been clearly shocked at seeing Yuu standing in his door. A soft curse escaped him before he checked the gun, making sure no shots had been fired and safety was still on. "Not a word", he had stated. Yuu had only managed a small nod before turning tails and fleeing. This was not his world. It was best if he kept his nose out of it.
Watching Tsubasa now, flirting with a beautiful lady serving at the cruiser's cafe, he wouldn't think the excentric teen could be any more than that.
Yet wasn't this exactly what made Tsubasa that efficient? People looking for spies – or anything hidden – wouldn't expect them to be that obvious. In a way, the young man always drew eyes towards him, made himself friendly but easily forgettable. It was mesmerizing. No one would suspect someone like him could be anything more than met the eye, right?
Gingka couldn't hide his uneasiness whenever he was around his father's subordinate. He hadn't been able to look the boy directly in the eye ever since he had found out most of their interaction was staged. Even more when he found out the actions involving both the eagle and his father had been scripted just as much. ("I can't even call that staged anymore", Tsubasa had drawled nonchalantly, as if he didn't just throw a giant bombshell at Gingka. "I practically had to script the whole thing for him. Word by word." Ryusei had only raised his arms defensively. "We can't all be geniuses like you. My plan wasn't that bad", he had defended himself, pouting. Tsubasa merely pulled his eyebrow up, disregarding any respect he was supposed to have towards his superior officer. "Suuure. Honestly though, if I'd let him proceed as he wanted we'd have Doji's goons walking on our graves by now. He's useless out there. A blind child would have no problem seeing you are playing a role. It would have to be deaf as well.")
Traveling together was taxing to say the least. He was all too aware of the piercing glance the older kept fixed on his surroundings. It had taken weeks until they were alone long enough for the question. "Why even are you here? I mean, the true reason?"
Tsubasa looked surprised for a moment before sighing. "I am even more out of my game than I thought, hm? Is it that obvious?"
"Kinda? I mean, most of us know about you working-" He cut himself off after a particularily frightening gesture and reworded his sentence. "Most of us have known you for a while and Masamune seems to notice something's off as well."
The older crossed his arms and hummed low in his throat. "I am not even allowed to give you any hint if your assumption is correct or not, you know? You kids finding out about the other side is such a pain." Lazing back into the sofa Tsubasa closed his eyes, looking trice his age easily. "Even telling you no if you were wrong would already be considered treason. Nothing I'd get punished for that much, but still enough for a reprimand. I'm already on thin ice with this whole split personality thing. Not going to risk anything."
"That is a yes?"
The slight twitch of a silver eyebrow served to amuse him somehow. These last few days Tsubasa had become increasingly frustrated with himself, thus letting his guard drop ever so slightly. It was wrong, Gingka acknowledged in the privacy of his thoughts, trying to pry into his friend's head when he was so obviously shaken. The stoic facade had been ripped away completely.
A few weeks later the orange haired boy cursed himself for being fooled again, seeing Tsubasa casually twirling a strand of dark aura between his fingers as he gave his report a final touch. Feeling the eyes on him, the older granted him a mirthful grin and let it dissipate. Next to the now resting hand lay a data stick, one Gingka had come to know via Madoka contained most of Ziggurat's research. Apparently he had split from the two younger bladers for a few minutes, collecting the data and... he shuddered as he remembered Madoka whispering about the split knuckles his friend displayed after.
Even after all this time he was still sure he hadn't seen a glimpse of Tsubasa's true abilities.
Tsubasa leant back into his chair, kicking his feet up to the desk.
He was spent. Climbing a rope to a flying city with two children on his back was not his favorite pass-time activity. He glanced at the torn gloves sitting innocently at his desk, feeling betrayed in that childish way. They had held for a long time.
He forced his body to relax as the door opened. No longer was he undercover – even though he still had to keep his role – and in charge of protecting a handful of loudmouthed brats, his battle instincts were still on high alert.
Not bothering to take his feet down, Tsubasa motioned his superior to the other chair in his small, cramped office. "Some loose ends to tie up. Leads to South Africa." He couldn't quite keep the dread out of is voice. While he enjoyed traveling, he neared his limits after weeks of desasters. He thanked whichever deity was willing to listen for keeping the children relativley well out of trouble. He was more than annoyed that Yuu, the youngest and most mislead of his proteges, had been injured two times under his watch. After all this time keeping an eye on the bunch of misfits he felt about ready to lock himself in a room somewhere for a few days. Traveling to South Africa sounded... way too hot.
Sadly Ryo's eyes were merciless. He gave a theatrical grown and rose to his feet. "I'll be in touch once I get there. Need some vacay after", he added hurriedly.
Ryo rolled his eyes at his youngest agent. "Just go out there and do your best. As usual."
"Usual..." Tsubasa already felt his pride nagging at him, feeling pressed to keep the words close to his hard. Yet he felt Ryo had a right to know. "I noticed something very unusual these last few weeks."
Ryo motioned for him to go on. "They might just make fine agents, you know? Masamune definitely noticed I wasn't quite who I said I was, and quickly too. The others have only been told I was a spy, but they have been strangely observant as well."
"How many hints did you drop them?"
"A few, here and there. You really think that's a good idea?"
"It will do them good", Ryo said softly, "knowing there is someone else ready to catch them if they fall."
The low hum of agreement would have been lost to ears not trained to listen to the smallest sound. "You really want to force them into our world?"
"I believe they are not as naive as they seem. Just keep watching over them, will you?"
"I'm not paid enough for this."
He waited patiently until Ryo left before turning to the very obviously hidden boy. "You should get out now. I have work to do."
Gingka at least had the decency to look sheepish. "I was just curious."
"Curiosity can be dangerous." His eyes remained fixed to the younger teen's face. "Did you find your answer?"
"Were you really testing to see if we'd be able to become... agents?"
Tsubasa actually snickered at that. "Nope. Just messing with you."
Gingka's stare had him laughing aloud.